Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-1 MK Dons
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Jacob Mellis
Attendance 4,329 (394)
Craig Priest writes…
In a few years’ time when we’re reflecting on bygone seasons, the 2018-19 campaign is going to tell the story of stubborn and frustrating draws, but yet again it’s the old adage of not judging a book by its cover, as the Stags draw with MK Dons – another of those afternoon’s where Lady Luck, just hasn’t bothered to smile.
David Flitcroft’s men faced a good side in MK Dons, a lot of whom should be playing a division higher, and where perhaps unlucky to win the match – denied a stonewall penalty and kept out by the excellent Lee Nicholls who was beaten only by Jacob Mellis’ sensational strike.
Yet for the lack of Lady Luck smiling at one end, the Stags can perhaps take a little comfort from the fact that at the other end, they got away with some sloppy defending and careless passing in what was a frustrating game to watch, played again in tough conditions which the Stags system didn’t really lend itself too!
I still have the upmost faith that the wins will come more frequently than they are doing and fully believe we can and will break free of the shackles which are making us look, on paper, a bang average team incapable of finishing the job.
It’s strange to sit typing about a “poor defence” when you consider that both sides have the joint best defence in the league, and in fairness the MK goal was similar to ours in the fact it was a long range hit and hope – both Mellis and Jordan Houghton could try that 99 more times and probably only recreate their respective goals once, but we did allow MK to get into areas where we should have been punished, and as much as I praised Nicholls – Bobby Olejnik deserves plaudits too.
His displays keep on getting better and better, I’m going into games knowing that if teams get in behind us, I’m 99.9% sure Bobby is going to mop things up however injuries like the one he sustained yesterday during the second half can be really damaging, especially with it being an internal injury – I hope it doesn’t knock his confidence and prevent him from venturing out to clean things up, I hope it doesn’t keep him out too long either should there be any damage.
Goalkeepers can be heroes and villains and they never get the recognition they deserve, a big part of our solid defence is Bobby and the way he marshals his back three/five – he’s a big part of how we play with his distribution and “sweeper keeper” role, don’t get me wrong I have every faith in Logan to come in, but losing Bobby in his current form would be a blow.
If you’re drawing at home then you need to do the business on the road, we’ve two away games this week and so six points would be the target, we need to break that back to back victory curse now and push on and build on what is for me, a good point against a side who will bounce straight back into League One.
Finally all over social media there are posts and arguments over performance and records etc, events such as last night at Leicester City bring it all into perspective really – it’s just a game, nothing more. So many people will be affected by the helicopter tragedy in different ways, as will people regarding Glenn Hoddles heart attack; football’s just a game it’s not worth all the petty, petulant, arguments – my thoughts are with the family/friends of all involved – what an ugly day for the beautiful game.
David Flitcroft named an unchanged side from the midweek win at Morecambe with Craig Davies back on the bench, along with the back from suspension Will Atkinson, CJ Hamilton stayed at wing back whilst Tyler Walker kept his place upfront.
It was Walker who started brightly and had the game’s first real chance just three minutes in as the Stags looked to get an early opener, the front man’s well hit effort saved well by Nicholls in the MK goal.
Mal Benning, Danny Rose and Walker all saw efforts go over the bar inside the opening ten minutes before Neal Bishop went in strongly to deny Dean Lewington an opening at the other end.
Ryan Sweeney then went into the referee’s book for what I have down as his fifth booking of the season, meaning he'll miss Tuesday’s trip to Crewe.
The Stags needed something special to break the Dons’ resilience and boy did they get it on 17 minutes as a Stags corner found its way to Mellis, whose first time struck effort from long range, flew into the top corner to open the scoring – what a strike.
Buoyed by Mellis’ thunderous strike the Stags wanted more and nearly doubled their lead on 20 minutes as Khan fed in Walker, the Forest loanee fired wide of the target and was then punished four minutes later, as at the other end, the stags failed to close down Houghton who, like Mellis, got a long distance shot off and directed it into the top corner to level the match.
The Stags attempted to respond through Benning but his effort was tame and easy for Nicholls, who on 36 minutes should have been facing a penalty when Walker was blatantly tripped when clean through – referee Seb Stockbridge the only person in the ground to not think it was a penalty.
Mellis, Benning and Hamilton all had further efforts before the break but couldn’t take them – the two sides level as the half came to it’s conclusion.
Calum Butcher replaced Khan at the interval with David Flitcroft revealing after Khan was carrying a knock, and five minutes after his introduction, Butcher almost put the Stags ahead, his deflected cross going just wide as the Stags started with intent, Ryan Sweeney heading Mellis’ resulting corner wide.
Bobby Oljenik came to the Stags aid on 54 minutes as he brilliantly denied Rhys Healey, ten minutes later he was at it again, this time keeping out Kieran Agard showing his former Exeter boss Paul Tisdale (now MK dons boss) what he’s missing.
CJ Hamilton saw an effort fly wide on 70 minutes before Mal Benning failed to deliver the goods with a free kick four minutes later, the remainder of the match saw few clear cut chances as the teams shared a point.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-1 MK Dons
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton (Will Atkinson 90+1), Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Calum Butcher 45), Tyler Walker (Craig Davies 82), Danny Rose
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Lewis Gibbens, Timi Elsnik, Jordan Graham
Referee: Seb Stockbridge
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