Craig Priest writes…
Given Newport’s remarkable 2017 turnaround in form, a point at Rodney Parade doesn’t seem too bad, especially with Storm Brian causing havoc – however looking back, the Stags coped well with Brian’s blustering’s and so on reflection, coming away from Rodney Parade with just a point, for my money, just makes Mansfield the proverbial plonkers.
Personally I think the first half saw the best 45 minutes of our season yet as a collective team, we knew we we’re up against it but played for each other and threw ourselves at everything, being patient enough at the other end to grab a deserved goal which highlights how good of a front man Danny Rose is.
Newport’s success is down to their work rate, whilst they only have one style of play which proves effective, they don’t stop and you can’t afford to switch off for a second, which of course we did and got punished. They like to get the ball wide and put deep, high crosses, into the box – playing particularly for set-pieces and throw-ins which they hurl in long, especially when they are fighting to get back into the game.
The equaliser stemmed from not turning and facing play and prevent any short release, we trotted back to the half way line with our backs to Newport’s play – so many times they naturally played short, pinged balls down their left hand side, catching White wondering and winning a throw via a deflected cross, from which they were bound to score.
Simple mistakes in the space of a minute saw us again drop two points – at this stage of the season, that’s not good enough.
As much as I want to take my frustration of a personally awful day out on berating the team, I won’t – because if you take away that ONE minute, I felt we we’re good enough to keep that ticking over and start to build something.
Naturally when Newport scored the pendulum swung in their favour and they began to pepper our goal – forget storm Brian, it was Storm Conrad that kept Newport at bay with a tremendous performance between the sticks in the last quarter of the game, that point belongs to Conrad Logan for me.
As a whole we we’re excellent given the conditions and the style we came up against, Johnny Hunt was tremendous back in at left back, Rhys Bennett looks far more natural in the middle whilst back in midfield, Alfie Potter added that sparkle we’ve been missing. If you get Bryom back in there as well and take away the storm, we’ll start to climb – so long as we improve our concentration and see games out!
A week ago after horror shows against Cheltenaham, Colchester and Swindon I feared a collapse – yet we’ve made two long journeys in a short space of time and grafted out two good points.
YES it should be six from six or at the very least four, BUT in the bigger picture we’ve stopped the rot, stayed together and found more than one way of playing – we know what we have to do know, fix the broken links and battle over the next week with Notts County (The competition is irrelevant, a win is vital to keep us ticking over) and then Exeter – two tough tests which will really show if Mansfield Town are up to the challenge or not.
With storm Brian having a huge impact on proceedings, Steve Evans reverted back to 4-4-2 and made three changes to the starting line-up which drew at Barnet in midweek, Johnny Hunt replaced Mal Benning, Rhys Bennett replaced the injured David Mirfin whilst after Alfie Potter also came back in after nearly a month’s absence, he replaced Paul Digby in the change of shape.
Newport started applying the pressure from the off, however the Stags were resolute and organised, Alfie Potter and Danny Rose amongst the early white shirts to clear the Stags lines, Ben Tozer hurled in a long throw on 11 minutes and put Stags’ hearts in mouths, O’Brien however relieving the pressure as he headed harmlessly over.
Three minutes later the Stags had a sight of goal as Danny Rose’s flick through the middle was handled, Alex MacDonald’s resulting free kick cleared away – a minute later however a second opportunity presented itself when Hemming’s was fouled – skipper Pearce nodding the ball into the mix, Newport however scrambled the ball away.
Will Atkinson took advantage of Dan Butler’s slip on 19 minutes before a scrambling Newport got back to clear their lines, three minutes later – patience from Mansfield turned to gold, as Danny Rose put the Stags ahead.
It all stemmed from a deep cross from Hayden White, nodded into the air by the Newport defence only for Rose to scramble to his feet, hold off three and play the ball wide for Potter. His first time delivery into Hemmings deflected straight into the path of Rose, who span on the spot and drilled into the bottom corner for his eighth of the season.
A minute after the restart the Stags had a chance for two but we’re left worrying as Rose required treatment, being pulled to the floor. Johnny Hunt stepped up and hit the set-play against the wall, Rose meanwhile, was OK to continue.
At the other End, Hunt showed his strength in the air to turn behind a Butler cross after the full back got the better of Hayden White, Krystian Pearce nodded behind the corner from Matt Dolan who trotted over to the opposite side to take the second successive corner – Pearce again there to head clear, this time for a throw.
On the half hour it was Bennett to the rescue half a yard from goal as Frank Nouble got in ahead of Logan to steer towards goal, allowing the Stags to breathe again. Johnny Hunt was then to the rescue on the stroke of half time as Dolan delivered from deep for David Pipe, Hunt at full stretch to turn the ball away for a corner – from which the Stags survived a goalmouth scramble to go in one goal to the good at the whistle.
After the break it was as you were, with Newport still intent on pulling level, good work from Butcher stopped the hosts finding a way through, whilst on 53 minutes, the Exiles appealed for a spot-kick against Bennett for handball – a minute later the Stags claimed their own as Butcher’s effort appeared to strike a hand, neither were given.
Kane Hemmings came close to grabbing his second is as many games on 56 minutes, bringing down a directional pass and spinning before shooting wide, four minutes later it was another close call as MacDonald curled a free kick into the box – Alfie Potters effort cannoning off the post and out of play.
Newport then finally broke the Stags resilience as on 79 minutes, a long throw hurled into the area saw Mansfield fail to track the run of substitute Shawn McCoulsky who nipped into volley the ball beyond Logan to level the scores.
From there, the Stags were on the back foot, McCoulsky seeing two further efforts land wide before Nouble skipped the challenges of Hunt and MacDonald on 78 minutes, Logan down early and low to prevent Nouble from putting the hosts in front.
Two minutes later, Logan again denied Nouble with a fine save down low which was zipping into the bottom corner, Logan again called into action on 84 minutes, this time jumping well to tip over a drive from Sean Rigg, the former AFC Wimbledon man looked hungry for a goal.
Logan again produced the goods four minutes from time as a close range header caught Mansfield in a storm, and unable to find a break through at the other end, the Stags kept possession well running down four minutes of additional time to secure a second point on the road in as many games.
FULL TIME: Newport County 1-1 Stags
Hayden White – Krystian Pearce © - Rhys Bennett – Johnny Hunt
Alfie Potter (Paul Anderson 87) – Calum Butcher – Will Atkinson – Alex MacDonald
Danny Rose (Jimmy Spencer 72) – Kane Hemmings (Omari Sterling-James 72)
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Paul Digby, Jacob Mellis, Lee Angol
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 3,146 (160)
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