Full Time Score Forest Green Rovers 1-1 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The New Lawn
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Jorge Grant
Attendance 2,428 (204)
Craig Priest writes…
Coming away from Play-Off challenging Forest Green Rovers with a point, I should have had more of a smile on my face – after all a point away from home kept us second and the chasing pack at bay with games running thin, however I couldn’t help thinking we should have had all three and bridged the gap further.
In the first half especially we need that little bit of luck to put the game to bed, as Nicky Ajose and Tyler Walker both saw efforts test the paintwork of the post and bar respectively. Had we been fortunate enough to see those chances drop, Forest Green’s lack of togetherness would have seen them beaten and implode, yet as David Flitcroft said – we gave them the one thing you can’t give any team: hope.
Looking at the bigger picture however I’m glad we started brightly and didn’t need to have to fight and comeback for a third successive away game, that particular duck is broken and as far as I’m concerned – over and done with.
A point is better than what we could have had – nothing, especially considering the late home onslaught – we now have to go and build on it and show our ruthlessness as Macclesfield come to town, backed hopefully by a few more faces as the club offer free tickets to Under 18s.
Away from the result and as the transfer window draws towards the finishing line, the Stags have conducted two sensible bits of business this week, with the arrival of Gethin Jones (not the bloke who was on Strictly) from Fleetwood Town on loan, and making the loan of Ryan Sweeny into a permanent deal.
The deal, a free transfer with sell on fee, see’s Sweeney become a Stag for two and a half years – showing that we are building for the future with an establishing young international with League One experience, but also allows us to have Jones in the squad as the fifth loanee.
The Stags boss hinted at further transfer activity prior to deadline day (Tomorrow!) these deals would have to be permanent deals should he intend to use Jones on a regular basis, unless of course one of other loanees should follow Sweeney’s lead.
With the announcement that Ryan Sweeny’s loan deal had become permanent, new boy Gethin Jones came into the squad – but settle for a place on the subs bench, as Flitcroft named an unchanged starting eleven.
With considerably less water on the pitch than when the sides last met, both teams were able to play attacking football but it was Mansfield who made the breakthrough and led, as on 14 minutes, Jorge Grant showed his class to latch onto a pass, hold off his marker and tuck beneath the keeper.
Questions were raised four minutes later when both Ajose and Grant were brought down within the Rovers’ area, but neither challenge was deemed a foul and Stags went without a penalty, you’ve seen weaker given.
Benning did well on the half hour to stop Forest Green getting a cross in through Shephard but the hosts were given a huge let off moments later, Grant delivering a peach of a ball to Ajose who thundered a header towards goal – which cannoned off the post and away from danger.
Jordan Smith was called into action on 38 minutes but it was his opposite number James Montgomery who was the hero for the hosts a minute later, as Walker turned on the ball from Hamilton’s thow and hit a beautiful effort towards the top corner – the home keeper getting a finger tip to the goal bound shot to see the effort thunder off the crossbar.
After the break the hosts took more of a foothold in the game and had efforts through Doidge and former Stag Paul Digby, CJ Hamilton then moved up front as new boy Gethin Jones replaced Ajose on 56 minutes.
Two minutes into his debut, Jones was forward to try and latch onto a Hamilton cross – latch onto it he did, colliding with the keeper who left the pitch with numerous cuts and a few teeth lighter and the unfortunate and accidental collision – we wish Montgomery all the best in his recovery.
On 70 minutes the hosts were level as Digby sent a pass out wide cutting the Stags open, the cross was perfect for Rovers sub Ruben Reid, who made no mistake in converting past Smith.
Jorge Grant then squandered the Stags best chance to take home all three points as a pin point pass saw him free inside the area with the goal at his mercy, his attempted top corner curler sailed over.
Ruben Reid lobbed one over the Stags bar before in the 90th minute, a Grant free kick landed narrowly over – both sides taking a point each.
FULL TIME: Forest Green Rovers 1-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Jordan Smith, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, Jorge Grant, Tyler Walker, Nicky Ajose ([#20] Gethin Jones 56)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Danny Rose, Jason Law, Will Atkinson, Alistar Smith, Otis Khan
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