Full Time Score Lincoln City 1-1 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Sincil Bank
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Jacob Mellis
Craig Priest writes…
When Lincoln City scored in the 85th minute, many would have thought it was job done and three points for the hosts – but Mansfield Town, despite being full of injury and illness, had other ideas and again highlighted that this is a team who won’t lie down and play to the script of others.
The fighting spirit of the Stags’ players again highlights the excellent work being done on the training ground, especially when you consider the events of Tuesday evening which would have tested the patience of most.
Up against an in-form and hungry Lincoln side gunning for promotion the Stags will be the first to admit they were far from their best, but you don’t have to be so long as you’re prepared to put in the work to take home what you deserve – and David Flitcroft’s men certainly didn’t deserve to go home empty handed and have their unbeaten run halted.
Skipper Pearce again highlighted how pivotal he is to Mansfield’s season with a solid performance at the heart of the Stags’ back line, but for me it was the performance of Danny Rose which plays on my mind nearly 24 hours on from the fact.
Rose has been getting flack from ‘fans’ in recent weeks with a lack of goals and a foray of what appear to be clear cut chances being missed and yesterday I had to really bite my tongue to some of the comments and criticism he received.
Last scoring at Bury in early October, Rose has seen a number of chances not go his way but for me, I think Rose is actually a far better player than last season and without his determination yesterday, I’d be sitting here talking about a loss.
The amount of running he does all over the pitch is insane and since he’s put the summer farce behind him, he looks hungry and is contributing far more than this time last season, even if his goals to games ratio is lower.
He drops deeper to collect the ball and get things moving, he runs box to box to find pockets of space not only for himself but others and reads the game far better than he did before, a prime example being the same match play situation at this time last year – I don’t think he’d have ran down the wing to the byeline, I think he’d have gone central to try and shoot, but by running wide he’s taken with him two defenders and allowed us to overload the box and ultimately score.
The only other niggle I have when thinking back to the game was our changing of systems throughout the match, we started with 3-4-2, then went 3-4-1-2 when Khan first came on, then 4-4-2, then 4-3-3, all the changes took a while to process for the players and allowed Lincoln to score when Preston, during the 4-4-2 stage, was dragged out to right back and away from throwing himself at everything. We need to re-find our groove and play to it, something I think will be easier with Khan coming back from injury and back into the fold.
All in all a good afternoon’s work, we never really looked threatened by Lincoln and to be fair even after goi9ng a goal down, I felt we could get back into the match. There is a real fire within this dressing room and a spirit which is being harnessed in the right way – we’ve had something like eight weeks straight of playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday which concludes on Tuesday as we welcome Crawley – let’s end this spell with victory, regroup and focus on everything else going into the festive fixtures.
The Stags originally made three change from the defeat at Charlton with White, Bishop and Walker returning to the line-up for Atkinson, Elsnik and Butcher respectively however a late hamstring injury to White, saw him swap with Atkinson and the stags’ left with six subs – one, the returning Otis Khan.
It was a tense start to the highly billed affair with neither side having too many chances early doors, Ryan Sweeney did well to stop Shay McCartan from getting a shot away before at the other end on 12 minutes, Rose forced Josh Vickers into making a smart save.
Rose was involved again on 23 minutes when he struck the side netting whilst solid defending from Preston helped the stags stay in the game as Lincoln turned up the heat as half time approached.
Bobby Oljenik made a good stop to deny Bruno Adrade on 51 minutes before a minute later Khan replaced Atkinson, moving Hamilton, briefly, to wing-back in a 3-4-1-2 - but the change didn’t have an immediate impact as on 53 minutes, Adrade again got into the box, denied again by the Stags keeper.
On the hour Mellis hit a volley wide but it was Lincoln enjoying the more of the ball and racking up the chances and as the game moved into the last ten minutes, the host brought on former Stags Matt Rhead and Matt Green as they looked to hurt their former side.
The icon duo were marked out of the game well by Pearce but it was they who who celebrating with five minutes to go, fellow substitute Kellan Gordon bundling home from close range.
Mansfield were not down and began their fight back, throwing Craig Davies up front as he replaced Benning – in the 93rd minute, the reward came as Rose sprinted down the right and saw his deflected cross fall for Walker – his ball in was turned towards goal by Davies who hit a Lincoln defender – the loose ball fell for Mellis who made no mistake to level the game and seal a point.
FULL TIME: Lincoln City 1-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-3]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney. Will Atkinson (Otis Khan 52), Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop (Timi Elsnik 88), Mal Benning (Craig Davies 88), CJ Hamilton, Danny Rose, Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Calum Butcher, Alistar Smith
Referee: Gavin Ward
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