Full Time Score Cambridge United 1-1 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The Abbey stadium, Cambridge
Stags Goal Scorers Danny Rose
Attendance 3,909 (475)
Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield Town’s poor run of form continued as they surrendered a one goal lead to draw 1-1 with Cambridge United which again leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and a lot of Green eyed monsters called for the head of David Flitcroft – an utterly ridiculous statement in itself.
The Stags, in their new Green third kit, controlled the majority of the match but in the second half sat too deep and allowed Cambridge space to get a pop-shot at goal, only a deflection beating the outstanding Bobby Oljenik.
Flitcroft was visibly screaming for his players to push out, play higher and close the game out – I honestly don’t know what more a manager can do other than frog march onto the pitch and physically drag them forward – the players HAVE to take responsibility when the game is in play.
Tactically I think Flitcroft has it just about right, we move the ball well (when THE PLAYERS actually decide to move) and we look capable of killing teams, again if THE PLAYERS just give that extra 10% looks will become reality.
If we were getting carved open by teams I’d be saying differently and looking at Flitcroft, but the fact is we are not – THE PLAYERS create their own pressure by allowing themselves to sit deep with the arrogant attitude of ‘one goal is enough’. Yes results are poor with draws but yet again, there are so many people out there who are looking at Flitcrofts record as a whole and judging him on that – why?
The twelve matches at the end of last season are absolutely irrelevant to what we are doing this season – different circumstances, different personnel, and different tactics/ style of play. Flitcroft tried to implement the current system at Forest Green away, but THE PLAYERS didn’t fancy it and didn’t put the effort in to make it work, hence why we got cut open and beat and ultimately FAILED.
I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the calculated revenue and budget for this season was arrogantly made with us as a League One club with that bloke from Peterborough in charge, which would no doubt have seen bigger attendances, prize money, sponsorship increases etc.
That has a HUGE impact on where we are now and the numbers we can have within the squad, Ok we’ve received a little compensation for Steve and his mate Dodgy, but we’ve also had to pay for Flitcroft and Futcher, and sell players to balance the books – with no promotion prize money, potential play-off revenue, increased commercial gain, and increased footfall to supplement that.
Not for a second am I happy to use that as an excuse for poor performance but I am realistic enough to know that these things have a knock-on effect and will turn us from promotion favourites to mid-table possible play-off contenders trying to stabilize.
I want promotion for my club, I want to follow their journey over a prolonged period of time – but for that to happen, I’m happy to grit my teeth and see my club survive rather than throw countless cash at the problem for it to backfire, ala Notts County who after splashing the cash, were woeful and ended up at the foot of the table and sacked their manager, not to mention being owned by a man whose pumped money in who now wants out.
Ask yourself this, would sacking Flitcroft help? We’d have to pay compensation for both his and Futcher’s contracts and then have to pay (as we did in the first place) to replace him because, in my opinion, there is no manager out there out of work who is capable of doing a better job with the players we have, because this squad (bar the addition of free agents who haven’t played for months) is set in stone until January.
If you do go for a new management, they’ll want their own players and where on earth are we going to fund that from without putting ourselves in debt.
David Flitcroft has won promotion from this division with an average team with very little budget in Bury, who suffered poor form from this point in September right the way through until late December (Between 23rd September and Christmas Day, they only won three games).
It’s too early to be talking about sacking a manager, what we should be talking about is THE PLAYERS – the ones who effect the game and win the points. This is EXACTLY why Mansfield Town fail, because we spit our dummies out over the smallest thing, if we were winning 9-0 week in week out there would still be fans calling for his head because we’re not getting into double fixtures and Oljenik hasn’t scored ala Alan Marriott.
We have a manager who is committed to the development of this club, from grass roots right to the top – he will be as frustrated as us that THE PLAYERS aren’t performing to their potential, but let’s buck the trend for once eh, let’s not get swept up in the emotion of one blob of paint on the canvas – let’s support the bigger picture. It’s not Christmas, we’re not bottom of the league getting ripped apart 6-0 week in week out, THAT would be a different story.
This is a long game, a long, emotionally testing journey and we are best when we are together – get to the One Call on Saturday, sing loud and let’s collectively get three points and start a run!
David Flitcroft made two changes to the side with Danny Rose starting ahead of Calum Butcher, and Mal Benning slotting in for Hayden White with CJ Hamilton moving back across to the right hand side. White had a knock, as did striker Craig Davies who again missed out.
It was a slow and steady start to proceedings at The Abbey, Otis Khan with the first real chance of note on seven minutes when he whizzed one wide from ten yards, Danny Rose was also thwarted by the offside flag as he looked to pounce on an error by United glovesman David Forde.
Alex MacDonald hit a thunderous effort against the body of former Stags promotion winner Greg Taylor on 14 minutes, before five minutes later Bobby Olejnik made a fine save to keep the score’s level – denying Barry Corr with the hosts first shot of the match.
Danny Rose hit an effort into the side netting from, MacDonald’s cross on 21 minutes before Tyler Walker flashed one wide three minutes later.
The Stags looked dangerous and deserved to be ahead, and got the breakthrough moments later, as Danny Rose latched onto a pass to rasp home on the half volley.
Ryan Sweeney made a pivotal goal line clearance on 32 minutes after Oljenik had taken the sting from the United shot with another smart save, former Stag Reggie Lambe also put an effort wide as the hosts grew in confidence – however it was the Stags who ended the half the better side and a goal ahead.
The Stags started the second half strongly and Neal Bishop came close to adding a second with a left footed drive from distance which whistled wide of the post, Otis Khan then delivered for Matt Preston from a corner – the Stags defender denied by Forde.
Danny Rose’s pledge for his own acrobatic goals DVD continued on 55 minutes as he hit the bar on the spin inside the box – Neal Bishop and Alex MacDonald also came close as the Stags looked certain to grab the critical second.
Bobby Olejnik came to the Stags rescue on 75 minutes as he smartly denied Ade Azeez at the near post, Ryan Sweeney then made his second goal line clearance with eight minutes to go, preventing George Maris from levelling the match.
However with two minutes remaining that is exactly what Maris did as the Stags sat back and allowed pressure form the hosts, Maris’ effort took a massive deflection to wrong foot Olejnik, and trickle in off of the underside of the bar – a gut wrenching goal to concede at the death, as The Stags’ missed chances, again came back to haunt them.
FULL TIME: Cambridge United 1-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Alex MacDonald, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Timi Elsnik 76), Tyler Walker (Jordan Graham 84), Danny Rose
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-2 Exeter City
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Tyler Walker
Attendance 4,443 (228)
Craig Priest writes…
After a break for international matches, we were all excited for football to return but excitement turned to frustration as the Stags were beaten for the first time in the league this season – finally being caught out and punished, repeating the same old offences.
Exeter have had a great start to their new life under Matt Taylor but in my view offered very little by way of dominance and attack, they simply did their homework and made the most of our errors.
I’m a big fan of the 3-4-2-1 (slash 3-4-1-2 slash 3-4-3 depending on your preference) system with the players we have in our ranks – but it only works if you keep moving, which the more games progress and the more the season goes on, our players seem reluctant to do.
As in life, things don’t happen because you expect them too – you’ve got to work hard, create openings and opportunity and make them happen – we are so guilt of expecting things to drop for us, it’s an arrogant and negative attitude to have. I said it a few weeks ago and got shot down for it, but I’m going to say it again – the longer we keep standing still, expecting things to happen for us and making the same old mistakes – we will start to fall and be in trouble.
Teams have worked us out, they know exactly how we play and how we like to play and work hard to shut us out – all they have to do then is pounce when we make a mistake. Exeter’s first goal I can just about accept as we forced the visitors out of the box and forced a shot – it was that one time out of ten where it got lucky and went in. The second, our defence need shooting – NEVER stop and expect the whistle or flag to go: PLAY TO THE WHISTLE!!
We always seem to start well and play with the fluidity which makes the system work, but after 20 minutes, it’s like we’re cursed and freeze after that point. If we play with fluidity, pace and movement for the full 90 we will absolutely bury teams. I can’t put my finger on if it’s a personnel issue or a tactical change – but something has to change within our approach to attacking the game, we need to be relentless before otherwise teams will continue to sit back and soak it up for twenty/thirty minutes, before scoring twice and grabbing all three points because they know we’ve no fight about us after a certain point.
Has the international break helped or hindered, after a defeat you say hindered where as a win you’d say helped – we’ve got plenty of games coming up, so let’s spend this week working on our intensity and put this right with six points from our next two games, anything less at this stage of the season won’t be good enough – we need to kick on!
After his solid display in the checkatrade trophy game at Lincoln, Calum Butcher was given a start ahead of Danny Rose whilst Craig Davies missed out due to an injury – loanee Timi Elsnik was brought onto the bench with Mellis starting the first of a three game ban for his part in the Sheffield Wednesday brawl.
The Stags started well and had an opportunity on five minutes from a dead ball as Hamilton was fouled – Khan stepped up but hit a rather tame effort into the hands of Christy Pym in the visiting goal.
Three minutes later Hamilton caused problems on the left and clipped in a cross, but with just a lone striker – it was unchallenged and easy for the visitors to deal with.
Otis Khan and Tyler Walker then both tested Pym within two minutes of each other but the visiting keeper showed class to deny the Stags an opening goal – the latter having two efforts saved by the visiting keeper.
On 23 minutes the visitors saw their first sight of goal as a cross from the right hand side wasn’t closed down – Jayden Stockley rose highest to head towards goal – the Stags were flat footed and watched on as it hit the post – before reacting to clear.
Three minutes later flat footed and lazy defending saw Boateng free inside the box, fortunately for Mansfield the visiting attacker fired over the bar.
Jayden Stockley saw another chance go begging before the visitors took the lead on the half hour mark – the Stags again failed to deal with a cross and allowed Dean Moxey to curl towards goal – the ball cannoned off the post and tricked over the line.
Calum Bucther then set Hayden White as the Stags tried to respond, White’s effort cannoned away – the Stags couldn’t carve out any more clear cut chances and went into the break a goal behind.
After the restart Walker was set by Khan but saw his near post effort blocked, at the other end Stockley again struck the bar with a far post header.
Danny Rose came on for Butcher on 55 minutes as the Stags moved players forward – Pearce used Rose as a decoy for a corner, but sent a powerful header over the bar.
The missed chance proved costly as at the other end, the visitors grabbed a second as Mansfield stood waiting for the offside flag – Boateng raced onto the loose ball and squared for Nicky Law, who bundled beyond Oljenik.
Back underway as the stags began their fight back with Khan denied by Pym, on the hour the Stags got a goal back with Rose’s powerful header well saved by Pym – Walker on hand to bundle the loose ball over the line.
Two minutes later Bishop tried a left footed curler but fired narrowly wide, Pearce was also denied by Pym from a corner as the clock hit 74 minutes.
The Stags started to play with fluidity again but in the final third, couldn’t make crosses count – substitute Mal Benning hit a tame free kick into Pym’s arms – and right at the death, two acrobatic efforts from Rose were saved by Pym, as the visitors condemned the Stags to their first league defeat of the season.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-2 Exeter City
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney (Timi Elsnik 69), Hayden White (Mal Benning 83), Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, CJ Hamilton, Otis Khan, Calum Butcher (Danny Rose 55) Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Lewis Gibbens, Jordan Graham
Referee: Andy Haines
Full Time Score Lincoln City 1-2 Mansfield Town
Competition Checkatrade Trophy (North) Group H [Game 1 of 3]
Venue Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Stags Goal Scorers Calum Butcher, Tyler Walker
Attendance 4,205 (260)
Craig Priest writes…
The best way to start a long journey to Wembley is by beating the current holders of the competition, and that’s exactly what the Stags did as they came from behind they beat Lincoln City 2-1 in the first of this seasons three group matches in the controversial competition.
For many seasons I, like a broken record, have said that we should be taking the checkatrade trophy seriously and feel that previous managers have done a disservice to the board and those of us on the terraces by showing a complete lack of interest in competing – therefore again I commend David Flitcrofts approach to the match – it’s there to be won.
I don’t care that much about the argument over the inclusion of under 23 sides and the whole blooding kids into men’s football – what I care about is what every TRUE football support cares about, and that is my football club being successful.
Yes the attention and dedication should ALWAYS be on league football and moving up the league ladder, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and how that longed for league success can be triggered and influenced by cup football.
The prize money for the checkatrade trophy is actually very good and has risen over the past three seasons; a good run in the competition can garner the income to make those key additions to the squad, which can then be an influencer on the bread and butter of the league and long-term stability of the club. Coventry and Lincoln, the previous two winners of the cup, are prime examples of this.
A manager who shows commitment to the competition is a manger who cares about the development of the club over a longer period – it’s those managers ultimately who deliver the desired success.
I’m therefore glad, as I mentioned above, about the approach Flitcroft took last night and the approach to the game – first half I felt we were poor and the referee’s display hid that in a way, the second half however we were far better and started to compete and I felt we were always going to win the match.
To say we made seven changes, two enforced with Pearce and Sweeney on international duty, we showed that we have strong depth which is going to be vital over the course of the season and I was proud in the spirit within the group to deliver a win – winning is a habit that shouldn’t be paused or broken just because the occasion is different.
Performance wise I felt Calum Butcher was excellent, his tenacity to close Lincoln down and chase opportunity is a joy to watch and he fully deserved his goal, and was unlucky to not have another to his name – playing in the central attacking midfield role he’s showing the promise he arrived with a year ago and proving why he’s been a part of promotion winning sides.
New signing Timi Elsnik was outstanding too, he looks a real handful and I would love to see more of him – especially with Otis Khan and CJ, some real damage could be done to teams there.
Nothing is won or lost, especially with two group games to go – but I look at it as part of the whole and not an isolated competition, and with that we’ve lost once in nine competitive games, which gives us momentum to build upon.
With Pearce and Sweeney on international duty, the Stags were forced into two changes – but made seven in total. Out went Bobby Olejnik, Pearce, Sweeney, Hamilton, Bishop, Khan and Walker – with Logan, Gibbens, Atkinson, Davies, Butcher, Benning and Elsnik brought in – the latter making his Stags debut. Omari Sterling-James is also on international duty, which gave youngster Jason Law the opportunity to be involved, he got a place on the bench.
The Stags struggled early to adapt to the changes and were under pressure early doors as former Stags hit man Matt Rhead caused trouble in the air, Alex MacDonald cleared an early Rhead header but on six minutes Rhead netted against his former club as Benning failed to stop a cross, Rhead peeled off and scored the easiest goal of his career, powerfully heading past Logan, unchallenged.
Mansfield could have been in for a hammering but in true Stags spirit as they have done every time they’ve gone behind, the fought back – on eight minutes Calum Butcher’s tenacious closing down forced a Lincoln error, allowing the attacking midfielder to nip in and fizz the ball beyond Sam Slocombe in the Imps goal.
The Stags then had opportunities to take the lead as Butcher put in a low cross which just evaded the run of Davies and Rose on fourteen minutes, moments later good flowing movement with Elsnik, MacDonald and Bucther saw the latter earn a corner.
The hosts were putting the Stags under pressure playing the Mansfield Town way circa 2012-13 – find Rhead with a long ball, and on 23 minutes similar play saw the Imps through on goal – Shay McCartan denied by Logan who made a strong save.
The referee was handing out yellow cards like they were going out of fashion and booked White, Rose and Benning in quick succession in a period which saw little action – in the moments when the cards stayed in the pocket, Timi Elsnik nearly made it a debut to remember with a twenty-five yard effort, whistling towards goal – Slocombe was behind it well
As the clock ticked towards the break Davies was teed up by Butcher but his effort on the volley was blocked well, at the other end Rhead nodded one wide before on the stroke of half-time Butcher was unfortunate not to have a second, his well hit effort blocked on the line.
Mansfield showed improvement after the break and began to control the game, White, Benning, Butcher and Elsnik all had attempts to unlock the Imps backline cleared whilst Davies headed one wide at the far post on 69 minutes.
Rose and Davies were replaced on 71 minutes as Walker and Hamilton came on up front, meaning the Stags switched from playing long, directional passes in the air, to fluid football on the deck.
Within a minute, the plan worked as fluid football eventually saw Butcher send a deft touch into the path of Walker, who practically with his first touch since coming on, thundered past the keeper to put Stags into a 2-1 lead.
It was nearly a repeat performance on 76 minutes but this time Walker scuffed his effort wide, before CJ Hamilton latched onto White’s pass, turning his marker before having an effort blocked.
The referee’s cards made a comeback as the game faded out, Elsnik into the notebook with a yellow card for the Stags – before as the game entered four additional minutes, Lincoln sub Micheal O’Connor was sent off for a late tackle on Walker.
FULL TIME: Lincoln City 1-2 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Matt Preston, Lewis Gibbens, Will Atkinson, Alex MacDonald ©, Timi Elsnik [#20], Mal Benning, Calum Butcher, Craig Davies (Tyler Walker 71), Danny Rose (CJ Hamilton 71)
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Otis Khan, Neal Bishop, Jordan Graham, Jason Law [#26]
Referee: Ross Joyce
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-0 Carlisle United
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Tyler Walker (Pen)
Attendance 4,470 (373)
Craig Priest writes…
After what seemed like an eternity of draws, what a relief it was to seal all three points yesterday as the Stags saw off Carlisle United 1-0 at the One Call Stadium following a commanding display.
There were naturally a few murmurs of frustration, much to my personal annoyance, that we didn’t win the game by a bigger margin with the amount of chances we had – but after four consecutive league draws, it’s the victory above all else which matters most.
I have been worried about our system for a few weeks now but yesterday, what I’ve been saying about players playing in structured places, was highlighted as we went relatively untroubled and looked comfortable going forward – with CJ on his more natural left hand side meaning teams found it more difficult to close us down and force us backwards.
So what we didn’t scored a goal every time we went forward, that will come but its not going to happen every single week – to be successful you have to consistently create openings, be patient when they don’t come off and more importantly if you take a lead in the manner in which we did, be switched on and tight at the back so you don’t drop points – a big pat on the back there for Bobby Oljenik, who again showed his class.
During pre-season, prior to the whole “want away” Rose situation we questioned where he would fit in that system and forward line, he got his chance yesterday to start and answered those questions and silenced the critics with a dominant and passionate Danny Rose display, he was unlucky not to score a hat-trick in my opinion and that will come – only with game time.
At this stage in the season, going into the second month, it’s points that matter and clean sheets – teams will not fancy playing against us the more resilient we become – we are one of four teams unbeaten in the league and of those four, are second in terms of goals conceded with only MK Dons conceding less – mentality wise teams will not fancy trying to break that down.
The critical can argue about being tight AND ruthless, as of that unbeaten group of four – we’ve not been as clinical compared to Lincoln, who’ve conceded the same as us (four) but scored significantly more, fourteen to our eight.
The two sides meet on Tuesday in the first group match of the checkatrade trophy, Lincoln of course being the reigning champions of that completion – investing the money gained through last season’s run into their squad which is a big part of their clinical start.
It may well be a cup competition which isn’t league two and doesn’t matter when it comes to promotion hopes – but I argue it does, as its mentality, if we can go to Lincoln on Tuesday and get a victory, it shows that they are not the top dogs and that they can be beaten – giving other league teams the confidence against them which we can take advantage of with our own results, as well as giving us a platform for a cup run – you might say it’s the chicken soup trophy or whatever now, but if we get to Wembley – I guarantee you’ll be in the cue for a ticket!
Not everything has to be smashing teams in to the ground, not everything has to be pretty – a win is a win, three points are three points – and ultimately, they are ours. That hits the spot just nicely for me!
David Flitcroft was boosted by the return of defenders Hayden White and Matt Preston who went straight back into the starting line-up, with White preferred at Wing-Back than on the right side of the central three, he came in for Will Atkinson whilst Preston replaced Benning, with Hamilton preferred at left Wing-Back.
In midfield Alex MacDonald replaced Butcher following Tuesaday’s cup exit at West Brom, whilst up front Danny Rose was handed his first start of the season after the transfer window closed fully with him still very much a Stag – Craig Davies missed out. Finally there was no place for newbee Timi Elsnik, who arrived on Friday on a season long loan from Derby.
The stags picked up where they left off at West Brom with attacking intent, Otis Khan caused problems as he sent a ball across the face of goal which was dealt with, Tyler Walker then saw an effort saved by former Notts County glovesman Adam Collin in the United net, with just five minutes played.
Danny Rose then played Khan into the box five minutes later, the attacking midfielder’s claims for a spot kick waved away as he went to ground – Alex MacDonald next to try his luck with a half-volley from outside the box which he sliced wide.
A training ground corner very nearly broke the deadlock on 22 minutes as Rose peeled away from his marker to meet Khan’s deliver, the front man’s effort cleared off the line by Gary Liddle who knew very little about it!
Eight minutes later another corner routine led to Alex MacDonald putting in a second ball to Sweeney, the loanee defender hitting wide at the far post.
The visitors saw their first real opportunity of the game on 41 minutes as Jamie Devitt got in behind the back three, from a narrowing angle his lofted cross/shot landed on top of Oljenik’s goal.
The Stags then had four further chances to lead before the half-time whistle sounded, Khan sent Hamilton racing through but his effort was saved by Collin, before Hamilton again got a shot away – blocked by a sea of Blue bodies. Otis Khan then had a pop from twenty-five yards, blocked by Tom Parkes before Matt Preston’s diving header from a corner, bounced over the bar.
It was a slow start to the second half but on 53 minutes, Rose began to bloom as he found space inside the box, hitting an effort just wide – seconds later he was in again as he pounced on a united mistake, this time the legs of Collin denied Rose a much deserved goal.
A minute later the Stags were awarded a penalty, Hamilton was upended and Tyler Walker tasked with opening the scoring – he did with confidence, slotting beyond Collin to break the deadlock.
Rose then was challenged well by the visitors as he looked to add a second, then it was cometh the hour – cometh the Bobby O magic – pulling off a smart save to deny Jerry Yates as the Stags switched off.
Rose was then replaced by Davies on 62 minutes, the former Oldham front man nearly complied the misery for United as he saw an effort blocked on 69 minutes.
Khan, Pearce, Walker, Sweeney and Davies all had chances to make it two-nil, but it just wouldn’t drop as the game progressed – Oljenik then secured the Stags win and clean sheet in the 91st minute, tipping over a Yates’ effort before clinging onto the ball as the visitors pilled on the pressure – the full time whistle followed shortly, as the Stags picked up their second win of the season.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-0 Carlisle United
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, CJ Hamilton, Otis Khan (Calum Butcher 90+3), Tyler Walker, Danny Rose (Craig Davies 62)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Mal Benning, Jacob Mellis, Lewis Gibbens
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Full Time Score West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Mansfield Town
Competition EFL Cup (Carabao Cup) – Second Roubd
Venue The Hawthornes, West Brom
Stags Goal Scorers Neal Bishop
Attendance 10,574 (1,183)
Craig Priest writes…
After the Stags’ static and lacklustre second half display at Macclesfield, a visit to the Hawthornes to face Championship outfit West Brom could have ended in disaster, and whilst that’s true in terms of the fact we lost – we’ve walked away proud and with the potential to really kick on as a unit in Sky Bet League Two.
A 2-1 defeat is nothing to be down about, as out of the two sides, West Brom will be walking away wondering how they’ve won that – we’ve done everything bar score.
The critical side of me wants to write here about how that’s been the case in a few games this season, but I’ll silence him in the knowledge that you could see how the players reacted to our support last night and rallied for us – I’d be far more concerned and critical if we’d have just stopped fighting after West Brom scored.
In the first half I think that’s something we were guilty of however I think a lot of that comes down to the system and management – it’s here where David Flitcroft deserves praise. He’s tried too, and I applaud this, implement the 3-4-1-2 system which has worked well – but it only works when you’ve got the players available to comfortably play the roles required to adapt to the opposition – we didn’t at Macclesfield and got punished, but last night learnt our lesson.
It was clear that (as good as these players are) Ryan Sweeney and Mal Benning were playing out of passion and were getting pulled from pillar to post – West Brom’s opening goal a prime example as Benning (and this is NOT a blame culture) was caught hogging the touch line – a central defender does not need to be there. It left us short, out numbered and exposed – and for once, we were punished.
The same can be said with Sweeney who just didn’t look comfortable playing on the right side, as a left sided player he couldn’t adjust his positioning to play the right sided role – fortunately Pearce, Atkinson and Bobby Oljenik swept up.
In the second half, Flitcroft opted for a four-four-two later four-three-three with Sweeney going to left side centre half, his natural passion and was then a rock, whilst Atkinson pushed to right back, Benning across to his natural left back.
With that structure in place and that stability and confidence within ourselves we were able to play and really threaten West Brom – adding the tenacity of Alex MacDonald and the hunger of Danny Rose to the mix where the ingredients to our success in going forward, levelling and then nearly stealing the game.
Conceding the second I’ve no qualms about whatsoever, Atkinson is not a right back and therefore pushed up higher to try and put us in front, in league two his missed header would nine times out of ten go unpunished – but we were up against a good, sharp, quick and attack-minded Championship side and the difference in class, rightly showed.
Neal Bishop’s equalizer will live long in the memory and was fully deserved, both for him in the team, but what will not be forgotten for me is the fight, enthusiasm and desire from everyone involved after we went 2-1 down – we MUST show the same in the league, week in week out.
I hope the players saw last night that our only frustration as supporters is that we, like them, want them to succeed – we applaud and appreciate wholeheartedly their efforts to fight and run, to push and never give up – and regardless of the end result, 99% of the time that is enough. Sometimes I think players stop running, stop caring out of fear of our anger, our disappointments perhaps as a hangover from last season – which was born, and is always born, from us knowing how good and effective they can be.
If anything last night showed we are together, we are one entity wanting the same thing – to one day make fixtures like last night, our bread and butter. We love you through the good times and the bad, there’s nothing in this world that will ever change that – so let’s channel that pride, passion, desire and spark and set league two alight, starting Saturday at home to Carlisle.
On the back of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Macclesfield, David Flitcroft made a few changes – but on paper it looked very mismatched as he stuck with the 3-4-1-2 system playing left wing back Mal Benning at left side centre back, Ryan Sweeney on the right of the back three, with CJ Hamilton switched from right wing back to the left, to accommodate the incoming Will Atkinson. In midfield, Calum Butcher replaced Alex MacDonald whilst Oljenik kept his place between the sticks.
Both sides saw early chances as the game got underway – naturally it was the hosts who threatened first as Conor Townsend got in behind but failed to beat Oljenik, putting the ball over the bar – whilst at the other end, Craig Davies fired wide from Hamilton’s left sided cross.
Former Nottingham Forest man Oliver Burke put an effort wide for the hosts on eight minutes with the angle against him, two minutes later the dangerous former Red had another chance – this time nodding wide as the Baggies opened up the Stags.
On 18 minutes the Stags nearly grabbed the opener as Boaz Myhill kept out a certain own goal but parried the ball into the path of Davies – the Stags front man rasped his effort narrowly wide.
Otis Khan was next to test Myhill but couldn’t beat the former Hull glovesman who was equal to the attacking midfielder’s free kick with twenty-two on the clock, four minutes later the Stags were caught on the counter with a directional ball. Benning temporarily forgot he was playing as a central defender and not an attacking wing-back and hogged the touch line, as the Stags lost the ball – a long ball saw the Stags with two at the back – a cut back to Jonathan Leko saw the baggies man open the scoring from close range.
Bobby Olejnik then came to the Stags rescue on the half hour to deny the advancing Burke, the last real chance of the half.
After the break David Flitcroft switched systems to a 4-4-2, Atkinson at right back – Benning across to his natural left back with Pearce (right) and Sweeney (left) in the middle, Tyler Walker occupied the right wing, CJ Hamilton the left, whilst Khan partnered Davies upfront.
Calum Butcher nearly headed the Stags level on 52 minutes as he rose to meet Walkers cross, however a clash of heads saw that be Butchers last action – replaced by MacDonald who immediately tightened the Stags midfield and pushed the players forward.
Oljenik then denied Kyle Edwards, before then tipping a free header over the bar from a corner – after Sweeney made an inch perfect tackle to stop the hosts progressing.
Danny Rose replaced Davies on 64 minutes and made an instant difference with tenacious running and just a minute after coming on, cut inside well and curled a beautiful effort beyond Myhill, who could only watch the ball cannon off the bar and post and away.
Rose then set MacDonald for an effort which flew wide and you knew it would take something special – step up Neal Biship, who on 70 minutes reacted to Hamilton’s pull back to lean back and curl an un-stoppable effort into the top corner from long range.
Rose had claims for a spot kick turned down before volleying over the bar, determined to score – but it was West Brom who would strike what proved to be the winner on 75 minutes as Will Atkinson missed his header on the half way line to allow the hosts space down the left hand side, a neat run from Edwards evaded the challenge of Pearce, Walker and Sweeney to curl beyond an unsighted Oljenik.
Mansfield were not down and not out just yet and began a barrage of attack which, on any other day pays off. Rose was twice denied by Myhill, MacDonald curled a free kick wide and substitute Jordan Graham’s cut back picked out Walker – only to be denied by the experience Myhill.
Time was fast running out by the Stags were peppering the home goal – Graham looped an effort just beyond the far post as the game entered five additional minutes. Rose tamely nodded an effort wide before the Stags won a corner – which Bobby Oljenik raced forward for – the ball fell for him after Myhill saved a first effort – the shot from the Stags glovesman was heading into the bottom corner, a block saw it land at the feet of Pearce – who slotted wide!
Moments later another corner and up came Bobby O again – this time going toe to toe with Myhill, the ball ran loose but the hosts scrambled clear as the referee put the whistle to the lips and brought a thrilling piece of drama to a close, West Brom putting the stags out and ending an unbeaten run – but only just.
FULL TIME: West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Oljenik, Ryan Sweeney, Krystian Pearce ©, Mal Benning (Jordan Graham 85), Will Atkinson, Neal Bishop, Calum Butcher (Alex MacDonald 53), CJ Hamilton, Otis Khan, Tyler Walker, Craig Davies (Danny Rose 65)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Lewis Gibbens, Jacob Mellis, Omari Sterling-James
Referee: Stephen Martin
Full Time Score Macclesfield Town 1-1 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Moss Rose, Macclesfield
Stags Goal Scorers Mal Benning
Attendance 2,624 (1,184)
Craig Priest writes…
In football there are good draws and bad draws – sometimes there are neither and yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Macclesfield was neither, it was a stereotypical ‘game of two halves’, a lesson and a totally unacceptable second half showing.
Credit must go to Macclesfield for their triple change at the break but changed the game for them, however that’s as far as the credit goes the blame (as harsh as that word may seem) is on us as a collective – we didn’t deal with or respond to those changes, we should have put the game out of reach prior to the break and above all else – we showed no heart or desire to take anything but a point, which in the end, we were VERY fortunate to come away with.
The fact we didn’t put the game out of reach before the break I can just about accept, it can be chalked off in isolation as ‘one of those days’ – BUT that particular phrase is cropping up too often now and five games in, that worries me.
What I can’t stomach is the way were absolutely peppered in the second half and if this were ‘Macclesfield Matters’ – I’d be sitting here praising our attack! A better team would have pummelled us into a four, maybe five-one loss and given us a real spanking. We didn’t deal with the pressure and looked lost.
Above all else, and this is something that’s been bubbling away for a few games now, is the absolute lack of movement and want to make things happen in the second half – especially after conceding.
Teams have figured out the way we attack and are pressing us higher up the pitch, we can easily break this down if ONE player makes a run, but everybody just stands there wanting the ball to feet and excepting things to happen for them – it’s almost spoilt brat mentality, show some desire and creativity and one point from a winning position with the taste of frustration – will be replaced with the sweet satisfaction of victory.
In football, as in life, you get out of it what you put in – so on that display which lacked heart and passion, a point is like robbing a bank really. I don’t want to use the R word as we could be in a far worse position and shape, BUT we can only carry on with this careless approach to collecting points for so long before we find ourselves in trouble.
This is not born out of frustration or an arrogant attitude, it’s born out of the knowledge that we know how good we can be, and how capable we are – a little more of as ruthless streak and we’re onto a winner.
Finally, lets end on a positive note – and a big round of applause for the Stags academy set up after the debut of Lewis Gibbens. Two years ago Gibbens was playing football on a park and has been coached, nurtured and developed into a real asset. Like with any young player, there are still improvements to be made, that tendency to slide in for one, BUT he looks a real solid defender older than his years and I’ve no doubt that he’ll add to his debut more over the course of the season.
Defender Hayden White missed out with a knock which gave 18 year old Lewis Gibbens his first start since making the transition from the Academy to the first team during the summer, otherwise it was unchanged from the side which drew 0-0 at Tranmere, with keeper Olejnik keeping his place after a fine display.
The Stags started well winning a corner within the opening minute, from which Alex MacDonald fired over.
Craig Davies and Neal Bishop also tried their luck but failed to break the deadlock within the opening ten minutes, a spell where Olejnik went untroubled in the Stags goal infront of a brilliant Stags support.
Khan picked out Benning on 13 minutes but the advancing wing-back’s touch was too heavy, at the other end Harry Smith rose at the far post but couldn’t keep his header down
Chances for MacDonald, Khan, Walker and Davies followed but despite Mansfield going through the gears – they couldn’t break the silkmen’s seal. The Stags came closer on the half hour as Walker and then Bishop saw efforts saved – two minutes later, Otis Khan delivered a chipped cross from the bye-line – powerfully headed home by Mal Benning to put the Stags ahead.
Two efforts for Hamilton plus chances for Walker and Davies went astray before the break – at the interval the Stags led, but that was about the change as the pendulum of domination swung in favour of the other MTFC.
The hosts rang the changes at the interval and Mansfield struggled to adapt, although both Hamilton and Khan did have efforts to double the Stags advantage.
Macclesfield were growing into the game and you could sense a goal around the corner, Ryan Sweeney – playing as the central of the three defenders, made a critical block to deny the hosts.
Back at the other end a goalmouth scramble prevented the Stags the critical second on the hour mark, before three minutes later – the inevitable happened as Macclesfield levelled – Harry Smith powering beyond Oljenik.
Smith should have then put the hosts ahead but put his header at the far post wide, the let-off clearly not enough for the Stags who consistently allowed the hosts away forward – fortunately Macclesfield failed to have the clinical touch they showed in winning the conference title last season.
The Stags’ own chances in front of goal were drying up and the ripple of frustration showed at the final whistle – Flitcroft’s men remain unbeaten but have won just once in five league games, twice surrendering a lead from a commanding position.
FULL TIME: Macclesfield Town 1-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Lewis Gibbens, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald (Jacob Mellis 71), Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Omari Terling-James 77), Craig Davies (Danny Rose 62), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Calum Butcher, Jordan Graham
Referee: Anthony Blackhouse
Full Time Score Tranmere Rovers 0-0 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Prenton Park, Tranmere
Stags Goal Scorers /
Craig Priest writes…
It’s funny how a week can totally change your mood – seven days prior we were reflecting on an astonishing victory over Accrington Stanley, whereas now, a week later – we’re wondering if we’ve used up all our goals – following a goalless draw at Tranmere which saw a number of opportunities wasted by David Flitcrofts men.
The Stags were below par against newly promoted Tranmere and again were left frustrated, collecting yet another draw.
For me personally whilst I’m disappointed and frustrated that we couldn’t get all three points, I’m happy that we’ve managed to stay tight enough at the back to build a clean sheet and not taste the bitter blow of disappointment which comes from a late goal against us like on Saturday.
That said it’s clear for me now that we need to use the loan window to boost our ranks – especially in the full back/ wing back area as, as resolute as CJ Hamilton is, he’s not a right sided player and any attack we mount down that side, see’s us come back inside and forced backwards – it’s negative and easy to defend against.
On the other side, the usually steady Mal Benning had a shocker last night and moving CJ across to the left really opened the game is, the problem then is – you’re asking a central midfielder in Will Atkinson to play right wing back and it’s a gamble we can’t afford to be taking, especially in situations such as last night where the game was there for the taking.
I believe the Stags do have the answer in house – Paul Anderson. His experience is vast and he showed last season, prior to the arrival of Flitcroft, that he can play anywhere well, with that right side certainly suiting his game – if whatever the situation is with Flitcroft can be sorted out, then it would be like getting a new signing.
We are missing that experienced pro which would not only help us to close games out – but also to go on and win them. A prime example, defensively on Saturday a more experienced player than Walker shows the Colchester man down the line, sees the ball out of play and its game over rather than giving away a soft free kick which results in added time and then a goal. In attack, that experience just pushes us forward a little bit more and see’s the run of Davies, who doesn’t like to attack on the front foot – he likes to hold off for cut backs – an experienced head see’s that, and we score.
The main talking point is the change of guard in goal – Oljenik played very well and, whilst I’m not a boo boy or pick people out for criticism, I felt that change was needed and that Olejnik played very well and can now go onto enjoy a run in the team which extends beyond a cup match here and a friendly there.
It’s frustrating to not have reward for our efforts, but we didn’t lose. One thing that does annoy me, is the comparison between this season and last season and that in his whole competitive tenure, we’ve only won three under Flitcroft – it’s an utterly pointless debate, different players, different pressures, different circumstances. A draw is not a loss, a cleansheet is important – if we can’t break teams down, then let’s get out there and make it hard for teams to beat us and break us down – starting with Macclesfield on Saturday.
Bobby Oljenik replaced Conrad Logan between the sticks with Craig Davies and Neal Bishop also back in the side – Calum Butcher and Jacob Mellis missed out as Flitcroft made three changes.
The pendulum was in full swing for both sides during the first half, Otis Khan picked out Craig Davies who saw a long range effort held by Scott Davies in the Tranmere goal, Neal Bishop also put one over the bar from range – moments after Oljenik was called into action – denying Ollie Banks within the opening ten minutes.
Oljenik was then on hand again to deny the dangerous James Norwood with his feet, after the Tranmere front man had skipped his way through – at the other end, Otis Khan forced a smart save from Davies in the home goal.
Pearce and Hamilton came to the Stags aid at the back as the hosts put on the pressue, on half an hour Khan tried to relieve that by scoring the opener – the tricky attack midfielder, denied by the home keeper.
Neal Bishop and Tyler Walker caused problems before the break, but on the referee’s whistle, it remainded goalless.
After the break the Stags struggled to get going and Flitcroft withdrew Mal Benning on the hour – Will Atkinson his replacement went across to right wing back, Hamilton to the left.
Otis Khan then wasted an opportunity to break the deadlock as he found himself clean through – rather than drill low into the corners, Khan hit straight at Davies.
With Twelve minutes to go Butcher & Rose replaced Khan and Craig Davies respectively as the Stags looked for the key to open up the hosts, however it was the hosts who came closest – Oljenik on hand to tip away an 80th minute goal bound header.
Tyler Walker then dragged one wide after being played into the box, he also couldn’t connect with a MacDonald cross – after tenacious work from the Stags number seven.
In the final seconds of the match, the hosts had two chances – Oljenik making a smart save to stop the fires, before the hosts were awarded a free kick, which fortunately was wasted to the sound of the full time whistle
FULL TIME: Tranmere Roves 0-0 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-2-1]: Bobby Olejnik, Hayden White, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning (Will Atkinson 59), Otis Khan (Calum Butcher 78), Craig Davies (Danny Rose 78), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James, Jacob Mellis
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-1 Colchester United
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Craig Davies
Attendance 3,909 (190)
Craig Priest writes…
After the six-one slaughtering of Accrington Stanley in midweek there was always danger of coming back down to earth with a bang, and whilst most thought the sucker punch was the frustration of not being able to break Colchester down, the reality was far more sickening – a 95th minute equalizer for the visitors who hadn’t really troubled Conrad Logan.
Arguments and debates will be had over Logan’s involvement in the goal which robbed the Stags a victory and the chance to go top of League Two, and whilst I’m tempted to weigh in on those debates – it’s pointless, as, as David Flitcroft said post match, it’s a collective problem – win together, lose together, draw together – accept errors, together.
You could see the joy within the dressing room when substitute Craig Davies scored the opening goal, but as Flitcroft hinted, there wasn’t the same pride in protecting the clean sheet and subsequently, the three points – we thought the game was dead and buried and we can’t allow that until AFTER the referee blows the full time whistle.
I firmly believe however that we WILL learn to close games out and see them through by becoming more switched on and game savvy. Other managers would come out after that and berate the referee for “playing more than the official put up” but if one of your players makes a needless foul, the referee will allow time for it and that’s exactly how, and why, Colchester nicked a point.
There’s no point dwelling on negatives though, that’s how bad form starts – yes we should have had three points, but on the other hand – if Walker makes that foul at 0-0 and Colchester go onto score from the resulting phase of play, we lose the game – there’s a fine line between positive and negative.
We’ve scored a wonder goal and not given up against one of the most stubborn and resilient teams in the division and we’ve shown that we can adapt our system to take pressure off ourselves and make the opposition panic.
In the build up to Davies’ fine strike we had a five/ten minute spell of 4-4-2 when we had the ball, with Benning dropping back, white pushing to right back, CJ to the right wing and Otis Khan to the left – those banks for four tightened our barriers for a bit and allowed us to get bodies forward and press, which is pleasing for me to see that Flitcroft won’t just stick with one way of playing – game management is key to locking the door on failure and shortcomings.
It’s how we respond now and fortunately the next match isn’t a week away, it’s Tuesday, so no time to sit and dwell, time only to work.
Trying to end on a positive or two, I thought Ryan Sweeney had another solid game – obviously losing Preston again is a blow but Sweeney had another fine game and in my opinion was deserving of the man of the match award over MacDonald, who just did what Macca does really.
We talk about the attacking signings made by the Stags boss, but the Sweeney move could be just as pivotal – he fits how we play, good in the air, composed on the floor and looks a threat going forward, I hope his form continues to develop.
After the six-one thrashing of Accrington in midweek, boss Flitcroft had a tough selection on his hands and in the end – opted to make just once change, Oljenik back to the bench for first choice Logan.
Up against a side who were yet to concede in the league, the Stags found it hard to break through and get efforts on target – CJ Hamilton the first to try on five minutes as he cut in from the right to let an effort fly.
Otis Khan delivered a corner five minutes later, the impressive Ryan Sweeney pealed away from his marker to try and connect, but was unfortunate to just miss Khans’ teasing set play.
Mal Benning then hit the wall with a free kick before, at the other end, conceding a corner – which visiting skipper Luke Prosser connected with at the far post – Logan on hand to palm the ball away.
The first half saw no more real chances of note as both sides enjoyed spells with the ball to no end product, after the break it was a similar story with the visitors enjoying the early pressure.
Craig Davies then replaced Calum Butcher on 58 minutes as Flitcroft went for two up front rather than two in attacking midfield. The tactical tweak seemed to work as the pendulum of play swung back in the Stags favour, but the hosts still couldn’t break the Colchester barrier.
Danny Rose and Neal Bishop then replaced Khan and Mellis with 13 minutes to play, Rose made an instant impact once more winning his battles and forcing Colchester deeper than they’d like, he was heavily involved with the phase of play on 81 minutes, which eventually saw the ball fall for Davies on the edge of the box – his initial effort was blocked but it fell straight back to him, and on the left foot, he unleashed a venomous volley into the top corner to put the Stags in front.
Rose then came close to adding a second with a curling effort but was denied by the keeper with the angle against him, Tyler Walker also flagged offside as he looked to pounce on Sweeney’s lofted pass.
Into four minutes of added time and the Stags thought they’d done enough, however youngster Tyler Walker lost his cool slightly after an altercation with the visiting staff and was then booked for kicking the ball away as the visitors got a free kick.
The Stags did deal with that but not the second phase of play, as they allowed a long throw to be hurled into the area – Conrad Logan came to claim it but dropped the ball under pressure, allowing Sammie Szmodics to get the final touch to take the ball over the line, as rescue a point from the jaws of defeat.
Neal Bishop tried his luck from the restart, but no sooner had the midfielders boot connected with the ball, the referee brought the action to a close.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-1 Colchester United
STAGS [3-4-2-1]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Jacob Mellis (Neal Bishop 77), Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Danny Rose 77), Calum Butcher (Craig Davies 58), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James, Will Atkinson
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Full Time Score Yeovil Town 2-2 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Huish Park, Yeovil
Stags Goal Scorers Craig Davies, Matt Preston
Attendance 2,795 (315)
Craig Priest writes…
After the home comforts of four pre-season friendlies and the opening day win over Newport County, the Stags finally hit the road yesterday for one of the longest away trips of the campaign as they faced Yeovil Town – an afternoon where the word ‘congestion’ sums the day up in its entirety.
The near four hour journey took about five and a half for supporters hitting the road, some luckier than others to get through the congestion with time to spare before kick-off, others not so much – I imagine there would have been a few nervous fans wondering if they’d actually make kick-off!
The stop-start nature of the motorway seemed to transfer onto the pitch as the Stags couldn’t really find enough rhythm to settle and endured there most frustrating test so far.
It was a matter of time before the 3-4-1-2 (3-5-2 depending on your preference!) system was properly tested and picked at, and whilst Newport showed glimpses of this last weekend, Yeovil were more effective in enticing the Stags high up the pitch and then penetrating over the top, both centrally and in wide areas, to effect – as highlighted in Yeovil’s two goals, although the second could, and should have, been avoided.
If you’re going to play high you have to be quick off the mark and none of the three central defenders were, often beaten in direct races and in Ariel battles – a better team would have, and will, punish us if we don’t tight then screw.
Defensively the midfield let us down as Yeovil were allowed time and space to find a way through, which this system is designed to stop – I felt watched that the boys seemed a bit shell-shocked by the conditions, sweeping wind and rain and weren’t quite sure how to manage that.
However despite a worrying afternoon on that front, I am delighted in the Stags attitude and application in twice fighting back – I’ve said for weeks that I wanted to see the lads come up against it and have to respond, on that performance I’ve no qualms about that going forward, as a collective they aren’t contempt to sit back and take a hiding – which could well have happened.
Attacking wise we didn’t look at our most dangerous, as David Flitcroft said in his post match interview we’ve done a lot of work going through the middle of the pitch but haven’t exploited the wide areas yet – when we did get the ball on the deck and play, centrally or wide, we looked dangerous and like Yeovil at the other end, on another day could have really profited.
Things weren’t dropping for us in that respect and it’s here where the bench need to step in and change things up – bringing Butcher on for Davies with seven minutes to go screamed shutting up shop and playing for the point, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that in the grand scheme of things, an early attack minded change, perhaps bringing Butcher on for the booked Bishop, or Atkinson on in a wider role, might have turned a point into three.
That’s my only critique really, I’m certainly not moaning, I’m certainly not disheartened and I’m certainly not writing off our chances – this is a good squad which, with the turn of the screw at the back and a bolstered attack, can set this league on fire.
On that subject, here comes the topic of the week – Danny Rose. Listening to David Flitcroft post match, I’m again convinced that the FA are going to have to do some really digging into the way Peterborough United have conducted themselves in relation to “tapping up” Danny.
He was rightly left out of the squad for the trip to Yeovil and his inclusion would have only done more damage than good with Danny, in the words of the Stags boss, spending the entirety of the last week believing he was a Peterborough United player. As Flitcroft said, psychologically now Danny’s head will be all over the place having been promised the earth and delivered nothing.
I completely believe Rose can have a future at Mansfield Town Football Club and play a part in our success. All of this talk of a fall out with Flitcroft is, in my view, created hype to orchestrate a move and disrupt a club – I hope when the two (Rose and Flitcroft) sit down on Monday morning that the two reach the conclusion that, no matter the interested outside party, Danny Rose is best served for all concerned as a Stags player who between now and at least January, can contribute with goals and the fire power to put us on the verge of being a League One club.
All this talk on social media of isolating Rose for wanting a move elsewhere needs to stop – IF on Monday (or whenever) the club come out and say Danny Rose will continue to play for Mansfield Town FC then no matter what, we back him and watch him bloom.
I don’t think there is one single person out there in any walk of life who wouldn’t want to better themselves and their future should the opportunity come. Show me someone who wouldn’t (especially at Rose’s age) and I’ll show you a liar or a madman.
Yesterday we needed that extra attacking threat from the bench (I’m not saying for a second Rose should be benched) to bring on and turn a point into three, we’d be better served in future with that than without it. Looking at the players Flitcroft has brought In in that particular area, Davies, Walker, Khan – I’m even more convinced they were brought in to create a better Danny Rose, not to isolate him.
David Flitcroft named an unchanged starting line-up from the side which beat Newport County, Will Atkinson replaced Omari Sterling-James on the bench.
The surface at Huish Park was very zippy and both sides struggled the get going, the Stags had the first opportunity on five minutes as Khan, on his return to Yeovil, laid-off MacDonald but he saw his effort blocked – Yeovil zipped down the other end and as the Stags got caught too high, Diallang Jaiyesimi brought the ball down and slotted beyond Logan to open the scoring.
Mansfield rallied and began their fight back, Otis Khan tried an over head kick which didn’t pay off on eight minutes but a minute later, Khan was involved as the Stags put a ball across the home box for Craig Davies to react too, lashing home a thunderous effort for his first goal of the campaign to level proceedings.
Khan created two further opportunities for the Stags but it was a Mansfield old face who would cause problems next as Yoann Arquin reacted first, after the Stags were again caight napping too high, to a Logan palm away – tucking home from close range to put Yeovil back in the driving seat.
The Stags weren’t playing Yeovil’s game and again began their fight back – Davies tried to grab his second with a curling effort on 21 minutes, this time denied by Nathan Baxter in the home goal – Baxter left with no chance four minutes later as Khan delivered from the left hand side for Matt Preston to bravely rise at the far post to nod the Stags back into the game.
Tyler Walker, Hayden White, Mal Benning and Otis Khan all had attempts to unlock the home defence denied before the break, at which the sides firmly locked at 2-2.
Walker then met a Benning delivery after the re-start but he couldn’t beat Baxter for his second Stags goal in as many games, Walker was then denied by Yeovil sub Gary Warren again after good work from Benning.
Conrad Logan then kept the Stags in the game on 67 minutes as he denied Arquin a second, at the other end Logan’s opposite number again denied Walker, Khan this time the tormentor.
The Stags should have had a third on 73 minutes minutes as Davies’ far post header saw Sowumni head the ball against his own bar, in the final two minutes – Matt Preston and substitute Jacob Mellis both came close to grabbing a winner, but it just wasn’t meant to be as the Stags settled for a point of the road.
FULL TIME: Yeovil Town 2-2 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-5-2]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald (Jacob Mellis 87), Mal Benning, Otis Khan, Craig Davies (Calum Butcher 83), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Ryan Sweeney, Lewis Gibbens, Lewis Gibbens, Will Atkinson
Referee: Neil Hair
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 3-0 Newport County
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Tyler Walker, Otis Khan (2)
Attendance 4,423 (320)
Craig Priest writes…
They say that you should always start as you mean to go on, and if that’s the case for Mansfield Town – then a good season could lay in wait, following a slick, composed and professional 3-0 victory over Newport County at the One Call Stadium.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Stags who had Conrad Logan to thank for a string of solid saves coupled with some suspect Newport County finishing, but after a testing few days for supporters, it certainly was a relief to walk into the evening sunshine with three points successfully secured.
During the build up to the game there was little talk of if the Stags could match their marvellous pre-season form, instead talk focussed heavily on star striker Danny Rose, who this week handed in a transfer request amid rumours of interest from League One Peterborough United, a side full of former Stags connections.
The Stags had also been active in the transfer market in the build up to the League Two opener, selling Paul Digby to Forest Green Rovers and brining in Stoke City youngster Ryan Sweeney on a season long loan, it was also confirmed after the match that the Stags had accepted a bid from Grimsby Town for striker Lee Angol – should that move go ahead, I seriously doubt Rose would be allowed to leave so easily – we can afford to lose one front man, not two.
Onto the match itself and the most pleasing element for me was the support shown for boss David Flitcroft who, prior to the match, hadn’t won a league fixture at home since taking over in March – a win for him is huge in the support stakes, considering the rumours surrounding fall-outs with a few of the Transfer Listed, fan favourite, players.
The Stags were tested more severally than they were during pre-season against the quartet of championship sides and from the off looked shaky, a better team would have punished us but fortunately, we rode the waves to survive undamaged.
The problem seemed to be in the back three with Hayden White slipping and making early errors, after the first goal David Flitcroft called him over and had a word, after which his game improved significantly and he was fully deserving of being the man to protect the clean sheet late on in the second half with the goal line clearance.
Matt Preston looked sharp and dominant once again and seemed to very much be settling with captain Pearce, whose mentality issues thankfully seem to be gone – this is a big season for Pearce, full deserving the honour of captain.
The three goals we scored highlighted how dangerous the new system can be and the importance of playing the width of the pitch, Otis Khan rightfully will take the plaudits for two fine goals, but as a team – over movement troubled Newport and showed glimpses of real quality.
It will be a long season and it will not be plain sailing all the way through, there will be games we don’t have our own way and have to watch our discipline, but overall – it’s a very pleasing start to the new campaign, I for one can’t wait to see this journey continue.
The questions over the team sheet prior to kick-off weren’t about who would start, more who would miss out as David Flitcroft had moulded his side over the previous fortnight – new signing Ryan Sweeney arrived from Stoke City on Friday on loan, he settled for a place on the bench, with Flitcroft sticking with White at right side centre-back, and CJ Hamilton at right wing back.
Transfer listed Calum Butcher made the bench alogn with younsgeters Lewis Gibbens and Jordan Graham, want away striker Rose missed out along with Lee Angol – who appears to be Grimsby bound.
Otis Khan kicked off the new campaign where the opening ten minutes so a timid start from both, on 11 minutes however Mal Benning had to be alert and make a critical intervention to prevent Jamille Matt from opening the scoring for the visitors.
A minute later at the other end CJ Hamilton saw an effort blocked straight to the feet of a hungry Tyler Walker, he drew a save from Joe Day earning the stags a corner – from which Bishop & Pearce combined to feed Walker, who this time made no mistake in firing beyond Joe Day to officially open his Stags account.
On 15 minutes Conrad Logan made a fine save to deny Padraig Amond at the far post from a deep cross, two mibutes later The stags came close again – Craig Davies’ long range curler crashed against the post.
The Stags endured a spell of unpunished pressure from Newport as the visitors thrice wasted efforts, Tyler Walker then nearly grabbed a second on 38 minutes from MacDonald’s cross, Walker’s effort narrowly wide.
Otis Khan and Craig Davies had further efforts but couldn’t add a second – the Stags 1-0 up at half-time.
The Stags emerged from the dressing room and stepped things up a notch, Khan curled an effort wide from 20 yards on 54 minutes, but soon found the target two minutes later, latching onto Walkers’ cross to head home, after a neat lofted pass from Bishop to send the forest loanee racing to the bye-line.
Khan the grabbed his second and Mansfield’s third on 65 minutes with a sublime effort, curling home from outside the box as Stags’ fluid movement, proved too much for Newport to handle.
Newport nearly hand one back with 12 minutes to go as Amond beat the offside trap to round an advancing Logan, Hayden White recovered well and scopped the ball away from danger a yard from the line.
A long injury to the linesman delayed the ending, but it was set in stone – a comfortable and well earned victory for the Stags, their firs three points putting them third in the League Two table – nwxt stop Yeovil, who were beaten 1-0 at Bury, but did have two players sent-off.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-0 Newport County
STAGS [3-5-2]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Calum Butcher 75), Craig Davies (Jordan Graham 90), Tyler Walker (Jacob Mellis 90+4)
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Ryan Sweeney [#17 New signing on loan from Stoke City], Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James
Referee: Paul Marsden
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