Full Time Score Mansfield Town 0-0 Swindon
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) /
Attendance 5,311 (486)
Craig Priest writes…
When you’re on a run like ours, sometimes you get an air of arrogance and expect to come out of games with all three points – it’s times like that where you get beat and start a downfall, fortunately for the Stags, the goalless draw with Swindon is one we can put down to a bad day at the office, but one where we still got the job done to the minimum requirement.
There’s always that day over the Christmas period where you have no idea what the time is, where you are, what you are supposed to be doing and frankly just can’t be bothered – I saw a bit of that in yesterday’s performance, but also know that the match was played in a tough wind and against a side who were not simply going to let us play our free flowing game.
The most concerning thing for me was that tempers began to boil over, in particular between the back three and goalkeeper Conrad Logan, as both parties had the right to be angry over either miss placed back passes, taking too long or not coming out in support.
Mansfield’s game is set to be played from the back and that trust between keeper and defenders is paramount to that being a success, we need to iron out these clear indifferences – especially coming up against teams who press high and keep teams penned in, we were very fortunate to see Logan pull off some very good saves to rectify errors from both parties.
The important thing in a game you can’t seem to get a grip in is to defend the clean sheet and the point, and then try and take the opportunities when they come – Mansfield to their credit did just that especially in the last five/ten minutes, but met their match in a Swindon side determined not to leave without a point.
All in all I’m pleased with the result, we are unbeaten in 16 league games having lost once in the league all season, we perhaps need to freshen the line-up up against Grimsby as its 1st vs 2nd in the form table for the last eight games, and given the fact the Stags always struggle at Grimsby – we have to work hard to protect our record and make progress.
2018 has been great, 2019 can be even better if we keep our heads and focus. COME ON YOU STAGS
David Flitcroft named an unchanged starting line-up once more and started early looking for the vital opener, CJ Hamilton’s third minute effort was blocked well, before Timi Elsnik fed in Walker, whose shot deflected onto the roof of the Swindon net.
At the other end Conrad Logan pulled off a fine save on 11 minutes to thwart Keshi Anderson before a cross from White nearly bounced in at the other end, Mal Benning saw an effort from a corner blocked and Tyler Walker couldn’t beat Lawrence Vigouroux in the Swindon goal, as he made a good save.
Logan was then the one making a save to deny Matt Taylor from a free kick on 27 minutes, ten minutes later his opposite number was in action – again denying leading marksman Tyler Walker’s thunderous effort.
Both sides enjoyed a chance each before the break, Ex-Swindon man Elsnik curled one over the bar, before Anderson called Logan into action – neither could impact on the 0-0 scoreline at the break.
Mansfield began the second half as they’d started the first, Mellis nodded narrowly wide from Benning’s cross with the half merely two minutes old, Neal Bishop also tested the water with a peach of a cross, CJ Hamilton unlucky to not connect at the back post.
On 67 Walker was again denied by the visiting keeper, who was again involved on 79, this time flashing an effort wide of the target.
Late on it was all Mansfield as Hamilton was next to be denied by Vigouroux before Substitute Rose saw a header deflect wide for a late corner which, sadly, led to nothing bar the sound of the referee’s whistle for full time.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 0-0 Swindon
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning (Danny Rose 79), Timi Elsnik (Otis Khan 60), CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Jake Kean, Will Atkinson, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Jordan Graham
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 2-1 Bury
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Pen)
Attendance 4,959 (516)
Craig Priest writes…
Having not won on Boxing Day for ten years prior to yesterday’s clash, Stags fans were asking Santa for an added dose of luck mixed with optimism along with their three points – boy did the big guy delivery as the Stags buried the Ghost of Christmas past, against promotion rivals Bury.
Mansfield were again magnificent in their approach to the fixture and whilst they didn’t have it all their own way against a very good Bury side, Flitcroft’s men stood firm and kept on going until the rewards came, the only negative being throwing away the clean sheet by conceding a needless, cheap, penalty.
Overall Mansfield’s play is brilliant week upon week and we are really seeing the quality from individuals shine through, the pass from Mellis to CJ for the first goal a prime example, whilst Rose’s ferocious header to win Mansfield a penalty was the mark of the fine player he is.
We have a real flow about us at the moment and when you think about the players still to come back into the mix, I have to really stop myself getting carried away and thinking about what could be – it is vitally important to finish 2018 on a high on Saturday with another three points and then do the recruitment both early and well.
The Stags were unchanged from Saturday’s come from behind victory over Stevenage and were on the back foot inside the opening ten minutes, Conrad Logan called into action on two minutes to deny O’Connell, three minutes later the Stags shot stopper was back peddling but did enough to keep out O’Shea, who tried to chip the Stags glovesman from distance.
Mansfield had their first real chance on 15 minutes as Mellis and Elsnik worked a short corner, the latter feeding the former into the box where his fizzing effort was blocked well, a minute later Mellis was again denied – this time by the side netting following White’s pin point cross park ball.
The Stags were starting to get on top and typically it was Hamilton causing trouble, in over the top the lightening dinger turned defender turned striker turned legend, squared across the box to Bishop – who was denied by a perfect tackle from Ex Stag Stephen Dawson.
Mellis, Walker, White, Benning and Hamilton all had further efforts but couldn’t find the opening required, the match all square at the break.
Bury nearly found the opening for the Stags a minute into the second half as they headed the ball against their own bar, but cometh the hour and lightening struck – as Mellis lofted the ball over the top for CJ to chase and despite the excellent Joe Murphy saving the first effort – Hamilton nodded the looping lose ball into the net to put Mansfield ahead.
Rose replaced Elsnik on 68 minutes and ten minutes later both him and Walker were denied by Murphy, from the resulting corner Rose’s header caused havoc and the referee pointed to the spot, as Sweeney was upended chasing Rose’s flick – Tyler Walker took responsibility and converted expertly to double the Stags lead, netting his 15th goal of the season.
Atkinson replaced Mellis with five minutes to go and nearly made the perfect impact, collecting a loose ball in the middle and dancing his way through, firing wide of the mark once inside the Bury box.
Five minutes of time were added and in the fourth, Matt Preston’s sliding challenge inside the Stags box was too heavy – Jay O’Shea beat Logan from the spot to make it 2-1, fortunately – the full time whistle soon followed and Mansfield sealed three festive points.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-1 Bury
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis (Will Atkinson 85), Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, Timi Elsnik (Danny Rose 69), CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Jordan Graham 88)
Unused Subs:  Jake Kean, Otis Khan, Calum Butcher, Jason Law
Referee: Ollie Yates
Full Time ScoreStevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Lamex Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Ryan Sweeney, Tyler Walker (2)
Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield Town delivered the perfect early Christmas present with a commanding display at Stevenage, and despite having to come from a goal behind, reinforced the belief that this could be the season to be jolly – Merry Stagsmas everyone!
After last weekend’s wash out at half time to Forest Green, there were fears that the Stags would be rusty having lost momentum in the horrible winter rain, however if anything – that downpour did nothing bar strengthen the Stags focus and desire to fight, something which was clear yesterday at Stevenage.
From the very first whistle Flitcroft’s men looked thirsty and played some wonderful football and, as has been the story for many a game, should have perhaps been a goal in front – Stevenage saw little sight of the Stags goal and left Logan (who now has a chance following the disappointing injury to Oljenik) as a spectator for long periods of the first half – yet with seconds to go before the break, a cross from the Stevenage right wasn’t deal with and against the odds, the hosts led.
There are two ways to react, blame and crumble, or move on and fight back – this Mansfield Town side is only capable of the latter and set about turning the game on its head with a terrific second half display full of energy, and somewhat anger, to claim the win and protect their reputation as the toughest side to beat in the EFL and the second toughest in the top four leagues, bettered only by unbeaten Liverpool.
This is a team who battle and fight for each other, this is a team who battle and fight for their manager and backroom, this is a team who battle and fight for its fans and who share the same passion – I can honestly say, even going back to the winning run which saw us promoted back into the league, that I’ve never felt this from the players and manager. I’m not daft, I know that the bubble will burst or at least take a hit at some stage, BUT we are on the cusp of something special here and I for one can’t wait to see it continue.
We’ve two tough home games over Christmas in Bury (Boxing Day) and Swindon (29th) where we have to pick up wins now and put together a real forceful run, Bury we owe not only for the late draw at their place, but also the recent loss in the Checkatrade, whilst Swindon fans will want to burst Flitcroft’s bubble and climb up the table.
Finally, Merry Christmas to you and your family – Thanks for reading my ramblings and listening/ watching the podcast – let’s hope Santa brings what we’re all wishing for!!
The Stags named an unchanged side from the one who played 45 minutes at Forest Green, sorry enjoyed 45 minutes of water football! Conrad Logan continued in goal with Oljenik out for the season, Jake Kean on the bench – returning to the club on a short term deal top bolster the goalkeeping department.
Mansfield started with a real intensity and should have been ahead inside the opening two minutes as CJ Hamilton was denied by Scott Cuthbert, Jacob Mellis and Neal Bishop also saw efforts land off target during a first half which the Stags enjoyed lots of the ball.
With ten minutes to go before the break Walker was denied an opening goal by Paul Farman in a one vs one, ten minutes later disaster struck as with what must have been their third sight on goal if that, Stevenage took the lead as Ben Nugent converted a right sided cross.
The stags set about turning the game around after the break and nearly pulled level on 52 minutes as Elsnik found Mellis, his long range effort flew over the bar before three minutes later former Stag Joel Byrom gave the ball away and saw Walker pounce, the loanee’s effort looped over the bar.
Second later though and the goal the Stags needed came as a corner saw the ball fall for Ryan Sweeney who smashed home his first goal in Stags colours to send the visiting fans into raptures.
The travelling support never stopped singing and were momentarily breathless as Stevenage found a rare opening on 76 minutes – Conrad Logan earned heroic status with a venomous save to keep the match at 1-1
Logan’s brilliant save spurred on the Stags and just two minutes later substitute Danny Rose made an impact as he headed a cross back across goal, Tyler Walker made no mistake in converting to put Mansfield back in front.
Mansfield weren’t contempt at 2-1 and set about in search of a much deserved third, they bfound it with four minutes to go as Hamilton burst down the left and whipped in for Walker who was denied by Farman at the first attempt, but at the second, slammed home – three goals for the Stags, two for Walker and another win in the bag.
FULL TIME: Stevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning (Danny Rose 69), Timi Elsnik (Jordan Graham 87), Cj Hamilton, Tyler Walker
Unused Subs:  Jake Kean, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Will Atkinson
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Full Time ScoreMansfield Town 2-0 Notts County
Competition Sky Bet League Two (Matt Salmon Trophy)
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton (2)
Attendance 6,604 (1,140)
Craig Priest writes…
After a below par cup exit in midweek, the Stags needed to step-up their game as they welcomed rivals Notts County for the start of a brand new era for the Magpies, that’s exactly what happened as lightening struck twice – to ensure a new error at Notts County had begun.
David Flitcroft was hurt by the midweek exit and wasted no time in putting things right with a thoroughly professional display from his players to ride an early County storm and then control the game to silence their relegation troubled neighbors.
CJ Hamilton naturally takes the plaudits with two goals and to be fair, totally deserves them, the work his has put in and the attitude he has shown to develop under Flitcroft has turned him into a real asset who is capable of playing anywhere, yet currently as an out and out front man is giving teams headaches.
Notable mentions go to Pearce and Benning who being the clubs longest serving players know exactly what the fixture means and put in a fitting display, whilst Neal Bishop knew too from the other side of the fence, but didn’t let his past dictate his present and future, with another phenomenal display in the middle.
The whole team spirit is unreal and to be in December having been beaten just once in the league is a real achievement, despite the early draws and lack of fire power it shows we are a real force as a unit who, like a fine wine, seemingly get better with age and time.
We are the hardest team to beat in the league right now with just one loss (and one of three teams in the Football League to have lost just once), which is a record to be proud of – a lot of that comes from being patient and resilient from the back with the second best defence (only by one goal to leader MK Dons) in the league.
Flitcroft has built a tight family unit who are really buying into what we are doing, our core is far stronger than where we were a year ago and as we head into the festive set of fixtures and move towards the next transfer window, we are making real progress to where we dream of being.
The Stags boss may have missed out on manager of the month, but we don’t need accolades yet – we need to be focussed and prepared, and IF we get our recruitment right in January, the rewards WILL come. Recruitment is a BIG thing for us and I’ve no doubt that Flitcroft will get it right however that is another story for another day – let’s enjoy the derby day victory and keep our focus on the bigger picture, starting with a trip to Forest Green next weekend getting back to back victories and like our CJ, prove that lightening, really does strike twice.
There were only a few minor tweaks from midweek as Flitcroft switched keepers, and also brought Elsnik into midfield for Khan, whilst Hamilton replaced Rose to lead the front line.
Notts County under new management were keen to show their new boss they were up for the fight and had early chances to open the scoring, a combination of solid Stags defending and a smart save from Olejnik kept the Magpies at bay, before at the other end on 14 minutes, it was County who were throwing themselves at shots, as Mal Benning pounced on a poor clearance from Ross Fitzsimons – his long range curler cleared off the line.
Hamilton, Walker and Benning all saw further efforts go a miss before Olejnik again pulled off a good save at the other end.
Former Notts man Bishop nearly came back to haunt his former side with ten minutes to go before the break, he was denied by the legs of Fitzsimons before the Notts County glovesman denied Walker.
Olejnik was then involved as the pendulum swung again, he denied Will Patching before the Stags broke the deadlock with a fine flowing move on 37 minutes, CJ Hamilton the man converting – showing great pace to connect with Bennings’ pitch perfect cross.
After the break Mansfield searched for a second as Walker and Hamilton had a pop, the latter hitting the bar, Hayden white also struck the woodwork as his effort smashed against the post as the match approached the hour mark.
CJ Hamilton made it 2-0 on 63 minutes as quick feet saw him dance around the Magpies and turn home, Walker should have made it three just three minutes later as he punced on a Turley mistake, but dragged his effort wide.
Olejnik then had to be alert to keep out Elliott Ward but it was Mansfield who looked the most likely to get a third, Hamilton, Walker, White, Bishop and Substtiute Rose all had efforts, but Notts wouldn’t grant the Stags a third – the full time whistle sealing another derby day victory.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-0 Notts County
STAGS [3-4-3]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop (Will Atkinson 90+2), Timi Elsnik (Otis Khan 81), Mal Benning, CJ Hamilton, Tyler Walker (Danny Rose 86)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Jordan Graham
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
The Wembley dream is over in terms of a cup competition as following a well-deserved break, the Stags returned to action and crashed out of the Checkatrade Trophy – losing by a goal to nil to Bury.
It’s disappointing to be out at this stage however after a prolonged rest, I did anticipate a slow and sluggish encounter to get back into the match routine, and in the grand scheme of things I’d much rather get that out of our system on a cold Tuesday night where nothing is truly lost, than in a local derby against the struggling neighbours itching to get off to a good start under new management.
Bury are a very good side as we saw at Gigg Lane earlier this season and I still believe they’ll be challenging in the top seven at the end of the season, they took advantage of our prolonged rest early doors and got a cheap goal, and then marked us out of the game – the lack of spark and desire did worry me a little but again, when Saturday comes I know it will be a whole different story.
Players who needed minutes got minutes and players who needed to be protected got protected – we weren’t played off the park and had opportunities to get back into the game, it just simply wasn’t to be.
We now put all focus on the league and give it our everything, we have made great strides over the last six months of so – this set back, as disappointing as it is, is just that – a set back and a chance to try again.
David Flitcroft put out a strong side having not played since the 24th November, he made three changes from the side which faced Lincoln – Conrad Logan replaced Oljenik between the sticks, Hayden White replaced Atkinson, and Otis Khan replacing Hamilton.
Click HERE for a full comprehensive report from the club
STAGS Logan (GK), White, Benning, Preston, Pearce © (Elsnik 46’), Bishop, Mellis, Khan (Hamilton 46’), Sweeney, Walker, Rose (Davies 46’)
Unused Substitutes: Olejnik (GK), Atkinson, Butcher, Graham.
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
Football can sometimes be a very cruel mistress, and Mansfield felt the full force of Football's cruelty as they got thumped 5-0 by league one Charlton.
The scoreline completely flattened the hosts as they ran out winners of the match which should never have been, the FA and referees apology for awarding Charlton a goal which was clearly offside in the original tie is nothing more than another bitter pill for Stags fans to swallow.
On a freezing Tuesday with the rain pouring down on a soulless and practically empty Valley, the Stags were extremely hard done by and I imagine that David Flitcroft will be majorly biting his tounge where the referee is concerned, as another poor and frankly strange decision ruined the game.
The Stags were 2-0 down and to be fair had conceded two soft goals, however they were largely dominating play and had been caught and punished by a team pushing for promotion back to the championship.
Time may well have been against them but I felt we had a goal in us to set up a tense finish, yet the referee had other ideas and after initially awarding the Stags a free-kick, seemingly changed his mind and seconds later - the hosts had a third, after which, with Stags pretty much baffled, bemused and deflated, the hosts scored twice more to inflict what on paper looks like a battering.
I dont think that I've ever felt like the Stags could get back into the game with practically ten minutes to go when losing 2-0 Away from home and the fact, prior to that ridiculous free kick, that I felt like we could is testament to the way David Flitcroft has got us playing.
The defeat is hard to take and given our solid record and good form is a massive sucker punch, yet in some ways it could be a blessing in disguise as it gives us a sharp slap across the face and asks us if we are up for the fight together as one.
We have to go and respond on Saturday in a hostile and charged environment at Lincoln who will want to maintain their good form and get their own back from earlier in the year in the checkatrade game, we can not let two ridiculous refereeing decisions affect us, nor can we dwell on them.
Yes it is disappointing to bow out of the competition at this early stage, and of course winning games is a good habit to have, but we've lost no points of slipped down any tables. It's one game, one blot on a much bigger canvas.
Come on you Stags as David Flitcroft aptly said “we are a squad, we are a team and I won’t allow any victims – that [game] has gone now.”
The Stags made four changes from Saturday’s win over Port Vale, reverting back to a 3-4-1-2 with the introduction of Calum Butcher in the attacking midfield role, Will Atkinson came in at right wing back, whilst there were also starts for Danny Rose and midfielder Timi Elsnik.
Click here to read the clubs report of the game
FULL TIME: Charlton 5-0 Stags
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Oljenik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Will Atkinson, Jacob Mellis (Hayden White 22), Timi Elsnik, Mal Benning, Calum Butcher, Danny Rose (Jordan Graham 61), CJ Hamilton (Tyler Walker 61)
Unused Substitutes: Conrad Logan, Jason Law, Lewis Gibbens, Nyle Blake
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-0 Port Vale
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton
Attendance 4,316 (459)
Craig Priest writes…
It’s fair to say the opening two months of this season were full of frustrations, and even in recent weeks with so many positives, there was still one weight hanging over the Stags’ shoulders – getting back to back league victories.
That weight has now been lifted thanks to a magical flash of lightening from CJ Hamilton, who is rapidly developing into a prize asset helping to set Mansfield’s league two campaign on fire.
We all knew of CJ’s talent when he arrived under Adam Murray and showed flashes of it as a winger under Steve Evans, but since the arrival of David Flitcroft, like so many others, the tag of one trick pony has bolted, and we’ve got one hell of a utility player on our hands who can effect from anywhere on the pitch.
Yesterday was far from a routine victory, it was a professional job which could have gone horrible one had we taken the arrogant approach when Vale went down to ten men just past the hour mark with the Stags a goal to the good.
Teams react differently to going a man down and it didn’t really effect Vale’s game plan as they were bypassing the midfield anyway with direct play, trying to get throws in good areas to utilise the long throw, credit should therefor go to the stags’ focus and resoluteness to cherish their lead and hold onto it.
Clean sheets and protecting what you’ve worked for is sometimes more important than drilling a team into the ground, and that’s exactly where the Stags put their focus yesterday to earn a much deserved victory.
The games keep coming thick and fast, starting with the trip to Charlton for the FA Cup replay on Tuesday before Saturday’s crunch game with Lincoln where, with victory, the Stags could make real progress with their ambitions
David Flitcroft reverted back to the side which drew with Charlton last Sunday, a side which included skipper Pearce who wasn’t called up for Barbados, meanwhile fellow defender Ryan Sweeney didn’t have a game for the Republic of Ireland U21s.
It was a slow and frustrating start to the match which took the Stags fifteen minutes to register the first real effort, as Mellis fizzed one just wide of the target, a minute later CJ Hamilton had the back line chasing a blur, weaving a way through before hitting the post.
Vale’s Tom Pope nearly caused his old boss a headache on 19 minutes but couldn’t get his header on target, whilst with ten minutes to go before the break, Tyler Walker was denied by Leon Legge who made a fine tackle at the heart of the visitors defence.
It was going to take something special to open the scoring and that’s exactly what happened on 41 minutes as CJ Hamilton dropped his shoulder and curled beyond the keeper.
After the break the Stags were out of the traps quickly and it took a solid save from Scott Brown to deny Tyler Walker, before Danny Rose replaced Craig Davies.
On 63 minutes the visitors were down to ten men as Manny Oyeleke picked up his second booking of the match for tripping Bishop, with eight minutes to go Rose should have made it two-nil as he took advantage of Brown’s slip, after failing to score in the empty net he squared to Walker, who fired wide, deep into five additional minutes – Rose was then denied by Brown following a fluid counter attack.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-0 Port Vale
STAGS [3-4-3]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney (Timi Elsnik 77), Hayden White, Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis, Mal Benning, Tyler Walker (Jordan Graham 86), Craig Davies (Danny Rose 54), CJ Hamilton
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Calum Butcher, Will Atkinson, Alistar Smith
Referee: Martin Coy
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 3-2 Scunthorpe United
Competition Checkatrade Trophy (North) Group H [Game 3 of 3]
Venue The One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorers Nyle Blake, Calum Butcher, Timi Elsnik
Attendance 928 (119)
Craig Priest writes…
I’ve often been frustrated by the checkatrade trophy and the subsequent attitude that managers show towards it, however last night I proudly left the One Call Stadium contempt in the knowledge we have a manager who is both looking to develop the future of the club, and bring success to its humble fans.
The 3-2 score line had its positives and negatives and I’m sure other bloggers will happily sit and highlight the negatives of the way in which we surrendered a two goal lead, but I couldn’t care about that – as Mansfield Town did what was required and gave supporters a taste of future prospects.
With the Stags already qualified for the next stage of the competition, it wouldn’t have mattered if we had lost the match – the only difference being an away tie rather than a home tie. The importance of the match was to give youngsters (and I hate using that term in some respects) some game time and give them an introduction to senior, professional, football.
In the build up to the match there where many reports of “putting the kids out” which, whilst we did start young players and have teenagers on the bench, for me is disrespectful to the individuals involved who have trained with first team on a consistent basis, working towards the aim of being selected to play on merit.
That’s exactly what happened last night, David Flitcroft didn’t hand over the reigns to John Dempster and get the kit men to print shirts with 55 and upwards on the back for the sake of playing a fixture – he selected players who had caught his eye to play alongside those more experienced pros needing minutes, based on their work, application and attitude.
It is testament to the work that John Demnpster, Mike Whitlow, Richard Cooper and the rest of the Academy staff have put in over the last three years for the manager to be able to do that and I firmly believe that will continue when the Under 21s and First Team are under the same roof at the RH Academy which can only be a matter of weeks.
We already knew the potential of Lewis Gibbens and Jordan Graham, but it was the first time we got to see the likes of Nyle Blake, Jason Law and Alistar Smith who all started the match and who have been frequently mentioned by David Flitcroft. I felt they all put in a committed shift against what was a strong League One side, who despite eight changes, didn’t really field a youthful side – a fact which, given the nature of the competition, will be wrongly overlooked – make no bones about it, Scunthorpe were not there just to forfill contractual obligations, they were there to try and win and progress.
Frustratingly I was unable to sit in my regular seat in the upper tier due to ticket sale restrictions, so sat in the lower tier behind the home dug-out, and whilst I’m annoyed I didn’t get my regular seat – I have to say it was good to see the way in which Flitcroft managed the game, in particular the way he took time to sit with Nyle Blake after he came off for Mal Benning early in the second half.
Naturally with a sparse crowd you could hear fans more, and I have to 100% back Flitcroft’s reaction after a particular spell where Alistar Smith was berated for being disposed – he kindly reminded this particular supporter that he’s just a kid, and whilst I said at the top of the blog I wanted to avoid that comparison, I was very tempted to stand and applaud, as the young players are exactly that YOUNG! They need time to be nurtured and grow and gain match experience.
I don’t particularly want to single anyone of them out as again they all earned their involvement on merit, however I felt that Jason Law was terrific, playing out of position at left back, later left wing, and despite being a striker, played really well, held his own and really contributed.
All in all a very good night for the Stags, which with Timi Elsnik’s late goal, saw Flitcroft’s men top the group, they’ll play either Stoke City U21s, Bury, Macclesfield or Manchester City U21s at home week commencing 3rd December.
Only Ryan Sweeney kept his place from Sunday’s FA Cup clash with boss David Flitcroft making ten changes, which included debuts for Alistar Smith and Nyle Blake [#33] – whilst on the bench youngsters Harry Bircumshaw [#31], Tom Fielding [#35], Iyrwah Gooden [#36] and Tyrese Sinclair [#37] were brought into the squad from the Academy set-up.
Captained by Conrad Logan in the absence of Pearce, the Stags soaked up early pressure from the League One visitors with Lewis Gibbens’ tackle on 13 minutes preventing the visitors from taking the lead
It was Mansfield who took the lead on 21 minutes despite Scunthorpe’s pressure, youngster Nyle Blake skipped through the middle and let fly towards goal, seeing the ball nestle beyond Flatt thanks to the slightest of deflections.
Skipper Logan then made two smart saves five minutes later to maintain the stags leadm which they held until the half time whistle.
The Stags were looking a little out of sorts and on 52 minutes Mal Benning replaced goalscorer Blake to slot into a back three, as Flitcroft introduced the more familiar 3-4-1-2 with Atkinson going to right midfield, Law pushing to the left with Benning slotting alongside Gibbens and Preston, who replaced Sweeney at the break.
The switch also saw Butcher move into attacking midfield and it was he who doubled the Stags lead just a minute later, sweeping into the bottom corner after neat footwork on the edge of the area.
Scunthorpe found a way back into the game on 73 as they danced through the middle, setting up El-Mhanni to deflect one beyond Logan, a minute prior to the full time whistle the stags allowed Scunthorpe through the middle again – Andy Dales bringing the scores to 2-2, a goal which would have meant Scunthorpe qualification and a penalty shootout….. if straight from the restart, the Stags didn’t score, which they did as Elsnik’s effort looped over Flatt, again via a deflection – a thrilling end to a brilliant night for the club.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 3-2 Scunthorpe United
STAGS [4-3-3]: Conrad Logan ©, Will Atkinson, Ryan Sweeney (Matt Preston HT), Lewis Gibbens, Jason Law, Alistar Smith, Calum Butcher, Timi Elsnik, Nyle Blake (Mal Benning 52), Danny Rose (Tom Fielding 87), Jordan Graham
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Harry Bircumshaw, Tyrese Sinclair, Iyrwah Gooden
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-1 Charlton Athletic
Competition FA Cup – First Round
Venue The One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) CJ Hamilton
Attendance 3,240 (392)
Craig Priest writes…
The FA Cup carries with it a certain magic, however no spell will ever turn our 2018-19 first round tie with Charlton into a classic, as the teams drew 1-1 meaning a replay will be required to see who progresses.
The visitors could only name five substitutes due to injury but still put out a side oozing with quality, many of whom should be playing at Championship manager, and as such – Charlton’s apparent injury problem played no part in a game which was by far a classic.
Mansfield, switching to a more expressive 3-4-3, should have won the game and would have, had it not been for a questionable second half goal from Charlton which the cameras later proved offside – however David Flitcrofts men didn’t have it their own way and should be commended on their defensive play.
Ryan Sweeney was particular impressive for me in the back three and really stepped up his game, whilst at the other end CJ Hamilton impressed with his eagerness to run and capped off a good afternoon’s work with a well taken goal.
The 3-4-3 system had its floors as it allowed Chalrton space to move the ball across the park and there were times we were a little too exposed in the middle for my liking, however a lack of zip and energy from the visitors was enough to counter balance the gaps.
Mansfield’s performance wasn’t as dominant as it has been for the last two matches (second half!) but all in all they matched a good league one side and didn’t look disinterested, a replay is not something we really wanted given our backlog of matches but momentum can be built from it, so let’s keep this run going and progress!
Two changes were made by Flitcroft as he moved CJ Hamilton up front in a 3-4-3, bringing in Craig Davies for Danny Rose, and Hayden White for Elsnik, who missed out with a knock.
Mansfield held on after early pressure from the League One visitors and had three chances of their own inside the opening ten minutes, CJ Hamilton hitting the outside of the post following Pearces’ sublime through ball, Mal Benning then nodded towards goal – denied by Dillon Phillips in the Charlton goal, before Mellis rasped one over the bar, following Walkers cut back.
Bishop, Pearce, Walker and Hamilton all had efforts as the game remained firmly deadlocked before on the stroke of half time, the latter put the stags in front – driving into the box before drilling into the bottom corner.
After the break Hamilton should have had a second but was denied brilliantly by Phillips who kept Charlton in the game, before Danny Rose was introduced on the hour to spice up the Stags attack with Davies withdrawn.
On 73 minutes Charlton levelled the match though Toby Stevenson, the referee gave the goal despite protests of offside, protests replays proved accurate.
It proved to be the final goal of the game as neither side could produce another, the Stags had Olejnik to thank moments after the goal as he denied Ajose, whilst at the other end half chances for Mellis and Rose weren’t enough to find a winner – meaning the Stags are off to the Valley a week tomorrow (Tuesday) to see who will progress.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-1 Charlton Athletic
STAGS [3-4-3]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis, Mal Benning (Calum Butcher 78), Craig Davies (Danny Rose 61), Tyler Walker (Jordan Graham 94), CJ Hamilton,
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Lewis Gibbens, Will Atkinson, Alistar Smith
Referee: Ollie Yates
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