Carabao Cup First Round, Saturday 29th August 2020 – Deepdale Stadium [Behind Closed Doors]
Mansfield Town endured a negative and disappointing return to competitive action, as the new look side suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Championship outfit Preston North End.
The new look Mansfield side were far from ready for competitive action as admitted by boss Graham Coughlan prior to the match, however I’m sure he will be relieved to have achieved his key aim – seemly finishing the match with no injuries.
With supporters not being able to attend, I said to myself I wouldn’t sit and write after a game – I’ve always maintained the mantra of “If you weren’t there, you can’t comment” personally, but in this stupid, Covid-adapted footballing world – that’s out of the window.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the negative points – conceding four goals, defensive errors and ultimately defeat – but let’s be realistic for a second, not only did we play a Preston side who were very unlucky not to have finished in the Championship play-offs, but we’re also a brand new squad who need game time to gel and click into gear – game time which given the forward move of this match, was unable to be found.
Personally I’m happy to write this one off and take away the valuable lessons we’ve learned and just focus on the season’s opener in two weeks against Tranmere – yes I know we have the Manchester City U21s match prior to that in the EFL Trophy, but as always whilst those games are competitive, they’re predominantly highlighted as a glorified friendly.
Obviously watching through a laptop means you can’t watch the game in your own way – camera’s tend to follow the ball rather than allow you to look at shape from set-plays or players’ off the ball contributions to create pockets of space etc, so it’s tough to convey thoughts onto paper.
However, I wanted to try and feel some form of “normal” in this stupid world, and so here I am! I was actually pleased with our approach play early on – Danny Rose impressed me showing more pace and creating chances for strike partner Andy Cook, who I believe can be a big player for us this season – he was especially unlucky not to score early on in the chance created by Roses’ excellent cut back.
Corey O’Keefe, Mansfield’s new wing-back played very well down the right hand side and would be up there if I was in the business of picking a “man of the match” whilst Tyrese Sinclair also impressed in midfield when he came on during the second half.
That is where I think we need to improve on more, we’ve brought in excellent box to box players like George Maris & Ollie Clarke (who we’ve yet to see) but thus far are yet to utilize them by playing through the middle and controlling play.
Fair enough you’re not going to get that against Championship opposition and the only games we’ve been permitted to see have been against sides who are from higher levels, I think we need to play a lower league side and, without arrogance being intended, be the dominant side and work on that part of our game.
Naturally we shouldn’t be happy with what we’ve seen so far from the defensive side of things, BUT it is still early, there is still time to adapt, add if needed, and improve. Does this result matter? Not really – it’ll be about as memorable of that time you had to walk one way around Tescos.
Onwards! Bring on the season… and more importantly, the day we can actually watch in person – armchair football, isn’t for me.
Click HERE to read the clubs official match report.
STAGS:  Marek Stech,  Rollin Menayese  Farrend Rawson ( Aaron O’Driscoll 63)  Ryan Sweeney ©,  Corey O’Keefe  Harry Charsley  James Perch ( Tyrese Sinclair 63)  George Maris  Mal Benning,  Danny Rose ( Jamie Reid 76)  Andy Cook
Unused Subs: Aidan Stone, James Clarke, Jimmy Knowles, Alistair Smith
Full Time Score Mansfield Town 6-1 Accrington Stanley
Competition EFL Cup (Carabao Cup) – first round
Venue The One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Tyler Walker 3 (2x Pens) Otis Khan, Danny Rose, CJ Hamilton
Attendance 1,565 (76)
Craig Priest writes…
Coming up against a side that the Stags hadn’t won against since 2006 in the FA Cup, it would have been easy to write off the Stags chances last night – but those who did, did so at their peril as Mansfield Town shocked everyone, coming back from a goal down to beat Accrington Stanley by SIX goals to one.
David Flitcrofts men were hungry, rampant and meticulous in their play, which saw the League One side and last seasons League Two winners torn apart on an evening all about writing the wrongs.
Naturally the talk on the terraces was all about Danny Rose, who after scoring the fifth goal of the night a minute after coming on, couldn’t have had a better reintroduction into the pack. Far too much has been said about Rose for me to talk about it here, but in a nutshell – his participation alone last night ends the talk of a fall out and a move – the post match comments of an emotional and proud David Flitcroft underline and support that, Rose’s goal – the cherry on the cake.
With that done let us focus on beauty itself – aka, Mansfield’s stunning performance as they showed real character to fight back from a goal down to produce Mansfield Magic – highlighting how far the dressing room has come, as had the Stags gone behind three/four months ago – I’d be writing about the Stags being battered, not them doing the battering.
There were, as you’d expect in a game with such a score-line, several standout displays – Tyler Walker deserved the match-ball with his first half hat-trick highlighting what an acquisition he is, whilst Otis Khan’s skilfulness had Accrington all over the place and in all kinds of trouble.
Alex MacDonald too covered every blade of grass at lease thrice, whilst Pearce was steady at the heart of the back three – yet there are two other names who deserve full recognition and in the drama of it all, have gone slightly under the raider – they are Calum Butcher, and loanee Ryan Sweeney.
Sweeney showed that he’s comfortable in playing in the air, getting stuck in or moving with the ball which complements our system – on his display the solid Matt Preston who missed out through concussion, will have a hard job getting his place back.
Onto Butcher who simply since his arrival nearly a year ago now hasn’t served up the goods – but last night, playing on the right side of an attacking two, showed his class, drive and enthusiasm, playing a key role in three of the Stags four first half goals.
The loan window is still ofcourse open but, and I’m saying this based on what I’ve seen over the past month from Butcher, if I were Flitcroft I would be sitting down with the former Milwall man and telling him his future is at Mansfield Town and that he’ll play a key role.
The way he played last night gave us that added zest and zip in attack, he showed some nice little touches in our passing movement and wasn’t afraid to drop deeper to help defend or allow Mellis or MacDonald to advance. Judging by our opening two league games I do feel that’s something we’ve missed a little, we’ve been caught too high sometimes and punished and that little tactical tweak of going 3-4-2-1 rather than 3-5-2 helped us to dominate the game and cause our opponents to implode.
Naturally it’s easy to get carried away with all the hype such an emphatic victory brings BUT here’s the fundamentals which we need to remember and take into future games – our attitude and application in going down is not a blame game, it’s one of togetherness and desire to win football matches, playing possession based football along the way.
Off the pitch nonsense is over, done, finished, dead and buried – what we do now is progress game by game and water this delicate seed and watch it grow into something really blooming good.
David Flitcroft made four changes to the side which drew with Yeovil, Goalkeeper Conrad Logan was rested with Oljenik getting his first competitive start under Flitcroft. Defender Matt Preston missed out through concussion giving loanee Ryan Sweeney a debut, whilst Jacob Mellis and Calum Butcher replaced Bishop and Davies, who had a place on the bench.
The stags actually started brightly with Mal Benning nearly capping a wonderful flowing move with a goal – his shot hitting the side netting on four minutes.
Two minutes later with pretty much their first effort of the game Accrington took the lead, Sam Finley danced beyond Hamilton and White before turning past Oljenik.
The Stags didn’t let their heads drop and like they did twice on Saturday, fought back and were given a life-line on eight minutes as Butcher found Walker in the box – he was brought down by Jonny Maxted with Walker dusting himself down to convert the subsequent penalty to level the match.
Walker would then face Maxted again on 12 minutes as Butcher was judged to have been fouled in the area for the Stags second spot-kick of the night, Walker again coming out on top – leaving the Accrington keeper no chance as he drilled into the bottom corner.
Jacob Mellis sent one riffling over the bar before Otis Khan made it three on 16 minutes, Calum Butcher again with the assist down the right hand side, sending Khan into box to shoot with ease beyond the Accrington glovesman.
The game then settled for a while before coming back to life with a minute to go before the break – Maxted denying Walker a hat-trick on 44 minutes, he’d soon be picking the ball out of the bet again however – as a minute later, Khan’s low cross was back heeled in by Walker for his third, and the Stags fourth.
At the break Flitcroft gave Mal Benning a rest, bringing on Will Atkinson at right wing back, moving CJ Hamilton over to the left to inflict more damage, and that he did – playing part in the build up for MacDonald and Walker to try their luck on 51 minutes – both denied.
Walker hit another over the bar on 56 minutes before Oljenik had to be on his toes, back peddling well to tip over a cheeky effort from Mingoia who tried lobbing the Stags number twelve.
Sterling-James replace Khan on the hour before five minutes later, Rose returned to action – replacing Walker who received a standing ovation.
Within a minute of Rose’s come back – destiny happened – CJ Hamilton jogged down the left and squared the ball into the box, Rose knew exactly where to be to smash the ball home for Mansfield’s fifth goal of the night, reigniting the chants of ‘Danny, Danny Roooooooooossssssssssseeeeeeee’ – The beaming smile on Flitcrofts face said everything.
Butcher, Mellis and Rose all had chances to make it six but couldn’t quite get the finishing touch right – but right at the death, CJ Hamilton capped one of the best team passing moves I’ve ever witnessed – a 26 pass move without the opposition touching the ball – to make it 6-1 and put Mansfield into round two for this first time in over a decade.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 6-1 Accrington Stanley
STAGS [3-4-2-1]: Bobby Oljenik, Hayden White, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Jacob Mellis, Alex MacDonald, Mal Benning (Will Atkinson HT), Calum Butcher, Otis Khan (Omari Sterling-James 60), Tyler Walker (Danny Rose 65)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Lewis Gibbens, Craig Davies, Neal Bishop
Referee: Seb Stocksbridge
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