Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town began the 2017/2018 season with a hard fought 2-2 draw at Crewe Alexandra, which could have gone either way. It was an end to end game with plenty of quality on show, with both teams playing good attacking football, that saw four goals and some dubious defending from set pieces that proved to be costly to both teams.
The first half saw us dominate in possession and play some good, attacking football causing the goal keeper problems in the early exchanges. Crewe also had chances of their own with the experienced frontman Chris Dagnall testing Conrad Logan, who got down well to parry the shot wide at goal.
Dagnall was knocking at the door again with a shot that got closed down by the Stags defenders that taken the sting out of the shot and rolled into Logans grateful arms. The Stags were awarded a free kick just outside the D, which Lee Angol took but didn't do enough to test Anderson, who made some impressive saves during the game. Danny Rose was unlucky not to convert with good work from Benning, who put in a great ball into the box but couldn't direct his header goalwards.
Against the rule of play Crewe took the lead through that man Chris Dagnall from a corner, the ball got headed back into a dangerous area, from former Stag Michael Raynes and he made no mistake from converting his header thanks to some bad defending, which left Logan stranded for the goal before half time.
The second half started with the Stags immediately on the attack causing problems and it paid off when Benning put in a goal ball into the box and Rose who jumped up well to convert, making up for his missed effort in the first half.
Then once again against the run of play Crewe went in front again for the second time in the match, with a good ball into the box and poor man marking which Dagnall once again converted his header past a helpless Logan between the sticks.
As the half progressed the Stags were pressing for an equaliser and was looking threatening going forward at every opportunity and they got their just rewards as they was rewarded a free kick 20 yards from goal, Joel Byrom put in a delightful ball over the top to find David Mirfin who got the vital touch to make the game 2-2. It could have easily been 4-2 to the Stags but Crewes Anderson pulled out tremendous saves when called upon.
Near the end of the game it could have gone either way with good attacking football on show from both sides. Upon reflection a draw was a fair result for both teams, although we had chances to win it lady luck to just wasn't on our side but a point away from home is never a bad thing, we could have easily have lost it if it was not for some good defending displays from Mirfin and Benning in particular. A big shout out to the fans 1,392 to be exact who were fantastic before, during and after the game cheering on Steve Evans men.
Conrad Logan: Made some good saves early on but could do nothing about the goals, other than stand and watch. Also needs to communicate more with his defence.
Mal Benning: Looked solid defensively and offered support going forward. Also set up goal for Rose for the equaliser.
Zander Diamond: Coped well with high balls into the box and showed signs he will be a top player for us. Just needs to lead by example if he is to be captain on a regular basis.
David Mirfin: Looked solid and read the game well, also did well to covert the equaliser. Needs more match time, as he inst 100% fit yet.
Hayden White: Did his defensive duties well, linked up well with Atkinson going forward.
Will Atkinson: Worked his socks off tracking back and looked dangerous going forward when in possession.
Jacob Mellis: Got in to great positions and picked out some good passes . Going to be a top player for us.
Joel Byrom: Picked out Mirfin well for the equaliser and looked comfortable when on the ball.
Paul Anderson: Impressive every time he went forward and created chances that on another day would have been converted.
Danny Rose: Gave it his all, as he does when he crosses the white line. Linked up well, tracked back and did well to head home the equaliser.
Lee Angol: Unlucky not to score with a powerful shot at goal, that was well saved. Tracked back a lot but did not cause the keeper enough problems.
Omari Sterling James: Looked good going forward but didn't have much impact on the game.
Paul Digby: Worked hard and defended well near the end of the game.
CJ Hamilton: Took players on and caught out their defenders, who couldn't handle his pace.
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