When the retained list was revealed at the end of last season, there were three names I wasn’t happy to see in the category of ‘players under contact and made available for transfer’.
Anyone whose read my blogs over the last year will know two of those names in Paul Anderson and Paul Digby – the other is a man who has just been taken off the list, and rightly so in my view, Will Atkinson.
Digby and Anderson remain on the transfer list although Anderson IS currently out in Portugal whilst it would appear Digby is not, but that is a discussion for another time.
Removing 29 year old Atkinson from the list is a positive move from David Flitcroft, as Atkinson, in my opinion, provides adaptability across the midfield and fits with the type of play Flitcroft will impose this forthcoming season.
Able to play right, left and centre, Atkinson can really deliver when called upon and does a lot of the “unseen” work closing play down and creating space – I think he’s tenacity will really shine and get the best out of the likes of Tyler Walker and CJ Hamilton.
I’ve written numerous articles over the years about finding a set position for a player who can player in a number, Paul Digby and Alex MacDonald were prime examples – but with Atkinson, I think it’s the opposite, let him roam, allow him space and freedom, let him be the engine and watch us progress.
At the same time of confirming the removal of Atkinson from the transfer list, the club confirmed that former bury skipper Nathan Cameron has joined the club out in Portugal for the training camp.
The long serving Bury man is exactly the type of commanding central defender need and could fill the void left by Rhys Bennett, however much like David Mirfin, Cameron has a recent injury history and in the last two season has appeared for the shakers less than ten times which is a worry.
If however the Stags medical team can get Cameron match fit, it’s certainly worth taking a punt on the 26 year old as we really do lack cover and back up in that area with Zander Diamond, similarly to Paul Digby, being nowhere to been seen in Portugal and transfer listed.
Staying with the transfer listed players, Paul Anderson IS out in Portugal and training with the first team, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him taken off that list in the coming weeks and playing a key part next season.
Anderson’s transfer listing was no shock after he wasn’t fancied by Flitcroft upon his arrival, we know from our Memory lane episode with Bobby Hassell that Flitcroft is prone to targeting the older players in favour of blooding youth.
However that doesn’t mean the versatile former Forest man can’t win over Flitcroft and get the first team football he so desperately wants in order to stay at Mansfield – another fact he’s made clear to anyone whose spoken to him.
The final player listed is Calum Butcher who has also been spotted out in Portugal training with the squad – it’s an interesting one where the 27 year old is concerned as he was only loaned out last season as he couldn’t settle up here without his young family who, according to the world of rumours (I know you should never do this but still) were meant to be moving closer to Mansfield during this summer.
Who knows with that one, but for me, Butcher does has a talent and the ability to play at a much higher by very much falls into the category of performing well in a certain role, set system and style of play.
The excitement is certainly building more and from the signings we’ve made so far – Flitcroft looks to be shaping a good spine of the team, and putting together a squad who be physically fitter and more focussed for the challenge ahead which is still very much promotion.
With constant speculation over an exit to another club coupled with the arrival of three new signings, two being front man and one a very attack minded midfielder, you’d be forgiven for worrying that the rumours of his exit have an element of truth to them – but for me, I think Danny Rose can actually blossom, thanks to arrival of the attacking trio.
The popular 24 year old front man enjoyed his best season for the Stags last term finishing as top scorer, but since being injured early doors at Forest Green Rovers in March – Rose wasn’t quite the same and his goals dried up – some better bloggers than me may even suggest the Rose, wilted.
Personally I am a big believer in players reacting better to some managers than others, almost like a jigsaw puzzle – isolated you’re looking at a funny shaped coloured square, but put together with the others and you end up looking at a beautiful landscape.
Looking at Roses’ Mansfield career you could argue that Peterborough’s finest Steve Evans got the best out of him which statistically thus far is true – but over the course of his career, ask yourself who has developed Rose the most with senior opportunities? The answer, David Flitcroft.
Flitcroft brought Rose through at Barnsley and then secured the young front man’s services again upon joining Bury, where Rose played much more of a part and flourished into the talent which Adam Murray then brought to the Stags.
I think sometimes people forget that mild-mannered Rose is just 24 and towards the tail end of last season, I think the long season of carrying the Stags front line in the Evans system had taken its toll – hence why the injury occurred and the goals dried up, for me he needed help.
Rose really impressed me with his conduct and his game, in cricketing terms I would class him as an all-rounder – he’d not an out and out target man, he’d not a six-yard box poacher – he’d good with both feet and in the air and clever with it, looking at the players David Flitcroft has brought into the squad in the attacking ranks, I can only see Rose starting to flourish.
He’ll be allowed to play his game again and keep defenders guessing learning from the experience of Craig Davies who is practically a more experienced Rose, as well as benefiting from the pace and flair of Tyler Walker and Otis Khan, both players who like to run at defenders, create pockets of space and exploit from ridiculous angles.
Rose, like any young player, is about confidence – you can see how much Mansfield Town means to him and how much the crowd rally him, I can think of countless chances last season he spurned and then let that frustration grow on him as, other than Hemmings there were few around him contributing and that expectation in a side chasing promoting can carry a huge weight.
Another issue was fitness, especially again towards the last part of the season, Rose would visibly tire after 75 minutes when we really needed a 95 plus minute player – I personally think that will improve this term and the return will be extremely valuable.
I almost wrote the return would be goals there, but we should know better – strikers shouldn’t be judged entirely on goals but on contribution and work rate – Rose is certainly up in that bracket of players who would probably play with two broken legs and still positively contribute.
Having Davies and Walker to call upon around him, plus let us not forget Lee Angol and the un-tapped raw ability of Omari Sterling-James, can only be described as a positive and hungry strike force - one which a character such as Rose can really bloom in.
I’m sure I will touch upon this more over the coming weeks, but this is a clean sheet for all involved here – the failure to reach the play-offs is done and gone, it can’t be changed and some of the personnel involved with that have moved on – what we have is a squad who are being worked hard and who create the right environment for us to be successful, and for players like Rose to really shine.
David Flitcroft has to be commended on his approach to pre-season, it hasn’t been a case of “off you go lads, we’ll see you on this date” – there has been continuous work over the summer and this trip to Portugal will not be an easy ride, highlighted by the fact we’re playing Dundee United who will provide a proper work out, rather than having a kick about with a bunch of random fellas, picked for a one-off match.
Flitcroft’s work with the team will pay off, as it will with Rose – speculation is just that and will always be there with your key players, sometimes you’ve got to ignore the hearsay and gossip and somewhere down the line – everything will come up Roses!
“You’ve got to make sure players come here for footballing reasons” – they were the words of Stags boss David Flitcroft this morning as Mansfield Town’s squad of twenty returned for the second day of pre-season training, and comparing the two close-season activities between Flitcroft and his predecessor – I can’t help but put another tick in the box of positives for the Stags manager heading into the new campaign.
Only two new additions were made by Flitcroft during the period of boredom for football fans, whereas by this stage last season, Steve Evans pretty much had all deals signed sealed and delivered.
But which approach is best? Whilst we may be frustrated at a perceived lack of action from Flitcroft, he appears to me to be taking his time over signings and not dishing out big money deals – admitting he’s met with a number of players who have looked at Mansfield Town FC as a big paying team, wanting to sign for that reason rather than footballing ambition.
Evans, in contrast, had pretty much every deal done without seeing the players merge together – I’m a big believer that a player may be one of the best around, but only when they play in a certain formation, in a set style, with two or three others who set the ground work for them.
By getting the players together as a unit, not only can Flitcroft see who is good technically, but he and his staff can see who is bonding with who, who will fit in the variant of systems and most importantly who will display the right attitude to perform for Mansfield Town Football Club and its supporters.
The Stags boss in my opinion is under massive pressure to deliver quickly after last season’s capitulation, where it is clear that on reflection he walked into a dressing room split and a dressing room who were happy to collect their inflated wage packets and not deliver.
His silence throughout the summer has also frustrated the fans, I’ve met David at his first press conference and spoke to both him and Ben Futcher at length, he’s not afraid to come out and talk but he is a big believer of getting work done on the training ground – press conferences aren’t a short thing, so that in reality hour and a bit could be spent on the training ground – and if that extra hour is going to be the difference between winning and losing, then silence is speaking volumes.
I’d very much expect to see three more faces be revealed before the end of the week ahead of the Stags trip to Portugal where they’ll face Dundee United, another positive – this will not be a week of frolicking around in a pool with a bit of running thrown in, ending with a game against 11 random blokes, it will be the professional intensity required for a full season of challenge.
With the boys back in training, the new kit on sale and pre-season matches just around the corner – the excitement is building. Let’s just remember though as the heat gets to us and things, probably, stay quiet – swans appear gracious on the surface but underneath are kicking for their life, sometimes it’s the bits you can’t see which makes the difference!
Football’s back – it’s great!
With the dramatic scenario surrounding the season’s final game about to take centre stage, in the clam before the storm I thought I’d take a look at my top five contenders for ‘Player of the season’
My choices are not based on any sort of rating, I don’t really believe in that – my choices are based on the contributions each player has made in my own opinion and how they’ve developed over the course of the season.
The fiery Irish shot stopper arrived in the summer and a quick glance at his stats hinted that he might be playing second fiddle to Bobby Oljenik, as apart from a season on loan at Stockport he’s never really been a regular (judged on a regular playing 30 games plus over the course of a season).
That said Logan was handed the number one shirt and despite a shaky start, proved that time is all you need to hit a rich vein of form and become pretty much a fan favourite and solid choice between the sticks.
Having missed just one League Two game, Wycombe away, Logan has contributed with pivotal save after pivotal save at critical moments – winning us points in the process.
With 13 clean sheets in 48 appearances the former Hibs man has helped the Stags put together a tight enough defence to push up the table, and if we did make the play-offs – I’m sure he would emerge as a hero, stable keepers are hard to come by – I think Logan has more to give and would welcome him committing another year to the cause.
The clubs joint longest serving player along with Mal Benning has once again been a rock this season at the heart of the Stags defence and in my opinion, should be given some recognition for his service – I was delighted to see him sign a contract extension earlier this season.
Most suited alongside side last season’s player of the season Rhys Bennett, Pearce has perhaps been lucky given the long term injury to David Mirfin, who started the season and whom many predicted to take Pearces’ mantle as one of the clubs most loved defenders.
As captain in the absence of Zander Diamond, Pearce has really shone and whilst he may not be the most vocal of leaders, his calm character and consistent solid play, both in the air and on the floor – yes everyone loves a KP box to box rampage – has impressed me and feel confident in our backline, something I struggled with when Pearce was out of the side.
Despite having only scored twice, Pearce is a constant threat in both boxes and I believe will be the anker to our side for many years to come, I’d certainly welcome him becoming captain on a full time basis.
The tenacious midfielder has a lot to thank former fitness and rehabilitation coach Lee Taylor for, as Taylors influence has turned MacDonald’s promise into reality – and it’s really showed this season.
The Stags number seven has had a season of two halves really, starting off on the right hand side of midfield and contributing with a good work rate to create opportunities as Mansfield played predominantly down the right, but since mid-November time, it’s been the middle for Macca, where his tenacity and energy gave us something we we’re desperately missing and allowed the focus to switch flanks, with CJ Hamilton taking the role of the creative wide man.
MacDonald perhaps hasn’t been at his complete best since the arrival of David Flitcroft and has been weighed down with rumours of a move to join Steve and Dodgy at Peterborough in the summer, but which player hasn’t to be fair! Over the course of the season, I’ve been impressed with his drive and attitude – he’s one of few who have seemed to want to play for the cause – and players who have pride in the badge on the front of the shirt rather than the name on the back, will always be praised by me.
Hemmings, like Logan, is another who is proof of time being a great healer. In a similar fashion to Matt Green, Hemmings arrived on loan from Oxford United a little broken and in need of games to recapture his best form – and since late November he’s found that, scoring some important goals but also contributing with dangerous runs and link-up play.
Whilst Danny Roses’ goals seemed to have dried up of late, Hemmings has continued to find the net contributing with 14 goals – some from the spot including that cool as you like 9000000th minute equaliser at Notts County, going into the final game of the season, just how important has that point proven!
Hemmings has showed passion and commitment to Mansfield Town and we were fortunate to keep hold of him during January when Oxford had the brief opportunity to recall him – he’d be the main target in the summer for me and could go onto become a legendary striker at the club.
An obvious choice, the leading front man and fans favourite has been in good form this season and despite not scoring yet under his old gaffer David Flitcroft, has still been a regular figure and key contributor to the Stags cause.
Strikers can often been defined by their type of play or by the goals they score, for example Matt Green very rarely scored from outside the box or with a header, whilst Jimmy Spencer is seen as a target man – Rose offers something a little different, he offers a bit of everything and I look forward to another transfer window of worry that he’ll leave, knowing full well the Radfords won’t sell their prize asset.
Some of the goals he’s scored have been simply breath-taking, people talk often of his volley in the Shaw Lane FA Cup match which won him goal of the round – his header in the same match was even more special in my view.
Off the pitch Rose is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, his interaction with fans means he’s a true club man – highlighted on Saturday at Yeovil when a young fan had a bit of paper saying “Rose, Can I have your shirt?” – he spotted it and handed it over with a smile.
At only 24, Rose is still a young talent and will continue to grow, the goals will start to flow again – and long that nay continue for season after season.
There are a few names I’ve missed off my top five list, some obvious some not so. Rhys Bennett, last year’s winner, I’ve missed off by virtue of the fact he won it last year and perhaps hasn’t been as consistent as last season, not to say he hasn’t still been excellent though!
Bennett, who played every single game last season, is a future captain in my opinion but needs to stop being looked at as a right back playing centre back, in my view he’s a more accomplished central defender who can play right back – him and Pearce have a solid understanding and I full believe the former Rochdale man will be back in League One, with Mansfield, in the future and next season, will be another key figure.
CJ Hamilton was a tough one to miss out, he’d certainly win the most improved player award and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did get some form of accolade at the end of season awards night. His lightening pace and flair scares teams to death and whenever he’s not in the starting line-up, we miss him – Chesterfield and Yeovil being fine examples.
He’s still got a lot to learn and having signed a new deal, I believe he will continues to flourish over the next two seasons and go one of two ways, either stay at the club for years or be sold in a year’s time for big money and play at a very high level, he’s got bags of potential.
Paul Anderson would have been in the top five, if it hadn’t been for David Flitcroft. Anderson must be wondering what on earth he’s done to not get a look in, capable pretty much anywhere on the pitch, he clearly loves the club and will want to stay – but won’t if he’s not getting football which is a crying shame. I liked him as a captain, I rate him very highly and let’s be honest, should win an award for that beard. First class
AKA The award for Paul Digby.
You knew I’d include him somewhere! The adaptable defender/ midfielder was brought in by Steve Evans in the summer and despite playing predominately across the back line, was given a new role just infront of the back four and following impressive displays in pre-season was dubbed ‘The Interceptor’ by yours truly.
Yet once the season began Big Steve changed the system meaning Digby’s interceptor role soon became an out and out central midfielder which he is not, leading to the majority of fans disliking the former Barnsley and Ipswich man.
The 23 year old has a lot of promise and has shone over the last two games coming in at Right Back, he’s excellent in the air and will get better on the floor – I hope that Flitcroft sticks with him because if played at the back, can become a lynch pin for us giving us options in both boxes and to play with three at the back without opening ourselves up too much.
A final nod is to Ricky Miller, I feel for him really given the saga of his personal life, him not getting a look in and then his injury. He seems to show remorse for his well documented off the pitch actions and when he has appeared, looks hungry. I think it’d be worth taking a gamble of Miller next season, get him settled and the goals will follow.
The Beast from the East left a freezing chill across the country last week, but as snow fell and temperatures dropped – the Mansfield public were left short of breath in bewilderment as Steve Evans resigned with full intention of taking up the vacant managerial post at League One Peterborough United.
It was far from a posh and pleasant move from Evans who rode into Mansfield 15 months previously in a blaze of publicity, promising to turn Mansfield Town into champions, but ultimately allowed his ego to get in the way of real progress as week upon week he singled out a minority of supporters and focused on playing verbal tennis rather than the football.
Results were improving and to be fair, after a stuttered start, Evans had began to find some rhythm – yet still there was always a sense of distance between the nine-time promotion winner and the club faithful, this is something which, now he’s jumped ship, I’ll admit worried me.
Very rarely would Evans be seen applauding the fans after a game home or away, unless of course it was a win in a big game – I also know too from credible sources that the now Peterborough manager was very reluctant to agree to take part in the annual supporters forum, which he cancelled.
Regardless of all of that, Evans left the club in the critical time it needed a leader, seriously jeopardising project promotion – the club’s supporters are lucky that deep down, the Radford’s had a plan for a wee cheeky sneaky move from the Scotsman – and what a move, a masterstroke in poaching David Flitcroft from Swindon.
Flitcroft has achieved promotion from this division before and upon meeting his at last Thursday’s press conference, I got the impression that the missing community feel between management/ players and the supporters had been found.
I was proved right on Sunday when Flitcroft, staff and players brought along their shovels and joined supporters in clearing the snow covered pitch ahead of tomorrow night’s showdown with checkatrade trophy finalists and play-off rivals Lincoln City.
Straight away Flitcroft getting stuck in creates a bond, a lust to support which is pivotal at this stage as there are only twelve league games to go before the full time whistle blows on the 2017-18 campaign – something which in all the drama of the last week, you’d be forgiven for overlooking.
When a manager quits in such a manner on with the sands of time running thin on the season, panic sets in, however a swift appointment has given Flitcroft nearly a week to train with the players and get his feet under the table – couple that with the fact we’re at home tomorrow night for his first game rather than be away (Stevenage having been postponed at the weekend) and add on the togetherness bond, it may just be enough to give us that extra energy and push going into the final twelve games.
That Scottish fella is a thing of the past, and no matter how many articles try and stir the pot we have to 10000000% back Flitcroft’s appointment and HIS team – from now on, it’s HIS team selection, HIS training methods, HIS style of play and HIS guidance through the wild wilderness which is league two.
The new Stags boss inherits Evans’ staff but straight away, even before the ink was dry on his contract, they were working for Flitcroft – clearing a training area for the work to start straight away, once again highlighting that we are in this for Mansfield Town Football Club and not for egos and personal records.
I’m delighted that Lee Taylor has stayed – his work often goes unnoticed and unrecognised, yet it’s no coincidence that the likes of Danny Rose, Alex MacDonald and CJ Hamilton have all be re-born since his arrival – Adam Murray used to talk about (and get wrongly mocked) the missing percentages, those little 1 or 2% extras which win games – and that’s exactly what Taylor brings to the party.
Swindon’s fan base are naturally disappointed with Flitcroft’s switch which ironically is pretty similar to what that Scottish fella did to us – the difference is we’ve done it professionally in the best interest of both clubs – aka we’ve got a manager who I sense has been a target of the Radford’s for a long time, and Swindon have a very decent compensation package, allowing them to address some issues their fans are choosing to ignore.
Lincoln City may well be dreaming to Wembley success, but they’ll also be focussed on progression in Sky Bet League two – four points outside the play-offs with a game in hand on Swindon – they will not roll over and give Flitcroft the traditional easy early ride, there’s no time for honeymoons here, it’s all hands to the pump.
Naturally changes will be made, certain players will be better suited to the way in which the new manager wants to play and certain players may have taken the opportunity to come out of their shell and give that extra 10% which could prove the difference.
This time a week a go there was a sense of unease with the rumour mill in full swing but what followed, few actually believed would happen until the end of the season – and yet it did and once more Mansfield Town Football Club have come through the other side of the water, together as one.
What was it John Radford said? No Individual is bigger than Mansfield Town Football Club – well now, I don’t think we have anyone that fits that bill, just a manager, players and supporters all wanting one single thing, promotion.
Get yourself to the One Call Stadium tomorrow – make as much noise as possible, the sands of time on this season may well be running thin – but they are still flowing, and three points would be the perfect way to start second beginnings.
Mark Plumb Writes...
Mansfield Town continued their league 2 campaign with a scrappy 0-0 draw at the hands of Wycombe Wanderes on a miserable wet night at Field Mill. The team was unchanged that beat Grimsby convincingly heading into the game, which for me was spot on.
The first half started with the Stags creating chances earlier on from Lee Angol whose first time shot was well saved by Scott Brown who did well to keep the effort out. In the first 15 minutes we played some good football in the early exchanges showing signs that we would be the most likely to score. Wycombe stood up well to the challenge making life hard for our front men to have much of an impact on the game, out muscling and being organised when called upon under pressure.
Dan Scarr must have thought he put his side in front when his header looked certain to end up in the back of the net only for Logan to pull out an impressive save from close range. That was only one of his saves to keep out the Chairboys. Wycombe kept on pressing us high up the pitch, with Mansfield struggling to get a foot hold in the game in my opinion, especially in the midfield area.
Once again Scarr found himself on the end of another header towards the stags goal, again being kept out with Logan heading away from goal to somehow keep it out. Even though the conditions did play a part throughout the match it was frustrating us not being able to play our usual game, as we have been doing a lot so far this season.
This time it was Marcus Bean who fancied his chance with a shot for outside the box, which Logan could only parry out to Makii Smith whose shot was well kept out from point blank range from the former Rochdale man. So far this season he has been criticised for his performances thus far, including myself in previous blogs but if it wasn't for his saves we could have easily have gone on to lose the game by 4-0 with the chances they created. Logan if your reading this hats off to you.
The half time whistle blew with the scores at 0-0 with the rain not letting up any time soon. Overall assessment for me in the first half was disappointing after the first 15 minutes of the game with Mansfield not doing enough on the ball and making the most out of the chances we had in the early periods of the match. The second half began with Atkinson and Anderson replacing Macdonald and Mellis respectively. Much of the second half was very scrappy with both teams getting into some crunching tackles and the ball being played to much in the air for me.
We had a good chance to break the deadlock when Hemmings crossed into the box was screaming for the ball to be put away, with Rhys Bennett being inches away from connecting with the ball. Alfie Potter was introduced coming on for Butcher, who put an average performance at best not having made much of an impact since his promising debut against Carlisle.
In the last 10 minutes Wycombe were mounting on the pressure, taking advantage of our sloppy play by giving the ball away inviting them to attack us. The rest of the half was nothing to shout about with the only other chance coming from the Stags was Hemmings who shot was miss timed completely giving Wycombe the chance to clear their lines. Full time whistle blew giving Mansfield 4 points in the space of 3 days.
The positives from the game was we kept a clean sheet, looking solid at the back and their were no injuries. On another day we could have easily have lost the game by at least 4 goals if not for Logan pulling the saves out of the bag. Their were standout performances from Logan, Hunt, Mirfin and Pearce to name a few that have done enough for me to keep their place in the team against Lincoln come Saturday. The negatives was not taking advantage of the chances we had and being dispossessed far to easily for me, not being able to get a foot hold in the match. On to Lincoln Saturday which will be a good test for the team. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!!!!
Mark Plumb Writes...
Mansfield Town got back to winning ways with goals from Lee Angol and Krystian Pearce to hit the Mariners for four goals. Their were three changes made to the team with Macdonald, Hunt and Butcher coming into the side replacing Anderson, Benning and Atkinson respectively.
The first half started quick with Lee Angol testing the keeper early on, doing well to force their keeper into a save to deny the Stags an early opener. For the majority of the half we dominated possession and looked a threat every time going forward, causing Grimsby defence problems.
The only thing that raised a slight concern was when our midfield getting out paced on a few occasions, thankfully for the Stags not testing Logan between the sticks. Saying that I felt out defence looked more organised and coped well with everything that was being thrown at them throughout the game.
As the game progressed we looked the more likely to score and we got our just rewards when the Stags was rewarded a penalty when Mirfin got clipped in the box giving Steve Evans men a huge chance from 12 yards. Our fourth penalty this season, up stepped Lee Angol who made no mistake in converting from the spot, ending our penalty hodoo 1-0 Stags. The half time whistle blew 1-0 Stags.
Overall I felt as though we looked solid in defence and dominated well, restricting them from having an impact on proceedings. The second half began with the Mariners on the attack looking for the elusive equaliser to try and get back in the game.
Mansfield played some good football with Angol linking up well with Hemmings and Mellis playing some good balls, showing his class in the second half as the game went on. We once again looked all the more likely to score and we doubled our lead through captain Pearce who reacted quickest to make it 2-0 Stags.
Then 10 minutes later Pearce grabbed his second and Mansfields third capitalising on the keepers parried save, 3-0 Stags. Mansfield were well on top and looked more and more likely to go and get more goals to kill the game off. In the 80th minute the Stags got awarded another penalty when Angol got tripped in the box, after good work cutting inside. Having coverted the first spot kick he came up to blast the ball past the keeper to make the scoring 4-0, killing the game off.
Their were changes made to both sides with all subs being made, without making much of an impact on proceedings. Grimsby were awarded a penalty when Bennett barged over Jaiyesimi. Scott Vernom struck low denying the Stags keeping a clean sheet making the scored to make it 4-1 and thats how it finished. Overall I think that we played some good football but most importantly kill a game off, showing our ruthlessness in front of goal. Their were a number of good performances from Mirfin. Pearce,Hunt and Angol showing his quality in front of goal.
The negatives was we could have scored more but disappointing not to keep a clean sheet but we are showing signs of becoming a top team. Football is a confidence game so lets hope we can get a good run going through this tough run of fixtures starting against Wycombe Tuesday night.
Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS!!!
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town continued their league 2 campaign against Carlisle finishing one a piece. Their was no changes made to the starting line up, which for me was surprising Logan kept his place in goal with some costly errors in previous games.
The first half was end to end with the Stags playing some good football, coping well with the long ball/ throw ins into the box testing our defence that looked solid throughout.
Against the run of play Carlisle went ahead, when the Stags corner got cleared straight to the away side, who played the ball up field to Hope, left Benning for dead to run up and slot past Logan to make it 1-0 Carlisle.
Their is no doubting how good our defence are but just looked all over the place, as the Cumbrians broke clear leaving Logan with no chance. As the half wore on the home side was pilling on the pressure with their direct approach with long balls into the box, making life difficult for Steve Evans men pressing for the second goal.
The frustration of it was seeing Logan being reluctant to come off his line to claim the ball, making life easier for the defence, leaving them to head clear. Keith Curles side came close, when Hope again was their to see his headed effort crash against the crossbar with the keeper rooted to his spot.
Credit has to go to Carlisle keeper who pulled out some tremendous saves for his team. Mansfield came close to the equaliser when from the resulting corner, Mellis did well to control the ball into his path, away from the defender to see his shot saved, that looked a certainty to beat the keeper.
Hemmings also saw his shot saved from a free kick, that forced the keeper into a fingertip save in a matter of minutes. The half time whistle blew and I think that we was unlucky not to be ahead, with the chances created. On the other side of that could have been 2 goals down with the home side creating chances.
We was playing good football at times, showing signs that the players are getting used to each other, which can only get better.
Second half began with the Stags coming out of the blocks early on making their intentions known straight away with Lee Angol leading the attack to put the pressure on with his pace and was for me one of stand out performances in the match. It also saw us play to our strengths, that on our day not many teams can handle.
Changes were made for Mansfield with Alfie Potter, Danny Rose and new signing Calum Butcher being introduced into proceedings. Carlisle had chances of their own clipping the bar again from questionable marking and communication.
From the outset the defence don't feel comfortable with Logan in goal, with him being reluctant to Marshall them commanding his box and catching the ball instead of punching it out. On another day it would have proven costly, had Lady Luck not been our side at times in the match.
The Stags were rewarded a penalty when Anderson got brought down in the box, giving us massive chance of getting back into the game. Before the kick was taken Angol picked up the ball wanting to take it, with much confusion over whose responsibility it was. Kane Hemmings was the man to step up, only to see his effort saved by the Carlisle keeper.
That is 3 penalties in a row we have missed from different takers, it makes me question if they even practice them in training. For me you have to look at Evans for who he picks to take the penalties, just poor.
The Stags got their just rewards with good work from Anderson who whipped in a ball into the area for the keeper to punch away to Butcher on the edge of the box to dip his effort over the keeper to score on his debut, making the scoring 1-1, game on. Butcher went close again with his shot just above the bar, looking a threat going forward.
Carlisle came close through Jason Kennedy seeing his shot cannon against the post, much to the relief of the 280 travelling Stag fans. Full time 1-1. Upon reflection a point away from home isn't a bad thing, as it seemed a fair result. Although saying that I thought we could have easily won the game, could have gone on to lose it to, if not for good defending/ post.
The positives from the game was we came back from going a goal down and their were impressive performances from Mirfin, Angol, Anderson, Bennett and debutant Butcher grabbing we hope first of many goals for us. Coped well when under pressure and unlucky not come away with 3 points. Negatives was again Logan who in all honesty is a lucky boy to keep his place in the team for his recent performances. Looks like a liability between the sticks, just no confidence when he's on the pitch.
Also Benning, who past couple of games has got caught out few times. Biggest thing for me out of all of that has to be the penalties, to miss 3 in a row simply isn't good enough, if they players are reading this then what I would say to you is just keep on working on them, as we know their good players but need to get that addressed asap. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town suffered a disappointing defeat against league 2 newsboys in the checkatrade trophy group match at one call stadium. As expected 10 changes were made to the line up giving the fringe players a chance to prove their worth and in other cases fighting for their contracts.
The first half I thought we played well in spells, created chances and looked comfortable on the ball. Stags took the lead courtesy of Alfie Potter, who was one and one with the keeper to convert his effort past the Imps keeper to make the scoring 1-0 Mansfield.
We should have doubled the league when Sterling James found himself in a good position but saw his shot wide of the post. As the half wore on we looked dangerous on the counter and for most of the half looked solid defensively, most notably George Taft and Johnny Hunt, making his stags debut. Then came the equaliser when Lincoln hit us on the counter by whipping in an inviting ball into the area for Whitehouse to head home to make the scores level 1-1.
It was a cruel blow for how well we played but we switched off defensively and they took advantage of poor marking. At half time their wasn't much of a concern at 1-1 we showed signs of the quality that we know we have within the team, so was expecting more of the same if not better in the second half. Second half began with the Imps wasting no time in going all out attack, causing the Stags defence and forcing Oljenik into some good saves to keep the scoring one a piece.
They made it difficult for us by playing direct and out muscling us in most areas of the pitch, most notably when the ball was being pumped up to Spencer & Sterling James who found it difficult to work along side each other. At one point in the match I thought we should have had a penalty when Spencer got into the box and did well under pressure to turn and have his shirt virtually pulled to the floor, any claims were waved away by some dubious decisions by the referee.
Paul Digby came close to opening his account for Mansfield from the resulting free kick his looped header clipped the top of the bar. On the 79th minute mark they went ahead courtesy of former Stag Ollie Palmer when he found space evading the defenders to make it 2-1 Lincoln in front of 800 Imps who travelled.
A disappointing goal to concede but they kept on pressing and got their rewards but again go back to the awareness of players marking their men, just hope they learn from these mistakes. Both teams made changes with Steve Evans bringing on Hamilton, Atkinson and Rose to try and have an impact on proceedings for the Stags.
Then in the 95th minute another former Stag in Matt Green raced forward from a Mansfield corner to score from a resulting Stags corner to convert into an empty net, having came on as a sub. For me I think the manner in which we lost the game made it all the more painful to take. We all knew this competition was never going to be a priority and that it was a match for players who needed more minutes and a chance to prove their worth.
On paper you look at the players we had out with the likes of Macdonald, Potter, Pearce, White and others to add to that list and still came away empty handed. I am sure Evans will be reviewing the performances of some of the players and knowing whether or not they feature in his plans going forward but just can't help but feel frustrated with the strength in depth we got in the team, that we should be doing better.
On the flip side of that the longer they play together the more they will gel but felt that some of the players let the fans down by not putting enough effort in. It is still early days for us to panic but as said in previous blogs/ podcasts we need to stop making silly mistakes that costs us in games, whether that be league or cup as teams punish you for it.
The positives from it was no injuries and minutes of the pitch. Other than that struggling to find anything to be positive about from the match. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!!
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town threw away a two goal lead to draw with Luton 2-2 at Field Mill in frustrating circumstances. Prior to the game their was much excitement building for the game, even more so with Kane Hemmings making his debut, hoping to add more fire power up front.
Even though it is still early in the season I just couldn't help but get frustrated by us taking the foot of the gas and inviting pressure on ourselves when Luton have players such as Hylton, Collins and Berry to name a few that will punish you if given the opportunity going forward.
The first half saw the Stags dominate possession and create chances that given the quality of players we have should have been put away, albeit some good last ditch defending by the Hatters.
The pressure paid off when Rhys Bennett found himself unmarked at the free kick to put Mansfield ahead, his first league appearance of the season and first goal for the former Rochdale man.
The Stags did well to restrict Hylton and Collins from causing us any problems, showing that we could handle the pressure. The second half started with Luton on the attack but not really testing Logan out, who kept his place in goal. As the half went on Mansfield kept on pressing for the second goal and it came with good work from Byrom who played in a good ball that was converted by Lee Angol to make it 2 in 2 goals for him.
At this stage we was comfortable and looked in control for a little while but just seemed to me that the players didn't do enough to test the keeper after the early pressure and goals we scored to really kill the game off.
Even with the introduction of Rose, Spencer and Digby it wasn't enough for the Stags to hold out with the Luton pressure proving to be to much for an experienced Mansfield Defence. Luton hit back first with Collins that should have been dealt with by the defence to convert from 3 yards out to make the score 2-1.
Minutes later Hylton converted from a mixup between defenders and goalkeeper that gave him space to equalise, past a disappointing Logan to level the score 2-2. Mansfield was awarded a penalty in extra time, up stepped Jimmy Spencer who's penalty was saved by the legs of Stech earning his side a good point away from home.
I don't like calling out individuals but for me Conrad Logan has cost us in games against Crewe, Accrington and now Luton with him not being commanding or coming out for balls into the box.
At times his defence has let him down with some poor marking at times, admittedly so but that's when he needs to organise his defence and not staying on his line making life tougher for them.
I know we are only in the fourth game of the season but it is another game this season that we haven't killed a game off and haven't seen a game out by striving for more goals making the pressure count that ultimately cost us from taking all three points.
If we are to challenge for promotion the players need to be proving why they should be on board by playing for the shirt and learning from daft individual errors. There is no doubting the quality of players we have but for me the players get to complacent and aren't ruthless enough.
Still a lot of games to be played but the only positives for me so far are that we're creating chances, playing well and look good going forward. Disappointing to say the least but one piece of coal for the Steve Evans train. Onwards and Upwards Up The Stags !!
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