Full Time Score Yeovil Town 2-2 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Huish Park, Yeovil
Stags Goal Scorers Craig Davies, Matt Preston
Attendance 2,795 (315)
Craig Priest writes…
After the home comforts of four pre-season friendlies and the opening day win over Newport County, the Stags finally hit the road yesterday for one of the longest away trips of the campaign as they faced Yeovil Town – an afternoon where the word ‘congestion’ sums the day up in its entirety.
The near four hour journey took about five and a half for supporters hitting the road, some luckier than others to get through the congestion with time to spare before kick-off, others not so much – I imagine there would have been a few nervous fans wondering if they’d actually make kick-off!
The stop-start nature of the motorway seemed to transfer onto the pitch as the Stags couldn’t really find enough rhythm to settle and endured there most frustrating test so far.
It was a matter of time before the 3-4-1-2 (3-5-2 depending on your preference!) system was properly tested and picked at, and whilst Newport showed glimpses of this last weekend, Yeovil were more effective in enticing the Stags high up the pitch and then penetrating over the top, both centrally and in wide areas, to effect – as highlighted in Yeovil’s two goals, although the second could, and should have, been avoided.
If you’re going to play high you have to be quick off the mark and none of the three central defenders were, often beaten in direct races and in Ariel battles – a better team would have, and will, punish us if we don’t tight then screw.
Defensively the midfield let us down as Yeovil were allowed time and space to find a way through, which this system is designed to stop – I felt watched that the boys seemed a bit shell-shocked by the conditions, sweeping wind and rain and weren’t quite sure how to manage that.
However despite a worrying afternoon on that front, I am delighted in the Stags attitude and application in twice fighting back – I’ve said for weeks that I wanted to see the lads come up against it and have to respond, on that performance I’ve no qualms about that going forward, as a collective they aren’t contempt to sit back and take a hiding – which could well have happened.
Attacking wise we didn’t look at our most dangerous, as David Flitcroft said in his post match interview we’ve done a lot of work going through the middle of the pitch but haven’t exploited the wide areas yet – when we did get the ball on the deck and play, centrally or wide, we looked dangerous and like Yeovil at the other end, on another day could have really profited.
Things weren’t dropping for us in that respect and it’s here where the bench need to step in and change things up – bringing Butcher on for Davies with seven minutes to go screamed shutting up shop and playing for the point, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that in the grand scheme of things, an early attack minded change, perhaps bringing Butcher on for the booked Bishop, or Atkinson on in a wider role, might have turned a point into three.
That’s my only critique really, I’m certainly not moaning, I’m certainly not disheartened and I’m certainly not writing off our chances – this is a good squad which, with the turn of the screw at the back and a bolstered attack, can set this league on fire.
On that subject, here comes the topic of the week – Danny Rose. Listening to David Flitcroft post match, I’m again convinced that the FA are going to have to do some really digging into the way Peterborough United have conducted themselves in relation to “tapping up” Danny.
He was rightly left out of the squad for the trip to Yeovil and his inclusion would have only done more damage than good with Danny, in the words of the Stags boss, spending the entirety of the last week believing he was a Peterborough United player. As Flitcroft said, psychologically now Danny’s head will be all over the place having been promised the earth and delivered nothing.
I completely believe Rose can have a future at Mansfield Town Football Club and play a part in our success. All of this talk of a fall out with Flitcroft is, in my view, created hype to orchestrate a move and disrupt a club – I hope when the two (Rose and Flitcroft) sit down on Monday morning that the two reach the conclusion that, no matter the interested outside party, Danny Rose is best served for all concerned as a Stags player who between now and at least January, can contribute with goals and the fire power to put us on the verge of being a League One club.
All this talk on social media of isolating Rose for wanting a move elsewhere needs to stop – IF on Monday (or whenever) the club come out and say Danny Rose will continue to play for Mansfield Town FC then no matter what, we back him and watch him bloom.
I don’t think there is one single person out there in any walk of life who wouldn’t want to better themselves and their future should the opportunity come. Show me someone who wouldn’t (especially at Rose’s age) and I’ll show you a liar or a madman.
Yesterday we needed that extra attacking threat from the bench (I’m not saying for a second Rose should be benched) to bring on and turn a point into three, we’d be better served in future with that than without it. Looking at the players Flitcroft has brought In in that particular area, Davies, Walker, Khan – I’m even more convinced they were brought in to create a better Danny Rose, not to isolate him.
David Flitcroft named an unchanged starting line-up from the side which beat Newport County, Will Atkinson replaced Omari Sterling-James on the bench.
The surface at Huish Park was very zippy and both sides struggled the get going, the Stags had the first opportunity on five minutes as Khan, on his return to Yeovil, laid-off MacDonald but he saw his effort blocked – Yeovil zipped down the other end and as the Stags got caught too high, Diallang Jaiyesimi brought the ball down and slotted beyond Logan to open the scoring.
Mansfield rallied and began their fight back, Otis Khan tried an over head kick which didn’t pay off on eight minutes but a minute later, Khan was involved as the Stags put a ball across the home box for Craig Davies to react too, lashing home a thunderous effort for his first goal of the campaign to level proceedings.
Khan created two further opportunities for the Stags but it was a Mansfield old face who would cause problems next as Yoann Arquin reacted first, after the Stags were again caight napping too high, to a Logan palm away – tucking home from close range to put Yeovil back in the driving seat.
The Stags weren’t playing Yeovil’s game and again began their fight back – Davies tried to grab his second with a curling effort on 21 minutes, this time denied by Nathan Baxter in the home goal – Baxter left with no chance four minutes later as Khan delivered from the left hand side for Matt Preston to bravely rise at the far post to nod the Stags back into the game.
Tyler Walker, Hayden White, Mal Benning and Otis Khan all had attempts to unlock the home defence denied before the break, at which the sides firmly locked at 2-2.
Walker then met a Benning delivery after the re-start but he couldn’t beat Baxter for his second Stags goal in as many games, Walker was then denied by Yeovil sub Gary Warren again after good work from Benning.
Conrad Logan then kept the Stags in the game on 67 minutes as he denied Arquin a second, at the other end Logan’s opposite number again denied Walker, Khan this time the tormentor.
The Stags should have had a third on 73 minutes minutes as Davies’ far post header saw Sowumni head the ball against his own bar, in the final two minutes – Matt Preston and substitute Jacob Mellis both came close to grabbing a winner, but it just wasn’t meant to be as the Stags settled for a point of the road.
FULL TIME: Yeovil Town 2-2 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-5-2]: Conrad Logan, Hayden White, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, CJ Hamilton, Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald (Jacob Mellis 87), Mal Benning, Otis Khan, Craig Davies (Calum Butcher 83), Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Bobby Oljenik, Ryan Sweeney, Lewis Gibbens, Lewis Gibbens, Will Atkinson
Referee: Neil Hair
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