Sky Bet League Two, Saturday 7th August | Mansfield Town 2 (Hawkins, Johnson [P]) Bristol Rovers 1
Apparently a house party is only as good as it’s DJ – Danny Johnson ensured the Stags’ house party was absolutely bouncing, coolly netting a 90th minute penalty at the Quarry Lane end to seal opening day victory for Nigel Clough’s men.
Strike partner Oli Hawkins had swooped in to nod home a well worked set-play between Ollie Clarke and Stephen McLaughlin to start the party in the first half – however a well hit strike levelled things for Rovers in the second swung the game back into balance.
However, when Johnson was judged to have been struck by Paul Coutts with fourteen minutes to play – the Rovers skipper was given his marching orders and the Stags the prime opportunity to take all three points.
Overall, a Mansfield victory was deserved as Rovers’ offered very little and Clough’s men racked up the chances – however despite the euphoria, Clough, his players and the majority of fans know that performances must be a lot better, if the Stags want to challenge consistently.
Clough has worked hard to build a style of play which brings fluidity through the midfield and hunger to counter – for whatever reason that was lacking from Mansfield’s performance which in turn, led to a handful of ‘sharp intake of breath’ moments which on another day, the visitors may have capitalised on.
We’re still a central defender short in my view, someone experienced and commanding – mainly to put that added bit of authority into our play, adding fuel to the fiery approach of our challenges – Stephen Quinn especially has this ‘no way through’ attitude which is brilliant to see.
It was so good to see the One Call Stadium full and hear fans singing and cheering throughout – I’ve no doubt that contributed towards the players’ nervousness and eagerness to impress, we have to remember that not only is this a new group still trying to gel, but that players haven’t played in front of crowds for as long as we’ve been stuck on the sofa! For both parties, it’ll take some getting used too!
Harness that winning feeling, soak in those matchday rituals and get ready for a long, but exciting season! They do say start as you mean to go on afterall!
STAGS: Nathan Bishop | Kellan Gordon, Farrend Rawson, James Perch, Stephen McLaughlin | George Maris (Ryan Stirk 90+1), Ollie Clarke ©, Stephen Quinn, Rhys Oates (George Lapslie 70) | Danny Johnson, Oli Hawkins UNUSED SUBS: George Shelvy [GK], Jordan Bowery, Ryan Burke, Tyrese Sinclair, James Clarke
Attendance: 6,436 (1,388)
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