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 !!!
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