Craig Priest writes…
As the clocks chimed at midnight, many would have been either miming the words to auld langs syne, or making them up – well how about, we’ll take a goal or three carlise, for the sake of three more points?
No? Ok I’ll stick to blog writing – made far easier as the Stags turned on their professionalism to see of Carlisle United 3-1 to kick start 2018 with a win, doing so without leading scorer Danny Rose and captain Zander Diamond, as injuries and some illness’ continued to plague the Stags camp.
Steve Evans dropped numerous jibes at a small selection of supporters in his post-match comments again, sighting that they weren’t happy – I can’t help but feel two things, first and foremost, he should let it go – it’ll only keep happening otherwise, and two – the minority that did have a go? Why!
We won the game, I won’t say dominated as that would suggest Carlisle had no opportunities and they did which had they took, would have saw a different game played out – but what I will say is, we controlled the game and we’re professional in our approach.
It would have been so easy to implode after the penalty incident, which one first look I felt was about right – I’m yet to watch it back, however the point here isn’t about someone being right or wrong, it’s that we didn’t cave in and throw away a solid lead – we rallied, regained our two goal advantage and saw the game through to its conclusion.
It was good to play with so much confidence going forward without Danny Rose, he was missed of course, but it gave Angol the chance to shine again – back to his old self of being hungry and winning clever free kicks and making things happen, whilst Kane Hemmings continued to cause problems – it looks like he’s finally found his form.
Being picky, I felt we sat a little too deep at times and invited the opposition on which nearly went wrong, but we’ve been talking for weeks about not having a biting central midfielder – step forward Alex MacDonald who for my money at this stage of the season, should NOT be placed back out wide, he should be developed and ‘converted’ into a central player and the team built around him.
Why? Well just watch the last few games back and look at the way in which he’s moved box to box to chase the ball and close players down, other players read him to and come in to play off him, if we are to play football, which for my money is our best chance of success, then Alex MacDonald is the lynchpin to that.
Steve Evans made three changes to the side which came from behind to beat Wycombe, bar for Conrad Logan, it was essentially the second half team which played some excellent football.
That mantra continued from the off as the Stags won a corner within the opening minute from CJ Hamilton’s bursting run – Lee Angol beaten to the ball by visiting keeper Jack Bonham from Potters resulting delivery.
Another corner from Potter on four minutes caused further problems for the visitors but it was the Stags who then opened the scoring on nine minutes as after poor free kick routine, the visitors’ attempts to mop up went wrong – Hemmings intercepted Danny Grainger’s back-pass to round Bonham and put the ball into the empty net.
Pearce and Bennett did well at the other end to keep the Stags lead, meanwhile Hemmings and Potter both saw efforts go astray as Mansfield searched for a second.
They didn’t have to wait long however, another free kick routine eventually saw MacDonald put a ball back into the mix, squared by Hamilton to Angol, whose flick past Bonham was prodded over the line by Rhys Bennett with half an hour played.
Angol and Hemmings both came close to adding a third, but despite Mansfield controlling play with some fluid moves, at the half time whistle – it was Bennett and Hemmings respective goals the difference.
Keith Curle made a double switch at the break pushing more bodies up front, fears of a Stags implosion lingered in the air like stale Bovril. The fears were made worse as the previously fluid Stags began to stutter and were finally confirmed, as on 66 minutes Conrad Logan conceded a penalty as he appeared to upend substitute Ritchie Bennett – Jamie Devitt stepped up to tuck beneath the returning Stags keeper to make it 2-1.
It should have been 2-2 on 73 minutes as Carlisle in the same move, saw an effort blocked by Logan, the ball hit the post and the cannon the cross bar – it proved the scare the Stags needed however, two minutes later a surge down the right by Alfie Potter saw the ball squared to Hemmings who made it 3-1 with his second goal of the afternoon and pretty much game over.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Carlisle
Paul Anderson – Krystain Pearce © - Rhys Bennett – Mal Benning
Alfie Potter (Hayden White 79) – Jacob Mellis (Will Atkinson 83) – Alex MacDonald – CJ Hamilton
Kane Hemmings – Lee Angol (Jack Thomas 88)
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Olejnik, Paul Digby, Omari Sterling-James, Calum Butcher
Referee: Darren Drysdale Assistants Duncan Street, Joe Clark Fourth Official Steven Rushton
Attendance 3,632 (320)
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