Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-0 Crawley Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Tyler Walker
Attendance 3,739 (24
Craig Priest writes…
After two defeats on the spin, the Stags needed an injection of life – something they were well and truly granted as they bolstered their ranks on Monday with the loan signings of Nicky Ajose (Charlton) and Jorge Grant (Nottingham Forets), before claiming all three points against Crawley last night (Tuesday).
Mansfield had lost a little flair and energy in recent weeks and were in danger of a more serious collapse if the ranks weren’t bolstered, however the addition of both the highly sought after Grant and promotion winner Ajose proved to be the fuel to reignite the Stags fire.
It wasn’t the greatest of displays from Mansfield, however it is the win and the points that count – there where clear glimpses of what the fresh faces can bring once the glue has settled and bonded and perhaps if one or two things had dropped it may have seemed an easier night at the office, but to say the new faces had just the one session prior to the game – there are no complaints from me.
You could tell both players had come from player league one football (Grant on loan at Luton, Ajose at parent club Charlton) and Mansfield’s players will need to raise their game a bit further to get to that level for a more consistent and effective use of said players – but the key thing is that both fit straight into our style of play and our system.
Everyone will rightly coo over Grant, his ability is on another level and the fact we’ve made Notts County have a meltdown helps – however for me I just want people to give Ajose time to settle in, as after around an hour, he was starting to become a target for negativity from a select few.
We have in Ajose a striker who has promotions on his CV from this division, he’s got a good goal scoring record and a history with the coaching staff at former clubs which helps – but we also have a player who, similarly to Calum Butcher last season, is travelling to a new area and will need that little bit longer to settle, let’s not jump straight onto his back because he hasn’t scored 40 on his debut!
I feel the next three games for the Stags are going to act as a mini mid-season pre-season as the new boys become acquainted with their new team mates and surroundings and visa versa. The key area to get right in the back line, the keeper Jordan Smith and his back three must build trust – he is capable of playing the Olejnik role of sweeper keeper and being used to get us out of trouble, but that trust comes with minutes and games – we saw a bit of it in the second half, that has to grow.
Three games remain in January, we must be looking to push on now and grow as a unit with potentially one more player coming in, perhaps to cover either the wide areas or defensive midfield as we seem top heavy in attacking players now, hence the termination of Timi Elsnik’s loan from Derby County.
It’s all about momentum now, we have the capability to hurt teams and have shown our spark – time to add some fuel to the fire and do what we should have done two weeks ago, and put distance between ourselves and the chasing pack.
New signings Jorge Grant and Nicky Ajose were handed debuts, replacing Khan and Atkinson, whilst Bishop returned from suspension to replace the suspended Matt Preston, Hayden white moved to right side centre-half and Hamilton to right wing back to accommodate the changes.
It was a bright start from Mansfield looking to avenge their third league defeat of the season on Saturday, new boy Ajose came close to making himself a hero as he was played through on goal, he was denied at the near post by Crawley glovesman Morris.
Jorge Grant was showing some real flare in the attacking flair but it was his fellow Nottingham Forest team mate in action for the Stags on 12 minutes, as keeper Jordan Smith watched Nark Connolly strike the post before scrambling clear.
Neal Bishop stung the palms of Morris on 17 minutes before Grant’s audacious flick nearly caught the hosts out a minute later, unfortunately for the Stags the effort zipped wide.
Grant was involved again on 32 minutes with a beautiful clip over the Crawley back line to play in Hamilton, he raced forward to lob the keeper, but couldn’t celebrate as the ball landed on the roof of the net – Grant was then twice denied by Morris as the game reached half-time, locked firmly at 0-0.
Ajose was again the thick of things as the second half unfolded, sadly for the Charlton loanee he couldn’t find his first goal – squandering his best opportunity on 52 minutes as Walker squared low across the face of goal for Ajose to latch on too, his connection sailed high and over, rather than low and into the inviting net.
Mellis skimmed the bar and the palms of Morris again just past the hour mark before Jordan Smith was the man earning the applause, keeping out Dominic Poleon’s 20 yard effort with a smart right handed save.
Tyler Walker shot wide at the other end of 74 minutes before Smith denied former Stag and the ever villainous Ollie Palmer with four minutes remaining, Pearce too was strong in cleaning up any left overs allowing Stags to refocus and score two minutes from time, Grants attempted pass deflected into the path of White who literally sprang back into life to square low into the middle – an unmarked Tyler Walker made no mistake in thunderously finishing the move, putting the Stags ahead.
After the goal Mansfield sat a little too deep but terrific work from substitute Danny Rose was enough to preserve the clean sheet through five additional minutes, the referee’s full time whistle a joyous sound and a big relief – Mansfield are back on track.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-0 Crawley Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Jordan Smith, Hayden White, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, [#23] Jorge Grant, Tyler Walker, [#21] Nicky Ajose (Danny Rose 72)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Otis Khan, Will Atkinson, Omari Sterling-James, Jordan Graham, Alistar Smith
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