Full Time Score Mansfield Town 3-1 Macclesfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Jorge Grant, Krystian Pearce, Tyler Walker
Attendance 5,642 (236)
Craig Priest writes…
Winning doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be achieved – and that’s exactly what the Stags did against relegation threatened and scrappy Macclesfield, who showed exactly the sort of attitude required to survive a relegation scrap.
Unfortunately for the silkmen, the Stags had the same attitude and their application in terms of making chances count and getting that little bit of luck was in their favour – exactly what was needed as Lincoln squandered the chance to take three points off of conference bound Notts County.
The gap at the top is down to just two points and whilst Lincoln have a game in hand over the promotion thirsty Stags, they still have to come to the One Call Stadium in march – a match which could be pivotal to dreams coming true, LIVE on Sky Sports.
Yesterday Mansfield were far from their best, David Flitcroft’s side are developing a real issue at being too top heavy and getting exposes, had it not been for the post, good positioning of Jordan Smith and Matt Preston throwing himself at bullets – we could have been onto a hiding at times.
The issues comes from the right wing back area and getting CJ Hamilton to be at his best and most effective. It was clear he wasn’t delivering at wing back and half way through the first half, Mansfield’s shape was broken as Preston moved to right back in a back four, whilst CJ joined pretty much everyone else up front – he looked like a lost sheep, unable to find that role to exploit Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield.
Gethin Jones showed real class when he came on in the last ten minutes and could really put the pressure on, we are better off with CJ in the side – but we need to relight the fire and find the right place for the spotlight to shine on him, without risking being too top heavy.
However for that to be the only little niggle coming out yesterday’s game says a lot about where Mansfield Town are at the moment, we’re following up on saved shots, we’re scrapping for second and third balls from set-plays and it’s paying off.
I feel we’ve got enough within the squad to keep challenging, I felt Danny Rose was excellent when he came on – his running and pressing really changed the game in terms of killing Macclesfield’s hope, all that was missing was the goal but when you’ve got everyone else contributing, goals don’t matter – you look at the bigger picture and at things like stopping the opposition getting forward, causing problems etc.
David Flitcroft spoke a lot about balancing the squad prior to the closure of the transfer window and has certainly done that – getting David Mirfin out on loan to York gets him fit and ready for a potential recall without the risk to our standing, whilst terminating the contract of Paul Anderson is best for all concerned.
Calum Butcher also left on deadline day for Dundee giving him more opportunity to play as we were top heavy in that area, the two departures also freed up the funds for the transfer of Ben Turner who arrives as a free agent, having had his contract torn up by Burton.
Turner brings Premier League, Championship and League One experience and whilst he’s injured at the minute, will provide that cover and leadership we need in a number of areas across the back line.
Turner’s arrival didn’t get announced until after the full time whistle and as such wasn’t involved as Flitcroft again named an unchanged line-up.
Mansfield were on the back foot early doors and watched on as Tyrone Marsh tried an effort from distance, Ryan Sweeney also cut out an effort before Mansfield delivered the killer blow on eight minutes – Ajose’s shot palmed away by the keeper but straight into the path of Jorge Grant, who netted his fourth goal in three games.
Walker, Grant and Benning all saw further efforts go astray before Grant’s pin point free kick brushed the side netting on 35 minutes, however seven minutes later the visitors pulled level, Grant failed to track the run of Evans following a goal mouth scramble as the struggling visitors fought back.
Matt Preston then threw himself in the way of Reece Cole’s effort as Macclesfield turned the screw, the half time whistle much needed with the visitors really starting to grow in confidence.
Hamitlon switched back to wing back at the break and just two minutes into the second half was denied by the visiting defence after a give and go with Grant, Tyler Walker and Nivky Ajose both had efforts but couldn’t punish the other MTFC.
Mansfield needed a leader and got one on 57 minutes, Krystian Pearce getting the final touch from a corner, the skipper putting his side ahead with his first goal of the season.
Grant, Walker, Benning and substitute Danny Rose had chances to make it 3-1 but in the end it was Walker who added his 20th goal of the season right at the death, the ball hitting his boot from a corner before crossing the line to seal a big victory for David Flitcroft’s side.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 3-1 Macclesfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Jordan Smith, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton (Gethin Jones 82), Jacob Mellis (Will Atkinson 89), Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, Jorge Grant, Tyler Walker, Nicky Ajose (Danny Rose 72)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Jason Law, Alistar Smith, Otis Khan
Referee: Michael Salisbury
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