Sky Bet League Two, Saturday 4th September 2021 | Mansfield Town 1 [Oates] Harrogate Town 3
Red cards to captain Ollie Clarke and midfielder Stephen Quinn within seconds of each other sent a red mist over Mansfield Town’s performance, however I’m determined to see through that today and say that even at 11 v 11, Nigel Clough’s men were far from good enough – slumping to a second successive 3-1 defeat at the hands of Harrogate Town, this time on home soil.
Rhys Oates goal just three minutes in gave the Stags a fine start and pumped some belief that a tweaked system could get us back to winning ways, however a minute later, woeful defending from a corner saw Harrogate level and from there, dictate the game.
Clough switched from the diamond in midfield to (in my opinion) a 4-2-3-1, with Clarke and Maris as deep lying midfielders, Oates, Lapslie and Quinn as an attacking three, with Hawkins the target man lone striker.
The system is one I think WOULD suit us, it suits slick passing, quick movement and stretches the game playing on the counter whilst importantly at the other end, helping to tighten the midfield and prevent sides playing through us. That’s the theory anyway.
For whatever reason Mansfield couldn’t string a pass together and forgot how to pass – how Clough can come out and say we played OK is beyond me, we were sloppy, made far too many mistakes and errors of judgement – and failed to really trouble the Harrrogate keeper.
The ONLY positive is that we had more aggression to our play, trying to close down and press more rather than inviting on – naturally that leaves you exposed to cards and you need a referee to bit a little stronger, but still – we need to fight.
I have to say I thought the officials were poor with some decisions, we should perhaps have had a penalty and Mez must have painted the lines in invisible paint because the referee and his team had NO IDEA when the ball was in or out of play!
As for the red cards – my views is, they’re both reds. Clarke’s is a soft red, granted – but, by the letter of the law, he’s the last man on a clear goal scoring opportunity and pulled his man down so had to go – Clough and his team may have grounds for appeal with Nartey arguable quick enough to be getting back in to cover, but still – the law says red card, and to be honest, it won’t do us any harm to be missing Clarke for a while!
Quinn’s I didn’t see, I’m looking at the bench to see what Clough and his team are thinking to play with ten and get back in the game (2-1 at the time) – but if he’s kicked out or whatever, again it’s a red. I doubt they’ll be much footage to review, as cameras will have been on Clarke.
Quinn, will be a loss, but an excellent opportunity to freshen things up in there, let’s face it – we need something.
Finally, and I’m holding back for the Podcast, Richard Nartey had a debut to forget – I can’t get my head around why he started with what, only 2-3 training sessions under his belt?! Let him settle, start him next week, don’t throw him straight in!
One game doesn’t make a terrible player though, so for once, let’s get behind him and back him – we need him, Perch apparently will be out for a few months.
Four defeats in a row in all competitions – it’s not good enough, time to stop blaming officials Mr Clough, because whilst I agree, they’re not the ones wearing a Stags shirt making costly errors week in week out, sort your own house out first before criticising others.
STAGS: Bishop, Gordon, Nartey, Hewitt, McLaughlin, Maris, O. Clarke, Quinn, Lapslie (68’ Johnson), Oates (76’ Rawson), Hawkins (82’ Bowery). UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey, Burke, Sinclair, Stirk.
Attendance: 4,599 (155)
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