Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-2 Exeter City
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Stags Goal Scorers Tyler Walker
Attendance 4,443 (228)
Craig Priest writes…
After a break for international matches, we were all excited for football to return but excitement turned to frustration as the Stags were beaten for the first time in the league this season – finally being caught out and punished, repeating the same old offences.
Exeter have had a great start to their new life under Matt Taylor but in my view offered very little by way of dominance and attack, they simply did their homework and made the most of our errors.
I’m a big fan of the 3-4-2-1 (slash 3-4-1-2 slash 3-4-3 depending on your preference) system with the players we have in our ranks – but it only works if you keep moving, which the more games progress and the more the season goes on, our players seem reluctant to do.
As in life, things don’t happen because you expect them too – you’ve got to work hard, create openings and opportunity and make them happen – we are so guilt of expecting things to drop for us, it’s an arrogant and negative attitude to have. I said it a few weeks ago and got shot down for it, but I’m going to say it again – the longer we keep standing still, expecting things to happen for us and making the same old mistakes – we will start to fall and be in trouble.
Teams have worked us out, they know exactly how we play and how we like to play and work hard to shut us out – all they have to do then is pounce when we make a mistake. Exeter’s first goal I can just about accept as we forced the visitors out of the box and forced a shot – it was that one time out of ten where it got lucky and went in. The second, our defence need shooting – NEVER stop and expect the whistle or flag to go: PLAY TO THE WHISTLE!!
We always seem to start well and play with the fluidity which makes the system work, but after 20 minutes, it’s like we’re cursed and freeze after that point. If we play with fluidity, pace and movement for the full 90 we will absolutely bury teams. I can’t put my finger on if it’s a personnel issue or a tactical change – but something has to change within our approach to attacking the game, we need to be relentless before otherwise teams will continue to sit back and soak it up for twenty/thirty minutes, before scoring twice and grabbing all three points because they know we’ve no fight about us after a certain point.
Has the international break helped or hindered, after a defeat you say hindered where as a win you’d say helped – we’ve got plenty of games coming up, so let’s spend this week working on our intensity and put this right with six points from our next two games, anything less at this stage of the season won’t be good enough – we need to kick on!
After his solid display in the checkatrade trophy game at Lincoln, Calum Butcher was given a start ahead of Danny Rose whilst Craig Davies missed out due to an injury – loanee Timi Elsnik was brought onto the bench with Mellis starting the first of a three game ban for his part in the Sheffield Wednesday brawl.
The Stags started well and had an opportunity on five minutes from a dead ball as Hamilton was fouled – Khan stepped up but hit a rather tame effort into the hands of Christy Pym in the visiting goal.
Three minutes later Hamilton caused problems on the left and clipped in a cross, but with just a lone striker – it was unchallenged and easy for the visitors to deal with.
Otis Khan and Tyler Walker then both tested Pym within two minutes of each other but the visiting keeper showed class to deny the Stags an opening goal – the latter having two efforts saved by the visiting keeper.
On 23 minutes the visitors saw their first sight of goal as a cross from the right hand side wasn’t closed down – Jayden Stockley rose highest to head towards goal – the Stags were flat footed and watched on as it hit the post – before reacting to clear.
Three minutes later flat footed and lazy defending saw Boateng free inside the box, fortunately for Mansfield the visiting attacker fired over the bar.
Jayden Stockley saw another chance go begging before the visitors took the lead on the half hour mark – the Stags again failed to deal with a cross and allowed Dean Moxey to curl towards goal – the ball cannoned off the post and tricked over the line.
Calum Bucther then set Hayden White as the Stags tried to respond, White’s effort cannoned away – the Stags couldn’t carve out any more clear cut chances and went into the break a goal behind.
After the restart Walker was set by Khan but saw his near post effort blocked, at the other end Stockley again struck the bar with a far post header.
Danny Rose came on for Butcher on 55 minutes as the Stags moved players forward – Pearce used Rose as a decoy for a corner, but sent a powerful header over the bar.
The missed chance proved costly as at the other end, the visitors grabbed a second as Mansfield stood waiting for the offside flag – Boateng raced onto the loose ball and squared for Nicky Law, who bundled beyond Oljenik.
Back underway as the stags began their fight back with Khan denied by Pym, on the hour the Stags got a goal back with Rose’s powerful header well saved by Pym – Walker on hand to bundle the loose ball over the line.
Two minutes later Bishop tried a left footed curler but fired narrowly wide, Pearce was also denied by Pym from a corner as the clock hit 74 minutes.
The Stags started to play with fluidity again but in the final third, couldn’t make crosses count – substitute Mal Benning hit a tame free kick into Pym’s arms – and right at the death, two acrobatic efforts from Rose were saved by Pym, as the visitors condemned the Stags to their first league defeat of the season.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-2 Exeter City
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney (Timi Elsnik 69), Hayden White (Mal Benning 83), Neal Bishop, Alex MacDonald, CJ Hamilton, Otis Khan, Calum Butcher (Danny Rose 55) Tyler Walker
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Lewis Gibbens, Jordan Graham
Referee: Andy Haines
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