Full Time Score Newport County 1-0 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Rodney Parade
Stags Goal Scorer(s) /
Attendance 3,133 (362)
Craig Priest writes…
When you’re walking along a long, unknown path, you have to be prepare for bumps in the road and to drag yourself through the brambles – it’s your attitude and desire to fight the things holding you back during those moments which define if you’ll reach the end, or have to start again.
For Mansfield that’s exactly what they must do after only their fourth defeat in thirty-two league matches, but in what was arguably a display which lacked the characteristics which has propelled the Stags into second in the first place.
Newport is no easy place to visit, even when the pitch is in pristine condition, and you have to have a game plan to combat the mud and sludge – that game plan shouldn’t be training on a click 3G pitch!
Not for a second am I slating the investment and progress we’ve made with the training ground, it’s a brilliant complex and will be for decades to come BUT, it is NOT ready for the first team to be there yet as the grass pitches aren’t fit for use.
At this stage of the season you do need to have the odd session on 3G, for shape work and shorter technique sessions, but when you’re playing on bobbly pitches, when you’re running on heavy pitches – doing ALL your preparation on the 3G is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole and will do us no favours.
I applaud the enthusiasm of David Flitcroft for wanting to us the facility as a first team venue rather than an academy, I’m 100% behind that in the long term, however the short term ambition is to get promoted into league one, so let’s take a step back, get back on the grass and get to the finish line, before starting a whole new chapter next season – a league above.
The players will be hurt at defeat, we bounce back and keep on track – no arguments, no blame, just togetherness and drive.
Hopefully Danny Rose will be OK to take some part in the rest of the campaign after his horrific injury on the hour, that will have to be assessed closely and additions made if needed as the injury list mounts – whilst changes will have to be made ahead of Notts County, with Sweeney now suspended for the next two matches after collating ten bookings.
The Stags bolstered their ranks on Monday with the addition of free agent Willem Tomlinson [#16] – he settled for a place on the bench as Flitcroft again named an unchanged starting line-up.
Mansfield should have been off to a flyer within the opening minute as Ajose fired over from CJ Hamilton’s teasing cross from the right, Mansfield then saw little sight of goal as Newport grew into the game – opening the scoring on 15 minutes from a well worked corner, the Stags failing to track the run of Robbie Willmott who smashed home.
The hosts had a second chalked off for off-side on 25 minutes before Jacob Mellis trickled one wide for the Stags from distance three minutes later – Ryan Sweeney picked up his tenth booking of the season on 37, before Benning went into the book two minutes before the break, they the only notable moments for the Stags in a frustrating first half.
Change was needed and at the break Ajose made way for Rose whilst Hamilton switched from right to left to accommodate Gethin Jones at the expense of Benning.
Rose nearly made an instant impact firing wide from the edge of the Newport box on the spin before at the other end, Smith kept Mansfield in the game with a brilliant save to deny Bakinson.
Rose’s game was over on 52 minutes with a nasty clash of heads which led to a lengthy delay – Rose was able to walk off and was replaced by new addition Tomlinson, Hamilton went up front with Sweeney at left back in a back four – play only resumed after the referee and Neal Bishop, cleared up Roses’ blood – a sickening sight.
Mansfield won two successive corners through Mellis and Tomlinson but couldn’t make an impact on the scoreline whilst Smith again rescued the Stags, denying Matt 1 vs 1.
11 minutes were added on and with the Stags still behind, Sweeney went up front and came close to levelling the scores following a pinpoint delivery from Grant, and despite mass pressure late on – Newport condemned the Stags to their fourth loss of the season.
FULL TIME: Newport County 1-0 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Jordan Smith, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning (Gethin Jones HT), Jorge Grant, Tyler Walker, Nicky Ajose (Danny Rose HT – Willem Tomlinson 59)
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Alistar Smith, Otis Khan
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