Sky Bet League Two, Saturday 28th August | Swindon Town 1-0 Mansfield Town
Down in lowly league two, instinct is still very much the match officials best friend and worst enemy – that split second judgement perhaps cost the Stags yesterday, as Tyrese Sinclair was denied what seemed a clear goal from a free kick, as Clough’s men fell to a 1-0 defeat at Swindon Town.
The Stags never seem to do well at Swindon but should have taken a point home – however it wasn’t just the officials’ split second decision making Clough’s men can blame, they need to take a harder look much closer to home.
Personally, I can pin point THREE other points in the game where split second decisions need to be questioned.
The first comes in the way we conceded the goal – Clough not as angry as last week, but again mistakes were plenty in the build-up, as Mansfield’s clear reluctance to press early and step-up late cost them.
First skipper Ollie Clarke doesn’t close down options for the full back as Swindon played out from the back, before a miss timed tackle from Maris saw Rawson needlessly step up and away from his marker – who happily ran through and put in the fatal cross.
That for me, and I’m not pinning all blame on Rawson, is why we desperately need a central defender who can read the game – there’s no need to step up, stick with your man and allow others to see him down the line, ensuring you’re there to try and win a header or put a challenge in, if a cross comes in.
Second comes at the other end, Hawkins does really well to beat his man and skip a challenge to go one vs one – fair enough, he’s perhaps over ran the opportunity to get a shot off with the keeper quick off of his line, so rightly squares it for Johnson.
Sadly, he over hits the ball but the opportunity is still there – Johnson then needed to look up when he cuts back inside to his left – Lapslie is on rushing, un marked on the edge of the box – lay it off and we probably score.
Finally comes the management – Clough has his plan but for me is very reluctant to tinker and be reactive, that’s both in systems and in making changes. We start with more of a front three and control the game, we drop back into the diamond and get out played and ultimately end up conceding – before finishing, strongly, as a front three!
When they score, why aren’t we freshening things up – Lapslie wasn’t having his best game and Charsley is chomping at the bit to get on, he could have stripped in front of Clough with a big neon sign saying “bring me on” and he’d have still been sat down!
Don’t even get me started on Sinclair’s long throw – he comes on after 72 minutes, we have numerous throws in key areas with three/four players over six foot on the pitch, yet don’t utilise the throw until the 94th minute!
Remember what they say, if you’ve got it – flaunt it!!
James Perch missed out through injury and we missed his authority, he’s likely to be missing next week’s double header with Harrogate – we really need some cover, competition and strength there, imagine if Hewitt or Rawson get injured or sent off? Maybe we’ll register Bowery as number five!!
The gaffer say’s we’re after two defenders before Tuesday’s deadline, let’s hope that we can get both done otherwise this could be a frustrating season of what ifs! We have a talented squad capable of doing serious damage, but we’re relying on our front line to score two/three a game – they have off days and that, coupled with our obvious ability to make stupid errors, will prove our undoing.
It’ll be an interesting few days for sure!!
STAGS: Nathan Bishop | Kellan Gordon, Farrend Rawson, Elliott Hewitt, Stephen McLaughlin | George Maris, Ollie Clarke © (Tyrese Sinclair 72), Stephen Quinn, George Lapslie (Jordan Bowery 86) | Danny Johnson (Rhys Oates 64), Oli Hawkins UNUSED SUBS: George Shelvey [GK], Ryan Burke, James Clarke, Harry Charsley
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