Mansfield Town 2-2 Morecambe (Maynard, Rose) | Sky Bet League Two | Saturday 10th August 2019 | One Call Stadium, Mansfield
Craig Priest writes…
Following the fortunes of Mansfield Town is never easy on the old heart rate, and just two games into the new campaign – I’m wondering if the Stags need to cover their own backs by adding health warnings to tickets, as once again yesterday, us humble supporters were put through the mire by our heroes in Amber and Blue.
There’s no hiding away from the fact that somewhere deep within the dressing room lies an issue which is starting to bubble away, as the Stags’ so called solid defence, has about as much stability as an item from del-boy’s suitcase – on paper it looks good, but the reality is something far different.
For the second time in as many games Mansfield Town have been truly and utterly woeful at the back from the start of the game and again gave away two very sloppy goals to make life much harder for them, leading to a very hostile and toxic One Call Stadium at times – a worry in itself.
I’m not a massive fan of laying the blame at individuals, as a collective we are brilliant and woeful together in equal measure – so I won’t launch a barrage of ranting towards Conrad Logan, however I will say for both goals we conceded there needs to be far more command of the area, especially the second goal which was embarrassing – yet nowhere as embarrassing as getting lobbed from the opponents half, thank-god for the crossbar, let’s get it sorted and if there is more an underlying issue there, then let’s be ruthless and change it – there’s no room for niceties, that’s what’s costs you points as we learned to heart-breaking effect last season.
For a good thirty-five minutes Mansfield were woeful and looked like they couldn’t string a pass together, there was no commitment, no fight and no desire to go and command a game of football – everything just felt false, from the players to the bench and then like a toxic disease, the stand too.
Until Maynard gave us a sparkle of hope to make it 2-1, the atmosphere inside the ground felt toxic, I felt physically sick hearing the comments, the jibes and the burning hatred towards the way we were performing – that’s really worrying if Mansfield Town are creating that, because who are far better than Morecambe (no disrespect to them) will thrive on that and batter us into the ground.
But that said, in the second half we might have still be shaky at the back, but dominated play and should have hit double figures – and that’s baffling that we have to implode so much to get a reaction, I don’t think I can take that for much longer.
System wise, I don’t think you can particularly blame that – as when we got on the ball second half players such as Otis Khan, Alex MacDonald, Nicky Maynard and particularly the heroic Danny Rose, shone – we just need to address the balance and ask are the players we’ve got in that area good enough to play this way. If the answer’s no, we’ve got a few weeks to do something about it – get it done.
Again I’m not pinning blame or negativity on players, but Matt Preston certainly let the side down with a ridiculous challenge to get himself sent-off, however John Dempster said he apologised straight after full time, so we’ll chalk that one off as a bad day at the office.
Dempster has my full support as Stags boss, as would anyone, but I’d love to have known the thinking in the lack of substitutions prior to the sending off – personally I felt Donohue for Bishop in the middle may have added a bit of spark to go on and get the goals, and maybe Sterling-James or even White (Depending on how fit he actually was) down the right for Hamilton may have unlocked Morecambe.
On the bright side, Danny Rose continued his great start to the season by scoring the equaliser with a powerful trademark header, he should have had more, and we as a collective didn’t lose – we have to regroup and improve with the journey to Carlisle next Saturday.
First up though, another encounter with Morecambe in the cup – I expect to see changes and opportunities given to players yet to get minutes – let’s hope they use it to show how they can help steady the ship in the league, and if nothing else, get my heart rate down – otherwise it’s going to be a long old season!!
With Jacob Mellis suspended, Otis Khan was handed his first start of the season following a brilliant display at Newport last weekend from the bench – Kellan Gordon also was handed a start at Sweeney’s expense, with the Stags going for a 4-4-2 aiming to pick up from where they left off at Newport.
Sadly that didn’t transpire as yet again the Stags were behind early, it took just four minutes this time as Mansfield failed to clear the second ball from an attack, allowing a cross to come in from the Morecambe right which Sam Lavelle headed beyond a missing Logan, beating Bishop at the back post in the air.
Nicky Maynard looked bright trying to find the Stags a way back into the encounter but it was Morecambe looking the more dangerous, the experienced Kevin Ellison was denied by Logan on 19 minutes, but two minutes later, lofted a ball in from deep to Lewis Alessandra who nipped in between an indecisive Logan and Pearce to double the visitors lead.
Mansfield were beyond sloppy and looked lost at sea on 28 minutes, as Adam Buxton hit a free kick from his own half over the head of Logan who was off his line and didn’t appear to realise the ball had gone over his head, until it bounced back and fortunately out, off of the bar.
The Stags could easily have been five or six down before the half hour, but finally gave the fans hope on 39 minutes as MacDonald’s effort was parried by Roche straight into the path of Maynard, who tucked home.
Roche then kept Morecambe infront minutes later as Maynard was sent on his way into the box, a splendid one handed save prevented the Stags front man from drawing the match level.
Mansfield stuck with what they had after the break and set about trying to complete the comeback as Rose flicked the ball onto Maynard who won the Stags a corner, from which Pearce headed Khan’s pinpoint set play wide of the net.
Next up it was Neal Bishop to connect with a Khan delivery, this time heading a 51st minute free-kick over the bar before Benning miss-hit a quick Khan delivery four minutes later.
Kellan Gordon’s 68th minute cross was nearly turned in by Morecambe’s Lavelle as the Stags continued to hammer on the door, four minutes later there was only one man to find an answer – Danny Rose for the second week running made it 2-2, this time turning home MacDonald’s cross with a venomous header, much to the relief of the entire home support.
Nicky Maynard nearly put Mansfield ahead on 74 minutes but was scuppered by Roche, before Rose agonisingly saw two efforts go astray – the first a header from a Khan deflected strike, before a beautiful spin, dropped shoulder, and drive from the edge of the box, which whistled wide.
With eight minutes to go Matt Preston burst the Stags bubble with a late and dangerous challenge on Alessandra earning a straight red card, the second straight red in as many games for the Stags – Nicky Maynard then made was for Sweeney as Mansfield sought to protect the point.
Rose then was given a standing ovation as he was replaced by Cook, who had a golden chance to win the game in added time following a mix-up between Roche and hid defenders, Cook hit wide as the ball dropped onto the floor.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-2 Morecambe | Attendance 4,465 (110)
STAGS: [4-4-2] Conrad Logan | Kellan Gordon, Matt Preston [Sent Off 82], Krystian Pearce ©, Mal Benning | CJ Hamilton, Alex MacDonald, Neal Bishop, Otis Khan | Danny Rose (Andy Cook 87), Nicky Maynard (Ryan Sweeney 84) Unused Subs: Aidan Stone, Hayden White, Omari Sterling-James, Dion Donohue, Alistair Smith
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