Full Time Score Cambridge United 1-1 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue The Abbey stadium, Cambridge
Stags Goal Scorers Danny Rose
Attendance 3,909 (475)
Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield Town’s poor run of form continued as they surrendered a one goal lead to draw 1-1 with Cambridge United which again leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and a lot of Green eyed monsters called for the head of David Flitcroft – an utterly ridiculous statement in itself.
The Stags, in their new Green third kit, controlled the majority of the match but in the second half sat too deep and allowed Cambridge space to get a pop-shot at goal, only a deflection beating the outstanding Bobby Oljenik.
Flitcroft was visibly screaming for his players to push out, play higher and close the game out – I honestly don’t know what more a manager can do other than frog march onto the pitch and physically drag them forward – the players HAVE to take responsibility when the game is in play.
Tactically I think Flitcroft has it just about right, we move the ball well (when THE PLAYERS actually decide to move) and we look capable of killing teams, again if THE PLAYERS just give that extra 10% looks will become reality.
If we were getting carved open by teams I’d be saying differently and looking at Flitcroft, but the fact is we are not – THE PLAYERS create their own pressure by allowing themselves to sit deep with the arrogant attitude of ‘one goal is enough’. Yes results are poor with draws but yet again, there are so many people out there who are looking at Flitcrofts record as a whole and judging him on that – why?
The twelve matches at the end of last season are absolutely irrelevant to what we are doing this season – different circumstances, different personnel, and different tactics/ style of play. Flitcroft tried to implement the current system at Forest Green away, but THE PLAYERS didn’t fancy it and didn’t put the effort in to make it work, hence why we got cut open and beat and ultimately FAILED.
I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the calculated revenue and budget for this season was arrogantly made with us as a League One club with that bloke from Peterborough in charge, which would no doubt have seen bigger attendances, prize money, sponsorship increases etc.
That has a HUGE impact on where we are now and the numbers we can have within the squad, Ok we’ve received a little compensation for Steve and his mate Dodgy, but we’ve also had to pay for Flitcroft and Futcher, and sell players to balance the books – with no promotion prize money, potential play-off revenue, increased commercial gain, and increased footfall to supplement that.
Not for a second am I happy to use that as an excuse for poor performance but I am realistic enough to know that these things have a knock-on effect and will turn us from promotion favourites to mid-table possible play-off contenders trying to stabilize.
I want promotion for my club, I want to follow their journey over a prolonged period of time – but for that to happen, I’m happy to grit my teeth and see my club survive rather than throw countless cash at the problem for it to backfire, ala Notts County who after splashing the cash, were woeful and ended up at the foot of the table and sacked their manager, not to mention being owned by a man whose pumped money in who now wants out.
Ask yourself this, would sacking Flitcroft help? We’d have to pay compensation for both his and Futcher’s contracts and then have to pay (as we did in the first place) to replace him because, in my opinion, there is no manager out there out of work who is capable of doing a better job with the players we have, because this squad (bar the addition of free agents who haven’t played for months) is set in stone until January.
If you do go for a new management, they’ll want their own players and where on earth are we going to fund that from without putting ourselves in debt.
David Flitcroft has won promotion from this division with an average team with very little budget in Bury, who suffered poor form from this point in September right the way through until late December (Between 23rd September and Christmas Day, they only won three games).
It’s too early to be talking about sacking a manager, what we should be talking about is THE PLAYERS – the ones who effect the game and win the points. This is EXACTLY why Mansfield Town fail, because we spit our dummies out over the smallest thing, if we were winning 9-0 week in week out there would still be fans calling for his head because we’re not getting into double fixtures and Oljenik hasn’t scored ala Alan Marriott.
We have a manager who is committed to the development of this club, from grass roots right to the top – he will be as frustrated as us that THE PLAYERS aren’t performing to their potential, but let’s buck the trend for once eh, let’s not get swept up in the emotion of one blob of paint on the canvas – let’s support the bigger picture. It’s not Christmas, we’re not bottom of the league getting ripped apart 6-0 week in week out, THAT would be a different story.
This is a long game, a long, emotionally testing journey and we are best when we are together – get to the One Call on Saturday, sing loud and let’s collectively get three points and start a run!
David Flitcroft made two changes to the side with Danny Rose starting ahead of Calum Butcher, and Mal Benning slotting in for Hayden White with CJ Hamilton moving back across to the right hand side. White had a knock, as did striker Craig Davies who again missed out.
It was a slow and steady start to proceedings at The Abbey, Otis Khan with the first real chance of note on seven minutes when he whizzed one wide from ten yards, Danny Rose was also thwarted by the offside flag as he looked to pounce on an error by United glovesman David Forde.
Alex MacDonald hit a thunderous effort against the body of former Stags promotion winner Greg Taylor on 14 minutes, before five minutes later Bobby Olejnik made a fine save to keep the score’s level – denying Barry Corr with the hosts first shot of the match.
Danny Rose hit an effort into the side netting from, MacDonald’s cross on 21 minutes before Tyler Walker flashed one wide three minutes later.
The Stags looked dangerous and deserved to be ahead, and got the breakthrough moments later, as Danny Rose latched onto a pass to rasp home on the half volley.
Ryan Sweeney made a pivotal goal line clearance on 32 minutes after Oljenik had taken the sting from the United shot with another smart save, former Stag Reggie Lambe also put an effort wide as the hosts grew in confidence – however it was the Stags who ended the half the better side and a goal ahead.
The Stags started the second half strongly and Neal Bishop came close to adding a second with a left footed drive from distance which whistled wide of the post, Otis Khan then delivered for Matt Preston from a corner – the Stags defender denied by Forde.
Danny Rose’s pledge for his own acrobatic goals DVD continued on 55 minutes as he hit the bar on the spin inside the box – Neal Bishop and Alex MacDonald also came close as the Stags looked certain to grab the critical second.
Bobby Olejnik came to the Stags rescue on 75 minutes as he smartly denied Ade Azeez at the near post, Ryan Sweeney then made his second goal line clearance with eight minutes to go, preventing George Maris from levelling the match.
However with two minutes remaining that is exactly what Maris did as the Stags sat back and allowed pressure form the hosts, Maris’ effort took a massive deflection to wrong foot Olejnik, and trickle in off of the underside of the bar – a gut wrenching goal to concede at the death, as The Stags’ missed chances, again came back to haunt them.
FULL TIME: Cambridge United 1-1 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Olejnik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, CJ Hamilton, Alex MacDonald, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning, Otis Khan (Timi Elsnik 76), Tyler Walker (Jordan Graham 84), Danny Rose
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Lewis Gibbens, Omari Sterling-James
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
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