Papa John’s Trophy Group H 2/3, Tuesday 5th October 2021
A 90th minute goal saw Mansfield Town suffer a cruel defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday, continuing the Stags’ poor run of form on paper – however in reality, Clough’s men put in one of their best displays in recent weeks.
Clough was boosted by the availability of three of his suspended players, relieving some pressure on his selection headache, without doubt though it was the return of Stephen Quinn to the side made a massive difference in the improved performance.
In difficult conditions, the young Stags side coped really well and I was impressed particularly with defender George Cooper, who was substituted at half time, and midfielder Keaton Ward – both contributed well to the way we played, trying to play out from the back and hurt Wednesday on the break in the tough conditions.
Overall, James Clarke who again took the captaincy really impressed at right back – yes he had a few errors in him BUT what really impresses me with him, is he recovers every time – with Rawson suspended Saturday, Clough really should be moving Hewitt back across and bringing Clarke in – if he doesn’t, I’d be asking questions if I were the young right back.
It’s disappointing not to take something from the game, I don’t think Shelvey will look back too often on their first goal, a costly error – but to be fair to the Nottingham Forest loanee, he made a number of good saves to balance that out. A few people were quick to criticise him, but as a young goalkeeper – errors are bound to happen, the problem is you can’t improve by playing one or two games here and there a month.
Stephen Quinn’s goal was well taken and I thought throughout we played some dangerous balls through the visitors and created some good opening’s – Sinclair should have buried his chance at the end of the first half, but to turn negatives to positives – we looked hungry tonight and must show the same energy in Saturday.
I’m not too bothered in the defeat, we weren’t going to get a second and looked content to play for a penalty shootout and the bonus point, but Wednesday effectively put five up front and showed the difference in quality – overloading the box and firing home late.
Overall there’s more positives than negatives despite the defeat – if those positives are good enough to play on Saturday remains to be seen, but we are a squad and when, if not in the middle of a player availability crisis, will be the right time to give them the opportunity to make a difference?
Saturday against Oldham could be the prime opportunity to do so, and the perfect time to bounce back in a positive direction.
STAGS: Shelvey (GK), Rawson, Charsley (Lapslie 72’), Johnson, Burke, Quinn, Sinclair, Ward, Clarke, Law (Oates 79’), Cooper (Hewitt 46’) UNUSED SUBS: Stech (GK), Bowery, Charles, Gale
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