Craig Priest writes…
The sound of fingernails scratching down a chalkboard, a tooth being ripped out by a psychotic dentist, Christmas shoppers, stubbing your toe and that mate who always insists on murdering ‘wonderwall’ on karaoke – all prime definitions and examples of the word ‘excruciating’. None however, come close to Saturday 14th October 2017 – Mansfield Town 1-3 Swindon Town.
A second gutless and below par performance on a whole saw Mansfield Town crushed like a paper cup under the boot of a giant. From the very first whistle, there seemed to be no life behind the eyes of our players and other than a brief spell between the first and second goal, the Stags looked nothing other than a team of rabbit-in-the-headlight-like zombies with concrete boots – and that is simply not good enough.
I said it last week, play well with desire and get beat 3-1 then fair enough – at least you gave it a go, but to play AGAIN with no passion, no flare, no want, no desire and no energy is beyond disappointing.
What really annoys me is that Steve Evans has continued his line of thought from last week, having an obvious but subtle dig at the fans, stating some of his players had ‘Stage Fright’ in fear of what response they got. For a man who has got nine promotions and experience at all levels, he should know that’s just part of the game and to get on with it. Comedians get heckled all the time on stage, do they cry off and cancel a tour because of it? No they find a response and win.
Do I want Steve Evans to leave? No. Do I think he will? Not unless it’s for a top 10 league one club or any championship side. Do I want Steve Evans to drop this vendetta-like line of answers towards the fans? Yes, it’s like when your Mrs say’s ‘Does my bum look big in this’ – your just digging yourself a whole really.
He just needs to understand that this is Mansfield Town FC in league two, pampering players and trying to protect them from the kid who steals the lunch money at school is not the way forward. This is a town of grit, determination and fight for the outcome we ALL want – success.
His comments of ‘Me and Paul need to evaluate what we’re doing’ won’t have helped because in the wake of such defeat, it’ll be taken as ‘Basically we’re going to Gillingham’ – whereas realistically it’s a look at their approach to training and game management, because clearly ruling with an iron fist is simply not working.
The players are in a pressure pot and when they step out on the pitch, must feel like they’re playing on thin ice – yesterday they looked petrified of falling into the murky waters below for an ice cold swim with a shark or four.
They also look embarrassed, every time Evans berates the fourth official and/or referee, the players look like school boys in the playground as their overbearing mother shouts ‘love you pumpkin have a good day’ and blows kisses over the fence. Bold statement here, but every time the referee went over to Evans yesterday I was willing him to get sent off so the players could relax a little and maybe, fight their way back into the game.
Questions will be asked over the penalty – you’ve seen them given, you’ve seen them not given. GET ON WITH IT! There’s no room for blaming the referee, the simple fact is from back to front as a whole, we simple we’re not good enough and Swindon, had the easiest afternoon they’ll have all season.
We are missing some quality in midfield, Alfie Potter and Joel Byrom being the prime examples – the sooner we have them back the better, but again it’s time for change within the team because regardless of results (I refer to the Cambridge game especially) we’ve been poor performance wise four of out five games now – that doesn’t bode well for a side who are supposedly promotion contenders.
Steve Evans made three changes from the defeat at Colchester, bringing Hayden White into the back four, Jacob Mellis into the midfield and, despite only having featured sporadically – Jimmy Spencer was brought in up front.
The Stags started relatively well within the opening minute, quick football saw the ball sprayed wide left for Johnny Hunt, however his deep cross was too heavy for the onrushing Hayden White – and as the home faithful dreamt of a nice afternoon, they were soon brought back down to earth with a bang.
It all stemmed from Alex MacDondald’s poor foul on Paul Mullin near the goal line with four minutes gone – from the moment the referee blew you sensed a goal, and from the delivery, Amine Linganzi nipped in, losing his makers and converted past a static Logan.
Four minutes later as the visitors launched over the top, Logan came rushing out but was beaten to the ball by Keshi Anderson, fortunately the Stags managed to scramble clear as Mansfield started to crumble.
The Stags had their first real sight of goal a minute later as MacDonald picked out Jimmy Spencer, he failed to cap his first league start for the club with a goal – miss-hitting his shot and killing the danger.
Danny Rose nearly got on the end of a Hunt cross with 19 minutes played but six minutes later, Logan prevented a Swindon second as Anderson fed Luke Norris into the area, the former Brentford youngster denied by Logan’s legs before Paul Mullin fired the lose ball over. A minute later, Danny Rose nearly saw sight of goal, but for a string last ditch challenge.
Reice Charles-Cook was called into action in the Swindon goal on the half-hour, palming away Jimmy Spencer’s stinging half volley, before three minutes later the glovesman held onto a MacDonald drive, following a give and go with Will Atkinson.
On the stroke of half time with Stags fans just about believing they could find a way back into the game, Hayden White was beaten for pace down the right hand side and a low cross was turned, again past a static Logan, by John Goddard to double Swindon’s lead.
Lee Angol and Omari Sterling-James replaced Atkinson and Spencer at the break, Sterling-James nearly opened a door just seconds from the whistle but his cross found a red shirt, before five minutes later – Angol tried his luck from a tight angle but saw the visiting keeper equal to it.
With 53 minutes played, game, set and match as a cross into the middle saw White and Norris get in a tussle, you’ve seen them given either way but on this occasion – a spot kick awarded which Norris duly stepped up to take, sending Logan the wrong way for 3-0.
Half chances for each followed but it was very much game over as soon as the penalty hit the net, Danny Rose did find the net in the last minute as MacDonald clipped him through on goal – his 7th of the season a mere consolation but did mean the Stags didn’t go a second game without scoring, but at that point it was very much like a burglar saying ‘You can keep the bricks’ after cleaning out your house. Yeah, thanks for that mate.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-3 Swindon Town
Hayden White – Krystain Pearce © - David Mirfin – Johnny Hunt
Will Atkinson (Omari Sterling-James HT) – Calum Butcher – Jacob Mellis – Alex MacDonald
Danny Rose – Jimmy Spencer (Lee Angol HT)
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Rhys Bennett, Paul Anderson, CJ Hamilton, Kane Hemmings
Attendance: 4,081 (523)
Referee: Oliver Langford Assistants Michael George, James Wilson Fourth Official Christopher Sarginson
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