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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
0 - 2
 Luton Town
 
 McCourt 7, Ruddock 54
Attendance: 4245 (739 from Luton)
 
Date: 23 January 2016

VERY POOR STAGS BEATEN EASILY BY LUTON

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town turned in a very poor performance to lose 2-0 at home to Luton Town this afternoon. The Stags had plenty of possession but did almost nothing with it, gave away two very poor goals at bad times at the start of each half, and created only a couple of good goalscoring chances. In my opinion this was the worst performance of the season from Mansfield, perhaps alongside the 2-0 defeat at home to Exeter. On that occasion Mansfield bounced back a few days later with a fine win at Barnet and the Stags need to go and do that again with a big game at Morecambe on Tuesday night. I think we’re very capable of doing that.

Mansfield actually started the game well in the opening minutes and had shots from Chapman and Clements in the opening 6 minutes. But Luton were in front with their first foray into the Stags’ box, on 7 minutes. Alex Lawless floated a fine ball from the halfway line down the right, over new loan signing Sean Kavanagh at left back, to Pelly Ruddock who pulled the ball back from the byline towards the penalty spot. Krystian Pearce tried to intercept with his heel but couldn’t reach it and Paddy McCourt steamed in, in front of Nicky Hunt, to side-foot a shot under Scott Shearer. Poor defending all round but well-worked from Luton.

It was the 7th time in the last 9 home league games that Mansfield have conceded a goal in the opening 15 minutes, and none of those 7 games have been won. The Stags meanwhile have won the 2 of those 9 games in which they didn’t concede an early goal. Luton had failed to score in their previous 4 games but the goal brought them new-found confidence. They could have been further ahead on 13 minutes when McGeehan broke forward unchallenged and his shot was well-tipped over by Shearer.

Mansfield were showing almost no creativity going forward, and playing with little width in the Luton half, but nearly equalised from their first corner on 45+2 minutes. Chapman’s fine corner was perfectly placed for Krystian Pearce to steam in and power a header just over the bar.

The Stags needed a much better start to the second half but instead conceded a second goal on 54 minutes which in the end was the killer goal from which Mansfield never looked like recovering. Paddy McCourt was not closed down enough by Baxendale and allowed to cross from the left to the far post, where Pelly Ruddock, 12 yards out from goal, showed great strength to turn, beating Kavanagh in the process, and fire into the roof of the net from 8 yards. Fine goal from Ruddock but poor defending from new boy Kavanagh unfortunately, who needs to show more strength in that situation.

The closest the Stags came to pulling a goal back was on 78 minutes when Pearce cleverly headed on Chapman’s long throw giving Yussuf a free header 8 yards from goal in a central position. Yussuf headed over the bar when he really should have scored.

And so Luton very easily held on for their first win at Field Mill in a league game at the 14th attempt. So disappointing from the Stags who need to show real grit and determination to make sure they bounce back at Morecambe on Tuesday. Come on Mansfield!

There was positivity around the One Call Stadium with good news emanating from the club’s AGM on Thursday. It was also third game with kids for a quid and John Radford announced that the next home game (in two weeks against Morecambe) will be as well. I really applaud this. The attendance today of 4,245 with 739 from Luton was good, and 400-500 up in terms of home fans from the previous two home games which were also kids for a quid. This may in part have been down to the attraction of Luton coming to town, as opposed to Stevenage and Accrington. It may also have helped that the weather was much improved, almost a rare home game without rain and a strong wind.

Adam Murray had moved quickly in midweek after Notts County had changed their mind about allowing Blair Adams to come to the One Call Stadium more permanently. Murray brought in young Fulham left back/midfielder Sean Kavanagh on loan for the rest of the season. Kavanagh is highly rated at Fulham, as shown by his contract until June 2018. Kavanagh has played 21 first team games for Fulham, mostly in the league, and including two this season. Most of those first team appearances have been in midfield, while he has played a lot of his U21 games at left back. This gives Murray flexibility that when Mal Benning returns from injury in the next couple of week or so, he can put Kavanagh into midfield if he wants. Kavanagh replaced Adams at left back. Two other changes from the side that lost at AFC Wimbledon: Scott Shearer came in for Jensen in goal, while Mitch Rose came in for Westcarr. Murray explained that Jensen has set incredibly high standards for himself and has just slipped slightly from those lately. So Shearer in for his first league game since the opening day of the season. The inclusion of Rose surprised me slightly after his sleepy defensive work at Wimbledon from the corner. But perhaps more so playing Rose on the right of the three men behind Green, and presumably intended to play wide. Rose looks more effective to me in a more central role. The formation was 4-2-3-1 with Chapman and Clements behind Rose (right), Baxendale (centre) and Lambe (left). There was a welcome return on the bench for Yussuf, who was back from injury. Luton arrived having never won a league game at Field Mill, in 13 attempts. They had new a manager in Nathan Jones and this was his second game in charge, after drawing his first game. Often it’s not a particularly good time to play a club because of a new manager effect. Luton had gone 4 games without a goal. Luton included new signing Alan Sheehan, who played 10 games for the Stags a decade ago. They also welcomed back Craig Mackail-Smith, who had a fantastic game against the Stags earlier in the season with a sensational overhead kick ruled out for offside and winning and converting a penalty for the only goal of the game. His season has been ravaged by injury.

The Stags created half a chance on 3 minutes with a shot from Chapman, after Lambe teed him up, but he didn’t get a good connection on it and it was through to the keeper. And another half chance on 6 minutes as Clements fired in a decent shot on target from 25 yards which the keeper saved above his head.

But Luton were in front on 7 minutes. Alex Lawless floated a fine ball from the halfway line down the right, over new loan signing Sean Kavanagh at left back, to Pelly Ruddock who pulled the ball back from the byline towards the penalty spot. Krystian Pearce tried to intercept with his heel but couldn’t reach it and Paddy McCourt steamed in, in front of Nicky Hunt, to side-foot a shot under Scott Shearer. Poor defending all round but well-worked from Luton.

On 9 minutes, Green was brought down 25 yards from goal, to the left of centre. Clements sent the free kick into the wall, it came back to Chapman who knocked it back into the centre but Green was offside. It was probably expecting too much to expect for Clements to score from this sort of position three home games running.

Luton could have been further ahead on 13 minutes when McGeehan broke forward unchallenged from Pearce who was tracking him, and his shot was well-tipped over by Shearer. Poor defending from the Stags, initially as McGeehan got past Chapman and then he went through unchallenged to the edge of the box. Then on 19 minutes, McGeehan’s low shot from 12 yards was saved again by Shearer.

On 20 minutes, Tafazolli pushed forward, slipped the ball forward to Green, who also pushed forward and fired over from 25 yards. That was more like it and more positive. Mansfield were keeping the ball well but creating so little.

A Luton corner from the right by Sheehan. It flew across the goal about three yards from the goal but Shearer didn’t come for it.

Clements was well down on his form from recent games, and on 28 minutes he was booked for a foul. Perhaps partially from frustration at his performance.

On 33 minutes, Kavanagh’s free-kick from the halfway line, came back out to Chapman, he clipped the ball forward but it just ran through to the keeper. At the other end on 35 minutes, Mackail-Smith hooked a ball high into the area from the right and Smith headed goalwards, but with no power thanks to pressure put on him from Clements, and it was easy for Shearer.

A good move from the Stags on 38 minutes, culminating in Hunt’s cross being blocked for a throw-in. Then on 40 minutes, excellent hunting down by Green who almost picked the pocket of Cuthbert but the central defender was just able to clear.

On 43 minutes Rose squared to Lambe, and Lambe got in a shot from 24 yards, but it was straight at the keeper.

Mansfield were showing almost no creativity going forward, and playing with little width in the Luton half, but nearly equalised from their first corner on 45+2 minutes. Kavanagh’s ball into the middle created a little bit of panic and Luton put the ball out for the corner. Chapman’s fine corner, from the right, was perfectly placed for Krystian Pearce to steam in and power a header just over the bar.

A really poor first half from Mansfield. The Stags had plenty of possession and held the ball well but there was no creativity in the final third and the concession of the early goal was so disappointing. The Stags provided no width in the Luton half.

Half time 0-1

On 48 minutes, a long ball forward from Shearer, a good touch from Green who touched it to Baxendale 30 yards out. Baxendale tried his luck was wide of the post. A terrible ball forward from Chapman on 50 minutes summed up Mansfield’s lack of creativity going forward.

A good tackle by Kavanagh on 51 minutes as Luton took a free-kick from the halfway line quickly and forward to Ruddock, but Kavanagh dispossessed him.

The Stags had needed a much better start to the second half but instead conceded a second goal on 54 minutes which in the end was the killer goal from which Mansfield never looked like recovering. Paddy McCourt was not closed down enough by Baxendale and allowed to cross from the left to the far post, where Pelly Ruddock, 12 yards out from goal, showed great strength to turn, beating Kavanagh in the process, and fire into the roof of the net from 8 yards. Fine goal from Ruddock but poor defending from new boy Kavanagh unfortunately, who needs to show more strength in that situation.

Blair replaced Rose on 56 minutes, and Yussuf replaced Lambe on 58 minutes. Yussuf joined Green up front, with Blair (right) and Baxendale (left) behind them.

On 60 minutes, Blair got down the right, played it into Yussuf, got the ball back, and dinked in a cross which was caught by the keeper.

A good cross in from Kavanagh on 66 minutes, Yussuf flicked it on but out for a goal-kick.

On 70 minutes, O’Donnell pulled the ball back to Mackail-Smith whose shot was well-blocked by Pearce.

The Stags had a chance to equalise on 72 minutes. Tafazolli knocked a high ball forward, Yussuf headed to Green on his left. Green’s first touch was excellent to get him past Cuthbert on the left but just as he was about to shoot Cuthbert got a crucial touch on the ball from behind, Green was still able to get a shot in but from on the ground and could only scoop it into the side netting. Good play from Green nonetheless.

More good link up play between Yussuf and Green on 77 minutes. Then a good cross from Kavanagh, but it went off Blair for a goal-kick.

The closest the Stags came to pulling a goal back was on 78 minutes when Pearce cleverly headed on Chapman’s long throw giving Yussuf a free header 8 yards from goal in a central position. Yussuf headed over the bar when he really should have scored.

On 81 minutes, Mackail-Smith nicked the ball off Pearce, turned and fired well wide. Pearce shouldn’t be losing those battles, though Mackail-Smith is of course a high quality player.

Very good keeping from Shearer moments later as Mackail-Smith broke the offside trap but Shearer was out of his area quickly to clear.

Jack Thomas replaced Chapman on 83 minutes. There were cheers from some Mansfield fans for Chapman being replaced. Fans were frustrated by the Stags performance, of course, and Chapman had a poor game apart from a good corner and one throw-in, but that is uncalled for in my opinion.

Jack Thomas was straight into action. A free-kick from Clements was into the area, knocked down, straight to Thomas who fired high and wide with his first touch.

On 90 minutes, Yussuf flicked on to Baxendale, who fired a left-footed shot over the bar. It summed up a poor performance from Baxendale.

Then a minute later, Clements fired a shot from 25 yards low and straight at the keeper.

So a very disappointing defeat. The Stags are four points behind the play-offs. If the Stags can win at Morecambe on Tuesday, we’ll be just one or two points behind though. Time to bounce back.

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli


Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill



Line Up:
(4-2-3-1)
Shearer 6 One good save and one good reading of the game coming out of his area. Couldn’t be blamed for either goal. Stayed on his line for crosses into the six-yard area, as Jensen has done on occasion.
Hunt 5 Generally did ok. Allowed McCourt to steam in front of him for the first goal.
Pearce 4.5 Poor defending allowed shots from McGeehan and Mackail-Smith. Couldn’t quite reach the low cross for the first goal. Unlucky when he did well to attack the corner at the end of the first half and headed over.
Tafazolli 6 The pick of a poor defence.
Kavanagh 4 Poor defending for the second goal with a lack of strength, and allowed the ball over his head for Ruddock to pull the ball back for the first goal. One good saving tackle. Some good crosses, and a couple of poor ones.
Chapman 5 Poor game overall, though good corner for Pearce’s header and throw-in for Yussuf’s header.
Clements 5 Well down on his fine form from recent games. Created little.
Rose 5 Anonymous in the right midfield role.
Baxendale 4.5 Had a couple of shots well off target. Didn’t really get into the game. Didn’t close down the cross for the second goal.
Lambe 5 One shot straight at the keeper and teed up an early shot for Chapman. Otherwise anonymous.
Green 6 Some good first touches and one fine piece of hunting-down of the centre-half. Thwarted by great defending from Cuthbert for his chance from close range.
Sub Line Up:
Blair (for Rose, 56) 5 One cross straight to the keeper. Didn’t do too much to demand a starting place.
Yussuf (for Lambe, 58) 6 Some good interplay and flicks. But missed a great chance, the closest we had to a sitter.
J.Thomas (for Chapman, 83) -
Subs not used: Jensen, Collins, Beardsley, Westcarr.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-3-3): Elliot Justham; Stephen O’Donnell, Scott Cuthbert, Alan Sheehan, Jake Howells; Alex Lawless, Jonathan Smith, Paddy McCourt (Olly Lee 75); Pelly Ruddock (Frankie Musonda 90), Cameron McGeehan, Craig Mackail-Smith (Jack Marriott 84). Subs not used: Craig King, Dan Potts, Paul Benson, Mark O’Brien.
Referee:
Ben Toner 7 Decent game. Not much controversy.


Season 15/16 Reports