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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Oxford United  
2 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Hylton 31, 69.
 
 Green 22, Jack Thomas 89
Attendance: 5346 (174 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 9 February 2016

LATE THOMAS GOAL EARNS DESERVED POINT AT OXFORD

Martin Shaw at the Kassam Stadium

Mansfield Town earned a deserved point at Oxford United last night with an 89th minute equaliser from Jack Thomas, heading home after his initial shot smashed against the crossbar. The Stags came into the game on the back of three successive wins that had lifted them to 5th in the table, and they really took the game to 3rd placed Oxford with a terrific first half performance. The first 30 minutes was some of the best football the Stags have played this season considering the quality of opposition and were deservedly in front on 22 minutes when Mal Benning’s high cross from the right saw Ryan Tafazolli challenge keeper Sam Slocombe. Tafazolli did well to head back across goal as Slocombe tried to punch, and the ball looped up invitingly for Matt Green who headed into the right corner of the net. It was Green’s 10th goal of the season and took him to 7th in Mansfield’s all-time list of league and cup goalscorers (since we joined the league in 1931) with 67 goals. Out of the blue, Oxford levelled on 31 minutes. Right back Jonjoe Kenny, on loan from Everton, overlapped from Alex MacDonald to get to the byline and his dinked cross was headed home by Danny Hylton. Mansfield nearly regained the lead on 42 minutes when James Baxendale sent a great shot from 22 yards towards the top corner and keeper Slocombe pulled off an amazing save to tip it wide. Baxo told me after the game he thought it was in and couldn’t believe the keeper saved it. A terrific first half from Mansfield and pretty much Scott Shearer’s only touch of the ball was to pick the ball out of the net. The second half was a different matter as Oxford came into the game and played some very good football. The Stags had a stroke of luck on 76 minutes Chris Maguire’s excellent free kick from the edge of the box hit the post. The Stags thought they should have had a penalty on 82 minutes when Jake Wright climbed all over Chris Beardsley in the box but nothing was given and Beardsley was booked for retaliation. Shearer made a good save from Kemar Roofe on 86 minutes, and the Stags equalised on 89 minutes. Jack Thomas fired a shot from 8 yards against the underside of the bar. As it dropped down, Green got a touch on it and Thomas was able to loop a header inside the far right post, the ball seemingly taking an age to drop into the net as time stood still. It was a sensational moment for Jack Thomas and for Mansfield, and just reward for that first half performance in claiming a point. The game wasn’t quite over though and Oxford thought they had nearly snatched a winner in the 5th minute of 4 minutes of added on time as Hylton fired just wide from 8 yards, but the referee told the Mansfield players it was a foul by Bowery on Tafazolli just before Hylton shot, and the goal would not have stood. A good game of football and it shows how far Mansfield have come, to play so well and get a deserved draw at a team as impressive as Oxford this season. The Stags are up to 4th, though have played more games than other teams around us. Fantastic! On to Plymouth on Saturday and another top of the table clash, this time 2nd against 4th. I just can’t wait! Come on Mansfield!

Mansfield had not scored in the previous 4 visits to the Kassam Stadium, losing all 4 games, since a memorable 2-1 with two Rhys Day headers in 2005. But this Mansfield side was better equipped than previously to come away with something, albeit against a very strong Oxford side, packed with talent including hot property Kemar Roofe. The pitch was like a bowling green, remarkable considering recent weather.

Mansfield made two changes from the side that beat Morecambe. Green returned from suspension in place of Beardsley, and Lambe came in for Westcarr. Westcarr and Rose didn’t make the 18. It started as a 4-2-3-1 formation, with McGuire and Clements behind Blair, Baxendale and Lambe. But the formation changed numerous times even during the first half, including to a 4-1-4-1 with McGuire on his own sitting in front of the back four.

Oxford came into the game fresher than Mansfield having not played on Saturday while Mansfield had a tough game. But it’s swings and roundabouts of course, and on Saturday Mansfield should have been fresher than Morecambe who played the previous midweek.

If Oxford should have been fresher, it didn’t show as Mansfield took the game to their hosts throughout the first half.

On 5 minutes, a loose square ball by former Stag Johnny Mullins hit Matty Blair 30 yards from the Oxford goal but rebounded fortunately for Oxford.

The first chance of the game on 10 minutes. A high cross from Benning, Green knocked down to Blair, the ball was at an awkward height to shoot, however he managed to get a shot in, which was goalbound but blocked. On 14 minutes, a great ball from Baxendale was threaded through to Green, but the angle was too tight for a shot and his cross was blocked.

Moments later Benning tried his luck with a shot from 25 yards which was over the bar. He struck it cleanly.

On 19 minutes, Lambe was brought down 22 yards out to the left of centre. The free kick from Clements was deflected over the bar. A minute later, Green made a darting run into the area, but the ball was blocked for a throw-in.

The Stags were deservedly in front on 22 minutes. Mal Benning’s corner from the right was cleared back out to him, he returned the ball in with a high cross which saw Ryan Tafazolli challenge keeper Sam Slocombe. Tafazolli did well to head back across goal as Slocombe tried to punch, and the ball looped up invitingly for Matt Green who headed into the right corner of the net. A goal for Green against his former club.

On 25 minutes, an Oxford attack, and the first time they had really been in the Stags box. Alex MacDonald crossed from the right, it deflected up and Hylton couldn’t get any power on his header which looped over the bar.

Terribly weak refereeing on 27 minutes. Clements won a corner. The home crowd had been booing all game that Mansfield were time wasting, which was nonsense. Mansfield were bossing the game and on the front foot. The referee caved in and booked Benning before the corner was taken. Pathetic refereeing. The corner from Benning was headed back from beyond the far post by Tafazolli, Green headed goalwards and it was deflected just past the post.

Out of the blue, Oxford levelled on 31 minutes. Right back Jonjoe Kenny, on loan from Everton, overlapped from Alex MacDonald to get to the byline and his dinked cross was headed home by Danny Hylton, who had escaped from his marker Pearce. Great play by Oxford.

On 33 minutes, Green did well to win a corner. From the corner Tafazolli headed down and goalwards but it was cleared. The ball was knocked back in and keeper Slocombe only just held on to it.

The Stags had been caught out down Oxford’s right for the goal but, from the next attack down that side, Baxendale got back helping Benning out and preventing the cross.

On 38 minutes, Oxford did get in a cross from the right, Roofe attempted an overhead kick and completely missed it. A minute later, strong defending from Collins to shield the ball out for a goal kick under pressure from Chris Maguire. On 40 minutes, a Stags ball over the top was misjudged by a defender, Blair picked it up but went away from goal rather than towards goal.

Mansfield nearly regained the lead on 42 minutes when James Baxendale sent a great shot from 22 yards towards the top left corner and keeper Slocombe pulled off an amazing save to tip it wide. Baxo told me after the game he thought it was in and couldn’t believe the keeper saved it. From the resulting corner, taken by Benning from the left, the ball was eventually recycled to Benning who volleyed over the bar. On 43 minutes, a good header away by McGuire from Macdonald’s cross from the right.

On 45 minutes, a great tackle by Clements, the Stags broke and Blair volleyed over the bar.

A terrific first half from Mansfield and pretty much Scott Shearer’s only touch of the ball was to pick the ball out of the net. The Stags should have been in front at the break, but weren’t.

Half time 1-1

On 46 minutes, an Oxford free kick from the left and Roofe headed well wide. Three minutes later, Oxford crossed the ball in, it came out to Sercombe who volleyed goalwards and Shearer saved with his legs. Moments later, Chris Maguire fired well wide from 30 yards. Oxford were now on top.

On 51 minutes, Baxendale played the ball inside to Lambe who squared for Green whose low shot from 25 yards was straight at the keeper. On 53 minutes, Kenny pulled back from the byline but a great interception from Clements as Sercombe was about to shoot.

The home fans were still putting pressure on the referee booing every time Mansfield had a goal kick or a throw in claiming the Stags were time wasting, but they weren’t.

On 55 minutes, a good Oxford move, MacDonald crossed from the right but it missed everyone in the middle.

On 57 minutes, Tafazolli was clearly pushed in the back just outside the Oxford area following a Stags free kick but it was missed by the referee. The ball was recycled, Lambe crossed and Blair couldn’t reach it. Straight to the other end, Roofe crossed from the right and it and again it missed everyone.

Clements gave the ball away on 60 minutes but Pearce made a great tackle on Roofe to rescue him.

On 62 minutes, Roofe shot from 16 yards. It bounced into the ground and was blocked over the bar for a corner by McGuire.

Beardsley replaced Baxendale before the corner was taken.

Good interplay between Benning and Lambe on 64 minutes. Benning’s right foot shot from 25 yards was blocked, the ball came back to Lambe who shot well wide. A minute later at the other end, Chris Maguire did well to make space for a shot which was deflected for a corner.

Daniel Alfei replaced Blair on 67 minutes for his Stags debut. Alfei slotted into the right side of midfield in front of Collins.

Oxford made it 2-1 on 69 minutes. Zeli Ismail crossed from the right and Hylton half volleyed in off the underside of the bar. Lambe should probably have done better in preventing the cross.

Jack Thomas replaced Lambe on 71 minutes.

On 71 minutes, a free kick from Clements from the halfway line was flicked on by Tafazolli and out for a goal kick. Benning made a good run forward on 73 minutes and tee’ed up Jack Thomas for a chance to shoot 24 yards out but he didn’t pull the trigger straight away and the chance was gone. A minute later, another Stags free kick from the halfway line came out to Jack Thomas whose excellently struck left footed volley was on target and blocked for a corner. From the corner, Tafazolli was penalised for a foul.

Oxford were unlucky not to increase the lead on 77 minutes. Sercombe was fouled by Clements on the edge of the area to the right of centre. Chris Maguire curled a brilliant effort against the left post with Shearer beaten.

The Stags thought they should have had a penalty on 82 minutes as Wright climbed all over Beardsley in the area. As Beardsley got up, he retaliated and was rightly booked. On 85 minutes, Hylton got to the byline, pulled back and the Stags just cleared. Moments later, Kenny got to the byline, put in a good cross and it was just cleared again. Good play from Roofe a minute later as he fired towards the top right hand corner of the net and Shearer did well to push away for a corner.

The sponsor’s home Man of the Match was announced as right back Kenny on loan from Everton and he had indeed given the Stags a torrid time down the right.

The Stags got the all important equaliser on 89 minutes. Green did well down the left and his cross earned a throw-in. Benning’s throw-in was headed back to him by McGuire, Benning lofted a high ball into the middle, the ball dropped to Jack Thomas who fired a shot from 8 yards against the underside of the bar. As it dropped down, Green got a touch on it and Thomas was able to loop a header inside the far right post, the ball seemingly taking an age to drop into the net as time stood still. It was a sensational moment for Jack Thomas and for Mansfield, and just reward for that first half performance in claiming a point.

Four minutes of stoppage time was announced. As the clock ticked over four minutes, a great tackle by Jack Thomas near the corner flag and then a block but he was penalised for hand ball as he tried to block the cross. He told me after the game that he is going to have to find some way to stop being penalised for blocking crosses with his arms. From the free kick, Oxford thought they had nearly snatched a winner as Hylton fired just wide from 8 yards, but the referee told the Mansfield players it was a foul by Bowery on Tafazolli just before Hylton shot, and the goal would not have stood. From the video, it looks like a foul.

A really good point for Mansfield, and on the basis of the first half showing, a deserved point. The Stags deserve huge credit for going at Oxford in that opening 45 minutes. In the second half, Oxford put us under huge pressure. But we survived, just, on occasions, and fought back for the draw. On to Plymouth!

Man of the match: Green/Tafazolli


Report by: Martin Shaw at the Kassam Stadium



Line Up:
(4-2-3-1)
Shearer 6.5 Good save from Roofe near the end and a good save with his legs. No chance with the goals.
Collins 7 Defended solidly.
Pearce 6 Good game generally with one great tackle. But allowed Hylton to escape from him for the first goal.
Tafazolli 7.5 Defended well. Good assist for Green’s goal.
Benning 6 Heavily involved. The 2 Stags goals eventually came from his crosses and he got forward well. At the back, he was given a torrid time by MacDonald and Kenny but sometimes not given enough help.
McGuire 7.5 Another good solid game in front of the back four.
Clements 7 One great tackle and one great interception as a player was about to shoot.
Blair 6.5 Did ok. One good shot that was blocked and a volley over the bar.
Baxendale 7 One great effort that was incredibly saved. Did ok going forward.
Lambe 6 Could perhaps have done better to prevent the cross for the first goal.
Green 7.5 Worked very hard, winning throw-in’s, holding play up etc. Deserved his goal. Also got an important touch for the second goal.
Sub Line Up:
Beardsley (for Baxendale, 62) - Did well, ruffled the defence. Could have had a penalty.
Alfei (for Blair, 67) - Did ok in right midfield.
J.Thomas (for Lambe, 71) - The hero with the equaliser, heading in after his shot hit the bar. An all-action 20 minutes from him.
Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, Kavanagh, Yussuf.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Slocombe; Kenny, Mullins, Wright, Skarz; MacDonald (Ismail 64), Lundstram, Sercombe, Maguire (O'Dowda 78); Roofe (Bowery 86), Hylton. Unused subs: Buchel, Ruffels, Dunkley, Evans.
Referee:
Michael Bull 6 Weak and crumbled under pressure from the crowd to book Benning, who wasn’t time-wasting. Would have disallowed Hylton’s shot on 90+5 if it had gone in.


Season 15/16 Reports