Paynter pen 24, pen 85.
Attendance: 3893 (314 from Mansfield)
Date: 2 April 2016
STAGS DEFEAT AT HARTLEPOOL IS PARTIALLY SELF-INFLICTED
Martin Shaw at Victoria Park
Mansfield Town lost 2-1 at Hartlepool United this afternoon, conceding two penalties and playing three-quarters of the game with 10 men. The Stags played some good football, created plenty of good chances but only had themselves to blame for giving themselves a mountain to climb by going down to ten men. Mansfield started the game brightly and were right on top in the opening 20 minutes. Green came close to putting the Stags in front on 8 minutes. But against the run of play, the game changed dramatically on 24 minutes. Billy Paynter played a superb defence-splitting pass forward for Nicky Featherstone to run onto. Featherstone got into the area but delayed and delayed taking his shot. Krystian Pearce, pursuing him from behind, had no chance of making a successful tackle and very unwisely brought Featherstone down when he was 7 yards from goal as he was about to shoot. It was a clear penalty and a clear red card for Pearce. Last week I thought Pearce was unlucky to concede the penalty when James Collins dived; this week it was just stupid play and meant that the Stags would play three-quarters of the game with ten men. Paynter took the penalty, firing low to the left, Scott Shearer did well to get a hand on it but couldn’t keep it out. Former Stag Nathan Thomas showed great disrespect to the Stags fans by celebrating extravagantly and deliberately right in front of them. It was poor from a player treated well by the fans. He was booked along with Lee Collins who objected to the celebration. Hartlepool got on top, buoyed by the goal, and nearly made it 2-0 two minutes later as Nathan Thomas played a ball in from the left, Paynter turned and his shot was deflected onto the post by Tafazolli. Nathan Thomas had a good spell down the left. The Stags regrouped and switched to three at the back. Mansfield gradually got back on top, despite the man down, and started creating chances again. Hartlepool keeper Trevor Carsen made two great saves, on 63 and 65 minutes, to deny a header from Matt Green and then an even better one from a Tafazolli bullet downward header. The Stags kept knocking on the door and finally got the equaliser that they richly deserved as Colin Daniel smashed into the roof of the net at the far post following an Adam Chapman long throw which was flicked on by Collins to Green whose shot was blocked into the path of Daniel. The Stags looked the more likely winners but another penalty changed the game again on 85 minutes. Carl Magnay skipped past Mal Benning, just inside the box on the right, Benning hung out a leg, and Magnay deliberately went over the leg to win a penalty. I initially thought it was not quite inside the area, but video evidence suggests it was just inside. We have in the past had players who have won penalties in this way (Louis Briscoe springs to mind) so I’m not going to start complaining about it. Benning should not have dangled his leg out to allow Magnay to fall over it, and has to shoulder the responsibility and be cleverer than this. It was gutting for the Stags, who had fought their way back so well. Paynter smashed the penalty down the middle as Shearer dived to his left. The Stags nearly got another deserved equaliser on 89 minutes as Chris Beardsley’s shot from 8 yards was again well saved by Carson. So Mansfield fell to defeat despite a good performance, but this was partially self-inflicted with Pearce getting himself sent-off and Benning dangling out a leg to concede a penalty. Once again the Stags played with great spirit and there were plenty of good performances, but it’s another defeat, and that’s 5 defeats from the last 7 games. Gutting.
The Stags remain 13th, 8 points behind the play-offs. Six games to go, starting at Carlisle next weekend. Last season at Carlisle, we went bottom of the Football League with defeat and Matty Blair was booed by the home fans as he was carried off with an injury that kept him out for 9 months. It would be nice to exorcise the memory of that day.
Before the game, it was announced that coach Micky Moore was leaving the club. Moore was due to be out of contract at the end of the season, and Murray decided he wanted to move in a different direction and was letting Moore go now to give him time to get sorted for next season. It’s always hard to judge the performance of coaches unless you’re on the training ground, and as it is Murray who is judged on results, then he has to have the say on who he has to assist him. Good luck to Micky in the future and thanks for all his efforts in the two spells with the club. Murray said he would be trying out some different things. Today, Scott Rickards, academy coach for the youth team, was helping prepare the team for the game, to give him more experience, as was the suspended Jamie McGuire. A new striker coach, Karl Hawley, was announced a few days ago. Murray said the two decisions were not related. Hawley still plays first team football, for Stourbridge, so obviously can’t be present on a matchday.
Mansfield made one change from the side that drew with Northampton: Chapman came in for the suspended McGuire. Tafazolli had recovered from the dead leg he picked up against Northampton. Lambe was back in to the 18, after his spell away with the Bermudian international side, including a goal.
The Stags started with Collins at right back, Chapman in front of the back four, Clements and Blair in front of Chapman, and behind Jack Thomas, who was behind strikers Green and Dieseruvwe.
Hartlepool included winger Nathan Thomas, who was fantastic for the Stags in the reverse fixture at Field Mill earlier in the season, and left the Stags to enable him to move back to the North-East. Rakish Bingham was on the bench for Hartlepool.
Hartlepool came into the game in form with 4 wins and 2 draws in a 6 game unbeaten run and 4 consecutive clean sheets. Their form couldn’t be much more different to Mansfield’s, with 4 defeats and 2 draws in 6 games.
The Stags started positively. On 3 minutes, Jack Thomas fired wide from 22 yards out, on the left. A minute later at the other end, Magnay crossed from the right, Paynter lost his marker Pearce and headed over.
On 6 minutes, a Benning free kick from the right, level with the edge of the area, Pearce flicked the header on, but it was wide of the left post.
The Stags were close to the lead on 8 minutes. Benning’s free kick from the halfway line, was flicked on by Tafazolli to Blair, Blair got to the byline and lobbed the ball back to Green who flicked a header from the near post that rolled inches wide of the left post. Green held his head in his hands.
On 15 minutes, Collins sent Blair away on the right, he got to the byline, and played a great ball into the middle, but it was cleared. On 18 minutes, Collins played a ball from the right to Dieseruvwe on the angle of the box on the left, but Dieseruvwe shanked a shot high and wide.
The Stags were right on top.
On 20 minutes, Nathan Thomas got past Blair on the left and fizzed a low cross across the 6 yard box, Paynter headed it into the ground and up and over the bar. At the other end, on 22 minutes, a Stags free kick pinged around the Hartlepool box but no-one could get in a shot. Then Nathan Thomas broke, Blair did well to dispossess and Jack Thomas completed the cleaning up.
But against the run of play, the game changed dramatically on 24 minutes. Paynter played a superb defence-splitting pass forward for Nicky Featherstone to run onto. Featherstone got into the area but delayed and delayed taking his shot. Pearce, pursuing him from behind, had no chance of making a successful tackle and very unwisely brought Featherstone down when he was 7 yards from goal as he was about to shoot. It was a clear penalty and a clear red card for Pearce. Paynter took the penalty, firing low to the left, Shearer did well to get a hand on it but couldn’t keep it out. Nathan Thomas showed great disrespect to the Stags fans by celebrating extravagantly and deliberately right in front of them. It was poor from a player treated well by the fans. He was booked along with Lee Collins who objected to the celebration.
The Stags moved Blair to right back and Collins to centre half.
Hartlepool quickly got on top, buoyed by the goal, and nearly made it 2-0 two minutes later as Nathan Thomas played a ball in from the left, Paynter turned and his shot was deflected onto the right post by Tafazolli.
A minute later, Nathan Thomas got into the area on the left and his low cross was cleared.
Alfei replaced Dieseruvwe on 29 minutes. Alfei went to right back, Blair moved back into midfield.
On 30 minutes, Nathan Thomas crossed from deep, into the Stags box, Shearer and Tafazolli collided, Shearer dropped the ball but quickly recovered.
On 31 minutes, Nathan Thomas got past Alfei and his low cross was cleared.
On 33 minutes, Clements played a one-two with Green, got into the area, and a low shot from Clements was blocked.
Clements went down with an injury and had to be replaced on 39 minutes. Colin Daniel came on, and moved into an offensive role, with Jack Thomas dropped back.
The Stags changed formation to three at the back: Collins, Pearce and Benning. Alfei moved to left midfield. Blair was getting back to help out the defence on the right when needed.
On 41 minutes, Jake Gray made a great run into the area, then Nathan Thomas curled a shot wide from the left.
Good play between Daniel and Blair a minute later on the right to win a corner. Chapman’s corner from the right was headed away.
On 44 minutes, a free kick from Benning from the left, Daniel headed on, then Tafazolli headed on, eventually it came to Collins who a lashed a right footed shot just over the bar.
On 45+1 minutes, a Chapman long throw came out to Alfei who scuffed a left footed shot towards goal, easily saved. A minute later, Alfei teed up Jack Thomas for a low shot which was easily saved at the left post.
Half time 1-0
On 47 minutes, a free kick from Benning, Tafazolli headed down, then Jack Thomas put in a low cross to Daniel, whose low shot from 12 yards was blocked.
On 49 minutes, Nathan Thomas hit the roof of the stand with a wild shot from 30 yards.
A minute later, Nathan Thomas fouled Blair. Already on a yellow card, the referee lectured Nathan Thomas, with the Hartlepool captain. Clearly a final warning.
Blair was booked on 54 minutes for a late tackle, more of a hack really, on Nathan Thomas.
On 56 minutes, Chapman’s corner from the left, Tafazolli headed down and goalwards but it was cleared.
A minute later, Chapman chested down a clearance, and had time to set himself but scuffed a left footed shot wide from 20 yards. At the other end two minutes later, Featherstone sent a low shot from 16 yards that was deflected off Tafazolli, just wide of the left post from 20 yards.
On 62 minutes, Blair played a one-two with Jack Thomas and miscued a left footed shot well wide from 25 yards.
The Stags then brought two fine saves from the keeper on 63 and 65 minutes. First, Chapman’s long throw from the right was well-headed on by Tafazolli and Green diverted it towards the bottom left corner of the net, but keeper Carson made a great save to push it away. Two minutes later, a Chapman corner from the left, Tafazolli got a clean header on it, heading down powerfully, and Carson made a brilliant save. Tafazolli knocked the rebound into the side netting.
On 67 minutes, another Chapman long throw, was knocked down to Jack Thomas in a great position, but he screwed a shot well wide.
The Stags were battering Hartlepool, but unable to get that vital goal.
Nathan Thomas was substituted on 69 minutes, replaced by Jones, before he got himself sent off.
On 71 minutes, Benning sent a free kick from 35 yards straight into the wall. Then Alfei crossed from the left, and Daniel headed over the angle.
On 74 minutes, a Stags free kick from just outside the angle of the box on the left. Chapman tried a shot, hit it cleanly, but straight to the keeper who caught cleanly in front of his face.
The Stags finally got the equaliser that they richly deserved on 76 minutes, as Colin Daniel smashed into the roof of the net at the far post following an Adam Chapman long throw which was flicked on by Collins to Green whose shot was blocked into the path of Daniel. Daniel’s first goal since returning to the club.
On 78 minutes, Jack Thomas fired in a low cross-shot from a tight angle that was blocked for a corner.
Rakish Bingham came on for Hartlepool on 83 minutes.
The Stags looked the more likely winners but another penalty changed the game again on 85 minutes. Woods did well to keep the ball in play on the byline as Daniel tried to shepherd it out, Woods played the ball back to Magnay, Magnay skipped past Benning, just inside the box on the right, Benning hung out a leg, and Magnay deliberately went over the leg to win a penalty. I initially thought it was not quite inside the area, but video evidence suggests it was just inside. We have in the past had players who have won penalties in this way (Louis Briscoe springs to mind) so I’m not going to start complaining about it. Benning should not have dangled his leg out to allow Magnay to fall over it, and has to shoulder the responsibility and be cleverer than this. It was gutting for the Stags, who had fought their way back so well. Paynter smashed the penalty down the middle as Shearer dived to his left.
After the game, Benning was distraught. Such a shame for him as otherwise he played well, building on his excellent return to form last week.
The Stags brought on Beardsley for Alfei on 86 minutes, straight after the goal.
The Stags nearly got another deserved equaliser on 89 minutes. Benning’s free kick from the level with the edge of the area, on the right, after Green had been tripped, came to Beardsley whose shot from 6 yards was very well saved by Carson on the line.
On 90 minutes, Chapman dinked a free kick from 45 yards into the box, it floated over everyone and skipped just past the right post.
Benning was booked for a foul on 90+4 minutes.
Another defeat. A good reception for the team at the end as this had been a stirring effort playing for so long with 10 men.
The Stags have now conceded 12 penalties this season in the league. That is too many, albeit some have been unjustified. Too many have been clumsy. At the other end, the Stags have won just two in the league, and my early season optimism that Mansfield would win more penalties with players like Rose surging into the box, has not been justified.
Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli
Report by: Martin Shaw at Victoria Park
Shearer 6.5 So close to saving the first penalty. Did not have a single save to make in the match, aside from the two penalties. Handling was fine.
Collins 7 Defended solidly at right back and then in the middle. Won a header in the build-up to the goal.
Pearce 5 Very unwise decision for the first penalty and left the referee no choice but to send him off.
Tafazolli 8 Defended very solidly. Unlucky not to score with a great header that was superbly saved.
Benning 5.5 Had a good game but should not have dangled his leg out to allow Magnay to fall over it for the second penalty, and has to shoulder the responsibility and be cleverer than this.
Chapman 7 Good game with some good corners, free kicks, and dangerous long-throws.
Blair 7 Good game. Some great crosses in the first half.
Clements - Went off injured in the first half.
J.Thomas 7 Got involved in a lot with a busy performance. I’m looking forward to seeing continued improvement as he surely has an extended run in the team.
Dieseruvwe - One shot which he shanked wide. Sacrificed after the sending off, to bring Alfei on.
Green 7 So close with an effort that brought a great save, another that went inches wide, and his effort was blocked leading to Daniel’s goal.
Sub Line Up:
Alfei (for Dieseruvwe, 29) 6 Did ok. Started at right back, and switched to left midfield towards the end of the first half as the Stags went to three at the back.
Daniel (for Clements, 39) 7 Did well, and took his goal well. Slight error in the build-up to the second penalty as he tried to shepherd the ball out of play.
Beardsley (for Alfei, 86) - So close to an equaliser as his close-range shot was blocked by the keeper.
Subs not used: Jensen, Rose, Lambe, Baxendale.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Carson; Magnay, Jackson, Bates, Carroll; Gray (Woods 81), Featherstone, Hawkins, N.Thomas (Jones 69); Paynter, James (Bingham 83). Subs not used: Bartlett, Walker, Oates, Richards.
Graham Salisbury 7 Got both penalties right in my opinion, and the red card for Pearce. Rightly booked Nathan Thomas for his celebration.