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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Exeter City  
2 - 3
 Mansfield Town
Watkins 64, Ribeiro 79.
 
 Tafazolli 11, 81, Benning 56.
Attendance: 3407 (77 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 19 April 2016

BENNING AND TAFAZOLLI SCREAMERS AS STAGS WIN AT EXETER

Martin Shaw at St James's Park

Mansfield Town won 3-2 at Exeter City this evening, to make it three wins on the trot, after a pulsating second half at St James's Park. The Stags were rock solid in a tight first half where Exeter were denied any effort on target, and led 1-0 at the break after Ryan Tafazolli’s soft shot from just outside the box somehow crept into the corner of the net. The Stags deservedly made it 2-0 after 56 minutes, just after Reggie Lambe had missed a great chance and Colin Daniel had a shot cleared off the line, when Mal Benning fired in a left-footed thunderbolt into the top left corner from 30 yards. It was another astonishing goal to rival his goals earlier in the season against Newport and Dagenham. It should have been 3-0 on 60 minutes when Baxendale set up a good chance for Lambe but he didn’t pull the trigger. Then on 64 minutes, Ollie Watkins danced through an uncharacteristically static defence and fired under Scott Shearer to pull a goal back. A rare error from the defence and Shearer might feel he should have done better, though was unlucky to be beaten by a slight deflection off Benning. The Stags had a glorious chance to seal it on 78 minutes when Matty Blair raced clear of the defence and had a one-on-one with the keeper but blasted straight at the keeper. That miss looked very costly just a minute later when sub Christian Ribeiro fired a stunner of his own into the top right corner of the net from 28 yards to make it 2-2. It was sickening for the Stags to be pulled back, having had so much the better chances in the game. But what character the Stags showed to regain the lead on 81 minutes, when Adam Chapman’s long throw fell to Ryan Tafazolli who blasted a fabulous right-footed shot into the top left corner from 16 yards to send the Stags fans into orbit. The Stags saw out the game with no real chances for Exeter, and Mansfield had a thoroughly deserved victory.

The win was revenge for Mansfield after they were well-beaten by Exeter (2-0) earlier in the season and a personal triumph for Adam Murray after he was outwitted by Exeter boss Paul Tisdale in that earlier game. The Stags are on to 62 points, the best haul since returning to the Football League, a great achievement by the team and management. AFC Wimbledon keep winning so the gap to 7th remains at 6 points, and an incredible 2 points separates 8th place down to 13th place.

The Stags have 10 away wins this season. Fewer than when winning the Conference of course in 2012/13 when the Stags won 13 away games (http://stagsnet.net/vintage/records/records01.html) but only one short of the club’s record in the Football League of 11 away wins, set in the promotion seasons of 1974/75 and 1976/77 (stat pointed out to me by Paul Taylor). Victory in the final away match at Leyton Orient would equal that. The club record for number of away points in a season in the Football League under the 3 points for a win is 34. After last night's win in Exeter we have 33 away points this season, therefore a win at Leyton Orient would amass 36 points to break the record, a draw at Leyton Orient would equal the record. This record was set during the promotion seasons of 1985-86 and 1991-92 (stats also from Paul Taylor).

And another win against a team in the top half of the table. You wait all season for one, then two come along in successive away games.

Some fine performances in the Stags team. The goals from Benning and Tafazolli were of course outstanding. Collins, Tafazolli and Benning defended well (aside from the Exeter first goal), and Chapman had a very good game in front of them with some good clearances and sweeping up. Daniel put in a real shift at right back. But it did show that he is not a natural right back and Holmes and Moore-Taylor got the better of him a few times. Saturday’s opponents Barnet will undoubtedly pick up on that when they watch the match video. For Saturday, Murray has the option of bringing back Pearce following suspension. I would switch Collins to right back and put Pearce alongside Tafazolli. The entire midfield and Green up front worked tirelessly, though Lambe and Blair in particular were guilty of missing chances that could have been costly.

Mansfield made two changes from the side that beat Notts County 5(five)-0. Colin Daniel replaced Daniel Alfei, who had pulled a hamstring. And Mitch Rose replaced Mani Dieseruvwe. Daniel went straight in at right back, a position he has not played before for Mansfield. Rose went into midfield. It was a 4-1-4-1 formation with Chapman in front of the back four, then Blair/Rose/Jack Thomas/Lambe, behind Green. Corbin Shires came into the 18, for the first time since August, and following injury, in place of Alfei. There was some sickness in the camp. Young Tom Marriott travelled with the squad and was going to be in the 18, but a player (unnamed) who had been sick wanted to give it a go on the bench. Based on my slight medical skills in judging who looked slightly ill on the night, I’m going to guess it was Beardsley :-)

Exeter came into the game unbeaten in ten games, and beaten only three times since playing Liverpool here in the FA Cup, a run approaching that of Mansfield’s three years ago when the FA Cup game against Liverpool inspired the club to go on a run that ultimately won the Conference. Exeter made one change from the side that drew with champions Northampton on Saturday as Lee Holmes replaced Alex Nicholls. Craig Woodman, who played for the Stags more than a decade ago, was at left back for Exeter.

Inside the first 45 seconds, Green got down the right, and put a ball across the face of goal. It reached Lambe but it was too tight an angle for him by the time he reached it and his pull back/shot was easily saved.

On 3 minutes, Taylor got past the defence on the right and his low cross was put behind for a corner by Tafazolli. Jack Thomas did well to head away the corner.

The Stags took the lead on 11 minutes with a soft goal. Benning’s free-kick from the halfway line, came out to Tafazolli and his soft shot from inside the D just outside the area somehow crept into the bottom right corner of the net. The keeper Olejnik should certainly have saved it. Tafazolli had said to me before the game he needed a goal tonight after he felt he should have had more this season! His 5th goal of the season.

On 12 minutes, Benning to Lambe inside the area, to Green. Green went down but the referee gave a free kick against Green.

On 15 minutes, a corner from the right by Holmes, and Stockley headed into the ground and up and over the bar. It was never going to be a problem for Shearer.

On 20 minutes, Lambe did well to win the ball and played a good ball forward to Green, Green burst forward, cut inside, and fired wide of the right post from 20 yards.

On 25 minutes, Holmes got past Daniel on the left, and his high cross was headed high into the air by Taylor and Shearer claimed easily. Moments later, Watkins slipped Stockley in in the box, Stockley turned and his shot was blocked by Tafazolli for a corner, though it may have been going wide. The corner was well headed away by Chapman.

On 28 minutes, a free kick for Exeter for a foul by Collins, which looked extremely harsh. It was 30 yards out and central. Stockley curled it just over the bar, it was always going over and Shearer watched it all the way.

On 32 minutes, Brown hauled down Blair. It looked a clear yellow card but Brown escaped with a lecture. The resulting free kick was just cleared by Exeter under pressure from Tafazolli.

The Stags were staying so solid at the back, as Jack Thomas, Chapman and then Lambe showed good pieces of defending around the 37 minute mark.

On 41 minutes, Craig Woodman crossed from the left, and there were howls from the crowd for holding by Tafazolli on Stockley but no appeals from the players and the referee ignored it.

A minute later, Holmes crossed from the left, and Stockley headed nearer to the corner flag than the net. On 45 minutes, Holmes curled a shot well over the bar from 25 yards.

A very solid first half from Mansfield, denying Exeter any effort on target. The goal from Tafazolli was the difference between the sides.

Half time 0-1

A change for the start of the second half. Baxendale replaced Jack Thomas. Thomas had lost the ball once in the first half but had looked solid.

On 50 minutes, too much room was afforded to Taylor on the right, and he was unmarked as he shot across the face of goal and wide of the left post. It was the first time in the game that we’d some some poor defending from the Stags.

A minute later, good defending by Daniel, he got the ball out to Lambe on the left, Lambe took a superb first touch, and ran forward but his ball forward was overhit.

On 54 minutes, Chapman’s free kick from the left, 35 yards out, came off an Exeter defender’s head and the keeper saved.

On 55 minutes, a terrible backpass from Exeter gifted the ball to Lambe inside the box, he turned and his shot was deflected for a corner. It was a glorious chance presented to him. From the resulting corner, Tafazolli headed across goal, and Daniel’s goalbound shot from 8 yards was cleared off the line. The ball came out to Benning who fired a left-footed thunderbolt into the top left corner from 30 yards. It was another astonishing goal to rival his goals earlier in the season against Newport and Dagenham. It was a deserved 2-0 lead for Mansfield on 56 minutes.

On 58 minutes, Holmes got into the box on the left, and his shot from a tight angle was blocked by Shearer, it came back and hit Holmes and out for a goal-kick.

It should have been 3-0 on 60 minutes when Baxendale made a great run into the area to set up a good chance for Lambe to shoot but he didn’t pull the trigger, tried to square it and the chance was gone.

A minute later at the other end, Watkins crossed from the left and Chapman did well to put behind for a corner.

Exeter pulled a goal back on 64 minutes. Ollie Watkins was allowed to dance through an uncharacteristically static defence and fire under Scott Shearer. A very rare piece of slopping defending by Tafazolli, and Shearer might feel he should have done better, though was unlucky to be beaten by a slight deflection off Benning.

McGuire replaced Rose on 69 minutes.

On 72 minutes, Taylor brought the ball down and fired well over from 22 yards. At the other end a minute later, Baxendale’s ball forward nearly put Blair through on goal.

Green was booked for handball on 74 minutes, as he headed forward and tried to gain an advantage.

On 76 minutes, Moore-Taylor got past Daniel on the left and his low cross was just cleared. A minute later, an Exeter cross from the right found Taylor who fired wide and over.

The Stags had a glorious chance to seal it on 78 minutes when Matty Blair raced clear of the defence and had a one-on-one with the keeper but blasted straight at the keeper.

That miss looked very costly just a minute later when sub Christian Ribeiro fired a stunner of his own into the top right corner of the net from 28 yards, giving Shearer no chance, to make it 2-2. It was sickening for the Stags to be pulled back, having had so much the better chances in the game.

But what character the Stags showed to regain the lead on 81 minutes, when Adam Chapman’s long throw fell to Ryan Tafazolli who blasted a fabulous right-footed shot into the top left corner from 16 yards to send the Stags fans into orbit.

Dieseruvwe replaced Green on 84 minutes.

On 85 minutes, a Chapman free kick was headed by Tafazolli off a defender for a corner.

On 90 minutes, Moore-Taylor got past Daniel again too easily and his low cross was put behind for a corner, good work by McGuire to put it behind. From that corner, a header from a tight angle was pushed behind by Shearer for another corner.

Five minutes of stoppage time was added. On 90+3 minutes, a mis-timed tackle by Daniel gifted Exeter a free kick on the left. From the free-kick a shot from 25 yards was blocked by Benning.

The Stags saw out the game to the delight of the travelling fans, with no real chances for Exeter after Mansfield’s third goal, and Mansfield had a thoroughly deserved victory.

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli


Report by: Martin Shaw at St James's Park



Line Up:
(4-1-4-1)
Shearer 7 Beaten by a deflection for the first goal though might feel he should have done better with it. No chance with the second goal. Had hardly any saves to make. Good handling.
Daniel 7 Shot cleared off the line in the build-up to Benning’s goal. Put in a real shift completely out of position at right back. But it did show that he is not a natural right back and Holmes and Moore-Taylor got the better of him a few times. I’m reluctant to mark him down for that though.
Collins 8 Very solid.
Tafazolli 9 Said to me before the game that he needed a goal and he came up with the goods, two of them in fact, and the second was a screamer. Defended superbly apart from a very uncharacteristic sloppy piece of defending for the first Exeter goal.
Benning 8.5 An absolute thunderbolt goal, again, rivalling his goals against Newport and Dagenham. Defended well.
Chapman 8.5 Very good performance. Swept up and cleared a lot. Long throw led to the third goal. Decent set-pieces.
Blair 7 Lively. Will have been gutted to miss the one-on-one, especially as Exeter went straight to the other end and equalised.
Rose 7 Good game.
J.Thomas 7 Lost the ball once in the first half but had looked solid. Subbed at half time.
Lambe 8 Very good game. Missed two great chances though, the second time he didn’t even pull the trigger.
Green 7 Worked very hard. One good effort wide.
Sub Line Up:
Baxendale (for J.Thomas, 46) 7.5 Two great balls forward, one of which set up a good chance for Lambe.
McGuire (for Rose, 69) - Brought on to keep things tight late on.
Dieseruvwe (for Green, 84) -
Subs not used: Jensen, Shires, Beardsley, Yussuf.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Olejnik; McAllister (Ribeiro, 61), Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Harley, Noble; Taylor, Watkins, Holmes (Nicholls, 61); Stockley. Subs not used: Davies, Reid, McCready, Tillson, Pym.
Referee:
Charles Breakspear 7 Decent game.


Season 15/16 Reports