Attendance: 3548 (564 from Cambridge)
Date: 7 May 2016
STAGS AND CAMBRIDGE DRAW FINAL GAME OF SEASON
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town and Cambridge United brought the curtain down on the season with a 0-0 draw at the One Call Stadium in a game that won’t linger long in the memory. Cambridge probably just shaded a quiet first half, with chances for either side at a premium: the Stags having an effort from Matt Green ruled out for offside, and Ryan Ledson volleying just over for Cambridge. The Stags though were certainly the better side in the second half as substitutes James Baxendale and youth teamer Zayn Hakeem, on his debut, provided fresh impetus with good displays. Chris Clements went close with a shot cleared off the line and Green nearly provided a free header for Matty Blair, but both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils. The Stags were solid in defence, with Lee Collins impressing at right back and then at centre half, as did Krystian Pearce and Ryan Tafazolli who was forced off with an injury (which turned out to be a broken wrist) at half time. The Stags received a good ovation from the fans at the final whistle for their efforts this season.
So the Stags end up in 12th position, inside the top half of the table. You tend to finish where you deserve and we deserve to be mid-table. I've enjoyed the season, and in my opinion it’s been a good season for the Stags. It's been great being in or within a couple of points of the play-offs for 3/4 of the season. We then fell away with that 7 game winless run around March but ultimately we weren't quite strong enough to sustain the play-off position. Clearly looking back we needed to really strengthen in January when we were flying high if we were going to make the play-offs. Hopefully we can strengthen in the close season to make us a little better next season. Another quality striker to play alongside Matt Green would be a massive priority, plus about three more quality additions. Adam Murray and his staff have done a fine job this season, considering where we came from last season, and he’ll be hoping to add those quality additions in the coming weeks. Once he’s done that, he’ll be able to have a much deserved holiday. He told me after the game he hasn’t had a day off in the last 19 months, there can’t be many people who work harder than that and Stags fans will be desperate for him and the club to have continued improvement next season.
Before the game, the magnificent youth team paraded the trophy for their Football League Youth Alliance North East Division title. A proud moment for everyone involved. Tyler Blake won the Jack Retter Trophy for youth team player of the year.
Ryan Tafazolli was presented with Player of the Season trophies, sweeping the board as expected.
And John Radford unveiled the old North Stand Clock which is back in-situ, in a prominent position on the front of the Bishop Street TV gantry. Lovely to see it back and thank you to Steve Hymas in particular for rescuing it when it was nearly thrown away for ever. It’s been installed in memory of Steve’s daughter who sadly passed away last year.
Mansfield made one change from the side that lost at Leyton Orient, as Clements came in for Lambe. Youth teamer Zayn Hakeem was on the bench for the second time this season, as well as Jason Law who was on the bench last week. Shires was the player to miss out from the 18 last weekend. It was the familiar 4-1-3-2 formation with Chapman in front of the back four, and Blair/Rose/Clements behind Dieseruvwe and Green. Collins continued at right back.
Cambridge came into the game having missed out on a chance of reaching the play-offs last weekend.
It was sunny and hot in Mansfield.
A good reception for the teams before the game.
On 3 minutes, Shearer was out quickly to clear from Luke Berry. On 5 minutes, Furlong brought down Dieseruvwe 19 yards from goal on the right. Benning took the resulting free kick, but it was going just wide of the right post before the keeper saved it anyway, low down. Straight to the other end and Berry sent a left-footed shot just wide, which Shearer had covered.
On 15 minutes, Blair made a run forward down the right but fell over in a muddy patch in front of the West Stand. The area had been over-watered. Blair later switched to the left side.
Moments later a good move by Cambridge, Berry lobbed up to Ledson who volleyed over the bar from 8 yards out on the right hand side. On 18 minutes, Dunne got in a shot, with a timely block from Tafazolli which put it behind for a corner.
On 20 minutes, a good corner from Chapman from the right and Collins headed wide. On 23 minutes, the lively Ismael cut inside Benning on the right and fired well over.
On 25 minutes, Green was fouled 35 yard out, on the left. Chapman took the resulting free kick, it came out to Clements whose shot was blocked, but by a hand, for another free kick. This time 24 yards out in a more central position. A mistake from the referee as he set the wall less than 10 yards back. The kick from Clements hit the wall and went wide of the left post. From the resulting corner, Tafazolli bundled towards goal, it came to Green who was facing away from goal and couldn’t get a shot in.
On 33 minutes almost a good move from the Stags but Collins ball forward to Blair on the byline was overhit. On 34 minutes, Rose was brought down. Chapman took the free kick, from 35 yards out, on the left. Tafazolli knocked it down from the beyond the far post, back to Pearce, who hooked wide of the left post.
On 38 minutes, Ismael squared for Berry who fired over the bar and over the North Stand roof - quite an achievement!
A minute later, Blair made a good run down the right, but his cross was cleared. Cambridge broke straight to the other end, and Tafazolli did well to clear.
On 43 minutes the Stags had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside. Chapman’s free kick from the halfway line was straight down the middle, Tafazolli flicked on from somewhere near the penalty spot and Green showed great technique to volley into the roof of the net from close range, but the flag was up. Pitchside video shows he was offside.
On 45+2 minutes, Cambridge nearly took the lead. A long throw from the right, bounced up to the far post where Collins headed behind under pressure from Berry.
0-0 at the break and that reflected that it wasn’t much of a spectacle. The Stags defence had generally done well. Cambridge had had plenty of corners but wasted them.
Half time 0-0
Tafazolli had had to have treatment in the first half and was replaced at the break. It later transpired that he had broken his wrist. An unfortunate end to the season for a player who has been remarkably consistent this season. We’ll hope to see him back next season but it shouldn’t be a surprise if a team from a higher league prizes him away.
Baxendale replaced Tafazolli. Collins moved from right back to centre half. Rose moved to right back. Baxendale moved into that midfield 3 with Blair and Clements either side.
On 48 minutes, a Chapman corner from the right, the Stags had shots from Blair and Clements blocked, it came out to Collins who shot well wide. On 52 minutes, a shot from Green was on target from 25 yards but lacked power and was straight at the keeper. Straight to the other end, and Pearce’s header back to Shearer didn’t have enough on it but Shearer did well to just get there as Berry tried to nip in. Pearce immediately redeemed himself with a good challenge on Berry.
A big moment for Zayn Hakeem as he made his first team debut on 56 minutes, replacing Dieseruvwe. Hakeem joined Green up front.
Hakeem was straight into the action on 57 minutes as he showed good pace down the right but couldn’t quite find Green in the area. On 59 minutes, good play by Baxendale on the left but his cross was just cleared. On 61 minutes, Collins broke forward well, found Green, and Green won a corner. The corner though was cleared.
On 67 minutes, a free kick from Benning, came out to Hakeem on the right, he showed good speed and his cross was put behind for a corner.
The Stags were playing better now, and definitely right on top, with Baxendale and Hakeem showing good speed and enthusiasm.
On 72 minutes, Green did well on the right, he pulled the ball back to Clements whose volley was cleared off the line, though it didn’t have a lot of power.
On 74 minutes, Dunne tried to pull Baxendale down as he broke forward on halfway. He failed to pull him down and then hacked him down. It was dreadful stuff and he was lucky to only see yellow. A melee ensued but the referee didn’t take any action.
On 77 minutes, Blair got to the byline and pulled the ball back but it was cleared. Then Rose had a shot from long distance blocked on the edge of the box.
The Stags nearly created a golden chance on 80 minutes. A good move as Hakeem found Green on the right, Green tried to find the unmarked Blair on the left, but his cross was deflected straight to the keeper. Then a chance for Cambridge a minute later. Clarke’s free kick from the 40 yards out on the left found Spencer who glanced a header well wide.
On 82 minutes, a good break by the Stags down the left.
Yussuf replaced Green on 83 minutes. A standing ovation for Green, probably mainly for his 16 goals this season.
On 84 minutes, a fine free kick from Chapman was headed behind for a corner.
On 89 minutes, a great attempted pass from Clements was intercepted by Furlong, who did so with excellent control.
So neither side was able to break the deadlock and 0-0 was probably about the right result in light of the fact that there weren’t many chances. One difference between the sides was the set pieces: Mansfield’s were generally reasonable, Cambridge’s were really poor.
Man of the match: Lee Collins
Footnote: Following this final game, these are my average player ratings based on the 50 league+cup games played this season (top 8 players):
Tafazolli 7.28, Jensen 7.13, McGuire 7.03, Clements 6.97, J.Thomas 6.97, Pearce 6.87, Benning 6.81, Shearer 6.80.
Tafazolli was remarkably consistent with no ratings lower than 6, until the penultimate game, against Orient.
Jensen started the season in tremendous form, though his form tailed off slightly before he lost his place.
McGuire’s average rating shot up following a purple patch of games against Morecambe twice, Crawley and Oxford.
Clements had no ratings lower than 6 in the first half of the season, but 4 ratings lower than 6 after that.
Jack Thomas’s average was based on just 17 games that he has started.
Pearce was generally consistent but three very poor games in the second half of the season lowered his average.
Note: only ratings for players starting a game are included - ie. sub appearances not included.
Minimum appearances: 10.
Adams not included, having returned to Notts County (average 6.90).
Thanks to Pete Wright for his spreadsheet.
Final stat on attendances at home. The average attendance in the league at Field Mill this season was 3439 (up from 3021 last season). That includes an average away following at Field Mill of 506 (up from 429 last season). So the average number Stags fans at home this season was 2933, up from 2591 last season.
Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Shearer 7 Alert to be out of his area quickly on two occasions. Otherwise didn’t have any difficult saves to make.
Collins 8 Very good game at right back and then at centre half. Did well to head away under pressure from Berry at the end of the firsthalf.
Pearce 7 Good game. One back header was left short.
Tafazolli 8 Very good first half, including a fine flick-on for Green’s offside goal. Forced off at half time with a broken wrist. An unfortunate end to the season for a player who has been remarkably consistent this season, and swept the board with Player of the season Awards.
Benning 6.5 Tricky afternoon against the impressive Ismael but did ok.
Chapman 7 Some good set pieces. Quite a contrast with the awful Cambridge set pieces.
Blair 7 Some good runs.
Rose 5.5 Poor first half in midfield. Moved to right back and put in a much more assured display.
Clements 7 Got in a few shots, all of which were blocked. Was helped by the improved movement of Baxendale and Hakeem as subs.
Dieseruvwe 5.5 Brought down for an early free kick. But otherwise barely featured. A shame after his good games against Barnet and Leyton Orient.
Green 7 Great finish but just offside for the disallowed goal. Nearly put a chance on a plate for Blair. Great ovation, when he was subbed, for his contribution including 16 goals this season.
Sub Line Up:
Baxendale (for Tafazolli, 46) 7.5 Came on at half time and provided his best display since his debut.
Hakeem (for Dieseruvwe, 56) 7.5 Good pace, lively. Impressive debut.
Yussuf (for Green, 83) - Caught offside about 3 times.
Subs not used: Jensen, McGuire, Lambe, Law.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Norris; Furlong, Legge, Coulson (Roberts, 45 mins), Dunk; Ismail, Dunne, Ledson, Berry (Clark, 61 mins); Williamson (Donaldson, 85 mins), Spencer. Subs not used: Beasant, Omozusi, O’Neill, Williams.
Eddie Ilderton 7 Generally handled the game well, albeit lenient. On one occasion didn’t walk the Cambridge wall far enough back. The officials got the offside goal correct.