Harley 84, Reid pen 90+7
Attendance: 3878 (379 from Exeter)
Date: 1 April 2017
STAGS BEATEN BY LAST GASP PENALTY SHOCKER
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town were sickeningly beaten by a penalty on 90+7 minutes in the six-pointer against play-off chasing rivals Exeter this afternoon. The Stags had the better of the first half and after Danny Rose had headed against the bar, the Stags were deservedly in front when a great crossfield pass from Joel Byrom from the right, was controlled by Mal Benning on the left whilst in mid-air, Benning got the ball onto his right foot in the area and swept his shot past the keeper into the right corner of the net. It was his first goal of the season and a wonderful goal at that. Exeter played very well in the second half pushing Mansfield back, and eventually grabbed a deserved equaliser on 84 minutes when Ryan Harley fired home after a 1-2 with Jake Taylor. In an exciting finish, the Stags nearly regained on 90+4 minutes when Shaq Coulthirst teed up Ben Whiteman whose low shot was brilliantly saved by keeper Pym at full stretch. But there was a gut-wrenching twist as Exeter won the game on 90+7 minutes. Oakley played a high ball from the middle out to the left where Reuben Reid got into the area, and was heading for the byline when he dived with Rhys Bennett in close attendance. There was no foul from Bennett and it was a clear dive from Reid but the referee pointed to the spot. Reid stepped up and sent Kean the wrong way from the spot. It was as sickening an end to a game as you can get, and a big blow to the Stags’ play off chances. It was an exciting game, and with the Stags the better side in the first half and Exeter the better side in the second half, a draw would probably have been a fair result. That last gasp penalty though makes the difference between Mansfield being one point outside the play-offs, which they would have been if today’s game had ended as a draw, but instead Mansfield are 4 points outside the play-offs, as Stevenage, Luton, Exeter and Carlisle all won today and occupy those play-off places. Six games to go, starting with the game at leaders Doncaster next Saturday and Mansfield will surely need 4 wins from those 6 games as a minimum to stand a chance of forcing their way into the play-offs. That will be a tall order but still very much possible. The Stags have to dust themselves down and produce a great performance in the first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium to bounce back from this.
Mansfield Town made two changes from the side that won at Morecambe. Hayden White missed out with a slight hamstring strain picked up at the end of training late in the week. Kyle Howkins was dropped. Rhys Bennett moved to right back. Krystian Pearce returned from injury after missing the game at Morecambe. George Taft came in if for his first game after injury since September, and partnered Pearce in central defence. Before the game, Steve Evans said Taft was lined up to play this game since Monday, so by inference Evans must have been planning to leave out Pearce (and Howkins) before White’s injury (assuming he was not going to drop White, Bennett and Benning). On the bench, Jensen retained his place even though Shearer is now to back to fitness, while Zayn Hakeem replaced Arquin, who has a groin injury. Evans explained that both White and Arquin have a good chance of being fit for next week. The Stags continued with the 4-4-2 formation with MacDonald (right) and Green (left) on the two wings.
Exeter arrived having not lost in their last 7 games at Field Mill since a Stags 3-2 win in 1998. Exeter had shown their ability to score late scores, coming back from 3-0 down after 88 minutes to draw 3-3 with Yeovil last Saturday. Exeter had Ollie Watkins in their line up who Mansfield tried to sign in January for a big fee.
It was a dry afternoon with predicted showers not materialising, but with a wind from the North Stand towards the Quarry Lane end, which Exeter had behind them in the first half.
The match ball was sponsored by former Stags fanzine DejaVu in memory of Chris Taylor, the legendary and popular Stags fan who organised away travel for so many years, who passed away two years ago.
The Stags had the ball in the net after just 2 minutes. MacDonald overlapped on the right and his cross eventually cane to Coulthirst who fired into the net off the left post, but the whistle had already gone as the ball had struck his arm.
The referee ignored a bash on Danny Rose, and then a clear push in the back of Green as Stags fans and Evans and Raynor got more and more angry at the lack of protection from the referee.
On 11 minutes, an Exeter free kick from Lloyd James from the right was headed well wide by Wheeler.
On 13 minutes, good strength by Coulthirst in the area as he turned and shot but it was blocked for a corner.
On 14 minutes, great play by Bennett on the right and he put in a great cross which Green headed up towards the roof of the net on the right but the keeper held. It was reminiscent of Green’s goal in the last home game.
Danny Rose continued to get battered by Troy Brown, three occasions in total, before the referee finally awarded a free kick to Mansfield after another foul by Brown on Rose on 19 minutes, and Steve Evans turned round to celebrate the decision like it was a goal.
Brilliant control by Ollie Watkins on 26 minutes, 25 yards from goal and he appeared to be tripped as he ran at goal but the inept referee waved play on.
The Stags were nearly in front with a double chance on 29 minutes. A good break from Mansfield, great play from Coulthirst who got to the byline, pulled back to Green, who teed up Whiteman whose shot was deflected over the bar. From the resulting corner, taken by MacDonald, Danny Rose crashed a header against the crossbar. So unlucky.
On 31minutes, Coulthirst curled wide from 25 yards. The Stags were moving forward well now.
Exeter nearly took the lead with classic route one football on 32 minutes. A long ball from the keeper, was flicked on by Wheeler to Watkins who shot wide of the left post.
On 34 minutes, a great crossfield ball from Benning to MacDonald, but MacDonald lost the ball and fouled his man.
An already exciting game burst into life on 38 minutes as the Stags took the lead with Mal Benning bringing the house down with his first goal of the season. A great crossfield pass from Byrom from the right, was controlled by Benning on the left whilst in mid-air, Benning got the ball onto his right foot in the area and swept his shot past the keeper into the right corner of the net. It was a wonderful goal.
Exeter were close to equalising on 43 minutes. Stacey crossed to the far post where Watkins turned and fired just wide of the right post.
On 45 minutes, a free kick from Lloyd James was floated wide as Kean watched it all the way.
On 45+1 minutes, Troy Brown fouled Danny Rose yet again, the free kick was given, but astonishingly no yellow card.
A good ovation for the Stags at half time in an exciting game. Mansfield were good value for the lead with the wonderful goal by Benning and unlucky when Danny Rose hit the bar. Exeter had created two chances for Ollie Watkins with long balls forward.
Half time 1-0
On 46 minutes, Benning’s long throw was flicked on by Danny Rose, and MacDonald from a position in mid air, stabbed wide of the right post.
On 48 minutes, Green shot wide of the left post after the ball had pinged around the area.
On 50 minutes, Watkins was brought down by Bennett 35 yards from goal. There were other Stags defenders in the vicinity but none would appear to have been able to stop Watkins running through on goal. The referee produced a yellow card, when Watkins would only have had Kean to beat even though the ball was running away diagonally towards the left. Bennett might have got lucky there.
Exeter’s free kick from 35 yards was scant reward for the position they were in, and the free kick was cleared by Taft.
Exeter then had a series of long balls forward which got held up slightly in the wind and caught the Stags out each time. Firstly on 53 minutes, a long ball forward, Wheeler got there first, but could only head the ball out of play with Kean beaten. Then a minute later, another long ball forward, And Kean played the ball against Wheeler and out for a goal kick. Lucky. Two minutes after that, yet another long ball forward, Kean came out, didn’t get there, Wheeler was first to it, but Pearce did well to just clear. Each time, the long ball forward had looked like it would reach Kean, but he misjudged the wind and the bounce of the ball each time.
On 58 minutes, a free kick from Lloyd James was well punched away by Kean.
The Stags were under pressure.
Howkins replaced Taft on 60 minutes.
On 65 minutes, Jake Taylor shot high and wide from 25 yards.
The Stags had not been in the Exeter penalty area for some time, but on 67 minutes, Danny Rose had half a chance but lost his footing as he looked to shoot.
Danny Rose was booked on 69 minutes for kicking the ball towards to goal after the whistle had gone. A silly yellow card.
On 69 minutes, a great save from Kean as Stacey got into the area clean through on the right and Kean saved with his body.
The Stags just couldn’t keep the ball.
On 72 minutes, Kean did well to punch away on the edge of his area.
Collins replaced MacDonald on 73 minutes. Whiteman moved to the right of midfield. Evans was trying to hang on to the 1-0 lead and shore up the under-pressure defence.
The Stags had a golden chance to increase the lead on 75 minutes. A long ball forward put Coulthirst 1-on-1 with the keeper, but he shot straight at the keeper. A great opportunity missed.
Potter replaced Danny Rose on 80 minutes. Rose had been unlucky with his header against the bar and worked tirelessly with no protection from the referee.
On 81 minutes, another good save from Kean, as he pushed away a shot from Watkins, diving to his left.
The Stags had been hanging on but were finally breached on 84 minutes as Exeter got a deserved equaliser. Watkins played the ball forward to sub Reuben Reid, who laid off to Ryan Harley, who played a 1-2 with Jake Taylor before firing past Kean.
On 85 minutes, the Stags tried to respond as Byrom’s free kick came out to Whiteman, whose low shot was on target but deflected off Pierce Sweeney, and then Pearce, stretching on the right of goal, got a touch on it but couldn’t turn it goalwards.
On 87 minutes, Watkins got past Bennett and sliced a shot well wide. Then on 88 minutes, Oakley fired wide from 25 yards after Whiteman’s airshot on the edge of his own box.
On 90+1 minutes, Whiteman’s low shot lacked power and was easily saved, after Potter did well to force a mistake. A minute later, Coulthirst did well to win the ball off Moore-Taylor down by the corner flag on the right, however with Bennett in space behind him, he held on to the ball and elected to try and win a corner instead and put the ball out for a goal kick.
The Stags came close to winning it on 90+4 minutes. Coulthirst teed up Whiteman whose low shot was brilliantly saved by keeper Pym at full stretch.
A minute later, Coulthirst got into the area and played the ball to Bennett who won a corner.
But there was a gut-wrenching twist as Exeter won the game on 90+7 minutes. Oakley played a high ball from the middle out to the left where Reuben Reid got into the area, and was heading for the byline when he dived with Bennett in close attendance. There was no foul from Bennett and it was a clear dive from Reid but the referee pointed to the spot. Reid stepped up and sent Kean the wrong way from the spot.
It’s as sickening an end to a game as you can get, and a big blow to the Stags’ play off chances.
We weren't good enough to beat Exeter on the day, who were a very good side in my opinion. They had a purple patch during the second half when they penned us back, and I think most managers would have responded as Evans did by adding more defensive midfield cover to try and protect against it. We should have had, and deserved, a point in my opinion. But it's often fine lines in football, and yesterday we didn't get the rub of the green at the end. We move on to the next game.
Man of the match: Mal Benning
Footnote: Following the game against Exeter, and with just 6 games to go this season, these are my average player ratings based on the 48 league+cup games so far this season (top 4 players):
Coulthirst 7.00, Byrom 7.00, Whiteman 6.94, M.Rose 6.89.
Note: only ratings for players starting a game are included - ie. sub appearances not included. Minimum 10 games started.
Note that if only the games since 1st January are included, then D.Rose shoots to the top with an average of 7.38 (from 8 games)
Thanks to Pete Wright for his spreadsheet.
Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Kean 7 Two good saves, two good punches, but some misjudged forays outside his box. Not at fault for either goal.
Bennett 7 Very harshly penalised for the penalty. Possibly lucky to only get a yellow card earlier in the half. One great cross in the first half.
Pearce 7 Good game, a couple of good interceptions.
Taft 6 A couple of good headers, beaten for pace on a couple of occasions. Substituted in the second half as he searches for match fitness.
Benning 7.5 Terrific goal. One wonderful crossfield pass.
MacDonald 7 Worked tirelessly, fought for everything. Good corner for the header against the bar.
Whiteman 6.5 Nearly won it late on, but didn’t reach the heights of last week’s performance.
Byrom 6.5 Great crossfield pass for Benning’s goal. Decent game but some poor set pieces.
Green 6 One header, and set up Whiteman for a shot. But generally didn’t get in the game enough.
Coulthirst 6.5 Good strength up front. Missed a great chance with a 1-on-1.
D.Rose 7 Unlucky with his header against the bar and worked tirelessly with no protection from the referee.
Sub Line Up:
Howkins (for Taft, 60 mins) -
Collins (for MacDonald, 73 mins) -
Potter (for D.Rose, 80 mins) -
Subs not used: Jensen, McGuire, Hamilton, Hakeem.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Pym; Sweeney, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Croll (Oakley, 76); Stacey (Grant, 80), James (Reid, 65), Taylor, Harley; Wheeler, Watkins. Subs not used: Olejnik, Tillson, McAlinden, Ampadu.
Ben Toner 4 Had an absolute stinker. Got the penalty decision wrong; allowed Troy Brown to get away with too many fouls on Danny Rose, plus other poor decisions (for both teams).