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Season 17/18 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Colchester United  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Murray 29, Mandron 34
 
 
Attendance: 3262 (339 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 7 October 2017

STAGS BEATEN AT COLCHESTER

Martin Shaw at the Weston Homes Community Stadium

Mansfield Town were beaten for the second time in succession away from home, this time at Colchester United. Whereas the performance at Cheltenham 11 days ago was dreadful, this was not as bad, but the Stags still didn’t do enough to warrant the points. Colchester had slightly the better of the opening 10 minutes as Mikael Mandron fired over the bar and Brandon Hanlon fired wide. The Stags were then completely in control for the next 20 minutes and should have been in front with some fine play going forward and four great chances. On 11 minutes, a great move as Will Atkinson played a one-two with Hemmings on the edge of the box, then squared to Johnny Hunt on the left, Hunt took one touch before crossing back in to Atkinson who had got forward to the penalty spot and sent a diving header inches wide of the left post. A terrific move which would have been goal of the season so far. On 17 minutes, a good move from the Stags as Alex MacDonald powered forward, fed Omari Sterling-James who teed up Atkinson who fired a good opportunity over the bar from the edge of the box. Then on 21 minutes, Danny Rose flicked on a Conrad Logan long ball to Hemmings, Hemmings perfectly headed the ball back into the path of Rose who fired a fine shot that was heading for the bottom left corner of the net before the keeper pushed it away. Another good move on 24 minutes as Sterling-James shot wide of the left post from the right with Rose on space at the left post. Completely against the run of play Colchester were in front on 29 minutes, and frustratingly it was partially self-inflicted. Sterling-James gave away a free kick 22 yards from goal to the right of centre with a clumsy and unnecessary challenge. Hanlan squared the free kick to Sean Murray in a central position and his low shot took a deflection off the advancing MacDonald that took it past Logan into the bottom left corner of the net. I had initially thought that Logan should have done better, but the video shows that the deflection wrong-footed him and gave him no chance. Murray admitted after the game to The Moose on TalkSport that he was fortunate. Colchester added a second goal 5 minutes later. Sterling-James allowed Murray to cross from the left, a beautiful curling cross into the middle where Mandron lost his marker Pearce to glance a header past Logan. Certainly no blame to Logan, but Sterling-James and Pearce should have done better. Sterling-James had had a first half to forget and was replaced at the break. The Stags needed to get back into the game and took the game to the home side early in the second half. The Stags should have had a penalty on 52 minutes. MacDonald forced his way into the area on the left, cut inside and was clearly clipped as he was about to shoot, but just about stayed on his feet before finally going down. Had he gone down initially, the referee would probably have given the penalty, but it was still a clear penalty from my position, and I had a great view of it. Three minutes later, more fine play from MacDonald as Hemmings slid a good ball to him, he got to the byline and pulled back a wonderful cross onto the head of Rose who sent a diving header inches over the bar. Fine play and unlucky not to bring a goal. Then on 62 minutes, more good play from MacDonald with a great run forward, cutting inside from the left on to his right foot, and he unleashed a powerful drive which the goalkeeper palmed away. The Stags had really needed to score during this fine spell but were unable to do so. After that, Mansfield rarely looked like getting back into it despite having the majority of possession but some of the play was poor, and the game ended with Colchester going close twice as first Murray broke the Stags’ offside trap and his shot from a tight angle was denied by a good save with his legs by Logan, then Murray shot wide from a good position in the box from a Colchester break with the Stags desperately trying to get back. In stoppage time, with the game already up, sub Lee Angol won the ball and pushed forward but elected to shoot with Danny Rose unmarked to his left, and Angol’s shot was blocked.

A bit of perspective after the game from The Moose and Alvin Martin who were covering the game for TalkSport. The Moose asked me what I thought, I said I thought Mansfield hadn’t done enough through the game to earn all the points. He disagreed and said he thought Mansfield were very unlucky and played much better football than Colchester, who he said did nothing apart from their goals until a bad miss right at the end on the break.

After the game as the Stags players came over to thank the travelling fans, they were greeted with “what a load of rubbish” shouted at them by a few Stags fans. From my position, I couldn’t tell how many fans it was shouting that but my brother who was among the travelling fans told me it was just a few. Steve Evans was unhappy that his players had that shouted at them as they went to applaud the fans.

A disappointing result for Mansfield but it’s far from doom and gloom with the Stags just a couple of points outside the play-offs and five points outside the top 3. I fully expect Mansfield to bounce back next week at home to Swindon with a good performance, as they have following the previous two defeats this season against Accrington and Cheltenham.

Mansfield made one change from the side that beat Notts County and it was an enforced one as Alfie Potter is out injured having gone off last week. His replacement last week as substitute, Omari Sterling-James, who played so well against County, came in to the right of midfield. Hayden White was still not 100% fit so Paul Anderson remained at right back. Had White been fit, he would have started according to Steve Evans. Kane Hemmings retained his place ahead of Lee Angol, with Evans saying that Hemmings had played well against Notts County and been unlucky not to open his scoring account.

Colchester’s matchwinner last season Brennan Dickensen is out for 9 months with an injury. Colchester resisted the temptation to recall injured pair Craig Slater and Kurtis Guthrie and were unchanged from the side that won at Yeovil last Saturday. That meant they started with a 4-4-2 formation, but they switched to 3-5-2 partway through the first half when left back Vincent-Young went off injured.

Colchester had slightly the better of the opening 10 minutes. On 2 minutes, Doug Loft took a 45 yards free kick into the Stags box, Butcher and Mandron rose for it, Butcher ended in a heap on the floor allowing Mandron a free shot which he fired over the bar from 12 yards.

At the other end on 7 minutes, good play from Rose to set up a shot for Sterling-James but his shot was going well wide and nearly fell for a Stags player but not quite.

On 9 minutes, a long ball forward from Colchester, and Brandon Hanlon controlled brilliantly, before cutting inside Pearce and firing wide.

On 11 minutes, a great move from the Stags as Will Atkinson played a one-two with Hemmings on the edge of the box, then squared to Johnny Hunt on the left, Hunt took one touch before crossing back in to Atkinson who had got forward to the penalty spot and sent a diving header inches wide of the left post. A terrific move which would have been goal of the season so far.

On 14 minutes, a shot from Sterling-James from 20 yards was blocked almost at source following a long throw-in from Anderson. A minute later, good play from Rose and Hemmings, to MacDonald, but his side-footed shot from 19 yards lacked power and was an easy save for the keeper.

On 17 minutes, a good move from the Stags as MacDonald powered forward, fed Rose and then Hemmings whose shot rebounded to Atkinson who fired a good opportunity over the bar from the edge of the box.

Then on 21 minutes, Rose flicked on a Logan long ball to Hemmings, Hemmings perfectly headed the ball back into the path of Rose who fired a fine shot that was heading for the bottom left corner of the net before the keeper pushed it away. Fine shot and fine save.

Another good move on 24 minutes as Sterling-James shot wide of the left post from the right with Rose on space at the left post.

On 27 minutes, Hanlan got to the byline and Logan did well to push behind for a corner.

Completely against the run of play Colchester were in front on 29 minutes, and frustratingly it was partially self-inflicted. Sterling-James gave away a free kick 22 yards from goal to the right of centre with a clumsy and unnecessary challenge. Hanlan squared the free kick to Sean Murray in a central position and his low shot took a deflection off the advancing MacDonald that took it past Logan into the bottom left corner of the net. I had initially thought that Logan should have done better, but the video shows that the deflection wrong-footed him and gave him no chance. Murray admitted after the game to The Moose on TalkSport that he was fortunate.

On 32 minutes, Hunt crossed from the byline, Rose leapt and his header was saved under the bar by the keeper. A minute later, MacDonald sent a poor effort well wide from 28 yards.

Colchester added a second goal on 34 minutes. Sterling-James allowed Murray to cross from the left, a beautiful curling cross into the middle where Mandron lost his marker Pearce to glance a header past Logan. Certainly no blame to Logan, but Sterling-James and Pearce should have done better.

The Stags were clearly rocked by the two goals, and gave away several sloppy poor balls.

On 45+2 minutes, a long ball forward from Colchester and Anderson did well to head back to Logan.

A disappointing scoreline at the break. Steve Evans had been unusually sitting in the dugout through most of the first half, perhaps he wasn’t feeling 100% I really don’t know. But he was back on his feet in the technical area in the second half.

Half time 2-0

Sterling-James had had a first half to forget and was replaced at the break by Bennett. Hunt pushed slightly further forward from left back to left wingback, Anderson moved to right wingback, Bennett was on the right of a back 3.

The Stags needed to get back into the game and took the game to the home side early in the second half.

In a rare Colchester attack, Bennett put in a good tackle on Hanlan in the area.

The Stags should have had a penalty on 52 minutes. MacDonald forced his way into the area on the left, cut inside and was clearly clipped as he was about to shoot, but just about stayed on his feet before finally going down. Had he gone down initially, the referee would probably have given the penalty, but it was still a clear penalty from my position, and I had a great view of it.

Three minutes later, more fine play from MacDonald as Hemmings slid a good ball to him, he got to the byline and pulled back a wonderful cross onto the head of Rose who sent a diving header inches over the bar. Fine play and unlucky not to bring a goal.

On 59 minutes, MacDonald got to the byline on the left but on this occasion put across a poor ball over everyone.

Anderson was booked on 60 minutes for a cynical block off. Anderson himself was injured in the process.

Then on 62 minutes, more good play from MacDonald with a great run forward, cutting inside from the left on to his right foot, and he unleashed a powerful drive which the goalkeeper palmed away. The Stags had really needed to score during this fine spell but were unable to do so.

On 64 minutes, a double change as Angol and Mellis replaced Hemmings and Anderson. Anderson limped off. MacDonald moved back to right wing back and was to lose his potency there which he had been showing.

After that, Mansfield rarely looked like getting back into it despite having the majority of possession but some of the play was poor. The Stags started knocking too many long balls forward rather than mixing it up. Rose had been winning his headers in the first half, but was mostly losing out on them now to Inniss.

Atkinson was booked on 65 minutes for a sliding challenge on the touchline. A minute later, Murray’s free kick from the right, and Mandron headed well wide.

On 74 minutes, MacDonald’s corner was too close to the keeper who caught it.

On 76 minutes, Murray broke the Stags’ offside trap as Mandron found him with a good ball, and his shot from a tight angle was denied by a good save with his legs by Logan.

On 77 minutes, Hunt played the ball in from the left, but Angol couldn’t get to it.

The Stags won a free kick 28 yards from the Colchester goal on 86 minutes. But from that free kick, it was cleared and Colchester nearly scored as Murray shot wide from a good position in the box with the Stags desperately trying to get back.

On 89 minutes, MacDonald crossed from the right, Angol tried an acrobatic kick but got it all wrong and it went out for a goal kick.

In stoppage time, with the game already up, Angol won the ball and pushed forward but elected to shoot with Rose unmarked to his left, and Angol’s shot was blocked. Initially Rose would have been offside, but by the time Angol elected to shoot, Rose was in a better position.

A disappointing day. On to the Swindon game, where I expect the Stags to bounce back. For Colchester, Sean Murray impressed in midfield, as did Drey Wright who switched from right midfield to left wingback when Colchester switched formation.

Man of the match: Alex MacDonald

Footnote: in response to comments from some on Stagsnet messageboard about a lack of effort, my opinion is:
I can't agree with you about a lack of effort from the players. I don't think there was a lack of effort at all. Lack of quality on some occasions, certainly some mistakes, some missed chances, perhaps too many long balls on occasions. But not lack of effort in my opinion.

In response to twitter comment that
@craigpriest14 is angry with Mansfield Town's players for their 'lack of fight and desire' - is he right? #stags, my reply was: @shawma1
I don't agree with you that there was a lack of fight and desire Craig. Have a look at MacDonald & Rose in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8OIIJJABzc&feature=youtu.be

And in response to the question on Stagsnet messageboard “Would you really be bothered if Evans went?”, my opinion is:
Steve Evans' record suggests to me he is the best person to take us forward, especially given he has now assembled the squad that he wanted (with, in his words, "1 or 2" new players he wants to bring in in January, and I would presume the same number going out). We are in a reasonable position, two points outside the play-offs at present, and I expect us to be in the top 7 come the end of the season. I think it would be hugely disappointing if he left, especially for John and Carolyn Radford. It's been a while since the club appointed a manager with his experience and excellent record for getting promotions.


Report by: Martin Shaw at the Weston Homes Community Stadium



Line Up:
(4-4-2):
Logan 6 Unlucky to be wrong-footed by a deflection for the first goal and no chance with the second. One good save with his legs.
Anderson 6 Did ok. Went off injured.
Pearce 5 Lapse as he was lost by Mandron for the 2nd goal. Hanlan cut past him for an early shot too. A rare off day.
Mirfin 7 Good solid game.
Hunt 7 Put in some good crosses including a great one for Atkinson’s header. Defended solidly.
Sterling-James 5 Gave away the free kick for the first goal with a clumsy and unnecessary challenge. Allowed Murray to cross from the left for the second goal. Subbed at half time.
Butcher 5 Contributed too little.
Atkinson 6 Two good chances in the first half, the first of which would have been goal of the season so far if his header had been inches to the right.
MacDonald 7.5 More than anyone, he did his best to drag the Stags back into it. Forced his way into the area and brought a foul which should have been a penalty but not given, fine play to set up a diving header for Rose, and a great run forward and powerful shot that was saved. Less effective at right wing back. Some variable quality of set pieces.
Hemmings 6 Did ok though I'd like to see more from him. Some good approach play setting up a shot for Rose, involved in the move that led to Atkinson’s header, and a good ball in the build-up to Rose’s diving header.
Rose 7 Good game. Good shot saved after good approach play, diving header inches over the bar. Had been winning his headers in the first half, but was mostly losing out on them later on to Inniss as the Stags played too many long balls.
Sub Line Up:
Bennett (for Sterling-James, 46 mins) 6 Did ok. One fine tackle.
Angol (for Hemmings, 64 mins) - Did well to win the ball in stoppage time and pushed forward but elected to shoot with Rose better placed. Poor decision-making.
Mellis (for Anderson, 64 mins) - Contributed little after coming on. Disappointing, I expected more from him.
Subs not used: Olejnik, Digby, Hamilton, Spencer.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2; initially): Walker; Jackson, Inniss, Kent, Vincent-Young (sub Eastman, 20); Wright, Loft, Murray, Reid (sub Comley, 55); Hanlan (sub, Kabamba, 81) Mandron. Subs not used: Gilmartin, Slater, Odelusi, Guthrie.
Referee:
John Busby 6 Handled the game well overall but he only had one difficult decision to make, the possible penalty for the foul on MacDonald, and he got it wrong in my opinion.


Season 17/18 Reports