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Season 17/18 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Port Vale  
0 - 4
 Mansfield Town
 
 Diamond 43, 52, Rose 54, Hemmings 63
Attendance: 3878 (537 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 21 November 2017

FOUR GOAL STAGS STUN PORT VALE

Martin Shaw at Vale Park

Mansfield Town won 4-0 at in-form Port Vale thanks to a stunning second half attacking display, which built on a superb first half defensive display. Vale had a terrible start to the season, but under new manager Neil Aspin were equal top of the “form table” based on the last 6 games, with 13 points, added to an impressive FA Cup win over Oxford United. That makes Mansfield’s win here even more impressive, to extend the Stags unbeaten run to 9 games in all competitions, with 5 wins on the trot, including 3 league wins on the trot with 3 clean sheets. The Stags are up into the play-off zone, and 6 points outside the top 3. It was the first time Mansfield have scored 4 goals away since a 4-3 win at Dagenham two years ago, and the biggest away win since the Conference winning season in a 4-0 win at Barrow. The 4 goal margin equalled the biggest margin of victory away in a Football League game, though we did win by 5 goals in the Conference (at Histon). The Stags took the lead on 43 minutes when Zander Diamond headed over the keeper from 6 yards following a quick free kick by Joel Byrom and Hayden White’s cross into the middle was flicked on by Paul Anderson and it took a kind bounce up into the air for Diamond. The Stags didn’t deserve to be ahead at the break, but it was a good time to score and followed some fantastic defending, none more so than Rhys Bennett’s wonderful goal-saving tackle on Anton Forrester as he was about to shoot and then another great tackle from Bennett. There was some commanding goalkeeping by Conrad Logan, while Kane Hemmings was in the right place to clear a header from a corner off the line, much as he did at Coventry ten days ago. Paul Anderson also put in a great tackle on the impressive Tom Pope just as he was about to shoot. There was huge controversy in the first half too. Anton Forrester had been booked for deliberately punching the ball past the onrushing Logan on the edge of the area. Later in the half Forrester elbowed Diamond. The referee gave a free kick, and so saw the incident but astonishingly didn’t pull out a second yellow or indeed a straight red. Steve Evans told me afterwards that the referee Trevor Kettle admitted it was an elbow, but whilst he thought it was a foul, he thought it was not deliberate and didn’t warrant a yellow card. Poor refereeing. The second half was stunning from the Stags. It was 2-0 on 52 minutes. Alex MacDonald’s low corner from the left was not dealt with by the Vale defence and Diamond knocked in at the far post. Just 2 minutes later it was 3-0 and a stunning goal it was. Hayden White made a great run forward from well inside his own half, and found Rose who got to the edge of the area and smacked a wonderful left footed shot into the top right corner off the underside of the bar. Before the 4th goal, more brilliant defending as Paul Anderson cleared another header off the line superbly. It was 4-0 on 63 minutes, as Kane Hemmings broke the offside trap after a good turn and long ball forward from MacDonald, and Hemmings finished clinically into the bottom left corner of the net despite the ball initially getting stuck under his feet on the boggy surface. It could have been 5-0 on 81 minutes when Hemmings laid the ball inside to CJ Hamilton who cut inside onto his right foot and fired just over the bar, trying to notch his first league goal for the Stags. Vale never looked like getting back into the game, though Logan had to make a wonderful save from Pope, Vale’s best player by a country mile, near the end. The 537 Stags fans were left to celebrate a stunning away win, with many of the home fans having exited early. Mansfield couldn’t have had better preparation for the huge local derby with Chesterfield on Saturday. However we all know that anything can happen in local derby games like that. Bring it on! Come on Mansfield!

Mansfield won here last season in the Checkatrade Trophy of course, but hadn’t played here in the League since 2002.

Mansfield made two changes from the side that beat Stevenage. Rose returned from suspension, and replaced Spencer. Anderson came in for Mellis. Evans explained in the pre-match interviews that Mellis was tired after Saturday’s game and not fully recovered. He would have started though if it was 7 days since the last game. So it was the same team and formation that played at Coventry, with Anderson in right midfield and MacDonald in central midfield. Lee Angol was not fit enough for the bench. Before he did his pre-match interviews, Steve Evans again asked me to name the team. I thought he might rest one or two players but I wasn’t sure who, though Mellis I thought was the most likely candidate. Anyway I went for just one change with Rose for Spencer, and Steve Evans with a beaming face was pleased to tell me I was wrong! He jokingly added with a big grin on his face that he’d only made the second change to catch me out!

Port Vale, in top form since Neil Aspen took over, made one enforced change from Saturday’s win over Barnet, with Antony Kay suspended and replaced by Tyler Denton. Vale included current League Two player of the month Tom Pope up front, a player that Mansfield tried to sign many years ago under Billy Dearden.

It had been a rainy afternoon in the Potteries, and the pitch was a bit boggy. Before the game I asked Danny Rose if he thought that would suit us. His reply was “we’ll have to see”. It certainly did!

Vale started the better of the two sides. On 2 minutes, Byrom gave away a sloppy free kick on the right. The free kick from the right was played in by Worrall, knocked back by Tom Anderson and Pope missed his kick in front of goal. From the video, there was a clear foul by Tom Anderson and he pulled Danny Rose over to give himself space, but no foul was given. On 9 minutes, Worrall found Forrester, who shot across Logan and well wide of the left post.

On 11 minutes, a great reverse ball from Byrom to Hamilton, whose cross was deflected through to the keeper. Then on 13 minutes, Hamilton’s ball in, and Hemmings missed his kick 16 yards out.

Mansfield’s best moments so far came on 19 minutes. Byrom played a great ball down the right, Anderson cut inside, to Hemmings, who twisted and turned, and dinked a great cross to the far post where it was headed behind for a corner. The resulting corner, by Byrom from the right, found Diamond near the penalty spot and his header down was just wide of the right post.

On 23 minutes, Pope missed his kick on the edge of the area when he had the chance of a shot.

On 25 minutes, Forrester ran forward, while Logan ran out of his area, and Forrester punched the ball past Logan to get past him into the area. It was blatant cheating, there is no other way to describe it, and the referee rightly booked him.

A wonderful goal saving tackle by Rhys Bennett on Forrester on 27 minutes. After a slip by MacDonald, Pope played the ball forward to Forrester. As Forrester was about to shoot, Bennett slid in with a superb tackle.

Controversy on 31 minutes. Forrester, who had already been booked for deliberately punching the ball past the Logan, then elbowed Diamond. The referee gave a free kick, and so saw the incident but astonishingly didn’t pull out a second yellow or indeed a straight red. The video shows a clear elbow into Diamond’s neck. Steve Evans told me afterwards that the referee Trevor Kettle admitted it was an elbow, but whilst he thought it was a foul, he thought it was not deliberate and didn’t warrant a yellow card. Poor refereeing.

Johnny Hunt was booked on 33 minutes, for a foul just outside the area. Stags fans chanted at Kettle “you don’t know what you’re doing”. It was a harsh booking, and coming just after the Forrester incident, was abysmal refereeing. The free kick, from the right, 20 yards out, took a deflection and was just wide of the right post. The resulting corner from the right was headed towards the top right corner of the net by Gunning, where Kane Hemmings was in the right place to clear off the line, much as he did at Coventry ten days ago. Great defensive work from Hemmings.

Another great tackle from Bennett on 38 minutes inside his own area as Pugh was about to shoot.

Logan punched away a free kick on 39 minutes, minutes after he had caught another long ball into his area well off his line.

The Stags took the lead on 43 minutes. Rose had been continually getting roughed up throughout the half. It was another foul on him on 43 minutes that led to the goal. Diamond headed over the keeper from 6 yards following a quick free kick by Byrom and White’s cross into the middle was flicked on by Paul Anderson and it took a kind bounce up into the air for Diamond.

Paul Anderson put in a great tackle on 45 minutes on Pope just as he was about to shoot, after Pope had been teed up by Worrall. A minute later, a good header way by White.

The Stags didn’t deserve to be ahead at the break, but it was a good time to score and that followed some fantastic defending. The home media admitted to me at half time that Forrester was lucky to be still on the pitch.

Half time 0-1

The second half was stunning from the Stags.

It was 2-0 on 52 minutes. Logan saved comfortably on his line from a Pope header. Logan made it look comfortable but it was critical that he didn’t spill the ball. Logan’s long kick out was brilliantly controlled by Hemmings, who found Hamilton, who won a corner on the left. MacDonald’s low corner from the left was not dealt with by the Vale defence and Diamond knocked in on the half-volley at the far post. Two goals for the Stags, following a run of scoring exactly 1 goal in the past 6 league games. And two goals in the game for captain Diamond.

Just 2 minutes later it was 3-0 and a stunning goal it was. Hayden White made a great run forward from well inside his own half, and found Rose who got to the edge of the area and smacked a wonderful left footed shot into the top right corner off the underside of the bar.

On 55 minutes, a good header behind for a corner by Bennett.

Rose was booked for a foul on 56 minutes. Considering the way he’d been roughed up in the first half, this was more than harsh and inconsistent.

On 61 minutes, more brilliant defending from the Stags as Paul Anderson cleared another header off the line superbly, with Pope’s header heading into the top corner.

It was 4-0 on 63 minutes, as Hemmings broke the offside trap after a good turn and long ball forward from MacDonald, and Hemmings finished clinically into the bottom left corner of the net despite the ball initially getting stuck under his feet on the boggy surface. Great finish from Hemmings, and fine play from MacDonald.

On 65 minutes, keeper Ryan Boot was lucky as his clearance cannoned off Hemmings who was trying to charge down the clearance, and back behind the keeper for a goalkick. Great chasing from Hemmings.

At the other end 3 minutes later, a scramble in the Stags box and Conrad Logan made a superb brave save at the feet of sub Montano.

Atkinson replaced Byrom on 70 minutes.

Logan saved low down from Harness’s shot on 71 minutes. Then on 73 minutes, Worrall pushed forward and sent a low shot wide of the right post. A minute later, a header from sub Pyke was straight at Logan. Then 2 minutes after that, Harness shanked an awful shot well wide.

Spencer replaced Rose on 77 minutes. Rose went off to chants and cheers from the Stags fans, and, comically, boos from the home fans who’d remained. It was sensible to rest Rose with him already on a yellow card in this game.

On 80 minutes, right back Gibbons tried his luck from 35 yards and was well wide.

It could have been 5-0 on 81 minutes when Hemmings laid the ball inside to CJ Hamilton who cut inside onto his right foot and fired just over the bar, trying to notch his first league goal for the Stags. Great play nonetheless. Then a great move from the Stags involving Hamilton, Hemmings and MacDonald but the ball forward into the area just evaded MacDonald.

More comical refereeing on 86 minutes. Tom Anderson fouled Spencer, wrestling him to the ground and pulling his shirt. Spencer hit the deck. Foul to Mansfield. Tongue booted the ball straight into Spencer’s face as he was on the ground. Spencer held his face, unsurprisingly. Ref Kettle booked Tongue, rightly. Then booked Spencer too, as he must have thought Spencer was play-acting. More really poor refereeing.

Butcher replaced Hemmings on 86 minutes.

On 87 minutes, good play from MacDonald cutting across the pitch from left to right trying to find room for a shot, and eventually he was fouled. MacDonald took the resulting free kick himself, 28 yards out. He hit it into the wall, it came back to him, and his low shot was just wide of the left post with the motionless keeper Boot well beaten.

The last meaningful action of the game was another good save from Logan. Worrell played the ball across, sub Montano headed down, and Pope turned and shot wonderfully bringing a super save from Logan.

The 537 Stags fans were left to celebrate this stunning away win.

On to the huge local derby with Chesterfield on Saturday. It could possibly be the biggest crowd at the One Call Stadium since the play-off semi-final against Northampton in 2004 (9243, the highest crowd since redevelopment). Anything over 7682 (vs Notts County in October 2004) would make it the highest crowd since then.

Man of the match: Great team performance, with Diamond and Bennett the pick of the bunch.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Vale Park



Line Up:
(4-4-2):
Logan 8.5 Commanding performance, including good punch away from a free kick, and catching another long ball into his area well off his line. Superb brave save at the feet of sub Montano in the second half, and wonderful save from Pope in stoppage time.
White 8 Defended well, including one great header away. Great run forward from well inside his own half to set Rose away for his goal. His cross also led to the 1st goal, via a kind bounce.
Diamond 9 Two well-taken goals on top of a very solid defensive display.
Bennett 9 Wonderful goal-saving tackle on Forrester as he was about to shoot, and another great tackle as Pugh was about to shoot. Other good clearances too.
Hunt 7 Harshly booked. Decent game.
Anderson 8 Put in a great tackle on Pope just as he was about to shoot, and superbly cleared Pope’s header off the line.
Byrom 7.5 Quick free kick led to the first goal. Some great balls forward, and one very good corner.
MacDonald 7 Disappointing first half, including slipping over leading to a Vale chance. Very good 2nd half, including fine play to set Hemmings away for the 4th goal, and his corner was knocked in by Diamond for the 2nd goal.
Hamilton 7 Fine play leading up to firing over the bar late on. Some good runs, and did well to win the corner which led to the second goal.
Rose 8 Wonderful left footed goal into the top right corner, off the underside of the bar. Continually roughed up throughout the first half by the home defence, and responded in the best possible manner.
Hemmings 8 Great finish for his goal, despite the ball initially getting stuck under his feet on the boggy surface. Great defensive work to head one off the line. Good game in open play.
Sub Line Up:
Atkinson (for Byrom, 70 mins) -
Spencer (for Rose, 77 mins) -
Butcher (for Hemmings, 86 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Pearce, Mellis, Sterling-James.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Boot; Gibbons, Smith, Anderson, Gunning; Worrall, Harness, Pugh (Tonge 72), Denton (Montaño 56); Forrester (Pyke 69), Pope. Subs not used: Hornby, Yates, Reeves, Turner.
Referee:
Trevor Kettle 4 Absolute stinker. The decision not to give Forrester a second yellow was astonishing. The decision to book Spencer was ludicrous given some of the fouls he didn’t punish.


Season 17/18 Reports