ABSYMAL STAGS OUTPLAYED BY OXFORD
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Oxford United 3 - 0 Mansfield Town
MacDonald 31, 54, Hylton pen 63
Attendance: 6,954 (322 from Mansfield)
Date: 21 February 2015
Martin Shaw at the Kassam Stadium
This was an abysmal performance from Mansfield Town who were outplayed by an out-of-form Oxford side who cantered to a 3-0 victory, albeit assisted by some poor refereeing decisions. On a bobbly pitch shared with London Welsh, it was a scrappy game and the Stags barely put together a decent move in the 90 minutes. At the back, the Stags were nowhere near tight enough, allowing far too many crosses into the box, and then not winning balls when they came into the middle. The Stags weren’t helped by a referee in Andy Woolmer who had an absolute shocker, but the defeat cannot be blamed on that. Oxford took the lead after 31 minutes when Baldock was able to cross from the right, Pidgeley went up for the cross with Danny Hylton and was clearly fouled, allowing Alex MacDonald to roll into the empty net. Pidgeley was furious at the decision to allow the goal. Having said Pidgeley should have got a free-kick, he could also have been stronger in claiming the ball. MacDonald, Oxford’s man of the match, is their big money and big wages signing from Burton and shows Oxford’s intent in pushing up the table, and he led the Stags a merry dance. The Stags created almost nothing going forward though could have gone ahead in bizarre circumstances when Vadaine Oliver’s shot from a tight angle bobbled in front of keeper Ryan Clarke who nearly fumbled it into the net on 4 minutes. The only other time the Stags came close to scoring was a fine volley from Heslop on 42 minutes which took a couple of deflections and went agonisingly a yard the wrong side of the post. The Stags really haven’t had much luck with deflections throughout this season. Indeed MacDonald himself scored against the Stags with a twice-deflected shot earlier in the season for Burton. In the second half, more poor defending from Mansfield allowed MacDonald a second goal on 54 minutes, and Oxford made it 3-0 on 63 minutes when Hylton scored from the penalty spot after another poor refereeing decision when Patrick Hoban dived with no contact from Ryan Tafazolli (confirmed from the match DVD). There were some more incredible refereeing decisions, none more so than when Danny Hylton, already booked for an elbow that could have been a straight red, deliberately flicked the ball over Pidgeley with his hand, the referee saw it and gave a free-kick and didn’t give a second yellow. Astonishing. Oxford, probably embarrassed by the generosity of the decision, immediately substituted Hylton. And another terrible decision when Tafazolli cleanly won the ball, yet was penalised for a foul and booked. But none of that excuses this abysmal performance from Mansfield. No doubt that Mansfield were at a big disadvantage having played such a tough game against Luton in midweek on a heavy surface and would not have been as fresh as Oxford. So a good job then that Mansfield have a free week now to recharge the batteries before a huge game against Dagenham next Saturday, when the Stags need to bounce back. But the Stags lack of consistency is a worry. The Stags are four points above the relegation zone.
FULL REPORT TO FOLLOW
Saturday, 21st February 2015: Oxford United 3, Mansfield Town 0
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
A toothless Mansfield Town were well beaten as they crashed 3-0 away to relegation rivals Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon.
Trailing 1-0 to an Alex MacDonald goal at the break after a scrappy first half, there was at least hope of Stags stepping up a gear after the break.
Instead the visitors barely left their half and home keeper Ryan Clarke had the easiest of afternoons.
Indeed, his only real save was a poor Oliver shot that spun up off a divot en route in the first half.
Otherwise Mansfield created very little and got what they deserved on the day as another MacDonald goal and a Danny Hylton penalty sealed three vital points for Oxford on a poor surface.
The win saw Oxford leapfrog Mansfield in the relegation scrap as they chalked up an identical score to last season in this fixture.
Mansfield gave a debut to loanee Brighton & Hove Albion winger Jeffrey Monakana. The former Arsenal trainee has joined the club for an initial month.
He came in for the injured Reggie Lambe, who limped off with a hamstring problem in Tuesday night’s sparkling 1-0 win over Luton Town.
It was the only change as Adam Murray kept faith with the players who served him so well for a second game against one of his former clubs in five days.
Monakana occasionally showed glimpses of his pace and strength, but he couldn’t open up Oxford and the supply to him was abysmal in the second half as he remained a spectator for much of it.
In the second minute Tafazolli and Oliver both headed on a long throw from Elder from the left, but the ball sailed across the edge of the six yard box with no one able to capitalise.
Monakana’s first run down the right was halted by the challenge of Wright.
On four minutes the home side won the game’s first corner. Taken by O’Dowda from the right, it reached Long at the near post who was afforded a chance to turn it home, but slotted wide.
Monakana went on a promising burst into the box but sliced a poor finish wide.
Oliver almost grabbed a goal out of nothing on six minutes when his scuffed shot seemed to hit a divot and had Clarke in all kinds of trouble as he half-stopped it and watched it bounce dangerously near goal.
A MacDonald cross clipped Ravenhill which almost made it creep under the bar, Pidgeley tipping over for a corner, from which Hylton headed wide.
Thomas was well wide with a hurried shot from 20 yards as we entered the 17th minute.
A minute later Baldock left Elder on the floor as he got past him and sent in a dangerous cross that Hoban headed wide.
Ex-Stag Mullins got in the way of a Heslop drive, then Thomas made it three yellow cards in as many starts with a foul on Wright on 20 minutes.
Monakana went on an exciting run on 29 minutes, almost setting up Oliver until Mullins came in with the challenge.
However, it was United who drew first blood on 31 minutes.
Baldock crossed from the right and Pidgeley came for it but failed to get there as the ball bounced invitingly for MacDonald to lash home from seven yards into an empty net.
MacDonald then sent over another ball from the right which saw Hoban get up well but his header lacked enough power to trouble Pidgeley.
Heslop almost levelled two minutes from the break as a half-clearance reached him 20 yards out and his volley took a deflection inches wide with Clarke helpless.
In stoppage time Oliver headed away a Collins free kick and then blocked Ruffels’ follow-up as Stags went in 1-0 down with work to do.
Stags were worried about Thomas getting a second yellow card and also the lack of support up front for Oliver. So for the second half Thomas was replaced by Bingham, who went up front in a 4-4-2.
Two minutes in, a MacDonald cross took a deflection and Hoban planted a firm header just wide.
On 50 minutes MacDonald tried a low shot from 25 yards which zipped across the surface and Pidgeley turned wide for a corner.
A challenge between Hylton and Riley left Riley on the ground and players pushing and shoving, Hylton eventually booked.
MacDonald then doubled his and Oxford’s tally with goal number two on 54 minutes.
Tafazolli’s superb tackle prevented Hylton getting his shot away. The ball ran to O’Dowda who beat a defender and fired at goal where Pidgeley saved, but the ball then reached MacDonald who drilled an unstoppable finish inside the left post.
Tafazolli slid into a tackle on Hoban on 58 minutes. He won the ball well but the referee decided the tackle was dangerous and produced a yellow card.
Oxford attacked down the left and Long’s cross was put wide by Hylton.
We had reached the hour mark and Stags had barely left their own half since the break.
On 63 minutes it was game, set and match to Oxford as they bagged a third goal.
Tafazolli brought down Hoban in the box and there were no complaints as the referee pointed to the spot.
Hylton stepped up to send Pidgeley the wrong way with the coolest of finishes.
Kee replaced Oliver in the Mansfield attack on 72 minutes and three minutes later Lambe took from Brown.
Hylton was lucky not to get a red card as he intercepted a Riley backheader towards Pidgeley with his hand and tried to finish.
Pidgeley was then lucky as his kick hit Roberts and bounced back past his goal.
Roberts also blazed a far post volley well over in United’s next attack.
Stags fans just wanted to hear the final whistle, but the officials tortured them with an additional six minutes.
But there was no way Stags were going to score if he had added six hours on an afternoon to forget for the visitors.
OXFORD: Clarke, Mullins, Wright, Hoban, Hylton (Roberts 75), MacDonald (Roofe 71), Baldock, Ruffels, O’Dowda, Collins (Whing 88), Long. Subs not used: Rose, Ashdown, Rasulo, Dunkley.?STAGS: Pidgeley; Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder; Ravenhill, Thomas (Bingham HT), Heslop; Monakana, Oliver (Kee 72), Brown (Lambe 75). Subs not used: Studer, Rhead, McGuire, Beevers.
REFEREE: Andy Woolmer of Northamptonshire.
ATTENDANCE: 6,964 (322 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Tafazolli.
Oxford United 3 (MacDonald 31 & 54, Hylton pen 63), Mansfield Tn 0
Oxfor Mail report
ALEX MacDonald scored twice to ease the pressure on Oxford United as they claimed a confidence-boosting win against Mansfield Town.
The January signing's tap-in put a nervy United ahead before the break and he came up with a quality finish to make it 2-0 early in the second half.
A hard-working Patrick Hoban won a penalty, converted by Danny Hylton, to secure the points.
It was United's biggest margin of victory this season - and given the context it was arguably their most important, as the gap to the bottom two stretched to six points.
An injury ruled out Joe Skarz, forcing one of three changes to the United XI which had lost 2-0 at Burton Albion.
Sam Long came in as a makeshift left back, while Josh Ruffels and MacDonald replaced Andy Whing and Josh Ashby.
United had worked hard to build the game up, but all the preparation work almost fell flat as the side made a nervous start.
Long, who had shot a whisker wide from an early corner, mis-controlled to gift Jeffrey Monakana a run on goal.
Fortunately the debutant could only fire wide under pressure from the covering Jake Wright.
The uneven playing surface played a role in Long's mistake, and a bobble nearly caught out Ryan Clarke seconds later.
Striker Vadaine Oliver's shot looked relatively harmless, but the goalkeeper had to readjust at the last moment after the ball hit a bobble.
United looked disjointed, but their better moments came down the right flank.
George Baldock, making his home debut, dug out an excellent cross on 18 minutes which Hoban headed over.
There was very little in a scrappy game, but just after the half hour mark United opened the scoring.
Baldock was again the provider, delivering a cross which Mansfield goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley missed under pressure from Hoban.
The ball fell kindly to an unmarked MacDonald, who could not miss from close range.
It was just the lift United wanted and all ten outfield players flocked to the goalscorer to congratulate him.
The goal had little impact on the game, which remained scrappy up to half-time.
Aside from Monakana, Mansfield carried little threat, although Simon Heslop came close with a 42nd-minute shot which struck a teammate to leave Clarke wrong-footed. Fortunately for the hosts, it dropped a yard wide.
A one-goal cushion always looked like it would be vulnerable, so it was encouraging to see United start the second half strongly.
Hoban headed wide after a cross from MacDonald, who then tested Pidgeley with a shot from range.
The deadline day signing added his second goal of the afternoon nine minutes into the half, ending an almighty scramble in the Mansfield box.
United appealed for a penalty after Hylton tumbled, but the ball fell to O'Dowda. The winger danced through and his shot was well saved.
The ball fell to Michael Collins, who squared for MacDonald to brilliantly thread a shot into the far corner.
A second goal eased the pressure and United were in no mood to sit on their lead.
Just after the hour mark a long throw from MacDonald found Hoban, who was too quick for Ryan Tafazolli's lunge in the box.
MacDonald, on a hat-trick, wanted the penalty, but Hylton waved him away and calmly tucked home from 12 yards.
The top scorer's afternoon might have take a turn for the worse ten minutes later.
Already on a booking, he appeared to get away with a deliberate handball and was immediately substituted.
James Roberts almost made it 4-0 seconds after coming on when he charged down a Pidgeley clearance, sending the ball ricocheting just wide.
The striker also volleyed over from an O'Dowda cross, before United calmly ran down the clock.
Mansfield, whose only shot on target came in the fifth minute, looked a beaten side and were unable to build any late pressure.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Baldock, Mullins, Wright, Long, MacDonald (Roofe 71), Collins (Whing 88), Ruffels, O'Dowda, Hylton (Roberts 76), Hoban.
Unused subs: Ashdown, Dunkley, Rose, Rasulo.
Mansfield Tn: Pidgeley, Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder, Ravenhill, Monakana, Heslop, Thomas (Bingham ht), Brown (Lambe 75), Oliver (Kee 73).
Unused subs: Studer, Rhead, McGuire, Beevers.
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).
Attendance: 6,954 (322 visitors).
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