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Season 19/20 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
3 - 0
 Bradford City
Rose 7, Maynard 43, Cook 77
Attendance: 5537 (1467 from Bradford)
Date: 25 January 2020


Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town produced a magnificent performance to beat fifth-placed Bradford City by 3-0 at a rocking One Call Stadium this afternoon. Bradford had conceded only 7 goals in their previous 11 games, but were routed by a relentless performance from the Stags which could have seen the margin for victory even greater. Indeed Bradford manager Gary Bowyer admitted after the game that his side were “second best all over” and it was “the first time (this season) we can say for 90 minutes we were second best”.
Stags manager Graham Coughlan wants his team to play a high pressing game and for the first time since he took over, his players were able to carry it out for the full 90 minutes, showing the reward for extra training that has been done over recent weeks.
The Stags’ goals came from Danny Rose, with a towering header from a pinpoint Alex MacDonald cross, from Nicky Maynard with a close range header from a Mal Benning corner, and from substitute Andy Cook, who turned and beat the keeper with a quick shot following a throw-in. It was the third time in eight games that Cook has received a throw-in and scored with an instant shot which caught the keeper out.
But the Stags went very close on several other occasions, while Bradford really only threatened once as Mal Benning did really well to block an early shot from Dylan Connolly.
So many outstanding performances throughout the Mansfield side with Alex MacDonald fantastic in midfield with a non-stop display, Nicky Maynard and Danny Rose continually chasing down the Bradford back line, Neal Bishop and Harry Charsley (on his home debut) continually getting a foot in to win the ball and break up Bradford’s play, CJ Hamilton looking dangerous on the left wing despite being double-marked, Joe Riley producing an excellent and composed debut at right back, Mal Benning superb at left back, and Ryan Sweeney and Krystian Pearce brilliant at centre half, winning everything. And keeper Bobby Olejnik caught or punched just every cross into the box while not having a save to make.

The Stags had only won one game since October which had seen them drop to within five points of the single relegation place before this game. There is no doubt that this victory lifts some of the pressure that had been building because of the league position, but of course, as manager Coughlan said after the game “one swallow does not make a summer” and this needs to be the building block for a good run of results.
The Stags go to Oldham on Tuesday night. If you can’t get to the game, you can watch it with us on iFollow Stags by buying a match pass.

Mansfield made two changes to the side that played well but lost at Plymouth. Joe Riley, who was announced as a new signing a couple of hours before kick off, came in at right back, for the injured Hayden White. And Harry Charsley, who signed a week ago, made his first start, with Matt Preston dropping to the bench.
Riley is a 28 year old, who left Plymouth a couple of days ago after being there for 18 months, and he had previously been promoted with Bury. His career has been punctuated by a series of injuries and it is a sensible decision by Mansfield to give him a contract until the end of the season with a view to extending it if he stays injury-free. Manager Coughlan explained pre-match that he wanted Riley to bring some defensive stability, and get up and down the pitch.
Preston has been out of form, and it was a sensible decision to drop him to the bench. Manager Coughlan gave an endorsement to Preston in his pre-match interview saying that he will get his form back, and that form is temporary .. class is permanent.
The Stags switched to 4-4-2.
Coughlan also mentioned pre-match that he had not played Preston and Sweeney together as a pairing in a back four as he was scratching his head trying to find a partnership.
Charsley was in central midfield, alongside Bishop.
Tomlinson returned to the bench after injury, in place of Smith, and Knowles was on the bench in place of Davies.

Bradford were without the suspended James Vaughan, who scored both goals in the game at Valley Parade at the end of the December. They included League Two top scorer Eoin Doyle, though all of Doyle’s goals this season have come for Swindon on loan, and none for Bradford.

It was a cold but dry day in Mansfield, with no wind.

The Stags created the first chance after 3 minutes. Joe Riley’s free kick into the box was headed across by Pearce, and Maynard turned and fired tamely wide.

Bradford created a good chance after 5 minutes, and it turned out to be easily their best chance of the match. Dylan Connolly was in space just inside the box and his goalbound shot was superbly blocked by Benning. The ball immediately broke to Hamilton who embarked on a good run, then laid back to Benning who had joined him up front, and Benning’s cross was back-flicked over the bar by Rose.

Mansfield took the lead after 7 minutes though Danny Rose, with a towering header from a pinpoint Alex MacDonald cross from the right, after Joe Riley had played the ball to Maynard who played back to MacDonald. It was a classic Danny Rose goal.

The Stags were within a whisker of making it 2-0 after 11 minutes. A short corner from the left was played to Harry Charsley who crossed in, Neal Bishop flicked on, and Ryan Sweeney swept the ball on the volley inches wide of the left post and against the back stanchion.

After 16 minutes, Charsley picked up the ball and ran to the edge of the area before unleashing a powerful shot which was blocked. It was great to see such positive intent, bearing in mind that only one goal has come from the Stags central midfield all season (MacDonald at Walsall). And three minutes, MacDonald tried a shot from 30 yards which fizzed past the left post.

After 24 minutes, a corner from MacDonald came back to him, he crossed and Sweeney headed straight at the keeper. Brilliant play from Hamilton to win a corner two minutes later though it didn’t come to anything.

The opening half an hour had been totally one-sided. Could Mansfield keep it up?

A rare shot for Bradford after 33 minutes as Shay McCartan tried a pot-shot from 30 yards wide of the left post.

A minute later, a good clearance from Benning from a low cross. Then after 39 minutes, a good header away by Benning from a cross from Doyle.

The Stags went close after 41 minutes. Benning’s free kick was cleared up in the air by defender Anthony O’Connor, the keeper came out and didn’t get to it, and the ball was headed just wide of the empty net by Sweeney though the referee strangely awarded a corner.

After 42 minutes, the Stags went close again. Benning’s corner from the right was headed back across goal by Rose to Pearce whose goalbound header was tipped away by the keeper and Chris Taylor headed behind for a corner.

The Stags deservedly made it 2-0 after 43 minutes. The Stags had had a series of corners, and from the latest one, Benning’s delivery found to the far post found Maynard who had drifted away from his marker and headed into the bottom left corner of the net from 5 yards.

A stunning first half from Mansfield, deservedly two goals ahead which could easily have been more. Great intensity and fight from the Stags and the goal just before half time gave a real boost to the confidence to set the team up for the second half.

Half time 2-0

Five minutes into the second half a crunching challenge from MacDonald in front of the dugouts highlighted the commitment of the team. We asked Macca about it after the game, and he said it shook every bone in his body.

Meanwhile the Bradford fans were chanting “we’re f***ing s**t” at their own team. Remember that the Bradford fans were booing their own team and getting on their backs whilst winning against Mansfield at the end of December.

After 61 minutes, McCartan fired a shot from 35 yards about the same distance over the bar.

A mistake from the Stags after 63 minutes. Pearce played a backpass to Olejnik at an awkward height, but Olejnik inexplicably caught it. The referee had no choice but to award an indirect free kick just outside the six yard box to the left of centre. The Stags pulled every player back into the six yard box. Jamie Devitt rolled the ball to Eoin Doyle whose shot was blocked by the advancing MacDonald for a corner.

A minute later, Olejnik did well to catch a long free kick into the Stags box.

Great play by Mansfield after 67 minutes. Benning intercept a clearance by the keeper on the halfway line, surged forward and laid a lovely ball forward into the box for Hamilton to run onto, Hamilton pulled his cross back but it was just behind the advancing Maynard.

The Stags fans were loving this, seeing the fighting spirit and desire of their team.

Mansfield made a double change after 73 minutes as Cook and Knowles replaced Maynard and Rose up front. Both Maynard and Rose had demonstrated fantastic work rate in addition to their goals. By putting two fresh pairs of legs up front, it enabled Mansfield to continue the high press which had been so effective.

After 75 minutes, a good tackle by Pearce on Doyle.

The Stags made it 3-0 after 77 minutes. Benning’s throw-in from level with the edge of the area on the left was towards Cook, who let it roll across his body and then on the turn fired low and hard into the bottom right corner of the net. It was the third time in eight games that Cook has received a throw-in and scored with an instant shot which caught the keeper out, and the second time in two games that he has done it within minutes of coming on as sub. Incredible for lightning to strike again and clearly it is not luck that Cook continues to do this.

Brilliant play by MacDonald after 79 minutes to charge the ball down, burst forward and fire a goalbound shot straight at the keeper from 25 yards.

McCartan was again miles over the bar with a shot from the edge of the box after 82 minutes.

A magnificent move from Mansfield after 83 minutes. Benning laid forward to Hamilton, who played forward to Knowles, Knowles held the ball up cleverly, turned, and laid the ball forward into the box for Hamilton to run on to, and Hamilton fired over the bar under pressure from Kelvin Mellor. What a goal that would have been if it had gone in.

Tomlinson replaced Charsley after 83 minutes. Charsley came off to a great ovation on his home and full debut.

A strange moment after 84 minutes as a Bradford cross from the right, which looked as though it had gone out of play, landed on the top of the bar and Mansfield eventually scrambled the ball away.

Benning was booked after 89 minutes for being too slow taking a free kick. A bit harsh but also a bit silly from Benning when you’re 3-0 up.

So the first clean sheet under Graham Coughlan, and the first home win too. Indeed just the third home win of the season. On to Oldham on Tuesday.

Man of the match: Alex MacDonald

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Line Up:
Olejnik 7 Caught or punched just every cross into the box while not having a save to make. One mistake when he caught Pearce’s backpass.
Riley 8 Excellent and composed debut at right back.
Pearce 8 Brilliant at centre half, winning everything.
Sweeney 8 Brilliant at centre half, winning everything.
Benning 9 Superb at left back. Good corner for Maynard’s goal. Technically an assist for Cook’s goal too! Superb block at 0-0 was critical.
MacDonald 9 Fantastic in midfield with a non-stop display. Pinpoint cross for Rose’s goal.
Bishop 8 Continually getting a foot in to win the ball and break up Bradford’s play.
Charsley 8 He helped to set the tone with a run at goal and shot. Great home debut.
Hamilton 8 Dangerous on the left wing despite being double-marked.
Maynard 8 Lost his marker for his goal. Continually chased down the Bradford back line, and demonstrated fantastic work rate.
Rose 8 Great header for his goal. Like Maynard, continually chased down the Bradford back line, and demonstrated fantastic work rate.
Sub Line Up:
Cook (for Maynard, 73 mins) - His goal was the third time in eight games that he has received a throw-in and scored with an instant shot which caught the keeper out.
Knowles (for Rose, 73 mins) - Lovely pass to put Hamilton in on goal.
Tomlinson (for Charsley, 83 mins) -
Subs not used: Stone, Preston, Clarke, Khan.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-1-1): McGee; Henley (Donaldson 76), A.O'Connor, Richards-Everton, Wood; Connolly, Reeves (Devitt 57), Taylor, Pritchard (Mellor 57); McCartan; Doyle. Subs not used: Sykes-Kenworthy, P.O'Connor, Oteh, Cooke.
Will Finnie 7 Handled the game well. The first time he’s reffed a Stags game.

Season 19/20 Reports