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Season 20/21 Stagsnet Match Report
Carabao Cup (English Football League Cup) - Round 1
Preston North End  
4 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Barkhuizen 14, Maguire 22, Bauer 28, Harrop 65
Attendance: behind closed doors
Date: 29 August 2020

Martin Shaw at Deepdale

Mansfield Town were beaten 4-0 by Preston North End in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Deepdale this afternoon, in the Stags’ first competitive game of the new season and first competitive game for 5.5 months. The scoreline reflected the superiority of Preston whose obvious quality was there to see. For the Stags, the game came too early as warned by manager Graham Coughlan in recent interviews with the EFL insisting the game was moved forward by a week, disrupting Mansfield’s pre-season plans. Preston, on the other hand, just a few weeks ago finished the Championship season only four points outside the play-offs for a place in the Premier League. The gulf in class here was obvious, and in addition it was not surprising that Preston looked better prepared in terms of match readiness. With all that said, it was disappointing to see the Stags gifting Preston some goals with poor defending and sometimes giving the ball away too cheaply, and that is something that Coughlan will be looking to iron out before the league campaign starts in two weeks.

The game being played behind closed doors was particularly disappointing as it was Mansfield’s first visit to Preston since 1998, and with the ground now developed into an excellent stadium fit for the Premier League, it would have attracted a large following in excess of a thousand fans from the Stags I think. The Stags have played Preston once since then, also in the League Cup, in 2004 at Field Mill, a game in which current Preston manager Alex Neill played for the Stags. That is two weeks running that the Stags have come up against former players as the opposition manager, with last week’s opponents Rotherham having a management team of three former Stags players in Paul Warne, Richie Barker and Matt Hamshaw.

Mansfield game full debuts to six of their new signings: Marek Stech, Rollin Menayese, Farrend Rawson, Corey O’Keeffe, James Perch and George Maris. Two more were on the bench and came on as substitutes: Aaron O’Driscoll and Jamie Reid. Of the other new signings, Ollie Clarke was not ready for a place in the 18 having had an injury during pre-season, but manager Coughlan hopes he will be ready for the first league game. And Jordan Bowery was not in the 18 as he suffered a bit of tightness. Indeed, Bowery being replaced by Danny Rose was the only change in the starting XI from the game against Rotherham a week ago. The final new signing, the 11th of pre-season, was the re-signing of Nicky Maynard, who is behind most of the squad having not been part of pre-season training. The only other unexpected omission from the 18 was Kellan Gordon who was doing some light training on the pitch in the warm up, with the other younger players who weren't in the 18.

This was the starting XI, (3-5-2):
Marek Stech (new signing);
Rollin Menayese (new signing, right side of back 3), Farrend Rawson (new signing), Ryan Sweeney (left side of back 3);
Corey O’Keeffe (new signing, right wing-back), Harry Charsley, James Perch (new signing), George Maris (new signing), Mal Benning (left wing-back);
Andy Cook, Danny Rose.

Squad numbers were announced a couple of hours before kick off and the only player omitted was Will Tomlinson who remains suspended pending further investigation, but as explained by Coughlan in the press conference on Thursday, was allowed to play on trial for Accrington Stanley and is free to leave the club.

Stech was in action after 3 minutes pushing away a header from Sean Maguire.

However it was the Stags who were making the stronger start and on 8 minutes a chance for Charsley but he was falling over as he tried to shoot from the edge of the area.

The Stags were desperately unlucky not to take the lead after 11 minutes with a good move. A nice ball forward from O’Keeffe for Rose to chase on the right, Rose played a good ball inside to Cook, who escaped his marker Bauer and fired against the inside of the post, the ball rebounding to Bauer who put it behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Charsley had a shot blocked for a corner.

But Preston took the lead after 14 minutes. A long ball forward from the keeper sailed over Rawson and Preston centre forward Maguire to fall for Brad Potts. Potts laid it off to the right to Tom Barkhuizen who fired a rocket shot across Stech and into the left corner of the net. Rawson could have done better but this was a great shot from former Morecambe man Barkhuizen. It was a blow for Mansfield having made such a positive start to be behind.

Preston made it 2-0 after 22 minutes. Maris lost the ball just inside the Preston half and fouled his man tried to get it back, the referee played advantage and Harrop laid a fantastic ball into the path of Sean Maguire who was through on goal and slid his shot past Stech. A clinical finish from Maguire, who scored his first goal for the Republic of Ireland in November.

Perch was booked for a late tackle after 24 minutes.

Great play from O’Keeffe after 25 minutes as he crossed superbly from the right but Cook couldn’t quite get to it.

Preston scored a third after 28 minutes and this was very poor defending from Mansfield. A corner from the left went through a crowd of players to the far post where centre half Patrick Bauer had got away from Rawson to knock in from close range. Poor marking from Rawson.

A chance for the Stags after 32 minutes. O’Keeffe’s free kick from the left was met by a glancing header from Sweeney which drifted wide of the right post. At the other end on 36 minutes, Harrop’s shot from the edge of the area gave a routine save for Stech.

In the latter stages of the half, Preston kept the ball for long stretches with Mansfield chasing shadows.

After 45+2 minutes, Rawson did well to throw himself in front of a shot from Josh Earl to partially redeem his earlier error.

So Preston 3-0 ahead at half time. Some of the defending had been disappointing, but there had been promising moments for the Stags too with Cook unlucky to hit the inside of the post and O’Keeffe really impressing on the right.

Half time 3-0

The Stags started the second half well, as they had started the first.

After 46 minutes, a good opportunity for Cook but smashed a shot from just inside the area over the bar.

Then following a free kick after 48 minutes, Rose found Sweeney but he tried to lay off again rather than shooting and the chance was gone. The Stags guilty of overplaying in the box.

On 51 minutes, a free kick from Benning from the right bounced off Cook at the near post and wide for a goal kick.

At the other end after 52 minutes, Stech produced a brilliant save as a shot from Tom Bayliss, who played against us for Coventry, was deflected and Stech reacted quickly with his left boot as he was going the wrong way.

Benning was visibly frustrated with himself after 59 minutes as he overhit a diagonal ball forward. He wasn’t having a good game.

The Stags made a double changed after 63 minutes. Tyrese Sinclair replaced Perch, while Aaron O’Driscoll replaced Rawson for his debut. Sinclair went into an attacking midfield role, where Perch had played in a defensive midfield role.

There was more poor defending from Mansfield as Preston made it 4-0 after 65 minutes. Potts had far too much space to come forward and lay off to Barkhuizen on the right, who was also in far too much space where Benning should have been. Barkhuizen’s low ball in found Harrop in acres of space 9 yards from goal, with time to take a touch and fire past Stech.

Poor marking again from Mansfield after 71 minutes as a free kick from Preston sub Ledson found Barkhuizen unmarked and he headed wide.

Mansfield made their final change after 76 minutes as Jamie Reid replaced Rose for his debut.

After 77 minutes a clearance from Menayese only reached Potts who fired over the bar from the edge of the area.

Great play from Jamie Reid after 82 minutes as he played the ball inside Huntington and would have been past him but Huntington deliberately handled and picked up a yellow card. The resulting free kick was taken by Benning whose kick was straight into the wall. When Sinclair is on the pitch he should be taking these set pieces in my opinion.

Menayese made a good block on the edge of his area on 84 minutes.

The Stags finished the game on the front foot as Tyrese Sinclair’s goalbound shot after 90 minutes was blocked on the line and the Stags had a couple of corners in stoppage time but they came to nothing.

So Preston ran out resounding winners and deservedly so. They were far too good for Mansfield and so impressive in possession, which they had for long spells. No lack of effort from the Stags but understandably they did not look ready for this game against a side of the quality of Preston. The defending needs to improve and the manager will know that. On the positive side, O’Keeffe had a really impressive game with some good crosses and passing. Jamie Reid looks sharp when he came on and caused the defence some problems, while Tyrese Sinclair impressed as substitute too. And especially important was that it didn’t appear that the Stags picked up any injuries. I think the midfield will be strengthened by the inclusion of Ollie Clarke when he is ready after injury and up front the Stags will be hoping that Nicky Maynard can again be in the top two scorers in the league this season, as he was last season. Meanwhile on this showing, I wouldn’t be surprised if Preston are there or thereabouts fighting for promotion to the Premier League.

For the Stags, the next game is an EFL Trophy game against Manchester City U21 on Tuesday 8 September (kick off 6pm, match pass available on iFollow Stags), before the first league game on 12 September. Coughlan will also probably organise a friendly next Saturday if he can find some suitable opposition.

Man of the Match: Corey O’Keeffe

Report by: Martin Shaw at Deepdale

Line Up:
Stech 6 Briliant save with his boot from Bayliss. Not at fault for the goals.
Menayese 6 Did ok.
Rawson 4 Could have done better for the first goal. Poor marking for the third goal.
Sweeney 5.5 Beaten in the air for Maguire’s free header. Otherwise ok.
O’Keeffe 8 Really impressive game with some good crosses and passing.
Charsley 6 Had a couple of shots. Plenty of energy. Ok.
Perch 4.5 Played in a defensive midfield role. Didn’t look fully match fit.
Maris 4.5 Off the pace. Lost the ball in the build-up to the second goal.
Benning 4.5 Out of place for the fourth goal. Some poor passes.
Cook 6 Great play when he was unlucky to hit the inside of the post.
Rose 6 Did ok. A couple of good lay-offs.
Sub Line Up:
Sinclair (for Perch, 63) - Impressed as substitute.
O’Driscoll (for Rawson, 63) - Ok.
Reid (for Rose, 76) - Looked sharp when he came on and caused the defence some problems.
Subs not used: Stone, J.Clarke, Knowles, Smith.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Ripley; Browne, Huntington, Bauer, Earl; Pearson (Rafferty, 70), Bayliss (Ledson, 70); Barkhuizen, Potts, Harrop; Maguire (Scott Sinclair, 74). Subs not used: Hudson, Davies, Stockley, Bodin.
Ross Joyce

Season 20/21 Reports