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Season 20/21 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
0 - 0
 Tranmere Rovers
Attendance: behind closed doors
Date: 12 September 2020


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town put in an encouraging performance in the opening league game of the delayed 2020/21 season, behind closed doors at the One Call Stadium, but were held to a 0-0 draw by Tranmere Rovers. The Stags were on top from start to finish but despite one chance hitting the underside of the bar and other near misses, the Stags were unable to break the deadlock.
The lack of a goal in the three competitive fixtures played so far is a bit of a worry, but I came away optimistic from this performance that the Stags side is coming together quickly despite so many new signings.
Tranmere created only one half-chance in the entire 90 minutes, as Marek Stech pushed away a long range shot from Kieron Morris, and the Stags defence looked solid. Plenty of the Stags side came out with credit, especially right wing-back Corey O’Keeffe who had a terrific game, Andy Cook who is back at the club after being on loan at Tranmere in the second part of last season, also had a great game, and the midfield of Ollie Clarke, George Maris and Harry Charsley all impressed.
Young Tyrese Sinclair came on for his league debut in the closing stages and was so nearly the hero in stoppage time when his long range shot was saved one-handed by the Tranmere keeper.
The best of the Stags’ other chances came as Tranmere left-back Liam Ridehalgh inadvertently knocked the ball against the underside of his own bar from a Mal Benning free kick, Harry Charsley shot wide from just inside the box, Jordan Bowery should have scored in a 1-on-1 with the keeper after great play from Andy Cook to set up the chance but Bowery allowed the keeper to grab the ball at his feet, Cook headed wide from a terrific O’Keeffe cross, Bowery headed wide when completely unmarked from a superb George Maris cross, Cook headed straight at the keeper from another great O’Keeffe cross, and Cook’s shot after a great turn was deflected wide.

The Stags handed full debuts to 7 of the 11 close-season new signings: Marek Stech, Rollin Menayese, Farrend Rawson, Corey O’Keeffe, Ollie Clarke, George Maris, and Jordan Bowery. It was the now-familiar 3-5-2 formation. Charsley was in an attacking midfield position. Danny Rose was not in the 18 having had a week off training due to a niggle, Nicky Maynard was only on the bench not being quite ready in terms of match intensity, while Stephen McLaughlin signed on Friday was also not yet ready in terms of fitness.

The Stags starting XI was squad numbers 1-11 which does not happen very often these days. As pointed out by Mansfield Musings in an excellent new blog, only two players started who started the last league game (at Northampton in March), Sweeney and Charsley.

Tranmere included Otis Khan in midfield, Khan of course left Mansfield in the close season.

The game being played behind closed doors is such a disappointment to thousands of Stags fans who would love to have attended, and we hope that fans might be allowed into stadiums in October in a socially distanced manner. Whether that will happen in October now with the current increase in COVID-19 infection rate, I don’t know. Mansfield’s 1500 season ticket holders were emailed a code to watch the match on iFollow Stags, and other fans could buy a match pass for £10. It’s not the same as being there, of course it’s not, but I hope we brought you good coverage nonetheless.

The Stags went so close after just 7 minutes. Mal Benning’s free kick from the left was inadvertently knocked into the ground and up and against the underside of his own bar by Tranmere left-back Liam Ridehalgh. Two minutes later, great control from Cook to get the ball to Bowery, Bowery shot from the edge of the area but a block from a defender took the sting out of it and it dribbled to the keeper. A good intricate move from the Stags after 14 minutes involving Maris, Charsley and Cook ended with Maris unable to get a shot away.

The Stags were right on top, with Cook winning plenty of headers.

After 21 minutes, Cook headed down an Ollie Clarke cross for Charsley who miscued a shot wide of the left post from just inside the box. Moments later, more good play with a cross from O’Keeffe which Cook headed down but it was just behind Benning. Then Maris found O’Keeffe in space in the area and O’Keeffe’s cross was blocked.

Tranmere created a half-chance after 25 minutes which was to be their only real one in the entire 90 minutes, as Marek Stech pushed away a long range shot from Kieron Morris. Four minutes later, Sweeney threw himself in front of a cross-shot from Morris.

The Stags should have been ahead through after 30 minutes through Jordan Bowery who should have scored in a 1-on-1 with the keeper, after great play from Cook to wrestle the ball off Monthe to set up the chance, but Bowery allowed the keeper to grab the ball at his feet.

After 41 minutes, a terrific cross from O’Keeffe from the right and Cook headed wide at the far post.

Frustration for the Stags at the break, completely on top but unable to break the deadlock.

Half time 0-0

15 seconds into the second half another glorious chance for Bowery. Maris curled in a superb cross and Bowery headed wide when completely unmarked from near the penalty spot. Perhaps it was a fraction between Bowery but he would be disappointed with that.

On 49 minutes, a chance for Benning from the edge of the area from Charsley’s pull-back, but Benning didn’t get hold of his right-footed shot and it was blocked. Three minutes later, after O’Keeffe did brilliantly to win a corner, Benning’s corner was cleared to Ollie Clarke on the edge of the area and his powerful shot was blocked.

Another good move from Mansfield after 56 minutes started with Cook showing great desire to win the ball off O’Connor, and eventually O’Keeffe stood up a great cross to the far post where Cook headed straight at the keeper.

Bowery controlled well moments later to get the ball to Charsley, Charsley turned and his shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner taken by Maris, Cook controlled superbly, turned and shot all in one movement, but it was deflected wide.

After 65 minutes, O’Keeffe nipped in to win the ball back after Bowery lost it, but O’Keeffe shot well wide from 25 yards. Five minutes later, Benning volleyed a right-footed snapshot over the bar from just outside the area.

Maynard replaced Bowery after 75 minutes. It hadn’t really been Bowery’s day.

Tranmere wanted a penalty after 77 minutes as Vaughan and Sweeney tangled but there was nothing in it.

A half chance after 83 minutes as Cook laid off to Clarke whose shot from 20 yards was blocked.

Tyrese Sinclair replaced Charsley after 83 minutes. Charsley had played really well.

An ambitious effort from Ollie Banks from 40 yards after 84 minutes, was about 20 yards wide.

Three minutes from time, Cook turned 28 yards out, took a couple of paces and fired into the side netting. Last season he scored three times from similar positions, including Plymouth away and Northampton at home, out of nothing.

Sinclair, on for his league debut, was so nearly the hero two minutes into stoppage time, when his long range shot was saved one-handed by the Tranmere keeper.

So frustration for the Stags with a 0-0 draw. But an encouraging performance as Mansfield made all the running. On to Leyton Orient next Saturday.

Man of the match: Corey O’Keeffe. Andy Cook a close second.

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

Line Up:
Stech 7 Pushed away a long range shot, otherwise little to do in a competent league debut.
Menayese 7 Very solid league debut. Won headers and showed good composure with some good passing.
Rawson 7 Very solid league debut. Won plenty of headers.
Sweeney 7 One great block and also won plenty of headers. The new look back four looked very solid.
O'Keeffe 9 Terrific league debut. Plenty of great crosses.
O.Clarke 7 The new captain looked good in midfield on his league debut. A couple of shots blocked.
Maris 7 Superb cross for Bowery’s header. Good game.
Charsley 7 Played really well in attacking midfield role.
Benning 6.5 His free kick led to the near own goal against the underside of the bar. A couple of shots which he didn’t get hold of.
Bowery 5.5 Looked rusty. Should have done better with the best two chances, a 1-on-1 with the keeper and a free header in the area.
Cook 8 Very good game, winning lots of headers, and showing great desire to win the ball.
Sub Line Up:
Maynard (for Bowery, 75 mins) -
Sinclair (for Charsley, 83 mins) - Nearly the hero with his stoppage time shot saved one-handed.
Subs not used: Stone, Gordon, Perch, O'Driscoll, Reid.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-5-1): Davies; O’Connor, P.Clarke, Monthe, Ridehalgh; Morris, Spearing, Banks, MacDonald (Ellis 64), Khan; Vaughan (Payne 90). Unused subs: Murphy, Nelson, Hayden, Lewis, Walker-Rice.
James Bell 7 Handled the game well.

Season 20/21 Reports