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Season 20/21 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 2
 Exeter City
Menayese 20.
 Rawson OG 40, Key 76
Attendance: behind closed doors
Date: 26 September 2020


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were beaten 2-1 by Exeter City at the One Call Stadium on Saturday. The Stags had started well in the opening half an hour and were good value for the lead given to them by Rollin Menayese in a well-worked corner kick routine. But in the end Exeter deservedly claimed all three points thanks to goals from two corners, both dreadfully defended by the Stags. The Stags ran out of ideas in the second half after twice going close in the opening 3 minutes of the second half and never looked like winning the game after that point. It was Mansfield’s first defeat of the league season, but with no wins in the opening three games they sit down in 19th place. Too early to make a judgement on the league table of course, but the Stags need to be defending better than this from corners clearly, and need to be more creative going forward.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that was pegged back by Leyton Orient last Saturday and held to a draw. Much of course had happened during the week with the news that a number of Orient players had tested positive for COVID-19 after the game and had not informed Mansfield of the sickness in the camp, something surely that the EFL should take action on. Mansfield’s training this week had been disrupted by having to be tested for COVID-19 and an anxious wait for the results, which were thankfully all negative.

There were two changes on the bench. James Perch had a personal issue and was replaced by Alistair Smith. While Kellan Gordon came onto the bench for Tyrese Sinclair. Gordon, according to Coughlan pre-match, “had the bit between his teeth” and Coughlan included him because of his hard work in training. I was surprised to see Sinclair miss out, he brings something a bit different, a bit of X-factor, and can produce something out of nothing despite his inexperience, highlighted by his injury time shot from distance against Tranmere which nearly produced a winner.

Exeter arrived at Mansfield having not been beaten here in the last 10 matches, stretching back to 1998. The run continues. Exeter have been consistently good in recent years in League Two and once again reached the League Two play-off final a couple of months ago. They welcomed back Randell Williams into their side. He was one of the best players in the league last season and had been linked with a move away, but with that move having not happened he was brought back into the side. Former Stag Alex Fisher was not in the 18 but had travelled to the game and told me that he was trying to shake off a niggle but couldn’t shake it off in time for the game.

On a personal note, it was very nice to be presented by the club with a signed shirt before the game as a thank you for producing videos every day during 5 months of lockdown for the club’s social media accounts and iFollow Stags. It was very nice to receive this recognition. Thank you to Mark Stevenson for organising it.

Once again, the match was played behind closed doors. Such a disappointment to the thousands of Stags fans who would love to have attended. I hope that at least we brought you good coverage on the live stream on iFollow Stags.

It was a very windy day in Mansfield, with gusts of around 35mph in a northerly wind, so predominantly blowing from the North Stand end down the ground to the Quarry Lane end. The Stags had this wind behind them in the first half when they were certainly the better side in the opening 30 minutes. Exeter had the wind behind them in the second half when they got on top for long periods.

The Stags were off to a fast start, and in a great move Ollie Clarke found Cook with a great ball, and Cook shot into the side netting after 2 minutes. It really was a great reverse-pass from Clarke.

Sweeney got in a good block on a Bowman shot after 13 minutes.

Exeter had calls for a penalty after 15 minutes as a ball forward from Jake Taylor bounced up and hit Faz Rawson’s outstretched arm in the box. As his arm was away from his body, it might well have been given as a penalty even though it was not deliberate. Exeter boss Matt Taylor claimed after the game it was a clear penalty.

The Stags took the lead after 20 minutes with a terrifically worked corner kick routine. O’Keeffe’s corner from the left was chipped out to Clarke 30 yards from goal. Clarke controlled the ball and lobbed a high ball behind the defence for Charsley to volley across the edge of the six-yard box from the right, and Menayese met it at the left post to knock into the net from six yards. A clever goal. It was Menayese’s first goal for Mansfield, and indeed his first professional goal.

Charsley was booked after 28 minutes for a rash challenge. Then Clarke was booked a minute later for pushing Jay off the ball.

Sweeney did well to put a cross behind for a corner after Jake Taylor had got to the byline after 32 minutes. Then a good header away by Rawson from the resulting corner. More good defending by Sweeney after 36 minutes. Then Benning slid in to win the ball well, but the ball fell kindly for Taylor who shot over the bar from the edge of the area.

Exeter equalised after 40 minutes with a soft goal from a corner. Jay’s corner from the left floated over Stech and a pack of players and went in to the net off Rawson for an own goal. Stech claimed he had been fouled, but he had not been. Could a gust of wind from between the West and North Stand have taken the ball over the keeper and the pack of players? Possibly. But nonetheless poor goalkeeping, poor defending.

So the Stags pegged back at the break. Mansfield had played well for half an hour and scored a good goal to take the lead. The Stags had however played several balls which were overhit with the wind behind them though and probably not made best use of the wind. The manner of Exeter’s equaliser was very disappointing, to concede such a soft goal.

Half time 1-1

The Stags started the second half well but that didn’t last long.

Inside the opening minute of the second half, Benning put in a great looping cross and Bowery did well to get in a header which was just wide.

Then on 48 minutes, Menayese’s cross to the edge of the box was superbly headed down by Cook into the path of Charsley who shot straight at the keeper from 9 yards, albeit under pressure from Archie Collins.

On 52 minutes, Charsley fired well wide from 20 yards.

Maynard replaced Bowery after 68 minutes.

Joel Randall got away from Menayese down the left with a good run for Exeter after 68 minutes and slid the ball across for Randell Williams whose first time shot was saved by Stech at point blank range. A great save from Stech. (Apologies, I thought the shot was from Bowman in commentary, but the replay shows it was actually Williams). Then a shot from Randell Williams was deflected well over the bar.

Exeter were now asking all the questions.

After 74 minutes, Stech push away a powerful shot from Josh Key which was straight at him.

Exeter took the lead after 76 minutes and once again it was a terrible defending from a corner. Jay’s corner from the left was beyond the far post, where McArdle outjumped Rawson to loop a header high back into the middle, and right back Key jumped highest to loop a header over Stech and over Clarke on the line and just under the bar. Key got above O’Keeffe and Sweeney to get his header in. Poor defending all round.

A double change from Mansfield after 77 minutes before the game restarted. Stephen McLaughlin came on for his debut, replacing Benning at left wing-back, while Kellan Gordon replaced Charsley. Gordon went in at right wing-back and O’Keeffe moved into an attacking midfield role.

The Stags did not look getting back into it until the 89th minute when they should have had a penalty. A brilliant turn from Maynard, who found Clarke. Clarke flashed a shot wide of the right post from just inside the area, but was cleaned out by a sliding tackle as he did so. Under VAR it would clearly have been given as a penalty in my opinion, and would also have been given as a foul anywhere else on the pitch.

So the Stags fell to defeat, such a disappointing result. Too much long ball stuff from the Stags in my opinion, especially given the high winds. But the main reason for defeat was really poor defending to concede those two goals from corners.

The Stags go to Newport next Saturday looking for the first win of the season. Normally when you go to Newport you’re faced with a terrible pitch and a hostile crowd giving the home side the advantage. Neither should be the case this time, and with Newport having a game on Wednesday night at home to Newcastle in the Carabao Cup, there is no reason the Stags can’t go there and look to pick up that first win.

Man of the match: Ollie Clarke

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

Line Up:
Stech 5 Very poor goalkeeping for the first goal. Great save from Randell Williams at point blank range in the second half.
Menayese 7 Scored his first goal for Mansfield, indeed his first professional goal. Good cross for Cook to nod down in the second half. Allowed Joel Randall to get away from him and set up the chance for Randell Williams.
Rawson 5 Scored an own goal for the first goal, was outjumped in the build-up to the second goal, and could have conceded a penalty for handball. Bad day at the office.
Sweeney 6.5 Could have done better for the second goal. But got in several good blocks.
O'Keeffe 5.5 Didn’t have the positive effect down the right that he’s had in previous games. Could have done better for the second goal.
O.Clarke 7 Great reverse-pass for Cook’s early chance, good ball forward in the build-up to the goal, and should have had a penalty in the final minute.
Maris 6 Did ok.
Charsley 6.5 Great assist for the goal. Should have scored early in the second half.
Benning 6.5 Great cross for Bowery’s header. One great tackle.
Bowery 6 One header just wide.
Cook 7 Superb header down to create a chance for Charsley. Shot into the side netting early on when he should have done better. Won plenty of headers.
Sub Line Up:
Maynard (for Bowery, 68 mins) - Brilliant turn to set up a late chance for Clarke who ought to have had a penalty. I’d expect him to start in place of Bowery in the next game.
McLaughlin (for Benning, 77 mins) - On for his Stags debut, but little time to impress.
Gordon (for Charsley, 77 mins) -
Subs not used: Stone, O'Driscoll, Smith, Reid.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Ward; Key, McArdle, Parkes, Page; Taylor, Collins, Williams (Sparkes 90’), Randall (Caprice 78’); Jay (Law 78’), Bowman. Subs not used: Maxted, Atangana, Seymour, Dean.
Christopher Pollard 5 Missed what should have been a penalty for the Stags in the final minute. Could have also given a penalty against Rawson. Both would certainly have been given under VAR.

Season 20/21 Reports