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Season 20/21 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Cheltenham Town  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: behind closed doors
Date: 24 October 2020


Martin Shaw at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, Whaddon Road

Mansfield Town drew 0-0 at Cheltenham Town in an evenly contested game and are still looking for the first victory of the season. The Stags stood up well to the expected aerial bombardment of numerous long throws hurled into the box from Ben Tozer and set pieces from Chris Hussey and Chris Clements, with a very solid defensive display. Marek Stech made one good save and Harry Charsley cleared off the line seconds later, while Alfie May fired wide from a good position for Cheltenham, but other than that Cheltenham didn’t look like scoring. The Stags were generally good in possession but didn’t make the most of chances from in and around the edge of the box with Charsley, Maris, Maynard and Rawson all firing wide.
A draw was certainly a fair result, with the Stags probably edging the first half being better in possession than Cheltenham, and the home side probably edged the second half.

Cheltenham remain in third place having conceded just 5 goals in 8 games, the Stags are in 21st place.

Two decent performances and two decent results in drawing at Morecambe and Cheltenham on the road in the space of four days, but it means that the Stags have therefore failed to win any of the opening 8 games of the season, for the first time for more than 100 years. In terms of points gained, it is the worst start to a season since 2007/08 when the Stags were of course relegated from the Football League.
Newly promoted Barrow are the visitors to the One Call Stadium on Tuesday (kick off 7pm). Barrow have also failed to win this season and it looks like a must-win game for manager Graham Coughlan. Football is a results business and I said after the previous couple of games that if the Stags are in or around the relegation zone with about 10 games gone, the time at which the league table really starts to take shape, owners John and Carolyn Radford with CEO David Sharpe may decide that action needs to be taken, even though John and Carolyn are well-known for wanting to give managers every chance to succeed.

On an unpleasant wet and windy day in Gloucestershire, the Stags were forced into a change in the side with Corey O’Keeffe absent, having to self-isolate for 10 days after having been in close contact with Mal Benning, following Benning testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday or Thursday having shown symptoms earlier in the week. Best wishes to Mal for a full and speedy recovery.
George Lapslie returned to the side after suspension in place of O’Keeffe in the only change to the 11 that started at Morecambe. Gordon and McLaughlin were at wing-back, with Menayese, Rawson and Sweeney in central defence. Perch sitting in front of the back three, with Lapslie, Charsley and Maris behind Cook on his own up front.
Cheltenham included former Stags Matty Blair and Chris Clements in their side, Blair at right wing-back, and Clements in central midfield. Cheltenham, with 15 points from their opening seven games, were having their best ever start to a Football League season.

The Stags had the wind behind them in the first half.

The first half-chance of the game fell to the home side after 6 minutes as Tozer’s long throw fell to May who shot over the bar via a deflection.

The Stags’ first chance came after 8 minutes. Great play from Cook to lay off to Charsley, who had time and space on the edge of the area but shot wide of the left post.

Two minutes later, good play on the right by Gordon, who found Charsley, who in turn found Maris. Maris also had time and space on the edge of the area, but again shot wide of the left post.

A free kick for Mansfield after 12 minutes, from the right. McLaughlin took it and found Rawson who headed straight at the keeper from 16 yards.

Perch was booked for a sliding challenge after 16 minutes.

After 31 minutes, McLaughlin lobbed a high ball into the middle from the byline on the left. It was cleared to Lapslie who side-footed on the half-volley straight at the keeper from 16 yards.

The rain became torrential for a few minutes.

After 37 minutes, Rawson and Sweeney got in each other’s way, Reuben Reid got in a position to cross, but Sweeney recovered well to block. Moments later another long throw from Tozer, and a brave header away from Rawson.

A great challenge by Gordon to win the ball off Hussey 35 yards from goal after 44 minutes, it set Maris away, but the attempted low ball across from Maris towards Cook was poor.

0-0 at the break and a fair scoreline. The Stags had been better in possession than the home side but not made the most of half-chances.

Half time 0-0

The wind dropped slightly in the second half, and the rain was much lighter now.

After 49 minutes, a good header away by Perch from a free kick.

McLaughlin made a great run forward and was pushed from behind which ought to have brought the Stags a free kick in the great position, but the referee booked McLaughlin for diving. From our position, we had a great view that McLaughlin was clearly pushed, but perhaps the referee could not see the push.

After 58 minutes, Cheltenham created their best chance, and it came from another Tozer long throw. The long throw into the six yard box from the right took a deflection and Stech had to make a great save to keep it out of the net, tipping it away with his right hand. The ball fell to Alfie May six yards out and his low shot was brilliantly blocked on the line by Charsley. Moments later Sercombe fired over the bar from 22 yards. After 60 minutes, Reuben Reid headed well wide from Raglan’s cross.

After 62 minutes, Menayese fouled Reuben Reid 30 yards out. Clements took the free kick short to May, May’s shot from 14 yards was going well wide but blocked anyway by McLaughlin. Good approach play between May and Hussey two minutes later, May got into the area on the left and fired wide across Stech and wide of the right post. Stech did well to narrow the angle but May should have done better. A good spell for Cheltenham with six chances in six minutes.

After 72 minutes, Cook controlled a ball forward and his shot from a tight angle was blocked. At the other end, Maris lost the ball, won it back, then lost it again, allowing Hussey to cross but Sweeney was able to head behind. From the corner, taken by Hussey, Raglan headed well wide. Clements made space for a shot from 25 yards after 75 minutes, but it was wide of the right post.

Good play then from McLaughlin to win a corner, which came to nothing.

The Stags were lacking thrust up front and needed a change. It came after 78 minutes as Maynard and Jamie Reid replaced Cook and Maris. Manager Coughlan said after the game he had been worried about taking off Cook as he was an important marker at the umpteen set pieces from Cheltenham including long throws, and so it was a risk to take him off. A good point, in which case maybe he should just have brought Maynard on for a midfielder, but done it earlier. When you’re short of goals, and you have last season’s second top scorer in League Two in the squad, he should be starting games in my opinion. Alongside Cook.

Cheltenham sub Andy Williams had a shot over the bar via a defection off Menayese after 80 minutes.

Great play from Maynard after 84 minutes but he couldn’t set Gordon away. A minute later, brilliant control from Jamie Reid, he set Maynard away and Maynard shot wide of the left post. The Stags immediately looked more potent in attack.

After 88 minutes, Rawson was harshly penalised for a foul on Reuben Reid 32 yards out. The free kick from Hussey glanced off the wall and wide of the left post. From the resulting corner, Boyle headed over the bar.

Into stoppage time and the Stags had a corner on the right, won by Jamie Reid. The corner was recycled by Charsley on the left and cleared to Rawson unmarked on the penalty spot with no defender within 6 yards of him. Rawson swung his left leg at it and miscued well wide of the right post. You wished the chance had fallen to anyone else in the side, certainly any of the midfielders or strikers. It was a good opportunity.

So a draw, and certainly a fair result. On to Tuesday night and a big game at home to Barrow, a game the Stags need to win.

Man of the match: Generally a good team performance with no-one standing out.

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, Whaddon Road

Line Up:
Stech 7 Great save from a deflected long throw-in.
Menayese 7 Solid game at the back.
Rawson 7 Solid defensively, including one brave header away. Could have been the hero at the end but miscued wide.
Sweeney 7 Defended well.
Gordon 7 Good game at right wing-back.
Perch 7 Protected the back three well. One good header away.
Lapslie 6 One shot straight at the keeper. Otherwise not heavily involved.
McLaughlin 7 One good free kick. Should have won a free kick with a great run when he was wrongly booked for diving.
Charsley 7 Great clearance off the line. Worked very hard.
Maris 7 Played well in an advanced midfield role. Missed one good chance when he shot tamely wide.
Cook 7 Some good control. Difficult role on his own up front.
Sub Line Up:
Maynard (for Maris, 78 mins) - Did well when he came on.
J.Reid (for Cook, 78 mins) - One piece of brilliant control to set Maynard away, and did well to win a corner at the end.
Subs not used: Stone, O'Driscoll, J.Clarke, Sinclair, Bowery.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer, Boyle; Blair (Thomas 59), Clements, Sang (Addai 83), Sercombe, Hussey; R Reid, May (Williams 69). Subs not used: Harris, Freestone, Horton, Chapman.
Neil Hair 6 Booked McLaughlin for diving when he was certainly pushed. Otherwise had a reasonable game.

Season 20/21 Reports