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Season 21/22 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Colchester United  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Sears pen 90+5.
 
 Hewitt 72
Attendance: 2,354 (224 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 17 August 2021

STAGS DENIED BY CONTROVERSIAL LATE PENALTY AT COLCHESTER

Martin Shaw at the Jobserve Community Stadium

Mansfield Town were denied victory by a penalty in the last minute of stoppage time last night at Colchester United. The Stags were looking for a third straight win to start the season for the first time since 1974. But, leading 1-0 late into stoppage time, the home side were awarded a very soft penalty. The penalty was taken by Freddie Sears and very nearly saved by Nathan Bishop who made a great effort and got a strong hand to it, but it still went in.

It was a bitterly disappointing end to a game in which the Stags played very well and certainly deserved victory.

The first half was almost all Mansfield, with several chances. Ollie Clarke had a good shot parried by the excellent keeper Shamal George, who also saved Danny Johnson’s follow-up. Then Ollie Clarke had another shot blocked and Stephen McLaughlin had a shot deflected wide. Then from McLaughlin’s cross, Johnson’s header was blocked for a corner.

The Stags went even closer after 17 minutes. A brilliant move from the back as George Maris found McLaughlin, who played a 1-2 with Stephen Quinn. McLaughlin got away from his marker Luke Hannant before lifting a superb cross into the area. Johnson got his head on it to head it towards the top corner but keeper George made a brilliant save to tip it over the bar. There was a double chance for the Stags after 28 minutes following a McLaughlin corner with a Rawson header cleared away by Cole Skuse, and the follow-up shot from Quinn was deflected wide.

It took Colchester until 39 minutes to register a shot as Frank Nouble stabbed over the bar from a low cross from the right. Then on 45 minutes, Hannant cut in from the right and fired in a shot from the edge of the area which Bishop saved above his head. The Stags ended the half with McLaughlin firing wide.

The second half continued in the same vein with the Stags right on top. After 47 minutes, Quinn put Johnson through 1-on-1 with the keeper in the area with a brilliant pass, and keeper George made another good save to deny Johnson. Johnson has been denied in each of the league games in a 1-on-1 by great saves. Another glorious chance two minutes later, as Quinn’s shot from 22 yards was deflected up in the air off Miles Welch-Hayes, it ballooned into the path of Rhys Oates who would have just had the keeper to beat if he could have volleyed it, but he missed his kick. Oates recovered to get hold of the loose ball on the turn and fired just wide from 8 yards out on the right. Another chance for Oates after 63 minutes as he got into the area on the left and his shot was well saved low down by keeper George. A minute after that, Johnson was into the area on the left and he fired just over the angle of bar and post.

It had been all Mansfield, and finally after 72 minutes they were rewarded with a goal. McLaughlin brilliantly intercepted a long crossfield ball from Luke Chambers. McLaughlin pushed forward, played it to the overlapping Quinn. Quinn crossed low to Oates on the nearside of the penalty area, and Oates played it back to Quinn. Quinn put in a lovely right-footed cross from the left, and Elliott Hewitt, on his first start for the club, rose superbly, and way above his marker Hannant, to head into the left corner of the net. A terrific goal. We haven’t seen enough headed goals from defenders in the last year or so, so this was great to see.

Colchester had made a couple of changes, bringing on Charlie Daniels who was playing in the Premier League for Bournemouth a couple of years ago, at left back, and Sylvester Jasper on loan from Fulham, also on the left, and these two started to make Colchester look more dangerous. Jasper sent a shot from 25 yards over the bar after 81 minutes, Noah Chilvers had a shot blocked by Hewitt, and then Chilvers fired high over the bar from 25 yards following a corner after 84 minutes. Into stoppage time, and on 90+2 minutes a great block from Perch, now wearing an amber headband after an earlier knock to the head, and on the follow-up Daniels sent in a shot that was easily saved by Bishop.

But 4 minutes into stoppage time, disaster for the Stags. A long ball into the Stags area was headed down by Cameron Coxe, towards Frank Nouble. Nouble was goalside of McLaughlin and went down very easily, under what was basically no challenge from McLaughlin. A poor decision from the referee. Freddie Sears, who had been completely ineffective all game, stepped up to take the penalty, towards the left corner of the net. Bishop dived the right way and got a strong hand to it, but was unlucky to see the ball deflect off his hand and into the opposite corner of the net. A great effort from Bishop. But it was the equaliser for Colchester, totally undeserved. Home fans and players celebrated their first goal of the season.

Nigel Clough was very frustrated after the game with the decision, saying: “I thought it was a very, very poor decision. Very rarely do you see a penalty given when the person who has gone down doesn't even appeal. He was getting up to play the next ball, and the one next to him was as well. When the referee has got two bodies in front of him I am not sure how he can give it from 20-25 yards. It was an astonishing decision really.”

So, Frank Nouble again! In 2019 he broke Hayden White’s leg in stoppage time at the Community Stadium with a lunging challenge, which had a huge impact on Mansfield’s bid for promotion. Last season, his shot in the last minute deflected into the top corner of the net to give Colchester a 2-2 draw. And now he wins the softest of penalties to earn another draw.

So frustrating for the Stags!

This was a very good performance though. McLaughlin was fantastic down the left and was my man of the match. Perch was also very good and brave to continue after his head injury. Rawson and Hewitt at the back were also very good. The midfield was very good, especially Quinn and Ollie Clarke, though perhaps Lapslie was not at his best.

So, Mansfield have 7 points from 3 games. A good start, and the Stags meet Bradford City on Saturday, who have also started with 7 points from 3 games under new boss Derek Adams. Andy Cook scored a hat-trick last night and will be keen to do well against his former side, as will Lee Angol, who scored twice on Saturday. It promises to be another exciting clash!


DETAILED REPORT

Mansfield made two changes from the side that beat Newport County. Elliott Hewitt came in for his first start at right back in place of Kellan Gordon, in order to give extra height at the back against a big side as explained by Nigel Clough afterwards. And George Lapslie came in for Oli Hawkins who was a “bit under the weather” according to Clough, but able to be on the bench. Lapslie came into the attacking midfield position, with Oates moving up front.

Colchester had a much-changed side from last season. All 4 of the players who used to play for Ipswich in the Championship and who signed in the summer, who Nigel Clough talked about in his press conference on Monday, Skuse, Chambers, Judge and Sears, started the game. Sylvester Jasper, on loan from Fulham, was on the bench as was Charlie Daniels, signed just hours before kick-off. Colchester had picked up just one point from their first two league games, and had not yet scored a goal.

It was the first away league game for the Stags in front of Stags fans since the away game at Sixfields in March 2020. 224 Stags fans travelled to the game, which was a long journey on a Tuesday night.

John and Carolyn Radford travelled to the game, and Carolyn messaged me during the game to pass on her thanks to the supporters who had travelled:
“Martin, just to say thank you for all the supporters who have made the journey tonight. It’s been a while since we’ve done a long away journey and it’s a real pilgrimage with lots of traffic. Thank you all for all your dedication.”


The first half was almost all Mansfield, with several chances. Ollie Clarke had a good shot on 8 minutes parried by the excellent keeper Shamal George, who also saved Danny Johnson’s follow-up.

Then Ollie Clarke had another shot blocked after 13 minutes and Stephen McLaughlin had a shot deflected wide.

Then from McLaughlin’s cross two minutes later, Johnson’s header was blocked for a corner.

The Stags went even closer after 17 minutes. A brilliant move from the back as George Maris found McLaughlin, who played a 1-2 with Stephen Quinn. McLaughlin got away from his marker Luke Hannant before lifting a superb cross into the area. Johnson got his head on it to head it towards the top corner but keeper George made a brilliant save to tip it over the bar. Manager Clough had his head in his hands.

There was a double chance for the Stags after 28 minutes following a McLaughlin corner with a Rawson header cleared away by Cole Skuse, and the follow-up shot from Quinn was deflected wide.

Colchester had contributed nothing. Three terrible crosses, two from Clampin, one from Nouble.

An enforced change with veteran Tom Eastman going off injured saw Colchester switch from 3 at the back to a flat back four.

It took Colchester until 39 minutes to register a shot as Frank Nouble stabbed over the bar from a low cross from the right from sub Cameron Coxe.

Great defending from Ollie Clarke after 41 minutes to win the ball and clear.

It was now raining, but not heavily.

Then on 45 minutes, Hannant cut in from the right and fired in a shot from the edge of the area which Bishop saved above his head.

The Stags ended the half with McLaughlin firing wide.

The Stags were very much the better side in the first half but had no goals to show for it.

Half time 0-0

The second half continued in the same vein with the Stags right on top.

Maris did give the ball away though after 46 minutes, Chilvers got forward and his shot was deflected for a corner.

After 47 minutes, Quinn put Johnson through 1-on-1 with the keeper in the area with a brilliant pass, and keeper George made another good save to deny Johnson. Johnson has been denied in each of the league games in a 1-on-1 by great saves. Great play from Quinn.

Another glorious chance two minutes later, as Quinn’s shot from 22 yards was deflected up in the air off Miles Welch-Hayes, it ballooned into the path of Rhys Oates who would have just had the keeper to beat if he could have volleyed it, but he missed his kick. Oates recovered to get hold of the loose ball on the turn and fired just wide from 8 yards out on the right.

McLaughlin got to the byline after 51 minutes but his low ball in evaded everyone.

A brilliant run from Oates after 58 minutes. Skuse had 3 goes at fouling him on the way, and Skuse was finally booked. A free kick for the Stags 30 yards out. McLaughlin took it, straight into the wall.

Perch picked up a head injury after a clash of heads with Nouble after 51 minutes. Perch was patched up with an amber headband.

Another chance for Oates after 63 minutes as he got into the area on the left and his shot was well saved low down by keeper George. A minute after that, Johnson was into the area on the left and he fired just over the angle of bar and post.

Oates was booked after 68 minutes for pulling back Coxe.

It had been all Mansfield, and finally after 72 minutes they were rewarded with a goal. McLaughlin brilliantly intercepted a long crossfield ball from Luke Chambers. McLaughlin pushed forward, played it to the overlapping Quinn. Quinn crossed low to Oates on the nearside of the penalty area, and Oates played it back to Quinn. Quinn put in a lovely right-footed cross from the left, and Elliott Hewitt, on his first start for the club, rose superbly, and way above his marker Hannant, to head into the left corner of the net. A terrific goal. We haven’t seen enough headed goals from defenders in the last year or so, so this was great to see.

Stirk replaced Lapslie after 79 minutes.

Colchester had made a couple of changes, bringing on Charlie Daniels who was playing in the Premier League for Bournemouth a couple of years ago, at left back, and Sylvester Jasper on loan from Fulham, also on the left, and these two started to make Colchester look more dangerous.

Jasper sent a shot from 25 yards over the bar after 81 minutes.

Hawkins replaced Johnson after 82 minutes.

Noah Chilvers had a shot blocked by Hewitt, and then Chilvers fired high over the bar from 25 yards following a corner after 84 minutes.

Bowery replaced Oates after 87 minutes.

Into stoppage time, and on 90+2 minutes a great block from Perch from Jasper’s shot, and on the follow-up Daniels sent in a shot that was easily saved by Bishop.

But 4 minutes into stoppage time, disaster for the Stags. The Stags had had a chance to wind the clock down with a free kick half way inside the Colchester half. But Bowery lost the ball. Within 30 seconds, a long ball into the Stags area was headed down by Cameron Coxe, towards Frank Nouble. Nouble was goalside of McLaughlin and went down very easily, under what was basically no challenge from McLaughlin. A poor decision from the referee. Perch was booked for protesting. Freddie Sears stepped up to take the penalty, towards the left corner of the net. Bishop dived the right way and got a strong hand to it, but was unlucky to see the ball deflect off his hand and into the opposite corner of the net. A great effort from Bishop. But it was the equaliser for Colchester, totally undeserved. Home fans and players celebrated their first goal of the season.

Huge frustration for the Stags.

Man of the match: Stephen McLaughlin.


Report by: Martin Shaw at the Jobserve Community Stadium



Line Up:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Bishop 6.5 Made a great effort to save the penalty. Otherwise a couple of routine saves.
Hewitt 8 Selected for his extra height, and he used it to full advantage with a towering header for the goal on his full Stags debut. Defended well including one good block.
Rawson 7.5 Good game.
Perch 8 Very good, including a wonderful block late on. Very brave to continue after his head injury.
McLaughlin 9 Wonderful play to intercept a crossfield pass in the build-up to the Stags goal. Superb cross for Johnson’s header tipped over. Three good headers away in the second half. Unfortunate to concede the late penalty.
Maris 6.5 Gave the ball away a few times. But otherwise did well.
O.Clarke 7.5 Good game, including some good defending.
Quinn 8 Great cross for the goal, and some other brilliant passes.
Lapslie 6 Not at his best.
Oates 7 Good second half particularly. Several good dribbles. Should have scored.
Johnson 6 Denied three times by the excellent keeper Shamal George.
Sub Line Up:
Stirk (for Lapslie, 79 mins) -
Hawkins (for Johnson, 82 mins) - Was a “bit under the weather” according to Clough, but able to be on the bench.
Bowery (for Oates, 87 mins) - Poor game management when he gave the ball away in stoppage time.
Subs not used: Shelvey, Gordon, Burke, Sinclair.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2): George; Welch-Hayes, Eastman (sub Coxe, 35), Chambers; Hannant (sub Jasper, 74), Skuse, Judge, Chilvers, Clampin (sub Daniels 59); Sears, Nouble. Subs not used: Turner, Beadle, Wiredu, Tovide.
Referee:
Sam Allison 4 Poor decision to award the penalty in stoppage time denied the Stags victory.


Season 21/22 Reports