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Season 21/22 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Sutton United  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
John 4, Bugiel 69
Attendance: 2,497 (298 from Mansfield)
Date: 23 November 2021


Martin Shaw at Gander Green Lane

Mansfield Town’s five game winning run in all competitions came to an end last night, beaten 2-0 at Sutton United in the first ever game between the clubs. It was a game low on quality but Sutton had more good moments than the Stags and deserved their win. Overall it was, in my opinion, a poor performance from the Stags.

Sutton were out of the traps quickly. They had already had a penalty shout turned down inside the opening minute (as Isaac Olaofe went down in the box but did not appear to get any contact from Oli Hawkins), before taking the lead after 4 minutes. Ricky Korboa’s free kick from the left into the middle was headed away by Hawkins, before being returned to Korboa on the left by Craig Eastmond. Korboa’s second delivery into the box was headed away by Stephen McLaughlin, but McLaughlin was under a lot pressure and couldn’t get the header away very far. It fell for Louis John who was unmarked 8 yards out and he lashed the ball into the net. It’s hard to say who should have been marking John. From the original free kick, he was marked by Harry Charsley, but Charsley had then left the box to try to stop the second delivery being crossed in.

The Stags came under more pressure as Oli Hawkins, continuing at centre half, was booked after just 5 minutes and the resulting free kick from 25 yards from Rob Milson was blocked in the wall by Charsley. Sutton had a chance to increase their lead after 8 minutes when Ben Goodliffe headed just over the bar from Jon Barden’s cross from the right.

The Stags came close to equalising after 10 minutes. Stephen Quinn’s corner from the right was met firmly by the head of Hawkins rising high above his marker, but his header was brilliantly saved on the line by Sutton keeper Dean Bouzanis. McLaughlin smashed the rebound goalwards but it was headed off the line by Goodliffe.

With so much action packed into the opening 10 minutes, there was almost no goalmouth action for the rest of the half. Indeed there were just two more efforts at goal and they both came for the Stags. Ollie Clarke fired over the bar after 19 minutes, and Jordan Bowery scuffed a shot wide after 35 minutes. That chance for Bowery was a good one. McLaughlin’s free kick from the left was cleared to Bowery, 12 yards out and he scuffed his shot wide of the left post. After the game, Stags boss Nigel Clough said to me that that he thought the chance for Bowery was the biggest one in the game where the finishing should have been so much better.

Also in the first half: on 19 minutes, good play between Maris, McLaughlin and Bowery on left put Bowery in a good position in the area but he elected to cross rather than try and get a shot in at goal. Then on 24 minutes, Hewitt's long throw landed on Bowery's foot in front of goal 6 yards out. He could easily have hit it first time at goal but he miscontrolled it.

Bowery overall had a very poor game.

The only other moment of note in the half was a booking for Ryan Stirk after 32 minutes for a late challenge.

A really low quality 35 minutes of football to end the half. Some dreadful crossing from the Stags as multiple crosses were straight to the goalkeeper or didn’t beat the first man. No chances at all for Sutton in that period but they deserved their lead at the break because of their fast start. The Stags had dominated in midfield against Scunthorpe on Saturday, running all over them, pressing the side back, but weren’t able to do the same here.

Stephen Quinn hadn’t been his normal self in the first half and was withdrawn at half time with a continuation of his muscle niggle. George Maris was also unusually well off the pace. Quinn was replaced by George Lapslie, himself returning from injury.

Half time 1-0

Into the second half. Good play on the left by Stirk on 50 minutes as he set McLaughlin away down the left and McLaughlin’s low ball in found Charsley on the edge of the box. Charsley turned and fired in a shot but it was blocked by John. At the other end two minutes later, Olaofe broke into the Stags box on the right but fired well wide. That was Sutton’s first chance since the 8th minute, 44 minutes earlier.

The game was very scrappy.

No more chances for either side until 63 minutes. Then good play by Ollie Clarke, driving forward to the edge of the area, he pulled it back for McLaughlin who chipped into the middle where Stirk headed wide from 12 yards. A good chance if it had fallen to a player like Hawkins, but Stirk was off target. A good cross from McLaughlin though.

A minute later at the other end, Sutton went close. David Ajiboye cut across from the right and found Korboa in space in the area on the left. Korboa fired past Nathan Bishop but McLaughlin got back to clear away. A very good clearance from McLaughlin. From my position behind the shot I thought it was going wide but from the camera angle on the opposite side of the pitch, and given McLaughlin’s position almost on the line, it was probably going in. Then on 66 minutes, Milsom’s free kick from 22 yards was blocked by the Stags wall, and Milsom fired the rebound wide.

The Stags made a second substitution after 67 minutes. Maris, having a poor game, was replaced by Tyrese Sinclair. The Stags badly needed a spark up front.

Sinclair was straight into the action within seconds as the Stags came close to equalising. Ollie Clarke surged forward and laid off to Sinclair. Sinclair took a couple of touches to get the ball onto his right foot and from 14 yards fired goalwards but Goodliffe got back superbly to slide in and block the ball behind for a corner. Sinclair’s corner was knocked wide at the near post by Bowery.

But within two minutes, on 69 minutes, it was 2-0 to Sutton. Former Stag Alistair Smith lifted the ball forward into the Stags half. As Olaofe and O’Toole tussled, the ball fell for Ajiboye. Ajiboye tried to dribble into the area but lost control. Hawkins cleared but only as far as Omar Bugiel. Bugiel took a couple of touches before smashing a rocket of a shot into the top right corner of the net from 20 yards. A brilliant strike from Bugiel and that was the game there in a couple of minutes. The Stags could have been level at one end, but Sutton made it 2-0 with a great strike, after an uncharacteristically poor clearance from Hawkins.

The Stags didn’t look like getting back into the game after that.

Ollie Clarke was booked after 72 minutes.

Will Forrester replaced Hawkins after 73 minutes. Hawkins had been booked early on, had committed a foul subsequently, so was probably only another foul away from a second yellow card, and his poor clearance had just led to Sutton’s second goal. Also Clough added post match that he has a bad back.

A good header away by Hewitt from a free kick after 73 minutes.

A chance for Sinclair after 77 minutes. Good play from Bowery, he found Sinclair on the edge of the area, but his low shot was straight at the keeper.

No more chances until the 90th minute. A good diagonal ball from inside his own half from Stirk out to Sinclair on the right. Sinclair’s first touch was good, he played a 1-2 with Charsley, then a 1-2 with Lapslie before his cross-shot from the right was blocked by John. Two minutes later at the other end, Sutton sub Donovan Wilson fired well wide from 14 yards. Then on 90+4 minutes, Stirk fired over the bar from 22 yards after McLaughlin crossed from the left.

So a poor game overall. But Sutton deserved their win and the Stags didn’t do enough to warrant a point. In truth there was a real lack of quality on the night from both sides.

The Stags remain 7 points above the relegation zone, but are now 9 points behind the play-off places. Indeed it is Sutton who occupy that last play-off place, in their first season in the Football League. It’s a great start for them and they have plenty of good players, though they didn’t really show that here.

The Stags’ run of victories is over, but now we need to start another run, starting at Crawley on Saturday.

No-one shone for the Stags last night. Ollie Clarke tried to create things with a few surging runs in the second half. Stephen McLaughlin did ok on the left and provided a good clearance off the line. And Tyrese Sinclair created a spark when he came on that had been missing previously even though his shooting is currently letting him down. Also Nathan Bishop couldn’t be faulted for the goals.

If Rhys Oates is not fit to start on Saturday at Crawley (Nigel Clough said after the game that Oates “is not far away”, but he hasn’t trained recently and might train by the end of the week), I would put Hawkins back up front. Bowery had a very good game against Scunthorpe, but had a very poor game at Sutton losing the majority of his headers, and overall has been poor this season. I would probably start Sinclair as well. If Oates was fit, then he of course can play up front on his own, as he showed at Sunderland for example. It’s clear that the Stags need Oates and Johnson back fit as soon as possible to give more options up front. Johnson is still a couple of weeks away from being fit. Nigel Clough said after the game that Quinn, who went off at half time, will hopefully be alright for Saturday.

Well done to the 298 Stags fans who turned out on a cold night. They didn’t have anything to cheer about and will hope for better at Crawley on Saturday.

The Stags had been unchanged from the side that beat Scunthorpe on Saturday. Quinn and Bowery were in the starting XI after Nigel Clough had said on Monday that they were both doubts, with niggles (muscle injuries). It was a 4-5-1 formation with Bowery on his own up front. Lapslie was back from injury on the bench. Kellan Gordon was not on the bench having had a slight knock on training on Monday.

The Stags were on a run of 5 consecutive wins in all competitions, 3 in the league, which was the Stags’ best run of victories since Oct-Nov 2017. The Stags were going for 6 wins on the trot which would have been the best run since we won 12 on the trot in 2013 on the way to winning the Conference. Sadly it wasn’t to be of course.

Finally a word on Sutton. It’s a small club that didn’t expect to find itself in the Football League this season. What they lack in facilities, they make up for in the helpful staff and volunteers they have on a matchday. From a personal point of view, I can’t remember a club that went out of its way so much to ensure everything went as smoothly as possible.

Man of the match: Stephen McLaughlin

Report by: Martin Shaw at Gander Green Lane

Line Up:
Bishop 6 Couldn’t be faulted for the goals and didn’t have any other saves to make.
Hewitt 5.5 Conceded an early free kick as Sutton got on top.
O’Toole 6 Did ok.
Hawkins 5 Booked early on, and his uncharacteristically poor clearance had just led to Sutton’s second goal.
McLaughlin 7 Did ok on the left with some good crosses, and some poor ones, and provided a good clearance off the line.
Charsley 5 Poor game.
Maris 5 Unusually well off the pace, and subbed.
O.Clarke 6.5 Tried to create things with a few surging runs in the second half.
Stirk 5.5 Missed a good chance with a header. Did ok in the second half.
Quinn 5 Wasn’t his normal self in the first half and was withdrawn at half time with a continuation of his muscle niggle.
Bowery 4 Had a very poor game, including losing the majority of his headers.
Sub Line Up:
Lapslie (for Quinn, 46 mins) 5 Made little impact as sub.
Sinclair (for Maris, 67 mins) - Created a spark when he came on that had been missing previously even though his shooting is currently letting him down.
Forrester (for Hawkins, 73 mins) -
Subs not used: Shelvey, Rawson, Law, Gale.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Bouzanis; Barden, Goodliffe, John, Milsom; Ajiboye, Eastmond, Smith, Korboa (Randall, 90+2); Olaofe (Wilson, 78), Bugiel (Bennett, 82). SUBS NOT USED: House, Wyatt, Dundas, Davis.
David Rock 7 I think he got most things right.

Season 21/22 Reports