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Season 21/22 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Swindon Town
Maris 4, McLaughlin pen 31, Bowery 43.
 
 McKirdy 28, Iandolo 89
Attendance: 4,129 (252 from Swindon)
 
Date: 11 January 2022

SUPER STAGS BEAT SWINDON

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town continued their excellent run of form, making it 8 wins from the last 9 league games, including 6 in a row at home, with a 3-2 win over Swindon Town at the One Call Stadium last night. It was the third consecutive home game that has ended 3-2, with that win over Hartlepool on Boxing Day, and then giving Championship high-flyers Middlesbrough a real run for their money in the FA Cup before rather unluckily bowing out of the competition on Saturday. No one can complain about the entertainment levels!

Swindon arrived last night having won 7 games away from home in the league this season, more than any other team in the league apart from Forest Green who have also won 7.

But they were steamrollered in a superb first half display from the Stags that saw them open up a 3-1 lead by the break.

The Stags were ahead after just 4 minutes. Rhys Oates ran on to a curling ball down the line from Stephen McLaughlin, forced his way into the area on left, then pulled the ball across the edge of the six yard box to Jordan Bowery, who with his back to goal, laid the ball back perfectly into the path of George Maris, who was unmarked and clinically dispatched a finish into the right corner of the net from 12 yards. A good assist from Bowery and a cool finish from Maris, who missed four chances against Middlesbrough on Saturday. Nigel Clough told me after the game he’s been telling Maris this week to make sure he hits the target when he shoots and he made no mistake here.

Maris had another good chance after 13 minutes following another great move, when he fired over the bar from 15 yards after Stephen Quinn teed him up, following a great back heel from Oates.

Nathan Bishop was called into action after 21 minutes when he had to tip a curling free kick from Ellis Iandolo over the bar.

Harry McKirdy was a striker in form for Swindon having scored four goals in his last league game against Northampton and followed that up with a goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup at the weekend. He showed his confidence when he thrashed an ambitious shot wide from 30 yards after 27 minutes.

And a minute later he equalised. Jonny Williams got the ball with his back to goal, chested the ball down and turned away from Ryan Stirk. Williams slid the ball forward for McKirdy who took a touch before rifling a shot from a tight angle on the right that beat Bishop at his near post. It was the goal of a confident striker, but Bishop will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post like that. McKirdy celebrated by running in front of the West Stand cupping his hand to his ear. In the second half, when McKirdy was subbed, the Stags fans cheered. After the game, McKirdy posted on his Instagram account “shit start in a shithole has cost us 3 points”.

It was a blow for the Stags. But less than 2 minutes later, the Stags had won a penalty. From a Swindon corner from the right, Stephen Quinn headed it away, Oates collected the ball and ran from just outside his own area, all the way into the Swindon penalty area, before he was brought down by a mistimed tacked from Akin Odimayo. After the game, Swindon boss Ben Garner said: “I couldn't tell whether AK (Akin Odimayo) got a touch on the ball or not.” From the replay, he certainly didn’t get a touch on the ball and it was a clear penalty. Odimayo was correctly booked and not sent off as he had attempted to win the ball, and inside the area that is just a penalty and yellow card. It was a stupendous run from Oates. McLaughlin stepped up to take the penalty and fired it low and hard into the bottom right of the net. The keeper went the right way but it was too low and hard for him to have a chance of getting it. A great penalty. McLaughlin’s first penalty for the Stags.

The Stags were on fire now. After 36 minutes, Ollie Clarke fired a great shot from 25 yards just over the bar. Then good play from Bowery, finding Oates who shot just wide.

The Stags deservedly made it 3-1 after 43 minutes. Lewis Ward, the Swindon keeper chipped a kick to the half way line. Oli Hawkins headed it forward and from the edge of the centre circle Maris chested it down lobbed it forward for Bowery to run on to. Bowery let it bounce and from the edge of the area lobbed it over the advancing keeper into the net for an exquisite finish. Goals in consecutive home league games for Bowery and reward for a very fine performance.

There was still time in the half for McKirdy to fire an 18 yard volley goalwards, which Bishop did well to push wide. For all his apparent attitude problems, McKirdy certainly knows where the net is at the moment.

A great first half from Mansfield.

The second half was one of fewer chances. Swindon had a chance to pull a goal back after 57 minutes as Ellis Iandolo got away from his marker Elliott Hewitt from a corner and headed over the bar. McKirdy had a chance after 79 minutes when sub Jayden Mitchell-Lawson put him in space in the area on the right but he fired wide.

Swindon did pull a goal back after 89 minutes. Iandolo cut in from the left touchline, level with the edge of the area, past Charsley, and then Oates, with both afraid to put in a challenge inside the box for fear of bringing him down, and fired through Hewitt and into the bottom right corner of the net from a tight angle. I don’t think Bishop can be blamed on this occasion. Charsley though should have done better to stop Iandolo before he got into the box.

It was now a nervy finish, but with five minutes of stoppage time added, the Stags kept Swindon at bay without any near misses.

A thoroughly deserved victory. It was a pretty rare win for the Stags over Swindon actually, having gone 7 games without a win over the Wiltshire side, stretching back to 2006.

The Stags are now into 8th place, behind Newport in the last play-off place on goal difference but with a game in hand.

The Stags are back in action on Saturday, at the One Call Stadium, as Walsall are the visitors.

DETAILED REPORT :

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that lost to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. So Stirk and McLaughlin, rated 50/50 by Nigel Clough the day before the game, both started. There was no Lapslie in the squad, Clough said he had felt his thigh, and after the game Clough said “he is a week or two away from being fit”. Rawson and Sinclair were still absent from the squad having tested positive for Covid but both could be available against Walsall on Saturday. O’Toole continued in the side, and is under contract under 22nd January, but he has a very good offer from a League One club and it remains to be seen if he will stay with the Stags for a longer period. There’s no questioning his commitment when he’s on the pitch though.

Swindon made two changes from the side that lost 4-1 to Manchester City on Friday night in the FA Cup. England U20 international Kaine Kesler Hayden, who has been very impressive this season, had been recalled by Aston Villa. Jake O’Brien came in for his debut. And Jonny Williams started in place of Ben Gladwin. Williams is one of the best players in League Two, a Welsh international, and he changed the game when he came on as sub in the game earlier in the season against the Stags.

It was a reasonably pleasant January evening. The pitch was described by Swindon manager Ben Garner as “really difficult, in terms of trying to be able to play football on it. It is very heavy, it is very soft, and on dropping balls they get good bodies around it.” It didn’t look anywhere near as bad as that to me, and this looks like something of an excuse.

The Stags were ahead after just 4 minutes. Rhys Oates ran on to a curling ball down the line from Stephen McLaughlin, forced his way into the area on left, then pulled the ball across the edge of the six yard box to Jordan Bowery, who with his back to goal, laid the ball back perfectly into the path of George Maris, who was unmarked and clinically dispatched a finish into the right corner of the net from 12 yards. A good assist from Bowery and a cool finish from Maris, who missed four chances against Middlesbrough on Saturday. Nigel Clough told me after the game he’s been telling Maris this week to make sure he hits the target when he shoots and he made no mistake here.

Maris had another good chance after 13 minutes following another great move, when he fired over the bar from 15 yards after Stephen Quinn teed him up, following a great back heel from Oates.

Hawkins was booked after 15 minutes for a foul on Lyden.

A great cross from McLaughlin after 17 minutes but neither Oates nor Bowery was able to get on the end of it.

On 18 minutes, Hunt went down in the box under a challenge from Quinn. There were no real appeals for a penalty from the Swindon players, but after the game Swindon boss Ben Garner said: “Again, we’ve had a stonewall penalty not given. I sound like a broken record but, you know, Hunty (Rob Hunt) gets a touch in the box and he gets taken out, it’s a penalty. We don’t get it given." From the replay, it’s not stonewall at all and it would have been very soft.

Nathan Bishop was called into action after 21 minutes when he had to tip a curling free kick from Ellis Iandolo over the bar. The free kick was from level with the edge of the area, out on the right, and it was heading for the top corner.

Harry McKirdy was a striker in form for Swindon having scored four goals in his last league game against Northampton and followed that up with a goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup at the weekend. He showed his confidence when he thrashed an ambitious shot wide from 30 yards after 27 minutes.

And a minute later he equalised. Jonny Williams got the ball with his back to goal, chested the ball down and turned away from Ryan Stirk. Williams slid the ball forward for McKirdy who took a touch before rifling a shot from a tight angle on the right that beat Bishop at his near post. It was the goal of a confident striker, but Bishop will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post like that. McKirdy celebrated by running in front of the West Stand cupping his hand to his ear. In the second half, when McKirdy was subbed, the Stags fans cheered. After the game, McKirdy posted on his Instagram account “shit start in a shithole has cost us 3 points”.

It was a blow for the Stags. But less than 2 minutes later, the Stags had won a penalty. From a Swindon corner from the right, Stephen Quinn headed it away, Oates collected the ball and ran from just outside his own area, all the way into the Swindon penalty area, before he was brought down by a mistimed tacked from Akin Odimayo. After the game, Swindon boss Ben Garner said: “I couldn't tell whether AK (Akin Odimayo) got a touch on the ball or not.” From the replay, he certainly didn’t get a touch on the ball and it was a clear penalty. Odimayo was correctly booked and not sent off as he had attempted to win the ball, and inside the area that is just a penalty and yellow card. It was a stupendous run from Oates. McLaughlin stepped up to take the penalty and fired it low and hard into the bottom right of the net. The keeper went the right way but it was too low and hard for him to have a chance of getting it. A great penalty. McLaughlin’s first penalty for the Stags.

The Stags were on fire now. After 36 minutes, Ollie Clarke fired a great shot from 25 yards just over the bar. Then good play from Bowery, finding Oates who shot just wide after 42 minutes.

The Stags deservedly made it 3-1 after 43 minutes. Lewis Ward, the Swindon keeper chipped a kick to the half way line. Oli Hawkins headed it forward and from the edge of the centre circle Maris chested it down lobbed it forward for Bowery to run on to. Bowery let it bounce and from the edge of the area lobbed it over the advancing keeper into the net for an exquisite finish. Goals in consecutive home league games for Bowery and reward for a very fine performance.

There was still time in the half for McKirdy to fire an 18 yard volley goalwards, which Bishop did well to push wide after 45+3 minutes. For all his apparent attitude problems, McKirdy certainly knows where the net is at the moment.

A great first half from Mansfield, steamrollering Swindon.

Half time 3-1

After 53 minutes, Quinn played inside to Oates, who had a sight of goal and chipped over the bar. That offside flag then went up, very late.

Swindon had a chance to pull a goal back after 57 minutes as Ellis Iandolo got away from his marker Elliott Hewitt from a corner and headed over the bar.

An important interception from Hawkins a minute later to stop a Swindon break.

O’Toole and Conroy were booked for grappling with each other off the ball as a free kick came in after 63 minutes.

After 65 minutes, Stirk did well to get into the area on the left, then Oates tried to cross from the byline but it was blocked.

A minute later, brilliant control by Maris as he brought down a high ball forward from Ollie Clarke. Maris pushed forward and his shot from the right was deflected and saved by the keeper from going behind for a corner.

Moments later at the other end, Hunt cut in from the right and fired goalwards from 25 yards and Bishop saved very well with a flying save to his left. Then two minutes after that, McKirdy shot on the turn, it was blocked up in the air by O’Toole and easily caught by Bishop.

And a minute after that on 69 minutes a great run from McLaughlin from 35 yards out, past two men into the box and his on-target shot was blocked.

This was end-to-end stuff.

On 71 minutes, a great move from the Stags, Maris played across to Quinn whose low cross was blocked for a corner.

Charsley replaced Ollie Clarke after 77 minutes. Ollie Clarke received an ovation from the home crowd. He’d made an important contribution with some robust challenges on Jonny Williams, “reducers” as Martin Keown likes to calls them, which had nullified the usually excellent Williams. With Williams already having gone off, Clarke was also subbed.
Swindon boss Ben Garner said after the game: "The amount of times he is fouled per game is ridiculous. We're having to take him off regularly because he's being fouled all the time. I'm guessing he's been fouled 12-15 times in that game. He's got a cut on his eye and bruises on his legs. We need a bit more protection from referees in those situations."
The Stags have had similar games this season when Quinn has been targeted.

McKirdy had a chance after 79 minutes when sub Jayden Mitchell-Lawson put him in space in the area on the right but he fired wide.

Law replaced Maris after 80 minutes. Maris had had a great game.

Hunt broke into the area on the right for Swindon after 82 minutes, but Hawkins slid in to clear his cross.

McKirdy was subbed after 84 minutes, to cheers and jeers from the home fans.

Stirk fired over the bar from 22 yards after 86 minutes. A minute later at the other end, Swindon sub Mitchell-Lawson fired hopelessly wide.

Swindon did pull a goal back after 89 minutes. Iandolo cut in from the left touchline, level with the edge of the area, past Charsley, and then Oates, with both afraid to put in a challenge inside the box for fear of bringing him down, and fired through Hewitt and into the bottom right corner of the net from a tight angle. I don’t think Bishop can be blamed on this occasion. Charsley though should have done better to stop Iandolo before he got into the box.

It was now a nervy finish, but with five minutes of stoppage time added, the Stags kept Swindon at bay without any near misses. There was just one half-chance for the visitors as Reed hit the roof of the North Stand with a shot from 25 yards after 90+2 minutes.

Nartey replaced Oates after 90+3 minutes. Nartey went into midfield.

Celebrations at full time for Mansfield’s sixth straight home win in the league.

Man of the Match: George Maris


Here’s a running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Johnson 7, Hawkins, Oates 6, Lapslie 4, Bowery, O.Clarke, Maris, McLaughlin, O’Toole 3, Caine, Forrester, Hewitt, Quinn, Sinclair, Stirk 1

Assists (league and cup): McLaughlin, Oates, Quinn 4, Bowery, Charsley, Johnson, Sinclair 3, O.Clarke, Hawkins, Maris, Stirk 2, J.Clarke, Gale, Hewitt, Lapslie, Law, Rawson 1
(note: in the case of a penalty, the player who earns the penalty gets an assist. In the case of a solo goal, such as Maris against Newport, nobody gets an assist. In the case of the scorer scoring from the rebound after a shot is saved, the player who had the shot saved gets an assist.)


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



Line Up:
(4-4-2)
Bishop 6 Will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post for the first goal. Good saves from Iandolo free kick and McKirdy volley.
Hewitt 7 Generally had a good game at right back. Allowed Iandolo to get away from him for a free header over the bar.
Hawkins 7 Some good defending, including an important interception and a good block on a cross.
O’Toole 7.5 Defended well including one good block.
McLaughlin 8 Some great runs and crosses. Cracking penalty.
Stirk 8 Fine game in midfield.
O.Clarke 8 Important contribution including some robust challenges on Jonny Williams, “reducers” as Martin Keown calls them.
Quinn 8 Good game.
Maris 9 Clinical finish, plus a great assist for Bowery’s goal.
Oates 8 Good play for the first goal. Stupendous run to win the penalty for the second goal.
Bowery 9 Exquisite lob for his goal. Good assist for Maris’s goal.
Sub Line Up:
Charsley (for O.Clarke, 77 mins) - Should have done better to stop Iandolo before he got into the box for Swindon’s second goal.
Law (for Maris, 80 mins) -
Nartey (for Oates, 90+3 mins) -
Subs not used: Stech, Burke, Gale, Johnson.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2) Ward; Odimayo, Conroy, O'Brien; Hunt, Lyden (Mitchell-Lawson 76), Williams (Gladwin 69), Reed, Iandolo; McKirdy (Parsons 84), Simpson. Subs not used: Idem, Crichlow, East, Grant.
Referee:
Tom Reeves 7 Got the Stags penalty right and correctly turned down the Swindon half-appeal for a penalty. First time he has reffed a Stags game.


Season 21/22 Reports