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Season 21/22 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
 Colchester United
Oates 19, Bowery pen 90+2.
 Judge 90+6
Attendance: 4,815 (106 from Colchester)
Date: 8 February 2022


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town beat Colchester United 2-1 at the One Call Stadium last night to register a ninth home win on the trot in the league, for the first time since 1973. The Stags are now one win short of the club record in the Football League of 10 home wins on the trot (set in 1949).

The Stags battered Colchester for the majority of this game. Yet going into stoppage time, they only had a 1-0 lead to show for it. Though what a goal that was with Rhys Oates registering his goal of the season contender after 19 minutes. Seven minutes of additional time were added after a series of injury stoppages in the second half. Mansfield appeared to have sealed victory when substitute Jordan Bowery converted a penalty after 90+2 minutes after another sub Ollie Clarke had been tripped in the box. But Colchester pulled a goal back after 90+6 minutes with a brilliant free kick from Alan Judge into the top right corner of the net from a tight angle, and the Stags players had to put their bodies on the line blocking three shots in quick succession in the 8th minute of stoppage time to preserve the points.

Mansfield move up to 5th place in the table, 6 points above 8th place, and 3 points below 3rd place with a game in hand.

Mansfield had had a week off to recharge the batteries after the draw against Harrogate. Exciting deadline day signings Jamie Murphy and Matty Longstaff were both included in the squad for the first time, Murphy started, while Longstaff was on the bench. Lucas Akins also made his first start after three substitute appearances. Ollie Clarke and Jordan Bowery were the two players to make way for Murphy and Akins, and both were on the bench. Farrend Rawson returned to the bench after suspension. The three players to miss out from the 18 man squad were Perch, Burke and Law. The Stags started with a diamond in midfield, with Murphy playing behind the front two of Oates and Akins.

Colchester had seen a resurgence of form, winning their previous two away games, and unbeaten for 4 games, after previously losing 5 games on the trot. New signing Jon Akinde was out with Covid. Midfielder Cole Skuse was also out with a head injury. Sam Hornby, on loan from Bradford was in goal, with regular keeper Shamal George, so good against the Stags earlier in the season, suspended for three games.

7 of the previous 9 games between the sides at Mansfield had ended in draws, with just 1 win for either side. It was a big relief to register another win last night.

After 2 wind-affected games, the weather forecast was for gusts of 29mph, a very similar forecast to the Harrogate game a week earlier. But mercifully the wind dropped significantly before kick-off and the game was largely unaffected.

The Stags created the first chance after 4 minutes. Murphy set McLaughlin away down the left, he cut inside two defenders and teed up Quinn to shoot left footed wide of the right post from 15 yards. Superb play from McLaughlin.

A minute later at the other end, a good punch away by Bishop from a Colchester corner.

After 9 minutes, a shot from Akins from 20 yards was deflected for a corner. Maris took the corner, it came back to him, and he curled an ambitious effort over the angle of crossbar and post.

O’Toole was booked for blocking Luke Hannant after 18 minutes.

The Stags took the lead following the resulting free kick. The initial free kick from Alan Judge was cleared back to him. Judge crossed in again, McLaughlin headed away to Oates who chested the ball down 25 yards inside his own half. Oates set off on a magnificent run, staying on his feet despite being deliberately clipped from behind by Hannant, while Gene Kennedy also tried to trip him from behind but couldn’t make contact. Oates carried on and from 24 yards out fired a brilliant shot past the keeper into the right corner of the net. A truly sensational goal. One of the best individual goals I can ever recall from a Stags player. Oates has made some incredible lung-busting runs this season, but this was the best of the lot.

Incidentally, Hannant who deliberately tripped Oates from behind though Oates managed to stay on his feet, was not booked. A very bad decision from the referee. I asked Nigel Clough after the game what he thought about that. He told me he complained to the fourth official who told him they cannot bring things back in those situations. Nigel Clough told me he told the fourth official that was not correct and he should watch Match of the Day where there have been similar incidents in the Premier League that have resulted in bookings.

A rare chance for Colchester in the first half came after 21 minutes, as from a Judge corner from the right, Tommy Smith had a free header at the far post over the bar.

After 23 minutes there should have been a red card for Colchester midfielder Brendan Wiredu. Wiredu went in studs up on Akins and caught him half way up his leg. The referee only produced a yellow card. Another poor decision from the referee.

After 25 minutes, Murphy crossed from the left and initially it looked like it might have been a handball from Chambers in the area. After the game, Nigel Clough said “We should have had a penalty for handball”. But it wasn’t a handball, it was actually a back header away, with his arm outstretched. In commentary at the time I said “is that a handball? ... no”.

Seconds later, Maris made a run into the box after 25 minutes but just overran it. Three minutes later at the other end great defending from McLaughlin to nip in and clear danger for a corner.

A great double-chance for the Stags to increase the lead after 34 minutes. Maris set McLaughlin away down the left. McLaughlin sent in a fabulous cross to Akins who stabbed the ball goalwards from point blank range and it was brilliantly saved on the line by keeper Hornby. The ball ran free to defender Smith who passed it back to the keeper. The referee correctly awarded the Stags an indirect free kick on the edge of the six yard box. Colchester lined up all 11 players on the goalline. Quinn rolled the free kick back to O’Toole who went for the top right corner of the net and fired just over the angle. I don’t recall ever seeing a free kick like that before in a Stags game. A massive opportunity missed.

Another big opportunity after 38 minutes as Quinn sent Murphy away with a great pass, Murphy took a touch before firing goalwards from the edge of the area and keeper Hornby made another good save beating it away one-handed. A great pass from Quinn. And nearly a debut goal for Jamie Murphy.

Another chance within a minute. Oates rolled a low cross in from the right and Akins tried the turn the ball in from close range but Junior Tchamadeu blocked it for a corner.

Colchester were on the rack.

Seconds later, a long throw from Hewitt reached Akins who teed up Maris for a shot from 15 yards over the bar and wide.

Another wonderful chance after 45 minutes, as McLaughlin chested down a throw-in, and made a great run to the byline, he pulled the ball inside to Akins who fired over the bar from close range. It looked like Akins’ effort had been deflected over the bar but the referee gave a goal kick.

A scare for the Stags as Oates went down in stoppage time at the end of the half having stretched to reach the ball. But he was ok to continue.

A tremendous first half from Mansfield who absolutely battered Colchester. A sensational goal from Oates gave the Stags the lead, but it should have been 2, 3 or 4-0

Half time 1-0

Colchester switched formation to three at the back at half time, bringing on Tom Eastman into defence.

After 46 minutes, Murphy won a corner. The corner was taken short and Murphy went down in the box but there was no foul.

The game quietened down after the glut of first half chances.

After 58 minutes the Stags nearly gifted Colchester a goal. Hewitt left a backpass to Bishop short, Freddie Sears nipped in to win the ball but ran out of pitch and ran the ball out for a goal kick.

After 66 minutes, brilliant play from Oates on the right who turned away from his marker Luke Chambers and got in a fabulous low cross that almost reached Akins at the far post, but Tom Eastman was just able to clear.

30 seconds later, McLaughlin curled in a wonderful cross from the left, Oates got something on it on the edge of the six yard box but under pressure from defender Chambers he couldn’t turn it goalwards and the ball went wide for a goal kick.

A cynical foul from Kennedy on Oates dragging him down as Oates embarked on another run after 69 minutes. The referee rightly showed a yellow card.

After 71 minutes, yet another great run from Oates, set away by Murphy, into the area on the right. Oates cut inside onto his left foot and got in a shot on target but it was blocked.

Mansfield made their first change after 73 minutes with Ollie Clarke replacing Murphy.

McLaughlin had to go off after 77 minutes. Nigel Clough explained afterwards: “He got a bang on the back of his head. He just felt not quite felt right so we didn’t want to take any chances with that but hopefully he should be alright for Saturday.” Because this was a potential concussion, it was counted as a concussion substitute at the time, meaning that Mansfield (and also Colchester) would be allowed four substitutes in the game instead of the usual three. Kieran Wallace came on and slotted in at left back.

Little had been seen of Colchester as an attacking force but after 79 minutes, Sears got into the area on the left and his cross-shot was deflected straight to Bishop.

A third change for Mansfield after 81 minutes as Jordan Bowery replaced Maris, who had received a whack 10 minutes earlier.

Akins was booked after 83 minutes for first pulling back Myles Kenlock by his shirt and then pulling back Owura Edwards by his shirt. Akins was shown a yellow card. The referee could have shown one yellow for each shirt pull and this was very risky from Akins. There are precedents for two yellow cards for two offences in quick succession, such as Northern Ireland vs Hungary in 2015 when Chris Baird was correctly sent off.

Sears tried a shot from a near-impossible angle after 86 minutes and sent it wide.

Farrend Rawson was Mansfield’s fourth substitute after 87 minutes, replacing Oates, as the Stags switched to 3 at the back.

Seven minutes of additional time was added.

The Stags had been desperate for the cushion of a second goal and got it after 90+2 minutes. Colchester were on the attack and Smith pulled the ball back across goal from the left. O’Toole headed away, and Quinn hooked the ball further away into the Colchester half. Bowery chested the ball down on the left wing just inside the Colchester half. Bowery continued his run into the area on the left and squared for Ollie Clarke coming in unmarked. Clarke knocked the ball past Eastman just inside the area and was blatantly tripped. It was a clear penalty. Great work between the two substitutes, really making an impact. Bowery claimed the ball to take the penalty. He had missed his last penalty, striking the bar in the EFL Trophy game at Harrogate. He stepped up and coolly slotted the ball just inside the right post, sending the keeper the wrong way. A great penalty.

Relief for the Stags who deserved the goal having battered Colchester for most of the game.

But it wasn’t all over as the Stags conceded a goal after 90+6 minutes. Hewitt tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick down by the corner flag, but sub Corey Andrews nicked the ball away from him and then Hewitt brought him down as Andrews started to cut in along the byline on the left. Hewitt was booked. The free kick should have been three yards from the byline, but Judge took it five yards from the byline, crucially giving him a bit more angle to get in a shot. Judge fired a shot into the top right corner and the ball went into the net off the inside of the right post. A magnificent goal from Judge. A bit like Tyrese Sinclair’s goal at Swindon earlier in the season which was not given when the officials wrongly decided the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

30 seconds of stoppage time was remaining. 20 seconds over time, Kenlock crossed in low from the left, it came to Sears who fired goalwards from 15 yards, blocked by Wallace, it came out to Eastman who fired goalwards from 22 yards, blocked by Wallace again, it came out to Judge who fired goalwards from 25 yards, blocked by Akins. Three shots blocked in quick succession, the Stags putting their bodies on the line. Breathless stuff. A minute later the referee blew the whistle and the Stags had won 9 games on the trot at home in the league for the first time since 1973.

No question that the Stags deserved it. Some really good performances from the Stags players. Rhys Oates was superb, with his sensational goal, some other good runs and a couple of good crosses. Stephen McLaughlin was also excellent with several good runs and cross and some good defending. The defence was generally solid though Hewitt made a couple of errors. Lucas Akins was close to scoring on several occasions on his first start, while Jamie Murphy had a promising debut. And the substitutes made a big contribution with Jordan Bowery and Ollie Clarke combining for the crucial second goal, and Kieran Wallace with a couple of blocks in the dying seconds.

The Stags are back in action on Saturday, with a visit to Bristol Rovers. It is the first of three successive away games on successive Saturdays. The Stags have currently played six games more at home than away.

Man of the Match: Rhys Oates

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

Goals (league and cup): Oates 8, Johnson 7, Bowery, Hawkins 6, O.Clarke, Lapslie, McLaughlin 4, Maris, O’Toole 3, Charsley 2, Caine, Forrester, Hewitt, Quinn, Sinclair, Stirk 1

Assists (league and cup): McLaughlin 7, Oates 6, Quinn 5, Bowery 4, Charsley, O.Clarke, Johnson, Sinclair 3, Hawkins, Maris, Rawson, Stirk 2, J.Clarke, Gale, Hewitt, Lapslie, Law 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 or blocked, the player who had the shot saved gets an assist.)

Average home league attendance: 4792 (average away fans: 534, average home fans 4258)

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

Line Up:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Bishop 7 One good punch away. Otherwise not a busy evening. I don’t blame him for the goal which was right in the top corner, in off the post.
Hewitt 6 Made a couple of errors, leaving a backpass short and conceding the stoppage time free kick that led to the goal. Otherwise did well.
O’Toole 7.5 Very solid. Put the free kick from 6 yards over the bar!
Hawkins 7.5 Solid game. Incidentally, still one booking away from a 2 game suspension, and needs to avoid a yellow card in the next 9 matches to avoid the suspension (cut-off is at 37 league games, inclusive).
McLaughlin 8.5 Excellent with several good runs and crosses, and some good defending. Even gets a fortunate assist for Oates’ sensational goal!
Stirk 7 Did well.
Maris 7.5 Good game
Quinn 8 Hardly wasted a pass.
Murphy 7 Lively debut, did well.
Akins 7 Close to scoring on several occasions on his first start. A handful for Colchester. Good block in the dying seconds.
Oates 9.5 Superb, with his sensational goal, some other good runs and a couple of good crosses.
Sub Line Up:
O.Clarke (for Murphy, 73 mins) - Great work between him and another sub Bowery to earn the crucial penalty.
Wallace (for McLaughlin, 77 mins) - Put his body on the line with a couple of blocks in the dying seconds.
Bowery (for Maris, 81 mins) - Great penalty and great play to set it up too.
Rawson (for Oates, 87 mins) -
Subs not used: Stech, Longstaff, Johnson.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Hornby; Tchamadeu, Chambers, Smith, Kenlock; Kennedy (sub Andrews, 82), Wiredu; Hannant (sub Eastman, 46), Wright (sub Edwards, 65), Judge; Sears. Subs (not used): Welch-Hayes, Coxe, Cornish, Collins.
Darren Handley 5 Should have shown Wiredu a red card. Should have booked Hannant for deliberately tripping Oates on his way to the first goal even though Oates stayed on his feet.

Season 21/22 Reports