Telford pen 82.
Pask OG 68. O’Toole sent off 73
Attendance: 3,956 (332 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 February 2022
SENDING-OFF SO COSTLY AS SUPERB STAGS DRAW 1-1 AT NEWPORT
Martin Shaw at Rodney Parade
Mansfield Town and Newport County drew 1-1 at Rodney Parade this afternoon in a game between two sides in the play-off places. It was frustrating for Mansfield not to come away with the three points that their overall performance deserved. But the Stags shot themselves in the foot and the sending-off of John-Joe O’Toole after 73 minutes completely changed the game after the Stags had finally and deservedly got themselves in front only minutes earlier. And Newport equalised after 82 minutes from the penalty spot leaving the Stags to hang on for a draw in the closing minutes.
For 73 minutes, the Stags were superb. In the first half, Mansfield created 9 chances, knocking the ball around really well, putting in plenty of good crosses, and looking an excellent side. The only thing missing was some clinical finishing. At half time, the Newport iFollow commentators said to me that no-one had come here and played like this this season.
The Stags finally scored the goal that their play deserved after 68 minutes though it came in fortunate circumstances. Ryan Stirk, who had a fine game, squared the ball to Stephen McLaughlin who took aim from 24 yards. McLaughlin’s low shot was heading wide of the right post but deflected off central defender Josh Pask and wrong-footed keeper Nick Townsend, ending up in the back of the net.
The crowd were silenced. The Stags had been defending superbly once again with Oli Hawkins and John-Joe O’Toole in great form in central defence, and another clean sheet looked on the cards.
But it all changed when Hawkins tried to stop Courtney Baker-Richardson taking a quick throw-in. The two players clashed on the touchline, which was daft enough in itself from Hawkins’ point of view because he was trying to avoid a yellow card which would lead to a two game suspension. But then O’Toole came in and got Baker-Richardson in a headlock to pull him away from Hawkins. You just can't do that and O’Toole should know better. Once things calmed down, the referee showed O’Toole a red card, the correct decision in my opinion. And then he showed yellow cards to Baker-Richardson and Hawkins, again correctly in my opinion. 73 minutes gone and the Stags had 17 minutes plus stoppage time to hold out for the win.
But the red card gave Newport the impetus they hadn’t had all afternoon, and the crowd were now right behind them.
And on 82 minutes, Newport were awarded a penalty. Scott Bennett got the ball 24 yards from goal, cut past Ollie Clarke into the area and from 15 yards fired in a shot. Hawkins tried to block the shot, but had his arms outstretched and away from his body. The ball hit his arm, and the referee gave a penalty. It’s a little unlucky perhaps because the ball was struck from only a yard away, but I think it was a reasonable decision from the referee. Dom Telford stepped up and sent Nathan Bishop the wrong way from the spot.
Newport were right on top now and put the Stags under pressure for the remaining 8 minutes plus 7 minutes of stoppage time, but with Farrend Rawson alongside Hawkins at centre half, the Stags defended really well as a team and in the end did well to hang on for a draw in a game that we should have won.
Nigel Clough was frustrated with his centre halves over the sending-off incident after the game saying “I can't believe that, with his experience, Oli Hawkins would even want to get involved. It's their throw-in and all he had to do was spin back into position and deal with the throw-in. But sometimes with these players, things go through their heads. I can't fathom it. He's on nine bookings, the crowd is quiet, the game is dead and we're winning 1-0 and in complete control. But he wants to rile the crowd and get involved in something he shouldn't, got himself a yellow card and he is now missing for two games. Then his partner in crime alongside him (O’Toole) decides to join in and get himself a red. For two 30+ year-old players to do that is quite incredible really. ...There is no excuse.”
It was a hugely costly incident. Not only for today. But of course both players will miss the games against Bradford and Exeter, and O’Toole will also miss the game against Tranmere. Rawson will of course go in at centre half. The other position will likely be taken by one of James Perch, Richard Nartey or Elliott Hewitt. Clough will have to assess whether Perch is ready to play 90 minutes, returning from his long period out with injury. Nartey is playing U23 football for Burnley. I think the most likely change is that Clough will want to minimise the number of changes, and might move Hewitt to centre half, and put the versatile Akins at right back, where he has played a lot for Burton. We’ll see.
Clough said after the game: "It's going to be tough for James Perch, with him not playing for several months now, so we'll have to see how he goes this week”.
Clough may use an U23 game this week to partner Rawson with Perch, but he can only user three over-age outfield players, and he might also want to give Kieran Wallace and Danny Johnson a game.
The draw keeps Mansfield’s good run of form going: 12 wins, 3 draws and just 1 defeat from 16 league games. The Stags remain in 6th place. Newport drop a place to 8th.
Mansfield made three changes from the side that drew at Bristol Rovers. McLaughlin returned from his bang on the head. Stirk and Maris were also recalled. Bowery dropped to the bench.
Oates and Murphy were out injured. Nigel Clough said after the game: “Oates felt his thigh last week at Bristol Rovers, which he came off with, hopefully he’ll be okay for Bradford. Murphy, hamstring, he felt it tighten up during the week in training, so with the journey down here there was no risking him.”
Perch was back on the bench.
It started as a 4-5-1 formation, with Maris (right) and Longstaff (left), just behind Akins who was up front.
Newport had gone 3 games without a win: a draw with Oldham, and defeats to Northampton and Forest Green. Before the game, striker Alex Fisher, who was not in the Newport 18, came up to the press box to find me for a chat which was very nice of him.
It had been a stormy 24 hours in Newport with Storm Eunice in full flow. Fortunately the wind had dropped significantly by kick-off, and dropped even further by the second half so it had little effect on the game. Morning rain had also stopped by around noon, and the game was played partially in sunshine. My iFollow commentator counterpart at Newport had told me that the pitch is magnificent, and he wasn’t wrong. A million pounds was spent on it in the summer by the Welsh Rugby Union and I’d say it is now the best pitch in League Two.
The wind, fairly light, was behind Newport in the first half.
The first chance came after 8 minutes when Ollie Clarke got to the byline on the right, pulled back to Longstaff, who miscued a shot from 12 yards straight at the keeper. On 11 minutes, Hawkins headed away Demetriou's long throw.
Then on 13 minutes, a great cross by Akins from the left who was played in by Quinn which was completely missed by Maris. Then Longstaff teed up Quinn for a right footed shot from 17 yards which deflected wide off Akins and could easily have gone in.
Newport’s first chance came after 14 minutes. A long ball was flicked on and Dom Telford fired into the side netting from a very tight angle.
Very good pressing by Maris on the right who won the ball and crossed to Longstaff in the area who was deemed to be offside. Then O’Toole played a great ball to Quinn, who got into the area and had a chance to shoot and didn’t but did win a corner. On 18 minutes, an excellent pass by Stirk who slid the ball through to McLaughlin on the left but his cross was blocked and cleared.
After 23 minutes, a brilliant move from the Stags. Bishop rolled out to Stirk, who slid it down the line to Akins. Akins held on to the ball, played inside to Longstaff, turned and went back to Stirk. Stirk played out to Quinn on the left touchline, and his cross in was turned over the bar by Maris, left footed from 12 yards.
Superb tracking back by Ollie Clarke after 26 minutes after a Stags corner was cleared.
A minute later, a high ball from Longstaff from the right near the corner flag, and Quinn volleyed wide from beyond the far post from a tight angle.
Newport’s best, and just about only decent chance of the first half came after 29 minutes. Telford lifted the ball over the Stags defence, Baker-Richardson ran on to it in the area, and in a 1-on-1 with Bishop, lifted it over Bishop and over the bar. Credit to Bishop who narrowed the angle. A great ball forward from Telford.
The Stags were putting Newport under pressure again after 31 minutes. Maris forced his way in the area to the byline on the right, his crossed pinged around the area to Ollie Clarke, who couldn’t get the ball under to control to get in a shot, and finally Longstaff teed up Hewitt who fired wide from 14 yards.
A minute later, an even better chance for the Stags. Another great move around the area, Stirk to Longstaff to Hewitt, to the byline, he pulled the ball across to Quinn who lifted the ball over the bar from 6 yards.
At the other end, Finn Azaz shot well wide from 25 yards.
After 34 minutes, Ollie Clarke squared to McLaughlin 22 yards from goal. McLaughlin fired in a shot, keeper Townsend got down quickly to push it away, as far as Ollie Clarke on the penalty spot, but again he couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet quickly enough to get in a shot.
Newport broke quickly from a Stags corner after 38 minutes, and Baker-Richardson managed to get himself offside with the Stags otherwise in a bit of trouble.
Another good chance for the Stags after 43 minutes. More good movement just outside the area, Longstaff to Quinn to Stirk to Quinn, Quinn played forward to Akins back to goal inside the area. Akins turned brilliantly and fired goalwards and keeper Townsend made a fine one-handed save. Maris picked up the loose ball and teed up Ollie Clarke who shot from 18 yards was deflected wide for a corner.
Some superb play from the Stags in the first half, knocking the ball around really well, putting in plenty of good crosses, and looking an excellent side. The only thing missing was some clinical finishing with 9 chances going begging. At half time, the Newport iFollow commentators said to me that no-one had come here and played like this this season. At the other end, Hawkins was heading everything away.
Half time 0-0
Newport changed shape and made two changes at the break, hinting that manager James Rowberry was not happy how his side had been outplayed.
The wind, fairly light in the first half and behind Newport, had now dropped even further.
After 48 minutes, a good tackle by O’Toole to stop Baker-Richardson shooting, the ball came to Telford whose shot was deflected wide. The corner to the far post from sub Willmott was headed wide by Scot Bennett under pressure from McLaughlin.
A penalty claim from the Stags after 53 minutes. Maris played a 1-2 with Akins on the edge of the box and running on to the return ball went down over the leg of Pask. Stags players were annoyed that the referee ignored the claims. In real time I didn’t think it was a penalty. From the replay, it could have been given but would have been soft.
Quinn was fouled by Norman after 56 minutes but nothing was given. Quinn was down for some time.
Akins robbed Bennett after 58 minutes, and Maris played forward for Longstaff to run on to, but Longstaff just overran the ball through to the keeper. A minute later at the other end, a poor shot from Finn Azaz straight at Bishop.
Quinn was badly fouled by Demetriou after 61 minutes. Absurdly Demetriou was not booked. Really poor refereeing. Quinn was hurt again.
Really good play from Akins to win a corner after 63 minutes. Quinn’s corner was cleared but returned to him, and he fired over the bar from 22 yards.
The Stags finally scored the goal that their play deserved after 68 minutes though it came in fortunate circumstances. Stirk squared the ball to McLaughlin who took aim from 24 yards. McLaughlin’s low shot was heading wide of the right post but deflected off central defender Josh Pask and wrong-footed keeper Townsend, ending up in the back of the net.
The crowd were silenced. The Stags had been defending superbly once again with Hawkins and O’Toole in great form in central defence, and another clean sheet looked on the cards.
But it all changed when Hawkins tried to stop Baker-Richardson taking a quick throw-in. The two players clashed on the touchline, which was daft enough in itself from Hawkins’ point of view because he was trying to avoid a yellow card which would lead to a two game suspension. But then O’Toole came in and got Baker-Richardson in a headlock to pull him away from Hawkins. You just can't do that and O’Toole should know better. Once things calmed down, the referee showed O’Toole a red card, the correct decision in my opinion. And then he showed yellow cards to Baker-Richardson and Hawkins, again correctly in my opinion. 73 minutes gone and the Stags had 17 minutes plus stoppage time to hold out for the win.
The Stags immediately brought on Rawson into central defence, with Maris sacrificed from midfield.
Nigel Clough had steam coming out of his ears on the touchline in front of me.
The red card gave Newport the impetus they hadn’t had all afternoon, and the crowd were now right behind them.
And on 82 minutes, Newport were awarded a penalty. Scot Bennett got the ball 24 yards from goal, cut past Ollie Clarke into the area and from 15 yards fired in a shot. Hawkins tried to block the shot, but had his arms outstretched and away from his body. The ball hit his arm, and the referee gave a penalty. It’s a little unlucky perhaps because the ball was struck from only a yard away, but I think it was a reasonable decision from the referee. Dom Telford stepped up and sent Bishop the wrong way from the spot.
Quinn had kept arguing with the referee over the penalty decision. Eventually he was pulled away by McLaughlin. Then after the penalty was scored he had completely lost his head, shouting at the referee and had to be pulled away by more teammates. Clough realising that Quinn had lost his head immediately signalled for him to come off, and he was replaced by Wallace. As he was leaving the pitch, Quinn was still shouting at the referee, and the referee then showed him a yellow card.
Quinn was already frustrated, having been clattered twice earlier. Then of course the Stags had been reduced to 10 men...
Nigel Clough said after the game: "When you see that sort of thing happening (the penalty decision), it gets very frustrating, that's why we brought Stephen Quinn off. He's been booked as he's coming off the pitch almost, we couldn't get him off quick enough."
At the same time, Bowery also replaced Longstaff.
The Stags were now 5 at the back under a barrage of pressure. Bowery at right wing-back, Hewitt, Rawson and Hawkins in central defence, McLaughlin at left wing back.
McLaughlin was booked for a foul on Norman after 84 minutes.
After 87 minutes, an Azaz shot deflected off Hawkins for a corner. From the corner, sub Waite’s shot was blocked back to him and he sent the follow-up wide. On 89 minutes, Norman shot from a very tight angle and Bishop pushed it away. Good save. After 90+1 minutes, Norman crossed from the right, and Telford’s effort at goal was deflected wide for a corner. Following the resulting corner, a shot from Azaz from the edge of the area was deflected by Telford straight to Bishop. Then on 90+4 minutes, a volley from Aaron Lewis was over the bar after a good header away by Hewitt. And a minute after that, a low shot from Demetriou from 20 yards was just wide of the right post.
In the 8th minute of 7 minutes added on, a long throw from Norman was cleared away by Bowery, and Hewitt embarked on a tremendous run forward, getting past Azaz all the way into the area, but he neither shot nor crossed effectively. For a moment, Akins was in space on his left. After the game, Nigel Clough said: "And in the 97th minute we should have scored. If Elliott Hewitt just squares it for Lucas Akins, I think we nick a winner. He says he didn't see him."
Finally the referee blew the final whistle, as Nigel Clough ran on to the pitch to stop his players further arguing with the referee.
Newport really put the Stags under pressure for that final 8 minutes plus 7 minutes of stoppage time, but with Rawson alongside Hawkins at centre half, the Stags defended really well as a team and in the end did well to hang on for a draw in a game that we should have won. But how we shot ourselves in the foot in a game that we should have won playing some superb football.
No midweek game for the Stags this week. The next game is at Bradford next Saturday.
The Stags do have a re-arranged U23 game against Leeds United on Monday (1pm kick-off), behind closed doors, but which can be watched live on LUTV for about £3.50. You are allowed to play three over-age outfield players plus an over-age keeper. There is an added interest with the need for a new central defensive pairing! So Stech will play. Will Perch partner Rawson in central defence? Clough would also like to give Wallace and Johnson a game but he can’t play all of them. Burke and Law might play. Update: disappointingly, this game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at the RH Academy.
Man of the Match: Ryan Stirk
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. 1 OG
Assists (league and cup): McLaughlin 8, 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 at home, 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. In the case of an own goal, the player who caused the own goal gets an assist, for example McLaughlin against Newport away where his shot was deflected in for an own goal.)
Report by: Martin Shaw at Rodney Parade
Bishop 7 Did well to narrow the angle on Baker-Richardson’s first half chance. Saved well from Norman late on. Sent the wrong way by the penalty.
Hewitt 8 Very good game, defensively and going forward. Could have been the late hero with a good run but ran out of steam.
O’Toole 5 In great form for 73 minutes then a moment of ill-discipline was hugely costly in this game, not to mention potentially the next three games. He should have known better and his red card completely changed the game, and hence I give him a rating of 5.
Hawkins 7.5 Dominant in defence, heading everything away. Stupidly got himself booked, but I don’t hold him accountable for O’Toole getting himself sent off. Unlucky with the penalty which was struck at him from just a yard away. Will miss the next 2 games through an accumulation of yellow cards.
McLaughlin 8 His shot was deflected in for the Stags goal. Another good shot in the first half. Defended well and dangerous going forward.
Stirk 8.5 Fine game with a lot of excellent passing.
O.Clarke 7 Set up Longstaff for a shot. Superb tracking back on one occasion. A couple of times couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet to get in a shot. Allowed Bennett to cut past him and get in the shot that led to the penalty.
Quinn 7.5 Some great passing. Missed three first half chances. Clattered a couple of times in the second half which didn’t receive any punishment. Frustrated by the penalty decision and completely lost his head having to be subbed as a result.
Maris 8 Very good game. Missed a couple of chances.
Longstaff 8 Very good in a more offensive midfield role than we saw him at Bristol.
Akins 8 Played very well on his own up front. Held on to the ball superbly to bring others into play, frequently controlling the ball on his chest. One fine turn and shot in the first half.
Sub Line Up:
Rawson (for Maris, 75 mins) - Slotted in well into central defence.
Bowery (for Longstaff, 83 mins) -
Wallace (for Quinn, 83 mins) -
Subs not used: Stech, Perch, Law, Johnson.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-1-4-2): Townsend; Pask, Dolan (Willmott, 46), Demetriou; Bennett; Lewis, Cain (Waite, 75), Azaz, Haynes (Norman, 46); Baker-Richardson, Telford. Subs not used: Day, Clarke, Collins, Street.
Will Finnie 6 On review of the video, I think he was correct with the sending-off of O’Toole and booking of Baker-Richardson and Hawkins. On the penalty, I think it was a reasonable decision from the referee, even though it’s a little unlucky perhaps because the ball was struck from only a yard away. Crucial in that decision is whether the ball deflected onto Hawkins’ arm, and I don’t think it did. Absurd decision not to book Demetriou for clattering Quinn right in front of the dugouts.