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Season 21/22 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Tranmere Rovers  
3 - 2
 Mansfield Town
P.Clarke 5, Nevitt 76, 90+5.
 Longstaff 45+6, Hawkins 90+1
Attendance: 7,857 (900 from Mansfield)
Date: 11 March 2022


Martin Shaw at Prenton Park

Mansfield Town were beaten 3-2 at Tranmere Rovers last night to end an unbeaten run of 14 matches, and miss the chance of leaping back into the top 3. The Stags twice fought back from a goal down, with goals in stoppage time at the end of the first half, and then in stoppage time at the end of the second half, but were finally beaten by a winner from Tranmere deeper into stoppage time in extraordinary drama. The Stags were far from at their best and Tranmere looked a good side. Tranmere are indeed very strong at home, and they showed why they had won 12 games at home already this season, more than any other side in the league, apart from the Stags who have also won 12. Now they do have the best home record, roared on by their vociferous fans. Tranmere were also determined to halt a run of form of 4 defeats in 5 games, all 4 of those defeats away from home.
In my opinion, Tranmere deserved the win. Mansfield played well at times but in only in short spells, at the end of each half, and not enough to warrant the points, but it was very disappointing to be beaten having already equalised in stoppage time.

The Stags made one change from the side that beat Exeter. Oli Hawkins returned from suspension in place of Jordan Bowery. Hawkins went into central defence. Hewitt switched to right back. Lucas Akins moved further forward, in exactly the team I predicted in my report last Friday. With Hawkins returning to the 18, there was no place for Danny Johnson in the squad. Oates and Akins were up front, with Murphy just behind them. Stirk, Longstaff and Quinn were in midfield.

Tranmere included former Stags striker Kane Hemmings up front.

The pitch was in good condition and rain in the afternoon and early evening made it slick and good for football.

The Stags were behind after just 5 minutes. The home side won a corner when a 30 yard shot from Kieron Morris was deflected wide after Nathan Bishop’s poor kick was straight to him. The corner from Morris from the right to beyond the far post was headed back across goal by Tom Davies, who beat Matty Longstaff to it, and Peter Clarke was left unmarked in the middle to head into the net from 3 yards. Poor marking, twice. Nigel Clough was very unhappy with several aspects of the goal after the game: “We went back to the goalkeeper twice. Elliott Hewitt had the ball; he went back to Faz Rawson and he went back to the goalkeeper. Something that we don’t try to do. Bishop’s kick wasn’t very good and then they win a corner, and we lose two headers in our box. You deserve to lose a goal when those things are taken into account.”

After 6 minutes, Quinn was taken out by a brutal foul, but the referee didn’t even see it as a foul and played on.

Lucas Akins had to limp off after 19 minutes with a tight hamstring. George Maris replaced him. Maris went in to the midfield 3, Longstaff pushed further forward.

Having not really been in the game, Mansfield had a good 20 minutes at the end of the first half finally culminating in an equaliser.

Jamie Murphy had a shot blocked for a corner after 31 minutes, as the Stags had a succession of corners.

Then a great move in and around the box after 37 minutes as Quinn found Hawkins whose touch found Rawson who in turn found Oates 12 yards from goal, and Oates’ first time shot was saved low on the line by the keeper. It was a glorious chance for Oates.

Four minutes later, a brilliant run by Oates into the area on the left and his shot from a tight angle was saved by the keeper at his near post for a corner.

At the other end after 42 minutes, Hemmings teed up Josh McPake for a shot which was high and wide from 20 yards.

Six minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the half for injuries. After 45+3 minutes, a dangerous cross from Calum MacDonald was missed by McPake and Paul Glatzel.

With less than 10 seconds of stoppage time remaining, the Stags had their equaliser. It was a goal that came from the Stags keeping possession with a great passing move: McLaughlin’s throw-in on the half way line, to Hawkins, back to McLaughlin, to Hawkins again, then Maris, to Rawson, to Hewitt, down the line to Longstaff, back to Hewitt again, forward to Oates, to Hewitt again, inside to Stirk, across to Quinn. Quinn then fed the ball to the overlapping McLaughlin, to the byline, and his chipped cross beyond the far post was met on the half-volley by Longstaff who knocked into the net from a tight angle. A brilliant team goal, 14 passes before Longstaff turned it into the net.

All square at the break. Tranmere ahead early and the better side in the early stages, causing Mansfield problems. But a real boost for the Stags equalising on the stroke of half time having had a good 20 minutes or so leading up to that.

Half time 1-1

The Stags didn’t build on that boost of the equaliser though, and full credit to Tranmere who were the better side for most of the second half.

Tranmere were nearly back in front after 52 minutes. Great play from the excellent McPake on the right, past several Stags players into the area, to Paul Glatzel who got past more Stags defenders before firing goalwards and George Maris got in a great block to deflect it over the bar. Seven minutes later, McPake made another great run into the area on the right and his shot from a tight angle smacked against the outside of the right post. Two minutes after that, MacDonald did well to get into the area and his dangerous cross came off Rawson for a corner.

Mansfield made their second change after 64 minutes as Perch replaced Quinn. Perch had come through 90 minutes for the U23 side on Monday. The Stags switched to 3 at the back (Rawson right, Hawkins centre, Perch left), with Hewitt and McLaughlin as wing-backs.

After 67 minutes, McPake got into space for a cross which Hewitt cleared for a throw-in. a minute later, sub Josh Hawks fired well wide from 25 yards.

Tranmere deservedly re-took the lead after 76 minutes having been on top for most of the half, but the goal should not have stood(*). Lewis Warrington slid a pass forward to sub Elliott Nevitt, just inside the Stags half. Nevitt had not timed his run perfectly and as the ball was played to him, he was a yard offside. Nevitt was able to run at goal and, 1-on-1 with Bishop, slide the ball under the on-rushing keeper into the net.

(*) UPDATE: I’ve changed my mind on this. Whilst Nevitt was standing in an offside position, he is technically not offside because Perch stretched to block the pass and didn't get enough on it to stop it.
There is a similar incident here analysed by Dermot Gallagher which stands as a goal:

Tranmere’s second goal: standing a yard offside, but technically not offside

Rawson had to go off after 85 minutes looking dazed after a head injury. On came Lapslie. The Stags reverted to four at the back. Hawkins went up front. Hewitt joined Perch at centre half. Longstaff went to right back.

The Stags had barely created a chance in the second half until Hawkins was pushed up front, but then laid siege to the Tranmere goal.

After 87 minutes, Oates got to the byline and his high ball in was headed down by Hawkins but cleared by Peter Clarke.

A minute later, Longstaff chipped a cross from the right into the area which was deflected up even higher, Hawkins rose superbly and beat Peter Clarke to it and headed inches wide. So close.

Into stoppage time and the siege continued. Longstaff sent Oates into the area on the right. Oates turned away from his marker, and dinked a cross into the middle, where Peter Clarke trying to head the ball up and away nearly headed into his own net, putting it behind for a corner.

And from the resulting corner, the Stags were level. Jamie Murphy took the corner from the left. It was a good corner and Hawkins got away from his marker Tom Davies to stoop and head down and into the net from 6 yards.

The Stags barely celebrated the equaliser, instead getting back to the halfway line quickly to search for a winner. A minute later, a half chance for Hawkins again as Murphy set him away but his shot from 25 yards was straight at the keeper.

But then a sucker punch for the Stags, 5 minutes into the 8 minutes of stoppage time. There was a suspicion of offside about this goal too. Warrington slid a pass forward from 35 yards out, Nevitt ran on to it, and as the pass was played he is leaning forward with his legs level with Elliott Hewitt. If VAR was in use, I think it would have been given offside. But not here. Nevitt ran into the box, cut inside Hewitt, and fired between Hewitt and James Perch into the net from 12 yards. A sickener for the Stags, a great moment for Tranmere.

So, an incredible run of 14 wins, 3 draws and just one defeat in 18 games, that started with a win against Tranmere in October, therefore ends at the same club Tranmere. And an unbeaten run of 14 games is also over.

The Stags need to start a new run now, beginning at Port Vale on Tuesday. If you can’t get to the game, you will again be able to watch it with us on iFollow Stags.

Both Akins and Rawson who went off injured, Akins with a tight hamstring, Rawson looked dazed after a head injury, will be doubts for Tuesday. I would expect John-Joe O’Toole to return from suspension in place of Rawson, and Bowery might return in place of Akins. Ollie Clarke might also come into the starting XI after Nigel Clough said last night: “Those who will be fortunate enough to play, need to be ready to tackle, close down and stop the opposition playing and we’ll see what comes from that.”
Port Vale will be dangerous opponents having won 4-1 this weekend, and moved just 3 points behind Mansfield.

Man of the Match: Oli Hawkins

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

Goals (league and cup): Oates 9, Hawkins, Johnson 7, Bowery 6, O.Clarke, Lapslie, McLaughlin 4, Longstaff, Maris, O’Toole 3, Charsley 2, Caine, Forrester, Hewitt, Quinn, Rawson, Sinclair, Stirk 1. 1 OG

Assists (league and cup): McLaughlin 10, Oates 6, Quinn 5, Bowery 4, Charsley, O.Clarke, Johnson, Sinclair 3, Hawkins, Maris, Murphy, Rawson, Stirk 2, J.Clarke, Gale, Hewitt, Lapslie, Law, Longstaff 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 Prenton Park

Line Up:
Bishop 6 Poor kick led to the corner that led to the first Tranmere goal.
Hewitt 5 Could have done better for the third goal. Nigel Clough said after the game: “Elliott Hewitt has a 1-on-1 and the lad scores unchallenged”.
Rawson 6 Did ok. Had to go off after 85 minutes looking dazed after a head injury.
Hawkins 7 Did ok in defence. Looked very dangerous in the closing minutes when he was pushed up front, including scoring the second goal.
McLaughlin 7 Great assist with the cross for Longstaff’s goal.
Longstaff 6.5 Very good finish from a tight angle. Lost his header that led to the first Tranmere goal.
Stirk 5 He and Maris were highlighted by Nigel Clough after the game “You just need desire to try and win the ball. Stirk, Maris didn’t do that tonight, especially those two”.
Quinn 6 Replaced after 64 minutes. Taken out by a brutal foul early on which didn’t even bring a free kick.
Murphy 6 Assist with the good corner for Hawkins’ goal. Shot blocked in the first half.
Akins - Had to go off after 19 minutes with a tight hamstring.
Oates 6.5 Glorious chance in the first half when he fired too close to the keeper. One brilliant run in the first half that forced a save from the keeper. A couple of crosses late on.
Sub Line Up:
Maris (for Akins, 19 mins) 5 He and Stirk were highlighted by Nigel Clough after the game “You just need desire to try and win the ball. Stirk, Maris didn’t do that tonight, especially those two”.
Perch (for Quinn, 64 mins) - Stretched to block the pass forward that led to the second goal but couldn’t get enough on it to stop it.
Lapslie (for Rawson, 85 mins) -
Subs not used: Stech, Wallace, O.Clarke, Bowery.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-3-1-2) Murphy; Dacres-Cogley, Clarke, Davies, MacDonald; Morris (Hawkes 28’), Warrington, O’Connor; McPake (Foley 89’), Glatzel (Nevitt 60’), Hemmings. Subs not used: Doohan, Knight-Percival, Jolley, McManaman.
Andy Haines 5 Quinn was taken out early on by a brutal foul, and the referee didn’t even see it as a foul and played on. The officials got the second Tranmere goal correct technically. The third goal would have been offside under VAR I think, but I wouldn’t criticise on such a tight decision.

Season 21/22 Reports