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Season 21/22 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
2 - 3
 Sutton United
Goodliffe OG 78, Longstaff 90+7.
 Bugiel 9, Ajiboye 49, Bennett 80
Attendance: 6,134 (173 from Sutton)
Date: 15 April 2022


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town’s astonishing run of 11 home wins on the trot, a club record in the Football League, came to an end this afternoon as play-off chasing Sutton United won 3-2 to put a big dent in the Stags’ promotion hopes. Sutton, in their first ever game at Mansfield, deserved the win but were given a helping hand by a horrendous mistake after 9 minutes from Farrend Rawson to gift them a goal and the set the tone for a poor performance from the Stags characterised by too many unforced errors and a general lack of quality going forward.

It was a very damaging defeat which, coupled with Port Vale’s win at Hartlepool, sees the Stags now 6 points outside the top 3. To make the top 3, the Stags would need 4 wins out of 5, and even that might not be enough now, we might need to win 5 out of 5. That looks very difficult.

Mansfield made one change from the side that won at Scunthorpe. Stephen McLaughlin missed out with a hamstring strain. Oli Hawkins returned to the starting XI as I predicted last week in my report of the Scunthorpe game. The back four remained Hewitt (right back), O’Toole and Rawson, Perch (left back). Hawkins went up front. Jamie Murphy returned from injury to the bench but was not considered for starting with Nigel Clough saying after the game: “We didn’t want to risk Jamie Murphy, he’s done half a training session coming back from a hamstring injury.”
Rhys Oates remained out with a thigh injury and won’t be back before next weekend at the earliest. Ollie Clarke also remained out having had a small procedure on his groin. It’s hoped that Clarke will be back before the end of the season.

Sutton started the game two points outside the play-off positions with a game in hand. They are having a very good first season in the Football League. Former Stag Alistair Smith was injured and not in the squad, though he had travelled to the game.

Sutton had done their homework and kicked towards the North Stand in the first half so that Mansfield were unusually kicking towards the North Stand in the second half. Just something to break Mansfield’s routine in the long winning run.

The Stags were behind after 9 minutes. Farrend Rawson received from the ball from Nathan Bishop just outside his own area, took a couple of paces forward before turning and try to play back to his keeper but left his backpass woefully short. Omar Bugiel picked up the loose ball, rounded Bishop and rolled the ball into the empty net. A calamitous error.

Enzio Boldewijn might have been booked for a deliberate foul after 13 minutes, but just received a warning.

The referee was consistent 3 minutes later when a deliberate foul by Hewitt on Boldewijn also just drew a warning.

It was nearly 2-0 after 19 minutes. Rawson’s chip forward was headed away by Harry Beautyman to Enzio Boldewijn who ran forward from the halfway line, passed Rawson who simply watched him run past him, and Boldewijn shot tamely straight at Bishop. It was shocking defending, and had Rawson been substituted immediately, he could not have complained.

The Stags were within a whisker of equalising a minute later. Good play by Jordan Bowery on the left, then good play by Lucas Akins who turned and his cross-shot was turned wide at the far post by a stretching Oli Hawkins.

Those turned out to be the best chances of a first half that wasn’t easy on the eye, with a lack of quality from both sides and with the visitors resorting to time-wasting with fully 70 minutes to play. To be fair to the referee he spotted the time-wasting and pointed to his watch several times in the game.

After 25 minutes, Goodliffe fired well over the bar from 35 yards.

On the half-hour, a corner from Longstaff from the left reached Hawkins beyond the far post but he didn’t get a good connection on his header and it went down into the ground and wide.

Two minutes later, Stirk’s free kick from 45 yards into the area was headed down by Hawkins and Quinn’s volley from 20 yards was blocked by Eastmond.

The Stags were guilty of giving the ball away far too much. On 39 minutes, O’Toole gave the ball away then brought his man down for a free kick just outside the Stags area on the right. Bishop punched away the free kick.

After 45 minutes, Longstaff fed Akins who fired in a shot from the right which was blocked. The Stags recycled the ball, Quinn crossed from the left and Hewitt headed well wide.

After 45+2 minutes, Milsom crossed and Ajiboye headed wide under pressure from Perch.

A disappointing first half for Mansfield who were rattled by the early goal gifted to Sutton. Sutton had done a job on Mansfield in that first half, after getting the early goal, breaking play up, wasting time, while Mansfield were making far too many errors. I said in my summary at half time: if there’s one team in the league you don’t want to gift a goal to give them the lead, it’s Sutton United.

Half time 0-1

No changes at half time. With the Stags lacking pace up front, I would have made a change at the break bringing on Danny Johnson, and putting Ollie Hawkins back to centre half in place of Farrend Rawson who was having a very poor game and looked like he was affected by that early mistake. Probably the reason the change wasn’t made is the worry that Hawkins is more likely to pick up a yellow card at centre half which would move him so close to a three match ban.

Sutton increased their lead on 49 minutes with fine play by Boldewijn on the left. Boldewijn received the ball from Rob Milsom, feigned to cut inside Elliott Hewitt, then cut outside him to the byline, and chipped a great cross to the far post where David Ajiboye was left unmarked to volley into the net from 5 yards, with Jordan Bowery stood watching him. A fine goal with great play from Boldewijn. Hewitt and Bowery could have done better.

Ajiboye embarked on a couple of excellent runs of his own down the right, having a shot deflected wide after 54 minutes, and a minute later getting to the byline but his cross was cleared.

After 57 minutes, a corner from Quinn from the left was cleared back to him. He surged into the area and went down with Isaac Olaofe close to him. The Stags appealed for a penalty, but the referee booked Quinn for diving. From the video replay, Olaofe did not put in a challenge and Quinn went down too easily. The referee got this one right.

Perch did well to win a free kick on the hour. Quinn took the free kick, from level with the edge of the area on the left, to the far post. O’Toole leapt well, but headed over the bar.

The Stags were still unable to find that bit of quality to up their game. But the Stags fans were giving great support to their side.

After 62 minutes, Olaofe got into the Stags area on the left but his low shot was saved by Bishop at his near post.

Quinn laid off to Stirk after 65 minutes, Stirk chipped the ball straight at the keeper.

Danny Johnson was brought on after 66 minutes in place of Quinn. Quinn was showing signs of frustration, and was already on a yellow card. Clough clarified after the game: "Quinn's carrying knocks and you saw him get a whack so it was important that he's available for Monday.”

Good play from Bowery on the left after 68 minutes and his cross was cleared to Akins 8 yards from goal, and Akins’ shot was blocked on the line by Louis John. That was close.

A poor header from O’Toole after 71 minutes, and Bishop did well to put the ball out for a throw-in.

Great control from Hawkins after 72 minutes, and a good run from Bowery to win a corner. A minute later, Bowery played the ball inside to Stirk who turned and his shot was blocked.

George Maris replaced Stirk after 74 minutes. Not Stirk’s day at all. Clough said after the game: "Stirky wasn't brilliant today”. Maris c.

Then on 75 minutes, Akins chested down to Danny Johnson who shot straight at the keeper.

Maris had only been on a couple of minutes when he made an unforced error. It seemed to be infectious from his teammates.

Out of the blue, the Stags pulled a goal back after 78 minutes. A free kick from Bishop from halfway inside his own half was headed on by Hawkins outside the box, and defender Ben Goodliffe, trying to head the ball away, could only head the ball over his own keeper and into the net. A lifeline for the Stags.

But Mansfield couldn’t capitalise and Sutton restored their two goal advantage two minutes later. Ajiboye lifted the ball forward from 5 yards inside his own half for sub Richie Bennett to run on to. Stags players claimed offside but Bennett had come from an onside position. Bennett ran through on goal and fired past Bishop with a clinical finish. No sooner had the Stags been given a lifeline with the own goal, than Sutton had taken it away from them again.
Incidentally from the main camera video replay, you cannot tell if Bennett was onside or offside. But from analyst Matt Ash’s wide angle video, Bennett was onside. Nigel Clough talked after the game about “Perchy unusually giving it away” in the build-up to the goal, though Mansfield had won the ball back well before the goal was conceded. Clough added: “I don't think he was offside, I think he timed his run very well.”

Kieran Wallace replaced Perch after 85 minutes. Wallace went in at left back.

Wallace was straight into the action. A good move from the Stags down the left, Wallace burst forward, found Johnson and his shot was on target but Milsom deflected it wide.

Into stoppage time. On 90+2 minutes, O’Toole tried his luck from 35 yards, but his shot was straight at the keeper.

The Stags scored a consolation to make it 3-2 with virtually the last kick of the game after 90+7 minutes. Hewitt’s free kick from halfway inside his own half was headed down by Hawkins, it was half-cleared by Goodliffe to sub George Maris who teed up Matty Longstaff for a shot from 22 yards. Longstaff took aim and his shot was deflected by Louis John, wrong-footing the keeper and sending it into the net. Longstaff’s shot was on-target so it was his goal, but it probably wouldn’t have gone in without the deflection.

A bitterly disappointing performance and result from Mansfield. A lack of pace and quality going forward, coupled with critical errors. Rhys Oates might have caused Sutton plenty of problems but remains out injured, and won't be available until next weekend at the earliest. Stephen McLaughlin was also missed going forward on the left. Nigel Clough commented after the game: “We looked a little bit disjointed, with injuries catching us up. We especially missed McLaughlin’s driving force at left back. Perchy did well but he’s a different sort of full back. We missed a little bit of creativity at times today.”

Credit to Sutton for stopping Mansfield playing. They are very good at what they do, it’s not pretty, but very effective. They slowed the game down, were very solid defensively, and in Boldewijn and Ajiboye had two dangerous wingers. We know from Boldewijn’s time at Notts County he’s incredibly inconsistent, but he was effective today.

The Stags need to bounce back quickly, with a visit to Carlisle on Monday afternoon. Oates, McLaughlin and the suspended Lapslie will not be available. With those players out, options for team selection are limited, but I would probably be looking to get Wallace, Maris, Johnson and possibly Law into the starting line up to freshen things up. If you’re not travelling to the game, you can watch it with us on iFollow Stags.

Man of the match: A poor performance overall and no-one excelled. Two flick-ons from Hawkins led to the two goals so that was a bigger contribution than most.

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

Goals (league and cup): Oates 11, Hawkins 8, Bowery, Johnson 7, Lapslie 6, McLaughlin 5, O.Clarke, Longstaff 4, Maris, O’Toole 3, Charsley, Stirk 2, Caine, Forrester, Hewitt, Perch, Quinn, Rawson, Sinclair 1. 3 OG

Assists (league and cup): McLaughlin 12, Oates 8, Bowery, Quinn 5, Charsley, O.Clarke, Hawkins, Johnson, Longstaff, Maris, Sinclair 3, Lapslie, Murphy, Rawson, Stirk 2, Akins, J.Clarke, Gale, Hewitt, Law, Wallace 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.)

Average home league attendance: 5049 (average away fans: 529, average home fans 4520)

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

Line Up:
Bishop 6 Not at fault for the goals. Slipped over before Rawson’s mistake for the first goal, but that didn’t contribute to the goal.
Hewitt 5 Could have done better for the second goal when Boldewijn got past him to cross in. Appeared to be out of position for the third goal.
Rawson 4 Horrendous mistake for the first goal. More poor play 10 minutes later allowed Boldewijn to get in a shot. His performance for the rest of the game appeared to be affected by the early error. Clough said after the game “When you make a mistake as Rawson did today you have to put it behind you and I thought he struggled to do that today”. Clough also summed up his mistake and its importance: “It was one player making a schoolboy error and ultimately that had a massive impact on the result today."
O’Toole 6 Mostly ok but a couple of errors.
Perch 6.5 Defended well, but when in position to go forward didn’t have the drive of McLaughlin. Clough said after the game “We especially missed McLaughlin’s driving force at left back. Perchy did well but he’s a different sort of full back. We missed a little bit of creativity at times today.”
Longstaff 6.5 Scored his 4th goal for the Stags, albeit a consolation.
Stirk 5 It wasn’t his day at all. Clough substituted him and said after the game "Stirky wasn't brilliant today”.
Quinn 6 One or two decent deliveries from crosses. Was subbed with Clough saying "Quinn's carrying knocks and you saw him get a whack so it was important that he's available for Monday.”
Akins 5.5 Great play to set up a great chance for Hawkins which was inches wide. Had a shot blocked on the line. But gave the ball away several times and lost it several times.
Hawkins 6.5 Won a lot of headers and one superb piece of control. Two flick-ons led to the two Stags goals. Otherwise didn’t have a particularly good game.
Bowery 5.5 Stood and watched Ajoboye knock in the second goal. A couple of pieces of good play going forward, but overall disappointing.
Sub Line Up:
Johnson (for Quinn, 66 mins) - One shot straight at the keeper and one deflected wide.
Maris (for Stirk, 74 mins) - Has had surprisingly little game time since returning from injury. Got an assist for Longstaff’s goal.
Wallace (for Perch, 85 mins) - Immediately did well when he came on, driving forward down the left. Clough said after the game “Kieran Wallace did well for the 5-10 minutes he came on.”
Subs not used: Stech, Law, Murphy.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2) Bouzanis; Kizzi, John, Goodliffe, Milsom; Ajiboye, Eastmond, Beautyman (90+2), Boldewijn; Bugiel (Bennett 68), Olaofe (Wilson 76). Subs not used: House, Rowe, Wyatt, Korboa.
Neil Hair 6 Very lenient with his yellow cards, but consistent for both sides. The officials were correct in allowing Sutton’s third goal. Also was wise to Sutton’s time-wasting, often pointing to his watch, and adding on stoppage time.

Season 21/22 Reports