Neufville 44, Fadahunsi 82.
Attendance: 2,664 (372 from Mansfield)
Date: 27 August 2022
STAGS BEATEN BY SUTTON UNITED AGAIN
Martin Shaw at Gander Green Lane
Mansfield Town were beaten away from home for the third time in three away games this season, losing 2-1 at Sutton United this afternoon. Sutton were the only side to do the double over Mansfield last season and the Stags don’t enjoy playing them.
Sutton United took the lead just before half time when Josh Neufville ran from the centre circle through the entire Stags defence to fire home. A brilliant goal but really poor defending that started with O’Toole giving the ball away with a crossfield pass and then McLaughlin, Perch, Harbottle and O’Toole all failing to stop Neufville. The Stags levelled on 75 minutes when Oli Hawkins headed home from a Stephen McLaughlin free kick. But Sutton scored the winner on 82 minutes when sub Tope Fadahunsi headed home, unmarked, after Kylian Kouassi headed a free kick back across goal.
It was a game not too high on quality and not many chances. Indeed Jack Rose in the Sutton goal didn’t make a save all afternoon, while Christy Pym made one.
The Stags remain in 8th place, two points outside the play-offs. Mansfield’s home form is so good, but they will obviously need to pick up points away from home to challenge this season. Hopefully that will start in the big local derby at Doncaster Rovers next Saturday. Before then, Mansfield will play Manchester City U21 in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday (7pm kick off at the One Call Stadium). You can watch the Man City U21 game with us on iFollow with a match pass.
Mansfield made three changes from the side that beat Stockport. Jordan Bowery didn’t travel due to illness, “a bug” according to Nigel Clough. Bowery was replaced by Lucas Akins at right wing-back, himself returning from a groin injury.
Oli Hawkins also came into side after a tight hamstring. Clough explained after the game: "We wanted Oli Hawkins up front, because we missed Oatesey's pace as you do especially away from home, so we thought get Hawks up there he'll cause problems, and he did and scored the goal. But we could have done with him back there as well in the back three.”
Bringing in Hawkins up front meant either Will Swan or George Lapslie would have to move position. Both were outstanding last week. Swan partnered Hawkins up front. Lapslie dropped back into midfield.
George Maris and Ollie Clarke moved to the bench. Maris went off injured with a whack against Stockport and may not have been considered fit to start, though I don’t know that. He was on the bench.
I was surprised that Clarke didn’t start after a really good game and a goal against Stockport, and no suggestion of an injury.
Stephen Quinn returned from a hip injury to fill the final midfield position, alongside Hartigan and Lapslie.
Nigel Clough gave an update on the Rhys Oates injury after the game, saying that he had his surgery this week, adding: “The surgeon is very happy with it. We’re looking to get him back on the pitch within three months which is a big boost compared to the four to six months we were led to believe originally.”
Good luck to Rhys with his recovery.
Nigel Clough also talked about the latest on his search to sign a striker: “We’ve made enquiries. We had a deal put to us which involves one of our players going in a swap loan. So we’re considering that.”
The transfer window closes on Thursday (September 1st, at 11pm).
Incidentally, Theo Robinson has been training with the club. Nigel Clough told me he is just training with us, as a favour, a bit like with Dylan McGeouch in pre-season. Clough did add: “If we don’t get a striker in by Thursday, you never know...”
Clough told me he would have been happy to give Theo Robinson a game on Tuesday in the Papa John’s Trophy, but a player can only play for a limited number of clubs in a season so it might limit Robinson’s options by playing.
Sutton of course missed out on the play-offs on the final day of last season, pipped by Mansfield by one point as it happened in such a tight league table. Sutton were without striker Omar Bugiel through injury, who scored in both Sutton’s wins over Mansfield last season. They have lost star player David Ajiboye to Peterborough United in the summer. They have replaced Ajiboye with Josh Neufville, on loan from Luton.
On a pleasant warm sunny afternoon, the Stags were backed by nearly 400 travelling fans in south-west London.
The Stags got off to a sloppy start. 7 seconds on the clock when Stephen McLaughlin put the ball into touch. I said in commentary I could already hear Nigel Clough in his post match interview. I wasn’t wrong. The Stags did the same at Salford in the opening 10 seconds.
The first half was even. After 5 minutes, Harry Beautyman slid a nice ball forward into the area for Donovan Wilson to get goalside of James Perch and get in a shot from a tight angle which Pym saved with his legs. It turned out to be the only save by either keeper in the game.
After 10 minutes, McLaughlin put in a good tackle after the Stags had given the ball away.
The Stags best chance of the half came on 16 minutes. Hawkins slid a ball forward, Will Swan did very well to get goalside of his marker Coby Rowe and was brought down by Rowe just outside the area. Swan wanted a penalty but the contact was just outside the area. A yellow card for Rowe as there was a covering defender (Joe Kizzi). McLaughlin took the resulting free kick from 22 yards and curled it over the bar.
Josh Neufville fired well wide for Sutton from the edge of the area after 19 minutes. Two minutes later, good defending from Perch to head the ball back to Pym under pressure.
After 26 minutes, a corner from Milson from the right was curled beyond the far post, over Pym, and Beautyman turned the ball into the side netting from an impossible angle.
O’Toole was booked for a foul on Will Randall after 28 minutes, when Randall knocked the ball through his legs, and O’Toole had to stop him getting away. Two minutes later a loose pass from O’Toole out for a throw-in.
Joe Kizzi put in a reckless challenge on Riley Harbottle after 37 minutes and was fortunate to escape with a yellow card.
Lapslie had a chance to shoot but didn’t pull the trigger, tried to lay the ball off, and lost possession.
After 43 minutes, Pym was out of his area quickly to clear, spotting possible danger.
Sutton United took the lead after 44 minutes. O’Toole gave the ball away with a crossfield pass. Josh Neufville got the ball in the centre circle. He ran past McLaughlin, then between Perch and Harbottle, and then, with O’Toole not putting in a challenge or a block, fired past Pym into the bottom left corner of the net. Nigel Clough was fuming about the goal after the game, saying: "Somebody waltzes through the middle of the pitch and scores as they did at Salford and as they did at Orient. I'd rather people show a little more aggression and a desire to keep the ball out of the net.”
A brilliant goal but really poor defending from four defenders.
Sutton ahead at the break. Earlier it had been even with one good chance at either end, the Pym save from Wilson, and the foul on Swan with the resulting free kick from McLaughlin.
Half time 1-0
On 48 minutes, good play from Neufville who got past McLaughlin into the area and tried to square to Kwame Thomas but couldn’t find him.
The Stags could have been level after 52 minutes. Hartigan’s low corner from the left bounced up through a crowd of players and reached Hawkins at the far post. With an empty goal, Hawkins could only turn it over the bar off his head or his shoulder.
Two minutes later, another great chance. A great break from the Stags, good play from Swan, who teed up McLaughlin for a curling shot from the left, just a foot the wrong side of the right post.
A minute after that, more good play from Swan with great skill, but he tried to play in Akins and just put too much on his ball forward.
Harbottle had to go off after 58 minutes. According to Nigel Clough after the game: “more illness than injury, he hasn't felt quite well all week, and he was having breathing problems.”
He was replaced by Hewitt.
A good header away by Hewitt after 59 minutes.
On 60 minutes, Akins pushed forward down the right, to the byline, pulled the ball back, and Eastmond put the ball over his own bar.
Then O’Toole also had to go off after 65 minutes. A foot injury according to Nigel Clough. Kieran Wallace replaced him and went into central defence. Clough didn’t want to take Hawkins out of attack.
Quinn was booked for an accumulation of fouls after 68 minutes. His third booking in the league this season (see details of all bookings this season below).
A minute later, the referee brought Quinn over to the dugouts to talk with the player and manager Nigel Clough. The referee then spoke to Sutton manager Matt Gray. It was puzzling at the time.
Nigel Clough said after the game: "Stephen Quinn has reported a slur to the referee. It was also heard by one of our other players as well. It will be reported to the referee and we'll go on from there.”
I don’t know if we’ll hear more about this later.
Mansfield made three more changes after 74 minutes. Quinn was replaced, having just been booked. Hartigan and Akins also came off. On came Boateng, back from injury, Maris, and Gordon.
The Stags levelled on 75 minutes. Hawkins had been fouled just before the substitutions were made. McLaughlin curled in the free kick from 26 yards out, and Hawkins headed home. A fine header from Hawkins and a good assist from McLaughlin.
Within minutes, Maris had a shot blocked, and then Boateng had a shot blocked.
But Sutton scored the winner on 81 minutes. They had just made a triple substitution on 80 minutes. Hewitt conceded a free kick 40 yards from goal. A bit unlucky perhaps as the ball hit his outstretched arm. Will Randall curled the free kick towards the far post, sub Kylian Kouassi headed it back across goal, and another sub Tope Fadahunsi headed home, unmarked. Maris looked like he was supposed to be marking Fadahunsi but lost him and gave him a free header. A real sickener for the Stags, having got back into the game.
The Stags were unable to create any chances to equalise as Sutton ran the clock down expertly, mostly keeping the ball in the Stags half, and had one chance to extend the lead after 83 minutes as sub Enzio Boldewijn set Randall away to the edge of the area and he fired wide. Randall was immediately replaced by former Stag Alistair Smith. There was no further goalmouth action at either end.
A very disappointing defeat. The Stags didn’t work the keeper enough to earn a win. But they should have come away with a point and need to defend better.
Man of the match: Oli Hawkins
Here’s a running tally of various stats this season:
Goals (league and cup): Harbottle, Hawkins, Swan 2, Clarke, Lapslie, Maris, Oates 1.
Assists (league and cup): Lapslie 3, Maris 2, Boateng, Bowery, Clarke, Hartigan, McLaughlin 1
(notes on assists: in the case of a penalty, the player who earns the penalty gets an assist, such as Lapslie against AFC Wimbledon. In the case of a solo goal, such as Maris against Newport at home last season, 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, such as Lapslie against Stockport. In the case of an own goal, the player who caused the own goal gets an assist, for example McLaughlin against Newport away last season where his shot was deflected in for an own goal.)
Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Clarke 1, Hawkins 1, Lapslie 1, McLaughlin 2, O’Toole 2, Quinn 3.
Red cards (league and cup): Bowery 1.
(note: red cards count across competitions apart from Papa John’s Trophy; yellow cards are competition specific)
(note: 5 yellow cards before the end of the 19th league game will result in a one match ban; 10 yellow cards before the end of the 37th league game will result in a two match ban; 15 yellow cards before the end of the 46th league game will result in a three match ban)
Report by: Martin Shaw at Gander Green Lane
Pym 6 Made a good save from Wilson. But possibly, if I’m being really critical, he could have done better with the first goal. Had little else to do.
O’Toole 4 Had a rare very poor game. Several errors in the first half including giving the ball away which led to the first goal. Came off with a foot injury which was perhaps hampering him.
Perch 5 Like the rest of the defence, failed to stop the first goal. Also allowed Wilson to get goalside of him for the shot which Pym saved in the first half.
Harbottle 5.5 Like the rest of the defence, failed to stop the first goal. One very good tackle. Had to go off with illness, Clough saying “he hasn't felt quite well all week, and he was having breathing problems.”
Akins 6 Didn’t play badly. The only one of the back five not at fault for at least one of the goals.
Lapslie 6 Didn’t contribute as much as recent games, in a deeper position.
Hartigan 6 One corner created a chance for Hawkins. A few decent passes.
Quinn 5.5 Didn’t contribute too much. Booked for an accumulation of fouls.
McLaughlin 5.5 Great assist from the free kick for the goal. Had a poor first half. Like the rest of the defence, failed to stop the first goal. Put the ball into touch with 7 seconds on the clock to signal a sloppy start. Curled a free kick over the bar.
Swan 6.5 Good play to win the free kick just outside the box. Good play to tee up McLaughlin for a shot in the second half. Plenty of energy.
Hawkins 7 Scored with a good header. Nearly scored from a corner when the ball bounced up and he could only turn it over the bar. Did ok. Was highlighted by Sutton manager Matt Gray after the game as Mansfield’s biggest threat on the day.
Sub Line Up:
Hewitt (for Harbottle, 58 mins) - A bit unlucky perhaps to concede the free kick that led to the second goal as the ball hit his outstretched arm. One good header away.
Wallace (for O’Toole, 65 mins) - Filled in at centre half.
Boateng (for Quinn, 74 mins) -
Maris (for Hartigan, 74 mins) - Looked like he was supposed to be marking Fadahunsi but lost him and gave him a free header for the second goal.
Gordon (for Akins, 74 mins) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Clarke.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Rose; Kizzi, Rowe, John, Milsom; Neufville (Boldewijn, 80), Eastmond, Beautyman, Randall (Smith, 83); Wilson (Fadahunsi, 80), Thomas (Kouassi, 80). Subs not used: Barden, House, Gambin.
Lee Swabey 7 Handled the game well. Got the yellow card right for the foul on Swan just outside the area. Also the yellow for Kizzi for the reckless challenge on Harbottle was probably just about right, though some could have seen it as a red.