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Season 22/23 Stagsnet Match Report
Papa John’s Trophy (English Football League Trophy)
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Manchester City U21
Akins 16, Gale 50, Lapslie 84.
 Borges 29, Dickson 32
Attendance: 1,804 (64 from Manchester City)
Date: 30 August 2022


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town beat Manchester City U21 3-2 in the first match in the group stages of this season’s Papa John’s Trophy at the One Call Stadium last night. It was a very entertaining game to watch that could have easily ended something like 6-5, and was a contrast between the fantastic technical ability of the Manchester City youngsters and the extra strength, work rate and closing down of the Stags side.

Mansfield made plenty of changes as expected from Saturday’s game at Sutton, 8 in total. McLaughlin, Harbottle and Akins were the 3 to start who started at Sutton. O’Toole (foot injury) and Hawkins (illness) were ruled out. With those two ruled out, and probably not wanting to start Perch again after Saturday, Nigel Clough switched to a 4-3-3 formation, with Hewitt and Harbottle at centre half, Gordon and McLaughlin the full backs, Clarke, Maris and Wallace in midfield, and Akins (right), Bowery (left) either side of young James Gale up front. Scott Flinders made his debut in goal.

Manchester City U21 had played at Mansfield two years ago in this competition and won 3-0, with Liam Delap outstanding in attack. Within a few weeks he was on the bench for the first team. Only centre half Finley Burns from that team played in this game.

City had two chances in the opening 6 minutes. After 4 minutes, Adedire Mebude received the ball on the right, clearly in an offside position when the ball was played across from Carlos Borges, but missed by the officials, he cut inside and his shot was cleared off the line by Hewitt. Then right back Juan Larios, who looked to have an abundance of talent, even if not suited to the right back role, played a 1-2 and slid a shot wide of the right post.

At the other end on 8 minutes, a shot from Bowery was deflected wide.

The Stags went even closer on 9 minutes, McLaughlin’s shot from 25 yards was arrowing towards the top right corner of the net but keeper Mikki Van Sas made a wonderful save, tipping it over.

On 11 minutes, City had the ball in the net, as Mebude crossed and Will Dickson turned it into the net but the offside flag was already up.

At the other end on 12 minutes, McLaughlin curled in a free kick from 35 yards, Akins looped a header goalwards and it landed on the top of the bar, though the keeper had it covered.

The Stags went even closer again on 14 minutes. A great cross from McLaughlin, Gale headed it goalwards and the keeper somehow kept it out with his legs.

The Stags took the lead after 16 minutes. A great run by Gordon down the right and his fine cross to the far post was turned behind for a corner by Larios with Bowery trying to get on the end of it. Maris took the resulting corner from the left, high to the far post, where Akins leapt well, timing his leap to perfection, and heading down into the bottom left corner of the net. A third assist of the season for Maris (see my stats below), and Akins’ first goal of the season.

After 25 minutes, Larios brought down Bowery on the left. Larios was booked. The free kick from Maris was turned goalwards by Bowery, but blocked.

Three minutes later, Akins crossed from the right, it reached McLaughlin, just outside the area and he got a great connection on his shot which fizzed just over and wide of the angle of bar and post.

But Manchester City U21 equalised after 29 minutes. And it was route one football at its best! Keeper Van Sas pinged the ball low straight down the middle, Flinders came out of his area to try to get there, but Borges got to it first, took a touch round Flinders, and rolled it into the empty net from 22 yards. Terrible keeping from Flinders, who had to get there if he was coming out of his area.

Flinders did well two minutes later as he cleared quickly after Harbottle tried to shepherd the ball back to him.

On 32 minutes, Manchester City U21 took the lead. And again it was excellent route one football. Keeper Van Sas pinged the ball low forward and all the way into the Stags box, from just outside his own area, Mebude ran on to it and slid a ball across the edge of the box yard box to Dickson who turned the ball into the net. The goal should have been disallowed though. From the analyst’s wide angle camera it was clear that Mebude was a yard offside when the keeper played the ball forward, but it was again missed by the officials.

After 35 minutes, a good tackle by Hewitt to concede a corner. From that corner, Shea Charles side-footed wide from 25 yards.

A chance for the Stags after 41 minutes. From Maris’s corner from the right, Gale headed over the bar.

Then on 45+1 minutes, Gordon’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked for a corner. From that corner by Maris, McLaughlin headed over the bar.

Manchester City U21 ahead at the break in a half of plenty of chances for both sides.

Half time 1-2

Gale did well to win a corner out of nothing 25 seconds into the second half. The resulting corner from Maris was deflected onto the bar by City sub O’Reilly for another corner. Then a minute later pinball in the City box following a Gordon cross, Bowery was close to turning it into the net before being flagged offside.

The Stags were level at 2-2 after 50 minutes. Bowery crossed right footed from the left, Wallace headed it on, and Akins headed it down perfectly into the path of Gale who acrobatically turned it into the net from 6 yards. A good assist from Akins and a great moment for Gale with his first Stags goal. He deserved it for a fine performance.

Another chance for Gale after 56 minutes. Another good cross from Gordon, and Gale headed over the bar, unmarked. He should have scored again.

After 58 minutes, great control from Akins on the right to take down a Hewitt crossfield pass. He found Gordon who crossed from the right, Bowery headed down, and Wallace took it down on his knee before turning and crossing low from the byline across the face of goal to Gale who turned it goalwards but the keeper saved on his line.

The Stags missed a sitter after 59 minutes. Akins teed up Gordon for a cross. Gordon’s cross was half cleared as far as Wallace, completely unmarked 12 yards out, but Wallace blazed his shot over the bar and into the very back of the empty Quarry Lane stand.

Another chance for the Stags after 67 minutes, as Maris crossed and McLaughlin’s flying header was straight at the keeper.

Mansfield made a double change after 68 minutes. Lapslie and Perch came on for McLaughlin and Akins. Perch went in at centre half, Hewitt moved to left back, Lapslie went onto the right where Akins had been.

Maris fired over the bar from 28 yards after 71 minutes.

Another double change for the Stags after 73 minutes. Swan and Hartigan replaced Wallace and Clarke.

After 79 minutes, Hewitt did well down the left, he found Bowery, who got to the byline, cut inside and his low shot was blocked.

Yet another chance for Gale after 83 minutes. Gordon steamed forward and crossed and Gale headed well wide. Not the best header from Gale on this occasion.

The Stags made it 3-2 after 84 minutes. Perch won a header on the edge of the centre circle. Lapslie fed the ball out to Gale on the left. Gale slid a lovely ball forward to the byline for Hewitt who crossed low into the six yard box, where Lapslie turned the ball into the net from 3 yards, getting ahead of his marker. A real goal-poacher’s goal from Lapslie, great to see. And a good assist for Hewitt, as well as good play from Gale.

Good keeping from Flinders after 86 minutes, out quickly to clear.

Two chances for Manchester City U21 to equalise in stoppage time. After 90+2 minutes, Mebude got ahead of Hewitt down the right and crossed for Borges, unmarked 12 yards out. Borges shot low but Flinders was out to narrow the angle and saved with his legs. A brilliant save from Flinders. And within 30 seconds, sub Tomas Galvez pulled back to Borges, 14 yards from goal, and he swept a shot against the bar. A stroke of luck there as the Stags held on to the lead.

A really entertaining game, and £10,000 in the bank for Mansfield winning the game. Plenty of impressive performances in the Stags side. Gordon made some good runs from right back and put in some fine crosses, Akins was very good on the right, with a goal and an assist, while James Gale impressed again as he has in pre-season games, including scoring his first Stags goal.

Manchester City U21 had some very impressive players. Especially right back Juan Larios, a diminutive left footed player, who looked to have an abundance of talent, even if not suited to the right back role. I mentioned him to Nigel Clough after the game, who agreed about his talent but joked he was the smallest full back he’d ever seen. Larios is an 18 year old, signed from Barcelona two years ago, who is expected for sign for Southampton in the next 24 hours. Carlos Borges also impressed up front, as did others. However for all their incredible talent, with amazing passing and movement, they couldn’t compete physically with the Stags, who won lots of headers.

There are two more games coming up in the group stages with a visit to Grimsby Town in September, while Derby County visit Mansfield in October, for the second time this season.

A word on the attendance which was a thousand more than last season’s game against Newcastle United U21 (1,804 vs 805). This is probably a reflection of how much Stags fans are enjoying home games at the moment. Those that turned out last night certainly saw an entertaining game.

Back to the league on Saturday. The Stags visit Doncaster, backed by a big following. Hopefully the big following can inspire the team to a first away win or at least point of the season.

Man of the match: Lucas Akins

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

Goals (league and cup): Harbottle, Hawkins, Lapslie, Swan 2, Akins, Clarke, Gale, Maris, Oates 1.

Assists (league and cup): Lapslie, Maris 3, Akins, Boateng, Bowery, Clarke, Hartigan, Hewitt, 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.)

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

Line Up:
Flinders 5.5 His Stags debut. Terrible mistake for the first goal. Made a brilliant save in stoppage time to preserve the victory.
Gordon 8 Made some good runs from right back and put in some fine crosses, around five of them.
Hewitt 7.5 Clearance off the line, and one fine tackle. Assist for the third goal.
Harbottle 6 Did ok.
McLaughlin 7 Some good crosses. One fine shot brought a brilliant save.
Clarke 7 Had a decent game.
Maris 7.5 Put in plenty of good corners, including the assist for the first goal.
Wallace 6 One good cross for Gale. Missed a sitter, blazing over the bar.
Akins 8 Very good game on the right, with a goal and an assist.
Gale 8 Impressed again as he did in pre-season games. Deserved his first Stags goal for a fine performance. Could have scored 4.
Bowery 7 Good game on the left.
Sub Line Up:
Lapslie (for McLaughlin, 68 mins) - A real goal-poacher’s goal, great to see.
Perch (for Akins, 68 mins) -
Swan (for Wallace, 73 mins) -
Hartigan (for Clarke, 73 mins) -.
Subs not used: Pym, Quinn, Boateng.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Mikki Van Sas; Juan Larios, Finley Burns, Jadel Katongo, Kane Taylor (Tomas Galvez 60); Adedire Mebude, Shea Charles, Kian Breckin, Will Dickson (Justin Oboavwoduo 60); Oscar Bobb (Nico O'Reilly 46), Carlo Borges. Subs not used: Max Alleline, Josh McNamara, Liam Smith, Joel Ndala.
Ross Joyce 7 Handled the game well. His assistant missed a couple of offsides in the first half, including the second Man City U21 goal.

Season 22/23 Reports