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Season 22/23 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Crawley Town  
3 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Nadesan 1, 46, Nichols 13.
 Bowery pen 16, Lapslie 27.
Attendance: 2,802 (458 from Mansfield)
Date: 22 October 2022


Martin Shaw at the Broadfield Stadium

Mansfield Town’s seven game unbeaten run came to an end in West Sussex this afternoon with a 3-2 defeat at Crawley Town. The Stags were looking for a 5th away win on the trot but were undone by some poor defending, conceding goals less than 60 seconds into the start of the first half and again less than 60 seconds into the start of the second half. Crawley stormed into a 2-0 lead after 13 minutes, the Stags scored twice in 11 minutes, after 16 and 27 minutes to draw level, but then Crawley’s 3rd goal and eventual winner came right at the start of the second half.

The Stags remain 4th in the table, but are now four points behind third placed Northampton with a game in hand.

Crawley came into the game in the relegation zone. However having sacked manager Kevin Betsy just over a week ago, they had then beaten Newport last Saturday and followed that up with 5 goals in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday. Interim manager Lewis Young was putting himself in the frame to be the next manager. A bit of a mystery why Crawley were in that position in the first place with a strike force of the impressive Tom Nichols and Ashley Nadesan, and with Dom Telford, so prolific for Newport last season unable to get into the side. Nichols was a player that it was heavily rumoured that Mansfield had put in a substantial bid for in the summer transfer window but which wasn’t successful.

Mansfield made 2 changes from the side that beat Walsall: Hartigan and Swan came in for McLaughlin and Quinn. McLaughlin missed out with a sore knee, and Clough said he hopes he might be available for Tuesday but will have to see how he is, and he might miss Tuesday against Newport, Saturday against Swindon and the FA Cup tie at Barrow. Quinn dropped to the bench. Meanwhile Perch missed out from the trip with a bug, “an illness which has knocked him a little bit” said Clough after the game. Wallace was back from his head injury on the bench. Gordon remained out with a groin injury.
The Stags started with a 3-5-1-1 formation, with Hewitt, Hawkins and Harbottle in central defence, Bowery at right wing-back, Akins at left wing-back. Clarke, Hartigan and Maris were in midfield. Lapslie was just behind Swan up front.

The Stags could not have got off to a worse start. Inside 25 seconds Crawley had the ball in the Stags box and there were appeals for a penalty as Tilley tried to shoot and was tackled by Hawkins. And after 59 seconds Crawley were ahead. Nichols slid a super ball forward into the Stags area and Nadesan got in between Hawkins and Harbottle to slide a shot across Pym and into the bottom right corner of the net. Fine play by Nichols and Nadesan but the Stags were asleep.

After 7 minutes, Johnson played forward to Tilley who got away from Harbottle, turned and sent in a low shot which Pym saved at his near post.

Plenty of loose passes from Stags players and such a sloppy start.

And it got worse after 13 minutes as Crawley made it 2-0. Hawkins gave away a free kick, unnecessarily fouling Nichols from behind, 38 yards from goal. Powell took the resulting free kick, curling it into the Stags box and Nichols got away from his marker Hawkins to head into the net from 6 yards. Pym got a hand on it but couldn’t keep it out and couldn’t be blamed. A double error from Hawkins, conceding the free kick and then losing his man.

The Stags pulled a goal back after 16 minutes. A long throw from Hewitt from the right, level with the edge of the six yard box, was towards the near post. Nichols leapt with his right arm in the air and clearly handballed. It was a clear penalty. Crawley claimed that Nichols had been pushed from behind, but from the video there could be no complaints as Hawkins was behind him, simply sandwiched between Nichols and Conroy. Bowery stepped up to take the penalty. There was a discussion with Akins who missed at Doncaster and in the penalty shoot out against Derby, and Bowery continued to take it. Bowery coolly sent the keeper the wrong way, slotting into the bottom left corner.

Nearly a chance for Swan after 21 minutes as Maris slid a ball forward, and the keeper was out to claim at Swan’s feet. Swan might have been offside had he got there. Then on 24 minutes, Hartigan curled a ball forward, Clarke stretched out a leg and caught the keeper, but the referee played on and there was no foul. A minute later at the other end, a good tackle by Akins on Tilley for a corner.

The Stags equalised after 27 minutes. Hewitt pushed forward down the right and from level with the edge of the area, he curled in a brilliant cross and Lapslie rose to head into the net from 6 yards at the far post. Brilliant from Hewitt, and Lapslie with a good header for his 6th goal of the season. Great character from the Stags to fight back from 2-0 down.

Powell tried a cheeky chip from the halfway line but Pym watched it all the way over the bar.

On 29 minutes, Lapslie was brought down by Johnson 24 yards from goal. A yellow card for Johnson. Lapslie wanted a red but he wasn’t going towards goal and it wasn’t a clear goalscoring opportunity. The resulting free kick was taken by Maris, from a central position. It was blocked by the wall, Bowery flicked the rebound inside towards Swan who turned a first time shot wide from 6 yards.

Swan should have put the Stags in front after 36 minutes. Akins headed the ball forward into the area, Swan was in a great position to lift the ball over the stranded keeper but slipped at the crucial moment. The ball was cleared as far as Clarke, who headed it forward, Maris then flicked a great ball forward into the area for Swan who just had the keeper to beat from 12 yards from an angle on the left. He slid his shot across the keeper and just wide of the right post. It was a glorious opportunity and Swan put his head in his hands.

Referee Sunny Gill was making some strange decisions for both sides and missed a blatant push on Hawkins after 40 minutes by Nadesan, Nadesan played inside to Tilley whose shot from 16 yards was saved by Pym.

Tsaroulla was booked for a foul on Hewitt after 45+1 minutes. Both Crawley full backs now booked.

2-2 at the break. The Stags asleep at the start, conceding twice, but getting a lifeline with the penalty and then equalising with a fine goal as Lapslie headed home from a brilliant cross from Hewitt. Swan should then have seen the Stags in front at the break with a succession of chances.

Half time 2-2

The Stags switched to 4 at the back at the start of the second half, with Akins at right back, Hewitt at left back, and Bowery on the left and Lapslie on the right of Swan in a 4-3-3 formation.

But 50 seconds into the second half, Crawley were in front again and again it was dreadful defending. Nichols lifted a ball forward over the top from inside his own half for Nadesan to run on to. Harbottle should have seen him out wide, but Nadesan cut inside, past Harbottle, and fired past Pym from 15 yards. Poor defending again.

Harbottle was immediately substituted, replaced by O’Toole. Clough explained after the game that Harbottle had picked up a head injury in the first half. Clough said: “Riley Harbottle wasn't right. I think he got a whack on the head. I think he was a bit dazed. I asked him at half-time how he was and he said he was fine, but especially with young players you take it out of their hands. I didn't think he looked right the last 10-15 minutes of the first half. I shouldn't have let him go out second half, that's my responsibility. I should have just brought him off straight away.”

If a player is injured or not feeling right, he must own up to it. We saw what happened last season with Nartey when a player doesn't do that.

More terrible defending as Hewitt gave the ball away after 51 minutes, and eventually Nichols fired in a great shot from the edge of the area, and Pym tipped it round the post with a fine diving save.

Just like the first half, the Stags were asleep and Crawley had taken the initiative.

Another chance for Swan after 55 minutes, but he sent a poor shot from 20 yards straight at the keeper.

Then on 62 minutes, a free kick from Maris from 32 yards out, came out to Hartigan who sent a shot wide from 22 yards with the outside of his right boot.

After 69 minutes, O’Toole blocked a Nadesan shot from the edge of the area, and then a ball across the 6 yard box just evaded Tilley.

A triple change for the Stags after 73 minutes. Boateng, Wallace and Quinn replaced Clarke, Hartigan and Bowery. Hawkins went up front with Swan, Hewitt moved to centre half, with Wallace at left back, and Quinn on the left of midfield.

After 78 minutes, Akins gave the ball away and it started a Crawley attack. The Stags had made so many unforced errors.

The Stags could have had a penalty after 81 minutes. Quinn crossed from the left, the cross struck Hessenthaler on the left arm. Watching it back in slow motion, Hessenthaler who is about 8 yards away as Quinn crosses, moves his left arm away from his side towards the ball. Hessenthaler was lucky to get away with it.

Hawkins had a shot on target after 86 minutes but it was blocked.

Quinn was booked for arguing after 90 minutes, going almost nose to nose with the assistant referee. Absolutely daft from Quinn, and as it was his 5th booking of the season, he will now be suspended for one game, on Tuesday. I discussed it with Nigel Clough after the game and as you might expect, the manager was not at all happy with his experienced midfielder.

Eight minutes of stoppage time was added on.

O’Toole went down in the Crawley area after 90+3 minutes, but there was no foul. Then good defending from Hewitt as Crawley broke.

A chance for the Stags to earn a point after 90+6 minutes. A long throw from Hewitt, Quinn headed down, and O’Toole swivelled and fired wide of the left post. Not far away.

Victory for Crawley then to lift them three points outside the relegation zone. They should never have been in it with their forward line.

A poor performance from Mansfield, their worst of the season in my opinion. It was the first time the Stags had conceded three goals this season, indeed the first time since the play-off final. Shockingly bad starts to both halves, asleep at the back with terrible defending particularly from Hawkins and Harbottle. The Stags gave the ball away sloppily throughout the game far too many times. The Stags showed great character to fight back from 2-0 to get level at 2-2, and should have been in front with good chances for Swan, but they were wasted, and once Crawley got back in front at 3-2 in the first minute of the second half, the Stags created little in the second half. A bad day at the office after four successive away games, and seven games unbeaten.

After the game Nigel Clough said “I couldn't pick you anyone who was any good. The keeper had no chance with any of the three goals. Everyone else had question marks over them today. We were not complacent in any way today. We just were not as good as we have been. I think Crawley have three of the best strikers in the league, which is a bit of a puzzle why they are down there with that firepower. That performance was completely the opposite to how we've been away from home of late when you've won four away games on the spin.”

The Stags will look to bounce back on Tuesday night against Newport County at the One Call Stadium. You can watch the game with us on iFollow Stags if you can’t get to the game.

Graham Coughlan is the new Newport County manager and got off to a winning start today at home to Colchester. Coughlan was sacked as Mansfield manager almost exactly two years ago. I wrote at the time of his sacking: “I found Graham Coughlan to be very pleasant and respectful and it is very sad to see him sacked. However football is a results business and his results simply weren’t good enough. Nine games this season without a win, and four wins from 15 games last season.” Just 4 wins in total from 24 games, a win ratio of 16.7%, the lowest win-ratio of any manager in Mansfield’s history.

Man of the match: George Lapslie. Nigel Clough said “I couldn't pick you anyone who was any good.” I think Lapslie was the best of a bad bunch today.

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

Goals (league and cup): Lapslie 6, Swan 4, Akins, Harbottle, Hawkins, Maris 3, Bowery, Clarke 2, Gale, Oates 1.

Assists (league and cup): Lapslie 5, Maris 3, Akins, Gordon, Hartigan, Hewitt 2, Boateng, Bowery, Clarke, Hawkins, Law, McLaughlin, Quinn, Wallace 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. In the case of a cross that is headed away before the goal is scored, such as Clarke’s goal at Doncaster, nobody gets an assist.)

Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Clarke 4, Harbottle 2, Hawkins 2, Lapslie 2, Law 1, Maris 2, McLaughlin 2, O’Toole 3, Quinn 5, Swan 1.
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 the Broadfield Stadium

Line Up:
Pym 6 Beaten three times for the first time at Mansfield. Not at fault for the goals in my opinion. Made one fine save from Nichols.
Hewitt 6.5 Brilliant cross for Lapslie’s goal. Gave the ball away leading to Pym’s fine save from Nichols. One very good piece of defending in stoppage time.
Hawkins 4 Jointly at fault with Harbottle for the first goal. Double error for the second goal conceding the free kick and losing his man for the header.
Harbottle 4 Jointly at fault with Hawkins for the first goal. Allowed Tilley to get away from him for a shot in the first half. Allowed Nichols to get past him for the third goal. Clough blamed himself for not subbing Harbottle at half time before the third goal, after he’d got a whack on the head in the first half.
Bowery 5 Good penalty. Ineffective at right wing-back in the first half and further forward in the second half.
Clarke 6 Did ok.
Hartigan 6 Partially brought to the club for his set pieces but the Stags didn’t have many, including no corners at all.
Maris 6 A couple of nice balls forward into the area for Swan. One free kick into the wall.
Akins 5 Ineffective at left wing-back in the first half and right back in the second half.
Lapslie 6.5 Good header for his 6th goal of the season. Won a free kick in a very dangerous position. Less effective in the second half on the right.
Swan 4.5 Should have seen the Stags in front at the break with a succession of chances. Another poor shot in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
O'Toole (for Harbottle, 47 mins) 6.5 Replaced Harbottle immediately after the third goal. Did ok. One good block. Not far from an equaliser in stoppage time.
Boateng (for Clarke, 73 mins) -
Wallace (for Hartigan, 73 mins) -
Quinn (for Bowery, 73 mins) - Daft booking, and as it was his 5th booking of the season, he will now be suspended for one game, on Tuesday.
Subs not used: Flinders, Gale, Law.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Robson; Johnson (Jenks, 57), Conroy, Francillette (Francomb, 46), Tsaroulla; Tilley, Powell, Hessenthaler, Fellows (Davis, 71); Nichols, Nadesan (Oteh, 83). Subs not used: Balcombe, Telford, Khaleel.
Sunny Gill 6 Rightly gave the Stags a penalty in the first half. Could have given the Stags a second penalty in the second half. Made some poor decisions, both ways, but got more boos from the home fans than he deserved.

Season 22/23 Reports