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Season 22/23 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
0 - 0
 Newport County
Perch sent off 59 minutes
Attendance: 5,624 (115 from Newport) (note this it is essentially tickets sold, including season tickets)
Date: 25 October 2022


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town drew 0-0 with Newport County at the One Call Stadium last night in a game very low on quality, excitement, entertainment and chances. The first half was dull with the Stags having just one chance of note as Lapslie fired straight at the Newport keeper just before half time, while for Newport, Will Evans had a shot saved by Pym after Hartigan gave the ball away, and Adam Lewis volleyed wide after a long throw-in from Mickey Demetriou was cleared. In the second half, the Stags briefly played some better football and Maris had a good chance but fired straight at the keeper after 56 minutes, while at the other end Demetriou headed goalwards following a free kick and Pym palmed it away. But just as the Stags were threatening to get on top, they were reduced to ten men when Perch was sent off for a second bookable offence after 59 minutes. For the remaining 31 minutes plus 6 minutes of stoppage time, the Stags defended well to stop Newport making the most of their one man advantage with Ollie Clarke excellent, replacing Perch in defence. At the other end, the Stags couldn’t get anything going, though won two corners, both of which were hopelessly wasted. Newport relied on many long throw-ins from Demetriou all game, and the Stags defended well against them hurled into the box. Two points dropped in one sense, from a poor performance. However, the players battled very hard to preserve a point in that last 31+6 minutes, and deserved it, with 0-0 a fitting scoreline.

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

The match marked the return of Graham Coughlan to the One Call Stadium. Coughlan was appointed as the new Newport County manager last week and had got off to a winning start at the weekend 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.

There was very little reaction from Stags fans to Coughlan’s return as he walked to the dugout. He did his best for the Stags, but couldn’t get results. I think this led to no booing nor particular applause. He did however bring six of the current squad to the club: Bowery, Clarke, Maris, Perch, McLaughlin, and Lapslie, all of whom have mostly done well under Clough.

It was the third time in quick succession that the Stags had come up against a team that had recently sacked its manager, and for the third time, the Stags failed to win.

Mansfield made three changes from the side that lost at Crawley. Harbottle missed out having received a whack on the head at Crawley. Swan and Bowery dropped to the bench, having both played poorly at Crawley, though they weren’t alone in that. In came Perch, back from illness, Wallace back from head injury, and Boateng. Gordon was back on the bench after his groin injury though not fit to start. O’Toole was on the bench and not fit to start after finishing the game at Crawley limping. McLaughlin remained out with a sore knee, a big loss to the side. Quinn was suspended after his daft booking at Crawley made it 5 yellow cards for the season.
The Stags started with a 4-5-1 formation. Nigel Clough explained: “We didn't have wing-backs tonight, so that's why we started with the back four.”
Hewitt was at right back, Hawkins and Perch at centre half, Wallace at left back. Akins was on his own up front, with Lapslie (right), Clarke, Hartigan, Boateng, Maris (left) in midfield.

The Stags started sloppily, again, as at Crawley. Inside the opening 2 minutes, Hartigan played a loose pass to set Will Evans in on goal, Evans sent in a low shot from the edge of the area which Pym got down to save comfortably. Three minutes later, Omar Bogle turned away from Hewitt, and his shot was deflected off Hawkins for a corner.

A good move from the Stags after 11 minutes down the right, Hewitt crossed in and Maris glanced a header wide.

Newport went close after 11 minutes as Demetriou’s long throw was headed out by Akins straight to Adam Lewis who volleyed just wide, the ball hitting the back stanchion.

Terrible refereeing after 17 minutes with the shirt being pulled off Akins’ back, but the free kick was given the other way.

Long ball football from Newport as a big punt forward from the keeper bounced into the Stags area and James Waite flicked wide, after 18 minutes.

Good play from Boateng on the left at the other end after 20 minutes to win a corner.

Wallace fouled Cameron Norman after 25 minutes to concede a free kick. Lewis took it into the area and Lapslie headed away for a corner.

Plenty of poor play from the Stags, gifting possession away, including in their own half, trying to play too much in their own half. Akins was completely isolated on his own up front, with Lapslie out wide on the right. A strange tactic with Lapslie in such hot form in front of goal.

With things not working at all, the Stags switched to 3 at the back, with Lapslie at right wing-back, Wallace at left wing-back, and Maris just behind Akins, in a 3-5-1-1 formation.

Much better from the Stags after 39 minutes: good movement down the right as Hewitt put in a couple of crosses, cleared, then Lapslie put in a low ball from the right towards Maris, cleared behind for a corner.

Perch was booked for deliberately bringing down Norman on the break after 41 minutes. A fair enough yellow card in my opinion, though Clough said afterwards he thought it was soft.

The Stags’ best chance of the half came after 45+2 minutes. A really good run from Maris won a free kick on the left. Norman could have been booked for the challenge but wasn’t. Hartigan’s free kick towards the near post was into a good area. It was initially cleared, but then Perch flicked on to put Lapslie in with a sight of goal from 18 yards. Lapslie took his shot first time on the volley but slightly miscued and it was straight at the keeper.

Nil nil at the break. Very dull. Akins was isolated on his own up front for most of the half, and Lapslie was out wide on the right. As I said, a strange tactic in my opinion with Lapslie in such hot form in front of goal.

Half time 0-0

Bowery replaced Wallace at the start of the second half. Bowery went in at left wing-back. Lapslie continued at right wing-back.

A free kick for the Stags after 47 minutes, from out on the left. A chance to get bodies in the box. Hartigan wasted it with a terrible delivery straight over the bar.

A free kick for Newport two minutes later, from a similar position to the one the Stags just had, this time out on the right. The delivery from Lewis was good, finding Demetriou unmarked at the far post and he headed goalwards, with Pym palming it away. From re-watching the video, at no stage was anyone marking Demetriou so a tactical error rather someone losing him. Pym then did well to punch away the resulting throw-in, taken long of course by Demetriou. Then good defending by Hewitt clearing a ball into the six yard box.

A change after 54 minutes as Akins and Lapslie swapped places, Akins moving to right wing back, Lapslie going up front.

Seconds later, good play by Bowery on the left, in to Lapslie, who turned and shot but it was blocked.

After 56 minutes, Mansfield’s best chance of the game, and much better movement. Maris played out to Bowery on the left, Bowery cut inside to Clarke. Clarke played a neat ball forward to Boateng on the edge of the area with his back to goal. Boateng turned, and beautifully teed up Maris for a free shot from the edge of the area but Maris fired straight at the keeper. What a chance for Maris.

But just as the Stags were threatening to get on top, they were reduced to ten men after 59 minutes. Demetriou punted a high ball just into the Stags half. Hawkins went to head it away under pressure from Will Evans and only succeeded in heading it square, straight to Bogle who chested it down and was about to get away from Perch towards goal before Perch wrestled him down. No question that it was at least a yellow card, and arguably could have even been a straight red as Bogle would have been through on goal. Perch was shown a second yellow card and was sent off.

The resulting free kick was 32 yards out. Lewis took it, straight at Pym.

Ollie Clarke switched from midfield to central defence, onto the left side of the three man central defence.

After 66 minutes, excellent defending from Clarke against Will Evans.

Swan replaced Boateng after 66 minutes. Swan went up front. Lapslie dropped back into midfield.

After 72 minutes, Swan won a corner. Hartigan put it over everyone.

A minute later at the other end, a rare chance for Newport given their man advantage as Scot Bennett volleyed over the bar from 25 yards.

Plenty of long throw-ins coming in from Demetriou but the Stags were defending them well. The Stags weren’t able to keep possession though.

O’Toole replaced Hartigan after 84 minutes. With Clarke playing so well in central defence, O’Toole went into midfield. This was a sensible change with Newport launching balls into the Stags box, and O’Toole to provide extra aerial ability. Also the Stags best chance of scoring themselves would be to win some set pieces.

A good punch away by Pym from a corner after 87 minutes.

Maris got a knock after 89 minutes. He was replaced by Gordon. Gordon went to right wing-back, Akins moved into midfield.

Six minutes were added on.

After 90+2, Bennett tamely fired over the bar from 16 yards.

The Stags won a corner after 90+4 minutes. Finally a chance to create a goalscoring opportunity. Gordon took it and didn’t beat the first man. Not what was needed. A minute later at the other end, a corner for Newport, and a glancing header so far wide it was going out for a throw-in.

After 90+7 minutes, a very bad foul by Moriah-Welsh on Gordon on the touchline. A yellow card. The worst foul of the game. It could have been a red. Gordon limped away from it. As the free kick was taken, the referee blew the final whistle.

The Stags dug in well in that final 31+6 minutes after Perch was sent off. Prior to that with 11 vs 11, in my opinion the Stags were not adventurous enough, with Akins isolated on his own up front. With Lapslie in hot form in front of goal, I would have liked to have seen Lapslie playing just off Akins.

Ollie Clarke was my man of the match. He showed a determination that the Stags weren’t going to be beaten. George Maris also played well and was the sponsors’ man of the match.

After the game Newport boss Graham Coughlan said: "I would have liked three points with a man advantage but we probably didn't do enough. I am not sure we asked enough questions or worked their goalkeeper enough. We got into the right areas and put balls in but I have to give credit to Mansfield because they put their bodies on the line, blocked, cleared, kicked and tackled.”

Nigel Clough said: “We value the point an awful lot, when you’re playing 40 minutes with ten men. To get a clean sheet out of that, and not get back-to-back defeats, is important. It keeps the unbeaten run going here at the One Call.”

The Stags are at home again on Saturday, with Swindon Town the visitors. Swindon are level on points with Mansfield, having played a game more. The home form is remarkable really, with just one league defeat at home in nearly 13 months. Hopefully Mansfield can put in a better performance than Tuesday and get back to winning ways.

Man of the match: Ollie Clarke

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, Perch 2, Quinn 5, Swan 1.
Red cards (league and cup): Bowery 1, Perch 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)

Average home league attendance: 6360 (average away fans: 464, average home fans 5895) (see Tranmere report for explanation of how attendance is calculated: it is essentially tickets sold, including season tickets)

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

Line Up:
Pym 7 A couple of decent saves and good handling.
Hewitt 7.5 Defended well.
Hawkins 6.5 His header put Perch under pressure as Perch picked up his second yellow. Otherwise defended well.
Perch 5 Two yellow cards put the Stags a man down.
Wallace 6 Did ok in the first half, his first game for a while. Clough said 45 minutes was enough for him when he’s been out with a head injury.
Lapslie 6 Not played just off the striker, where he has been very effective recently. Not his best game, and miscued his only chance of the evening.
Clarke 8.5 Showed a determination that the Stags weren’t going to be beaten. Especially good filling in in defence after Perch was sent off.
Hartigan 5 Gave the ball away inside the opening two minutes to present Will Evans a chance, and set a bad tone for the game. Very poor set pieces in the second half.
Boateng 6.5 Lovely play to tee up Maris for his shot. Some good play in the first half including winning a corner.
Maris 8 Played very well on the ball and was the sponsors’ man of the match. Should have done better with his chance early in the second half.
Akins 5 Poor game. Not entirely his own fault as he was left isolated.
Sub Line Up:
Bowery (for Wallace, 46 mins) 6 Started the second half well, but not so good after that.
Swan (for Boateng, 66 mins) - Clough said was shattered after Saturday, as he's had an illness, hence he didn’t start.
O’Toole (for Hartigan, 84 mins) -
Gordon (for Maris, 89 mins) - Good to see him back from injury. Terrible corner in stoppage time.
Subs not used: Flinders, Law, Gale.
Opposition Line Up:
(5-3-2) Day; Norman, James Clarke, Farquharson, Demetriou, Adam Lewis; Bennett, Moriah-Welsh, Waite (Wildig 57); Evans (Nevers 69), Bogle. Subs not used: Townsend, Drysdale, Dolan, Willmott, Collins.
Samuel Barrott 6 Some poor refereeing such as missing the shirt being pulled off Akins’s back. Got the two Perch yellow cards right in my opinion.

Season 22/23 Reports