Smallwood 30, Cook 53. Platt sent off 65
Attendance: 7,650 (1416 from Bradford) (note this it is essentially tickets sold, including season tickets)
Date: 8 November 2022
STAGS BEATEN AT HOME BY BRADFORD
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town were beaten 2-1 at home by Bradford City last night. The Stags were terrible in the first half, failing to register a single shot at goal apart from a Hiram Boateng corner headed off the line after 45+3 minutes. Mansfield repeatedly misplaced passes and Bradford were deservedly in front at the break when Richard Smallwood smashed into the net from 16 yards. And after 53 minutes Bradford made it 2-0 as former Stags striker Andy Cook chased a long ball towards the corner flag, with James Perch, bullied his way past Perch, along the byline into the area, cut inside Riley Harbottle and fired into the net from 8 yards. A wonderful goal from Cook out of absolutely nothing, as we often saw him do for the Stags, but the defending from Perch was diabolical. Bradford were reduced to ten men after 64 minutes as Matty Platt deliberately pulled back George Lapslie by his shirt, and then kicked the ball away after the foul was given, and received a yellow card, his second of the game. The Stags pulled a goal back after 69 minutes as Elliott Hewitt rose superbly to head George Maris’ corner goalwards, the keeper saved and then fumbled on the line and Will Swan stabbed the loose ball into the net from right on the line. Excellent from Hewitt who I would send forward for more corners rather than always leaving him on the halfway line. And good poaching from Swan. The Stags had the momentum now and were playing much better but were unable to find an equaliser as Bradford dug in, defended superbly and slowed the game down and wasted time even more effectively. Indeed the Stags really only came close as sub Oli Hawkins volleyed over the bar after a shot from Lucas Akins was blocked. A hugely disappointing and damaging result against a Bradford side who started the game level on points with the Stags.
The Stags have now taken just 1 point from the last 4 league games in an alarming loss of form. However, they are still just one point outside the play-offs, and five points outside the top 3.
And what a change in the home form. The Stags have now won only once at home in the last 6 league games. Prior to that, if you include last season and the play-off semi-final, Mansfield had won 17 of the previous 19 home games.
The attendance of 7,650 was the biggest at home in league or cup for 18 years since October 2004 when the Stags beat Notts County 3-1.
However, remember that quoted attendances included all tickets sold. So season ticket holders who did not attend are still included, and in this case supporters who bought tickets for the original fixture that was postponed because of the death of the queen, including those who did not attend or get a refund, are also included.
See my report of the Tranmere game for more on attendances this season.
Before the game and ahead of remembrance Sunday, The Last Post was performed beautifully followed by minute’s silence to remember the fallen, and John Radford laid a wreath on the pitch.
Mansfield made 4 changes to the side that won at Barrow in the FA Cup. McLaughlin and Hawkins were injured. Quinn and Akins dropped to the bench. In came Harbottle, Boateng, Clarke and Swan.
On McLaughlin, Clough said after the game he’s “had a scan on his ankle, he’s going to be out a few weeks." Bad news, given there is no natural replacement for him in the squad.
Hawkins was on the bench, and came on after 88 minutes. Clough said he was “nowhere near fit enough to start. It was just in the case of an emergency. He got a whack in the liver or kidneys on Saturday and was ill over the weekend, his groin was very sore, so that was the most he could do tonight.”
Mansfield started with a 4-4-1-1 formation.
Clough said after the game: "With losing Hawks, we went to a back four. We would have stuck with our normal back three.”
Gordon was at right back, Hewitt at left back, with Harbottle (right) and Perch (left) in the centre of defence. A diamond in midfield, with Hartigan in front of the back 4, Clarke on the right, Boateng on the left, Maris in front of them. Then Lapslie just off Swan up front.
Bradford included Andy Cook up front on his own. Two other former Stags strikers, Vadaine Oliver and Lee Angol, were on the bench.
After 4 minutes, Bradford right back Brad Halliday tried a shot from an impossible angle on the right, and fired well wide.
A minute later Matty Platt was booked for a foul on Maris, 35 yards out. That was to become significant in the second half. Maris wasted the free kick.
A good run forward from Boateng after 17 minutes. He tried to set Swan away in the box but his pass was intercepted.
Tyreik Wright had got away from Gordon a couple of times on the left and on 25 minutes he tried to square the ball in to Andy Cook, but Harbottle did well to intercept.
After 26 minutes, Harry Chapman slid a great ball forward for Scott Banks who got into the area and got in a low shot from 10 yards which Pym saved with his left boot. The loose ball came out to Tyreik Wright whose low shot was saved by Pym again, this time with his right boot. A fine double save.
Lovely close control by Boateng after 29 minutes, and he found Gordon was who fouled. The free kick from 35 yards out came to nothing.
With the Stags looking toothless with no width at all, the Stags reverted to three at the back (Hewitt right, Perch centre, Harbottle left), with Gordon (right) and Boateng (left) as wing-backs.
Bradford took the lead after 30 minutes. Banks laid the ball off on the right to the overlapping right back Halliday. Boateng, now at left wing-back was unable to stop Halliday getting in a cross from the byline, which was blocked by Harbottle, straight out to Richard Smallwood who smashed into the net from 16 yards.
Swan made a good run after he was set away by Clarke after 38 minutes but it came to nothing.
Mansfield were making a succession of terrible passes. Harbottle played a terrible ball forward for the second time. He had given the ball away multiple times, but in fairness was defending well against Cook. Lapslie put the ball straight out of play, then Maris did the same.
The Stags had reverted to Hewitt on the left at the back, with Lapslie (right) and Maris (left) out wide.
And on 45 minutes, Hewitt gave the ball away with a loose square pass which was intercepted by Alex Gilliead, who played forward for Cook to run on to and Harbottle brought Cook down for a free kick 25 yards out, in a central position. Banks took the free kick, blocked by the wall, and then his follow up shot was also blocked by the wall.
On 45+1 minutes, Banks got down the right and slid a dangerous low ball into the middle, but Harbottle did well to clear, and moments later Pym was out well to claim a ball into the box.
The Stags had not created a single chance in 45 minutes. Swan did well to win a corner after 45+3 minutes. Boateng took it from the right and it was headed off the line at the far post.
The Stags were terrible in the first half, repeatedly misplacing passes and Bradford were deservedly in front. The Stags also desperately lacked width.
Clough said after the game: "I've never seen us give the ball away as much in the first half, and also kick it out of play needlessly. We never really got going on the ball. We played the formation that we’ve played here that’s been successful quite a bit with a diamond but that requires certain things; people running in behind and being good on the ball. I thought we were a bit rushed and were at 100mph and not composed enough. When you go 1-0 down especially at home you have to make an effort to be composed and all of a sudden we were kicking it out of play, wasting throw-ins, we can’t afford that."
Half time 0-1
In order to address the lack of width, the Stags made two changes at the start of the second half: Akins came on at right wing-back and Bowery at left wing-back, replacing Hartigan and Gordon.
Halliday curled a shot wide from 25 yards after 51 minutes.
After 53 minutes Bradford made it 2-0. Andy Cook chased a long ball towards the corner flag, with Perch, bullied his way past Perch, along the byline into the area, cut inside Harbottle and fired into the net from 8 yards. A wonderful goal from Cook out of absolutely nothing, as we often saw him do for the Stags, but the defending from Perch was diabolical. No-one would be surprised at Cook scoring against a former club, as he did for the Stags at Walsall for example and then celebrated by indicating that the Walsall fans thought he was fat, and he did for Bradford here with the late winner last season.
Harbottle limped off after 59 minutes. He had defended well though his distribution had been awful.
Clough said after the game that Harbottle “strained his thigh muscle. We’ll get a scan and see what it looks like but I think it’ll be a few weeks.”
More bad news and it leaves the Stags short on fit defenders.
Quinn replaced Harbottle. Clarke dropped back into the back three, on the right of the three. He had done well there against Newport.
After 62 minutes, Bradford sub Abo Eisa fired in a 25 yard shot. Pym saved, it bounced off his chest and Clarke cleared before Cook could pounce.
A good break from the Stags a minute later as Bowery got into the area on the left, but he played a terrible pass and the ball was cleared.
Bradford were reduced to ten men after 64 minutes as Matty Platt deliberately pulled back Lapslie by his shirt, and then kicked the ball away after the foul was given, and received a yellow card, his second of the game.
The Stags pulled a goal back after 69 minutes. Maris played the ball forward from the edge of the edge to Akins, back to goal, 12 yards out. Akins turned and his left footed shot was deflected by Romoney Crichlow, it was heading for the left corner of the net but keeper Harry Lewis made a brilliant save to turn it round the post. So close. And from the resulting corner, the Stags did score as Hewitt rose superbly to head Maris’ corner goalwards, the keeper saved and then fumbled on the line and Swan stabbed the loose ball into the net from right on the line. Excellent from Hewitt who I would send forward for more corners rather than always leaving him on the halfway line. And good poaching from Swan.
Swan’s 6th goal of the season, taking him level with Lapslie as leading scorer. And Hewitt’s 3rd assist of the season (see details below).
The Stags had the momentum now and were playing much better but were unable to find an equaliser as Bradford dug in, defended superbly and slowed the game down and wasted time even more effectively.
After 77 minutes, Quinn was booked when he was surrounded by 3 Bradford players and fouled his man after Pym gave the ball to him. Crazy play to put him under that pressure.
Scott Banks was booked after 81 minutes for blatantly wasting time, just minutes after he went down with what was clearly a fake injury to allow Bradford to slow the game down even further.
A good cross in from Quinn after 84 minutes but it was headed behind for a corner. At least Quinn was providing some much-needed width.
Pym did well to save at Cook’s feet as the Stags poured players forward and Bradford broke after 86 minutes.
Hawkins replaced Perch after 88 minutes (see earlier comments about Hawkins injury).
Ten minutes of stoppage time was added. Credit to the referee for noting the blatant time-wasting.
Lapslie was booked after 90+2 minutes for shirt pulling.
The Stags really only came close to equalising once as sub Hawkins volleyed over the bar after a shot from Akins was blocked, after 90+5 minutes. That came after Clarke was brought down 23 yards from goal, just to the right of centre. Maris took the free kick and it was cleared but eventually crossed back into the area by Quinn. It might have been worth somebody such as Boateng have a shot direct from the free kick.
Swan finished the game holding his right hand in pain, and was later spotted in A&E in a photo on social media. The injury happened in the 5th minute of stoppage time when he seemed to land on his hand in the penalty area. We have no further news on the injury yet.
A hugely disappointing and damaging result against a Bradford side who started the game level on points with the Stags. In truth, the Stags simply weren’t good enough.
The next game is away to Rochdale on Saturday. Rochdale are in 19th place with Tyrese Sinclair in midfield, and they picked up a good win at home to Salford on Tuesday.
Man of the match: Christy Pym
Here’s a running tally of various stats this season:
Goals (league and cup): Lapslie, Swan 6, Hawkins 4, Akins, Harbottle, Maris 3, Bowery, Clarke 2, Gale, Gordon, Oates 1.
Assists (league and cup): Lapslie 6, Maris 4, Hewitt 3, Akins, Gordon, Hartigan, McLaughlin 2, Boateng, Bowery, Clarke, Hawkins, Law, 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): Boateng 1, Clarke 4, Harbottle 2, Hawkins 2, Lapslie 3, Law 1, Maris 3, McLaughlin 2, O’Toole 4, Perch 1, Pym 1, Quinn 6, Swan 1.
Red cards (league and cup): Boateng 1, 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: 6552 (average away fans: 600, average home fans 5952) (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
(4-4-1-1) (diamond in midfield)
Pym 8 Fine double save with his feet in the first half. Not at fault for the goals.
Gordon 5.5 Tyreik Wright got away from him a couple of times. Subbed at half time.
Harbottle 6 Generally defended well against Cook. However his distribution was terrible. Limped off with a strained thigh muscle
Perch 4.5 Diabolical defending for Cook’s goal.
Hewitt 7 Excellent header and assist for the goal. I would send him forward for more corners rather than always leaving him on the halfway line. Generally defended ok apart from one loose pass.
Hartigan 5 One good pass but generally offered little. Subbed at half time.
Clarke 6.5 Decent game in midfield and then in defence.
Boateng 6.5 Good corner at the end of the first half. One very good run, and some good close control in the first half.
Maris 6 Good corner for the goal. Other set pieces not so good.
Lapslie 5.5 Didn’t have a great game but didn’t get much service.
Swan 7 Good poaching for his goal. Some good runs in the first half. Finished the game holding his right hand in pain, and was later spotted in A&E in a photo on social media. The injury happened in the 5th minute of stoppage time when he seemed to land on his hand in the penalty area. We have no further news on the injury yet.
Sub Line Up:
Akins (for Hartigan, 46 mins) 7 Brought a brilliant save from the keeper, and had another shot blocked.
Bowery (for Gordon, 46 mins) 6 One good run but from a good position made a terrible pass.
Quinn (for Harbottle, 59 mins) - Provided some much-needed width, and put in some good crosses.
Hawkins (for Perch, 88 mins) - Was only fit enough for 10 minutes.
Law (for Lapslie, 82 mins) -
Subs not used: Flinders, O’Toole, Wallace.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1) Lewis; Halliday, Platt, Crichlow, Foulds; Gilliead, Smallwood; Banks (Pereira 88min), Chapman (Songo’o 68min), Wright (Eisa 54min); Cook (Angol 88min). Subs not used: Oliver, East, Doyle.
Simon Mather 8 Credit to him for noting the blatant time-wasting and adding on ten minutes of stoppage time. Got the sending off of Platt right.