Pattison 5, Armstrong 19, 45+3.
Attendance: 2,421 (608 from Mansfield; no away following was announced; this is the number of tickets received, which were sold out)
Date: 19 November 2022
STAGS BEATEN 3-0 AT HARROGATE
Martin Shaw at Wetherby Road (EnviroVent Stadium)
Mansfield Town were beaten 3-0 at lowly Harrogate Town yesterday. It was a shocking result as the Stags defended dreadfully in the first half, conceding three goals, while at the other end failing to take any of plenty of decent chances created. Quite simply the Stags were terrible at both ends of the pitch and were deservedly beaten. That said, the Stags did create plenty of chances and were not terrible all over the pitch. Mansfield drop one place to 8th, one point outside the play-offs and eight points outside the top 3.
Mansfield had won 6 of their last 8 away games in league and cup before this game, including at Rochdale last weekend. But Mansfield had not beaten Harrogate in any of the 5 league and cup games between the 2 sides before yesterday. And the Stags’ terrible form against Harrogate continued!
Nigel Clough made three enforced changes from the side that won at Rochdale:
Ollie Clarke missed out with a knee injury that forced him off at Rochdale.
George Lapslie wasn’t fit enough to start having picked up a hamstring strain at Rochdale. Clough had wanted to rest Lapslie from the game at Rochdale but hadn’t done so because of an injury to Will Swan.
Elliott Hewitt had picked up a knock and also wasn’t fit enough to start.
In came John-Joe O’Toole, George Maris and Jordan Bowery.
Rhys Oates was back on the bench after his long injury lay-off.
Will Swan was back on the bench after his hand injury kept him out at Rochdale.
New signing Lewis Page was also on the bench. He was not match-fit enough to start. Page has signed on an initial one month contract. He is a left back/left wing-back. He has signed to provide cover for Stephen McLaughlin. He played 35 games for Harrogate last season and 35 for Exeter the season before. A foot injury, for which he had an operation, was the reason that he was not retained at Harrogate. He has now recovered from that injury.
McLaughlin and Riley Harbottle remain out for a few weeks with injury.
The Stags started with a 3-5-1-1 formation, with O’Toole (right), Hawkins and Perch (left) in central defence. Bowery and Wallace were at wing-back. Hartigan, Boateng (right) and Quinn (left) in central midfield, with Maris just behind Akins up front.
The enforced absence in the starting line-up of Hewitt, Harbottle, Clarke (who has played admirably at the back recently), McLaughlin, and also new signing Page, meant that the back line was slow (O’Toole, Hawkins, Perch).
Harrogate started the game just one point outside the relegation zone.
The Stags created a chance inside the opening minute. Quinn intercepted the ball on the halfway line, played a 1-2 with Maris, and sent a low shot well wide.
A really nasty deliberate challenge by Josh Falkingham on Maris resulted in a booking after 3 minutes. It was a reducer, designed to limit the influence of Maris.
Harrogate were in front after just 5 minutes. And it came from the Stags free kick in the Harrogate half following that challenge on Maris. With O’Toole and Hawkins forward for the free kick, and Maris limping, Harrogate broke as a Wallace cross was headed away. Jack Muldoon sent Danny Grant away into the Stags half. Grant stopped his run 35 yards from goal, then slipped a perfect ball in behind Hartigan and Perch for Alex Pattison to run onto. Pattison took a couple of touches into the area and lifted the ball wide of Pym into the right corner of the net. A classic goal on the break.
Hartigan and Perch were at fault for the defending. Hewitt normally stays back from set pieces when he is fit enough to play. Had he been playing, he may well have stopped the goal with his greater pace than Hartigan and Perch.
Some Stags fans in the stand, in line with Pattison, reported that Pattison was offside as Grant played him in. From the video, which is not in line with the incident, it appears to me that Perch was playing Pattison onside. However the video angle is not definitive.
After 18 minutes, O’Toole headed well wide from a Quinn cross following a free kick in the Harrogate half.
Moments later at the other end, O’Toole got in a good tackle as Luke Armstrong broke into the Stags area, as Jaheim Headley slid a good ball forward for him.
But within seconds, it was 2-0 (19 minutes). Akins was trying to hold the ball with his back to goal 45 yards from the Harrogate goal. He was wrestled off the ball by Joe Mattock. Mattock then slid a ball past Hawkins into the path of Armstrong who was 1-on-1 with Pym and slotted the ball past the Stags keeper from the edge of the area.
Nigel Clough said after the game: “It’s touch and go whether it was a foul on Lucas for the second goal. I’ve seen them given many times.”
Akins is normally reliable in holding onto the ball in that type of situation, but I don’t think he was fouled here, I think he was outmuscled, and was partly to blame for the goal, as was Hawkins. A simple through ball and the Stags were undone.
The Stags created a good chance to score after 22 minutes. Wallace chested the ball down on the left, made a good run forward and was brought down 30 yards from goal. Quite a bad foul that could have seen a booking. From the resulting free kick, the ball came out to Boateng who curled in a fine cross that the keeper did well to push behind for a corner. And from that corner from the left from Quinn, he played it short to Maris, who fed back to Boateng who in turn found Hartigan on the edge of the area with his back to goal. Hartigan turned and curled a great shot towards the top right corner of the net, but keeper Jameson made a magnificent save tipping it wide at full stretch. What a save that was to deny Hartigan his first Stags goal.
O’Toole was booked for a foul after 26 minutes. It was not as bad as the foul on 22 minutes which didn’t lead to a booking. It was O’Toole’s 5th booking of the season and he will be suspended for the next league match (against Colchester).
The Stags were inches away from scoring after 28 minutes. Boateng received a short throw-in from Bowery on the right, level with the edge of the area. Boateng turned away from his marker Pattison and curled a wonderful shot that was deflected and went inches wide of the left post. Without the deflection it might have gone in.
Wallace was booked for a foul after 29 minutes.
Good defending by Hawkins after 31 minutes after O’Toole missed the ball.
The Stags should have scored after 34 minutes. Hartigan’s free kick from the right about level with the penalty spot, was headed down into the ground by Hawkins and it bounced over the bar.
And the Stags went close again after 35 minutes. Hawkins lobbed the ball forward. Mattock attempted to clear, missed it, leaving Akins with a chance to shoot from the edge of the area. Akins rifled in a powerful shot which the keeper pushed away. A good effort from Akins and another fine save.
Armstrong was flagged offside after 38 minutes. Ironic applause from the Stags fans in the stand after they thought the offside flag should have gone up for the first goal.
Harrogate made it 3-0 after 45+3 minutes. Grant got past O’Toole coming in from the left touchline and slid a ball forward for Headley to run on to in the area on the left behind Bowery and O’Toole. Headley slipped as he tried a cross-shot, the ball reached Armstrong who got away from Perch to tuck the ball past Pym from 4 yards. This was shocking defending. Firstly O’Toole should have done better. Bowery and O’Toole allowed Headley to run in behind them. And finally shocking from Perch who allowed Armstrong to be completely unmarked.
What a defensive horror show from the Stags and it was effectively game over at the break as Harrogate led 3-0. Perch, O’Toole and Hawkins all very culpable, with Bowery, Hartigan and Akins also at fault. Harrogate actually only had four shots on goal in that first half and scored three goals. The Stags had plenty more chances than that but were denied by excellent goalkeeping and poor finishing.
Half time 3-0
A triple change from the Stags at the start of the second half: Swan replaced Bowery, Hewitt replaced O’Toole, Lewis Page replaced Wallace. The Stags switched to a back 4 with Hewitt (right back), Hawkins, Perch, Page (left back). It was 4-3-3 with Akins (right), Quinn (left), either side of Swan up front.
The Stags should have scored after 52 minutes. Hewitt’s long throw dropped for Quinn, 8 yards out, and he fired over the bar. An absolute sitter that he should have buried.
After 55 minutes, Maris curled in a cross from the left which was headed well wide by Akins.
Mattock was booked for deliberately dragging down Swan when he might have had a run on goal after 58 minutes.
Harrogate broke into the Stags box after 62 minutes as Pattison got away from Hartigan and Hawkins. Pattison squared for Armstrong whose shot was blocked by Hartigan. The ball ran loose and Pym did well to clear before Muldoon could pounce on it. Seconds later Falkingham crossed in and Pattison headed wide at the far post. Two minutes later, Pym made a good save from a powerful long range shot from Headley.
Mansfield made another change after 66 minutes as Lapslie replaced Hartigan.
The Stags went close after 71 minutes. Quinn’s corner from the left was short to Maris, who crossed low into the middle. It fell for Akins, back to goal. Akins cleverly back-heeled towards goal but it hit the keeper’s legs and rebounded away to safety. It looked a goal all the way.
A minute later at the other end, Pattison got past Perch and got in a good shot which brought a good save from Pym. Then good defending from Akins to get back against Headley.
Rhys Oates was brought on after 74 minutes, his long awaited return from injury. He replaced Quinn.
Swan found Akins on the edge of the area after 77 minutes, Akins’ left footed shot lacked power and gave the keeper a comfortable save. Five minutes later, Akins played forward to Swan whose shot was deflected for a corner.
The Stags hit the woodwork after 84 minutes. Great interplay down the right between Hewitt and Boateng, Hewitt chipped in a cross from the byline and Swan got up well to head over the keeper and against the bar. So unlucky for Swan. A fine cross from Hewitt.
Then some good defending from Hewitt as he showed good pace. On 88 minutes, Pattison cut inside and fired over the bar. Then on 90+1 minutes, Headley got past Hewitt into the area and fired wide.
A thoroughly miserable afternoon for Mansfield and the travelling fans. The game was lost with that terrible defending in the first half. What a defensive horror show it was and it was effectively game over at the break as Harrogate led 3-0. There’s no doubt that the slow back line of O’Toole, Hawkins, and Perch contributed to this. Bowery, Hartigan and Akins were also at fault for the goals. The enforced absence in the starting line-up of Hewitt, Harbottle, Clarke (who has played admirably at the back recently), McLaughlin, and also new signing Page, led to that back line being selected. After the game, Nigel Clough conceded: “I think I picked the wrong team today and possibly the wrong formation, so that needs to be looked it. Down the right hand side we were incredibly poor.”
At the other end, the Stags had plenty more chances than Harrogate but were denied by excellent goalkeeping, poor finishing, and a bit of bad luck.
Overall the Stags were terrible at both ends of the pitch and were deservedly beaten.
The midfield generally played quite well, including Boateng, Maris, Quinn, and I wouldn’t blame Pym for the goals. Other than that, it wasn’t anywhere near good enough.
A pretty accurate analysis by Nigel Clough two days after the game:
"Our defending was unbelievably poor for the three goals."
"I don't think we've got the balance right so far this season, between playing and stopping the opposition playing.
"I think with the ball we're very good, but we need a little more emphasis on stopping the opposition.
"What was lacking on Saturday was an ability to make contact with the opposition.
"We had no Hewitt available to start the game, he pulled out of training on Wednesday and he couldn't do anything at all on Friday. So it would have been a huge risk to start him.
"Harbottle, who is probably our quickest defender, is out.
"And our most combative player on the staff is Ollie Clarke who was missing as well.
"But that's no excuse for the players coming in not doing it.
"And we still have enough out there to compete better than we did on Saturday defensively.
The Stags have no midweek game, apart from a Notts Senior Cup game at Notts County on Tuesday in which the like of Page, Oates, Law, Swan will get some game time, along with academy players. The next first team game is away at Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup next Saturday. The Stags should be backed by around 4,000 travelling fans (3,000 tickets already sold).
Man of the match: Hiram Boateng
Here’s a running tally of various stats this season:
Goals (league and cup): Lapslie, Swan 6, Hawkins, Maris 4, Akins, Harbottle 3, Bowery, Clarke 2, Gale, Gordon, Oates 1.
Assists (league and cup): Lapslie 6, Maris 4, Hewitt 3, Akins, Boateng, Gordon, Hartigan, McLaughlin 2, 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, Hartigan 1, Hawkins 2, Lapslie 3, Law 1, Maris 3, McLaughlin 2, O’Toole 5, Perch 2, Pym 1, Quinn 6, Swan 1, Wallace 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)
Report by: Martin Shaw at Wetherby Road (EnviroVent Stadium)
Pym 8 I wouldn’t blame him for the goals. Made three good saves in the second half.
O’Toole 4.5 Part of a very poor defence. Should have done better for the third goal. Picked up his 5th booking of the season and he will be suspended for the next league match (against Colchester). Subbed at half time.
Hawkins 4.5 Part of a very poor defence. Should have done better for the second goal. Missed a good chance when he headed into the ground and it bounced over the bar.
Perch 4 At fault for the first goal and shocking defending for the third goal.
Bowery 4.5 Should have done better for the third goal. Very poor first half and subbed at half time.
Hartigan 6 Defended poorly, including being at fault for the first goal. At the other end, he fired in a great shot which brought a magnificent save, and a good free kick for Hawkins’ header.
Boateng 8 Very good game, including curling in a fine cross that the keeper did well to push behind for a corner, and curling a wonderful shot that was deflected and went inches wide of the post.
Quinn 7 Good game going forward, though missed a sitter.
Wallace 6.5 Did ok in the first half and unfortunate to be subbed.
Maris 7 Had a good game.
Akins 6 Partly to blame for the second goal when he was outmuscled. Went close to scoring twice when he rifled in a powerful shot which the keeper pushed away, and he cleverly back-heeled towards goal but it hit the keeper’s legs and rebounded away to safety.
Sub Line Up:
Swan (for Bowery, 46 mins) 6 So unlucky when he headed against the bar.
Hewitt (for O’Toole, 46 mins) 6.5 Showed good pace defending in the second half. Great cross for Swan’s header against the bar.
Page (for Wallace, 46 mins) 6 Did ok. Nigel Clough said after the game: "Lewis Page looked a little bit rusty for 30 minutes on Saturday, he hasn't played since March. But he didn't do much wrong. And the quality we've seen in training, he's going to be a good addition for us."
Lapslie (for Hartigan, 66 mins) -
Oates (for Quinn, 74 mins) - Great to see him back.
Subs not used: Flinders, Gordon.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Jameson; Ramsay, Burrell, Mattock, Headley; Falkingham, Pattison; Muldoon (Frost, 86), Daly (Thomson, 51), Grant (Coley, 75); Armstrong. Subs not used: Folarin, Richards, Welch-Hayes, McArdle, (no goalkeeper).
Scott Oldham 6 Did ok. The bookings were reasonable but he missed a booking for a bad foul on Wallace.