{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Notts County  
1 - 4
 Mansfield Town
Crowley 3.
 Reed 24, Cargill 70, Flint 74, Akins 81
Attendance: 16,638 (3,880 from Mansfield)
Date: 14 October 2023


By Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane

Mansfield Town won 4-1 at Meadow Lane against top-of-the-table Notts County on Saturday lunchtime with a simply sensational performance. Notts County started well and went ahead after 3 minutes with some sloppy Stags defending. But from about the 10 minute mark for the rest of the game, apart from one County chance at the end of the first half when Calum Macdonald cleared off the line, the Stags were in complete control. Mansfield equalised midway through the first half, when Louis Reed stroked home, and then scored three times in the second half, with Baily Cargill and Aden Flint both scoring from corners, their first goals for the club, and Lucas Akins adding a fourth.

Notts County’s impressive manager Luke Williams was magnanimous in defeat. He said: “They are a very strong side and they were too much for us to cope with today. I think we played the best team since I have been at this club. There was a noticeable difference and that was reflected in the scoreline. Our opposition played man-to-man against us which proved to be a brilliant tactic. Everyone had to take the ball under more pressure and they came out on top, way on top.”

The win was Mansfield’s biggest at Meadow Lane and was so good that it will talked about by Stags fans for years to come.

Mansfield move up to third place in League Two, remain unbeaten in league and cup (17 games), and remain the only EFL or Premier League club to be unbeaten this season in all competitions.

Mansfield are now 13 league games unbeaten this season and that extends the club record for the longest unbeaten start to a league season (see club records here). It is not the best start to a season in terms of points, as 8 of the 13 games have been draws.

Mansfield have also conceded the fewest goals in League Two (10 goals in 13 games).

It was a lunchtime kick-off, to accommodate live TV coverage on Sky Sports.

Mansfield made two changes from the last league game, against AFC Wimbledon. Clarke and Macdonald came in for Swan and Brunt. Clarke was fit to start after 5 stitches in his ankle.

Notts County brought in keeper Sam Slocombe in preference to former Stag Aidan Stone after some good saves in the EFL Trophy against Derby. Kyle Cameron and Jodie Jones were out through injury.

The atmosphere was incredible from a sell-out away following of 3,880 in a crowd of 16,638.

The Stags made the worst possible start as County took the lead after 3 minutes. Aaron Nemane cut inside Macdonald from the right wing and curled a low ball in from the corner of the area. Cargill stretched out a leg and half stopped it. It looked as though it would fall to Macauley Langstaff, but Flint got a boot on it, but only as far as Dan Crowley who was first on to the loose ball to lift it into the net from 6 yards, ricocheting off Flint on the way who had got back onto his line. As Flint said afterwards, a sloppy start from Mansfield. Macdonald should have done better, not allowing Nemane to cut inside him. He was to go on to have a great game though.

Keillor-Dunn turned one way then the other at the other end before his shot was blocked after 5 minutes.

Good defending by Macdonald to dispossess Crowley after 9 minutes.

On 11 minutes, Flint headed down, Akins showed good footwork to get in a low shot but it lacked power and was an easy save.

The scene was already set. Notts were going to play out from the back. And they were going to continue doing so however close Mansfield got to closing them down, and it nearly happened time after time.

Clarke won the ball after 13 minutes, played a 1-2 and sent a low shot wide.

The Stags were unlucky not to equalise after 17 minutes. Clarke sent Keillor-Dunn away down the left. He drove into the area, cutting inside and fired a shot against the left post. It cannoned back off keeper Slocombe and just wide of the post. Brilliant from Keillor-Dunn, so unlucky not to score, and Slocombe very lucky it didn’t cannon back off him into the net.

Maris tried his luck from 30 yards, but it was blocked. At the other end on 21 minutes, a good cross from David McGoldrick and Macdonald did really well under pressure to header away.

Then on 23 minutes, Keillor-Dunn played a 1-2 with Reed and his on-target shot from 20 yards was blocked by Aden Baldwin.

The Stags equalised after 24 minutes. Notts County were knocking the ball around at the back. Akins pressurised John Bostock out on the Notts County left. Bostock went down under the lightest of touches from Akins. Akins slid the ball inside to Maris, who turned and teed up Reed who ran on to it and slid into the bottom right corner of the net from 12 yards. A lovely assist from Maris and a cool finish from Reed. The pundits on Sky were all agreed that the touch by Akins on Bostock was not enough to warrant a free kick.

A chance for Langstaff at the other end a minute later. A good run from Rawlinson, he fed Langstaff 20 yards from goal. Langstaff found half a yard of space and curled a shot just wide of Pym’s goal.

After 28 minutes, Crowley could have been sent off for leading with his elbow into Reed’s face. The referee gave a free kick but not even a yellow card. The pundits on Sky were all agreed Crowley got away with that.

The game was being played almost entirely in the Notts County half. Clarke had a low shot deflected for a corner after 38 minutes.

Notts had barely been in the Stags half for a long time, but Flint blocked Austin’s cross on 44 minutes and on 45+4 minutes, great defending from Macdonald to clear off the line. Austin crossed from the left, Crowley volleyed goalwards from a tight angle and Macdonald was in the right place to clear off the line with his left boot.

All square at the break. A good advert for League Two, Mansfield with plenty of good play, Notts County with lots of possession, most of it in their own half, and much from their keeper.

Half time 1-1

Cargill was booked for a foul on Langstaff on the halfway line after 47 minutes. His 5th booking of the season (see stats at the bottom of the report), so he is suspended next week against Forest Green, his former side.

Macdonald tried a shot from 32 yards after 53 minutes as a corner was cleared to him but it was charged down.

A great tackle by Cargill tracking back on Nemane after 55 minutes.

Flint was penalised for a foul on McGoldrick after 59 minutes. The free kick was 30 yards out, and the wall did its job blocking McGoldrick’s shot.

A minute later at the other end, Clarke embarked on a tremendous run down the left all the way to the byline. He pulled it back and the ball fell for Maris to stab it goalwards and it just hit keeper Slocombe on the line.

Clarke had a piledriver from 22 yards blocked after 66 minutes.

McGoldrick sent Nemane away into the area on the right after 69 minutes, and Nemane blazed a shot wide.

The Stags were deservedly in front after 70 minutes. Bowery headed the ball down the right and Keillor-Dunn won a corner as his cross was blocked. Keillor-Dunn dinked a great corner to the edge of the six yard box where Cargill rose highest to thunder a header into the roof of the net. What a time for him to score his first Stags goal.

Four minutes later, it was 3-1, from another corner, and this time it was Flint with his first Stags goal. Keillor-Dunn fed Reed, whose cross was blocked for a corner on the right again. Keillor-Dunn dinked another great corner to the edge of the six yard box, this time more to the near post, Akins met it with a low diving header against the right post, it rebounded out and Flint was in the right place to sweep it into the net from 5 yards. Another great moment for the travelling army of Stags fans and Flint slid onto his backside to celebrate in front of them. It was another good set piece delivery from Keillor-Dunn, and a great header from Akins.

Great from Mansfield to score from two corners in four minutes. After the game, Nigel Clough told Sky Sports: "It's about time we scored from set plays. It's the delivery really. It hasn't been brilliant. But we put two on the money today and we get two goals from them. It's nice for the centre halves to score. We've been waiting for Flinty to score for a few weeks."

It should have been 4-1 after 77 minutes. Maris had a shot blocked from 20 yards after being teed up by Reed. Reed then won the ball back and set Macdonald away to the byline, he pulled a great low ball back to find Lewis completely unmarked. Lewis hit it first time and fired over the bar from 14 yards. He’s got to keep it down from there, and you can just hear Andy Garner who would have been saying to him afterwards you’ve got to keep your shot down!

Notts County’s defence was all over the place.

Mansfield’s first change after 78 minutes as Boateng replaced Maris.

Akins forced Notts to lose the ball again after 81 minutes. Boateng got into the area and his shot was blocked by Baldwin. Lewis recycled the ball to Akins on the edge of the area and his low shot was straight at the keeper.

Mansfield made it 4-1 after 82 minutes. Clarke lifted a great ball from the left to Keillor-Dunn in space on the corner of the area on the right. Keillor-Dunn turned one way then the other, he had three defenders near him but none attempted to lay a glove on him, and eventually he drove in a low cross into the six yard box and Akins got ahead of his marker to turn it into the net from 3 yards. Akins had been involved in the first goal, had an assist for the third goal when his header came back off the post, and now had a goal of his own. What a performance! And what about Keillor-Dunn! Two assists, his corner led to the third goal, and he’d been unlucky to hit the post in the first half.

Before play restarted, two more changes as Keillor-Dunn and Akins were rested, replaced by Gale and Swan.

A rare chance for Notts County involving their two star players as McGoldrick crossed in and Langstaff managed to head it away from goal.

On 85 minutes, Clarke chipped a brilliant ball forward for Swan to run on to. He got to the byline, and pulled a good ball across but Brindley cleared before Gale could turn it in.

On 90 minutes, Toby Adebayo crossed in from the right for Notts and Jim O’Brien knocked wide from 4 yards.

Two more changes for the Stags after 90+1 minutes: Johnson and Williams replaced Clarke and Lewis.

George Williams had a chance to score after 90+4 as he side-footed straight at the keeper. Then at the other end on 90+7, a shot from McGoldrick was deflected and Pym turned it wide. Pym had been a virtual spectator for most of the game.

The Stags players and fans were soon able to celebrate a magnificent win together. The performance was special, and could not have failed to impress anyone watching on Sky Sports.

So many candidates for man of the match. Akins was involved in the first goal, had an assist for the third goal when his header came back off the post, and then had a goal of his own. Keillor-Dunn: two assists, for the second and fourth goals, plus his corner led to the third goal, and he’d been unlucky to hit the post in the first half. Reed, Lewis, Clarke and Maris were all brilliant at pressing Notts County. Their work rate was phenomenal. Reed also scored the first goal, and was the Sky Sports man of the match. And the defence, after that sloppy opening few minutes was terrific. Both Flint and Cargill got their first Stags goal. Bowery was fantastic, again, at right back. And Macdonald had his best game in a Stags shirt, after he should have done better for the Notts goal. Pym though was a virtual spectator. In stark contrast to Notts keeper Slocombe who touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch, with an incredible 117 touches!

Man of the match: all ten outfield players. I don’t want to single one out because they were all outstanding.

Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 8, Akins 5, Maris 3, Oates 3, Gale 2, Reed 2, Cargill, Clarke 1, Flint 1, Johnson 1, Lewis 1, Swan 1.

Assists (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 5, Oates 4, Quinn 4, Swan 3, Maris 2, Bowery 1, Flint 2, Gale 2, Akins 1, Clarke 1, Macdonald 1, Reed 1.
(notes on assists: in the case of a penalty, the player who earns the penalty gets an assist. In the case of a solo goal, such as Maris against Newport at home two seasons ago, 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. In the case of an own goal, the player who caused the own goal gets an assist, for example McLaughlin against Newport away two seasons ago 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 last season, nobody gets an assist.)

Injuries (including quotes from Nigel Clough): Kilgour (ruptured Achilles, return July), Hewitt (ACL, “on schedule for February time"), Quinn (nicked a ligament in side of knee, expected to be out until December), Oates (ruptured ankle ligaments, “we are looking at the Everton U21 game in the EFL Trophy on the 7th (Nov) for him to feature”), McLaughlin (knee, "we are looking at the Everton U21 game in the EFL Trophy on the 7th (Nov) for him to feature"), O’Toole ("had a scan and it was worse than we feared, he got a whack on the side of the calf against Notts County U21's on 14 Sept. Six weeks from the injury so that rules him out for most of October")

Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Boateng 1, Bowery 1, Cargill 5, Clarke 2, Gale 1, Johnson 1, Keillor-Dunn 2, Kilgour 1, Lewis 2, Macdonald 3, Maris 1, Quinn 1, Reed 3, Swan 1.
Red cards (league and cup): Macdonald 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 away following (league games): 1,567 (more than 1,000 in 5 of 7 away league games)

Report by: By Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane

Line Up:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Pym 7 A virtual spectator for most of the game.
Bowery 9 Fantastic, again, at right back.
Flint 9 Got his first Stags goal and was dominant at the back. A colossus as usual.
Cargill 9 Also got his first Stags goal with a towering header. Some great tracking back as Notts broke. Booked and will be suspended for the Forest Green game.
Macdonald 9 Had his best game in a Stags shirt, after he should have done better for the Notts goal. One terrific clearance off the line.
Reed 9 Brilliant pressing of Notts County. Work rate was phenomenal. Also scored the first goal, and was the Sky Sports man of the match.
Lewis 9 Brilliant pressing. Should have scored when he fired over the bar.
Clarke 9 Some brilliant passing, amazing work rate.
Maris 9 An assist for the first goal. Unlucky when his stabbed shot hit the keeper on the line. Great work rate.
Keillor-Dunn 9 Two assists, for the second and fourth goals, plus his corner led to the third goal, and he was unlucky to hit the post in the first half.
Akins 9 Involved in the first goal, had an assist for the third goal when his header came back off the post, and then had a goal of his own.
Sub Line Up:
Boateng (for Maris, 78) -
Gale (for Keillor-Dunn, 83) -
Swan (for Akins, 83) -
Johnson (for Clarke, 90+1) -
Williams (for Lewis, 90+1) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Brunt.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-4-2-1): Slocombe; Brindley, Baldwin, Rawlinson; Nemane, Bostock (O'Brien 56), Palmer, Austin; Crowley, McGoldrick; Langstaff. Subs not used: Stone, Tipton, Macari, Gill, Morias.
Scott Oldham 9 Had a great game. Should have punished the elbow by Crowley on Reed.

Season 23/24 Reports