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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
Flint 16, Bowery 71.
 Stirk 52.
Attendance: 7,641 (778 from Walsall)
Date: 28 October 2023


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town beat Walsall 2-1 at the One Call Stadium yesterday. It was a deserved win. The Stags were much the better side in the first half but only went in at the break 1-0 ahead with Aden Flint’s second goal in three goals. Walsall equalised out of the blue after 52 minutes with their first and only shot on target of the game when former Stag Ryan Stirk fired in from 10 yards. The Stags then lost their way for 15 minutes as Walsall were in the ascendancy without creating clearcut chances. But Mansfield regained the lead after 71 minutes when Jordan Bowery fired in off the left post and the Stags created chances to make it more comfortable while Walsall created little or nothing and never looked like equalising.

Walsall were not a bad side with Stirk and his lookalike Ross Tierney impressing in midfield. So this was a good win for Mansfield, especially having lost their way for 15 minutes in the second half. Walsall though had nothing up front with another former Stag Danny Johnson having too quiet a game, indeed he only touched the ball 15 times in 90 minutes. They were missing top scorer Freddie Draper, who has had a good season so far, on loan from Lincoln.

Mansfield lost Lucas Akins to a head injury and we await news of his scan after he went to hospital.

Mansfield remain unbeaten in league and cup this season (19 games), and remain the only EFL or Premier League club to be unbeaten this season in all competitions.

Mansfield are now 15 league games unbeaten this season and that extends the club record for the longest unbeaten start to a league season (see club records here).

Including last season, Mansfield are 16 league games unbeaten. The club record is 20, set in 1976.

The club record league and cup games unbeaten in all competitions is also 20, set in 1976 (as there were no cup games in that run).

If you include cup games, including last season, Mansfield are now 20 league and cup games unbeaten in all competitions, which therefore equals the club record set in 1976.

Incidentally the club record set in 1976 also straddled two seasons: 19 games at the end of the 1975/76 season under manager Dave Smith, and 1 game at the start of the 1976/77 season under Peter Morris, after Dave Smith had surprisingly been sacked.

Nigel Clough was asked about it on iFollow Stags: "another club record to talk about, Mansfield now 20 games unbeaten, stretching back to last season, equalling a club record."
Clough replied: "Brilliant. Let's try and beat it. It'll be tough to do that this week with Port Vale and Wrexham in town."

Mansfield were looking for their 5th consecutive home clean sheet in the league for the first time since 2009, but didn’t manage it with that goal from Stirk.

Mansfield have conceded the fewest goals in League Two (12 goals in 15 games this season).


Mansfield were unchanged from the side that won at Harrogate on Tuesday. One change on the bench: Cargill returned from suspension in place of McLaughlin. McLaughlin is fine, he was in the press box, it is planned he will return from injury in the EFL Trophy against Everton U21 in 10 days, at the same time as Oates.

Walsall arrived in mid table with 5 wins, 5 draws, 5 defeats. Two former Stags in the side: Ryan Stirk and Danny Johnson. Johnson is not a regular starter for Walsall but scored off the bench on Tuesday and got his chance to start with top scorer Freddie Draper out injured. Rollin Menayese was also out injured.

It was another big home crowd, about 50 short of another home sell-out, having been made all-ticket again for home fans.

Walsall left back Liam Gordon made a good run into the Stags area after 3 minutes but couldn’t get a shot away.

The first shot from either side was after 4 minutes as Bowery chipped into Clarke in the area, Clarke chested down, and volleyed goalwards but it was blocked more or less at source.

After 13 minutes, a great run from Keillor-Dunn, he cut inside, and fired in a low shot from 22 yards, straight at the keeper.

Mansfield took the lead after 16 minutes. Maris’s corner from the left to beyond the far post was headed down by Flint. It hit defender Gordon and looped onto the bar. The keeper flapped it away to Akins who headed it forward, Keillor-Dunn headed goalwards from 3 yards. It was blocked on the line by Gordon, and Flint was first to the loose ball stabbing it into the net from a yard. Two goals in three games for Flint, both with his right boot following corners. An assist for Keillor-Dunn (see my stats and definition of an assist below).

Akins was hurt as he headed the ball forward in the build-up to the goal, in a clash of heads with Okagbue. After attention from the club doctor Dr Prabu and the physio Tom Whittamore, Akins continued. But he was to go off ten minutes later (29 minutes).

Clough said after the game: “Lucas has gone to hospital to get checked out. We don't take any chances. He said he was all right but I am always very wary and reluctant to leave people on. Then suddenly he wasn't and did come off.” Good luck to Lucas, hopefully he is ok.

Gale replaced Akins, as Akins departed down the touchline to a standing ovation. Nigel Clough told me after the game they were considering whether to make it a concussion substitution, but decided not to, because it would automatically rule him out of Tuesday’s game.

The Stags dominated the rest of the half and should have gone further ahead.

After 32 minutes, a free kick into the box from Reed from 32 yards out, was headed up by Gale, Clarke attacked the ball as it dropped down and headed towards goal but Donervon Daniels blocked it on the line.

A run forward from Danny Johnson after 35 minutes. It might have been the first time he touched the ball. He was booed by Stags fans. It was a decent run, but a poor lay off which was easily intercepted by Brunt.

After 36 minutes, a great chance as Macdonald’s low ball across the edge of the box was perfect for Maris, who was completely unmarked for a shot from 17 yards, but it was deflected wide by Liam Gordon.

The resulting corner from Maris was cleared to Brunt on the edge of the area and his volleyed shot was cleared off the line by Isaac Hutchinson.

Within a minute, on 37 minutes, Clarke nicked the ball away from Joe Riley on the touchline, Keillor-Dunn cut in from the left and from a tight angle fired in a good shot which the keeper pushed away. Good effort from Keillor-Dunn. Seconds later, Keillor-Dunn pulled back to Gale, whose shot was blocked.

Brunt was booked for a foul on Johnson after 38 minutes, as Walsall broke.

A good run down the left by Gale after 40 minutes, and he was brought down by Tom Knowles, who was booked. From the resulting free kick, from just outside the area on the left, taken by Macdonald, Flint headed over the bar.

At the other end, great defending by Bowery to nick the ball away from Johnson in the area on 43 minutes.

A shot from Johnson after 45+1 minutes as he curled wide from 20 yards.

The Stags should have been 2-0 ahead after 45+4 minutes. Gale did brilliantly to win the ball off Daniels on the corner of the area on the right, he elected not to shoot, crossed low for Maris who laid off for Keillor-Dunn whose shot from 10 yards was blocked by Brandon Comley on the edge of the six yard box.

A glut of good chances for the Stags in the final 15 minutes of the half but it was only 1-0 at the break. Walsall had been toothless.

Half time 1-0

With Brunt on a yellow card, he was replaced by Cargill at the start of the second half.

Another glorious opportunity for the Stags to open up a two goal lead after 47 minutes. Brilliant play from Keillor-Dunn, into the area with great footwork, and he put a free shot on a plate for Lewis, who fired over the bar from 16 yards. Lewis has sent a few shots over the bar from great positions recently. Then on 50 minutes, a shot from Keillor-Dunn from 12 yards was blocked.

Walsall equalised out of the blue after 52 minutes with their first and only shot on target of the entire game when former Stag Ryan Stirk fired in from 10 yards. Ross Tierney sent Knowles away to the byline on the right, Knowles pulled back across the area. Johnson had a free shot at goal from 9 yards and completely missed it. But it reached Stirk who trapped it and fired into the net from 8 yards. Good from Stirk. Not from Johnson.
As the Walsall players celebrated in front of their fans in the North Stand, Johnson said something into Stirk’s ear, Johnson went to tie his shoelace, Stirk bent down but didn’t follow suit.
The background to that is that Johnson had tied his shoelace while other Stags players celebrated Kilgour’s equaliser at Bradford last season, and then did the same after Johnson scored at AFC Wimbledon. Stirk didn’t follow suit, probably thinking better of it, not wanting to be disrespectful, especially as Stirk gets on well with Nigel Clough.

The Stags then lost their way for 15 minutes as Walsall were in the ascendancy without creating clearcut chances.

After 56 minutes, good defending from Bowery against Johnson. Two minutes later, a Walsall free kick was headed away by Flint to Hutchinson who fired well wide.

Gale was booked for diving in the area after 59 minutes. Reed chipped a free kick from 45 yards into the area. Flint headed it across the edge of the area, Keillor-Dunn volleyed goalwards, it was blocked by Joe Riley, it ran loose and Gale went down as Tierney challenged for it. The referee immediately produced a yellow card for Gale. No protests from Stags players, apart from Gale himself. Nigel Clough told me after the game it was the right decision and he had told the ref he made the right decision.

Stirk sent a shot from 35 yards over the bar on the hour. Two minutes later, a good interception from Clarke.

A change from Mansfield after 63 minutes: Swan replaced Maris. Keillor-Dunn dropped back to attacking midfield.

On 68 minutes, a Stirk corner and Daniels headed over the bar.

The Stags had lost their way, but sparked back into life on 70 minutes. A great cross from Bowery from the right, it was in front of Gale and he couldn’t get anything on it as he went for it with his outstretched leg. Perhaps Gale could have done better.

Mansfield regained the lead after 71 minutes. Keillor-Dunn sent Swan away on the left towards the byline on the left. Swan pulled it back across the box and Bowery ran on to it, and hit a first time side-footed left foot shot unmarked from 17 yards which seemed initially to be going wide but curled inwards and hit the inside of the left post before crossing the line behind the motionless keeper who must have thought it was going wide. A great finish from Bowery, to get it on target, not blaze over the bar or wide, as so many Stags shots have done this season, even though Bowery didn’t actually strike it as cleanly as he might have done, as he hit it into the ground. Walsall manager Mat Sadler said it was “stuffed” (he probably meant scuffed), but it was a better finish than that.
Bowery said after the game: “It was a good pull back from Swanny, don’t know if he knew I was there or not, but he’ll take the assist. I just tried to side-foot it with my left foot, it took a little bobble. I think the keeper thought it was going wide. It took a while to go in. It went in in slow motion and it just clipped the post and went in. I couldn’t see, I had to go off the fans’ reaction.”
It was Bowery’s first goal of the season, and came at a very opportune moment.

Walsall had a shot a minute later as Stirk found Johnson who turned and shot and it was blocked wide by Flint.

After that, the Stags created chances to make it more comfortable while Walsall created little or nothing and never looked like equalising.

On 73 minutes, Lewis had a chance to set Keillor-Dunn through on goal but he overhit his pass. Great footwork from Swan after 75 minutes to create a yard to shoot, and he shot wide from 22 yards.

On 79 minutes, Clarke sent a left footed shot from 26 yards just wide, a good effort.

Boateng replaced Clarke after 79 minutes.

Great play from Keillor-Dunn to win the ball after 80 minutes but a poor cross from Reed wasted it.

Stirk was subbed after 82 minutes. He was booed by a handful of Stags fans. On came Jamille Matt, who has played against the Stags for so many clubs, but seems out of favour at Walsall.

Fabulous play from Keillor-Dunn after 84 minutes as he ran rings around Comley and brought a good save from the keeper from 20 yards. The Stags recycled the ball and Keillor-Dunn had another shot, this time blocked by Gordon.

Boateng was booked after 86 minutes, as Reed sold him short with a poor pass.

Pym caught the resulting free kick, just what you want from your keeper in that situation.

A great touch from Boateng to Swan on the left after 87 minutes, Swan surged forward towards the byline and pulled back to Boateng whose shot from 8 yards was blocked by Daniels when it looked a certain goal. Boateng put his head in his hands.

Great play from Bowery after 90 minutes to win a corner. Four minutes was added on and Walsall created no chances to equalise.

A good win for the Stags. Mansfield’s superiority was highlighted by 22 shots to Walsall’s 7, including 7 on target to Walsall’s 1.

The next game is on Tuesday as Mansfield are at home to Port Vale for a place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup (Carabao Cup). Incredible, the quarter-finals!
A reminder that Carabao Cup games are not available to watch on iFollow due to broadcasting restrictions.
The game is live on overseas TV such as ESPN in America, DAZN in Canada, beIN Sports in France and elsewhere, but not on UK TV.
Sometimes games on overseas TV and not available on UK TV have been shown live in the UK on Bet365 website... UPDATE-it does NOT seem to be.
With it not being a league game, it should be relatively easy to get a ticket for the game.

Man of the match: Jordan Bowery

Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 8, Akins 7, Maris 4, Oates 3, Flint 2, Gale 2, Reed 2, Bowery 1, Brunt 1, Cargill, Clarke 1, Johnson 1, Lewis 1, Swan 1.

Assists (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 8, Oates 4, Quinn 4, Swan 4, Flint 3, Clarke 2, Maris 2, Gale 2, Akins 1, Bowery 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 7th Nov for him to feature”), McLaughlin (knee, was on the bench at Harrogate but "we are looking at the Everton U21 game in the EFL Trophy on 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"), Akins (head injury against Walsall, awaiting news of scan).

Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Boateng 2, Bowery 1, Brunt 2, Cargill 5, Clarke 2, Gale 2, Johnson 2, Keillor-Dunn 2, Kilgour 1, Lewis 2, Macdonald 4, 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 home league attendance: 7540 (average away fans: 837, average home fans 6702) (remember the attendance is calculated as tickets sold, including season tickets. There are 5171 season ticket holders this season.)

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

Line Up:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Pym 7.5 Good catch from a free kick near the end, just what you want from your keeper in that situation. No chance with the goal, and no other shots to save.
Bowery 9 Great goal, one great cross, and some great defending. Man of the match.
Flint 8.5 Second goal in three games. Defended very solidly.
Brunt 7 Booked and subbed at half time as a result. Otherwise a good first half.
Macdonald 8 Got forward well, with good crosses.
Reed 7 Decent game, but below his usual standard with some poor passes.
Lewis 6.5 Bad miss when he fired over the bar. Overhit a pass with a chance to set Keillor-Dunn through on goal.
Clarke 8 Some good interceptions, and a couple of good shots.
Maris 7.5 Good game. Good corner for the first goal.
Akins 7 Injured heading the ball forward in the build-up to the first goal.
Keillor-Dunn 8.5 Numerous great pieces of play. Involved in both goals.
Sub Line Up:
Gale (for Akins, 29) 7 Gave the defence problems and won some free kicks. Could have done better in front of goal.
Cargill (for Brunt, 46) 7 Defended solidly.
Swan (for Maris, 63) 8 An assist for the second goal. His best performance of the season in my opinion.
Boateng (for Clarke, 79) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Williams, Callum Johnson.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Evans; Riley, Okagbue, Daniels, Gordon; Comley, Stirk (Matt 82); Knowles (Allen 88), Tierney, Hutchinson (James-Taylor 79); Danny Johnson. Subs not used: Smith, Foulkes, Griffiths.
David Rock 7 Correctly turned down Gale’s penalty appeal. Got most things right.

Season 23/24 Reports