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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Salford City  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Smith 22.
 Bowery 19, Keillor-Dunn 37
Attendance: 3,281 (1,173 from Mansfield)
Date: 11 November 2023


Martin Shaw at the Peninsula Stadium, Moor Lane

Mansfield Town won 2-1 at Salford City yesterday for the first time (at the 4th attempt) to move up to third place in the table, and with a game in hand. It was a small hoodoo overcome to add to the likes of beating Harrogate and winning at Accrington.

The win was not a typical Stags performance this season. Mansfield have been routinely clocking up 20+ shots in a game this season, but at Salford the Stags had only 9 while the home team had 18. Instead the win was based on clinical finishing from Jordan Bowery and a poacher’s finish from David Keillor-Dunn from a wonderful Callum Johnson cross. And it was also based on an excellent defensive display with Callum Johnson putting in a man of the match performance, Aden Flint a colossus as usual after switching to man-marking Matt Smith in the second half, Lewis Brunt very good again, including fine play in the build-up to the Bowery goal, and Callum Macdonald at left back. And a couple of fabulous saves from Christy Pym. Salford had plenty of possession, 65% in fact. But much of it was in their own half with centre half Tilt having more touches of the ball than anyone else on the pitch, and doing nothing with it.

After 3 cup defeats in 7 days, this was the Stags’ 4th league win on the trot.

Mansfield are now 16 league games unbeaten this season (8 wins and 8 draws) which continues to extend the club record for the longest unbeaten start to a league season (see club records here).

Only Mansfield and Portsmouth are unbeaten in the Premier League, EFL, and National League (including North and South), so that’s the top 6 tiers of English football.

Including last season, Mansfield are 17 league games unbeaten. The club record is 20, set in 1976.

Mansfield are 14 away league games unbeaten. The club record is 15, set in 2018-19 (stat from Paul Taylor).

Mansfield have also conceded the fewest goals in League Two this season (13 goals in 16 games).

Mansfield made two changes from the Wrexham FA Cup game: Macdonald and Maris came in for Cargill and Clarke.

Clarke is out for three or four weeks with a thigh strain.

McLaughlin didn’t make the squad and is out for three to four weeks with a groin strain.

Akins missed the game as expected with a small fracture just below his eye. There is a chance he may be back for the Newport game next Saturday. Nigel Clough said “Lucas had a little operation on Monday and felt a bit groggy after it. He is having a mask fitted this week and we will see how he is before Saturday.”

For news on Quinn and O’Toole see the injury round-up at the bottom of this report.

On the suspension front, Macdonald picked up his fifth yellow card in the league this season and will be suspended for one game (against Newport). I was not sure in commentary yesterday whether it would be a two game ban because of his red card against Crewe, but it seems it will not be, yellow and red card suspensions are considered separate.

Reed picked up his fourth yellow card in the league this season at Salford and if he picks up a fifth before the end of the 19th league game, he will be suspended for one game.

Salford brought in Matty Lund. Stags fans remember Lund who should have been sent off in the game here two seasons ago. Striker Matt Smith had just been named League Two player of the month. Luke Bolton was out injured, he had caused Mansfield problems with his pace before.

Salford were in good form after a poor start to the season. They had won 4, drawn 2 and lost 1 of their last 7 league games. And they had won 2 and drawn 1 of their last 3 home games, after losing 3 on the trot at home before that.

Mansfield had lost 2 and drawn 1 of the 3 games between these sides at Moor Lane. And that draw felt like a defeat as the Stags had needed to win it to keep chances of a top 3 place alive two seasons ago.

It was a sunny autumn day.

The Stags were in the navy blue third kit for the first time. I thought it looked very smart.

The Stags had the better of the chances in the opening 15 minutes.

After just 2 minutes, Salford keeper Alex Cairns attempted to throw the ball out, it hit Rhys Oates and the keeper was lucky it didn’t fall kindly for Oates. At the other end on 5 minutes, Ethan Ingram crossed from the byline and Matt Smith headed over the bar, getting above Flint.

After 7 minutes, Oates won a free kick on the corner of the area on the right. Lewis curled the free kick in, it reached Brunt at the far post but he missed his kick.

After 10 minutes, a great run from Oates, he cut inside and his shot was blocked. Then on 13 minutes, Flint crossed from the right, Oates was stretching to reach it at the far post and miscued wide. Not a bad chance that.

After 16 minutes, a soft free kick was given against Lewis on the edge of the Stags area, left of centre. Stephen Mallan took the free kick and the wall did its job, with Macdonald blocking it.

The Stags took the lead after 19 minutes. Brunt stepped out of defence to intercept a ball forward from Liam Shephard. He played a one-two with Keillor-Dunn, was tackled by Shephard, the loose ball fell for Lewis who slid a first time ball forward for Bowery on the edge of the area. Bowery cut inside and curled a wonderful shot into the top right corner of the net from 16 yards. A great finish from Bowery, his second goal of the season, and those coming in consecutive league games.

Salford were level after 22 minutes. Ryan Watson curled a high ball from the left into the area, Brunt rose to head to away but it went over him, and Matt Smith outjumped Macdonald to head into the net from 8 yards.
It was a surprise to me that Flint wasn’t man marking Smith throughout. Nigel Clough told me afterwards that he told Flint to do so as they regrouped, either later in the half or at half time. Smith versus Macdonald in the air was only going to have one winner.

Reed was booked for a high boot after 30 minutes. His 4th booking of the season (see above).

Mansfield regained the lead after 37 minutes. Johnson played a one-two with Bowery on the right touchline and curled a great cross into the six-yard box which Keillor-Dunn met on the volley from 4 yards to turn it past the keeper. A poacher’s finish from Keillor-Dunn and just a wonderful cross from Johnson. Keillor-Dunn’s 9th goal of the season.

Pym prevented Salford making it 2-2 after 39 minutes. Luke Garbutt curled a high cross into the middle from the left, Smith was again marked by Macdonald and Brunt, and headed down to Matty Lund, unmarked, 7 yards out. It seemed he must score but his powerful drive was miraculously clawed out one-handed by Pym on his line. An incredible save!

A great run from Johnson after 40 minutes, across the area, to Oates, who cut inside and his shot was blocked. Great play from Johnson. As he released the ball he went down and was caught on the head by Liam Shephard’s boot. After some attention from physio Tom, Johnson played on. After the game, Johnson revealed a big bump on the side of his head, which looked very sore. Hopefully Johnson is feeling better soon with that bump.

After 42 minutes, Garbutt crossed from the left and Smith headed well wide from the edge of the area.

Macdonald was booked after 44 minutes for a late tackle. Macdonald will now be suspended for one game (see above).

On 45+2 minutes, Macdonald made a good tackle to put behind for a corner. Had he mistimed it, it could have been a second yellow. Lund headed the corner over the bar.

After 45+4 minutes, Oates made a good run forward to the edge of the area, his shot was parried by the keeper, and Keillor-Dunn couldn’t quite get to the rebound.

The Stags ahead at the break. Salford had knocked the ball around nicely, but really only hurt the Stags with balls into Matt Smith. The Stags had to get better marking him, and were to do so through Flint in the second half.

Half time 1-2

Salford started the second half strongly. Pym saved comfortably from Stephen Mallan after 46 minutes. Then Lund headed well wide from a Garbutt cross. Maris slid in to put in a great block on a Smith shot after 52 minutes.

Brunt blocked a shot from Elliot Watt after 57 minutes.

Bowery might have extended the Stags lead after 58 minutes. Johnson lifted a great ball forward for Bowery to run on to, and Bowery’s shot from the right was saved by the keeper with his legs.

Maris had an ever better chance to score after 64 minutes. Reed slid a superb ball forward to him on the edge of the area. Maris got past two defenders and just had the keeper to beat from 8 yards. The keeper was already going down, but Maris tried to take it round him and only succeeded in running the ball out of play. He probably should have dinked it over the keeper as the keeper went down.

Conor McAleny replaced Lund after 69 minutes and soon made things tick for Salford. It was a surprise he wasn’t on earlier or start the game. After 70 minutes his shot gave Pym a comfortable save. Two minutes later, Johnson did well to get back and stop McAleny when he was looking dangerous.

McAleny was brought down, 26 yards out in a central position after 76 minutes. Garbutt sent the free kick well over the bar.

The Stags were annoyed that the referee didn’t get his yellow card out for a deliberate foul by a Salford player, given the yellow cards he had shown in the first half, and Flint let the referee know.

Pym made another brilliant save after 79 minutes. McAleny received the ball 35 yards out, took a couple of touches and blasted a powerful shot towards the roof of the net from 20 yards, and Pym parried it over the bar one-handed. Pym then punched away the resulting corner.

Salford were putting Mansfield under some pressure.

Boateng replaced Keillor-Dunn after 82 minutes.

Salford sub Kelly Nmai headed over from a Declan John cross after 83 minutes.

Oates turned his man, stormed forward and was brought down for a free kick and a yellow card for Ingram after 87 minutes. Lewis sent the free kick, from 25 yards out, into the wall, and deflected over for a corner.

Cargill replaced Macdonald after 89 minutes.

5 minutes of stoppage time was added on.

After 90+3, Gale and Williams replaced Oates and Reed.

Mansfield saw the game out with no more chances for the home side. Nigel Clough led the celebrations with the fans at full time.

The next game is at home to Newport next weekend. Expect another big crowd. But if you can’t get to the One Call Stadium, then as it is an international weekend, you can buy a match pass to watch the game with us on iFollow Stags.

Man of the match: Callum Johnson

Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 9, Akins 7, Maris 4, Oates 4, Bowery 2, Flint 2, Gale 2, Reed 2, 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, Bowery 2, Clarke 2, Maris 2, Gale 2, Akins 1, Johnson 1, Lewis 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"),
Akins (small fracture just below his eye, “had a little operation on Monday and felt a bit groggy after it. He is having a mask fitted this week and we will see how he is before the Newport game”),
Clarke (out for 3-4 weeks with a thigh strain picked up vs Wrexham in FA Cup).
McLaughlin (out for 3-4 weeks with a groin strain picked up vs Everton U21)
O'Toole and Quinn: Nigel Clough said after the Everton U21 game about the return of O'Toole and Quinn that they are both scheduled to return against Burton in the EFL Trophy in 2 weeks. O'Toole is back running. And Clough said if all goes well with Quinn next week, he will get 45 minutes against Burton.

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 5 (suspended for Newport game), Maris 1, Quinn 1, Reed 4, 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): 1,400 (more than 1,000 in 6 of 9 away league games)

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Peninsula Stadium, Moor Lane

Line Up:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Pym 9 Magnificent save from Lund’s shot in the first half, and another brilliant save from McAleny’s 20 yard shot in the second half.
Johnson 9 Wonderful cross for the second goal. Other good runs, passes, and defending.
Flint 8 A colossus as usual after switching to man-marking Matt Smith in the second half.
Brunt 8 Very good again, including fine play in the build-up to the Bowery goal. For Salford’s first goal, the cross went over him before Smith headed in.
Macdonald 8 Some good blocks and tackles. Outjumped by Smith for the first goal. Picked up his fifth yellow card in the league this season and will be suspended for one game.
Reed 7 Superb ball forward for Maris’ chance.
Lewis 7 An assist for Bowery’s goal.
Maris 7 Missed with just the keeper to beat in the second half, probably should have dinked it over the keeper. One great block.
Keillor-Dunn 7.5 Poacher’s finish for his 9th goal of the season. He also has 8 assists.
Bowery 8 Great finish for his goal. Brought a save from the keeper in the second half.
Oates 7.5 Several good runs. Several shots blocked.
Sub Line Up:
Boateng (for Keillor-Dunn, 82) -
Cargill (for Macdonald, 89) -
Gale (for Oates, 90+3) -
Williams (for Reed, 90+3) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Swan, Finn Flanagan.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-4-2-1): Cairns; Shephard (McLennan, 46), Tilt, Garbutt; Ingram, Watt, Mallan (Nmai, 69), John; Watson, Lund (McAleny, 69); Smith. Subs not used: Wright, Dackers, Pedro, Humbles.
Ross Joyce 7 Perhaps should have shown a yellow to a Salford player for a deliberate foul. But otherwise got most things right.

Season 23/24 Reports