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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
Bristol Street Motors EFL Trophy
Burton Albion  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Stockton 34, Hamer 53.
 
 Cooper 21
Attendance: 855 (approx 250 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 21 November 2023

STAGS OUT OF EFL TROPHY AFTER DEFEAT AT BURTON

Martin Shaw at the Pirelli Stadium

Mansfield Town were beaten 2-1 at Burton Albion in the EFL Trophy (now named Bristol Street Motors Trophy) last night. The win was enough to take Burton through to the second round, while Mansfield went out.

The Stags took the lead after 21 minutes when George Cooper diverted the ball into the net with his knee from George Maris’s free kick from the right for his first Stags goal. A proud moment for him.

Burton levelled after 34 minutes when Mason Bennett and Calum Macdonald went for a 50:50 ball just outside the Burton area as the Stags were on the attack. The ball somehow ricocheted forward 40 yards into the Stags half where striker Cole Stockton got the better of George Cooper and George Williams just inside the Stags half and ran through on goal to slot past Scott Flinders from 16 yards. Strong play from Stockton but both Cooper and Williams should have done better. Nigel Clough described the goal after the game: “I was very disappointed with the equaliser. A crunching challenge on the edge of their box, a ricochet for them. We had two-on-one at the back with the two Georges and Stockton managed to worm his way clear and sidefoots it in. We should not be conceding with a two-on-one on the halfway line. That was the turning point of the evening.”

1-1 at the break was a fair scoreline. Mansfield had gone close after 15 minutes when Cooper brought the ball out of defence and lifted a wonderful ball forward for Will Swan to run on to. Swan was 1-on-1 with the onrushing keeper Jamal Blackman and lifted the ball over him from 16 yards, but former Stags defender Ryan Sweeney got back to hook the ball off the line. How Will Swan could have done with a confidence-boosting goal.
At the other end on 13 minutes, following a Burton corner, Steve Seddon knocked the ball forward, it looped high into the air off Callum Johnson into the six yard box, and inexplicably Scott Flinders stayed on his line, while Williams and Macdonald waited for him to come for it, allowing Deji Oshilaja to nip in and head unopposed against the top of the bar from 3 yards. A sitter, presented to him.
Flinders was to the rescue with a terrific double save after 38 minutes. Maris lost the ball 25 yards from his own goal, Joe Powell shot towards the left corner of the net from 25 yards and Flinders dived to his right to make a flying one-handed save. From the rebound, Mark Helm shot low from 6 yards and Flinders saved again, this time with his left leg.

Into the second half and Burton went close after 52 minutes. Helm broke into the area on the left, his low ball across was cleared away by sub Baily Cargill as far as Bez Lubala who sidefooted towards the left post. Initially I thought it hit the post and cannoned away but from the replay it was actually blocked in front of the post by Hiram Boateng.

Burton scored what turned out to be the winner after 53 minutes. A corner from the left from Seddon was knocked forward off a combination of Burton and Stags bodies, Williams tried to clear from 3 yards out, getting to the ball at the same time as Stockton, and the loose ball fell kindly for Tom Hamer who scuffed a shot from 7 yards which bobbled into the ground, through Williams’ legs and into the net. A scruffy goal, but the Stags unable to clear their lines.

After that, the Stags were unable to fashion an equaliser in an ultra-competitive game for an EFL Trophy tie and Burton were just about deserved winners.

Worth noting that League One Burton, who were without a game on Saturday, had put their strongest available side out, strengthening it with three changes from their FA Cup replay defeat to Port Vale a week earlier, while Mansfield had a second string out, making nine changes from Saturday’s win over Newport, mostly playing Saturday’s substitutes and players returning from injury.

Nonetheless it was a disappointing night for Mansfield. Some players didn’t push their cases forward. Boateng had a poor game in midfield. Swan and Gale continued to struggle up front though both had a few good moments, but worse still both went off injured, Swan feeling his groin and Gale “twisted his knee a little bit” according to Clough. Cooper scored his first Stags goal, but was up against a powerful striker in Stockton who got the better of him for the equaliser. A great learning experience for young Cooper, and Clough told me afterwards that the alternative would have been to put Brunt or Flint up against Stockton from the start, but the decision was taken to prioritise the league games against Swindon and Tranmere and keep them relatively fresh for that. On the positive side, Quinn looked good on his return from injury in the first half and will certainly be in contention at Swindon. Cargill had a good game at left back and may have done enough to ease past Macdonald for the left back slot on Saturday. Meanwhile Akins proved his fitness though was forced into playing 90 minutes due to the injuries to Swan and Gale. We’ll have to see whether Akins or Bowery starts up front on Saturday. If Akins starts up front, then it’s a tricky decision as to who starts at right back between Johnson and Bowery because both have been playing extremely well.

The real priority for Mansfield is the league. The Stags are at Swindon on Saturday then at home to Tranmere on Tuesday before an 11 day break. Mansfield remain unbeaten in the league.

DETAILED REPORT :

Mansfield made 9 changes from the side that beat Newport, with only Johnson and Maris starting both games.
It was the same 4-3-3 formation as the previous two EFL Trophy games with Gale (right), Swan and Akins (left) up front. It was a midfield of Boateng (right), Maris, Quinn (left). Johnson, Williams, Cooper and Macdonald were the defence. Flinders was in goal.
Akins and Quinn were playing against their former club and returning from injury having come on as subs on Saturday.
John-Joe O’Toole was also returning from injury, also back at his former club, and came on for the final 15 minutes.
Keillor-Dunn, Reed, Oates and Brunt were rested and didn’t travel.
Nigel Clough, a true legend at Burton, was managing a side back at Burton for the first time in a competitive game. Such is his status that a new road is named after him, Clough Drive, opposite the stadium.

Burton made just three changes from their FA Cup game against Port Vale a week earlier. Ryan Sweeney was playing against his former club, Sweeney had played under Clough at Mansfield in the behind closed doors season. Jamal Blackman was in goal. No sub keeper with Max Crocombe away on full international duty with New Zealand. Mansfield by contrast had four keepers at the game: Flinders, Pym, young Louie Turner, and Owen Mason now back from loan in Ireland but unable to play for an English club until January.

It was a winner-takes-all game, whoever won in 90 minutes, or in a penalty shoot-out if it was drawn after 90 minutes, would progress to round 2.

A small crowd, as you would expect, though that was a shame for Clough’s return to Burton.

After 3 minutes, Ryan Sweeney was into the action, headed over from a corner, after he had got above the Stags defence. Then on 9 minutes, a cross-shot from Joe Powell was well wide.

After 13 minutes, following a Burton corner, Steve Seddon knocked the ball forward, it looped high into the air off Callum Johnson into the six yard box, and inexplicably Scott Flinders stayed on his line, while Williams and Macdonald waited for him to come for it, allowing Deji Oshilaja to nip in and head unopposed against the top of the bar from 3 yards. A sitter, presented to him.

Mansfield went close after 15 minutes when Cooper brought the ball out of defence and lifted a wonderful ball forward for Will Swan to run on to. Swan was 1-on-1 with the onrushing keeper Jamal Blackman and lifted the ball over him from 16 yards, but Ryan Sweeney got back to hook the ball off the line. How Will Swan could have done with a confidence-boosting goal. Then Johnson was high and wide from the edge of the area. A good break from the Stags a minute later, but Boateng’s cross was poor.

The Stags took the lead after 21 minutes when George Cooper diverted the ball into the net with his knee from George Maris’s free kick from the right for his first Stags goal. A proud moment for him.

After 26 minutes, a Powell free kick into the area and Sweeney headed wide via a deflection.

At the other end after 29 minutes, Johnson crossed from the right, and Swan headed high and wide, unable to get over the header.

A great piece of skill by Akins after 31 minutes with a backheel in the area to Gale. Gale went down in the area, but it was a good tackle from Seddon.

Burton levelled after 34 minutes when Mason Bennett and Calum Macdonald went for a 50:50 ball just outside the Burton area as the Stags were on the attack. The ball somehow ricocheted forward 40 yards into the Stags half where striker Cole Stockton got the better of George Cooper and George Williams just inside the Stags half and ran through on goal to slot past Scott Flinders from 16 yards. Strong play from Stockton but both Cooper and Williams should have done better. Nigel Clough described the goal after the game: “I was very disappointed with the equaliser. A crunching challenge on the edge of their box, a ricochet for them. We had two-on-one at the back with the two Georges and Stockton managed to worm his way clear and sidefoots it in. We should not be conceding with a two-on-one on the halfway line. That was the turning point of the evening.”
By the way, Macdonald stayed down injured for quite some time after the goal, but was eventually able to play.

Flinders was to the rescue with a terrific double save after 38 minutes. Maris lost the ball 25 yards from his own goal, Joe Powell shot towards the left corner of the net from 25 yards and Flinders dived to his right to make a flying one-handed save. From the rebound, Mark Helm shot low from 6 yards and Flinders saved again, this time with his left leg.

Quinn tried a right-footed shot after 39 which was blocked on the edge of the area. Then Akins switched the ball from his right foot to his left foot and fired just over the bar from 25 yards.

A good move from Mansfield after 43 minutes, Macdonald overlapped and his ball into the middle deflected off Hamer just wide for a corner. At the other end, a good block from Williams.

1-1 at the break was a fair scoreline.

Half time 1-1

A triple change from the Stags at half time: Lewis for Maris (this was as explained by Clough in his press conference the day before the game), Cargill for Johnson, Bowery for Swan. Bowery went up front. Williams to right back, Cargill centre half.
Clough explained on Swan: “Will Swan felt his groin a little in training yesterday but said he was okay. But he felt it again tonight and Tom the physio said it would just get worse the more he plays, so we took him off as a precaution.”

Gale was clearly fouled after 48 minutes, the referee waved play on. Gale got up and won the ball back with a great challenge.

Burton went close after 52 minutes. Helm broke into the area on the left, his low ball across was cleared away by sub Baily Cargill as far as Bez Lubala who sidefooted towards the left post. Initially I thought it hit the post and cannoned away but from the replay it was actually blocked in front of the post by Hiram Boateng.

Burton scored what turned out to be the winner after 53 minutes. A corner from the left from Seddon was knocked forward off a combination of Burton and Stags bodies, Williams tried to clear from 3 yards out, getting to the ball at the same time as Stockton, and the loose ball fell kindly for Tom Hamer who scuffed a shot from 7 yards which bobbled into the ground, through Williams’ legs and into the net. A scruffy goal, but the Stags unable to clear their lines.

On 55 minutes, Lubala cut inside and his shot was deflected off Lewis for a corner. Then Powell shot low straight at Flinders from 18 yards.

At the other end after 58 minutes, Quinn crossed from the left and Gale headed straight at the keeper. Two minutes later, a left footed shot from Lewis from 22 yards was straight at the keeper.

On 61 minutes, Stockton pushed Cooper over, the referee played on, Stockton played a 1-2 with Powell, and Cooper did well to get back and block Stockton’s shot from 15 yards.

A fourth change for the Stags after 62 minutes. Flint replaced Quinn. Flint went up front. Bowery went to right back, Williams in to midfield.

O’Toole replaced Gale after 74 minutes. Clough explained after the game: “James Gale got smashed by a clearance, went over and just twisted his knee a little bit. We will have to see how he is in the next couple of days. He and Swan were two that we had earmarked for 90 minutes as well. In the end Lucas Akins has had to stay on which wasn't ideal. We wanted to give him 60-70 minutes.”
O’Toole went into midfield. This was his first game since coming on as sub in the 4-0 win at Carlisle in February.

After 77 minutes, Bowery shanked a terrible shot wide from the edge of the area.

After 78 minutes, Stockton turned away from Cooper and shot wide, with Flinders watching it all the way.

Flint was booked for a trip after 83 minutes. Yellow cards in this competition don’t count to the totting up process in the league.

A good challenge from Williams in his own area after 83 minutes. A minute later, Bowery ran the ball out for a goalkick as he pushed forward. At the other end, a good interception by Cargill.

Bowery was booked for bringing down Lubala after 86 minutes.

One final shot for the Stags in stoppage time after 90+1 minutes. A ball was cleared to Flint who volleyed high and wide.

Akins won a free kick just outside the area on the left, but it was wasted.

Boateng was booked for pulling back, after 90+4 minutes.

So, the Stags were unable to fashion an equaliser and Burton were just about deserved winners.

On to Swindon.

Man of the match: Williams


Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 11, Akins 7, Maris 4, Oates 4, Bowery 2, Flint 2, Gale 2, Reed 2, Brunt 1, Cargill, Clarke 1, Cooper 1, Johnson 1, Lewis 1, Swan 1.

Assists (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 8, Maris 4, Oates 4, Quinn 4, Swan 4, Flint 3, Bowery 2, Clarke 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 cleared away before the goal is scored, such as Keillor-Dunn’s first goal against Newport, nobody gets an assist.)

Injuries (including quotes from Nigel Clough):
Kilgour (ruptured Achilles, return July),
Hewitt (ACL, “on schedule for February time"),
Clarke (out for 1-2 more weeks with a thigh strain picked up vs Wrexham in FA Cup).
McLaughlin (out for 1-2 more weeks with a groin strain picked up vs Everton U21)

yellow cards are competition specific, so not listed here.


Report by: Martin Shaw at the Pirelli Stadium



Line Up:
(4-3-3)
Flinders 7 Made a tremendous double save. One occasion where he stayed on his line to gift a free header.
Johnson 6.5 Did ok in the first half. Rested at half time.
Williams 7 Some good blocks and challenges. Could have done better for the first goal on the halfway line. Played in three positions.
Cooper 6.5 Scored his first Stags goal, but was up against a powerful striker in Stockton who got the better of him for the equaliser. A great learning experience for him. Good ball forward for Swan’s chance.
Macdonald 6 Poor free kick in the second half.
Boateng 5 Poor game in midfield.
Maris 6.5 An assist for Cooper’s goal. One mistake when he gave the ball away leading to a double chance.
Quinn 7 Looked good on his return from injury in the first half.
Gale 6.5 Went off injured.
Swan 6 Didn’t make much impact other than having one cleared off the line, though had a few good moments, but went off injured, feeling his groin.
Akins 7 Proved his fitness though was forced into playing 90 minutes due to the injuries to Swan and Gale. Some good pieces of play against his former club.
Sub Line Up:
Lewis (for Maris, 46) 6 One shot straight at the keeper.
Cargill (for Johnson, 46) 7 Good second half.
Bowery (for Swan, 46) 6 Up front, then right back.
Flint (for Quinn, 62) - Went up front.
O’Toole (for Gale, 74) - Great to see him back for the first time since February.
Subs not used: Pym, Finn Flanagan.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Blackman; Caprice, Hamer, Sweeney, Seddon; Powell, Oshilaja (Harper, 65); Bennett (Walker, 65), Helm, Lubala; Stockton. Subs not used: Kamwa, Carayol, Baah, Gilligan, Tamen, (no keeper).
Referee:
Paul Howard 6 Inconsistent with bookings.


Season 23/24 Reports