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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Sutton United  
0 - 2
 Mansfield Town
 
 Quinn 25, Akins 75.
Attendance: 2,762 (442 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 23 December 2023

STAGS WIN AGAIN TO FINALLY BEAT SUTTON

Martin Shaw at Gander Green Lane (VBS Community Stadium)

Mansfield Town picked up a second win on successive Saturdays south of London this afternoon, and finally beat Sutton United at the 5th attempt, after 3 Sutton wins and 1 draw in the last two seasons. This coming after Mansfield finally beat Harrogate earlier in the season at the 8th attempt. Two bogey teams finally beaten.

It was a great win for the Stags with a really solid and strong display and fine performances throughout the team. Sutton United are bottom of the league, but having lost 8-0 last weekend and sacked their manager during the week, would have been determined through professional pride to avoid another defeat if they possibly could.

But the Stags dominated almost all of the match and once they had taken the lead, never really looked like slipping up. That said, Christy Pym, when he was called upon, made an outstanding save at the end of the first half, with the score at only 1-0, and a goal for Sutton then might have changed the game.

Mansfield made one change from the side that started at Crawley, with Stephen Quinn starting in place of Rhys Oates, and Mansfield adopting the 4-2-3-1 formation they used in the second half at Crawley.

Mansfield dominated the opening 25 minutes of the game without quite having the quality to create good chances.

But it was 1-0 after 25 minutes through a rare headed Stephen Quinn goal. Ollie Clarke did superbly on the right touchline to hold off his defender and lay a good ball down the line putting Callum Johnson in acres of space to cross, across the edge of the six yard box, and Stephen Quinn met it beyond the far post, diving to head into the net from a tight angle off the side of his head.
Quinn described the goal after the game: “I was over-reaching and over-stretching, but luckily I got a side head on it and let the physics take care of the rest. I don't know how it went over the line. But I was just glad to get on the scoresheet.”
A great goal from Quinn from an awkward position, a good assist from Johnson, and great play from Clarke.

It might have been 2-0 after 32 minutes. Great play from Davis Keillor-Dunn cutting in from the right, away from two defenders, and finding a yard of space to curl a left-footed shot over the keeper and off the top of the bar from 22 yards. A superb effort.

The Stags were dominating completely. But out of the blue, Sutton had their first effort of the afternoon after 43 minutes and Pym was called upon to make an outstanding save. A free kick from the halfway line was headed across the edge of the six yard box by Joe Kizzi to the far post where Harry Smith got away from Aden Flint and headed towards the roof of the net. It was heading in until Pym stuck out a hand and made an incredible save turning it onto the top of the bar and behind for a corner. Pym had had absolutely nothing to do for 43 minutes.

Into the second half, and Keillor-Dunn went close again after 47 minutes. Again he cut in from the right and sent a fabulous curling left-footed effort just wide of the left post from 22 yards.

Sutton were looking more dangerous at the start of the second half and after 50 minutes Craig Clay crossed from the right and Harry Smith volleyed over the bar from 9 yards.

Akins had a sight of goal from 40 yards as Sutton keeper Dean Bouzanis came well out of his area to clear, but by the time Akins lobbed towards goal, Bouzanis was able to get back and claim the shot.

The Stags made it 2-0 after 75 minutes to seal the game. Jordan Bowery muscled the ball away from Dion Pereira on the halfway line, he slipped the ball forward to George Maris. Maris in turn slid the ball into the path of Akins who ran into the area on the left and slammed a thunderbolt of a shot into the roof of the net off the underside of the bar from an angle, beating the keeper at his near post with sheer power. A 5th assist of the season for Maris, but the goal was really about the quality of the finish from Akins, his 9th goal of the season.

Sutton never looked like getting back into it, and Mansfield could have added further goals, with Stephen McLaughlin, on as a sub, heading wide, then nearly getting on the end of a Rhys Oates cross, and McLaughlin then returning the favour to Oates who headed over.

A comfortable win that came about from a professional performance. The conditions weren’t easy with a wind down the ground, behind Sutton in the first half, and behind Mansfield in the second half, and on a slightly bobbly pitch. Everybody played well from Pym at the back, who had little to do, but made that fabulous save at the end of the first half, and showed good handling, to Akins up front who worked so hard and scored that terrific goal. The defence was solid. The midfield mostly controlled the game, with Brunt and Maris in front of the back four, Clarke on the right and Quinn on the left, and Keillor-Dunn highly creative. Clarke linked up well particularly with Johnson on the right. Clarke was my man of the match.
Nigel Clough summed it up well after the game: “It was a day for Ollie Clarke to go and get his foot in and win his headers, which he did, and get his blocks in. He and Lewis Brunt in midfield were as good as we had today.”

Sutton I think will be relegated this season. I’ve seen them before this season and I don’t think they are as good as the other teams around the bottom. Their main threat today came from Harry Smith up front. I expected more from Omari Patrick who normally plays well against the Stags but Mansfield kept him quiet today. Sutton were hampered by the absence through injury of all of their centre halves and will be better when Omar Sowunmi and Louis John are back, but I don’t see them picking up enough points to survive and they are already 9 points adrift of safety.

This was Mansfield’s final away game of 2023.
6 wins, 5 draws, 1 defeat this season in the league.
6 wins, 3 draws, 2 defeats last season in 2023 in the league.
So 12 wins, 8 draws, 3 defeats this calendar year in the league away from home. Impressive stuff.

Mansfield remain in 4th place, still a point behind 2nd and 3rd placed Barrow and Wrexham respectively with a game in hand. The next game is on Boxing Day at home to Grimsby (12.30 kick off). The game is already sold out, but you can watch it with us on iFollow Stags.
Thanks for reading, Merry Christmas to you.


DETAILED REPORT :

Mansfield made one change from the side that started at Crawley, with Stephen Quinn starting in place of Rhys Oates, and Mansfield adopting the 4-2-3-1 formation they used in the second half at Crawley. Bowery was at left back. Brunt and Maris were in front of the back four. Clarke on the right and Quinn on the left were either side of Keillor-Dunn, behind Akins.
Reed returned from suspension on the bench. Clough explained he could not have started anyway: “Louis had Covid at the start of this week so was nowhere near fit enough. So it was good to get him 20 minutes or so in the end.”
Swan was also back on the bench after flu.
O’Toole was out with a hamstring injury picked up in the Central League Cup game on Tuesday. Clough told me after the game he will be out for 4 weeks.
With Reed and Swan back, Boateng didn’t make the 18.

Sutton sacked manager Matt Gray this week with the side bottom and having lost 8-0 at Stockport last Saturday. Gray had done an incredible job in 5 years at Sutton and from the outside, that looks like a poor decision to me. Assistant Jason Goodliffe was put in charge. Sutton were hampered by the absence through injury of all of their centre halves including Omar Sowunmi, and Louis John who appeared to have a fitness test two hours before the game. Shipping out the dependable centre half Coby Rowe in the summer looks a poor decision to me. Rob Milsom returned at left back for his 200th game for Sutton. Omari Patrick started on the left, he has always looked so impressive against the Stags before. Lee Angol can’t make the starting XI and was to come on as a late sub, without effect.

Mansfield dominated the opening 25 minutes of the game without quite having the quality to create good chances. After 9 minutes, Bowery volleyed high and wide from 22 yards. And on 21 minutes, Akins shot low on the turn straight at the keeper.

But it was 1-0 after 25 minutes through a rare headed Stephen Quinn goal. Ollie Clarke did superbly on the right touchline to hold off his defender and lay a good ball down the line putting Callum Johnson in acres of space to cross, across the edge of the six yard box, and Stephen Quinn met it beyond the far post, diving to head into the net from a tight angle off the side of his head.
Quinn described the goal after the game: “I was over-reaching and over-stretching, but luckily I got a side head on it and let the physics take care of the rest. I don't know how it went over the line. But I was just glad to get on the scoresheet.”
A great goal from Quinn from an awkward position, a good assist from Johnson, and great play from Clarke.

On 30 minutes, Maris teed up Clarke for a shot from 20 yards but it was high and wide.

It might have been 2-0 after 32 minutes. Great play from Davis Keillor-Dunn cutting in from the right, away from two defenders, and finding a yard of space to curl a left-footed shot over the keeper and off the top of the bar from 22 yards. A superb effort.

Good play between Clarke and Johnson to win a corner after 40 minutes. A minute later, Bowery had a shot from 20 yards which was blocked by Milsom, after Bowery was teed up by Keillor-Dunn.

The Stags were dominating completely. But out of the blue, Sutton had their first effort of the afternoon after 43 minutes and Pym was called upon to make an outstanding save. A free kick from the halfway line was headed across the edge of the six yard box by Joe Kizzi to the far post where Harry Smith got away from Aden Flint and headed towards the roof of the net. It was heading in until Pym stuck out a hand and made an incredible save turning it onto the top of the bar and behind for a corner. Pym had had absolutely nothing to do for 43 minutes.

The Stags in total control for 43 minutes but needing more quality to create more, and just 1-0 ahead, with Sutton having their first chance after 43 minutes and nearly equalising, but for the brilliance of Pym.

Half time 0-1

Sutton brought on the experienced Aidan O’Brien and Dion Pereira on loan from Luton at the start of the second half. They also changed shape.

Keillor-Dunn went close again after 47 minutes. Again he cut in from the right and sent a fabulous curling left-footed effort just wide of the left post from 22 yards.

Sutton were looking more dangerous at the start of the second half and after 50 minutes Craig Clay crossed from the right and Harry Smith volleyed over the bar from 9 yards.

After 53 minutes, a Keillor-Dunn corner came out to Cargill who turned and volleyed over the bar.

On the hour, Keillor-Dunn did well to get into the area and along the byline, after being found by Johnson, but he couldn’t pick out a Stags player from a great position. A minute later, brilliant footwork from Akins, who was brought down 25 yards from goal. Keillor-Dunn took the resulting free kick, just wide of the left post. After 66 minutes, Brunt pushed forward and had a shot blocked by a hand for a free kick 26 yards out. Keillor-Dunn took the free kick again, on target and keeper Bouzanis parried it away.

A half chance for Sutton after 68 minutes as Smith headed on and Pereira lifted a shot over the bar and onto the roof of the net.

After 69 minutes, Akins had a sight of goal from 40 yards as Sutton keeper Dean Bouzanis came well out of his area to clear, but by the time Akins lobbed towards goal, Bouzanis was able to get back and claim the shot.

Mansfield made a double change after 70 minutes bringing on Reed for Keillor-Dunn, and McLaughlin for Quinn. McLaughlin went into the left of midfield. Reed in front of the back 4 alongside Brunt. Maris into the centre of midfield, so the 3 behind Akins was Clarke (right), Maris, McLaughlin.

The Stags made it 2-0 after 75 minutes to seal the game. Jordan Bowery muscled the ball away from Dion Pereira on the halfway line, he slipped the ball forward to George Maris. Maris in turn slid the ball into the path of Akins who ran into the area on the left and slammed a thunderbolt of a shot into the roof of the net off the underside of the bar from an angle, beating the keeper at his near post with sheer power. A 5th assist of the season for Maris, but the goal was really about the quality of the finish from Akins, his 9th goal of the season.

Another change after 77 minutes as Oates replaced Akins, who had worked hard and got his goal.

Clarke was rightly booked for a foul after 82 minutes.

A good header away by Flint after 83 minutes.

Sutton never looked like getting back into it, and Mansfield could have added further goals. After 84 minutes, a great cross from Maris from near the corner flag and McLaughlin headed wide.

At the other end on 85 minutes, a shot from O’Brien was blocked by Brunt for a corner. From the resulting corner, Kizzi headed down and Pym pushed it away by his post. A good save.

Two more changes after 87 minutes: Williams for Clarke, who had been booked. Swan for Johnson. Williams went to right back. Swan up front.

Oates put a good ball into the area towards McLaughlin after 89 minutes, it looked like it might be a tap-in but was cleared by Ryan Jackson.

Pym punched away a free kick after 90 minutes.

On 90+3 minutes, McLaughlin put in a good cross to Oates who headed over.

A good win. On to Boxing Day.

Man of the match: Ollie Clarke


Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 12, Akins 9, Maris 5, Oates 5, Bowery 2, Cargill 2, Flint 2, Gale 2, Reed 2, Swan 2, Brunt 1, Clarke 1, Cooper 1, Johnson 1, Lewis 1, Quinn 1.

Assists (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 9, Maris 5, Oates 5, Quinn 5, Flint 4, Swan 4, Akins 2, Bowery 2, Clarke 2, Gale 2, Johnson 2, Lewis 2, 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"),
Gale (out until towards end of January, from injury in the Burton EFL Trophy game),
Lewis (hamstring problem, likely to return “at some point over the Christmas period”),
O’Toole (hamstring injury, Nigel Clough told me at Sutton he will be out for 4 weeks).

Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Boateng 2, Bowery 1, Brunt 3, Cargill 5, Clarke 4, Gale 2, Johnson 2, Keillor-Dunn 3, Kilgour 1, Lewis 2, Macdonald 5, Maris 2, Oates 1, Quinn 1, Reed 5, 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)



Report by: Martin Shaw at Gander Green Lane (VBS Community Stadium)



Line Up:
(4-2-3-1)
Pym 8.5 Had little to do, but when called upon made that fabulous save at the end of the first half. Then another good save in the second half. And showed good handling.
Johnson 8 Good assist for Quinn’s goal. Linked up well with Ollie Clarke on the right.
Flint 7.5 Good game. Let Harry Smith get away from him for the header which Pym saved fabulously.
Cargill 7.5 Solid defending.
Bowery 8 Muscled the ball away from Pereira in the build-up to the second goal.
Brunt 8.5 Had a really good game in front of the back four. Nigel Clough said after the game: “Ollie Clarke and Lewis Brunt in midfield were as good as we had today.”
Maris 8 His 5th assist of the season for Akins’ goal. Good game alongside Brunt in front of the back four.
Clarke 8.5 My man of the match. Great play in the build-up to the first goal. Linked up particularly well with Johnson on the right. Nigel Clough said after the game: “It was a day for Ollie Clarke to go and get his foot in and win his headers, which he did, and get his blocks in. He and Lewis Brunt in midfield were as good as we had today.”
Keillor-Dunn 8 Creative. Two great shots left footed from the edge of the area, one against the bar and one just wide.
Quinn 8 Great goal with his head from an awkward position. Good game.
Akins 8 Scored a high quality goal with a thunderbolt of a shot into the roof of the net. Worked so hard.
Sub Line Up:
Reed (for Keillor-Dunn, 70) -
McLaughlin (for Quinn, 70) -
Oates (for Akins, 77) -
Williams (for Clarke, 87) -
Swan (for Johnson, 87) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Macdonald.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Bouzanis; Jackson, Kizzi, Hart, Milsom (Fadahunsi, 78); Coley (Pereira, 46), Clay (Angol, 78), Beautyman, N'Guessan (O'Brien, 46); Patrick, Smith. Subs not used: Arnold, Gape.
Referee:
Alex Chilowicz 7 American referee from the MLS. His first game as referee in England. Mostly had a decent game.


Season 23/24 Reports