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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Stockport County  
0 - 2
 Mansfield Town
 
 Maris 49, Keillor-Dunn 90+12
Attendance: 10,334 (906 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 1 January 2024

SUPER STAGS WIN BATTLE OF TOP TWO AT STOCKPORT

Martin Shaw at Edgeley Park

Mansfield Town won 2-0 at Stockport County yesterday in the battle between the top two sides in League Two. The Stags were deserved winners and completed the double over Stockport. Mansfield moved two points behind leaders Stockport with two games in hand. The Stags are now averaging more than two points per game. While Mansfield have still lost only one game this season, a remarkable achievement, Stockport have lost five, two of them to the Stags.

The Stags limited Stockport to very few chances in the game. Nil nil at the break, the Stags took the lead after 49 minutes when Ollie Clarke swung in a superb cross from the right into a great area in the six yard box and George Maris powered a header into the net from 3 yards. The Stags have been muted with celebrations in recent months, mostly just running back to the halfway line. Not here. Maris led the celebrations with a knee slide towards the Stags fans.

Because of a bad head injury to Kyle Knoyle, who clashed heads with his own player, 13 minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end with the score still at 1-0. Christy Pym had barely been called into action but that changed after 90+2 minutes when he made the save of the season. Isaac Olaofe headed down from 3 yards, from my position in the commentary box I thought it was in, but Pym suddenly stuck out an arm and clawed it out. An incredible save. The replay from the opposite side of the ground barely does it justice. Pym made a brilliant save from Harry Smith at Sutton a couple of weeks ago, but this was even better. Pym made another good save after 90+9 minutes, getting down to push away a side-footed shot from Nick Powell that was heading just inside the post. Pym had little to do for 90 minutes, but then was there when he was needed with those two saves.

After 90+10 minutes, Davis Keillor-Dunn should have made it 2-0 after a mix-up between defender Akil Wright and the keeper leaving him a free shot at goal, but he pulled his shot wide.

But Keillor-Dunn made no mistake after 90+12 minutes. Clarke lifted the ball forward for Keillor-Dunn to run on to 30 yards from goal. He got into the area, showed great footwork, and slid a beautiful finish into the bottom right corner of the net despite two defenders on him. One of the moments of the season, followed by Keillor-Dunn celebrating with his own knee slide towards the Stags fans and every single player joining the celebrations in front of the fans, with the game now won.

Whilst the Stags fans celebrated with their team and management after the game, there were some boos from home fans at the final whistle, despite their team still being top of the league. What is wrong with some people? Support your team, they can’t play well every game.

Overall it was a game of few chances. The Stags nullified Stockport. And the closest either side came to scoring other than the goals and the two Pym saves was Louis Reed who hit the post in the first half for the Stags, a shot that was heading in until the keeper turned it onto the post. CORRECTION: from the video from a different angle, Reed’s shot was deflected off Croasdale, and the keeper did not touch it. It was going in without the deflection.

Ollie Clarke was my man of the match, winning a tackle inside the opening 10 seconds of the game (and setting up what should have been a half-chance), to set the tempo of the game.

Clarke explained afterwards:
"We implemented a game plan, pressed them quite high early on and we created a few chances.
“We rotated the team a little bit to get some fresh legs in there. I think it helped us to press them and stop them from breaking out.
"We needed to nullify their threats. We stopped a lot of crosses coming in, we made them play along their back line quite a lot. And we stopped them breaking through their lines.
“It was a great win for us. A brilliant atmosphere from the fans, driving us on towards the end.
“A magnificent feeling for us to score a last-minute goal in front of the fans. It really does send a tingle down the spine.”

Incidentally, the attendance of 10,334 was the highest at Edgeley Park since March 2000 when County played Manchester City.
The Stags were only given 906 tickets and of course sold out very quickly. We could have sold double that for sure.

It was a disappointing day for injuries on both sides. As I mentioned, Kyle Knoyle got a bad head injury in a clash of heads with his own teammate and received attention for 10 minutes before he was stretchered away. Lewis, Maris, Flint, Akins were the first players to frantically call the medics over, and Stags captain Flint stayed with Knoyle for most of the 10 minutes he got attention, despite that fact that no Mansfield player was involved in the incident. The Stags players and fans were exemplary in their respect for the injured player, with Stags fans applauding as he was carried off. There were a couple of Stockport fans venting their spleen at the Stags during the incident. On the Stockport forum, Stockport fans who had been sitting behind the dugout confirm that the Stags did nothing at all wrong in the incident.
Stockport also lost defender Ethan Pye in the first half, injured in a fair and hard challenge from Ollie Clarke, which was not a foul.

The Stags lost Rhys Oates and Callum Johnson to injury.
Oates was challenging the keeper for a ball and was fractionally late. It was a foul by Oates, but he was caught by the keeper and hurt.
Clough said after the game: “Rhys went to close the goalie down and the goalie has ended up kicking him as he cleared, he caught him afterwards, and he has a whack on the side of his knee. It was a foul but there was no malice there. He has to not go into those sort of challenges.”
Oates was clearly badly hurt as he was substituted and limped with assistance around the touchline, booed all the way by home fans, in a moment to rival the Carlisle fans treatment of the Matty Blair injury a few years ago.
Johnson was injured when he was about to put in a cross but suddenly felt his hamstring. Johnson bashed the turf and looked distraught as he was led off.
Clough said: “We’re not quite sure how serious it is yet. He wasn’t going at full pace, which is a good thing. He knocked the ball a few yards and was going to put a cross in.”
(Full list of Stags injuries at the bottom of the report, as always).

Happy New Year everyone.

DETAILED REPORT :

Mansfield made 4 changes from the side that drew with Doncaster. In came McLaughlin, Clarke, Lewis, Oates. To the bench went: Akins, Quinn, Reed, Keillor-Dunn. The changes were made for rotation with so many games back to back in quick succession.
Nigel Clough explained after the game: “We needed fresh legs. We toyed with the idea of doing it against Doncaster on Friday but thought we needed to try to win the game. So we thought our best chance of getting a result here today was fresh legs and changing the front four. We needed energy there and they gave us that.”
The formation was again 4-2-3-1:
Oates.
McLaughlin (left midfield), Lewis, Clarke (right midfield);
Brunt, Maris (both in front of the back four);
Bowery (left back), Cargill, Flint, Johnson;
Pym.

Stockport made a couple of changes from their last game: Kyle Wootton replaced Isaac Olaofe who dropped to the bench, Ryan Croasdale replaced Nick Powell who dropped to the bench.
Stockport have a long injury list of long term players none of who will be back in the next month: Louie Barry, Ryan Rydel, Jack Stretton, Myles Hippolyte, Will Collar, Antoni Sarcevic, Macauley Southam-Hales.
New signing Ethan Bristow was not eligible to play.
Odin Bailey on loan from Salford, was playing the last game of his loan spell, as it stands.

The pitch was in perfect condition, like a carpet.

Ollie Clarke went in to a tackle straight from the whistle, after 8 seconds, hard but fair, leaving Ethan Pye on the ground, Lewis found Oates into the area but it wasn’t the best ball and a chance was gone.
Nigel Clough said after the game: “We should have been ahead after twenty seconds, we had a brilliant opportunity. Ollie Clarke’s won the ball and Aaron Lewis should be playing Oatesy in with a better ball, and you have a good chance of going 1-0 ahead.”

Clarke was booked for a late tackle after 5 minutes.
Clarke said after the game: "It was a silly tackle. It makes you concentrate a little bit more after that."

A half chance for Stockport after 7 minutes as a Madden cross-shot just evaded Odin Bailey at the far post.

Ethan Pye was forced off after 8 minutes. He had been hurt by the hard but fair tackle by Clarke after 8 seconds.

A great tackle by Maris on the edge of his own area after 11 minutes, to stop Madden.

Then on 15 minutes, a free kick from Maris, flicked on by Flint, and Cargill couldn’t get on the end of it at the far post.

Moments later at the other end a good clearance by Maris to stop Odin Bailey getting in.

Oates was forced to limp off after 20 minutes, clearly hurt. Oates was challenging the keeper for a ball and was fractionally late. It was a foul by Oates, but he was caught by the keeper and hurt.
Clough said after the game: “Rhys went to close the goalie down and the goalie has ended up kicking him as he cleared, he caught him afterwards, and he has a whack on the side of his knee. It was a foul but there was no malice there. He has to not go into those sort of challenges.”
Oates was clearly badly hurt as he was substituted and limped with assistance around the touchline, booed all the way by home fans, in a moment to rival the Carlisle fans treatment of the Matty Blair injury a few years ago.
On came Akins.

A break from Stockport after 22 minutes. Madden played Ibou Toure in on the left side of the area, Toure hit a low shot across Pym. Pym watched it all the way and got his angles right as it went wide of the right post.

The Stags were forced into a second change after 29 minutes as Johnson was forced off. He was injured when he was about to put in a cross but suddenly felt his hamstring. Johnson bashed the turf and looked distraught as he was led off.
Clough said: “We’re not quite sure how serious it is yet. He wasn’t going at full pace, which is a good thing. He knocked the ball a few yards and was going to put a cross in.”
On came Reed. Bowery switched from left back to right back. McLaughlin dropped back from midfield to left back. Reed joint Brunt in front of the back four. Clarke (right), Maris (centre), Lewis (left), behind Akins.

After 31 minutes, a shot from Akins from 22 yards was deflected for a corner, after he had been found by Maris. At the other end 2 minutes later, a shot from Callum Camps from 25 yards was straight at Pym for an easy save to his left.

Clarke was more or less through on goal after 34 minutes, but didn’t shoot and instead tried to lay off to Lewis.
Clough said after the game: “Ollie goes clear, should shoot, and decides not to.”
Clarke said after the game: "I should have got a shot off."

Sub Jayden Richardson played a great ball to Madden after 34 minutes, but Madden made an absolute Horlicks of it, out for a goal kick. Madden had a terrible game, repeatedly putting passes out of play.

A good header away from a Stockport free kick by Clarke after 38 minutes.

The Stags were very close to taking the lead after 44 minutes. Brilliant play from Bowery, getting past Toure, along the byline on the right, and pulling back to Reed, whose low shot was heading in until the keeper turned it onto the post.
CORRECTION: from the video from a different angle, Reed’s shot was deflected off Croasdale, and the keeper did not touch it. It was going in without the deflection.

After that corner was cleared, another corner from the right, taken by Clarke, and Flint swung a leg and missed it at the far post. Flint put his head in his hands.

8 minutes added on at the end of the first half because of the three injuries.

After 45+3 minutes, Madden sent a poor shot wide of the left post after the referee had missed a clear foul.

Nil nil at the break in a tight first half of very few chances. Reed came the closest for either side. The Stags were battling hard. But those injuries were such disappointing news.

Half time 0-0

No changes at the break. Had Mansfield not been forced into two first half changes, Clough would probably have subbed Clarke at the break. A good job he didn’t given the second half he was to have!

Stockport wanted a penalty after 48 minutes. Jayden Richardson and McLaughlin went for the same ball just inside the corner of the area on the right. Richardson went down. From the replay, there was no foul. Stockport boss Challinor went bananas on the touchline complaining at the officials. However after the game he had cooled and just said he hadn’t see it back. I bet he had, and realised it wasn’t a penalty.

Straight to the other end, Akins played inside to Lewis, his shot was on target, and deflected wide.

The Stags took the lead from the resulting corner (49 minutes). The corner, taken by Clarke, came back to Clarke who swung in a superb left-footed cross from the right into a great area in the six yard box and Maris powered a header into the net from 3 yards.
Clarke said after the game: “I took the corner and I thought ‘I’ll try and swing it into the six-yard box and cause them a few problems’. Then it just came back out to me on my left foot and I whipped a nice ball in. It’s one of those where you feed it into an area and hope somebody gets on the end of it. Maris managed to break free and arrived with perfect timing to fire it past the keeper. It was lovely to see.”
The Stags have been muted with celebrations in recent months, mostly just running back to the halfway line. Not here. Maris led the celebrations with a knee slide towards the Stags fans.

A brilliant block by McLaughlin on his line after 54 minutes. Cargill got a great touch to stop Madden from shooting. The ball fell kindly for Camps whose shot from 14 yards was blocked on the line by McLaughlin. Moments later Clarke fouled Croasdale 24 yards from goal. Clarke had been booked in the first half but this clearly wasn’t a yellow card offence. Camps took the resulting free kick, and Reed blocked it in the area.

A long stoppage from 56 to 66 minutes following terrible clash of heads between two Stockport players, and Kyle Knoyle was eventually stretchered off and taken to hospital. Lewis, Maris, Flint, Akins were the first players to frantically call the medics over, and Stags captain Flint stayed with Knoyle for most of the 10 minutes he got attention, despite that fact that no Mansfield player was involved in the incident. The Stags players and fans were exemplary in their respect for the injured player, with Stags fans applauding as he was carried off. There were a couple of Stockport fans venting their spleen at the Stags during the incident. On the Stockport forum, Stockport fans who had been sitting behind the dugout confirm that the Stags did nothing at all wrong in the incident.

McLaughlin was booked for a foul on Wootton after 68 minutes.

No chances for either side as the Stags nullified the game.

A triple change for the Stags after 78 minutes to take the Stags up to the maximum number of five subs: Williams for McLaughlin, Keillor-Dunn for Maris, Quinn for Lewis. Williams went to right back. Bowery switched to left back, where he started the game!

By the way, I asked Clough after the game if the Stags could have used an extra (sixth) sub if Knoyle had been replaced by a concussion sub. He told me that Stockport forgot to name the sub as a concussion sub, so the answer was no.

After 81 minutes, a good clearance by Williams in his own area. Two minutes later, brilliant defending by Cargill to clear from Madden.

A chance for the Stags after 88 minutes. Clarke won the ball in his own half. Clarke found Quinn coming forward on the left. Quinn slid the ball across to Keillor-Dunn to the byline in the area on right. Keillor-Dunn chipped a cross back to the far post for Quinn who headed down but it bounced up straight at the keeper.

At the other end a minute later, Madden headed over the bar from a Nick Powell cross.

Because of the injury to Knoyle, 13 minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end with the score still at 1-0.

Christy Pym had barely been called into action but that changed after 90+2 minutes when he made the save of the season. Isaac Olaofe headed down from 3 yards, from my position in the commentary box I thought it was in, but Pym suddenly stuck out an arm and clawed it out. An incredible save. The replay from the main camera on the opposite side of the ground barely does it justice. However there is a video blog from a Stockport fan taken from close to my position in the main stand that does show the save in its fully glory. Pym made a brilliant save from Harry Smith at Sutton a couple of weeks ago, but this was even better.

Pym made another good save after 90+9 minutes, getting down to push away a side-footed shot from Nick Powell that was heading just inside the post. Pym had little to do for 90 minutes, but then was there when he was needed with those two saves.

After 90+10 minutes, Davis Keillor-Dunn should have made it 2-0 after a mix-up between defender Akil Wright and the keeper leaving him a free shot at goal, but he pulled his shot wide.

But Keillor-Dunn made no mistake after 90+12 minutes. Clarke lifted the ball forward for Keillor-Dunn to run on to 30 yards from goal. He got into the area, showed great footwork, and slid a beautiful finish into the bottom right corner of the net despite two defenders on him. One of the moments of the season, followed by Keillor-Dunn celebrating with his own knee slide towards the Stags fans and every single player joining the celebrations in front of the fans, with the game now won.

More celebrations at full time. This was a fabulous win for Mansfield. Only bettered this season by the win at Notts County. The Stags restricted Stockport to very few chances in the game. Credit not only to the defence but to the whole team. And of course Pym was there when needed, and how! For Stockport, Paddy Madden was terrible. His strike partner Kyle Wootton won some headers against Flint, but led to nothing mainly. Every single Stags player was great, in a gutsy battling display.

The next game is at home to Crewe on Saturday. Crewe are in the play-off positions. If the Stags could pick up three points, they will go top. The game has been made all-ticket. Get your tickets while you can. As the game is on a Saturday afternoon, it is commentary only in the UK on iFollow, though as always overseas viewers can watch it with us.

Man of the match: Ollie Clarke, though everyone played well.


Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 14, Akins 9, Maris 7, Oates 5, Bowery 2, Cargill 2, Flint 2, Gale 2, Johnson 2, Reed 2, Swan 2, Brunt 1, Clarke 1, Cooper 1, Lewis 1, Quinn 1.

Assists (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 9, Quinn 7, Maris 6, Oates 5, Clarke 4, Flint 4, Swan 4, Akins 2, Bowery 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, Clough said after the Doncaster home game he is on track to be back in training end of January),
Gale (out until towards end of January, from injury in the Burton EFL Trophy game),
O’Toole (hamstring injury, Nigel Clough told me at Sutton he will be out for 4 weeks),
Oates (whack on the side of his knee, length of time out unknown),
Johnson (hamstring injury, Clough: “We’re not quite sure how serious it is yet”).

Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Boateng 2, Bowery 1, Brunt 3, Cargill 5, Clarke 5, Gale 2, Johnson 3, Keillor-Dunn 3, Kilgour 1, Lewis 2, Macdonald 5, Maris 3, McLaughlin 1, Oates 1, Pym 1, Quinn 1, Reed 6, Swan 2.
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 Edgeley Park



Line Up:
(4-2-3-1)
Pym 9 Had barely been called into action before making the save of the season in stoppage time, and then another good save.
Johnson - Had to go off with a hamstring injury after 29 minutes.
Flint 9 Pretty dominant.
Cargill 9 Some great defending.
Bowery 8.5 Left back, right back, then left back again. Brilliant play to set up Reed’s shot against the post.
Maris 9 Powered in a header to open the scoring. Good tackles and clearances.
Brunt 7.5 No mistakes, solid game albeit not heavily involved.
Clarke 9.5 Two assists including superb cross for Maris’ goal. My man of the match, winning a tackle inside the opening ten seconds of the game (and setting up what should have been a half-chance), to set the tempo of the game.
Lewis 8 One shot on target, deflected wide.
McLaughlin 8.5 One brilliant block on his line. Started in midfield then switched to left back.
Oates - Had to go off with injury after 20 minutes. Clough said after the game: “He has to not go into those sort of challenges.”
Sub Line Up:
Akins (for Oates, 20) 8 Did well coming on in the first half.
Reed (for Johnson, 29) 8 So close to giving the Stags the lead in the first half when his shot was deflected on to the post having been on target.
Williams (for McLaughlin, 78) -
Keillor-Dunn (for Maris, 78) - Scored the second goal with a beautiful finish after missing a great chance moments earlier.
Quinn (for Lewis, 78) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Swan.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright, Horsfall, Pye (Richardson, 8); Knoyle (Olaofe, 65), Camps, Croasdale (Powell, 82), Bailey, Touray; Madden, Wootton. Subs not used: Smith, Byrne, Mee, Johnson.
Referee:
Daniel Middleton 7.5 One or two poor decisions in the first half, but got things spot on in the second half including turning down Stockport penalty appeal.


Season 23/24 Reports