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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
0 - 1
 Crewe Alexandra
 
 White 72 seconds
Attendance: 7,298 (474 from Crewe)
 
Date: 6 January 2024

STAGS LOSE UNBEATEN HOME RECORD AND CHANCE TO GO TOP

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town lost 1-0 against Crewe Alexandra at the One Call Stadium this afternoon to lose the unbeaten home record, and miss the chance to go top of League Two. It was a disappointing day after the highs of the win at Stockport on Monday, and 13 points from 5 games over the festive period.

The only goal of the game came after 72 seconds and it was gifted to Crewe. Inexplicably, Mansfield tried to play the ball out of danger just six yards from their own goal. Reed knocked a cross down to Brunt, Brunt played back to Reed, Reed squared to Cargill, Cargill played short to Brunt, Brunt tried to slip the ball forward to Quinn, and it was intercepted by Aaron Rowe. Rowe played the ball short to Courtney Baker-Richardson, who was coming back from an offside position and holding his hands up as if to say 'don’t play it to me'. Baker-Richardson teed up Joe White, who cut inside from the right on to his left foot and sent a low shot through a sea of legs and it rolled past Pym into the left corner of the net. No blame to Pym. The blame lies with the Stags players for not smashing the ball away and recognising the danger in their own area, especially Brunt who gave the ball away. Whether Baker-Richardson was actually offside is hard to tell from the video.
Nigel Clough was furious about the goal saying after the game: “It’s obvious the goal we conceded after ninety seconds cost us the game today. Maybe complacency if that’s the word, sloppiness or whatever, crept in. The reason we have the best defensive record in the league is because we don’t give goals away like that. The ball’s in our penalty area, it should go, it should be cleared, no second thoughts, questions or anything like that. Whether it’s ninety seconds in or ninety seconds to go. That’s been our principle and why we haven’t conceded.”

The Stags do indeed have the best defensive record in League Two. In fact, this was just the 7th goal conceded in 12 home games this season.

The Stags had 89 minutes plus stoppage time to get back in the game. But the early goal gave Crewe something to hang on to and they defended very effectively.
Crewe boss Lee Bell, the former Stags midfielder, summed it up quite well saying after the game: “We defended our box brilliantly to a man, blocking crosses, not allowing their man to get across us and the keeper coming up with saves when needed to.”

The Stags still had enough chances to get a point or more out of the game. The Stags had 21 shots and 12 corners, but I thought the quality of crossing and corners was generally below par, often being cleared away by the nearest defender, or going beyond the furthest Stags player.

There were some good crosses. A great free kick from McLaughlin into the area after 4 minutes and Akins sent a free header wide. After 33 minutes, a good low cross in from the right from Brunt, and Maris turned it goalwards from 7 yards but the keeper made a fantastic save one handed at point blank range. The Stags recycled the ball. Brunt’s shot hit his own man Akins, and rebounded to Quinn whose low shot from 10 yards was heading for the bottom left corner of the net before Luke Offord cleared it off the line.

In the second half, sub Ollie Clarke shot wide from 22 yards. Keillor-Dunn twisted and turned in the area and shot straight at the keeper. Clarke back-heeled to Reed on the edge of the area and he curled a left-footed shot just over the bar. And finally in stoppage time, a free kick from 22 yards after Brunt was brought down, Cargill took it and his fine effort was well tipped over the bar by the keeper.

Crewe had some good chances too. In the first half, Baker-Richardson fired into the side netting from the right. In the second half, Aaron Rowe sent a shot against the right post. And then Ryan Cooney dispossessed McLaughlin on the byline as McLaughlin tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal-kick, terrible defending that, and pulled across to Baker-Richardson who missed a sitter.

Overall, the Stags should have had a point, at least, given the pressure they put Crewe under, but only had themselves to blame for the manner of the goal conceded for the only goal of the game.

The Stags threw Flint up front for the last 20 minutes, putting Brunt into the back four. I think that was a reasonable tactic when other tactics weren’t particularly working. The task was to put quality crosses to him, and the Stags didn’t manage that often enough.

A disappointing day. We’ve been spoilt this season, and it doesn’t feel nice losing, we’ve just not been used to it! Only the second defeat of the season, and the first at home. The Stags remain second, two points behind leaders Stockport, now with one game in hand.

Crewe are a decent side. They were already in the play-off places and moved up to 5th after today’s win.

The Stags have a clear week now to rest-up after the five games during the festive period followed by this one, in quick succession. The next game is at Morecambe on Saturday, followed by home games against the bottom two sides, Forest Green (Tues 16th Jan) and Sutton (Sat 20th Jan). The Stags will be looking to bounce back and put some points on the board.

DETAILED REPORT :

It was another near sell-out home crowd, just 100 short of a home sell-out (as always, average home attendance summarised at the bottom of the report).

The pitch was in poor condition, but playable after heavy rain earlier in the week and then a couple of dry days.
Christy Pym told iFollow Stags a couple of days later: "It was frustrating to give them (Crewe) the start that we did. It was their game plan to get a goal and then sit back like they did. And then it was hard to break them down on a poor pitch."

Mansfield made four changes from the side that started at Stockport. Reed, Quinn, Keillor-Dunn and Akins returned to the starting line-up. Johnson and Oates were out injured, Clarke and Lewis were back to the bench.

Clough gave an injury update after the game:
“Callum Johnson will be out for 10 weeks with his hamstring. He has done it good and proper.”
“And Rhys Oates, we are still waiting on clarification on the nature of his injury. We'll know a bit more in a week or two.”

Very bad news about Johnson who had really hit some good form.

Boateng returned to the bench due to those injuries.
No Macdonald on the bench. Unfortunately I forgot to ask Nigel Clough about this after the game. I would guess he was injured or ill.
So Abdullah was on the bench, having scored for the youth team in the morning.

Nigel Clough watched the first half from the Bishop Street side to get a different perspective on the game. He returned to the dugout for the second half.

Crewe took the lead after just 72 seconds and it was a gift. Inexplicably, Mansfield tried to play the ball out of danger just six yards from their own goal. Reed knocked a cross down to Brunt, Brunt played back to Reed, Reed squared to Cargill, Cargill played short to Brunt, Brunt tried to slip the ball forward to Quinn, and it was intercepted by Aaron Rowe. Rowe played the ball short to Courtney Baker-Richardson, who was coming back from an offside position and holding his hands up as if to say 'don’t play it to me'. Baker-Richardson teed up Joe White, who cut inside from the right on to his left foot and sent a low shot through a sea of legs and it rolled past Pym into the left corner of the net. No blame to Pym. The blame lies with the Stags players for not smashing the ball away and recognising the danger in their own area, especially Brunt who gave the ball away. Whether Baker-Richardson was actually offside is hard to tell from the video.
Nigel Clough was furious about the goal saying after the game: “It’s obvious the goal we conceded after ninety seconds cost us the game today. Maybe complacency if that’s the word, sloppiness or whatever, crept in. The reason we have the best defensive record in the league is because we don’t give goals away like that. The ball’s in our penalty area, it should go, it should be cleared, no second thoughts, questions or anything like that. Whether it’s ninety seconds in or ninety seconds to go. That’s been our principle and why we haven’t conceded.”

A great free kick from McLaughlin from 35 yards out into the area after 4 minutes and Akins sent a free header wide from 12 yards.

Maris had a shot blocked from 18 yards after the Crewe keeper gave the ball away, after 7 minutes.

Brunt nearly gave the ball away in his own area again after 9 minutes. Moments later, Brunt did well to win the ball back.

Flint was booked for a foul 4 yards outside the area after 12 minutes. His first booking of the season. The resulting free kick from 22 yards out, just left of centre saw Chris Long screw a shot well wide after he was teed up.

After 21 minutes, Keillor-Dunn twisted and turned in the area and his shot was deflected for a corner.

A run and a great cross from Bowery after 26 minutes, but no-one was on the end of it. Two minutes later, Quinn crossed in, Keillor-Dunn couldn’t get a shot away quickly enough and then his shot from 7 yards is blocked. Then on 30 minutes, a good cross from McLaughlin to Keillor-Dunn who more or less missed his kick, slicing the ball into the air.

Brunt had by now moved out to the right in midfield in a formation change, which was more like a diamond in midfield, with Brunt on the right, and Reed now the sole defensive midfielder.

A good block at the other end by McLaughlin from Baker-Richardson.

A glorious triple chance for the Stags after 33 minutes. A good low cross in from the right from Brunt, and Maris turned it goalwards from 7 yards but the keeper made a fantastic save one handed at point blank range. The Stags recycled the ball. Brunt’s shot hit his own man Akins, and rebounded to Quinn whose low shot from 10 yards was heading for the bottom left corner of the net before Luke Offord cleared it off the line.

After 35 minutes, Quinn headed down into the six yard box, Akins turned and shot and it was blocked for a corner.

A chance for Crewe after 41 minutes. A good break by Joe White, he found Baker-Richardson who fired wide into the side netting. Then a shot by Long was blocked by Flint for a corner.

After 43 minutes, Reed tried his luck with a shot from 28 yards but it was blocked by Demetriou. A minute later, a high ball in from McLaughlin, and Maris headed wide.

Maris was booked after 45+2 minutes, committing a foul, borne of frustration.

Crewe 1-0 ahead at the break. Mansfield gifted Crewe an early goal. The Stags were slow getting into the game but could have been level with those chances just after the half hour mark. Crewe had been wasting time at every opportunity and the referee seemed oblivious to it.

Half time 0-1

After 47 minutes, Crewe nearly doubled the lead as Aaron Rowe hit the right post with a shot from inside the box.
UPDATE: Pym later noted in an interview that he got a touch to turn it onto the post.

After 56 minutes, a Maris corner came back to him, he put in a great cross and Keillor-Dunn nearly got on the end of it.

At the other end a minute later, Baker-Richardson headed wide from a White corner.

The Stags were on top but not making it count.

The referee was finally waking up to Crewe’s time-wasting as he booked Conor Thomas after 63 minutes for being too slow to come off the pitch as he was subbed.

After 64 minutes, Ryan Cooney dispossessed McLaughlin on the byline as McLaughlin tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal-kick, terrible defending that, and pulled across to Baker-Richardson who missed a sitter. A minute later, a cross-shot from Cooney was straight to Pym.

The Stags made their first changes after 67 minutes: Lewis replaced Quinn, Clarke replaced Maris.
Flint went up front. Brunt dropped into the back four.
On Flint going up front, Clough said after the game:
"We thought we were getting so many crosses in, we might just put one on his head. He headed a couple back across the goal and you just need somebody then to get on the end of it."

After 70 minutes, a Baker-Richardson shot was blocked by Brunt after Baker-Richardson seemed to foul Brunt, but Brunt then got back to make the block.

On 71 minutes, McLaughlin pulled back to Clarke whose low drive from 22 yards was just shot wide. A minute later, Keillor-Dunn cut inside and his shot was deflected just over. And on 74 minutes, Keillor-Dunn twisted and turned in the area and shot straight at the keeper. Clarke was then high and wide with a shot from 20 yards after 77 minutes.

Good defending by Bowery putting the ball behind for a corner after 78 minutes.

Straight to the other end, a cross from McLaughlin, and Cargill headed wide. The cross was just a bit too high for him.

A good ball from Lewis set Bowery away down the right, but he put his cross behind for a goal kick. I think some mitigation had to be given for the terrible state of the pitch on the right in front of the West Stand. No good crosses yet for Flint since he had gone up front.

Swan replaced McLaughlin after 83 minutes. The Stags just had three defending now: Bowery (right), Brunt (centre), Cargill (left).

A chance for Swan straight away after 84 minutes. A good cross from Lewis, Cargill had a shot blocked, Flint headed down to Swan six yards out but he missed his kick, and then tried again but it was blocked.

The Stags had a succession of corners, coming to nothing.

Good defending by Brunt after 89 minutes.

Six minutes were added on. After 90+1, Keillor-Dunn to Clarke, who played a great back-heel to Reed on the edge of the area and he curled a left-footed shot just over the bar. Straight to the other end and sub Elliott Nevitt had a shot deflected for a corner.

After 90+5 minutes, Brunt was brought down for a free kick from 22 yards. Cargill took it and his fine effort was well tipped over the bar by the keeper.

Real frustration for the Stags at the first home defeat of the season. Credit to Crewe for a strong defensive display, and they created chances on the break too.

Man of the match: Pym


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; Clough: “we are still waiting on clarification on the nature of his injury. We'll know a bit more in a week or two.”),
Johnson (“out for 10 weeks with his hamstring. He has done it good and proper”).

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

Average home league attendance: 7429 (average away fans: 736, average home fans 6693) (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:
(4-2-3-1)
Pym 7 No blame for the goal. Pym noted in an interview that he got a touch to turn Rowe’s shot onto the post.
Bowery 6 One great cross. One cross out for a goal kick.
Flint 6 Booked for a foul, his first booking of the season. Sent up front for the last 20 minutes, but the Stags didn’t put enough quality crosses to him.
Cargill 6 Not especially to blame for the goal, but could have taken responsibility to clear it. Fine free kick tipped over the bar by the keeper in stoppage time.
McLaughlin 6.5 Some good crosses, including for an early header for Akins. Poor defending when he was caught trying to shepherd the ball out of play.
Reed 6 Like Cargill, not especially to blame for the goal, but could have taken responsibility to clear it. One shot just over the bar.
Brunt 5 Gave the ball away for the only goal of the game.
Maris 6.5 Denied a goal by a fantastic save from the keeper.
Keillor-Dunn 6 Not his day in front of goal.
Quinn 6.5 Had a shot cleared off the line.
Akins 6 Sent a free header wide.
Sub Line Up:
Clarke (for Maris, 67) -
Lewis (for Lewis, 67) -
Swan (for McLaughlin, 83) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Williams, Boateng, Abdullah.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Booth; Billington, O’Riordan, Demetriou, Adebisi; Offord, Thomas (Cooney, 63); Rowe, White (Tracey, 79), Long (Nevitt, 51); Baker-Richardson. Subs not used: Davies, Tracey, Robinson, Kempster-Down, Agius.
Referee:
Matt Corlett 6 Should have been quicker to wake up to Crewe’s time-wasting.


Season 23/24 Reports