Attendance: 4,387 (1,191 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 January 2024
STAGS DRAW AT MORECAMBE
Martin Shaw at the Mazuma Stadium (Globe Arena)
Mansfield Town drew 1-1 at Morecambe yesterday. It seemed to me on the face of it like a good time to play a Morecambe side that had just had four good players recalled from loans by their parent clubs. But as it turned out, Morecambe played extremely well, rejuvenated by excellent debuts from new signings Joe Adams and Gwion Edwards, and they fully deserved their point from the game.
Local reporter for BBC Lancashire Derek Quinn summed it up nicely after the game: “I won’t lie. I was a bit worried ahead of this game but I shouldn’t have been. A fantastic performance full of guts and no one can say Morecambe didn’t deserve a point. Some great debuts.”
I said before the game in commentary Morecambe are a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team, for example winning 5-0 at Doncaster in December, and then losing 5-0 at Notts County. You just don’t know what you are going to get. They started the game firmly in mid-table, 15 points outside the relegation zone, 6 points outside the play-offs, and mid-table is probably where they will finish.
So all in all, a point away from home for the Stags was not a bad result. But the performance was a little disappointing in my opinion. In difficult conditions on a bobbly pitch, similar to Mansfield’s at the moment, the Stags were below the standards they have set themselves this season, and too sloppy in possession in the first half.
However Mansfield got themselves into the lead in the second half after 61 minutes with Ollie Clarke providing a clever pass to Baily Cargill who slammed into the net from 14 yards.
But in a game of relatively few clearcut chances, Morecambe equalised after 78 minutes with a well-worked goal as Yann Songo’o put in a good cross from the left and sub striker Charlie Brown showed a poacher’s instinct to the turn the ball into the net from close range. But defensively it was poor from the Stags with both full backs not doing enough to prevent the goal, Jordan Bowery being out of position to stop the cross, and Stephen McLaughlin allowing Brown to get away from him.
After that neither side looked like claiming a late winner.
A word on the travelling Stags fans. An away following of 1,191 was more than double Mansfield’s previous biggest away following at Morecambe (577), and treble what Mansfield have normally take before on a Saturday (in the 300’s). The fans largely stayed with the team throughout the game providing fantastic vocal support even when the performance wasn’t great during periods of the game.
Mansfield made two changes from the side that lost to Crewe.
Macdonald returned at left back in place of McLaughlin. Macdonald had missed the Crewe game due to injury as Nigel Clough had explained in midweek: “He couldn’t get into the squad at Stockport, just outside of it as we had plenty of cover, and on Saturday (v Crewe) he was injured in the last minute of training when he collided with Baily Cargill. He got a dead leg, but he should be okay for this week.”
Clarke returned for Quinn.
Flint remained an ever-present in the side, fresh from extending his contract to summer 2025. What a colossus he has been this season.
Mansfield started with a 4-4-2 formation with diamond in midfield, or 4-1-3-2 if you prefer. Reed was in front of the back four. Brunt on the right of the diamond. Keillor-Dunn up front with Akins.
However after Morecambe had three shots in the opening 7 minutes, and the Stags weren't handling their breaks, the Stags switched to 4-2-3-1 with Brunt alongside Reed in front of the back four.
Morecambe had lost four loan players recalled by their parent clubs: Mellon, King, Bloxham, Connolly.
Manager Ged Brannan brought in new signings Joe Adams and Gwion Edwards.
Another new signing, keeper Archie Mair came in to replace Adam Smith. Smith had played a handful of games on loan for Mansfield in 2015. Mair had saved two penalties for Notts County in their play-off final win over Chesterfield at Wembley to secure promotion back to the EFL in May.
Former Stags player Farrend Rawson was at centre half.
Striker Jordan Slew had a trial in pre-season at Mansfield under Steve Evans in 2017.
Jake Taylor in midfield had impressed for Port Vale against the Stags before when on loan from Nottingham Forest.
Morecambe had Mansfield on the back foot in the opening 7 minutes. After 3 minutes, Gwion Edwards shot wide of the right post from an angle on the right. Then on 6 minutes, a free kick from the left from Adam Mayor was headed out as far as Slew who did well to switch the ball from his right foot to his left before shooting just wide from 14 yards. A minute later, Keillor-Dunn gave the ball away with a pass back into his own area from just outside it, Joe Adams intercepted and fired wide. Terrible from Keillor-Dunn not learning the lessons from the goal given away against Crewe. Keillor-Dunn apologised to his teammates and was given a look of absolute disgust by some of them.
A fast start from Morecambe. The Stags switched formation as a result (details above).
After 11 minutes, a Keillor-Dunn corner to the near post, Clarke attacked it with a header, it came off Songo’o for another corner.
A minute later, Macdonald was too slow to release the ball, but the Stags got away with it.
Joe Adams got past Reed after 19 minutes, but Flint mopped up.
Macdonald was too slow and sloppy again after 19 minutes. Clough, in his technical area just in front of me in the press box, was furious.
After 20 minutes, Clarke cut in from the left and his shot was blocked by Joel Senior. It rebounded to Maris whose goalbound shot was blocked by Jacob Bedeau (in the post match interview, there was a suggestion that the shot hit Akins, but I think it was blocked by Bedeau). That was close.
Mansfield’s sloppiness continued as Brunt put in a terrible cross after 23 minutes, out for a goal kick. A minute later, Cargill lost the ball, Edwards got to the byline but his low cross was put behind for a corner.
Pym was out quickly to claim the ball at Adams’ feet after 25 minutes. Then Flint made an important tackle to prevent Slew getting through after 30 minutes.
Slew had the ball in the net after 34 minutes but the flag was long since up for offside. Morecambe broke from a Stags free kick. Taylor played forward to Slew, but he was well offside before putting the ball in the net.
After 35 minutes, chances at either end. Cargill’s ball forward was intercepted by Chris Stokes, who found Slew. Slew pushed forward and powered a shot goalwards from 28 yards which Pym pushed away. Good save.
Within seconds, Keillor-Dunn intercepted a pass from Songo’o 25 yards inside his own half. Keillor-Dunn surged forward, all the way to the edge of the Morecambe area, and curled a right footed shot which Rawson deflected and then the keeper Mair turned onto the bar. An absolutely magnificent break from Keillor-Dunn running 60 yards before firing in a shot which would have gone in but for the touches from defender and keeper. Credit also to Rawson and Mair.
The resulting corner came out to Keillor-Dunn who headed down to Reed who shot over the bar from 20 yards.
A minute after that, on 37 minutes, Clarke did well to win the ball, Maris played a great ball forward for Akins to run on to. Akins got into the area, shot through Rawson’s legs, and it took a little deflection off the inside of Rawson’s leg to take it straight to the keeper. Akins perhaps slightly more unlucky than I initially thought.
A good break from the Stags after 42 minutes, Keillor-Dunn to Bowery on the right but he put in a poor cross straight to the keeper. Clough turned away in disgust in his technical area.
Gwion Edwards got past Macdonald too easily after 45 minutes, Flint put the cross behind for a corner. Then on 45+1, Stokes fired high over the bar from 25 yards.
Nil nil at the break. The Stags had been very sloppy on a bobbly pitch, Macdonald, Cargill, Keillor-Dunn among others. Macdonald especially. Having said that, the Stags had come closest to scoring with Keillor-Dunn hitting the bar, the blocked shot from Maris, and the shot from Akins. Morecambe had played well, Joe Adams on his EFL debut very impressive, and Morecambe had had several chances.
Half time 0-0
Macdonald was replaced by McLaughlin at the start of the second half. It came as no surprise as Clough had been unhappy with Macdonald’s sloppiness in the first half.
However Clough said after the game: “Calum felt his calf cramp up in the last few minutes of the half and he couldn't get going again at half-time, so it was a necessary substitution.”
Nothing in the way of chances for either side in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. On 59 minutes, a chance for Clarke to get in but he slipped over.
Mansfield got themselves into the lead after 61 minutes. A free kick into the area from McLaughlin was headed away. Slew came away with the ball but his ball forward hit the back of Mayor’s boot. It fell for Maris who slid a nice ball to the edge of the area for Keillor-Dunn with his back to goal. Keillor-Dunn laid back to Clarke. Clarke then found Cargill in yards of space in the area with a clever pass. Cargill had time to steady himself before slamming the ball past the keeper into the net from 14 yards. Cargill’s third goal of the season. A really high quality assist from Clarke, his fifth assist of the season. The Stags players celebrated the goal in front of the travelling fans.
Half hearted appeals for a Morecambe penalty after 63 minutes. No chance.
Bedeau forced a corner on the left after 64 minutes.
The Stags reorganised. Keillor-Dunn went up front on his own. Akins dropped back to the right side of midfield. Maris into the middle from the right.
Then after 69 minutes, Rawson headed straight at Pym for an easy save, from a cross. Jake Taylor was high over the bar from 25 yards after 76 minutes.
At the other end on 77 minutes, McLaughlin wasted a cross putting it behind for a goal kick.
Morecambe equalised after 78 minutes with a well-worked goal as Mayor curled the ball down the left, Songo’o got in behind Maris and Bowery and put in a good cross from the left and sub striker Charlie Brown showed a poacher’s instinct to the turn the ball into the net from close range. Defensively it was poor from the Stags with both full backs not doing enough to prevent the goal, Bowery being out of position to stop the cross, and McLaughlin allowing Brown to get away from him.
Clough said after the game: “It was a poor goal defensively from our point of view. Both full backs should do better. It was one through ball and one cross and all of a sudden we were pinned back at 1-1.”
After 80 minutes, Songo’o knocked the ball forward and Pym caught, but the offside flag was up anyway.
A double change for the Stags after 87 minutes: Quinn for Clarke, Lewis for Maris. The Stags had had to wait a few minutes to make the change as the referee didn’t allow it at a stoppage, and then the ball didn’t go out of play for a while.
On 89 minutes, a McLaughlin free kick from the left might have clipped the hand of Songo’o in the area. Appeals for a penalty but the referee wasn’t going to give that.
Three minutes of stoppage time was added on. No more chances, and it finished all square. Some disappointment at not claiming the win, but a draw was certainly a fair result. The Stags were below the standards they have set themselves and the first half was probably the sloppiest of the season.
The Stags will be at home to bottom of the table Forest Green on Tuesday. If you can’t get to the game, you can watch it with us on iFollow Stags.
Man of the match: Flint
Running tally of various stats this season:
Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 14, Akins 9, Maris 7, Oates 5, Cargill 3, Bowery 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, Clarke 5, Oates 5, 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, until around the end of January),
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, but it won’t be short term.”),
Johnson (“out for 10 weeks with his hamstring. He has done it good and proper”).
Macdonald (came off at HT at Morecambe, “felt his calf cramp up”).
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)
Report by: Martin Shaw at the Mazuma Stadium (Globe Arena)
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield, but switched after 7 minutes to 4-2-3-1)
Pym 7 One good save and one good claim at striker’s feet. Not at fault for the goal.
Bowery 5.5 Out of position to stop the cross for the equaliser. One poor cross.
Flint 7.5 Some good defending.
Cargill 7 Well taken goal, his third goal of the season. Gave the ball away a couple of times in the first half.
Macdonald 5.5 Sloppy first half. Taken off at half time as Clough said he “felt his calf cramp up”.
Reed 6 Didn’t contribute too much.
Brunt 6 Like Reed, didn’t contribute too much.
Maris 7 Good ball in the build-up to the goal. Goalbound shot blocked. Good ball forward to set Akins away.
Clarke 7 Good assist for the goal. One shot blocked. Decent game.
Keillor-Dunn 7 Absolutely magnificent break, running 60 yards before firing in a shot which would have gone in but for the touches from defender and keeper turning it onto the bar. One bad error gifting the home side an early shot.
Akins 5.5 Not his best game.
Sub Line Up:
McLaughlin (for Macdonald, 46) 5.5 Allowed Brown to get away from him for the equaliser.
Quinn (for Clarke, 87) -
Lewis (for Maris, 87) -
Subs not used: Flinders, Williams, Boateng, Swan.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Mair; Senior, Rawson, Stokes, Bedeau; Songo’o, Taylor; Edwards (Brown, 62), Adams (Davenport, 82), Mayor; Slew. Subs not used: Adam Smith, Melbourne, Threlkeld, Tutonda, Cammy Smith.
Seb Stockbridge 7 Generally handled the game well.