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Season 23/24 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Sutton United
Maris 35.
 
 Angol 8
Attendance: 6,490 (40 from Sutton)
 
Date: 23 January 2024

STAGS HELD AT HOME BY SUTTON

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were held 1-1 by relegation threatened Sutton United at the One Call Stadium last night. The Stags had comfortably won 2-0 at Sutton last month, but this was a Sutton side already looking rejuvenated by a new manager, having drawn with Barrow in his first game, and an influx of new players.

It was a windy night with gusts around 45mph, though with the wind seemingly coming from behind the West Stand which thus provided at least some shelter, the conditions were not quite as bad as I expected, though still bad, until around the last 15 minutes of the game when the wind got even stronger. Not surprisingly in poor conditions, it wasn’t an entertaining game.

Sutton came to get men behind the ball, starting out with a back five, but leaving two men up front to clear it up to them as quickly as possible. And the one thing Mansfield didn't want to do was gift them an early goal to hang on to. But they did precisely that after just 8 minutes with a ridiculous ball square across his own penalty area by Lewis Brunt. It was seized upon by former Stag Lee Angol who then had a free shot at goal past Christy Pym from 12 yards. It was the second home game running where Brunt has gifted a goal to the opposition in the opening minutes with a ridiculous ball inside his own area, and both have been enormously costly. He's also done it previously this season including at Colchester and Gillingham which also cost points. When Brunt also picked up a booking midway through the first half, he was quickly substituted. Brunt was playing at right back, but his error really can't be attributed to that as he had made similar errors from other positions.
Manager Nigel Clough was rightly annoyed after the game calling the mistake following on from the same thing happening against Crewe "disgraceful" and saying "the message isn't getting through". Brunt has been very good this season, but has made too many of these errors. Clough has stuck with him after previous errors, but he will probably come out of the team now.

The Stags equalised after 35 minutes. Sub Stephen McLaughlin, on for Brunt, drilled in a great low cross from the left and George Maris cleverly flicked it past the keeper from inside the six yard box. It was a super finish from Maris, for his 8th goal of the season.

The Stags didn't create too many other clearcut chances in the first half. The best came after 18 minutes when a shot from Aaron Lewis was deflected for a corner. And from that corner, Aden Flint's header was deflected away and eventually came out to Louis Reed whose shot was blocked.

Sutton tended to rely on long throw-ins, wind assisted from the West Stand side. They did go close very early on, after 4 minutes, when new signing Olly Sanderson, on loan from Fulham, fired wide from 8 yards from a Ryan Jackson cross after Jackson cut inside past Jordan Bowery.

The Stags had chances to win it in the second half. After 51 minutes, Maris fired in a good free kick into a good area, from the left not far from the corner flag, it went through a crowd of players, flew off Lucas Akins and just over the bar. After 72 minutes, great play from Keillor-Dunn on the right, he chipped a cross-shot towards the far post and it just evaded Maris and went just wide.

Maris limped off after 73 minutes and Nigel Clough told me after the game he will be only 50:50 for Saturday's game. In a triple change, Boateng, Clarke and Swan came on, with Quinn and Lewis also going off.

Swan was straight into the action with good play between him and Keillor-Dunn, and Swan's curling shot with the outside of his boot was goalbound but blocked, and then hit another Sutton player Christian N’Guessan before going agonisingly wide. So close to an own goal.

Swan should have won the game after 84 minutes. A good move from the Stags down the right, Clarke fed the overlapping Bowery who put in a perfect cross onto Swan's head but he headed inches wide from four yards. The wind was now blowing even stronger which may have marginally affected the cross, but he should have scored.

The final chance came after 90+5 minutes when Flint's goalbound volley from a Keillor-Dunn corner was blocked on the line.

A frustrating result. Ultimately in difficult conditions you cannot afford to gift the opposition an early goal to hang on to.

The referee had a terrible game, with multiple poor decisions, such as restarting the game after head injuries with Sutton in possession when Mansfield had been in possession, not clamping down on time-wasting, etc etc.

What a boost it could have been for everyone if Swan could have scored the winner but it wasn't to be. Hopefully Maris will be fit for Saturday and the Stags can bring in a good striker in the next week. Nigel Clough has a cut-off point of this week for bringing in his main striker target.

Mansfield remain in third place, a point ahead of 4th placed Crewe, and 2 ahead of 5th placed Barrow, with a game in hand on both. MK Dons are up to 6th, and just 6 points behind Mansfield. I think they are the biggest threat to the top 3.

Mansfield visit AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. Wimbledon played well in the 0-0 draw at Mansfield earlier in the season. They will definitely still be without impressive striker Al-Hamadi at the Asian Cup as Iraq are through to the next stages, though Bugiel could possibly be back with Lebanon not having won a game in the same tournament.

DETAILED REPORT :

The Stags made two changes from the side that drew at Morecambe ten days ago. Quinn and Lewis started in place of Clarke and Macdonald. Macdonald is out for 4-6 weeks with a calf injury that forced him off in the Morecambe game.
Flint and Cargill continued at centre half. Bowery switched to left back with Brunt filling in at right back. Clough told me after the game McLaughlin wasn't quite fit enough to start, though with Brunt's error and booking, he was to come on for the last hour.
It was a diamond in midfield, with Reed behind Lewis (right) and Quinn (left). And Maris behind Keillor-Dunn and Akins.
O'Toole was back on the bench after Clough said he was back in training on Monday.

Sutton have a new manager, former Millwall manager Steve Morison. He has brought in four new signings. Charlie Lakin, on loan from Burton, impressed in midfield. Nino Adom-Malaki, on loan from Millwall, did well at left back. Olly Sanderson, on loan from Fulham, was up front with former Stag Lee Angol. Angol is a confidence player and the early gifted goal was just what he needed. Striker Harry Smith, who was pretty much Sutton's only threat in the game at Sutton in December, is out suspended for six games.

The game was quickly rearranged after it was postponed on Saturday due to a frozen pitch and also the game at home to Forest Green last Tuesday had gone the same way.

Storm Jocelyn brought winds with gusts on 45mph. The pitch was not in great condition, as it hasn't been since the FA Cup game against Wrexham, but was at least playable after plenty more rain.

The game saw Stags fans in the North Stand, in a trial, with the stand split to also accommodate the small number of visiting fans. It will also be trialled against Forest Green. It was the first time Stags fans have been in the North Stand since the pay-what-you-want game against Gateshead in 2010, and before that since 2004. In the event, there were only about 130 Stags fans in there, with season ticket holders not allowed to transfer their ticket from other stands.

Sutton went close after 4 minutes, when Olly Sanderson fired wide from 8 yards from a Ryan Jackson cross after Jackson cut inside past Jordan Bowery. Two minutes later, a long throw from Ryan Jackson was cleared away by Akins.

The Stags gifted Sutton an early goal to hang on to after just 8 minutes with a ridiculous ball square across his own penalty area by Brunt. It was seized upon by Lee Angol who then had a free shot at goal past Pym from 12 yards. It was the second home game running where Brunt has gifted a goal to the opposition in the opening minutes with a ridiculous ball inside his own area, and both have been enormously costly.

Lewis had a shot from 25 yards blocked.

An error from Baily Cargill after 13 minutes, Sanderson had a chance to surge forward and his shot was deflected off Flint through to Pym.

A free kick for the Stags 22 yards out after 16 minutes. Keillor-Dunn took it, straight into the wall.

The Stags best chance of the game so far came after 18 minutes when a shot from Lewis was deflected for a corner. And from that corner, Flint's header was deflected away and eventually came out to Reed whose shot was blocked.

Brunt was booked for a foul on the touchline after 21 minutes.

A great cross from Quinn after 26 minutes was headed behind for a corner.

Brunt was not surprisingly substituted after 27 minutes. On came McLaughlin at left back. Bowery switched to right back.

On 28 minutes, Kizzi brought down Keillor-Dunn 40 yards from goal. Kizzi was booked.

From the resulting free kick, Quinn cut in from the left and went down in the area. Quinn wanted a penalty and when he didn’t get it, chased after the referee and was booked for protesting. I don’t think there was enough contact for it to be a stonewall penalty, though you’ve seen them given.

On 31 minutes, Akins was manhandled by Sowunmi on the edge of the area, with his shirt being pulled. The referee saw no foul. There were protests from Akins and other Stags players. The ball went out for a corner, from which, taken by Maris, Flint headed straight at the keeper.

The Stags equalised after 35 minutes. Akins held off his marker to lay off to McLaughlin who drilled in a great low cross from the left and George Maris cleverly flicked it past the keeper from inside the six yard box. It was a super finish from Maris, for his 8th goal of the season.

Flint, unusually for him, played a square ball across his own box after 42 minutes which was almost cut out. Nigel Clough on the touchline gesticulated for him to cut that out.

Quinn committed a foul after 43 minutes and seemed to be warned by the referee having been already booked.

At the break. Sutton ahead with that gift of a goal. Maris equalising with a fine goal. Sutton tended to rely on long throw-ins, wind assisted from the West Stand side. The Stags had a few shots blocked.

Half time 1-1

After 51 minutes, Maris fired in a good free kick into a good area, from the left not far from the corner flag, it went through a crowd of players, flew off Akins and just over the bar. It took a slight nick off someone before it reached Akins, from studying the video frame by frame, and Akins didn’t really have time to react. But it was close.

A snap shot from Reed was blocked after 55 minutes.

The referee was having a stinker and he missed two blatant fouls on Quinn midway through the half.

After 70 minutes, McLaughlin cut inside from the left and miscued a right footed shot wide.

After 72 minutes, great play from Keillor-Dunn on the right, he chipped a cross-shot towards the far post and it just evaded Maris and went just wide.

Maris limped off after 73 minutes and Nigel Clough told me after the game he will be only 50:50 for Saturday's game. In a triple change, Boateng, Clarke and Swan came on, with Quinn and Lewis also going off.

Swan was straight into the action with good play between him and Keillor-Dunn, and Swan's curling shot with the outside of his boot was goalbound but blocked, and then hit another Sutton player Christian N’Guessan before going agonisingly wide. So close to an own goal.

Keillor-Dunn fired over the bar from 30 yards after 76 minutes. Then on 82 minutes, a corner from Keillor-Dunn from the left caught the wind and landed on the roof of the net. The wind was really getting up now. The ball was moving around when the Stags were trying to take set pieces.

Swan should have won the game after 84 minutes. A good move from the Stags down the right, Clarke fed the overlapping Bowery who put in a perfect cross onto Swan's head but he headed inches wide from four yards. The wind was now blowing even stronger which may have marginally affected the cross, but he should have scored.

The final chance came after 90+5 minutes when Flint's goalbound volley from a Keillor-Dunn corner was blocked on the line.

A frustrating result. But in difficult conditions you cannot afford to gift the opposition an early goal to hang on to.
On to Wimbledon.

Man of the match: Maris


Running tally of various stats this season:

Goals (league and cup): Keillor-Dunn 14, Akins 9, Maris 8, 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, McLaughlin 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),
Oates (cruciate ligament injury, out for 9 months),
Johnson (“out for 10 weeks with his hamstring”, injury picked up vs Stockport),
Macdonald (had a scan on his calf, after going off at Morecambe, out for 4-6 weeks),
Gale (out until towards end of January, from injury in the Burton EFL Trophy game),
Maris (went off against Sutton, 50:50 for the AFC Wimbledon game).

Yellow cards (league only, alphabetical order): Boateng 2, Bowery 1, Brunt 4, 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 2, 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: 7356 (average away fans: 682, average home fans 6674) (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:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Pym 6.5 No chance with the goal. Didn’t have any other saves to make.
Brunt 4 Ridiculous error to gift Sutton the crucial early goal. Booked and then subbed all within 27 minutes.
Flint 7 Solid game.
Cargill 5.5 Below par with the odd mistake. Nigel Clough said after the game “(Lewis Brunt) and Baily (Cargill) were not at it tonight, their application was not right for these conditions.”
Bowery 7 Perfect cross for Swan's late header.
Reed 7 Decent game.
Lewis 6 Not as involved as he might have been.
Quinn 7 One great cross. Some good play. Sponsor’s man of the match.
Maris 7.5 Clever finish for his goal. Some good set pieces.
Keillor-Dunn 6.5 Good final 20 minutes with a chip that just evaded Maris and putting Swan in for a shot.
Akins 6.5 Held off his man in the build-up to the goal. Some good clearances at the back. Unlucky when a deflected cross from a free kick hit him and went over the bar.
Sub Line Up:
McLaughlin (for Brunt, 27) 7 An assist for the goal with a great cross.
Boateng (for Quinn, 73) -
Clarke (for Lewis, 73) -
Swan (for Maris, 73) - Started well with a good effort. But missed a great chance with his head. Also gave away a needless free kick.
Subs not used: Flinders, Williams, O'Toole.
Opposition Line Up:
(5-3-2): D Bouzanis; R Jackson, J Kizzi, O Sowunmi(sub O Patrick 46), B Goodliffe (sub L John 72), N Adom-Malaki (sub S Hart 79); C Eastmond(sub H Beautyman 64), C N'Guessan, C Lakin; L Angol, O Sanderson (sub J Coley 64). Subs not used: S Arnold, D Moore.
Referee:
Ed Duckworth 4 Had a terrible game, with multiple poor decisions, such as restarting the game after head injuries with Sutton in possession when Mansfield had been in possession, not clamping down on time-wasting, etc etc.


Season 23/24 Reports