Clements 36, Tafazolli 80.
Attendance: 10,074 (2,767 from Mansfield)
Date: 14 August 2015
MAGNIFICENT MANSFIELD OUTPLAY NOTTS COUNTY
Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane
Mansfield Town completely outplayed Notts County tonight in the big local derby at Meadow Lane for as comprehensive a 2-0 win as you’re likely to see this season. It was magnificent from Adam Murray’s new look side in front of over 2,700 travelling Stags fans who created a fabulous atmosphere in a 10,000 crowd. The Stags were better in every department than Notts County: the Stags were sharp going forward and could easily have had more than the 2 goals on the night as Nathan Thomas will know that he should have scored when he hit the bar and Matt Green missed by a whisker and told me afterwards that he should have scored. The two goals that did come were deserved for two players who were fantastic on the night. Firstly Chris Clements played an excellent 1-2 with Matt Green before firing home from 12 yards. Then Ryan Tafazolli sealed the win with a header from a free kick and become the club’s leading goalscorer this season! The Stags were better at the back than Notts County with Tafazolli and Pearce as solid as a rock in the middle, and Mal Benning superb at left back including the clearance of the season as Spencer seemed certain to score right in front of goal from a cross from the left. In goal, Brian Jensen, on his debut, and becoming the oldest player in Mansfield Town’s history at the age of 40 years and 2 months, taking over from Tony Ford, was excellent including one incredibly brave save as he came out at the feet of Jenner to claim the ball as Jenner looked favourite to poke home. And in midfield, Chapman, Clements and Rose especially outfought the County midfield, while Lambe and Nathan Thomas were also in fine form. Finally the Stags fans were also better than the County fans in making a racket, and as Adam Chapman pointed out afterwards, it seems like there were 10,000 Stags fans never mind 2,700. So, just for 19 hours, Mansfield Town are top of League Two and how good does that sound! A wonderful night for the Stags fans, not just because of victory of local rivals, but also because of the nature of the performance.
Mansfield made only one change to the side that drew with Carlisle in the last league game, and that was enforced as Scott Shearer was out ill, so in came “The Beast” Brian Jensen, for his debut, becoming the oldest player in Mansfield Town’s history at the age of 40 years and 2 months, taking over from Tony Ford. The four players rested in the League Cup at Sheffield Wednesday all returned. There was a subtle change in formation, with Adam Chapman and Chris Clements the deepest of the Stags midfield, in what I can best describe as a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Nathan Thomas pushing forward, and Mitch Rose and Reggie Lambe either side of him:
Stags team (4-2-3-1):
Nicky Hunt (captain), Krystian Pearce, Ryan Tafazolli, Mal Benning;
Adam Chapman, Chris Clements;
Mitch Rose, Nathan Thomas, Reggie Lambe;
The game started in a pulsating atmosphere.
On 2 minutes, a great tackle from Mitch Rose. Then a lunge from Nathan Thomas on Sprockel earned Thomas an early yellow card.
On 5 minutes, Clements, 25 yards from goal, had a chance to shoot but instead slid the ball forward for Lambe and it went straight out of play. Wrong option.
The Stags should have been in front after 6 minutes. Chapman picked up a loose ball 40 yards out, fed the ball forward to Green, Green slid a perfect ball forward into the path of Nathan Thomas almost on the penalty spot with only Roy Carroll to beat. Thomas’s shot was on target and Carroll brilliantly got a hand on it to send it into the ground and up onto the bar. A wonderful save, but Nathan Thomas will realise he should have given the keeper no chance.
From the resulting corner taken by Chapman from the right, it was floated across to Benning on the far side on the edge of the area, and his volley was blocked for a throw-in. A clever routine.
On 8 minutes, a good tackle by Clements on his own byline, but then the ball was given away, and then eventually cleared.
It was a crackling start to the game in pouring rain.
A bizarre moment on 12 minutes, as Mansfield were waiting to take a corner, Tafazolli was unceremoniously bundled into the net. The referee lectured Tafazolli but not the Notts County defender. Muppet refereeing!
On 13 minutes, a fine tackle by Nathan Thomas on the halfway line and then a mazy run by Reggie Lambe but he ran the ball out of play.
A minute later, a great tackle by Clements halfway inside his own half and he earned a free-kick.
A tremendous start from the Stags, full of commitment, fine tackling, and skill.
On 17 minutes, Jenner got into the area on the right and shot well wide of the right post.
Matt Green was impeded as he tried to break into the box and tried to flick the ball over Sprockel. A yellow card for Sprockel. Just about the right decision as a red would have been slightly harsh.
Before the free-kick was taken, Tafazolli was booked for standing in front of the goalkeeper. Poor refereeing.
When the free-kick was eventually taken, Benning fired wide and over from 23 yards.
Good tackles by Hunt and then Chapman as Mansfield continued to look the better side in all departments.
On 26 minutes, a cross by Curtis Thompson on the right, it squirted goalwards off a combination of Krystian Pearce and a striker and Jensen saved low on his line.
On 28 minutes, a long throw from Chapman, headed on by Tafazolli, and a defender put just past his own post for a corner. Moments later good skill from Rose along the byline but he ran the ball out for a goal-kick.
On 30 minutes, a good flick-on from Green, to Nathan Thomas, and inside to Chapman, whose shot from 30 yards was wide of the left post.
A rare piece of poor defending from the Stags on 32 minutes. A free-kick from the right by Jenner, was headed away by Pearce under no pressure but straight to Aborah who fired over the bar. A poor header away.
A corner from Benning on 35 minutes was disappointing and over everyone.
The Stags were deservedly in front on 36 minutes. Clements played an excellent 1-2 with Matt Green before firing home left footed into the bottom left corner of the net from 12 yards. Adam Murray celebrated running along the touchline. UPDATE: from my angle I thought the shot from Clements went in with the aid of a small deflection, but Clemmo has posted this, so clearly I was wrong!! “Martin Shaw must be only person to watch the game to think my goal got a deflection must not have been watching for that bit”
Stags fans chanted “we are top of the league”.
On 38 minutes, Rose was booked for a full blooded challenge.
A loose ball from Chapman on 41 minutes led to a free-kick 26 yards out on the right. It was curled in low and away for a corner. From the corner, a good block by Nathan Thomas, it came out to Aborah 35 yards out who shot miles over the bar.
On 45 minutes, a good tackle by Pearce on the edge of his own area.
A tremendous first half performance from Mansfield, leading 1-0 but deserving to be 2-0 ahead. Thoroughly committed in a magnificent atmosphere.
Half time 0-1
Notts County made two changes at the break, and another enforced one on 48 minutes as Sprockel limped off.
On 49 minutes, a County cross from the left, and a bad first touch by Benning but Jensen was out brilliantly to claim strongly at the feet of Jenner who looked favourite to get there first. The Beast at his best.
On 50 minutes, Green down the left, a good ball to Nathan Thomas, who surged into the area on the left, and his low shot was turned behind for corner by Carroll. From the corner, Tafazolli nodded down but it was cleared.
On 51 minutes, a quick throw-in by County caught the Stags napping, Spencer lobbed the ball over Hunt and half-volleyed over the bar. Two minutes later, the largely anonymous Jon Stead fed Jenner on the right and his low shot brought a good save from Jensen.
Jack Thomas replaced Nathan Thomas on 54 minutes.
The Stags fans were in magnificent voice.
Jack Thomas was straight into the action on 62 minutes with a snap shot from 25 yards, but he didn’t catch it well and it was wide.
Hunt and Liam Noble were booked on 64 minutes for something off the ball, and I have to confess I didn’t see it.
On 66 minutes a powerful run from Mitch Rose to earn a free-kick near the corner flag on the right. But the free-kick was cleared.
The Stags were within a whisker of extending the lead on 67 minutes. A brilliant cross from Jack Thomas on the left, right-footed and curling in towards goal, Green got the slightest of touches with his head and it somehow missed the far post. Greenie told me afterwards he should have scored.
Brilliant defending at the other end on 68 minutes. A low cross from the left by Burke was into the corridor of uncertainty and Spencer looked favourite to get there first and score but Benning stretched to get a toe on it and clear the ball away. Fabulous defending. Jensen and Spencer were in a heap on the floor but both were soon back on their feet. Just as well for Mansfield, without a sub keeper. From the resulting corner, Hollis hooked just over the bar.
On 72 minutes, a great tackle by Benning and then another by Lambe on the touchline.
Beardsley replaced Green on 77 minutes.
On 79 minutes, Jack Thomas slipped over, and Aborah curled over the bar from 25 yards.
Mansfield deservedly made it 2-0 on 80 minutes. Benning floated up a free-kick from the left and Tafazolli rose superbly above Hollis 8 yards out, to head down into the bottom right corner of the net. A wonderful headed goal. Wonderful celebrations from the Mansfield players in front of the fans.
On 82 minutes, Spencer shot low from the edge of the box straight at Jensen.
A dangerous cross from the left by County on 85 minutes was straight through everyone for a goal-kick.
McGuire replaced Rose on 85 minutes. Rose had just received a final warning from the ref. Sensible substitution.
On 87 minutes, a good punch out by Jensen. Then Adams fired well wide from 20 yards.
The Stags fans chanted “Adam Murray give us a wave”. Wonderful for him to get the acclaim.
On 90+2 minutes, a cross from Liam Noble and Spencer headed straight at Jensen. A minute later, Stead headed over from a free-kick.
Tremendous celebrations at the final whistle for a richly deserved win. And a clean sheet for the Stags too thanks to solid defending from the whole team.
On to Accrington Stanley on Tuesday. I can’t wait.
Man of the match: Benning/Tafazolli
Report by: Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane
Jensen 8.5 Such a commanding presence. One incredibly brave save as he came out at the feet of Jenner to claim the ball as Jenner looked favourite to poke home. One fine punch and some other decent saves. He’ll have to keep the shirt if he continues to perform like that.
Hunt 7.5 Some good tackles.
Pearce 8 Fine game in central defence. Some good tackles. One poor header away when under no pressure.
Tafazolli 9 Carried on from his commanding performance at Hillsborough. Super header for the goal.
Benning 9 The clearance of the season as Spencer seemed certain to score right in front of goal from a cross from the left. Some other good tackles. One bad touch and was rescued by Jensen’s brave save. An assist for Tafazolli’s goal.
Chapman 8 Super game alongside Clements.
Clements 8 Great 1-2 with Green for his goal and great composure under pressure. Two great early tackles set the tone for the evening.
Rose 8 Fine performance. Powerful running, showed good skill, and good tackling.
N.Thomas 8 Very good effort in the 2nd half. Should have scored in the 1st half. Some good tackles and blocks.
Lambe 7 Some good tackles, and good skill.
Green 8.5 Led the line very well. Great assist for Clements’ goal. Great pass for Nathan Thomas’ shot against the bar. Should have scored in the 2nd half. Even without scoring, he looks a top top striker.
Sub Line Up:
J.Thomas (for N.Thomas, 54) - Wonderful cross for Green’s header just wide.
Beardsley (for Green, 77) -
McGuire (for Rose, 85) -
Subs not used: Marsden, Westcarr, Yussuf, Caton.
Opposition Line Up:
Carroll, Adams, Bennett, Sprockel (Hollis 48), (Spencer 46), Noble, De Silva (Burke 46), Jenner, Stead, Audel, Aborah. Subs not used: Snijders, Sharpe, Loach, Campbell.
Tim Robinson 5 Some very poor decisions.