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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
0 - 2
 Mansfield Town
 Tafazolli 47, J.Thomas 49
Attendance: 2,509 (163 from Mansfield)
Date: 29 September 2015


Martin Shaw at The Lamex Stadium, Broadhall Way

Mansfield Town produced a complete away performance last night to pull off a terrific and thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory at Stevenage. The Stags passed the ball around nicely in the first half, hit Stevenage with two goals in the first four minutes of the second half, then were rock solid allowing no way back for the home side, while could have gone on to score more. The goals came from Ryan Tafazolli with a header from a corner, his third goal of the season, and then from Jack Thomas who gleefully thumped home from 7 yards after being set up by Craig Westcarr following a quickly taken free-kick. Stevenage fans and players claimed that Westcarr was offside but video footage shows he certainly wasn’t. There were so many fine performances throughout the Stags side. At the back, Pearce and Tafazolli continued their outstanding partnership with both in top class form, Jensen produced a superb save very early on, just when it was needed. In midfield Chapman instigated some lovely passing. McGuire came in for his first start in the league of the season and was very good, playing thoroughly responsibly after a first half booking and straight back into the excellent form he showed in the second half of last season. Jack Thomas was played in a more offensive role with the comfort of Chapman and McGuire behind him, and was excellent. I thought I saw signs on Saturday that he might be starting to find the form of last season and last night he was right back on it, capped off by his second league goal. The Stags are back up into the play-off zone, and have still conceded just six goals in 10 games this season, and only Wycombe and Middlesbrough in the entire Football League have conceded fewer.

This was Mansfield’s first victory at Stevenage, after defeats in each of the previous three meetings at Broadhall Way. On to Dagenham on Saturday, another ground where Mansfield have not yet won. Come on Mansfield!

Mansfield made three changes from the side that drew with Plymouth. Hunt came back from suspension to replace Collins at right back, McGuire came in for his first league start of the season in place of the suspended Rose, and Lambe came in for Nathan Thomas. There was a return on the bench for Beardsley, back from his shin injury and at his former club from last season. Mansfield lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with McGuire and Chapman in front of the back four. Lambe, Jack Thomas and Westcarr were in a three behind Green.

Stevenage included Tom Hitchcock, son of Stags legend Kevin Hitchcock, up front. Hitchcock is on loan from MK Dons and Stevenage is the 8th league club he has played for (mostly just a few appearances on loan). Stevenage also included centre half Mark Hughes, who will be remembered by Stags fans for his battles for Morecambe against Matt Rhead including scratching his fingers down Rhead’s back. Up front for Borough was Brett Williams who led the line for Aldershot last season. Stevenage’s best player, young Ben Kennedy, is on his way back from injury and could only be named on the bench. Charlie Lee, another of Stevenage’s better players was also out injured. Stevenage are of course managed by England legend Teddy Sheringham this season, but he hasn’t got them off to a good start.

An early chance for the Stags inside the first minute as Chapman fed Lambe down the line on the left, Lambe’s cross into the middle was skewed off a defender into the path of Green who sliced wide, left footed.

Straight to the other end on 2 minutes and Jensen made a superb save. Ronnie Henry put in a great cross from the right and Tom Conlon’s flying header from 12 yards was heading for the roof of the net until Jensen tipped it over. Right in front of the travelling 163 Stags fans, this will have endeared the Stags giant shot stopper to them even more.

On 7 minutes, a long throw from Chapman was nodded down, and Jack Thomas fired well wide from the edge of the box.

Excellent play by Pearce on 16 minutes on the touchline near his own corner flag as he made Brett Williams look a fool with clever play. Williams didn’t like it and deliberately hacked Pearce down with a terrible lunge. Williams was lucky to get away with a yellow card.

Great play by Jack Thomas on 20 minutes on the halfway line, but then his ball forward to Green who marginally overhit.

On 25 minutes, Jack Thomas played a ball out to Westcarr on the left, Westcarr played the ball in, Benning miscued, allowing Green a shot which he also miscued wide.

McGuire was booked for a foul on Hitchcock on 27 minutes. It was a clear yellow. Before the middle of last season, you could have expected that it would be a matter of time before McGuire picked up a second yellow, but not anymore.

A good passage football from Mansfield on 29 minutes, eventually a Stevenage player put the ball into touch. Murray tried to control the ball, but instead played it straight against Stevenage manager Teddy Sheringham. Unfortunately I don’t have the full game on video at this stage so we can’t bring you the clip. It was good football from Mansfield though, knocking the ball around and keeping possession.

On 32 minutes, a great ball from Chapman out to the left, and Benning’s cross was cleared.

On 35 minutes, Ryan Johnson crossed from the left, ?? headed down into the ground and towards goal but Jensen claimed easily. Then Williams crossed from the left and Tafazolli put behind for a corner.

On 40 minutes, Jack Thomas made progress down the right and tried a shot from an acute angle, which keeper Joronen put behind for a corner.

A real chance for Mansfield to take the lead on 42 minutes. Jack Jebb played the ball backwards from the halfway line, straight to Green. Green gratefully accepted and played the ball forward to Westcarr on his right, Westcarr charged forward and sent in a low shot that was saved by the keeper. It was a great chance for Westcarr.

Then an ever better chance for Mansfield a minute later. It was pinball in the Borough box as Lambe and Benning had shots blocked before Benning fired a glorious chance just over the bar from 12 yards.

On 45+1 minutes, a Lambe shot from 20 yards was blocked.

A minute later, Whelpdale cut inside Benning onto his left foot and fired a powerful low shot which Jensen saved with his legs. Another good save from Jensen.

Half time goalless with chances for both sides. Pearce and Tafazolli were immaculate at the back for Mansfield. Chapman was spraying the ball around nicely and Mansfield had nice spells of possession.

Stevenage were booed off by the home fans. Pretty harsh I thought especially at 0-0 and Stevenage had created some chances, while Mansfield had had more possession though.

Half time 0-0

A strange incident in the opening seconds of the half, with a Mansfield throw-in the Borough half. The linesman flagged for offside against Green, the referee had no choice but to ignore him as you can’t be offside from a throw-in and the game continued. Murray shouted at the linesman and gesticulated as if to say “what on earth are you doing??”

Mansfield were in front on 47 minutes. Chapman’s corner from the left found Tafazolli unmarked 6 yards out and he rose majestically to power a header home in front of the ecstatic Stags fans. Probably Mark Hughes was supposed to be marking Tafazolli but he had gone down in a tangle with Pearce. Tafazolli’s third headed goal of the season.

Just two minutes later it was 2-0. Mansfield were awarded a free kick just inside the Stevenage half. Benning took it quickly, forward to Westcarr who made a perfectly timed run to beat the offside trap. Westcarr squared from six yards, Green couldn’t get on to it, but Jack Thomas ghosted in unnoticed and gleefully thumped home unchallenged from 7 yards. Stevenage fans and players claimed that Westcarr was offside but video footage shows he certainly wasn’t.

On 51 minutes, Connor Smith cut inside and fired well side of the left post.

Chapman was booked for taking too much time to take a free kick on 54 minutes. Ridiculously harsh.

On 58 minutes, Jack Thomas crossed from the right, Green tried to get into position for an overhead kick but couldn’t manage it. A minute later Green got into the area on the left, and his shot was deflected behind for a corner.

Hitchcock was booked for a terrible late tackle on Hunt on 61 minutes. Could have been a red card. Lambe got himself involved when he shouldn’t have done and was also booked for shoving.

Great play by Jack Thomas on 64 minutes on the right, his cross reached Benning whose first time shot was wide of the right post.

Pearce was booked for trying to stop a throw-in on 65 minutes. Like Lambe’s booking, this was an unnecessary one.

On 69 minutes, a Stevenage free kick from the left was headed wide. Impossible to tell who by in a melee of players.

Booing from the home fans as Akinyemi was brought on for Conlon. Earlier the home fans had booed as Whelpdale was taken off.

The Stags could have been 3-0 ahead on 77 minutes. A poor backpass from Mark Hughes put Green clean through on goal in a 1-on-1. But Green shot when he was too close to the keeper who blocked it. Green will probably feel he should have shot fractionally earlier.

On 79 minutes, a free kick from Hunt from the halfway line, Tafazolli headed down, but it was an easy save for the keeper.

Plenty of boos ringing out for the home team. Stags fans cheekily chant “Sheringham out”.

On 83 minutes, a clear foul on Lambe wasn’t given. Lambe got up and fouled back. The free kick was given. The free kick was taken by Kennedy into the Stags box and Akinyemi blasted just wide of the far post from a tight angle.

A great surging run from Jack Thomas on 84 minutes, earned a free kick. The free kick was cleared away.

On 87 good play by Westcarr as he ghosted past a defender, and played the ball forward to Green who was offside. Green took the ball on, rounded the keeper and slotted into the empty net. Another booking, and a third unnecessary one for Mansfield. Green was frustrated but he needn’t have been, he’d played a full part in what was a comfortable victory even with a few minutes to go.

Collins replaced Westcarr on 89 minutes. Meanwhile as that was happening, Green was getting a lecture from the referee, and the ref had called Stags captain Hunt into the conversation too. I didn’t see what that was about, perhaps chatter, and a final warning for Green who’d been booked just two minutes earlier.

On 90+1 minutes, Ben Kennedy squared to the previously completely anonymous Steven Schumacher who fired well wide.

Chris Beardsley replaced Green. The home fans chanted “Beardo Beardo”. Beardsley had been a popular player at Stevenage last season and in a previous spell.

Full time and the Stags players celebrated with the ecstatic 163 Stags fans. And a special cheer for the Beast Brian Jensen as he came over.

On to Dagenham. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Jack Thomas

Report by: Martin Shaw at The Lamex Stadium, Broadhall Way

Line Up:
Jensen 8 Crucial superb early save, and another good save just before half time.
Hunt 7 Solid.
Pearce 8.5 Immaculate performance.
Tafazolli 8.5 Continues in terrific form. Added his third goal of an excellent season.
Benning 7 Quick thinking for the second goal. Got forward a lot and could have scored. One difficult moment when Whelpdale cut inside him.
McGuire 8 Came in for his first start in the league of the season and was very good, playing thoroughly responsibly after a first half booking and straight back into the excellent form he showed in the second half of last season.
Chapman 8 Instigated some lovely passing. Fine corner for the first goal.
Lambe 7 Very involved in the first half with some good play. Less so in the second half apart from getting himself booked.
J.Thomas 8.5 Played in a more offensive role with the comfort of Chapman and McGuire behind him, and was excellent. I thought I saw signs on Saturday that he might be starting to find the form of last season and last night he was right back on it, capped off by his second league goal.
Westcarr 7.5 Good game. Set up the second goal. Should have scored at the end of the first half.
Green 7 Fine play to set up Westcarr chance. Miscued a couple of shots wide and missed a 1-on-1. Frustrated at not scoring but he needn’t have been, he played a full part in a comfortable victory.
Sub Line Up:
Collins (for Westcarr, 89) -
Beardsley (for Green , 90+1) -
Subs not used: Shearer, Marsden, Blair, N.Thomas, Yussuf.
Opposition Line Up:
Joronen; Henry, McCombe, Hughes, Johnson; Whelpdale (Kennedy 59), Schumacher, Jebb (Smith 46), Conlon (Akinyemi 72), Hitchcock, Williams. Subs not used: Day, Franks, Pett, Wells.
Trevor Kettle 6 Got the major decisions right.

Season 15/16 Reports