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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 2
 Bristol Rovers
Tafazolli 81. Pearce sent off 60, Hunt sent off 77.
 Easter 15, Taylor 90+8. Easter sent off 45+2
Attendance: 4196 (847 from Bristol Rovers)
Date: 17 October 2015


Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were beaten 2-1 by a goal 8 minutes into stoppage time by Bristol Rovers this afternoon. Mansfield were already down to nine men, and had goalkeeper Brian Jensen almost knocked out and virtually immobilised after an injury, when Matty Taylor headed home the winner. It was cruel on Mansfield who had battled back with a tremendous shot from Ryan Tafazolli on 81 minutes to equalise. Mansfield had started the game well with several early chances including a free shot for Matt Green inside the opening minute, but fell behind against the run of play on 15 minutes as Jermaine Easter fired after some poor marking in the box. Rovers were reduced to ten men at the end of the first half when Easter was sent off after a dive in the area to try and win a penalty and then a follow-up little flick at McGuire. On 60 minutes, Mansfield were also reduced to ten men, as Pearce lashed out with a flailing arm into Tom Lockyer as the players waited for a corner to be taken, and then to compound it seemed to aim a kick at the player as he was down as well (though we’ve not seen the replay of that incident). It was a lack of discipline from Pearce that was costly in this game, and he will miss the next three as well. Pearce may have been frustrated as it seemed he had been fouled twice moments earlier but nothing was given. There was a melee as well following the sending off, in which Hunt was also booked and that was to become very costly on 77 minutes when Hunt picked up a second yellow card for a clear foul in the centre circle on Stuart Sinclair. Not particularly sensible from Hunt when he was already on a yellow card, and he immediately held his head in his hands as he knew what he’d done. However, despite being a man down, the Stags showed great character to equalise with Tafazolli’s goal. Jensen and Benning were injured as they collided on 88 minutes defending a through ball. Mansfield had used all three subs, and Jensen had to continue despite clearly being in distress after a long delay, and Mansfield already had Westcarr and Chapman in the back four. With Mansfield trying to hang on for a point, James Clarke crossed from the right and Taylor headed in, on 90+8 minutes. With a fit Jensen, and the normal back four, you wouldn’t have expected Rovers to score from the position. A sickener for the Stags and a game the team didn’t deserve to lose. Clearly there are implications for the upcoming games, with Pearce due to miss the next three, likely to be replaced by Collins we think, Hunt to miss the next game, likely to be replaced by Marsden, and Jensen and Benning clearly huge doubts as well.

It was Mansfield’s first home defeat of the season, and they remain in 4th position. With the spirit shown today by the players, and the encouragement from the fans, the Stags are still in a great place. On to Yeovil on Tuesday and a chance to bounce back.

Stats note: incredibly, the Rovers winner was the first goal Mansfield have conceded all season in the second half of a league game, apart from two penalties.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that beat Newport, and had played the same team for each of the previous three games, all of which were won. Mansfield lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Chapman and McGuire sitting behind Westcarr, Jack Thomas and Lambe. Bristol Rovers had also won three games on the trot, including a JPT game. Former Stags player Darrell Clarke was managing a club back at Field Mill for the first time. It was the first time the teams had met since the Stags won at the Memorial Stadium less than 18 months ago to send Bristol Rovers down to the Conference.

Mansfield started the game on the front foot. Inside the first minute, Jensen played a long ball forward, Jack Thomas cushioned a great header to his right giving Matt Green a clear sight of goal from inside the area and Green volleyed over the bar.

On 3 minutes, a long throw from Chapman from the left, Westcarr had a shot blocked, and the ball eventually came back to Chapman whose low shot from a tight angle on the left was saved by the keeper, with Jack Thomas annoyed that Chapman hadn’t played him in when he was better placed. It was a fast start from the Stags.

On 7 minutes, Sinclair crossed from the left and Easter glanced a header wide of the right post.

On 13 minutes, a great crossfield ball from Hunt and soon after a full blooded challenge from McGuire that the referee deemed was fair.

Rovers took the lead against the run of play on 15 minutes. Taylor crossed from the right, Leadbitter was given too much space by Pearce to chest down, and Easter escaped from Tafazolli to boot it into the roof of the net from 6 yards. Poor marking from the Stags defence.

A corner for Mansfield on 20 minutes. Chapman was about to take it from the right, with 5 Stags players in a scrum-type position on the edge of the area. After a delay with the referee talking to several players, Chapman’s kick was straight to Benning outside the area, who volleyed, it looked goalbound, was blocked, came back to him, and he fired a low shot that was going was wide before the keeper gathered it anyway.

A good move from Mansfield 30 minutes, ended with Benning’s cross into the keeper’s arms.

A minute later, a scramble and some pinball in the Rovers box with a mixup between Rovers keeper Nicholls and a defender but Mansfield couldn’t capitalise.

Mansfield were putting Rovers under some pressure.

Tafazolli left a backpass short on 40 minutes, Jensen’s clearance hit Leadbitter and could have gone anywhere, but fortunately ran clear.

Benning was booked on 43 minutes when he over-stretched for a challenge on James Clarke having slightly overrun the ball. Benning was already angry because he’d been penalised for what looked like a fair tackle moments earlier.

Rovers were reduced to ten men on 45+2 minutes. Chapman lost possession in midfield, Taylor got the ball to Easter, Easter burst into the area on the left, and threw himself to the floor in comical fashion under pressure from Tafazolli. With everyone expecting a yellow card, the referee did indeed take the yellow card out of his pocket, but as he was doing so, McGuire approached Easter, pulled his shirt, and Easter flicked out at McGuire. The referee did not show the yellow card and instead showed Easter the red card. From the replay it looked a little harsh on Easter.

A minute later at the other end, Green crossed from the left, and Chapman volleyed well wide.

Darrell Clarke was incensed as the teams came off for half time and had to be held back by a member of his coaching staff.

The Stags were unfortunate to be behind at the break, but with a one-man advantage for the second half, hopes were high for a comeback.

Half time 0-1

On 51 minutes, Murray made his first change with Yussuf replacing Jack Thomas, and switching to a 4-4-2 formation.

Clements then replaced McGuire, and Nathan Thomas replaced Lambe, on 55 minutes, as Mansfield retained the 4-4-2 formation.

Jensen was booked on 59 minutes for racing 20 yards to remonstrate with the linesman after a corner had been given to Rovers when Jensen thought he’d kept the ball in play.

Before the referee allowed the kick to be taken, he spoke to various players about shirt-pulling. With the corner still not taken, Pearce lashed out with a flailing arm into Tom Lockyer, and then to compound it seemed to aim a kick at the player as he was down as well. Pearce was immediately shown a straight red. Pearce may have been frustrated as it seemed he had been fouled twice minutes earlier but nothing was given. There was a melee following the sending off, in which Hunt and Rovers’ Harrison were also booked. Because the ball wasn’t in play, there was no penalty for Rovers despite Pearce’s foul, and the game restarted with the corner.

Mansfield regrouped with Chapman moving to centre-half in a 4-3-2 formation, and it was now ten against ten.

On 66 minutes, Yussuf was brought down inside the D. Clements took the free kick but put it over the bar.

On 72 minutes, Yussuf did well on the left, and crossed but Green didn’t anticipate it and didn’t get there. A minute later, Westcarr played a one-two with Yussuf and shot wide. A minute after that, Nathan Thomas turned and shot high and wide.

On 76 minutes, Nathan Thomas appealed for a penalty when he crossed and it hit a defender but the defender was only a couple of yards from him.

Mansfield were down to nine men on 77 minutes, when Hunt brought down Sinclair in the centre circle, for a clear second yellow card.

Mansfield regrouped again, with Westcarr dropping to right back and Green to right midfield.

Rovers had a goal disallowed on 78 minutes. Harrison crossed from the left and Taylor knocked in at the far post but was offside. Moments later, Harrison fired over the bar from 30 yards.

Mansfield equalised on 81 minutes. Westcarr found Benning, who crossed into the box, the ball was headed out as far as Tafazolli, just outside the box and he fired a cracking low shot into the bottom right corner of the net. Field Mill exploded with joy. It was a great goal from Tafazolli.

Rovers nearly regained the lead on 83 minutes as Harrison fired a great shot against the bar from 16 yards on the right.

Brave goalkeeping from Jensen on 88 minutes as he came out at the feet of Taylor, the ball ran loose and Tafazolli put it out for a corner. Jensen and Benning collided in the incident and both stayed down. Jensen was finally able to continue but looked very groggy, it looked like he was whacked in the head and in the leg. Benning was allowed to re-enter the pitch before play restarted for the corner presumably because Mansfield were so low on numbers.

8 minutes of stoppage were signalled but play didn’t restart until 2 minutes had already gone, so we’d have to play until 90+10.

On 90+8, and with Mansfield desperately trying to hang on for a point, James Clarke crossed from the right and Taylor headed in from close range. With a fit Jensen, and the normal back four, you wouldn’t have expected Rovers to score from the position.

A sickener for the Stags.

Time to lick our wounds and move on to the Yeovil game.

Man of the match: Mal Benning

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Line Up:
Jensen 7 Brave goalkeeping saw him get injured, and he did very well to battle on.
Hunt 7 Played well but blotted his copy book by getting himself sent off.
Pearce 5.5 Got himself sent in an off the ball incident.
Tafazolli 7 Great goal. Some good clearances.
Benning 7.5 Covered a lot of ground. Another volley from outside the box, this time blocked.
McGuire 6 Did ok.
Chapman 6 Gave the ball away a bit. Some good dead balls.
Westcarr 6.5 Had a shot blocked and another shot wide.
J.Thomas 7.5 The best player in the first half. Sacrificed for a change in formation.
Lambe 5.5 Didn’t contribute enough.
Green 5.5 Missed a good early chance and was disappointing.
Sub Line Up:
Yussuf (for J.Thomas, 51) 7 Lively, including winning a free kick on the edge of the box.
Clements (for McGuire, 55) 6 Did ok
N.Thomas (for Lambe, 55) 6.5 Did ok.
Subs not used: Shearer, Collins, Rose, Blair.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2): Nicholls; Lockyer, Parkes, James Clarke; Leadbitter (Harrison 46), Sinclair, Mansell (Gosling 84), Lines (Ollie Clarke 46), Brown; Taylor, Easter. Subs not used: Mildenhall, McChrystal, Blissett, Montano.
Mark Haywood 5.5 From what we saw, he got the two Stags sendings-off right, and may have been a bit harsh on Easter. His overall control of the game was poor though.

Season 15/16 Reports