{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 16,210 (389 from Mansfield)
Date: 24 October 2015


Martin Shaw at Fratton Park

It was second against fourth in the game of the day in League Two and Mansfield produced a very solid display to earn a point at Portsmouth. Portsmouth had more of the possession but a superb display in particular from the Stags defence restricted the home side to only a few clearcut chances. Lee Collins and Ryan Tafazolli were excellent at the heart of the Stags defence, and one challenge by Collins on Stevens just as Stevens was about to shoot was quite outstanding. Nicky Hunt and Blair Adams also produced very fine displays either side of the central defenders, with Hunt producing one fine block and Adams clearing off the line from a shot from Chaplin which was about as close as Portsmouth came. Behind the back four, Brian Jensen made one very good save, tipping over a shot from Davies, but he only had one other save to make which was a shot from Stevens that was straight at him. Once again Mansfield demonstrated today that we are extremely hard to beat and the accolade of conceding the equal fewest number of goals in League Two this season is well-earned. In truth Mansfield created little in terms of goalscoring opportunities today but the midfield and forward line worked extremely hard to keep hold of the ball. The Stags are now just a point behind the automatic promotion places, though drop one place to fifth.

The Stags arrived at Fratton Park never having won here and with the opportunity to add to those wins at Stevenage, Dagenham and Yeovil where we had never won until this season! Having said that Mansfield had never won here, we’d never lost here either, having drawn the previous three games.

Adam Murray made two changes to the side that won at Yeovil on Tuesday: back came Nicky Hunt from his one game suspension, and Chris Clements also returned to the starting XI after some substitute appearances following his injury. Out went Jack Thomas and Jamie McGuire. It started as a 4-4-2 formation with Hunt at right back, and Blair Adams, on loan from Notts County, continuing at left back. Mitch Rose moved from right back to right midfield. Craig Westcarr, back at the club he played for last season, partnered Matt Green up front. Portsmouth inexplicably had the prolific striker Matt Tubbs on the bench. The BBC Radio Solent commentator told me that Paul Cook has a bizarre reluctance to start Tubbs.

Portsmouth created the first chance on 4 minutes as Lavery played a low ball in from the left to the near post where Bennett fired wide and over from six yards.

A minute later at the other end excellent play by Green down the left, bulldozing his way past Burgess, cutting along the byline, and pulling it back for Westcarr, but before Westcarr was able to shoot, Doyle put it behind for a corner.

On 6 minutes, a Pompey ball in from the left from Stevens to Kal Naismith in the area and Naismith missed his kick. On 9 minutes, Stevens cut in from the left and fired straight into Jensen’s midriff from 10 yards. A minute later, a corner from the right by Davies and Naismith headed well over the bar. On 17 minutes, Davies pulled the ball back for Boco but it was just a little bit behind Boco and he skyed a shot over the bar.

On 22 minutes, Clements gave the ball away but then won it back with a great tackle on Bennett. On 25 minutes, a good ball over the top to Lavery and Hunt did very well to block his shot.

Portsmouth had been on top in the opening 25 minutes, but Mansfield stopped the flow of half chances until 39 minutes when there was good work from Lambe to stop a shot from Bennett on the edge of the D.

Hunt was booked on 41 minutes for an off the ball incident. The resulting free kick from the left hand side by Davies was curled in, drifted past everyone and just past the right post.

0-0 at the break. It had been mostly Pompey in the opening half hour with six half chances for the home side. Jensen was only tested by one shot straight at him while there was a good block by Hunt. Mansfield had created little going forward though Green had caused danger in the opening stages.

Half time 0-0

An early chance for Mansfield in the second half as Chapman sprayed a nice ball out to Westcarr, Westcarr pulled the ball back from near the corner flag to Adams, whose cross was headed back out by Webster to Chapman who fired over the bar from 25 yards.

Good play by Davies at the other end on 52 minutes and his cross from the right was very well headed away by Collins. On 57 minutes, Bennett tried a shot from the edge of the area which Collins blocked.

On 59 minutes, an outstanding challenge by Collins. Doyle slid a lovely ball forward into the area for Stevens and just as Stevens was about to shoot, Collins nicked the ball off him 8 yards from goal. It was right up there with the challenge by Benning at Notts County as the best last ditch challenge of the season. After the game, Collins told me he was delighted to make the challenge and that he’s played with Stevens before and he had some banter with Stevens after the game about the incident.

Matty Blair replaced Westcarr on 62 minutes. Blair slotted in to the right of midfield, Chapman was in front of the back four and Green on his own up front in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Rose was in central midfield alongside Clements, with Lambe on the left.

On 63 minutes, Lavery cut inside from the left and his cross was blocked by Chapman for a corner. Jensen was called into action from the resulting corner. The corner from Davies from the left hand side came back to him and his shot from a tight angle was very well tipped over by Jensen. A very good save. From the corner that followed that, Bennett headed well wide and over the bar. The Stags were under some pressure.

On 65 minutes, a long throw from Chapman was headed on by Tafazolli and claimed by the keeper under his bar. Two minutes later, Rose was brought down just to the right of the area. Chapman went for goal from the free-kick even though it was from a tight angle and his effort was deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner, the ball came out to Clements whose shot from 30 yards was blocked.

A free-kick for Portsmouth from 30 yards on 71 minutes. Davies took it and fired just wide of the left post with Jensen covering it all the way. Another Davies free-kick on 76 minutes was over the bar from a very tight angle.

Matt Tubbs replaced Lavery for the home side on 78 minutes. Quite extraordinary that he doesn’t make the starting eleven.

Nathan Thomas replaced Green on 79 minutes as Mansfield tried yet another formation, this time with nobody up front.

Portsmouth came very close on 81 minutes. A low ball in from Stevens from the left presented was well-controlled by Chaplin who was able to shoot from 6 yards. He beat Jensen’s outstretched leg but Adams was in the right place to clear off the line and behind for a corner. Great awareness from Adams. From the resulting corner, Burgess’ shot was brilliantly blocked by Tafazolli.

Jensen came out to the edge of his area to claim a ball over the top on 83 minutes.

Mansfield made the final change on 86 minutes as Yussuf replaced Lambe and it was back to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Yussuf up front.

On 87 minutes, Doyle shot well wide from 30 yards.

Blair was booked on 90 minutes. I wasn’t quite sure at the time what it was for but review of the DVD shows it was for time-wasting. It looks harsh from the DVD.

Only 5 minutes were added on after the long periods of stoppage time in the previous two games and this time, there was no late drama as Mansfield were pleased to come away with a hard earned point. The 389 visiting Stags fans gave great support throughout and showed their appreciation of a hard working performance at the final whistle.

A word on Portsmouth. Full backs Ben Davies and Enda Stevens were tremendous going forward and it’s to Mansfield’s credit that they were prevented from creating or scoring any goals.

Man of the match: Lee Collins

Report by: Martin Shaw at Fratton Park

Line Up:
Jensen 7.5 Made one very good save, tipping over a shot from Davies, but he only had one other save to make which was a shot from Stevens that was straight at him. Otherwise very little to do though was immaculate as usual.
Hunt 7.5 Fine display with one good block. Booked for an off-the-ball incident.
Collins 9 Excellent at the heart of the Stags defence. One challenge on Stevens as he was about to shoot was quite outstanding. Other headers away and blocks. If he continues like this, Pearce won’t get his place back.
Tafazolli 8.5 Another great performance.
Adams 8 Another very fine display following on from Tuesday. Great awareness to clear off the line from Chaplin.
Rose 7 Earned one free kick on the edge of the area on the right.
Chapman 7 Some nice possession, but did give the ball away a few times.
Clements 7 Worked very hard. Also gave the ball away but twice won it back with great determination.
Lambe 7 Not much joy going forward but tracked back well and one good block.
Westcarr 6.5 Did ok though didn’t really get into the game enough in my opinion.
Green 7 Worked very hard for the team and never stopped running. Excellent play early on to fashion a chance.
Sub Line Up:
Blair (for Westcarr, 62) 7 Looked good, showed great pace. Harshly booked for time wasting.
N.Thomas (for Green, 79) -
Yussuf (for Lambe, 86) -
Subs not used: Shearer, J.Thomas, McGuire, Beardsley.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle; Boco (Atangana 56), Bennett, Naismith (Chaplin 56); Lavery (Tubbs 78). Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Tollitt, McGurk.
Kevin Wright 7 Hardly noticed him, handled the game well.

Season 15/16 Reports