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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
0 - 2
 Exeter City
 Grant 6, Holmes 41
Attendance: 2435 (140 from Exeter)
Date: 24 November 2015


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were comfortably beaten by Exeter City at the One Call Stadium tonight. Mansfield had played so well on Saturday in beating Hartlepool on Saturday but the contrast tonight couldn’t have been more striking. Most notably, the wingplay from the Stags on Saturday through Nathan Thomas and also to a lesser extent from others, had been quite outstanding. Tonight Mansfield’s crossing was abysmal with almost every cross from open play failing to get past the first defender. Exeter took the lead after just six minutes as Holmes crossed from the left and Joel Grant knocked in from 6 yards. Poor defending from the Stags and an inquest followed the goal between the defenders. Mansfield grew into the game and were on top for about 25 minutes without creating many clearcut chances. The best chance fell to Krystian Pearce, who headed inches wide from a corner. That was on 35 minutes, and if it had gone in, the game might have panned out differently. But Exeter increased their lead on 41 minutes as Grant got past Rose on the left far too easily and squared to Holmes who stroked home left footed into the bottom right corner of the net. In the second half, the Stags rarely looked like getting back into the game and Exeter comfortably held on for a fine victory. One similarity from Saturday was that non-full-backs playing at full back were exploited by the opposition. On Saturday, it was the Stags who took advantage of Hartlepool having to play Harrison, not a full-back, at right back. Tonight it was Exeter, who exploited that Mansfield played Mitch Rose at right back. Credit to Exeter for a high quality away performance, breaking with purpose and defending very solidly. A great three days for Exeter after they won at leaders Plymouth on Saturday.

A bad night at the office for Mansfield, and that’s all it was I think. The Stags drop to 8th place, one point and one point outside the play-off zone. Still a great position to be in. On to Barnet on Saturday and our first ever visit to The Hive. Barnet are struggling away from home and lost 4-2 at Notts County tonight but they have a good home record having won 5 times, so it will be difficult. But Mansfield have a good record against teams in the bottom half of the table are well-capable of bouncing back from tonight. Come on Mansfield!

This was Mansfield’s 8th night match of the season, but only the first at home incredibly. Barring postponements, we only have two more night matches this season: one at home and one away, so will probably end the season with just two home night matches. Remarkable.

Adam Murray made two changes from the side that beat Hartlepool. Jamie McGuire came in for Chris Clements. Jack Thomas came in for Craig Westcarr. There was a place on the bench for youth team player Zayn Hakeem. As with Cain Smith a few weeks ago, reward for a youth team player for good performances, including scoring in the last FA Youth cup game. Liam Marsden had been recalled from loan at Guiseley but was not in the 18, perhaps suggesting that he’ll be going out on loan somewhere else to get game time (he barely got any game time at Guiseley). It started as a 4-4-1-1 formation with Jack Thomas behind Green.

Following some heavy showers in the afternoon, the pitch was very wet but as usual in very good condition.

On 4 minutes, Green chested down to Jack Thomas, who sent a low shot well wide.

Exeter were ahead on 6 minutes. Alex Nicholls fed a ball from the halfway line on the left touchline, down the line to Lee Holmes, with Mitch Rose too far up the pitch. Holmes had all the time in the world to pick a cross into the middle and find Joel Grant who got away from Blair Adams and fired into the net from 6 yards giving Jensen no chance. An inquest in the Stags defence followed. Poor defending all round but certainly far too much space for Holmes on the left wing to get a cross in.

On 12 minutes Green shot from 25 yards. It was going slightly wide by keeper Olejnik saved it anyway. At the other end on 18 minutes, Exeter had the ball in the net again but Grant was just offside before he slid the ball into the net.

On 19 minutes, Jack Thomas got into the area but his cross was blocked.

On 21 minutes, a Chapman corner from the left, Tafazolli claimed his shirt had been pulled but nothing was given.

McGuire put in a good tackle on the right touchline on 23 minutes but then gave away a free kick for obstruction as he shielded the ball beneath his legs as he was on the ground.

A chance for the Stags on 24 minutes. Jack Thomas got the ball to Lambe, whose shot was blocked. Lambe recycled the ball to Jack Thomas who had a chance to shoot but didn’t pull the trigger and the chance was gone.

Pearce was booked for a foul on 25 minutes.

On 30 minutes, Nathan Thomas turned inside onto his right foot and his shot was deflected wide of the left post. Had it been inside the post it would certainly have gone in with the keeper wrong-footed. From the resulting corner from the left, the ball came to back to Chapman who headed back into the area and McGuire looped a header just over the bar from a tight angle on the left.

At the other end on 34 minutes, Grant crossed from the right across the 6 yard box and Pearce did well to clear for a corner.

On 35 minutes, a run from Nathan Thomas and he lost the ball. It summed up a huge contrast form his performance on Saturday. Moments later he crossed from the left and a defender shanked behind for a corner, just past his own post.

From the resulting corner, on 35 minutes, Mansfield came within a whisker of equalising. Chapman took it from the left, and Pearce got in a clean header sending it inches wide of the left post.

Exeter made it 2-0 on 41 minutes. Grant got past Rose on the left far too easily and squared to Holmes, just inside the area, who stroked home left footed into the bottom right corner of the net. Again no chance for Jensen, and again poor defending from the Stags.

On 45+3 minutes, a free kick from Tom Nichols was wide of the left post.

So 2-0 to Exeter at the break. Exeter had started the game well but Mansfield had grown into the game and were on top for about 25 minutes without creating many clearcut chances. Exeter’s second goal was hammer blow for the Stags after the Stags had come within a whisker of equalising. Main talking points at the break were the poor defending for both goals, and the form of Nathan Thomas. He was poor after his excellent performance on Saturday, unable to beat his defender and every cross seemed to hit the first defender. He had been clattered early on the touchline in front of the West Stand, and whether that affected his performance, it’s hard to say. But Exeter will have targeted him deliberately after his excellent performance on Saturday.

Half time 0-2

A double change for the Stags at the break: Yussuf replaced Nathan Thomas. Clements replaced McGuire. The formation was now 4-1-3-2, with Chapman in front of the back four, Yussuf alongside Green up front, and behind them a midfield three of Jack Thomas on the right, Lambe in the middle, and Clements on the left.

On 47 minutes, good play by Jack Thomas and a good cross giving Clements a chance of a header at goal but he headed it away from goal and was penalised for a foul as well.

On 53 minutes, Adams crossed from the left, and Yussuf glanced a header wide of the right post.

Then on 54 minutes, Yussuf forward to Green, whose shot was going wide, it took a deflection and out for a corner.

Mansfield’s final substitution on 56 minutes, as Blair replaced Lambe.

On 59 minutes, a long throw from Chapman, Pearce headed backwards to Blair who volleyed well over the bar.

On 64 minutes, great play from Yussuf, controlling the ball on his chest, played it to Blair, and on to Clements, but Clements put in a poor cross.

Rose gave the ball away badly on 67 minutes with a terrible misplaced backpass, allowing Grant to feed Noble who fed Ryan Harley, and his shot was saved by Jensen.

On 71 minutes, Blair played the ball inside to Yussuf, who cut onto his left foot and his shot was deflected for a corner. Moments later, a Chapman corner was nodded down, and Yussuf’s shot was cleared for another corner. From that corner, Pearce’s shot was swept well wide of the right post.

A good move from the Stags on 75 minutes, the ball out to Jack Thomas on the left, and his shot goalwards was deflected over the bar. From the resulting corner from the left, Pearce headed towards the top right corner but the keeper plucked it out of the air.

Craig Woodman, former Stags loanee a decade or so ago, came on for Exeter to further shore up their defence.

On 80 minutes, Adams did well as Wheeler broke forward and Tafazolli slipped.

On 85 minutes, Adams put in a deep right footed cross, Green tried to head goalwards but couldn’t get enough on it. Yussuf’s follow-up cross was cleared

On 90 minutes, a low shot from Wheeler from the right and Jensen saved low down.

A minute later, Matty Blair ran the ball to the byline and instead of crossing let the ball run out for a goalkick. It summed up Mansfield’s night on the wing.

Moments later a good run by Jack Thomas into the box, but he slipped over. Then on 90+3 minutes, a Chapman corner was headed goalwards and the keeper claimed under his bar.

A real off day for the Stags. Some boos at the final whistle, as there had been at half time. No doubt that this was a poor performance, but some perspective is needed from the fans as to where we’ve come from last season to be 6th before this game. On to Barnet then. I’d expect to see one or two changes in the side, in particular, Lee Collins will surely come in for Rose at right back. Rose might get shifted into the midfield where his surging runs have been impressive this season.

Man of the match: Blair Adams

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

Line Up:
Jensen 6.5 No chance with the goals. A couple of fairly comfortable saves.
Rose 4 Exeter’s goals exposed Rose as not a natural full back.
Pearce 6 Came so close to an all important goal. Part of a disappointing defence.
Tafazolli 6 Did ok but part of a disappointing defence collectively.
Adams 6.5 Could have done better for the first goal. Otherwise did reasonably well.
Lambe 5 Didn’t get involved in the game enough.
McGuire 5.5 Didn’t make any mistakes, apart from his booking. And one good tackle. Didn’t add much to the side.
Chapman 6.5 Four good corners. Did ok.
N.Thomas 4 Poor after his excellent performance on Saturday, unable to beat his defender and every cross seemed to hit the first defender. He had been clattered early on the touchline in front of the West Stand, and whether that affected his performance, it’s hard to say.
J.Thomas 5.5 A couple of pieces of good play, but overall not up to the standards he has set himself.
Green 6 After the great service he got on Saturday, he got very little service this time.
Sub Line Up:
Yussuf (for N.Thomas, 46) 6.5 Livened things up a bit up front when he came on.
Clements (for McGuire, 46) 5.5 Strangely played on the left. Didn’t create much. A poor cross and poor header.
Blair (for Lambe, 56) 5 Did improve the standard of the crossing on the night. Couldn’t create anything.
Subs not used: Shearer, Collins, Westcarr, Hakeem.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Olejnik; Davies, Brown, Ribeiro, Moore-Taylor; Noble, Holmes (Oakley, 65), Harley, Nicholls; Nichols (Wheeler, 55), Grant (Woodman, 75). Subs not used: Morrison, Reid, Hamon, Tillson.
Oliver Langford

Season 15/16 Reports