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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Crawley Town  
0 - 1
 Mansfield Town
 Beardsley 60
Attendance: 1981 (164 from Mansfield)
Date: 30 January 2016


Martin Shaw at the Checkatrade.com Stadium, Broadfield Stadium

Mansfield Town made it two away wins in 4 days with a well-deserved 1-0 win at Crawley this afternoon. The Stags were the better side for almost of all of the game, creating chances going forward, and looking rock solid at the back. Chris Beardsley scored the only goal of the game with a header from a clever corner by the returning Mal Benning. Crawley had won 7 out of their last 9 home games (while losing 5 consecutive away games), and should have been buoyed by morning news of being on the verge of a long-awaited takeover. And while Mansfield had had a tough game on a heavy pitch in midweek, Crawley had had no midweek game. But instead it was the Stags who took it to Crawley with a very strong first half performance, dominating completely, but unable to take three great chances as Matt Green missed two one-on-ones, one thwarted by a superb save, and Matty Blair had a great effort well-saved. Benning looked like he had not been away, despite being out with injury for 3.5 months. Mansfield finally got the goal that the domination deserved, from their 9th corner, on 60 minutes. Benning had been lifting high balls into the box from previous corners, but the three big defenders hadn’t been having much joy getting on the end of the them, so he signalled that he was going to whip in a faster lower one. Beardsley read it, with a run from the penalty spot, and headed home at the near post. It was a great moment for Beardsley who has missed most the season with a frustrating injury. Baxendale nearly increased the lead on 73 minutes with a brilliant curling shot which the keeper did well to tip over. It was inevitable that Crawley would finally have a period of pressure in the game, which they then did putting a lot of balls into the Stags box in the closing 15 minutes. The Stags defence stood up to it superbly, in contrast to the last game in the South-East at AFC Wimbledon two weeks ago when we were bullied out of it. Matt Green made things harder for his team-mates, picking up a silly second yellow card trying to stop a throw-in with his hand, giving the referee no choice but to send him off, on the stroke of 90 minutes. But the rest of the team stood firm, and with almost the last kick of the game, Blair should have made it 2-0 as he ran through for another one-on-one with no defender anywhere near him, but allowed the keeper to make the save. It didn’t matter and the Stags fans were able to celebrate the 8th away win of the season. Only Plymouth, with 9 wins, have won more away games. A really strong away performance, with all four defenders rock solid. Particularly pleasing to see Benning do so well on his return. McGuire, sitting in front of the back four, was immense. Blair, Clements and Baxendale played well and all put in a defensive shift too. Scott Shearer also made a good save when he needed to. Not surprisingly Crawley’s man of the match was their goalkeeper Callum Preston, who kept the score down. The Stags are back in to the top 7, where we have spent precisely half of the season, (though we have now played more games than some of the other teams around us). Time to get a win at home now next week, which we can do with everyone’s full backing. The team deserve a rousing reception at home after these two hard-earned away victories. Come on Mansfield!

Nicky Hunt didn’t travel with the squad, and will sign for Leyton Orient in the next 24 hours if Hunt can agree personal terms and pass a medical. Hunt of course played with Orient’s new manager Kevin Nolan at Bolton for a number of years. Murray said the deal is a very good one for Mansfield but he also didn’t want to stand in Hunt’s way as he looks at the next stage in his career. If the deal goes through, Murray has a replacement lined up, which will be announced in the next 48 hours.

The return of Mal Benning for Hunt (with Collins switching from left back to right back) was the only change to the side that started at Morecambe. Great news to have Benning back after his stellar form just before he got injured. The formation of 4-1-3-2 remained unchanged, with McGuire sitting in front of the back four. Scott Shearer in goal was returning to his former club. Collins was the new captain, replacing Hunt. Rose replaced Lambe on the bench.

It was beautiful sunny and cold day in West Sussex. The pitch wasn’t in great condition, probably more bobbly than any we’ve seen in League Two this season. It was Mansfield’s first game here at the Broadfield Stadium for nearly five years, and all three games the Stags have played here were in the Conference. Since then, Crawley have been up to League One of course. Crawley had won 7 out of their last 9 home games. Only Northampton had a better recent home record than that.

Mansfield started positively. All the play was in the Crawley half in the early stages. Beardsley won a corner on 4 minutes. Clements took it to the nearside of the area where Baxendale stole in and his shot was blocked at source.

On 8 minutes, a strong tackle by Pearce, just outside his own area. Moments later, Edwards scuffed a shot well wide from 25 yards.

On 9 minutes, Shearer’s long goal kick was flicked on by Green for Beardsley to chase but the keeper Callum Preston was out quickly to head away.

On 11 minutes, Green won a corner. The corner from Clements was headed away. Two minutes later, a free kick from Clements into the area, and the keeper just about managed to punch away.

On 18 minutes, Baxendale played a good ball down the left, and Blair did well to win a corner. The corner from Clements was met by Tafazolli who was under pressure and could only head into the keeper’s arms.

A strong start from the Stags, right on top.

On 20 minutes, Yorwerth crossed from the left and a good strong header away by Tafazolli under pressure. Then great play by Benning on 23 minutes, moving across the pitch from left to right in the Crawley half, feeding Collins on the right wing, but Collins wasted possession with a cross behind for a goal kick.

On 25 minutes, the Stags could have been in front. A good clearance by Collins inside his own area, then Baxendale lofted into the Crawley half, Lewis Young tried to head away under pressure from Matt Green. Young headed the ball against Green who surged into the area, one-on-one with keeper Preston and fired towards the left corner of the net, but Preston made a great save with his legs deflecting it wide.

On 28 minutes, Green won another corner. Benning took over set piece duties. The corner was cleared and McGuire did well as Crawley broke. On 30 minutes, a low shot from Edwards was easily saved by Shearer.

On 30 minutes, the Stags should have been in front again. A great ball over the top by Blair, Green did well to get into a one-on-one situation but fired wide as Preston narrowed the angle. There was a suggestion the ball may have bobbled on the tricky pitch, but Green knows he should have scored.

Another great chance for the Stags on 33 minutes. Green headed down to Blair, who made a wonderful run down the left, cut inside past a couple of defenders and fired a shot across the keeper to the far post, but again Preston made a fine save pushing the ball away. The ball hit Green and straight back into the grateful keeper’s arms.

On 37 minutes, a 40 yard free-kick from Clements was cleared, put back into the mixer by Clements and Green couldn’t get the ball to drop for him. But the ball was out for another corner, which Benning took and which came to nothing.

On 43 minutes, a good clearance by McGuire, Green broke, played to Beardsley on the right, but his cross was poor.

Just before the break, a good tackle by Benning, who was having a fine game.

A very strong first half performance from Mansfield, who should have been at least one goal ahead. Crawley fans that I earwigged in the toilets at half time were disappointed that their side were being completely outplayed and outpassed.

Half time 0-0

On 46 minutes, a good tackle by Pearce and then by Collins as Crawley put a ball over the top to Matt Harrold.

A chance for Beardsley on 55 minutes. Beardsley played to Baxendale on the right, Baxendale crossed back in and Beardsley headed straight at the keeper. Then a good move on 57 minutes as Collins surged down the right, Baxendale played across to Blair who curled the ball forward but the keeper got there before Green, who was flagged offside anyway. Moments later, another good tackle by McGuire.

Benning won another corner. Benning took it himself from the right, it was headed away but Blair won another corner. Benning again took it, Collins headed towards the roof of the net and the keeper tipped it over.

Benning took the resulting corner, from the right, this was now the Stags 9th corner of the game, on 60 minutes, and from it, they took the lead. This time, Benning whipped the corner in faster and lower. Beardsley read it, with a run from the penalty spot, and headed home at the near post.

On 62 minutes, a mistake by Pearce, but he recovered well to put behind for a corner. Meanwhile the Stags’ 10th corner on 67 minutes by Benning from the left, was just about cleared.

A Crawley corner from the left on 71 minutes and Yorwerth headed wide and over.

Baxendale nearly increased the lead on 73 minutes as Green fed back to him and he fired a brilliant curling shot which the keeper did well to tip over. Benning took the corner from the left, which the keeper claimed.

Simon Walton tried to win a corner on 75 minutes but strong play by Green to hold him off.

The first change for Mansfield on 76 minutes with Beardsley running out of steam, to be replaced by Jack Thomas.

Green was booked on 77 minutes for jumping with his arms raised and felling Walton. McGuire was harshly punished as the referee awarded Crawley a free kick 30 yards out, in a central position on 80 minutes. Walton dinked the ball into the area, and Green cleared.

Shearer made a good save on 81 minutes to keep the Stags in front. Walton dinked a ball from the left towards the far post and Shearer made an important save tipping away. Crawley were now racking up the corners themselves and putting plenty of balls into the Stags box.

Rose replaced Baxendale on 82 minutes. Rose was straight into the action. Collins played a good ball down the right, Rose got to the byline and won a corner. From the corner, Green tried to head goalwards but it was blocked at source, the ball came to Rose whose shot was deflected wide for yet another Stags corner. From it, Crawley broke to the far end and there was brilliant tracking back by Clements to put behind for a Crawley corner from Edwards. From the corner from the right, Sonny Bradley headed just over. It was the first time in the game the Stags defence had really been breached.

Benning had just gone down, with a bit of cramp. Taking no chances, he was immediately replaced by Kavanagh on 86 minutes. Kavanagh slotted in at left back.

On 87 minutes, a ball up to Green, he tried to turn and lay the ball off but lost the ball. It was a frustrating afternoon for him.

On 89 minutes, Deacon had a shot blocked by Tafazolli then McGuire blocked a follow-up shot for a corner. On the stroke of 90 minutes, a moment of madness by Green as he jumped and tried to stop a throw-in with his hand, giving the referee no choice but to send him off with a second yellow card.

A minute later, a great break by Blair as he broke to the far end following a Crawley corner. On 90+4 a real scramble in the Stags box was cleared, the Stags players putting their bodies on the line to make sure the ball went nowhere near the goal.

On 90+5 and following another Crawley corner that was well-defended including a block by Jack Thomas, Blair should have made it 2-0 as he ran through for another one-on-one with no defender anywhere near him, but allowed the keeper to make the save. It didn’t matter and the Stags fans were able to celebrate another away win.

Mansfield’s ruthlessness against the teams in the bottom half of the table continues: 12 wins, two draws and two defeats against the teams in the bottom half (both defeats were against Luton). 17 games to go, 8 against teams in the bottom half. And, whisper it quietly, 8 more wins, with a few draws thrown in, would see us pretty close to getting into the play-offs.

Well done to Adam Murray, his management team and especially to the players for such a superb recovery in these two away games after the poor showing against Luton. Time to get a win at home now next week, which we can do with everyone’s full backing. The team deserve a rousing reception at home after these two hard-earned victories. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Jamie McGuire

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Checkatrade.com Stadium, Broadfield Stadium

Line Up:
Shearer 7 One good save and safe handling.
Collins 7.5 Some good tackles and good play going forward down the right. Had a header tipped over. His best game at right back.
Pearce 7.5 Some strong tackles. One mistake from which he recovered.
Tafazolli 7.5 Good defending. One particularly strong header away.
Benning 8 Looked like he’d not been away. Great corner for the goal.
McGuire 8 Immense performance sitting in front of the back four.
Baxendale 7 Fine game. Great shot tipped over by the keeper.
Clements 7 His tracking back when Crawley broke in the second half was one of the best pieces of tracking back this season. Absolute determination to get back.
Blair 7 Some great breaks. Unlucky with good first half effort, but should have scored in stoppage time.
Beardsley 7 Worked hard at both ends of the pitch. His first goal of the season, after such frustration with injury, was a big moment for him, and hugely important.
Green 5 Did well to get into position for two one-on-ones but should have got on the scoresheet. Was a handful often occupying several defenders, but his moment of madness in getting sent off could have been costly today, and means he’ll be missing for one game next week.
Sub Line Up:
J.Thomas (for Beardsley, 76) -
Rose (for Baxendale, 82) -
Kavanagh (for Benning, 86) -
Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, Westcarr, Yussuf.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Preston; Young (Fenelon 72), Yorwerth, Bradley, G Smith; Bawling, Walton, Jenkins (Atkinson 72), Edwards; Barnard (Deacon 64), Harrold. Subs not used: Little, Rooney, Ashton, Tomlin.
Graham Horwood 7 Not too much controversy. Got the two yellows for Green right.

Season 15/16 Reports