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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Plymouth Argyle  
3 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Wylde 33, Brunt 36 pen, 84
Attendance: 7,494 (190 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 February 2016


Martin Shaw at Home Park

Mansfield Town were soundly beaten 3-0 at second placed Plymouth Argyle this afternoon, in a game in which the home side demonstrated the class that has seen them in the top 3 all season. Mansfield came into the game on the back of three straight wins followed by an excellent point at third placed Oxford on Tuesday night that had seen them risen to fourth in the table. But it was always a concern that Mansfield had played two tough games in 7 days while Plymouth hadn’t played any, and after the opening 15 minutes in which Plymouth shook off their rustiness, it was the home side who looked fresher and at times pulled a jaded-looking Stags apart, with the trio of Graham Carey, Ryan Brunt and Greg Wylde absolutely outstanding. Plymouth’s recent home form hasn’t been great and the home fans can apparently turn on their team if they don’t start well, so it was probably important for Mansfield to score the first goal here if they were going to take anything from the game. The best chance Mansfield had for an early lead was a great run forward from Mal Benning to the edge of the D and a shot just over the angle. Plymouth started to cause the Stags problems down the left wing with the excellent Gregg Wylde having a field day against right back Lee Collins. Wylde put in good crosses on 29 and 33 minutes, the latter bringing a save from Scott Shearer who pushed behind from Ryan Brunt for a corner. From the resulting corner, Plymouth took the lead, but it was Shearer who should have done better to prevent the goal. The corner came out to Wylde who fired goalwards low from 25 yards. Shearer got a strong hand on it but it still ended up in the bottom right corner of the net. And within 3 minutes, on 36 minutes, it was 2-0 through a penalty, Plymouth’s first for 39 games. Plymouth fans thought this was a long run, though of course it was nothing compared to Mansfield’s run of 85 league and cup games without a penalty awarded, which came to an end in August! I initially thought the penalty was awarded for Pearce pulling down Hartley and my view was that there was no foul, so I thought it was a poor decision. However after the game the two managers revealed that they had been told by the officials that it was a foul by Beardsley in the middle, which I did not see. From the video, it appears that Beardsley pulled his man Brunt down so a penalty was probably the right decision. Brunt buried the penalty into the left of the net. The home side’s confidence was up and the crowd was now right behind them. It was hard to see a way back which in the end proved right. The Stags had two real chances to get back into the game as Ryan Tafazolli headed against the woodwork twice. Firstly on 43 minutes he headed down and the ball rolled against the post and out. Then on 52 minutes he looped a header towards the roof of the net but somehow Brunt headed the ball from on the line against the underside of the bar and away. Unlucky for Tafazolli. In truth, Plymouth could have added several more goals but for some fine saves from Scott Shearer, who went some way to atoning for his error for the first goal. Plymouth did add a third on 84 minutes when right back Jervis crossed from the right and Brunt got ahead of Collins, now playing in central defence, to sweep home. Very disappointing for the Stags but no doubt that Plymouth were much the better side. Ryan Tafazolli and Jamie McGuire were in my opinion Mansfield’s best outfield players, and Scott Shearer made some fine saves, but he had made a rare error for Plymouth’s first goal. The Stags drop from 4th to 7th, and of course have been in the top 7 for more than half of the season. It’s Dagenham next Saturday at the One Call Stadium. The Stags should be refreshed by then and a chance to bounce back. Come on Mansfield!

Adam Murray made one change from the side that drew at Oxford, with Chris Beardsley returning in place of Reggie Lambe. The Stags started with a 4-1-3-2 formation, with McGuire in front of the back four, and Blair, Baxendale and Clements behind Green and Beardsley. The formation changed at the start of the second half to three central defenders, with sub Daniel Alfei and Mal Benning as wingbacks. Plymouth dropped Reuben Reid and Jake Jervis, with 17 goals between them this season, to the bench. But they welcomed influential midfielder Graham Carey back from injury.

Murray had to serve a one match touchline ban, and spent the 90 minutes in the directors’ box, in phone contact with his coaches on the bench. Before the game, he joked with the officials about where he could sit.

He was allowed on the pitch in the warm-up, and in the changing rooms before the game, at half time, and full time.

The Home Park pitch, previously so good and laid at a cost of £1million for a failed World Cup bid, is now in poor condition. It became covered in an algae early in the winter and the algae had to be scraped off leaving it looking like a scarified paddy field. Mansfield had not won in 10 previous attempts at Home Park, indeed our only win here in 16 attempts was in 1978. Today was to get no better.

Plymouth had the first corner of the game on 6 minutes which Carey lifted on to the roof of the net. Two minutes later, the first chance of the game came for the home side. A diagonal ball into the Stags box from the left, Brunt turned and his left footed shot was across Shearer and past the right post. On 10 minutes, Tanner shot well wide from 28 yards.

On 13 minutes, a great break forward from Benning after Green had squared to him just inside the Plymouth half. Benning got to the edge of the D and sent a right footed shot just over the angle of crossbar and post. A fine effort.

Great strength by Beardsley on 15 minutes to get the ball to Green on the left but Forster did well to play it off Green and out for a free kick.

Benning was booked on 17 minutes. His ball forward from the halfway line had hit Tanner who hared forward and Benning brought him down.

On 22 minutes, Tafazolli played a good ball into the box, it was cleared to Blair, who squared to Green who turned and shot but it was blocked. On 25 minutes, Sawyer crossed for Tanner who headed well wide - this coming after Clements had been impeded getting to the ball by the referee.

On 28 minutes, a Plymouth free kick clearly skimmed off a Plymouth head and behind but the officials gave a corner. Tafazolli was incensed at the decision. From the resulting corner, Wylde volleyed miles over the bar.

On 29 minutes, Wylde broke down the left and put a low ball into the middle where Tafazolli made a great tackle to put it behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, there was a scramble and a late boot from a Plymouth player on Shearer. The referee rightly gave a free kick but wrongly did not produce a yellow card.

On 33 minutes, Wylde got down the left again and crossed into the middle where Brunt forced Shearer to tip the ball wide. But, following the resulting corner, the ball came out to Wylde 25 yards from goal. He fired goalwards, Shearer got a strong hand on it but couldn’t keep it out. He should have done better. A very rare goal that the Stags have conceded this season that has come from a goalkeeping error.

It was a huge blow for Mansfield to concede the first goal and, just three minutes later, on 36 minutes, Plymouth scored again, through a penalty, with what turned out to be a killer blow. I initially thought the penalty was awarded for Pearce pulling down Hartley and my view was that there was no foul, so I thought it was a poor decision. However after the game the two managers revealed that they had been told by the officials that it was a foul by Beardsley in the middle, which I did not see. From the video, it appears that Beardsley pulled his man Brunt down so a penalty was probably the right decision. Brunt buried the penalty into the left of the net.

On 38 minutes, Clements managed to create a yard for a shot but it was blocked. Straight to the other end, Wylde got down the left again, put another ball into the middle and Brunt’s shot was blocked for a corner. A minute later, yet another cross from the left and Brunt headed against the post. Moments later, from a corner, McHugh back-heeled goalwards and it was cleared.

Beardsley appeared to be elbowed in the face on 41 minutes by Hartley. The referee awarded a free kick. When Beardsley finally got up, he was absolutely fuming, but astonishingly, the referee did not book Hartley, and that was to become significant just a few minutes later.

Benning took the free kick from 40 yards out and it was fumbled by keeper McCormick for a corner.

On 43 minutes, it was the Stags turn to hit the post as Tafazolli headed down from a Benning corner from the left and it rolled against the post.

On 45+3 minutes, Hartley fouled Beardsley again and this time was booked. Clearly he should have been booked earlier.

2-0 to Plymouth at the break and, in truth, Plymouth well on top.

Half time 2-0

A change in formation for Mansfield at the break, switching to three at the back with two wingbacks. Daniel Alfei replaced Baxendale. Collins moved from right back to the centre of three central defenders with Pearce on his right and Tafazolli on his left. Alfei was at right wingback and Benning left wingback, McGuire and Clements were in central midfield, with Blair behind Beardsley and Green. The change was brought about to try and stop Plymouth creating havoc down the flanks.

On 51 minutes, Wylde got the ball in to Threlkeld from the left, Threlkeld turned and fired wide of the left post.

On 52 minutes, Blair won a corner on the right. Benning’s corner looked like it might dip under the bar and the keeper did well to tip it over. From the resulting corner from the left, Tafazolli looped a header that was heading into the net until Brunt headed it on the line against the underside of the bar and away. Moments later, McGuire shot wide from 23 yards out in a central position. A good minute for the Stags who really needed a goal.

Yussuf replaced Beardsley on 53 minutes.

Almost immediately, Green chased the ball down the left, retrieved it and played a lovely ball in with the outside of his right boot. Yussuf met it but fired well wide.

Jack Thomas replaced Blair on 56 minutes. Nothing much had gone right for Blair.

On 57 minutes, a good cross in from Alfei, the keeper punched away as far as Jack Thomas who was about to shoot when the ball was nicked off his toe. A minute later at the other end, a corner from the left by Carey, and Forster headed towards the roof of the net where Shearer claimed easily. On 60 minutes, Tanner fired over from 28 yards.

A minute later, a ball through the middle found Threlkeld clean through on goal but Shearer was out well to save one-on-one. The ball was played straight back in. Threlkeld headed goalwards again and Shearer saved again. On 63 minutes, another great break from Wylde down the left and Benning intercepted in the middle.

On 71 minutes, Forster crossed from the right and Brunt headed straight at Shearer. Straight to the other end and McGuire fired wide from 25 yards.

By now, Alfei was pushing forwards almost as a right midfielder with Pearce virtually as right back.

On 73 minutes, Yussuf got into the box but played a terrible ball in. It was cleared to Alfei whose cross nearly caught out the keeper who just saved on his line. On 74 minutes, a ball in from Forster, Wylde shot towards the right corner of the net and Shearer tipped it wide with a fine save.

A half chance for the Stags came on 76 minutes. A long ball forward was missed by a Plymouth defender, Green broke forward and squared to Yussuf but Yussuf’s first touch was terrible and the chance was gone. A minute later at the other end, Carey pushed forward after a mistake by McGuire and shot towards the bottom left corner of the net where Shearer saved right handed. Another good save.

Clements was booked for bringing down Carey on 79 minutes just after he had given the ball away needlessly. Carey took the resulting free kick from 24 yards and fired wide of the right post. Tafazolli made a good tackle on Brunt on 83 minutes.

It was 3-0 on 84 minutes. Jervis crossed from the right, without enough pressure form Benning, and Brunt got ahead of Collins to stab in from close range. It capped a bad day for Collins.

The Stags nearly had a consolation goal on 86 minutes. Jack Thomas put Yussuf away on the right and his low cross was shanked inches past his own post by a defender. From the resulting corner from the right, the keeper fumbled and then claimed on his line.

On 88 minutes, a free kick for Plymouth from a tight angle on the right and Carey fired straight at Shearer. A minute later, Carey crossed from the right and Brunt headed just wide from three yards. It was a glorious opportunity to claim his hat-trick.

On 90+3 minutes, Benning crossed from the left, Yussuf swung a leg at it but mis-cued straight to the keeper.

A very disappointing result, but as Adam Murray said after the game, this was probably a game too far for the Stags after the recent exertions (while Plymouth had not been playing).

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli

Report by: Martin Shaw at Home Park

Line Up:
Shearer 6 At fault for the first goal in my opinion. But made four good saves to partly atone.
Collins 5 A bad day. Given the run around by the outstanding Wylde when at right back. Then at fault in the centre when Brunt got in front of him for the third goal.
Pearce 6 Did ok.
Tafazolli 8 The pick of the defenders. And so unlucky with two headers against the woodwork.
Benning 7 Some good crosses, and one great break forward and shot over the angle.
McGuire 7 Did well and some good clearances.
Blair 5.5 Not much went right for him. Looked tired when subbed, a product of much running and many games lately.
Baxendale 5.5 Quiet first half. Subbed at half time.
Clements 6 Not too influential.
Beardsley 5 Gave away the penalty. Hartley should have been sent off for fouls on him. Showed strength, but not his day.
Green 6 Worked hard to the end despite obviously having nothing left in the tank, and had to take on some sort of energy thing as the game wore on.
Sub Line Up:
Alfei (for Baxendale, 46) 6.5 Decent half.
Yussuf (for Beardsley, 53) 5 Touch let him down and played poorly.
J.Thomas (for Blair, 56) 6 Did ok.
Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, Kavanagh, Lambe.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Luke McCormick; Jordon Forster, Curtis Nelson (capt), Peter Hartley, Gary Sawyer; Carl McHugh, Oscar Threlkeld; Craig Tanner (Jake Jervis 65), Graham Carey, Gregg Wylde (Ben Purrington 85); Ryan Brunt (Reuben Reid 89).Substitutes: Kelvin Mellor, Daniel Nardiello, James Bittner (gk), Louis Rooney.
Referee: Brendan Malone 5.5 Probably got the penalty right thanks to his linesman who spotted it. Should have booked Hartley twice in the first half. One or two other poor decisions.

Season 15/16 Reports