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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Wycombe Wanderers  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Harriman 69
Attendance: 5003 (216 from Mansfield)
Date: 25 March 2016


Martin Shaw at Adams Park

Mansfield Town fell to a fourth 1-0 defeat in 5 games at Wycombe this afternoon and were undoubtedly beaten by the better side. The only goal of the game was a fluke as Michael Harriman’s low cross from the right on 69 minutes sneaked in at the far post. But it was also a result of poor defending as Harriman beat Mal Benning not once but twice, too easily, before putting his cross in. Benning was also at fault for the only goal of the game in the last away game at Bristol Rovers and he needs to quickly regain his form from before his injury. Wycombe started the game on top in the opening 20 minutes, and the Stags relied on excellent defending from Tafazolli and Pearce to stay in the game. Mansfield then had their best spell of the game in the remainder of the first half, more than matching Wycombe for that spell but the closest they came to scoring was a good ball forward by Matty Blair to Chris Clements who tried to beat the keeper from close range but the keeper was just able to block it. The Stags just about deserved to be level at the break but the second half was a different matter as Wycombe dominated the game, though it wasn’t until after the goal that Wycombe started creating plenty of chances and could have won by more, with McGinn hitting the post and Shearer saving well from O’Nien. The Stags were depressingly poor going forward and just had one double chance in the second half as Rose’s shot was blocked and Clements’ follow-up shot was also blocked. A poor second half showing from Mansfield. Not many Stags players come out of the game with much credit: Tafazolli was excellent throughout the game, and Pearce alongside him played well. Alfei had a decent game at right back, as did Collins in front of the back four, and Shearer made a couple of good saves. But too many players didn’t contribute enough in terms of quality, notably all the players looking to push forward from midfield, Rose, Clements and Blair, and the front two. Wycombe were good at what they did and look to a good bet to get into the play-offs. The Stags are looking very low on confidence, and it will take a hugely improved performance from this to get a win over Northampton on Monday. The Stags drop another place to 14th and are 8 points behind the play-offs. This run of four 1-0 defeats in 5 games has probably finished any realistic chances of getting into the play-offs. But there is still much to play for and it’s important to finish the season with better results than we’ve seen lately.

Mansfield made one change to the side that drew with Portsmouth. Blair returned from illness in place of Kavanagh. Youngster Zayn Hakeem travelled with the squad to gain experience though was not in the 18. Wycombe had won three straight home games coming into this game, and boosted the crowd to over 5,000 with reduced admission for home fans.

The Stags started with the same 4-1-3-2 formation as against Portsmouth. Loanee Mani Dieseruvwe again partnered Matt Green up front. Rose (right), Clements, and Blair (left) were in front of Collins who was in front of the back four. Blair often got back during the first half to help out Benning at left back. During the second half, in an attempt to produce more going forward, Mansfield sent on Colin Daniel in place of Blair and he went into a front 3. It was only a few minutes later that Benning was beaten too easily for the goal. I mentioned this point to manager Adam Murray afterwards and he, quite rightly, responded that Benning shouldn’t need to rely on Blair to help him out.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. The warmest day of the year.

In the opening minutes there was a hard but fair challenge by Rose on Wood. It was only a few yards in front of me and Rose got all of the ball, with the man behind it. The referee gave a free kick. Jacobson’s free kick missed everyone and went out for goal-kick. Wood had to be replaced a few minutes later on 7 minutes, as Ryan Sellers came on.

On 9 minutes, Jacobson’s corner from the left reached Pierre whose volley was blocked inside the area.

Some good early headers away by Tafazolli.

On 14 minutes, another good header away by Tafazolli, this time from a long throw-in.

On 17 minutes, good skill by Thompson to get in a shot on the turn from 22 yards but it was straight at Shearer. Two minutes later, veteran Paul Hayes sent in a snapshot from 30 yards wide of the post with Shearer untroubled.

The Stags had had several opportunities to get forward in the opening 20 minutes but lost the ball unnecessarily.

On 22 minutes, Rose played forward to Blair on the left but his pass was overhit and by the time Blair crossed the ball had gone out for a goal-kick. A minute later, a great ball forward from Dieseruvwe to Green who would have been clear through on goal but he was given offside. Video evidence shows Green was half a yard offside as he set off on his run just too early.

On 24 minutes, a great header by Dieseruvwe that eventually reached Blair, Blair played a fine ball forward to Clements, Clements tried to squeeze the ball past the keeper from close range but the keeper blocked it. It was a great chance to score.

On 26 minutes, Harriman got to the byline past Benning and Blair, and his cross was headed away by Tafazolli. The ball was recycled and an acrobatic overhead kick by Thompson was blocked by Tafazolli.

On 31 minutes, McCarthy crossed from the right and a header by Thompson was tipped over the bar by Shearer. I think it was going over the bar anyway, but Shearer couldn’t take any chances and made a good save. A minute later good defending by Pearce under pressure as Wycombe broke down the left.

A chance for the Stags on 34 minutes. A free kick from Benning was over Tafazolli at the far post on the right. Tafazolli chased after it, turned back onto his left foot and crossed back in to Green who side-footed wide of the left post from the left. It was a great cross from Tafazolli and a decent chance for Green.

On 35 minutes, Dieseruvwe pushed forward and had Clements in space on his left but couldn’t reach him. Then Green got down the right, and crossed towards Dieseruvwe but it was well cleared by the Wycombe defence.

On 40 minutes, good play by Clements on the left, beating one man and cutting back onto his right foot, but his cross was over everyone.

On 42 minutes, with the Stags pushing forward, a terrible ball by Blair gifted possession to Wycombe who broke straight to the other end but a cross into the middle was straight to Shearer. Really poor stuff from Blair.

On 44 minutes, Clements took a free kick quickly in the middle of the park. It crashed straight into a Wycombe player a yard from the ball. The referee waved play-on. Last week, an identical incident in the Stags game against Portsmouth saw the referee book Rose for not retreating quickly enough.

A good first half for Tafazolli and Pearce in particular after Wycombe had dominated the opening 20 minutes, but from 20-45 minutes the Stags were right back in the game more than matching Wycombe, and offering plenty of hope for the second half. I thought Wycombe were allowed too much joy down their right hand side to get crosses in, with Benning often having Blair to help him out but still not stopping the crosses coming in.

Half time 0-0

On 46 minutes, Thompson tried his luck from 30 yards and his sliced effort was only just wide of the right post. A minute later, yet another header away by Tafazolli, this time from a corner. On 51 minutes, good defending by Tafazolli as Hayes ran on to a ball over the top.

Moments later a high cross into the middle and McCarthy blasted wide from close range. It looked like a glorious chance missed but the offside flag was up.

On 58 minutes, Blair clipped a ball forward to Green but Green couldn’t reach it. It was the first time we’d seen the Stags going forward in the second half, with Wycombe very much on top.

On 60 minutes, a shot from McGinn was blocked by Alfei on the edge of the box and it poleaxed Alfei.

Colin Daniel replaced Blair on 62 minutes. Daniel got cheers from the home fans who sang “Colin Daniel is our king, he hates Rovers”. Daniel of course scored the Stags goal which beat Bristol Rovers on the last day of the season two years ago to send Rovers down and keep Wycombe in the Football League.

Daniel went up front alongside Green and Dieseruvwe in a three man attack. The formation was 4-1-2-3. It was a clear intent by the manager that we needed to win the game, with Mansfield having offered nothing going forward in the second half.

Immediately, on 63 minutes, Mansfield had a double chance to score. First Rose’s low shot hit Daniel, after Green had broken down the right, it came out to Clements, whose shot was also blocked.

On 65 minutes, Daniel and Benning won the Stags first corner of the second half. Clements took it from the left but it was cleared and Wycombe broke straight to the other end, Hayes squared to Ryan Sellers whose shot from 25 yards was blocked.

Wycombe took the lead on 69 minutes, and it was a fluke as Michael Harriman’s low left-footed curling cross from the right sneaked in at the far post. But it was also a result of poor defending as Harriman beat Mal Benning not once but twice, too easily, before putting his cross in. Had Mansfield not substituted Daniel on for Blair a few minutes earlier and sent Daniel up front, then based on what we’d seen earlier, Blair would probably have been back helping out Benning at left back. I mentioned this point to manager Adam Murray afterwards and he, quite rightly, responded that Benning shouldn’t need to rely on Blair to help him out.

Wycombe nearly extended their lead on 71 minutes as a great shot from McGinn from 25 yards hit the base of the left post, with Shearer beaten. Jacobson fired the rebound over the bar.

At the other end on 73 minutes, a free kick from Clements into the box was cleared, and a high ball back into the box was just about punched away by the keeper under pressure from Green.

Wycombe brought on Aston Villa U21 striker Jerell Sellars on 77 minutes, in place of Thompson.

Mansfield brought on Kavanagh for Rose. The formation reverted to 4-1-3-2, as Daniel moved to the right of midfield and Kavanagh to the left.

On 81 minutes, a shot from Hayes inside the box hit Benning and went out for a corner. It was going wide anyway.

Mansfield brought on Jack Thomas for Benning on 84 minutes. Kavanagh dropped in at left back. The left back position is currently a problem. I don’t think Kavanagh has the physical presence to play at left back in League Two and Benning is too out of form. I would put Collins back there in the short term.

On 85 minutes, a close range shot from O’Nien was well-saved by Shearer, and Jerell Sellars blasted the rebound over the bar, flicking the top of the bar on the way.

On 86 minutes, trickery by O’Nien on the left byline, and a shot from a tight angle which was put behind by Shearer. Another decent save.

6 minutes of stoppage time added on. In the final of those 6 minutes, a Clements free kick form the halfway line was flicked on to Green but a defender put it behind for a corner before Green could capitalise.

Disappointment at the full time whistle. A poor second half performance from Mansfield, which deserved nothing and got nothing.

I’ve read some Stags fans saying they think the players didn’t put in enough effort. I disagree with that. The problem is a huge lack of confidence at the moment and many of the players simply not playing well enough, and not playing well enough as a team. I couldn’t look at one player and say they were not giving everything.

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli

Report by: Martin Shaw at Adams Park

Line Up:
Shearer 7 Good save late on from O’Nien and a couple of other decent saves.
Alfei 7 Decent game.
Pearce 7 Defended well.
Tafazolli 9 Excellent game. Many headers away and generally defended very well. One very good cross in the first half to set up a chance for Green.
Benning 4 We need the Benning back from before his injury. He was defending well and pushing forward with purpose. He’s doing neither of those things now. For the second away game running, his mistake was responsible for the only goal of the game. The left back position is currently a problem. I don’t think Kavanagh has the physical presence to play at left back in League Two and Benning is too out of form. I would put Collins back there in the short term.
Collins 7 Solid in front of the back four.
Rose 5 Poor. Lucky not to be booked for an accumulation of fouls.
Clements 5.5 Got in position for a couple of chances to score. Passing not up to his usual high standard.
Blair 4.5 Very poor. One good ball to set up a first half chance for Clements. One horrendous ball turned a Stags attack into a Wycombe attack.
Dieseruvwe 5 Two good touches midway through the first half to set up attacks, but not enough other than that.
Green 5 One chance when he side-footed wide, and generally not a good game.
Sub Line Up:
Daniel (for Blair, 62) -
Kavanagh (for Rose, 77) -
J.Thomas (for Benning, 84) -
Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, McGuire, Beardsley.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Allsop; McCarthy, Stewart, Pierre, Jacobson; Harriman, O’Nien, McGinn, Wood (Sellers 7); Hayes (Kretzschmar 88), Thompson (Sellars 77). Subs not used: Siegrist; Jombati, Liburd, Ugwu.
Iain Williamson 6 Generally handled the game ok. A few incidents warranted yellow cards but seemed to have lost his.

Season 15/16 Reports