Attendance: 8410 (1565 from Mansfield)
Date: 11 November 2017
SUPER STAGS WIN AT COVENTRY
Martin Shaw at the Ricoh Arena
Mansfield Town produced their best away performance of the season to deservedly win 1-0 in the club’s first visit to the magnificent Ricoh Arena. The first half was quite even and a great advert for League Two football, as Danny Rose hit the left post, just seconds after he slipped in the area but quickly recovered his feet, Coventry keeper Lee Burge made a wonderful save tipping over CJ Hamilton’s effort which deflected a Byrom shot towards the roof of the net, and Paul Anderson should have scored from 12 yards, firing straight at the keeper. At the other end Conrad Logan made a couple of good saves from Marc McNulty. But the second half saw Mansfield really take control and finally get the goal their play deserved on 84 minutes as Alex MacDonald fired in a wonderful goal from 30 yards. He was teed up by Danny Rose, MacDonald took one step forward and sent in a swerving shot that keeper Burge got a fingertip to but it nestled in the right corner of the net. A fabulous goal worthy of winning any match. Earlier Kane Hemmings was inches wide with a good shot, MacDonald fired just over the bar, and Hamilton’s cross-shot was just out of reach of Rose. The Stags were denied the most blatant of penalties on 90+3 minutes as excellent play by sub Callum Butcher put Kane Hemmings through on goal and he was brought down as he was about to shoot. Scandalous refereeing to wave play on and Kane Hemmings was booked for protesting. And it could have been so costly. In the 7th minute of stoppage time, when 5 minutes had been added on, a chance for Coventry, as they were awarded a free kick 23 yards from goal. Tricky midfielder Jodi Jones sent in a fine shot that Conrad Logan saved low down to his right to secure the points. A late equaliser would have been a travesty of justice but would not have been the first time this season that the Stags have been denied a deserved victory by a late equaliser. Logan made one other fine save, on the stroke of 90 minutes, deflecting Ponticelli’s effort over the bar as the keeper was out quickly at the striker’s feet, and Hemmings headed off the line following a corner. A great win for the Stags and reward for the magnificent travelling army of 1565 fans who outsung the Coventry fans throughout the entire 90 minutes. The only negative of a super day was a booking for Danny Rose, for a dive in the penalty area according to the referee, his 5th booking of the season, which will see him suspended at home to Stevenage next week.
Mansfield are now unbeaten for 7 games. 1 league win, 3 league draws, 3 cup wins. And just two points behind Coventry who are in 6th place.
This was Mansfield’s first game against Coventry since October 1975 when, in the League Cup, the Stags beat a Coventry side that was then in the top flight.
Mansfield made three changes from the side that won at Shaw Lane. Pearce and Mellis were suspended after picking up 5 bookings. Before the game Evans commented that Pearce’s bookings were for kicking attackers which you accept, while Mellis’s were for dissent which is disappointing. (Incidentally Callum Butcher and Danny Rose were just one booking away from a suspension at the start of play). Pearce was replaced by Bennett who slotted in at centre half. White came in at right back, Anderson moved from right back to right midfield, and MacDonald moved from right midfield to centre midfield. The other change was that Hunt replaced Benning at left back.
Mansfield started with a diamond formation with MacDonald in the “number 10” or attacking midfielder role and Byrom in front of the back four, but switched after about 10 minutes to Byrom and MacDonald alongside each other in a conventional 4-4-2.
Before the game and before the interviews with the local media, Steve Evans had asked me to name the starting XI. I got 10 of the 11 right, which I thought was reasonable! (I had Atkinson in the team in place of Anderson, versus the real starting XI). He handed me his glasses in response to this and I’m still trying to work out what he meant!! :-)
Coventry included Peter Vincenti who played a few games on loan at Mansfield during our Conference years. Marc McNulty was a target for Steve Evans in the summer, but he signed for Coventry instead.
Coventry came into the game with the best defensive record in the entire EFL.
The pitch was not as good as you might expect for such a fabulous stadium, and clearly was adversely affected by sharing with Wasps rugby.
Someone asked me for a podcast of the commentary of the game.
Here it is:
Coventry started the game the better of the two sides in the opening 10 minutes.
On 2 minutes, a long Coventry ball forward, Logan was out quickly to block behind for a corner. Good decisive keeping. The corner resulted in a second corner, which Bennett scrambled away.
On 6 minutes, Danny Rose almost had a chance in the Coventry area but the ball was cleared. A minute later, Byrom’s free kick into the area, Bennett challenged for the ball and keeper Burge punched away, but the offside flag was up anyway.
Coventry went close on 10 minutes. Hamilton gave away an unnecessary free kick halfway 30 yards from the Stags goal on the right. Jody Jones took the free kick into the area, it fell kindly for Ponticelli who fired goalwards. Logan made a great point blank save, the ball rebounded to Ponticelli who fired the rebound wide.
A minute later, McNulty fired onto the roof of the Stags net from 25 yards. Coventry claimed a corner, but Logan didn’t get a touch.
On 12 minutes, Rose flicked on a long ball from Diamond, and keeper Burge got to it just before Hemmings.
At the other end moments later, Jodi Jones cut inside from the right and his low shot was easily saved by Logan. Then on 16 minutes, Kelly’s corner from the left was over everyone as Logan jumped but didn’t get it.
The Stags were now coming into the game and created their first chance on 16 minutes. Rose brilliantly flicked on Logan’s goal kick, and Hemmings sent a decent first time shot from 18 yards just wide of the left post.
The Stags were nearly in front on 18 minutes. Vincenti fouled Rose 25 yards out on the left hand side. MacDonald’s free kick was cleared to Byrom who volleyed back towards the goal, Hamilton flicked it on, it was heading for the roof of the net, and keeper Burge brilliantly tipped it over the bar.
Another free kick for the Stags on 20 minutes. Byrom took this one and put is straight out for a goal kick.
On 22 minutes, the Stags had another golden chance. Hemmings set Hamilton away down the left. Hamilton got to the byline, cut along it, and pulled the ball back into the middle, it took a deflection off a defender and fell for Anderson, 12 yards out, Anderson stabbed it goalwards but straight at the keeper. Fine play from Hamilton.
Moments later, the Stags went even closer to taking the lead. Hemmings set up Hamilton for a shot which was blocked. The ball was recycled by Byrom to Hemmings who dinked in a cross from the left, defender Rod McDonald headed it out as far as Rose, Rose turned, slipped as he did so, quickly got back on his feet, and managed to hook a great left-footed shot against the left post with everyone including the keeper just watching him. So unlucky for Rose.
Coventry had a shout for a penalty on 23 minutes. White sloppily gave the ball away in the Coventry half, Doyle played a long ball forward, it skimmed off the top of Diamond’s head, and McNulty went down under pressure from Bennett as they both went into the area but the referee waved play on. From the video, there is no foul by Bennett on McNulty and the referee made the correct call.
On 28 minutes, a poor header back from Byrom was never going to reach Logan, and Logan did well to save low to his left from a McNulty shot.
On 32 minutes, Hemmings pushed forward and was fouled outside the area on the right. Byrom’s free kick didn’t beat the first man.
Great play by Hamilton down the left on 36 minutes, he played the ball across, Anderson tried to control but lost the ball.
Then good play by Hamilton at the other end, with some defending against the dangerous Jodi Jones. On 38 minutes, a good header away by Diamond from a free kick.
On 40 minutes, a long ball forward from Doyle, Ponticelli was flagged offside and put the ball in the net a full 5-10 seconds after the whistle had gone, after Logan had saved his initial effort. Referees just aren’t booking players for this any more. From the video though, Ponticelli was actually onside.
On 41 minutes, a shot from MacDonald from 35 yards, Hemmings deflected it towards goal, but straight at the keeper, and he was flagged offside as well.
White was booked for a foul on Vincenti by his own corner flag on 42 minutes. From the video, it was a reckless challenge by White, and over the top of the ball. That could have been a red card. Logan caught the resulting free kick.
A super first half and a great advert for League Two. The Stags went closest to scoring with Rose hitting the post but both keepers made good saves and 0-0 was a fair scoreline.
Half time 0-0
On 49 minutes, Hamilton embarked on a fine run, and was tripped by Grimmer who was booked.
Another great run by Hamilton on 50 minutes, running from about 40 yards out, to level with the edge of the area, he slid a cross-shot across the box, Rose slid in but couldn’t quite reach it.
On 52 minutes, a great move from the Stags on the right, culminated in MacDonald chipping a shot on to the roof of the net.
Brave keeping by Logan on 54 minutes as he dived low to claim a cross from the left with boots flying in.
On 55 minutes great play by MacDonald getting to the byline on the right, but his cross was cleared.
What a noise coming from the Stags fans as the home fans continued to be silent.
A great challenge by Byrom on 58 minutes, which he had to get right inside his own penalty area. Moments later, a good challenge further up the field by Anderson, but he hurt his knee in the process.
On 65 minutes, there was controversy as Rose was booked for a dive in the penalty area. I’ve studied the video over and over again frame by frame. I think it was a penalty. Rose is heading away from goal and goes down under a challenge from full back Grimmer. Rose knocks the ball past Grimmer. Grimmer sticks out his leg, Rose sees the opportunity and makes contact with Grimmer’s leg having already knocked the ball past him. That’s a penalty in my opinion. Poor defending from Grimmer. Maybe the referee thought it looked like a dive as Rose manages an extra step before going down, but there is contact which sends him down. We’ve seen those given against Mansfield so many times, where the defender shouldn’t stick out a leg if he can’t get the ball allowing the striker to go over it.
On 69 minutes, Anderson was fouled 28 yards from goal. MacDonald’s free kick was into the wall. The ball came back to MacDonald, who recycled the ball to Hemmings who fired just wide of the right post. That was close.
On 75 minutes, another free kick for the Stags, and Byrom’s kick was straight to the keeper. Another disappointing set piece from Byrom, which was unusual for him.
The Stags had an escape on 80 minutes. Hunt sloppily gave away a corner on the right. Jodi Jones’s corner was headed back across goal, and Biamou headed towards the right corner of the net, where Hemmings headed off the line. Right place at the right time for Hemmings.
Atkinson replaced Anderson on 83 minutes. Anderson had been injured earlier but appeared to have run it off. Atkinson went into the middle, MacDonald switched to the right.
Mansfield finally got the goal their play deserved on 84 minutes as MacDonald fired in a wonderful goal from 30 yards. He was teed up by Danny Rose, who in turn had been found by a little touch from sub Atkinson. MacDonald took one step forward and sent in a swerving shot that keeper Burge got a fingertip to but it nestled in the right corner of the net. A fabulous goal worthy of winning any match. MacDonald celebrated with a slide onto his knees in front of the Stags fans, though not picked up by the video footage.
On 89 minutes, Rose got to the byline, played a low ball in, and Hemmings’ low shot was saved by the keeper.
On the stroke of 90 minutes Logan made another fine save, deflecting Ponticelli’s effort over the bar as the keeper was out quickly at the striker’s feet.
Butcher replaced Danny Rose on 90+2 minutes.
The Stags were denied the most blatant of penalties on 90+3 minutes as excellent play by sub Butcher put Hemmings through on goal and he was brought down from behind by defender Rod McDonald as he was about to shoot. Scandalous refereeing to wave play on and Hemmings was booked for protesting. It should have been a penalty and a red card because there was no attempt to play the ball by Rod McDonald. (The law was recently changed that if a defender tries to play the ball and concedes a penalty even as last man, that would be a yellow card. But in this case there was no attempt to play the ball from the defender, so it would have been a red card.)
Digby replaced Hemmings on 90+5 minutes.
On 90+5 minutes, Biamou’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked at source by Byrom.
The non-penalty decision could have been so costly. In the 7th minute of stoppage time, when 5 minutes had been added on, a chance for Coventry, as they were awarded a free kick 23 yards from goal. Tricky midfielder Jodi Jones sent in a fine shot that Logan saved low down to his right to secure the points. Fine save by Logan and so crucial, and he did well to hang on to it too with attackers rushing in to pick up the scraps. A late equaliser would have been a travesty of justice but would not have been the first time this season that the Stags have been denied a deserved victory by a late equaliser.
A wonderful day for the Stags fans and everyone associated with the club. A shame that the Coventry-centric TV cameraman didn’t pan on to the Stags fans at any stage after the final whistle to show the fans celebrating.
Man of the match: Conrad Logan
Report by: Martin Shaw at the Ricoh Arena
Logan 8.5 Commanding performance. Great point blank save from Ponticelli early on, and then again from the same player on 90 minutes. Fine save to save the stoppage time free kick from Jodi Jones and to hold it. Good handling.
White 6 Sloppily gave the ball in the first half leading to a penalty shout for McNulty. Reckless over the top challenge on Vincenti which could have been a red card. Otherwise played well.
Diamond 7 Defended solidly.
Bennett 7 Good game at centre half.
Hunt 7 Gave away one sloppy corner, but otherwise defended well.
Anderson 6.5 Should have scored midway through the first half. Did ok in right midfield.
Byrom 6.5 A mixed bag. Did some very good and important defensive work and nullified the threat of the Coventry midfield, but quality of set pieces fell below the standard he has set. One terrible header back which put the side in trouble and Logan saved from McNulty.
MacDonald 8 Outstanding matchwinning goal. A couple of other decent efforts. Worked well in central midfield. Tremendous energy.
Hamilton 8 Several great runs, setting up chances. Some good defending too.
Rose 7 So unlucky to hit the post. Should have had a penalty in my opinion, rather than being booked for diving. Some fine flick-ons in the first half.
Hemmings 7.5 Denied a blatant penalty by a clanger from the referee. Went close with two other shots. Important header off the line. Worked really hard up front.
Sub Line Up:
Atkinson (for Anderson, 83 mins) - Played a part in the build-up to the goal.
Butcher (for Rose, 82 mins) - Excellent play to put Hemmings through on goal when he was brought down.
Digby (for Hemmings, 90+5 mins).
Subs not used: Olejnik, Potter, Sterling-James, Spencer.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-2-3-1): Burge; Grimmer (Davies '73), Willis, McDonald, Haynes; Kelly, Doyle; Vincenti (Biamou '63), Jones, McNulty; Ponticelli. Subs not used: O'Brien, Stokes, Shipley, Stevenson, Beavon.
Nicholas Kinseley 5 Dropped an absolute clanger not giving the penalty for the foul on Hemmings. I can see why he booked Rose for diving, but the wring decision in my opinion having studied it on video. Correctly turned down the Coventry claim for a penalty.