Walker 12, Khan 56, 65.
Attendance: 4423 (320 from Newport)
Date: 4 August 2018
STAGS THUMP NEWPORT 3-0 TO GET SEASON UNDERWAY
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town opened the season with a convincing 3-0 win over Newport County, in what was a continuation of the fine form from pre-season. The Stags were simply too strong for Newport and took the lead on 12 minutes finally converting the fourth of four chances inside 60 seconds as Tyler Walker fired home from 6 yards, after first CJ Hamilton’s shot had been blocked, then Walker’s shot was tipped wide for a corner, from which Neal Bishop’s shot was blocked before Walker scored. The Stags were unlucky not to double the lead on 17 minutes when Craig Davies curled a shot against the inside of the post. The Stags did make it 2-0 on 56 minutes when Walker got to the byline and crossed superbly for Otis Khan to head into the net from 12 yards. Then Khan added another goal on 65 minutes with a fabulous shot from 20 yards into the left corner of the net. All last season we wanted goals from midfield, and here we had two. Mansfield preserved a clean sheet when Hayden White made a wonderful goal line clearance after Padraig Amond went round Conrad Logan and rolled the ball towards the empty net assuming he’d score, but White somehow got back to clear away. Overall a very good performance from Mansfield, who worked hard throughout and the fine fitness levels achieved from pre-season were evident as Mansfield were still pressing Newport for the ball into stoppage time.
Remarkably it was Mansfield’s first league win at home since the 5-0 win over Newport in February, and David Flitcroft’s first league win at home.
It was Mansfield’s sixth successive victory over Newport at home. Strangely it was the third time in six years the clubs had met on the opening day of the season.
Flitcroft handed competitive debuts to five players in the starting XI, in a 3-5-2 formation, the same formation they have played in every pre-season friendly.
The team that started was:
Hayden White, Matt Preston (new signing from Swindon), Krystian Pearce;
CJ Hamilton, Alex MacDonald, Neal Bishop (new signing from Scunthorpe), Otis Khan (new signing from Yeovil), Mal Benning;
Tyler Walker (season loan from Forest), Craig Davies (new signing from Oldham).
There was one change from the starting XI against Rotherham in the final pre-season friendly, as Khan returned from illness to replace Butcher.
Pearce started the game after he was subbed last week when he was not “mentally in-tune with the game”, which was great news after some concern from the manager that “we now have a potential issue with Pearcey”. It was of course announced on Monday that the club has reported an allegation of racist abuse directed at Pearce, to both The FA and Nottinghamshire Police.
No place in the squad for Danny Rose or Lee Angol. John Radford had announced on Monday that bids had been received for both players. After the game, Flitcroft said that Mansfield have accepted a bid from Grimsby for Angol (who cost Mansfield >£150,000 from Peterborough), and that Flitcroft had given Angol the weekend to think about it. Flitcroft also confirmed that the club has not had a bid for Rose which matches the club’s valuation. It would be disappointing for Mansfield to lose both Rose and Angol so close to the transfer deadline on Thursday, and especially so as one good replacement would then have to be brought in.
Also not in the squad was Will Atkinson and Flitcroft said after the game that it had been difficult telling him after the pre-season he had had, but he had accepted it.
New signing Ryan Sweeney, a central defender, signed yesterday on a season-long loan from Stoke, was on the bench.
New for the 2018/19 season, is that each club has to name at least one "club-developed" player in a matchday squad. (By the way, should any club fail to name a club-developed player in their matchday squad, they will only be able to name six substitutes, rather than the normal allocation of seven). For Mansfield, the "club-developed" player in the matchday squad was young defender Lewis Gibbens who has played a full part in the pre-season with the first team.
It was a hot sunny day in Mansfield for the start of the season. The crowd was 100 up on last season’s average. The Quarry Lane was well population as a result of the QLE membership scheme and cheap tickets bought in advance.
Pearce was straight into the action expertly shepherding the ball back to Logan.
On 5 minutes a ball forward and a chance for MacDonald to pull the trigger, but instead he clipped the ball forward and the chance was gone. At the other end a minute later, Crofts fired wide from 25 yards.
White tripped over on 8 minutes, Marsh-Brown pushed forward and Preston did well to muscle him out of it and shepherd the ball out for a goal kick. On 10 minutes, a Newport corner from the left was headed away by Preston and Crofts miscued well wide from 22 yards. A minute after that, great defending from Benning in the middle from a ball into the box, after another slip by White.
The game exploded into life on 12 minutes. Hamilton made a great run down the right, cut inside onto his left foot and his shot was blocked. Davies then laid off to Walker whose side-footed shot from the left was tipped wide for a corner. From the corner taken by Khan, Bishop’s shot was blocked on the line by the keeper. But the ball was recycled by Pearce who flicked it forward for Walker to knock it past the keeper from 6 years. A real poacher’s goal. Four chances in 60 seconds with the final one taken.
On 15 minutes, Butler crossed from the left and Amond’s header forced a good save from Logan, who got his angles right at the near post.
The Stags were within a whisker of making it 2-0 on 17 minutes. White sent a super diagonal ball to Davies on the left, who muscled his defender Forbes away from the ball, before curling a fabulous shot against the inside of the right post from the left hand side.
It was breath-taking stuff.
On 20 minutes, Hamilton cut inside from the right with good trickery and went down in the box, but there was no penalty, and from the video he simply fell over.
On 26 minutes, Amond crossed from the right and Franks headed wide from 18 yards. Dolan’s shot on 30 minutes was blocked, to Matt who miscued a weak effort straight at Logan.
White meanwhile slipped over for a third time in the half.
Marsh-Brown got into the area wide on the left on 34 minutes and sent a poor effort high and wide.
Bishop was booked for a late sliding challenge on Dolan on 35 minutes. It looked a fair decision.
Good interplay from Mansfield on the left on 38 minutes, MacDonald got to the byline, sent in a low cross to the near post where Walker knocked it over the bar.
On 42 minutes, Davies cut inside onto his right foot, but shot well over the bar from 25 yards.
Pearce was on top of his game and calmly headed back to Logan on 45 minutes under pressure.
The Stags had a chance to increase the lead on 45+1 minutes. Khan did well to find Walker in space on the edge of the area, but Walker wasn’t quick enough to shoot and was tackled.
Mansfield worthy of the lead at the break, with that goal from Walker that followed the flurry of chances in 60 seconds, and were unlucky not to double the lead with Davies’ shot against the inside of the post. Newport meanwhile had plenty of good chances that they made a hash of after some good approach play.
Half time 1-0
Good play from Bishop on 46 minutes as he won the ball and broke, but the move broke down with a poor lay-off from Davies.
There was a great atmosphere being generated by Q block.
Benning went down in the area on 52 minutes, and wanted a penalty. From the video, Benning was indeed fouled by Forbes who was too slow to try to knock the ball away and it should have been a penalty.
Khan had a sighter on 54 minutes when he fired over the bar from 20 yards.
The Stags made it 2-0 on 56 minutes. Bishop chipped a super ball to Walker who got to the byline on the right and crossed superbly for the unmarked Khan to head powerfully into the net from 12 yards. Lovely goal.
Marsh-Brown wasted a free kick from 33 yards on 59 minutes, putting it over everyone.
Good play from Walker on 64 minutes as he fed Benning who got to the edge of the area and curled a shot with the outside of his left boot which was blocked.
It was 3-0 on 65 minutes as Khan added another goal with a fabulous shot from 20 yards into the left corner of the net, as keeper Day dived to his right but couldn’t get there. All last season we wanted goals from midfield, and here we had two.
Hamilton got to the byline on 67 minutes but his cross was cleared.
On 68 minutes, Butler crossed from the left and Amond headed straight at Logan but the offside flag was already up.
More good strong defending from Pearce as he shepherded put for a goal kick again under pressure from Forde. On 74 minutes, Demetriou sent a pea-roller wide from 30 yards.
Butcher replaced Khan on 74 minutes. Khan not surprisingly came off to a standing ovation.
Mansfield preserved a clean sheet on 78 minutes when White made a wonderful goal line clearance after Amond went round Logan and rolled the ball towards the empty net assuming he’d score, but White somehow got back to clear away. In truth, Amond should have scored by putting his laces through it.
A long stoppage as the linesman was injured which was lead to 9 minutes of injury time.
An awful backpass from Benning on 88 minutes gifted Newport a corner.
Graham replaced Davies on 90 minutes. A good ovation for Davies who’d worked hard and was unlucky to hit the post.
The Stags were still pressing Newport in stoppage time, and great ratting from MacDonald to force an error.
On 90+4 minutes, a great save from Logan from Sheehan’s side-footed shot after Graham had lost the ball trying to beat three players.
Mellis replaced Walker on 90+4 minutes.
On 90+9 minutes Butler’s free kick from 35 yards from the left, Amond came to the near post to meet it and back-flicked over the bar.
A very good performance all round from Mansfield and three good points to start the season.
Man of the match: Otis Khan
Plenty of people asked me today for my prediction for the season. I think Mansfield will go one better than last season and finish inside the play-offs, perhaps in 7th place. At this stage, I think Lincoln, MK Dons and Notts County look a good bet for the top 3.
Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Logan 7.5 Two very good saves, and looked in control.
White 7 Wonderful goal-line clearance in the second half. Slipped over four times in total which could have been costly.
Preston 7 Very solid and strong debut.
Pearce 8 Very good game, totally in control. An assist for Walker’s goal.
Hamilton 7 Good run and shot just before the first goal.
MacDonald 7 Industrious. Good ratting right to the final whistle.
Bishop 7 Booked for a sliding challenge and had to be careful after that. Shot blocked by the keeper in build-up to the first goal. Did well.
Khan 9 Two lovely goals. Goals from midfield that we’ve been lacking. Nice set-up for a chance for Walker at the end of the first half.
Benning 7 One great piece of defending in the first half.
Walker 8 Poacher’s goal in the first half. Super cross for Khan’s first goal.
Davies 7 Worked hard and was unlucky to hit the post.
Sub Line Up:
Butcher (for Khan, 74 mins) -
Graham (for Davies, 90 mins) - On for his league debut.
Mellis (for Walker, 90+4 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Sweeney, Gibbens, Sterling-James.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-3-3): Day; Forbes, Franks, Demetriou, Butler; Crofts (Sheehan, 59), Bennett, Dolan; Marsh-Brown (Cooper, 72), Matt (Semenyo, 59), Amond. Subs not used: Townsend, Pipe, Bakinson, Harris.
Paul Marsden 7 Handled the game, which was generally played in a good spirit, well.