{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 18/19 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Macclesfield Town  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Smith 63.
 Benning 32
Attendance: 2624 (1184 from Mansfield)
Date: 25 August 2018


Martin Shaw at Moss Rose

Mansfield Town were held to a draw at lowly Macclesfield Town this afternoon thanks to a really terrible second half performance. Macclesfield were equal bottom before this game with one point from 4 games, and appear highly likely to be relegation candidates this season. The Stags led 1-0 at half time thanks to a first headed goal for the club by Mal Benning from a super Otis Khan cross, and Mansfield were well worth the lead at that stage. But what followed in the second half was a performance described as “bitterly disappointing” by manager David Flitcroft. Several pieces of poor defending allowed Macclesfield back into the game and when they equalised on 63 minutes through Harry Smith’s low shot, the goal had been coming. The Stags rarely looked like winning the game after that with a complete lack of quality that was so disappointing for the large following of nearly 1200 from Mansfield. In the end, the home side were worthy of the point, and were cheered off by their own fans, while there were some boos from the travelling fans.

Mansfield’s defensive resources are looking extremely thin and were unable to name a defender on the bench today. Hayden White missed out with a tightened hamstring after a difficult week spending nights sleeping on a hospital chair during a difficult pregnancy for his partner, while Matt Preston remains sidelined with concussion and will go for another scan early in the week. In came 18 year old Lewis Gibbens for his league debut. Gibbens was the Jack Retter Trophy young player of the year last season and it is huge credit to him and to John Dempster and all the youth structure coaching staff that he has progressed to first team level.

Mansfield remain unbeaten in all competitions including pre-season since the very first pre-season game, against Portugese top flight side Vitoria FC. That’s 13 games unbeaten in total, 7 pre-season games (4 against Championship clubs), and 6 league and cup games. But, and it’s a big BUT, the Stags are in the bottom half of the League Two table now. And it’s quite simply because of too many draws. Four draws on the trot now. The Stags have to start turning draws into wins if a promotion dream is to become a reality. The performance today was a million miles away from one of a promotion looking side.

Mansfield made one change from the side that drew at Tranmere, with Gibbens in for White. Macclesfield had former Stags loanee Peter Vincenti on the bench, but he didn’t come on. Macclesfield won the Conference last season, but have lost their manager since then.

CJ Hamilton did well to win a corner inside the first 40 seconds. From the corner, Khan rolled it short to MacDonald on the edge of the area, who shanked a shot over the bar. Another good run from Hamilton on 4 minutes, though it didn’t come to anything.

A great move down the left from the Stags on 13 minutes, Khan’s super ball inside to Benning and Benning’s shot was blocked for a corner.

A first chance for Macclesfield on 15 minutes, Pearson crossed from the right, and Smith headed high and wide. Two minutes later, Wilson crossed from the right, and Whittaker could only glance a header well away from goal when it needed a firm header.

Mansfield’s delivery from set pieces and crosses had been really poor, summed up on 23 minutes by an awful free kick from 33 yards from Khan.

Bishop went down with a head injury three times in quick succession, each time the game was stopped. But he was ok to continue.

Much better from Mansfield on 28 minutes. Khan’s corner to MacDonald on the edge of the area. MacDonald took one touch, and fired in a low shot that took a slight deflection and was saved on the line by the keeper.

Then on 30 minutes, Hamilton powered down the right, found Bishop, who crossed to Davies, who headed softly straight at the keeper.

A double chance for the Stags on 31 minutes. Khan laid off to Walker, whose shot was palmed away by the keeper, then Bishop’s follow-up from 25 yards was also blocked.

The Stags were right on top and deservedly took the lead on 32 minutes. A good run down the right by Hamilton. He played inside to Khan, Khan got past one defender into the box on the right and delivered a perfect cross to the left where Benning headed just inside the left post from 9 yards. Benning’s first goal with his head for the Stags, after plenty of screamers with his left foot.

A rare chance for Macclesfield on 40 minutes, Pearson crossed from the byline, and Whittaker volleyed over from the edge of the box.

Hamilton curled a shot over the angle of bar and post from 25 yards on 41 minutes.

A good run from Hamilton on 45+3 minutes and his shot was blocked for a throw-in.

Half time 0-1

The Stags well worth the lead at half time with a reasonable, though not that good, performance.

Macclesfield’s tactics in the first half were very much high balls forward to Blissett and looking for a knock-down. That wasn’t working for them, despite Blissett winning most of the headers, so they changed it around at the break, making a triple substitution, including bringing on the speedy Napa on the right wing. Blissett had been up against Gibbens in the first half, but Blissett switched sides in the second half to be up against Pearce.

Another good run from Hamilton on 47 minutes into the area on the right and a left footed curler just inches over the bar. Really good effort.

Khan was pushed off the ball on 48 minutes. Free kick 24 yards out to the left of centre. Khan’s shot was inches over the bar.

On 57 minutes, Hamilton was into the area on the right and fired at O’Hara. Then Hamilton got into the byline on the right, and a goalmouth scramble ensued, Walker turned and prodded goalwards but keeper O’Hara saved on the line.

Great defending by Bishop on 59 minutes, heading back to Olejnik, under pressure.

Macclesfield had their first really good chance of the afternoon on 61 minutes. Napa knocked the ball inside to the unmarked Harry Smith who shanked over the bar unmarked. Both Sweeney and Gibbens had gone to Napa, leaving Smith unmarked. Poor defending.

Straight to the other end, Hamilton crossed from the right to Benning on the left and he fired in a great shot on the half-volley that brought an equally great save from the keeper.

Rose replaced Davies on 62 minutes. Davies had been quiet.

Macclesfield had looked a lot more dangerous in the second half, and equalised on 63 minutes with a goal that had been coming. Khan was unable to stop Pearson crossing from the right, Smith headed down, it bounced off Pearce and fell for Smith to stroke into the net from 12 yards.

Sweeney was booked for bringing down Smith on 66 minutes. Whittaker’s resulting free kick was headed wide by Smith. More poor defending. Then Whittaker crossed from the left, Smith rose above Gibbens and headed wide.

Mellis replaced MacDonald on 71 minutes.

On 72 minutes, Pearson’s long throw was flicked on by Blissett, and Olejnik was able to watch it trickle wide.

A minute later at the other end, Walker played inside to Khan, who bizarrely left it and the ball was cleared.

Macclesfield wanted a penalty on 74 minutes as Napa went down in the area. Turned down, and it would have been soft. Two minutes later, Napa got past Gibbens too easily and put a ball into the box, but good defending but Bishop to clear for a corner. The resulting corner was cleared to Maycock, who fired over the bar and over the stand.

This was so poor from the Stags.

Sterling-James replaced Khan on 77 minutes. Khan has been subbed in all but one of Mansfield’s six games this season. It’s a little puzzling why, he doesn’t appear to be unfit. And he is usually Mansfield’s most creative player.

A minute later, Walker fired in a shot that was already going wide before it was cleared.

The Stags went close on 81 minutes. Hamilton found Mellis, who laid off nicely to Walker and Walker sent a left footed shot just wide of the right post. Much better from Mansfield and pretty close.

Another chance a minute later. Benning crossed from the left, Rose had a free header but instead of getting a firm header, he just glanced it and it went well wide.

Sterling-James was having a dreadful game with a succession of terrible balls, three on the trot.

On 88 minutes, Benning’s corner to the far post reached Rose, but he headed tamely wide.

Benning was booked for simulation on 89 minutes. Pearce found Benning who went down in the area. It was clearly no penalty. Then Hamilton broke into the area but laid off a terrible ball. The Stags were truly awful by now.

Macclesfield could have won it on 90+2 minutes. They broke down the right through Napa, Smith got into the area on the right on the byline and had Whittaker completely unmarked in the middle, but Smith could only win a corner with Sweeney blocking his cross.

One final chance for the Stags on 90+3 minutes as Walker crossed from the right and Sterling-James headed straight at the keeper.

A really terrible second half performance from Mansfield. On to the Hawthorns on Tuesday, which, in a Premier League stadium, will be a completely different proposition in the League Cup.

Man of the match: Neal Bishop

Report by: Martin Shaw at Moss Rose

Line Up:
Olejnik 6 Had absolutely nothing to do. No chance with the goal.
Pearce 6.5 Probably the pick of the defence.
Sweeney 6 One or two poor bits of defending. Important block of a cross in stoppage time.
Gibbens 6 In for his debut. Was the Jack Retter Trophy young player of the year last season and it is huge credit to him and to John Dempster and all the youth structure coaching staff that he has progressed to first team level. Difficult start against such big strikers. Made three errors but overall acquitted himself ok and is a fine prospect.
Hamilton 7 Involved in most of the Stags’ attacks. Five very good runs forward. Some good crosses and some bad ones. Went close with a couple of shots.
MacDonald 5 Not his day. Early shot from a corner was poor. Better effort from a later corner which was saved.
Bishop 7 Good game with some good defensive work and never wasting possession.
Khan 6.5 Mixed game. Super cross for the goal. Some good set pieces, some poor ones. Has been subbed in all but one of Mansfield’s six games this season. It’s a little puzzling why, he doesn’t appear to be unfit. And he is usually Mansfield’s most creative player.
Benning 7 His first headed goal for the Stags. Powerful shot saved by the keeper.
Walker 5.5 Decent first half shot saved by the keeper, and reasonable effort in the second half just wide. One good cross but just didn’t do enough.
Davies 5 Too quiet.
Sub Line Up:
Rose (for Davies, 62 mins) - Had a couple of chances from headers, neither of them easy.
Mellis (for MacDonald, 71 mins) - One nice lay off to set up a chance for Walker.
Sterling-James (for Khan, 77 mins) - Had a dreadful game with a succession of terrible balls, three on the trot. Stoppage time header too weak, straight at the keeper.
Subs not used: Logan, Atkinson, Graham, Butcher.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2): O’Hara; Lowe (Evans 46), Kelleher, Grimes; Pearson, Whitaker, Arthur (Maycock 46), Wilson (Napa 46), Fitzpatrick; Blissett, Smith. Unused Subs: Marsh, Taylor, Welch-Hayes, Vincenti.
Anthony Backhouse 6 Had a reasonable game.

Season 18/19 Reports