{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 18/19 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League Trophy - Checkatrade Trophy, group stage
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Scunthorpe United
Blake 21, Butcher 53, Elsnik 90.
 Ben El-Mhanni 73, Dales 89.
Attendance: 928 (119 from Scunthorpe)
Date: 13 November 2018


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town had already qualified for the second round of the Checkatrade Trophy before last night’s final group stage game against League One Scunthorpe United at the One Call stadium, and took the opportunity to give starts to five youngsters, including debuts to three, Alistair Smith, Jason Law, and Nyle Blake. It paid handsome dividends as the young Stags pulled off a fantastic 3-2 victory which ensured a home tie in Round 2. Scunthorpe United, who fielded a more experienced side than the Stags, needed a draw to progress, and seemed to have secured that when they scored an equaliser after 89 minutes to make it 2-2. But the Stags went straight to the other and within 30 seconds of the restart, Timi Elsnik scored to make it 3-2. The win earned Mansfield another £10,000, making it £30,000 so far from the 3 victories in this competition. Meanwhile with Scunthorpe going out with this defeat, Lincoln City, the holders of the competition, progressed to Round 2 as group runners-up having not won any of their three group stage matches. The performances of the Stags youngsters were hugely impressive and made it a very proud night for everyone involved with the academy including the under 21 development squad and the under 18s, and perhaps especially John Dempster, Richard Cooper and Mike Whitlow, plus director Steve Hymas and of course owner John Radford who have put so much in behind the scenes. The future of the club looks to be in very safe hands.

Young Nyle Blake put the Stags in front with a terrific goal, as he surged to the edge of the area, before getting a bit of luck as his shot deflected past the keeper from the edge of the area. We had seen Blake’s talent in pre-season games and he showed it again here with a good performance in addition to the goal. Calum Butcher added a second goal after half time, side-footing into the bottom corner of the net from 17 yards. Ben El-Mhanni brought Scunthorpe back into the game with a stroke of luck similar to Blake’s when his shot deflected off Matt Preston past Conrad Logan on 73 minutes, and Scunthorpe levelled on 89 minutes through Dales, before that winner from Elsnik less than a minute later. A standing ovation from the small crowd at the final whistle was just reward for Mansfield at full time. So many encouraging performances. Jason Law really caught the eye with an outstanding debut at left back and then left wing back, barely putting a foot wrong in the 90 minutes. Alistair Smith, also on his debut, grew into the game in midfield looking composed and assured. Blake I’ve already mentioned shone and took some headlines with his goal. Lewis Gibbens had a fine game at centre half with some important blocks. In goal Conrad Logan made a number of good saves, including two outstanding ones. After the game, a beaming Stags boss David Flitcroft admitted Mansfield rode their luck at times in this game with some shots and crosses flashing wide, but was proud of the performance.

The draw for Round 2 is on Friday, from 1pm on TalkSport 2. The Stags know they will be at home to one of the following four teams: Stoke City U21, Bury, Macclesfield, Manchester City U21. Round 2 itself should be on 4th December, another Tuesday, which by then will be Mansfield’s SEVENTH consecutive Tuesday game.

On a statistical note, the attendance of 928 was just less than the 964 who attended against Everton U23 in the Checkatrade Trophy last season, and made this the second lowest at Field Mill for a competitive Stags game, behind 800 against Torquay United on 08 March 1939.

Mansfield Town were already through to the second round of course after winning the opening two games. The Stags would top the group and earn a home tie with anything other than a 2 or more goal defeat. Scunthorpe needed a draw or a win to progress, and a 2 goal win would take them above the Stags.

Mansfield made ten changes from the side that drew with Charlton in the FA Cup. Only Ryan Sweeney remained in the side. Three players made their full debuts: Alistair Smith, Jason Law, and Nyle Blake.

The Stags started with a 4-3-3 formation (though were to change formation for the second half):
Atkinson (right back), Sweeney, Gibbens, Jason Law (left back);
Alistair Smith, Elsnik, Butcher;
Nyle Blake, Rose, Graham.

Four youngsters on the bench too: midfielder Harry Bircumshaw, Tom Fielding (an attacking midfielder who David Flitcroft raved about after he scored the winner in a Central League game last month), striker Iyrwah Gooden, and striker Tyrese Sinclair (son of Frank Sinclair). Omari Sterling-James, who would surely have otherwise got a game, was away on international duty. Timi Elsnik made a welcome return to the side. David Flitcroft had suggested on Sunday that this game might come too soon for him to return from injury.

While the Stags made ten changes, Scunthorpe made 8 changes. They had one player making a debut, new signing Yas Ben El-Mhanni, who had joined the club as a free agent, previously with Newcastle United.

The Stags created a half-chance inside the opening minute when Danny Rose fired wide from 30 yards.

On 5 minutes, Butroid’s cross from the left was just missed by Kyle Wootton in the middle. A minute later, Wootton shot well wide from distance.

Elsnik did well to make a yard of space for himself on the edge of the area after 12 minutes, and his shot deflected straight to the keeper.

A double chance for Scunthorpe on 13 minutes. Humphrys slid the ball forward for Dales who got into the area and shot goalwards from 16 yards. Logan was out quickly and made a great save with his right arm. The ball rebounded to Wootton who also shot goalwards and Gibbens did really well to slide and block the shot, deflecting it wide. That all came after Elsnik gave the ball away cheaply.

On 16 minutes, Humphrys sent in a shot from 22 yards that was always rising over the bar.

Jason Law was really catching the eye with some fine play. On 17 minutes, super play on the left to win a throw-in.

A free kick for Scunthorpe on 20 minutes from the right side. Lewis took it and curled it towards the near post, where Logan pushed it behind for a corner.

The Stags were ahead on 21 minutes. Nyle Blake picked up the ball 40 yards from goal on the right side and made his way diagonally to the edge of the area to the left of centre, where he curled a right footed shot goalwards. It was on target and would probably have been saved by the keeper, but it took a deflection off Butroid which took it past the keeper into the net. Blake’s excellent run to the edge of the area deserved that little bit of luck.

Another save from Logan on 26 minutes, as he parried out Ojo’s shot from the edge of the area. Wootton headed the follow up towards the roof of the net but the offside flag was up against Wootton as Logan tipped his header over anyway. A nice catch by Logan from a cross on 31 minutes.

Good defending by Gibbens on 38 minutes as he cleared away a cross. Then a good header away by Rose from a Scunthorpe free kick before Wootton fired wide. More good play by Rose on 40 minutes as found Butcher but it came to nothing. On 42 minutes, Ben El-Mhanni’s shot deflected straight to Logan.

Rose did well on the left on 43 minutes, but he lost the ball. Law won it back well and his ball into the middle nearly created an own goal. Moments later, good play on the left by Graham, and his ball across was headed well wide by Rose.

Gibbens did well to clear a low ball in from Butroid on 45 minutes. Moments later, a good catch by Logan under pressure.

A really encouraging first half from Mansfield’s youngsters. Blake with the goal, Law caught our eye at left back including going forward, Gibbens looked good in defence.

Half time 1-0

Mansfield changed formation at the start of the second half, apparently simply to try different things out with the players. The Stags switched to 3-5-2 and there was one player change too, with Preston taking over from Sweeney.
Atkinson, Preston, Gibbens;
Nyle Blake (right wing-back), Alistair Smith, Elsnik, Butcher, Jason Law (left wing-back);
Rose, Graham.

Scunthorpe made a fast start to the second half, perhaps with a half time flea in their ear. On 46 minutes, great play from Dales on the left. He cut inside and crashed a superb shot from 20 yards against the bar. A minute later, great play from Ben El-Mhanni who cut inside from the right and fired in a tremendous shot that was heading for the top of the net before Logan tipped it over with a wonderful save.

Great play from Blake on 51 minutes with a cross to the far post which was just over Law.

Benning replaced Blake on 52 minutes. It seems that Blake had a slight injury. The Stags formation became:
Preston, Benning, Gibbens;
Atkinson (right wing-back), Alistair Smith, Elsnik, Butcher, Jason Law (left wing-back);
Rose, Graham.

The Stags made it 2-0 on 53 minutes. Elsnik’s free kick from 35 yards was cleared back to him. As he was then tackled by Ojo, the ball span away to Smith who knocked it back to Elsnik. Elsnik then fed Butcher just inside the area. Butcher turned and placed a side-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

A good block by Smith on Ojo’s long range shot on 54 minutes.

A great move from the Stags on 56 minutes involving Law, and then Graham who found Rose. Rose got the ball into the area and shot, but the keeper was out quickly to block. The ball came to Atkinson who knocked it back in but the keeper claimed.

Another great move from the Stags on 58 minutes, involving Butcher, Elsnik, Atkinson, Graham, Smith, and then to Law. Law put in a good cross from the left but no-one got on the end of it.

Benning’s clearance on 59 minutes was charged down. Then he played a risky ball back to Logan whose clearance hit a Scunthorpe player and went wide. Not a great start from Benning, out of position at centre half.

Great defending by Atkinson on 62 minutes to block a cross.

Scunthorpe went very close on 64 minutes. Great play from Dales who ghosted across the edge of the area, past Benning, and fired a low shot that was inches wide of the left post.

Good play from Graham on 66 minutes, winning the ball and drawing a foul from Burgess, who became the first player to be booked.

Humphrys pushed forward on 67 minutes and Logan did well to tip his shot, from about 25 yards, wide.

A great tackle by Benning on 70 minutes, he pushed forward with the ball, out to Graham on the left, who cut inside and fired just over. Good stuff from Graham. And great play from Benning, who’d made a slow start as sub but was now getting into the game.

A great move from the Stags on 72 minutes, involving Atkinson, Elsnik and Graham, but Rose was offside.

Scunthorpe pulled a goal back on 73 minutes. Ben El-Mhanni made a good run from distance to the edge of the area, Preston tried to block his shot, but it deflected past Logan into the net.

Logan got down to save a 25 yards shot from Ojo on 75 minutes.

Then on 78 minutes, Law played the ball inside to Graham, who got in a low shot but a deflection took it comfortably to the keeper.

Confusion between Preston and Logan on 80 minutes, and Logan’s clearance was blocked. Good defending by Gibbens with a fine tackle on 83 minutes.

Humphrys fired over the bar from 23 yards on 83 minutes after good interplay with Wootton .

Tom Fielding replaced Rose on 87 minutes. Rose had not been moving freely after some rough treatment from the defence. Young Fielding was on for his debut.

Scunthorpe equalised on 89 minutes. Ben El-Mhanni slid a great ball forward to Dales who fired under Logan from 16 yards.

2-2 and that goal would have been enough to send Scunthorpe through to Round 2.

But within 30 seconds of the restart, the Stags regained the lead. Elsnik intercepted a pass from Ben El-Mhanni and nicked the ball forward to Graham. Graham turned the ball back inside to Elsnik, who nicked it past Burgess into the area and fired over the keeper towards the net. It deflected up slightly off the keeper, and Scunthorpe sub Pugh seemed likely to clear the ball away, but only succeeded in turning it into his own net. As Elsnik’s shot was on target, it was certainly his goal rather than an own goal.

More good defending by Gibbens on 90+1 minutes with a block from a shot by Wootton.

The full time whistle brought a standing ovation from the Stags fans. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. People can criticise the Checkatrade Trophy all they like, but this is such a great opportunity for the players not getting much game time, and especially here some young players, to get competitive action. And those players took the opportunity here with both hands. I heard a presenter on Radio Nottingham the other day saying “What is the point of the Checkatrade Trophy?” The answer was here, encapsulated in 90 minutes.

Man of the match: Jason Law

Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Line Up:
Logan 7.5 Made a number of good saves, including two outstanding ones.
Atkinson 7 Good game with some good defending.
Sweeney 7 Solid first half. Rested for the second half.
Gibbens 8 Fine game at centre half with some important blocks.
Law 8 Really caught the eye with an outstanding debut at left back and then left wing back, barely putting a foot wrong in the 90 minutes.
Smith 7 Grew into the game in midfield looking composed and assured.
Elsnik 7 Scored the winner and set up Bucher for the second goal. Involved in several good moves. One mistake led to a chance for Scunthorpe.
Butcher 7 Classy side-footed finish for his goal. Good game.
Blake 8 We had seen his talent in pre-season games and he showed it again here with a good performance in addition to the goal.
Rose 7 Several good pieces of play during the game. Had a great chance after a great move but the keeper was out quickly to block.
Graham 7 Several good moments on the left and went very close with one fine effort curled just over the bar.
Sub Line Up:
Preston (for Sweeney, 46 mins) 7 Solid second half.
Benning (for Blake, 52 mins) 6.5 Started slowly out of position at centre half, but then got into the game including one great tackle and then setting Graham away.
Fielding (for Rose, 87 mins) - On for his debut late on.
Subs not used: Olejnik, Harry Bircumshaw, Iyrwah Gooden, Tyrese Sinclair.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Flatt; Horsfield, McArdle, Burgess, Butroid; Ben El-Mhanni, Ojo, Lewis (Pugh, 85), Dales; Humphrys, Wootton. Subs not used: Alnwick, Perch, Colclough.
Ross Joyce 7 Handled the game well.

Season 18/19 Reports