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Season 18/19 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Lincoln City  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Gordon 85.
 Mellis 90+3
Attendance: 9773 (1654 from Mansfield)
Date: 24 November 2018


Martin Shaw at Sincil Bank

Mansfield Town rescued a point with a terrific volley from Jacob Mellis into the bottom corner of the net from 17 yards 3 minutes into stoppage time at Sincil Bank this afternoon. It was a fabulous moment for the 1,650 Stags fans behind that goal, especially coming so late in the game. The draw protected Mansfield’s unbeaten away record which now stands at 13 away games, extending the club record. The draw also extended Mansfield’s unbeaten record (home and away) to 12 games, the best since 2013 in the Conference and since 1991 in the Football League (both of which were also runs of 12 games). But it was much more than just about records, it was about getting something from a game played in an incredible atmosphere created by a sellout crowd, and about not dropping too far behind Lincoln, who went back to the top of the table. The Stags are in 4th place, 5 points behind Lincoln and MK Dons, and level with 3rd placed Colchester.

The Stags had fallen behind on 85 minutes. Lincoln sub Matt Rhead flicked on to dangerman Bruno Andrade on the left, Andrade crossed into the middle where sub Matt Green laid off to another sub Kellan Gordon who smashed into the net from 9 yards. It looked like that would be the winner but the Stags were determined not to lay down and die. The first half had been an even affair, with one near miss for either side, Danny Rose bringing a fine save from Lincoln keeper Vickers, while Andrade missed from 25 yards out on the left with Bobby Olejnik well away from his goal, after Olejnik’s poor kick out from Matt Preston’s poor back pass fell straight to Andrade. In the second half, Lincoln started to get on top without creating golden chances. After the game, Stags boss David Flitcroft said that Lincoln looked fresher from 60 to 85 minutes, with the Stags having played in midweek and last weekend, when Lincoln didn’t have any games. The Stags were also getting through the game with Sweeney and Hamilton suffering from tonsillitis, Bishop also having recovered from illness, and with scorer Mellis who said after the game that he was “only 60% fit” following his hamstring tightening at Charlton on Tuesday. Pearce also revealed after the game that Preston was also under the weather. Hamilton was so out of sorts that he was even out-paced on a couple of occasions. So even more credit to the Stags players for their battling spirit to come up with that late fightback.

In truth, the Stags didn’t play particularly well. Flitcroft described his team as “untidy on the ball”. That was an accurate description, several players gave the ball away too often, perhaps typified by that chance gifted to Andrade in the first half. Jacob Mellis, in the end the hero, admitted that his passing had been poor. My choice of man of the match is fairly straightforward, with Krystian Pearce quite simply magnificent in defence, including twice in the space of 60 seconds rescuing his side after teammates had given the ball away.

Incidentally, after the game, Lincoln boss Danny Cowley claimed the ball was “a yard out of play” in the build-up to the Stags goal as Danny Rose made his way down the right. From our pitchside video footage, it didn’t go out of play at all.

The Stags go again on Tuesday at home to Crawley, and might need to freshen things up a bit with players carrying niggles and illness.

The Stags were forced into a very late change to the side that was named on the team sheet as Hayden White’s hamstring tightened in the warm-up and he was replaced by Will Atkinson at right wing-back. There was one other change from the side that started the last league game, against Port Vale last Saturday, as Rose came in for Craig Davies, who was on the bench. Mellis started after limping off against Charlton on Tuesday. Bishop, who missed the game at Charlton through illness was ok to start. Elsnik and Butcher, who started at Charlton, dropped to the bench. There was a very welcome return from injury to the bench for Otis Khan. Jordan Graham was the late addition to the 18 when White dropped out. The Stags continued with the 3-4-3 formation, with Walker, Rose and Hamilton up front.

Lincoln were without midfielder Lee Frecklington, who nearly joined the Stags last season when he opted for Lincoln instead. Former Barnet striker John Akinde was up front on his own. Dangerman was Bruno Andrade, who almost single-handedly got Boreham Wood to the Conference playoffs last season. Former Stags Matt Green and Matt Rhead were on the bench, and were to come on and be involved in Lincoln’s goal.

Mansfield had a great recent record at Sincil Bank, having won 4 of their previous 5 league games before today, drawing the other, in addition to winning in the Checkatrade Trophy and drawing in the FA Cup. So, including today, it’s now 5 wins and 3 draws in all competitions in our last 8 visits.

The Stags had the first half chance of the game as a shot from Mellis from 25 yards was blocked after 6 minutes. At the other end a minute later, a brilliant tackle by Sweeney on McCartan who had broken in to the area.

The Stags went close on 12 minutes. Good play from Mellis to dispossess O’Connor 30 yards from goal, Mellis laid off to Rose to his left, and Rose’s shot from 18 yards was heading for the bottom left corner of the net before keeper Vickers did superbly to tip it wide one-handed. A good effort from Rose.

A good header away by Preston on 14 minutes. Then at the other end a minute later, Preston’s shot from 35 yards was low and straight at the keeper.

It was a lively start in a lively atmosphere.

On 16 minutes, referee Gavin Ward, parachuted in from the Championship for this game, lectured the Cowley brothers and told them to calm down.

The Stags nearly gifted Lincoln a goal on 19 minutes. A sloppy backpass from Preston to Olejnik took Olejnik 20 yards from his goal along the byline. Olejnik should have cut his losses and blasted the ball into the stand, but tried to play it upfield, only succeeding in reaching Andrade, completely unmarked 25 yards from goal out on the left. With Olejnik well away from his goal, it was technically an open goal for Andrade, and fortunately for Mansfield he fired well wide of the right post.

On 23 minutes, Hamilton played inside to Rose. Rose was 28 yards from goal, with nothing else on and surrounded by 5 (five) Lincoln players, he tried a pot-shot that was just wide of the left post.

On 25 minutes, a great tackle by Preston after Mellis had lost the ball. Mellis had given the ball away on several occasions by this stage.

Mellis was booked for bringing down Andrade on 29 minutes, having been warned for a foul earlier.

McCartan skied a shot into the Stags fans behind the goal on 31 minutes.

No more goalmouth action until 45 minutes, as the home fans cried for a penalty when the ball hit Sweeney in the box.

With the half time whistle about to blow on 45+1 minutes, Rose tried his luck from 28 yards and fired wide of the right post.

An even first half, with one near miss for either side. It was very tight, and very competitive in a great atmosphere.

Half time 0-0

Tyler Walker was down in pain on 47 minutes after going in for a crunching challenge. He was able to carry on and run it off.

Good defending by Preston on 49 minutes, shepherding the ball out of play after Andrade tried to get past him.

Good play from the dangerous Andrade on the left on 51 minutes, as he cut inside Atkinson and fired in a low right footed shot, which Olejnik did well to save and hold.

Khan replaced Atkinson on 52 minutes. Hamilton dropped back to right wing back as the Stags kept the same formation. Great to see Khan back.

A long ball forward from the back from Bostwick was brilliantly controlled by Akinde in the area and he got in a low shot that Olejnik turned behind for a corner.

At the other end on 55 minutes, good play from Khan who got into the area and went down, but there was no foul.

Two magnificent pieces of defending within a minute from Pearce after 57 minutes. Firstly as Harry Anderson broke in a 3-on-2 situation having beaten Sweeney, Pearce stopped him from crossing and then won the ball. A minute later, more wonderful defending from Pearce after Mellis had given the ball away.

On 60 minutes, Benning’s corner came out to Mellis who had a free shot from 22 yards and fired well wide into the Stags fans behind the goal. Mellis joked about this poor effort after the game.

On 61 minutes, Bishop gave the ball away, and was rescued by Preston with a great tackle on Akinde. Two minutes later, more good defending from Preston and as he headed behind for a corner with Akinde lurking behind him.

On 65 minutes, a foul by Preston on McCartan on the left side 10 yards back from the byline. O’Connor fired the free kick towards the roof of the net and Olejnik tipped it over.

Then on 66 minutes, Pett stood up a high cross from the left and Akinde headed over the bar under pressure from Sweeney.

Lincoln were ratcheting up the pressure.

Sweeney was booked for a foul on McCartan on 70 minutes.

A good tackle by Bishop on 74 minutes.

Rose was booked for stopping the keeper release the ball quickly on 75 minutes.

A great turn by Akinde to get away from Sweeney just inside the area on 76 minutes, and he fired just over the bar, though Olejnik was able to watch it all the way.

On 78 minutes, a poor cross from Walker from the right, when he had time to cross. But a minute later, a good break from the Stags as Mellis found Walker and this time Walker put in a good cross, it came to Rose on the left but he couldn’t control it.

Lincoln brought on Matt Rhead for McCartan on 80 minutes, and then Matt Green for Akinde on 83 minutes. Personally I was relieved Lincoln had not done this earlier.

In between the two substitutions, Bishop miscued a shot wide from 25 yards on 81 minutes.

Lincoln took the lead on 85 minutes and both Rhead and Green were involved. Rhead flicked on to dangerman Bruno Andrade on the left, Andrade crossed into the middle where Green laid off to another sub Kellan Gordon who smashed into the net from 9 yards. Sickening for Mansfield and a great moment for the home fans.

On 87 minutes, Rose went down in the area. No penalty and the referee gave a free kick the other way. I initially thought the free kick was given for diving by Rose but from the replay it was for handball as Rose landed next to the ball.

Davies replaced Benning on 88 minutes. And Elsnik replaced Bishop. Hamilton went to left back, Preston to right back, and Davies an extra striker.

Into 5 minutes of stoppage and the big moment came on 90+3 minutes. Preston played the ball down the right wing for Rose. Rose just kept the ball in play on the right touchline, and then crossed from the byline. The cross was cleared to Walker, Walker chipped into the middle where Davies knocked the ball forward, it rebounded off Eardley into the air. As the ball dropped, Mellis hit it on the volley with the outside of his right boot from 17 yards into the bottom left corner of the net. A sweet volley that sent the 1650 Stags fans behind the goal into delirium.

On 90+5 minutes, Hamilton left a backpass for Olejnik slightly short and Olejnik was just able to clear.

So the Stags rescued a point with a never-say-die atmosphere despite not playing terribly well. The Stags will be hoping that the illness clears from the camp very quickly and players recover fitness too. If not, other players should come in and get a chance.

Man of the match: Krystian Pearce

Report by: Martin Shaw at Sincil Bank

Line Up:
Olejnik 7 Poor kick out presented a chance to Andrade. Three good saves, from Andrade, Akinde, and O’Connor.
Preston 8 One poor back pass to Olejnik. Several superb tackles. Pearce revealed after the game that Preston was under the weather.
Pearce 9.5 Quite simply magnificent in defence, including twice in the space of 60 seconds rescuing his side after teammates had given the ball away. Faultless.
Sweeney 7.5 Some great defending. Also beaten by Anderson and Akinde on one occasion each. Suffering from tonsillitis.
Atkinson 7 Generally did well. Andrade got past him to shoot on one occasion.
Mellis 7 After the game admitted that his passing had been poor. Also gave the ball away a couple of times. Said after the game that he was “only 60% fit” following his hamstring tightening at Charlton on Tuesday. Perhaps he shouldn’t have played, but thank goodness he did with that wonderful late equaliser.
Bishop 7.5 Very solid game.
Benning 6.5 Solid game, though not as heavily involved as he often is.
Walker 6 Worked hard though not really his afternoon. Was involved in the build-up to the goal.
Rose 6.5 Great play to keep the ball active in the build-up to the goal. Good effort early on that brought a fine save from the keeper.
Hamilton 5.5 Suffering from tonsillitis and was so out of sorts that he was even out-paced on a couple of occasions. Been brilliant in recent weeks and was clearly affected here. In hindsight, and easy to say now, perhaps he shouldn’t have played. Hopefully recovered and back on it against Crawley.
Sub Line Up:
Khan (for Atkinson, 52 mins) - Really great to see him back from injury.
Davies (for Benning, 88 mins) -
Elsnik (for Bishop, 88 mins) -
Subs not used: Logan, Butcher, Alistair Smith, Graham.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-1-1) Vickers; Eardley, Bostwick, Shackell, Toffolo; Anderson (Gordon 76), O’Connor, Pett, Andrade; McCartan (Rhead 80); Akinde (Green 83). Subs not used: Slocombe, Wharton, Chapman, Wilson.
Gavin Ward 7 Parachuted in from the Championship for this game and mostly had a good game, generally keeping things under control in an intense atmosphere. Gave Danny Cowley an early lecture. Despite the complaints from Cowley after the game, video evidence shows the officials got it spot on that the ball did not go out of play in the build-up to Mansfield’s goal.

Season 18/19 Reports