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Season 18/19 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Forest Green Rovers  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Abandoned at half time.
Attendance: 2514 (281 from Mansfield)
Date: 15 December 2018


Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Mansfield Town’s game at Forest Green Rovers this afternoon was abandoned at half time with the score at 0-0. It was the right decision from the referee as the first half had been a farce. Rain all morning since 10am, with heavy bursts between 1pm and 2pm, left the pitch with too much water on it. As a result neither side could play flowing football and the best chance at goal came from a backpass which got stuck. There were many areas of the pitch where it was impossible to run with the ball. Indeed there was a comedy moment on 38 minutes when Forest Green’s Reece Brown set off on a pacey run but the ball got stuck in the water as he carried on going with his momentum. Immediately after that, the referee called the captains over for a discussion, and it was a surprise that they carried on playing for a further 7 minutes until half time.

This was the first time the Stags have been involved an abandoned league or cup game for 12 years, since December 2006 in a game at Accrington which was also abandoned at half time (my report here).

In team news, the Stags made one enforced change from the side that beat Notts County. There was devastating news on Thursday that Bobby Olejnik will be out for 10-12 months with an anterior cruciate ligament rupture picked up in training. Get well soon Bobby, hope you have a speedy recovery. Conrad Logan came into the side in his place for his first league start since mid August. The Stags moved quickly on Friday and signed Jake Kean on a one month deal. Kean played 21 league and cup games for the Stags on loan in early 2017, keeping 10 clean sheets, in a side alongside Pearce, Benning, White, and Hamilton. He had been without a club having been released by Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the last season, and hence was allowed to sign outside of the transfer window. Craig Davies did not travel with the squad and is having a scan on his ankle. Flitcroft explained post match that there is some floating bone, and Flitcroft will know more on Tuesday how long Davies will be out. Forest Green were without former Stag Paul Digby, who was suspended after being sent off last week. Another former Stag, Lee Collins, was on the bench.

Not only was it very wet, but also windy. And Forest Green had the wind behind them in the first half.

Inside the opening couple of minutes there was some farcical miskicking at the Stags end by the corner flag, where the pitch was particularly wet.

Forest Green had the first chance of the game on 3 minutes as Carl Winchester fired in a shot from the left which Logan saved low to his right, pushing it away. A minute later, Reece Brown fired a left footed shot wide from the edge of the D. Then on 9 minutes, Rawson headed over from a Joseph Mills free kick.

It was near enough impossible to play any decent football, but on 18 minutes Mellis played a good 1-2 with Walker, and fired not far wide from 30 yards. Then on 25 minutes, a free kick from Mellis was met by the head of Sweeney from 16 yards. Sweeney looped the header towards the top left corner but keeper Sanchez held the ball just under his bar.

A long slide along the wet grass from Preston on 26 minutes took him out of play! Moments later, Brown’s shot from 20 yards was deflected wide for a corner. Then some slip-sliding in the area following the corner, ended with Dayle Grubb curling a shot wide from 16 yards. On 28 minutes, Elsnik pushed forward to the edge of the area but elected not to shoot. Moments later Joseph Mills tried to dribble down the left for Forest Green and found it impossible.

Sweeney gave the ball away on 32 minutes but did superbly to win it straight back.

There was nearly a disastrous moment on 33 minutes. Preston attempted a backpass to Logan, predictably it got stuck in the water, Shephard pounced on the loose ball but with just Logan to beat, Logan blocked his shot. Fine goalkeeping. A bad misjudgement from Preston though in such conditions.

The Stags went close on 37 minutes. Fine play from Walker down the left, he cut inside, and curled a shot towards the far post, where keeper Sanchez tipped it wide for a corner.

Then that comedy moment on 38 minutes when Reece Brown set off on a pacey run but the ball got stuck in the water as he carried on going with his momentum. Immediately, the referee called the captains over for a discussion, and it was a surprise that they carried on playing.

On 40 minutes, Preston slid in for a challenge and won the ball. Preston ended up sliding further than the ball, and after the game Flitcroft joked that he thought Preston was going to end up in the Vegan burger bar.

On 44 minutes, Pearce chipped a backpass back to Logan, trying to avoid going through the water. It was awkward for Logan but he did brilliantly to clear. It just wasn’t a day for backpasses of any description.

Credit to the players of both sides for putting together a reasonable half in farcical conditions. Not one player complained about the circumstances as far as I saw, they just got on with it.

Not long after taking the players in at the break, news came through that the referee had abandoned the game. It was ironic that the rain had just stopped. But it was the right decision.

Half time, match abandoned 0-0

It’s not really possible to rate the players in such farcical conditions for 45 minutes. However Logan made two good saves and dealt with one or two awkward backpasses, the defence generally did well with the exception of some poor decision making with backpasses in the conditions, the midfield did ok with Mellis probably the pick, while players like Hamilton and White who normally glide across the surface, were neutralised by the surface. Walker did well to create one chance for himself which was well-saved.

The Stags are back in action next Saturday at Stevenage.

Report by: Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Line Up:
Sub Line Up:
Subs not used: Kean, Atkinson, Butcher, Law, Khan, Rose, Graham.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-1-1) Sanchez; Rawson, McGinley, Gunning; Shephard, James, Brown, Winchester, Mills; Grubb; Reid. Subs not used: Montgomery, Lee Collins, Williams, Campbell, Archibald, Worthington, Morris.
James Linington Ultimately made the right call to abandon the game.

Season 18/19 Reports