Attendance: 5311 (486 from Swindon)
Date: 29 December 2018
STAGS DRAW 0-0 WITH SWINDON IN GAME LACKING QUALITY
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town drew 0-0 with Swindon Town at a windy One Call stadium this afternoon, to remain in third place, and two points behind second placed MK Dons with a game in hand. 0-0 was a fair result in my opinion in a game that lacked the quality of most of Mansfield’s recent encounters. However successful teams make sure that if they don’t play well enough to win, they don’t lose and the Stags kept a clean sheet here to ensure that.
23 games gone, exactly half the season, and the Stags have only been beaten once in the league. By the way, the club record fewest defeats in a complete season is 5 in 1923-24 and 6 in 1974-75. Mansfield’s unbeaten run is up to 16 games, the club’s best since a 20 game unbeaten run in 1976. The Stags have also conceded just 16 goals in those 23 games, the lowest number in League Two, or indeed League One or the Championship.
Mansfield were relieved to get to half time at 0-0 as Swindon had the better chances in the first half with the wind behind them. Conrad Logan made three fine saves to keep the score blank. Logan made a super one-handed save from Keshi Anderson after Krystian Pearce uncharacteristically gave the ball away. Pearce had a first half to forget losing the ball on several occasions in dangerous positions. Then Logan superbly tipped Matty Taylor’s free kick from 28 yards onto the bar. Taylor’s quality on crosses and set pieces shone like a beacon as it tends to when he plays against the Stags, and in my opinion his set pieces and crossing remain the best in League Two. Then Logan made another great save with his right leg from Anderson. Logan could rightfully have expected his defence to clear the ball following that save, but Matt Preston gave the ball straight back to Anderson who fired just over the bar. The Stags’ best moments in the first half centred around Tyler Walker. Great play from Walker to set up a shot for Hayden White whose effort was deflected just wide. Then wonderful play from Walker to create a shooting chance from 28 yards, which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Swindon keeper Vigouroux. Credit to Swindon who pressed Mansfield during the half closing down the Stags defenders as they tried to play out from the back which led to a number of errors.
The second half was better from Mansfield, who were the better side. Midway through the half, more great play from Walker, flicking the ball away from Michael Doughty with the back of his heel before bring another good saved from Vigouroux from 30 yards. Then a great tackle by Bishop and Mellis found Walker who fired just over the bar from 25 yards. Then Hamilton created a yard of space on the left and Vigouroux pushed his shot over the bar. Then on the stroke of 90 minutes, Hamilton played inside to Mellis whose powerful shot looked bound for the net but was blocked.
All in all a fair result as the Stags were very much not at their best. Conrad Logan had a good game with those three fine first half saves, Tyler Walker was Mansfield’s best attacking threat with good approach play and some decent shots, Neal Bishop was the pick of the midfield with some good challenges, Hayden White had a good game going forward on the right, and Ryan Sweeney was probably the pick of the defence. But overall the Stags uncharacteristically lacked quality in many areas of the pitch.
On to Grimsby on New Years Day, which will be a tough challenge with Grimsby having hit a fine run of form.
Mansfield were unchanged again in the starting XI and on the bench. Swindon had dangerman Matty Taylor at left back. It was David Flitcroft’s former side of course, and Swindon have dispensed with their next manager too in Phil Brown since the reverse fixture at the County Ground. Surprising comments from new boss Richie Wellens in the build up to the game: “I know David (Flitcroft) very well. His team will be land of the giants - they will be very aggressive and direct. We’re going to face a physical battle." Astonishing comments given how Mansfield have played all season. However perhaps there was some kind of mind games from Wellens, as his overall game plan mostly stifled the Stags.
On a windy day, Swindon had the wind behind them in the first half.
On 2 minutes, a great ball from Mellis to Hamilton who got into the area onto his left foot and his shot was blocked.
On 6 minutes, a shot from Walker was deflected, it looped up and on to the roof of the net. From the resulting corner from Mellis, an effort from Preston came off his knee and went well wide.
On 10 minutes, Logan made a super one-handed save from Keshi Anderson after Pearce uncharacteristically gave the ball away.
A free kick for Swindon on 11 minutes as Bishop fouled Anderson 23 yards from the Stags goal. “One Matty Taylor” the Swindon fans chanted. Taylor took the free kick but the wall did its job blocking it.
On 14 minutes, White crossed in, Hamilton flicked goalwards and then a clearance hit Walker and trickled just wide.
On 17 minutes, a good move as Mellis found Walker whose left footed shot was deflected just wide for a corner. The corner was taken short by Mellis to Benning whose shot was blocked.
Elsnik then did well to track back and clear. On 19 minutes, Elsnik fired in a shot from 35 yards which was low and the keeper only just held.
On 20 minutes, Benning and Hamilton played a one-two and Benning’s shot was blocked.
McCourt was booked for a foul on Bishop on 23 minutes.
The Stags were gifting Swindon possession too often in their own half.
Then on 27 minutes, Logan superbly tipped Matty Taylor’s free kick from 28 yards onto the bar
A minute later, Taylor’s corner was met by Doughty at the edge of the area and his shot was blocked by White. Moments later, Anderson headed over from McCourt’s corner. On 31 minutes, McCourt’s free kick came out to Anderson who volleyed high over the bar.
On 32 minutes, Pearce gave the ball away again and Logan made a great save from Adebayo at his feet. Logan had a go at Pearce who had a go back. It was unusual to see two Stags players in such a heated argument.
On 33 minutes, Taylor curled a free kick from 30 yards into the area and Woolery volleyed over the bar.
Sweeney played an awkward back pass back to Logan on 34 minutes. Logan cleared but was furious with Sweeney.
The Stags were making life hard for themselves at the back.
On 35 minutes, great play from Walker who got to the edge of the area to set up a shot for White whose shot was deflected just wide. From the resulting corner, Preston’s header was saved on the line.
Wonderful play from Walker on 37 minutes to create a shooting chance from 28 yards, which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Vigouroux.
On 40 minutes, Hamilton’s low shot from the right was blocked for a corner. Elsnik’s corner came back to him and he blasted a shot over the bar.
On 42 minutes Logan made another great save, with his right leg from Anderson. Logan could rightfully have expected his defence to clear the ball following that save, but Preston gave the ball straight back to Anderson who fired just over the bar.
On 45+1 minutes, following Taylor’s corner, Anderson miscued a shot goalwards and Logan saved on his line.
The Stags were relieved to get to half time at 0-0. Mansfield’s problems were mostly of their own making giving the ball away in their own half. Pearce had a first half to forget losing the ball on several occasions in dangerous positions. Credit to Swindon who pressed Mansfield during the half closing down the Stags defenders as they tried to play out from the back which led to a number of those errors. A poor half defensively from Mansfield, so rare this season. The Stags’ best moments going forward centred around Walker. But Logan was the Stags’ saviour.
Half time 0-0
On 46 minutes, Swindon made a good break and Anderson got into the area but lost control.
On 48 minutes, Benning crossed in and Mellis sent a low header wide of the right post.
Bishop put in a super cross on 59 minutes but it was just over Hamilton who tried to head goalwards.
Khan replaced Elsnik on 59 minutes.
On 61 minutes, Mellis’ pass was straight to Vigouroux summing up some poor quality. A minute later, Benning’s corner was over everyone and out for a goal kick. The quality was just not there from the Stags.
Half-hearted appeals for a penalty from the Stags on 64 minutes following Hamilton’s cross but nothing was given.
A free kick from Mellis was straight to Vigouroux again on 66 minutes.
On 67 minutes, brilliant play from Walker flicking the ball away from Michael Doughty with the back of his heel before bring another good saved from Vigouroux from 30 yards.
A brilliant marauding run from White on 68 minutes but his cross was blocked.
A good clearance from Logan on 72 minutes, Khan tried to control it but it ran through to Vigouroux.
Controversy on 74 minutes as Pearce pulled his man Woolery back who was running through on goal 25 yards out. Pearce was booked. I thought Woolery had a lot of work to do to create a shooting chance, and I think that's why referee Kettle just produced a yellow. Taylor’s free kick was blocked by the wall which did its job.
On 75 minutes, Woolery put in a good cross and Pearce got an important touch away. Moments later, sub Richards headed over the bar as Swindon were momentarily on top.
More controversy on 77 minutes. Doughty who had earlier been booked, clearly fouled Bishop for what should have been a routine yellow card. Referee Kettle bottled it, not even giving the foul as he would surely have had to send Doughty off.
Swindon boss Wellens was booked moments later.
Rose replaced Benning on 78 minutes. Hamilton moved to left wing back.
On 79 minutes, a great tackle by Bishop and Mellis found Walker who fired just over the bar from 25 yards.
Pearce gave the ball away on 82 minutes and Bishop won it back.
Moments later, a great tackle by Sweeney on Anderson.
On 86 minutes, a snap shot from Bishop was blocked, it came to Hamilton who created a yard of space on the left and Vigouroux pushed his shot over the bar.
On 90 minutes, Hamilton played inside to Mellis who fired in a powerful shot which looked destined for the net but it was blocked. It came back to him and he fired in another shot which was well wide.
Bishop was booked for deliberate foul on 90+3 minutes.
On 90+4 minutes, Hamilton crossed in, Rose headed goalwards and the ball eventually was deflected just wide.
A minute later, a Stags’ claim for a penalty wasn’t given. From the video, the ball twice struck Woolfenden on the arm, but both were accidental.
The final chance of the game saw McCourt try his luck from long range but Logan watched it go wide.
So a draw, and a fair result. On to Grimsby.
Man of the match: Conrad Logan
Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Logan 8 Three really fine saves and one other decent one.
Preston 5.5 Gave the ball straight back to Anderson after Logan had saved Anderson’s shot in the first half. Not at his best in the first half.
Pearce 5 Has been so consistently good this season, but had a first half to forget here losing the ball on several occasions in dangerous positions. Better in the second half.
Sweeney 6 Probably the pick of the defence. One awkward backpass in the first half. One great tackle in the second half.
White 7 Had a good game going forward on the right.
Mellis 6 Set up a few chances. Had a spell in the second half where he misplaced several passes.
Bishop 7 The pick of the midfield with some good challenges.
Elsnik 6.5 One good piece of tracking back. A couple of shots, one brought a save.
Benning 6 A couple of shots blocked. One good cross for a Mellis header.
Walker 7 Mansfield’s best attacking threat with good approach play and some decent shots.
Hamilton 6 One decent shot that was saved. Did ok.
Sub Line Up:
Khan (for Elsnik, 59 mins) - Looked rusty. Great to see him back though and he’ll come good for sure.
Rose (for Benning, 78 mins) - Header goalwards was deflected away.
Subs not used: Kean, Law, Atkinson, Butcher, Graham.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-1-2-3): Vigouroux; Knoyle, Nelson, Woolfenden, Taylor; Conroy; McCourt, Doughty; Anderson, Woolery, Adebayo (Richards 65). Subs not used: McCormick, Smith, Iandolo, Dunne, Twine, McGlashan.
Trevor Kettle 5 Didn’t have a good game. Should have given Doughty a second yellow.