STAGS DRAW AT WALSALL ON FREEZING NIGHT
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Walsall 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Melbourne 23. O.Clarke 31
Attendance: behind closed doors
Date: 9 February 2021
Martin Shaw at the Banks’s Stadium (Bescot Stadium)
Mansfield Town drew 1-1 at Walsall last night in an even game in difficult conditions with the temperature below freezing. Both sides were playing their first game for two and a half weeks and both managers were happy to settle for a point in the circumstances, so much so that they agreed with the referee to play no stoppage time at the end of the game in order to prevent any late injuries on the frozen pitch. Equally unusual was the very late decision to bring the kick-off time forward by 15 minutes only an hour before the scheduled start with the officials rightly worried that the pitch would freeze up completely later on.
The Stags had the best chance of the opening stages as George Lapslie won the ball in the centre circle after 5 minutes and drove forward before finding Jamie Reid who controlled the ball nicely and fired across the goalkeeper and just wide of the left post from the edge of the area.
There was really bad news for the Stags after 12 minutes as Lapslie limped off with a hamstring injury. Manager Nigel Clough expects Lapslie to be out for about four weeks. Bad timing, with 2 games per week coming up for the next 6 weeks. Clough revealed after the game that his assistant Gary Crosby had tried to persuade him not risk Lapslie who had felt his hamstring in training last week but Clough did and he admitted candidly “he [Gary Crosby] is right, I’m wrong, and he’s probably missing four weeks.” Lapslie was replaced by Ollie Clarke, happily returning from injury himself.
Walsall took the lead after 23 minutes thanks to some sleepy defending from the Stags. A free kick from 32 yards was curled into the area by Tyreik Wright, Walsall’s best player, on loan from Aston Villa. It was into a good area between the Stags defence and goalkeeper Aidan Stone, and Walsall left back Max Melbourne got away from his marker Kellan Gordon to turn it into the net on the volley from 4 yards. Poor defending from Gordon, not alert enough to the situation, while Stone could also have done better with the ball into his six yard box. Sloppy from the Stags at the back, perhaps understandable due to the lack of competitive action recently. A debut goal for Melbourne, on loan from Lincoln.
The Stags were level after 31 minutes with a wonderfully worked goal. Jordan Bowery intercepted a loose ball from Alfie Bates and played a superb one-two with Jamie Reid before sliding the ball from the edge of the area across to his right to Ollie Clarke who slid his shot under the keeper from 10 yards. Tremendous interplay between Bowery and Reid and a cool finish from Clarke.
The Stags had two chances to take the lead before half time as Harry Charsley fired wide from 25 yards, and then Jordan Bowery’s shot from the edge of the area was turned around the post by the keeper. Bowery’s chance came from a sensational ball forward from Ollie Clarke from inside his own half which set Bowery away. The vision from Clarke for the pass was quite stunning and I can’t remember a better pass all season.
There were fewer chances in the second half. Walsall’s best chance came after 53 minutes as Tyreik Wright’s free kick from the left was headed a yard wide from 4 yards by Caolan Lavery at the near post.
Mansfield’s best chance to win it came after 81 minutes when Stone’s huge kick forward bounced into the area, Bowery held off his defender with his back to goal, turned and flicked the ball goalwards but the keeper saved at point blank range. It rebounded to Harry Charsley who fired wide from 12 yards under pressure from a defender. Really good play from Bowery to get the shot in and it was so close to creeping past the keeper who did very well.
A minute later Ollie Clarke fired high and wide from 25 yards. And that was the end of the chances as both sides settled for a point.
So the Stags’ winning run of 5 games comes to an end but the run of four postponed games had robbed the side of all that momentum. A fair result, though the Stags did have more good chances.
The biggest positive of the night, aside from completing the game, was the form of Ollie Clarke, who was superb on his return from injury. The biggest negative of course was losing Lapslie, who has been playing so well in Mansfield’s good run of form.
The Stags visit out-of-form Colchester United on Saturday. Hopefully the game will survive the weather with temperatures not set to rise above freezing before Saturday.
Mansfield were unchanged from the side that won at Southend 2.5 weeks ago. There were 3 changes on the bench with Ollie Clarke returning from injury, the inclusion of new signing Oli Sarkic, and Tyrese Sinclair also coming on to the bench. Sarkic has signed on loan from Blackpool. He was with Clough at Burton last season and played against the Stags in the EFL Trophy last season coming on as a half-time substitute. He can play up front, on the right, the left or down the middle. He came on for the final 18 minutes here and played on the left of Reid with Bowery on the right. The three players not on the bench from the last game were Andy Cook and Nicky Maynard who have departed on loan, and Corey O’Keeffe.
Walsall were without two players who departed in the transfer window, since the game should have been played 10 days earlier, defender Zak Jules who went to League One MK Dons, and striker Elijah Adebayo who went to Championship side Luton. They included Tyreik Wright, signed on loan from Aston Villa in the transfer window, and defender Max Melbourne, signed on deadline day from Lincoln City, and both were involved in the Walsall goal.
The game was in doubt all day in such cold conditions. Nigel Clough admitted afterwards that it was a little surreal as both sides really didn’t know if the game would finally go ahead. It did go ahead but the referee made the very late decision to bring the kick-off time forward by 15 minutes only an hour before the scheduled start, worried that the pitch would freeze up completely later on.
It’s the coldest conditions I can recall the Stags playing in since a https://www.stagsnet.net/match/reports/viewreport.php?matchid=38">0-0 draw with Brentford on an icy, snowy, frozen pitch at Field Mill in February 2003.
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
Man of the match: Ollie Clarke
TUE 09 FEB 2021, LEAGUE TWO
Walsall 1-1 Mansfield Town
Melbourne (23'minutes) O Clarke (31'minutes)
Assists Wright (23'minutes) Bowery (31'minutes)
Report supplied by PA Media.
Mansfield's five-game League Two winning streak ended as they drew at fellow draw specialists Walsall.
Lincoln loanee Max Melbourne's debut goal put Walsall ahead but Ollie Clarke ensured a 12th draw of the season - a joint division-high - for each side.
In both teams' first game in 17 days, Mansfield threatened first as Jamie Reid cut in from the right and rolled just wide of the far post.
But Walsall led after 23 minutes as Melbourne stole in to stab Tyreik Wright's deep free-kick across Stags keeper Aidan Stone from close range.
Mansfield levelled after 31 minutes as Jordan Bowery pounced on Alfie Bates' loose pass to free early substitute Clarke to slot under Liam Roberts from 12 yards.
Both sides had chances either side of the break as Roberts made a smart save to foil Bowery's 20-yard shot and Caolan Lavery headed another Wright free-kick wide for Walsall.
Bowery had the best opportunity to win it after Walsall allowed an up and under to bounce in their box but he was denied by Roberts' legs.
Home Team Walsall Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 48% Away 52%
Shots Home 5 Away 11
Shots on Target Home 1 Away 3
Mansfield Town's winning streak ends with draw at Walsall
Harry Wright, chad.co.uk, Tuesday 9th February 2021
Mansfield Town’s impressive five-game winning run came to a frustrating end as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Walsall for the second time this season, writes Harry Wright.
Substitute Ollie Clarke’s 31st-minute equaliser cancelled out Lincoln loanee Max Melbourne’s debut goal on a bitterly cold evening at the Bescot Stadium.
Despite failing to extend their winning streak, Nigel Clough's side are now unbeaten in seven league games.
Clough opted for an unchanged side from the 1-0 win against Southend, whilst Darrell Clarke made two changes to his starting line-up, bringing in Melbourne and Caolan Lavery for the departed Zak Jules and Elijah Adebayo.
Jamie Reid went closest for the visitors in a quiet first quarter of an hour.
But Melbourne broke the deadlock with his first league goal in the 23rd minute as he linked with fellow loanee Tyreik Wright to stab home the latter's pin-point ball.
Substitue Clarke restored parity for the Stags after coming on for the injured George Lapslie.
A quick one-two between Reid and Jordan Bowery set the latter clear, and he unselfishly squared across the face of goal for Clarke to fire the visitors level.
The Stags started to show their quality and they searched for a second before the break.
And potent Clarke was in the thick of the action once again when he latched onto Liam Roberts’ poor clearance but Kellan Gordon blasted well over the bar.
It was Bowery who went closest before the break as his sweetly-struck half-volley forced Roberts into a super acrobatic save.
Despite having the line-share of possession in the second half and introducing Oliver Sarkic from the bench for his debut, Mansfield couldn’t create the openings to extend their winning run in the Black Country.
Harry Charsley was kept out by Roberts minutes into the second period after Reid's flick on.
But Wright’s free-kicks persisted to be a problem for the Stags’ back line with Caolan Lavery nodding wide of the mark for the hosts.
The Stags squandered a great late chance to clinch all three points as Bowery was denied by Roberts before Charsley struck the rebound wide.
Walsall: Roberts, White, Scarr, Sadler, Melbourne, Wright (Nolan 63), Bates (Vincent 77), Kinsella McDonald, Gordon, Lavery (Osei Yaw 77).
Subs not used: Rose, Norman, Cockerill-Mollett, Osadebe.
Mansfield: Stone, Gordon, Sweeney, Rawson, McLaughlin, Quinn (Sarkic 72), Maris, Lapslie (Clarke 12), Charsley, Bowery, Reid.
Subs not used: Stech, Benning, Perch, Sinclair, Law.
Referee: Alan Young
Walsall 1 Mansfield 1 - Report
expressandstar.com, By Joseph Masi
Walsall and Mansfield had to make do with a share of the spoils following a keenly contested clash at the Banks’s Stadium.
Darrell Clarke’s Saddlers took a first-half lead when deadline day arrival Max Melbourne fired in with a clever flick.
Nigel Clough's Mansfield arrived in great form having won their previous five League Two matches.
And they pulled level shortly past the half-hour mark when substitute Ollie Clarke - who played under namesake Darrell for Bristol Rovers - fired in from close range.
Both teams continued to play with a real intensity for the remainder of the first-half.
The second-half, however, was a lot more scrappy with both teams only creating one real opportunity as light snow began to dust the Banks's.
Caolan Lavery should have scored for the Saddlers when he fired wide just yards from goal after meeting a dangerous free-kick.
At the other end, Jamie Reid saw a strike saved by the legs of Liam Roberts.
Overall, though, a draw was a fair result with both teams showing plenty of endevour without doing enough to win it.
The result means Walsall are now unbeaten in four matches with Darrell Clarke’s side climbing to 11th in League Two.
Darrell Clarke opted for an attacking 4-4-2 formation when naming his starting line-up with Josh Gordon partnering Caolan Lavery up front.
Wes McDonald started on the left wing with Tyreik Wright on the right while Liam Kinsella joined Alfie Bates in central midfield.
Melbourne, who arrived on loan from Lincoln on transfer deadline day, made his Saddlers debut at left-back.
Mansfield lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation. George Maris was the holding midfielder with Jamie Reid partnering Jordan Bowery in attack.
Both teams had seen their recent fixtures rocked by postponements with Walsall’s last two matches having been called-off while Mansfield’s last five had gone by the wayside.
And with temperatures below zero, the kick-off for this clash was brought forward by 15 minutes in a bid to beat the weather and stop the pitch from freezing.
Despite their lack of games, both teams started the clash brightly.
It was Mansfield who created the game’s first chance just five minutes in when the ball was worked to Reid on the edge of the box who sent a curling strike inches wide.
But the Saddlers were also doing everything they could to play on the front foot with Lavery and Gordon pressing the Stags back four relentlessly.
And they took the lead midway through the half when Wright whipped in a deep free-kick which Melbourne cleverly flicked home for a debut goal.
While clear-cut chances were proving few and far between, both teams continued to play with real intensity and endeavour as the clock ticked towards the half-hour mark.
But in the 31st minute, Mansfield managed to pull themselves level after pouncing on a loose pass from Bates.
That allowed the ball to be worked to Reid who played a neat one-two with Bowery before delivering a wonderfully inviting cross.
And that was slammed home by Clarke who had come on as a 12th-minute substitute after George Lapslie strained his hamstring.
From that point on the half continued to ebb and flow.
But it was Mansfield who almost grabbed the lead in stoppage time with Bowery hitting a low drive from just inside the box that Liam Roberts did well to parry away.
It was Walsall who created the first chance of the second half with Wright sending in another excellent free-kick after McDonald had been fouled out on the left.
And that delivery - which was sent right into the danger area - was met by Lavery who steered the ball wide when he really should have scored.
The game continued to be a real battle as the clock ticked past the hour mark with light snow starting to dust the Banks’s Stadium.
Darrell Clarke was forced into a change in the 63rd minute when the lively Wright picked up a minor knock that saw him replaced by Jack Nolan.
Now, though, what had been an entertaining game had become very scrappy with both teams struggling to find any rhythm as the pitch continued to get harder.
In a bid to give his team fresh impetus, Darrell Clarke made a double change in the Frank Vincent and Derick Osei Yew replacing Bates and Lavery.
It was Mansfield, though, who created the games next chance with Reid out-muscling Melbourne to latch onto a long ball into the box.
The striker did just enough to get a shot away but Roberts managed to block the effort with his feet.
The loose ball then fell for Harry Charlsey but from 10-yards he fired high and wide when he should have done better.
Both teams huffed and puffed from that point on without creating any clear-cut chances.
And bizarrely, the second the clock hit the 90-minute mark referee Alan Young blew for full-time with the official deciding to not bother with stoppage time dispute both teams making second-half subs and there being one or two brakes in play.
That meant Lavery’s early chance and Mansfield’s late one with Reid and Charlsey where the only chances created in a second-half which, overall, saw both teams cancel each other out.
Walsall: Roberts, Melbourne, Clarke, Scarr, White, McDonald, Kinsella, Bates (Vincent 77), Wright (Nolan 63), Gordon, Lavery (Osei Yaw 77).
Subs not used: Rose, Cockerill-Mollett, Norman, Osadebe.
Mansfield: Stone, Gordon, Rawson, Sweeney, McLaughlin, Maris, Lapslie (Clarke 12), Quinn (Sarkic 72), Charsley, Reid, Bowery.
Subs not used: Stech, Benning, Perch, Sinclair, Law.