STAGS BEATEN AT WALSALL IN DEFENSIVE HORROR SHOW
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Walsall 3 - 1 Mansfield Town
Miller 6, 48, Taylor 22. Johnson 84
Attendance: 5,203 (1,008 from Mansfield)
Date: 11 September 2021
Martin Shaw at Banks’s Stadium (Bescot Stadium)
Mansfield Town produced a defensive horror show to be beaten 3-1 at Walsall this afternoon. Elliott Hewitt and Richard Nartey produced as bad a central defensive performance as a pairing that I can remember and were responsible for two of the goals conceded, both from long balls forward, and they were lucky it wasn’t more, while Stephen McLaughlin lost his man at a corner as the Stags conceded from a set piece yet again.
The horror show started after 6 minutes. Kieran Phillips sent a massive clearance high into the Stags half. Elliott Hewitt and home striker George Miller battled for the ball but Miller simply muscled Hewitt out of the way, attempted a shot from 22 yards and missed his kick. Richard Nartey had by now got back, but Miller fired a shot through his legs from 16 yards into the net, giving Nathan Bishop in the Stags goal no chance. Terribly weak defending from Hewitt. A great start for Miller, on his home debut, on loan from Barnsley.
Miller was unlucky not to score again after 15 minutes. Brendan Kiernan lifted a ball over the top, Miller got in between Nartey and Hewitt, and fired a superb effort against the underside of the bar from 22 yards.
It was 2-0 after 22 minutes. Jack Earing’s corner from the left was in to the middle to the edge of the six yard box. Central defender Ash Taylor (who only came into the side because Rollin Menayese, on loan from Mansfield, was not allowed to play against his parent club) got away from Stephen McLaughlin who was supposed to be marking him, and headed past Bishop from 6 yards.
Long balls over the top were clearly a tactic from Walsall because they knew the Stags were vulnerable. After 45+2 minutes, they tried another as former Stag Hayden White smashed a long ball forward, over Nartey, Kiernan ran in behind Nartey and from 8 yards, with just Bishop to beat, smashed a powerful shot towards the roof of the net, but Bishop made a terrific reaction save turning it over the bar.
An absolutely shocking first half defensively from Mansfield.
Nigel Clough took Hewitt off at half time as he had been terrible. He was replaced by Farrend Rawson. Nartey had been equally terrible but stayed on.
Unbelievably the horror show continued after 48 minutes. Jack Earing fired a long ball forward into the Stags half from inside his own area. Nartey could have played it back to Bishop, squared it to Rawson, or put it out for a throw-in. He did none of those, and instead was muscled off the ball by Miller who ran through and lifted the ball past Bishop into the net from 18 yards to make it 3-0. Such terribly weak defending. It was horrendous to watch.
The game was over.
In the first half, the Stags had at least created a few chances. Rhys Oates sent a left footed shot towards the near post which the keeper pushed wide after 7 minutes, Oli Hawkins headed straight at the keeper from Gordon’s cross after 12 minutes, Tyrese Sinclair fired wide from a free kick after 14 minutes, and Hawkins had a great header tipped over the bar from a good cross from Oates after 17 minutes.
But the second and third Walsall goals knocked the stuffing out of Mansfield, who didn’t have a shot between 17 minutes and 83 minutes. That chance on 83 minutes came when George Lapslie fired a powerful shot goalwards which was tipped wide. Within a minute, the Stags pulled a goal back, as Ryan Stirk crossed from the right, Rawson got his head on the ball in the middle, and it fell for substitute Danny Johnson who lashed the ball into the net from 8 yards.
It was far too little too late though.
Nigel Clough pulled no punches after the game, saying: “All over the pitch, I thought it was an inept performance from start to finish. But certainly defensively. When you concede two goals straight down the middle of the pitch, it’s very difficult.”
The Stags drop to 20th place with 7 games played. Four defeats on the trot, with ten goals conceded in those four games. And it is the defending that is a huge worry. No clean sheets at all this season. Hewitt and Nartey were abysmal here. Rawson has been poor in previous games, but looks a better bet and will probably start next week. It is not known when Perch will return (there may or may not be some news this week with Perch having seen a specialist). Will Forrester signed on loan from Stoke on deadline day and should be fit in a week or so, but will probably need more time to get match fit. Another option is Oli Hawkins. He was far and away Mansfield’s best player today, heading away four set pieces in the first half, and another in the second half, and he has played at centre half a fair bit before for previous clubs. Of course, Mansfield would then miss his presence up front, but perhaps sorting out the defence is the absolute priority in the short term.
A dreadful afternoon for the Stags and the worst performance since Nigel Clough took over as manager in my opinion. The Stags need to arrest the slide, starting against Rochdale at home next Saturday.
Full credit to the Stags fans at Walsall who continued to get behind their side throughout the game, despite the woeful performance. It was magnificent support, especially in the second half.
Mansfield made two enforced changes from the side that lost to Harrogate. Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn were suspended after being sent off. In came Tyrese Sinclair and Ryan Stirk. Oli Hawkins was made captain.
Walsall also made two changes from their last game. Rollin Menayese, on loan from Mansfield, was not allowed to play against his parent club. He was replaced by Ash Taylor. Jos Labadie, signed in the summer from Newport, was suspended after being sent off last week. He was replaced by Tyrese Shade. Former Stag Hayden White was at right back.
DETAILED REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
SAT 11 SEPT 2021, LEAGUE TWO
Walsall 3-1 Mansfield Town
Miller (6'minutes, 48'minutes), Taylor (22'minutes)
Phillips (6'minutes), Earing (22'minutes)
Match report supplied by PA Media.
George Miller scored twice on his home debut as Walsall cruised to a 3-1 victory that sent Mansfield crashing to a fifth successive defeat.
Miller, a deadline day loan arrival from Barnsley, brushed off Stags defenders to score at the start of each half, while Ash Taylor also netted for the Saddlers before Danny Johnson's late response.
Walsall led after just six minutes, Miller outmuscling Mansfield centre-half Elliott Hewitt to a high ball and drilling past Nathan Bishop from just inside the box.
Miller struck the woodwork with a superb dipping 25-yard volley before Taylor bulleted home a header from Jack Earing's corner to double Walsall's lead on 22 minutes.
Mansfield could have levelled moments before but Saddlers keeper Carl Rushworth did well to tip over Oli Hawkins' glancing header.
Bishop kept Mansfield in it with an instinctive save from Brendan Kiernan's blistering half-volley before half-time but Miller shrugged off Richard Nartey to slide home his second on 48 minutes.
The Stags keeper denied Miller a hat-trick before a free-kick dropped to Stags substitute Johnson to lash home an 84th-minute consolation.
Home Team Walsall Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 39% Away 61%
Shots Home 10 Away 10
Shots on Target Home 5 Away 5
Corners Home 9 Away 3
Fouls Home 17 Away 11
Mansfield Town slump to fifth straight defeat going down 3-1 at Walsall
chad.co.uk, By Michael Beardmore, Saturday 11th September 2021
Mansfield’s poor run of results continued as they slumped to a fifth successive defeat in all competitions with a 3-1 reverse at Walsall.
Defensive mistakes abounded, with centre-halves Elliott Hewitt and Richard Nartey at fault for both of George Miller’s goals for Walsall, while the Stags again conceded from a set-piece in between.
Substitute Danny Johnson lashed home a late consolation to hand the noisy band of 1,008 travelling fans some cheer, but the defeat drops Mansfield to 20th in League Two.
Ryan Stirk and Tyrese Sinclair replaced suspended pair Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn after the pair’s red cards at Harrogate, but boss Nigel Clough resisted the temptation to make further changes.
The Stags were behind after only six minutes, Miller twice outmuscling Hewitt from a speculative high ball, before drilling past an exposed Nathan Bishop from just inside the box.
Town’s response was good as Rhys Oates’ near-post strike was turned aside by Walsall keeper Carl Rushworth, who then produced a superb save to tip over Oli Hawkins’ glancing header.
In between, however, Mansfield almost slipped two behind, Miller beating Town’s ill-timed offside trap and unleashing a rasping 25-yard volley that crashed back off Bishop’s bar.
But the reprieve was only temporary as the Stags’ set-piece struggles again reared their head. This time Ash Taylor rose highest in the six-yard box to bullet home a header from Jack Earing’s 22nd-minute corner.
Only Bishop prevented the deficit being irretrievable by half-time, producing a superb reaction stop to thwart Brendan Kiernan in time added on after he outpaced Nartey to a ball over the top.
Clough hauled off Hewitt and Oates at the interval, bringing on Farrend Rawson and Johnson, but the Stags’ misery was deepened just three minutes into the second half.
Nartey was the culprit this time, crumbling under pressure from Miller and left appealing for a foul that would never come as the Walsall striker raced on to coolly slide his second past Bishop.
Bishop later denied Miller his hat-trick with a smart near-post save before Mansfield finally came to life in the closing stages.
George Lapslie’s 25-yard volley was beaten away by Carl Rushworth, before the away end erupted as a free-kick dropped to Johnson, who lashed home from around eight yards.
Walsall: Rushworth, White, Taylor, Monthe, Ward, Kinsella, Earing, Phillips (Perry, 90), Kiernan, Shade (Osadebe, 72), Miller. Subs not used: Rose, Leak, Mills, Willis, Bates.
Stags: Bishop, Gordon, Hewitt (Rawson, 46), Hartley, McLaughlin, Stirk, Maris (Bowery, 62), Lapslie, Oates (Johnson, 46), Hawkins, Sinclair. Subs not used: Shelvey, Burke, Charsley, Law.
Referee: David Rock
Attendance: 5,203 (1,008 away)
Walsall 3 Mansfield Town 1 - Report
expressandstar.com, By Joe Edwards, Sept 11, 2021
George Miller enjoyed a dream home debut as ruthless Walsall breezed past Mansfield Town at the Banks's Stadium.
A thoroughly dominant display from the Saddlers saw Miller wreak havoc on a sorry Stags defence, netting either side of Ash Taylor's towering header.
And while the visitors struck towards the end through Danny Johnson, Matt Taylor has plenty to smile about with his charges now three games unbeaten in League Two.
Miller kicked things off in style as he found the net in a matter of minutes.
Taylor then made the most of Mansfield's frailty from set plays before centre forward Miller got a lovely second.
Johnson's strike denied Walsall a clean sheet, but the end result was not in doubt at any point. Make no mistake, they were the better side.
The Saddlers have been craving a striker and in Miller, they may well have their man. He had an outstanding afternoon.
Three goals and three points, things are looking pretty good.
Walsall made two changes to the starting line-up - both of them enforced.
Centre-half Rollin Menayese could not play against his parent club while skipper Joss Labadie started his three-match league ban after being shown a straight red card at Bradford.
Taylor and Tyrese Shade were those to come in, in an attack-minded team.
Boss Taylor had called for the Saddlers to be 'aggressive' and take the game to Mansfield. They got off to a perfect start as well.
Walsall were ahead after just five minutes as Miller displayed both tenacity and talent, grabbing his first goal since joining from Barnsley on deadline day.
Latching onto Kieran Phillips' over-the-top ball, the Tykes loanee outfought Stags centre-half Elliott Hewitt before firing the ball low into the far corner.
It was an excellently-taken goal and had an uncanny resemblance to Conor Wilkinson's winner against Stevenage a couple of weeks ago.
The visiting Mansfield fans continued to voice their support despite falling behind, trying to will their team on.
They had captain Oli Hawkins force a couple of saves from Carl Rushworth, too - one a routine catch and the other needing to be acrobatically tipped over.
But Walsall were looking dangerous.
Miller, buoyed by his goal, found space again and unleashed a sensational half-volley from 25 yards which rattled the crossbar.
Shade's follow-up was then fumbled by Nathan Bishop, with the onrushing Brendan Kiernan just unable to reach the loose ball.
The Saddlers had the bit between their teeth and, unsurprisingly, they soon doubled their lead.
Mansfield's failure to deal with set pieces properly has been a big problem over the past several weeks, and Taylor was the latest to take advantage with a bullet header.
Jack Earing's inswinging corner was met emphatically by the defender. Meat and drink for him.
The Stags had come into the game with the joint-worst defensive record in the division, and it was quickly becoming apparent as to why.
Nigel Clough's lot consistently failed to deal with routine balls upfield.
Hayden White clipped one past the backline and Kiernan nearly made it three, only to be denied by Bishop's sharp stop.
Walsall were certainly worth their lead going into the break, although Mansfield's woeful defending had given them a helping hand.
The interesting decision to have Kiernan in the No.10 position rather than wide left had worked a treat.
Liam Kinsella was everywhere while Miller led the line with aplomb. And it soon got better.
Mansfield had tried to stem the tide by bringing on both Johnson and Farrend Rawson for start of the second half, but the determined Miller could not be stopped.
He brushed Richard Nartey off the ball this time before coolly slotting it beyond Bishop.
In that one-on-one situation, he never looked like he was going to miss. Ice in his veins.
The comfort of that third goal brought on a carnival atmosphere at the Banks's, and Manny Monthe was not far away from giving the fans a unique fourth to cheer.
His clearance from the halfway line would have gone in had it not been for Bishop anxiously scrambling back and making the save.
Telling the story, the Stags had made all three changes by the hour. The Saddlers, meanwhile, were quite happy to keep things as they were.
A switch eventually came in the 71st minute as Emmanuel Osadebe replaced Shade.
Walsall continued to push as Miller saw a near-post effort stopped, while the Mansfield supporters chanted 'if we score, we're on the pitch'.
The Stags did grab a late consolation as Johnson lashed home from close range - one or two indeed making their way onto the turf.
Ultimately, though, the Saddlers were convincing winners. Back-to-back home victories and momentum is on their side.
Their best display under Taylor.
Walsall (4-2-3-1): Rushworth; White, Taylor, Monthe, Ward (c); Kinsella, Earing; Phillips (Perry, 90), Kiernan, Shade (Osadebe, 71); Miller
Subs not used: Rose (gk), Leak, Mills, Willis, Bates
Goals: Miller (5, 48)), Taylor (22)
Mansfield (4-3-3): Bishop; Gordon, Hewitt (Rawson, 46), Nartey, McLaughlin; Maris (Bowery, 62), Stirk, Lapslie; Oates (Johnson, 46), Hawkins (c), Sinclair
Subs not used: Shelvey (gk), Charsley, Burke, Law
Goal: Johnson (84)
Attendance: 5,203 (1,008 Mansfield fans)
Referee: David Rock