STAGS DRAW 0-0 WITH 2ND BOTTOM OLDHAM
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 0 - 0 Oldham Athletic
Attendance: 4,526 (496 from Oldham)
Date: 9 October 2021
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town drew 0-0 with Oldham Athletic this afternoon in a poor game to leave both sides in the bottom four.
Oldham had the better of the chances in the first half, and were unlucky after 40 minutes when Harrison McGahey fired against the bar from close range after Carl Piergianni headed down a corner. Then the Stags were indebted to keeper Nathan Bishop who made a good save from Piergianni firing through a crowd of players from 12 yards following a long throw. And then Bishop saved well again from Zak Dearnley’s shot from 14 yards with Davis Keillor-Dunn turning the rebound wide.
If Oldham had the better of the chances in the first half, it was Mansfield who had the better of the chances in the second half. After 68 minutes, George Lapslie did well to win the ball 35 yards out, he backheeled the ball in to the path of Harry Charsley who took a touch before his shot from 17 yards was well-parried away by the keeper. Then after 80 minutes, Ryan Burke did well to win the ball on the left, Rhys Oates surged forward into the area and teed up Charsley whose shot from 12 yards was very well saved. The ball was recycled to Oates, whose goalbound shot was blocked.
The Stags should have had a penalty in my opinion after 75 minutes. Lapslie nutmegged Jordan Clarke in the box and got himself goalside of Benny Couto, Couto made contact with him behind, and Lapslie went down. It was clumsy from Couto who couldn't possibly get the ball with Lapslie between him and the ball. The Oldham iFollow commentators next to me said in commentary that Couto was extremely lucky to get away with it. To make matters worse, the referee booked Lapslie for diving. I’ve watched the incident back from Matt the analyst’s footage from his camera in the West Stand on a big screen frame by frame, from behind the goal video footage from a groundhopper, and from the main camera footage from the Bishop Street gantry, and there was clearly contact from Couto on Lapslie. When we consider the penalties awarded to Barrow and Colchester against the Stags this season, the Stags are not getting much luck in this area.
The first half was disrupted by a 12 minute stoppage for a bad injury to George Maris. Club doctor Dr Prabu was clearly concerned straight away. There was very good news after the game though that the injury is not as serious as feared. Nigel Clough said after the game that Maris was “sitting up in the treatment room. He got a very nasty whack in the side of his head and neck area. But he’s up, talking and okay. I don’t think he was actually knocked out. We don’t know how long he’s out for. We’ll just see how it settles in the next few days.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Oli Hawkins was forced off at half time with injury. Hawkins has been Mansfield’s best player this season, alongside Nathan Bishop. Clough said after the game that he has a groin injury: “He felt his groin in the first-half. His groin hasn’t actually gone, it was just very sore. There is a slight strain in there, so even in these circumstances, we can’t afford to lose him for four or five games.”
The Stags were already without, going into this game: Perch (out for the season), Gordon, Nartey, Stirk, all injured, and Quinn, Sinclair, Rawson, all suspended. Add to that George Cooper who came in at centre half on Tuesday and played very well before going off injured. And add to that Will Forrester, who was at least one piece of positive news, being on the bench today having arrived at the club on Friday after having done some rehabilitation and training at his parent club Stoke. He wasn’t ready to start the game today. Nigel Clough had said last week that he might arrange a friendly this week to get Forrester some game time, but told me after the game today that he would now not be risking getting further players injured in such a game having lost two more to injury today.
So a disappointing draw. The Stags have now not won in 9 league games and sit fourth bottom. Before the season started I predicted that the Stags would finish in the top 7. That prediction isn’t looking very good now. However I think that things will improve when we get a few players back, and of course there is an opportunity to strengthen the squad in January.
Despite the overall disappointment, there were some good performances today. James Clarke made his first start in the league this season at right back and played well. Elliott Hewitt had a good game at centre half. Stephen McLaughlin performed solidly at left back and then filling in at centre half. Nathan Bishop made two good saves. Keaton Ward came on as substitute and again did well, as he did on Tuesday, in midfield. But there were some disappointing performances as Danny Johnson and Jordan Bowery offered very little going forward and sub Rhys Oates not much more than that. George Lapslie created one or two things and should have been given that penalty, while Harry Charsley did ok and had a couple of efforts well-saved.
The Stags are away to Northampton next week. Farrend Rawson will be back from suspension. Quinn and Sinclair still have one more game of their suspensions to serve. Hopefully Hawkins will be ok from his groin strain. I would partner Rawson with Hewitt at centre half, and James Clarke at right back, allowing Hawkins to go back up front if he’s fit. I’d guess it’s unlikely Maris will be fit for next week, so I would play Keaton Ward in front of the back four.
DETAILED REPORT TO FOLLOW
SAT 09 OCT 2021, LEAGUE TWO
Mansfield Town 0-0 Oldham Athletic
Report supplied by PA Media.
A miserable afternoon for Mansfield saw them held to a goalless draw at home to fellow League Two strugglers Oldham and lose midfielder George Maris to a serious head injury.
The Stags, who have now gone 11 games without a win in all competitions - and were without eight key players - began the first half well and Danny Johnson fired just wide after 11 minutes.
But they were rocked a minute later when Maris suffered a clash of heads with team-mate James Clarke and a worrying 13-minute hold-up followed before he was carried off on a stretcher.
Oldham eventually took a grip and five minutes before the break, Harrison McGahey turned the ball against the woodwork from six yards after Carl Piergianni had headed a Jamie Bowden corner towards him.
Rhys Oates sent a good chance wide for Mansfield after turning his marker.
But in the 14 first-half added minutes, home goalkeeper Nathan Bishop parried a shot from Piergianni after the Stags failed to clear Benny Couto's long throw.
Then, on a breakaway, Zak Dearnley forced another save with David Keillor-Dunn sending the follow-up wide.
In a scrappy second half of few chances, Harry Charsley forced Jayson Leutwiler to save low efforts after 68 and 81 minutes as the home side dominated without reward.
Home Team Mansfield Away Team Oldham
Possession Home 51% Away 49%
Shots Home 11 Away 8
Shots on Target Home 4 Away 3
Corners Home 3 Away 2
Fouls Home 10 Away 15
Serious injury for George Maris as depleted Mansfield Town go an 11th game without victory
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Saturday 9th October 2021
Depleted Mansfield Town's problems mounted as they lost George Maris with a serious head injury and went an 11th game without a win after being held 0-0 by fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The game was held up for 13 minutes after the Maris injury who joined a list of at least eight key players missing through injury and suspension.
But there was some cheer as youngsters James Clarke and sub Keaton Ward turned in fine displays.
The Mansfield side showed two changes from the previous weekend with James Clarke coming in at right back for the suspended Farrend Rawson and Danny Johnson in up front for Rhys Oates, both Clarke and Johnson having impressed in the midweek Papa John's Trpohy game.
There was also a first time in the squad for Stoke City loanee defender Will Forrester, who has been injured since signing in the transfer window but was finally on the home bench.
Stags began well with some neat passing and McLaughlin was unlucky when he delivered a teasing low free kick right across the face of goal on four minutes.
On 11 minutes Maris sent a fine ball behind the full back to send McLaughlin to the left by-line from where he pulled a low pass back to Johnson who could only fire wide.
A minute later both Clarke and Maris went in together for a high ball and Maris stayed down after their heads clashed.
A stretcher was brought on amid a long delay as treatment was administered and after a 13-minute delay he was finally carried off to huge applause and replaced by Oates.
Stobbs was booked on 37 minutes for a foul on Oates and, when the free kick was cleared and Oldham threatened to break, Clarke cynically halted Bahamboula for a booking.
Goalmouth action had been scarce, but on 40 minutes the visitors came desperately close.
Bowden sent in the game's first corner from the left, Piergianni headed it back into the mix and McGahey turned the ball against the post from six yards.
On 43 minutes Oates did the hard bit as he turned his man in the box only to lash a low finish well wide.
A massive 14 minutes was added onto the half after the Maris injury.
Five minutes into that Stags failed to deal with a long Couto throw and the ball fell for Piergianni to force Bishop to parry his on-target effort.
A minute later Stags were caught on the counter with Dearnley getting behind Clarke. But Bishop got a hand to his low finish and Keillor-Dunn hooked the loose call wide.
Johnson sent a tame shot straight at Leutwiler soon after, then Keillor-Dunn fired straight at Bishop on 45+10 as the Latics finished a goalless half looking by far the more likely to break through.
With Hawkins presumably injured, Stags sent on Burke at left back for the second half with McLaughlin dropping into the centre of defence.
Keillor-Dunn fired over on the turn three minutes after the restart.
Ward took over from Clarke on 61 minutes and seconds later Oates sent a low cross-cum-shot across goal.
Then Charsley's low shot from Disley's pass forced Leutwiler down to block on 68 minutes as Stags finally began to get control of the game again.
On 76 minutes Lapslie went down in the box under Couto's challenge, but the referee decided it was a dive and booked the Stags man.
Oates then set up Charsley on 81 minutes but Leutwiler was again equal to it.
Clarke was booked for Oldham for his foul on Ward on 86 minutes and Burke joined him on 90+2 for a late challenge as the game ended scoreless.
STAGS: Bishop, J. Clarke, Hawkins (Burke HT), Hewitt, McLaughlin, Maris (Oates 25), Charsley, O. Clarke (Ward 61), Lapslie, Johnson, Bowery. SUBS NOT USED: Shelvey, Forrester, Law, Gale.
OLDHAM: Leutwiler, J. Clarke, McGahey, Piergianni, Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Dearnley (Bettache 85), Stobbs, Bowden, Bahamboula (Hope 85), Couto. SUBS NOT USED: Rogers, Fage Da Silva, Diarra, Sheehan.
REFEREE: Craig Hicks.
ATTENDANCE: 4,526 (496 away).
MATCH VERDICT: Mansfield Town 0, Oldham Athletic 0
theoldhamtimes.co.uk, By Suzanne Geldard
ON the surface of this archetypal six-pointer, a draw wasn’t really much benefit to either side.
Granted they were a point better off than when they started, but while Mansfield moved up a place by virtue of goal difference - just as Latics had last weekend despite defeat to Harrogate - Keith Curle’s side remained in the bottom two and two points adrift.
But digging a little deeper, and casting his eye further back, Curle took heart from elements of the performance.
For starters, the last time he took Latics to Field Mill he had a post-match dressing room lock-in, emerging much later than he normally would to tell the patiently waiting media that he felt “let down” by the performance and that his players lacked leadership, having seen them suffer a 4-1 defeat.
Fast forward 161 days and Curle has established a much tighter ship.
Latics already have more than half the number of clean sheets they accumulated in the whole of last season after just a quarter of the campaign. And all of those shut-outs have come in the last four games.
It is perhaps no coincidence that this run began when Harrison McGahey was able to make his debut after a contract issue was finally resolved. The former Rochdale defender has an imposing presence and reads the game, and danger, well.
He provides a threat in the opposition box too, and was unlucky not to capitalise on a strong end to the first half for Curle's men. The crossbar denied him the chance to get Latics' noses in front, after Benny Couto caused problems in the box with his now trademark long throw.
Zak Dearnley provided another positive, in what was his first league start since that last trip to Mansfield, replacing Hallam Hope in the line-up.
The forward has had a hard time putting his injury problems behind him and rediscovering his early season form from last term. But he appears to be getting there, and 85 minutes at Field Mill - the longest he has spent on a pitch since December last year - will go a long way to helping Dearnley get back to his best.
And things are at long last looking up on the injury front too, with goalkeeper Danny Rogers returning from a neck problem to provide competition for Jayson Leutwiler, who responded with some key second half saves to preserve the point and shut-out.
"A third clean sheet out of four shows that we're trying to build a foundation whereby we are difficult to beat," said Curle.
"Clean sheets were at a premium last season, that's got to be part of our foundation that we go into games looking not to concede and being difficult to beat knowing that we've got creative players on the pitch."
Dearnley returned to the starting line-up as one of three changes following last Saturday's defeat at home to Harrogate Town and was unlucky not to have his efforts rewarded with a goal after he received a terrific throughball from Couto, only to be denied by goalkeeper Nathan Bishop in first half stoppage time.
"I think the pleasing thing from Dearns is a little bit of composure, moving the ball, quick feet, getting his strike off, you're thinking 'excellent, that's the Dearnley that we need to be seeing on a regular basis'," Curle continued.
"It's taken us a little bit of time building up his fitness and building up his confidence, building up the ability to be robust whereby he's disappointed coming off after 85 minutes and it shows the extra work that he's been doing that we've been doing with him is paying dividends."
The game was delayed by over 12 minutes in the first half following an injury Mansfield midfielder George Maris, who left the field on a stretcher following a collision with his own team-mate, James Clarke, in the middle of the park.
"I think it was a collision between two of their players. Davis (Keillor-Dunn) has tried to get in front of their lad, as he's rolled him the other lad has propelled himself into him. Our physio went on with their physio and he's quite confident that it's a head injury and neck injury that isn't too dangerous," Curle explained.
Mansfield had been building momentum but the lengthy stoppage played into Latics' hands.
"With the quality Mansfield have got you know they are going to put you under pressure and the first 15-20 minutes was no surprise to us adjusting to working and becoming familiar and not panicking because of their system where they play a lot of balls in midfield and not get dismantled," Curle added.
"We were able to settle and get good information on.
"I thought we dominated and had the better chances at the end of the first half. Second half I thought was quite even."
LOMAS ON STAGS: No manager could legislate for Mansfield Town’s current player crisis
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas
No matter who the manager is, it would be hard for anyone to legislate for coping with the number of players Mansfield Town have missing right now.
It's hard to remember a time when the Stags had 10 outfield players unavailable through a combination of injuries and suspension.
There are no excuses for the suspensions and the players involved have exacerbated what was already a difficult situation for their boss.
But to lose two more on Saturday was a real kick in the teeth and the makeshift side that battled on to earn a point and clean sheet will have been disappointed to hear some boos from the stand which were not deserved.
Fans never booed their own side in years gone by, but in modern day football it has become the done thing.
I cannot honestly remember when it suddenly started happening and younger fans will know no different.
Thankfully only a minority felt it necessary on Saturday.
No one wants to go 11 games without a win.
But these are very mitigating circumstances and what Nigel Clough would give to be able to name the same side two games in a row, let alone his strongest side.
They are not excuses - just plain facts.
You could see how much the players did appreciate those applauding them at the end.
Saturday's injury to George Maris had the whole stadium hugely worried.
To see a player down on the pitch as long as we did in that 13 minute break before being stretchered off was awful and it was a huge relief to everyone that he was sitting up and talking after the game.
With five centre halves already out injured and Clough having to sacrifice the assets of giant Oli Hawkins up front to fill in at the back, to then see the former Ipswich man unable to come out for the second half was surreal.
At least the displays of James Clark and Keaton Ward cheered many and offered serious hope for competition for places when missing players return and Stags try to begin the climb away from trouble.
Thankfully the crisis has come early in the campaign and there are plenty of games and points to come in which to put things right.