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Archived News from December 2021

30th December 2021 0:19

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 3 - 2 Hartlepool United
O'Toole 55, Bowery 62, Maris 66. Molyneux 25, Featherstone 51
Attendance: 5,958 (1010 from Hartlepool)

Date: 26 December 2021


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town came from 2-0 down to beat Hartlepool United 3-2 in a Boxing Day thriller at the One Call Stadium this afternoon. And to add to the incredible drama, Hartlepool had a goal disallowed for offside in stoppage time when it seemed they had rescued a point. Mansfield’s incredible run of results continues, it now stands at 10 wins from 11 league and cup games, 6 home wins on the trot in league and cup, and the Stags are up to 9th place, just 1 point behind the play-offs.

The Stags came in to the game with a squad decimated due to a combination of 4 positive Covid tests and injury: Quinn, Lapslie, Charsley, and Nartey were all unavailable due to positive Covid tests, while Ollie Clarke was injured along with Johnson, Forrester and Gordon. Shelvey was also not in the squad, perhaps due to injury.

In came Jason Law, himself having tested positive for Covid less than 2 weeks ago, and having not followed up his excellent form from the back end of last season yet this season, and he was to go on to have a terrific game. Hawkins played at the back with O’Toole moving up to bolster the depleted midfield.

It was a very foggy day and by the end of the game the visibility made it only just about playable.

The first half saw the Stags dominate and play some good football creating plenty of good chances but incredibly Hartlepool found themselves ahead with their only shot, and just about the only time they ventured into the Stags area.

The Hartlepool goal came after 25 minutes. Matty Daly played a square ball across from the box from the left and Luke Molyneux was left unmarked to slide his shot along the ground and wide of Bishop into the net from 12 yards. It was a poor goal to concede.

But the Stags had four golden chances in the first half. The Stags had Hartlepool under pressure and after a succession of corners, from the 6th corner, take by Law from the right, Rawson headed just wide of the left post. Then, after Law was fouled, a free kick from McLaughlin curled into the middle found Rawson unmarked and in space in front of goal, but he made a hash of a glorious chance. Moments after that Law put in a great cross from the left for Bowery who directed his header towards the left corner of the net but didn’t get enough power on it and Garry Liddle was able to clear it off the line. Then after Hartlepool had gone in front, Law superbly set Oates away into the area but he tried to dink his shot over the keeper and sent it wide of the left post. Great play from Law and a big chance for Oates against his former club.

The Hartlepool goalkeeper was booked for blatant time-wasting in the first half, the second team running blatantly time-wasting here in the first half, after Salford did it two weeks ago.

Incredibly, Hartlepool made it 2-0 after 51 minutes with just about their second foray into the Stags box. A free kick from the right hand side, next to the corner flag, was uncharacteristically dropped by Bishop. In a scramble, Bishop then blocked Liddle’s shot at point blank range, but the ball came out to Nicky Featherstone who smashed it goalwards from 18 yards through a crowd of players. Bishop got a hand on it but couldn’t keep it out. A mistake by Bishop to drop the free kick but I would cut him a massive amount of slack as Nigel Clough said afterwards that he was feeling under the weather and he has been superb so far this season. Hartlepool celebrated wildly in front of their travelling 1,000 fans.

Aside from anything else, how great to see 1,000 away fans after Salford brought 73 in the last game.

The Stags needed a goal back quickly and it came after 55 minutes. Yet another corner for the Stags, this time from the left taken by Maris, O’Toole rose highest and headed down into the bottom right of the net.

And within 7 minutes the Stags were level. Hewitt did brilliantly on the right to get to the byline and chip a wonderful cross into the middle for Bowery, who despite having two defenders on him, headed into the left corner of the net from 6 yards. A great moment for Bowery.

Maris won yet another corner for the Stags after 66 minutes with a shot from 30 yards that was deflected wide, and from it the Stags made it 3-2. Maris’s corner from the left was partially cleared, and then played back to Maris by Law. Maris curled another cross into a great area, it evaded everybody and went straight in at the far post. Reward for a great cross from Maris, and reward for the Stags who had 12 corners in the game. Three goals in 11 minutes had turned the game around.

It was nearly 4-2 a couple of minutes later and Bishop’s long ball forward found Bowery who hit a powerful first time shot but it was straight at the keeper.

Stirk had a couple of chances to extend the lead as his low shot was too soft and straight at the keeper, and then he spotted the keeper off his line and tried an outrageous chip from 45 yards, over the bar.

The drama wasn’t over. Four of minutes of time was added on. Hartlepool had not added to their attempts at goal but won a free kick two minutes into stoppage for a foul by Law for which he was booked. The free kick from 35 yards out, just in from the right touchline, was curled beautifully into the box by David Ferguson, and turned into the net by sub Gavin Holohan. It was by now so foggy that I couldn’t even see the linesman on the far side on the Bishop Street side, let alone see that he had raised his flag for offside, after Hartlepool players and their bench had already been celebrating wildly. But his flag was up and the Stags had a massive reprieve. From the main camera video, there is certainly a Hartlepool player offside as the free kick is taken, I can’t quite tell which player it is, but he tries to get to the ball as it comes into the area. It looks like it might have been the right decision from the linesman but it is still a bit of luck to get the decision when it is so tight and as Nigel Clough said after the game “we were not getting those breaks a couple of months back” during the run of 14 league and cup games without a win.

Joy for the Stags at full time, despair for Hartlepool. The Stags clearly deserved to win this game, and by a much greater margin than one goal. 22 shots for the Stags to just 5 for Hartlepool (I only make it 4 for Hartlepool, not sure where the PA stats have got the 5th from). But the most impressive thing about it was that Mansfield did it despite missing so many key players such as Quinn, Lapslie, Ollie Clarke, among others. Indeed it was the first league win of the season without Quinn in the side as I pointed out to Nigel Clough after the game. Huge credit to the midfield that stepped up with O’Toole, Law and Maris the outstanding 3 players in my opinion.

The next game is Wednesday’s game at Harrogate. After the game, Nigel Clough said that there were more players in the changing room demonstrating Covid symptoms and with players crammed together in such a small space he thought there might be some more positive cases. He added: “We only have 14 fit outfielders and none of the injuries will be back in time for Wednesday. We will do everything we can to get a team out on Wednesday but, as much as we want to play, if we can't make the required number we will fall victim like an awful lot of teams have today. With it spreading so fast I think it's inevitable there will be two or three more.”

So the game might well be in doubt. I did ask Nigel Clough if I should go ahead and book a cottage to stay over in Harrogate, and he suggested I should hang on!

Anyway, this win was a great Christmas present for Stags fans, with the linesman coming dressed as Santa Claus!

Merry Christmas everyone!



Mansfield Town 3-2 Hartlepool United
O'Toole (55'minutes), Bowery (62'minutes), Maris (66'minutes)
Molyneux (25'minutes), Featherstone (51'minutes)
Maris (55'minutes), Hewitt (62'minutes), Law (66'minutes)
Daly (25'minutes)

Match report supplied by PA Media.

Depleted Mansfield made it 10 wins in 11 games as they fought back from 2-0 down to beat Hartlepool 3-2 with three goals in 11 second-half minutes.

Luke Molyneux and Micky Featherstone had Pools in control but the home side rallied in superb fashion through John-Joe O'Toole, Jordan Bowery and George Maris.

Despite dominating, the Stags somehow found themselves behind at the break, with Bowery having a 23rd-minute header cleared off the line by Gary Liddle.

But with Pools' first chance on 25 minutes, Matty Daly got to the left by-line and pulled back a low ball for Molyneux to sweep home from 12 yards.

Rhys Oates almost levelled on 42 minutes against his former side but lifted his finish over the goalkeeper and just wide.

Instead United went 2-0 up on 51 minutes when Nathan Bishop dropped a cross and a scramble saw the ball poked out to Featherstone, who blazed home a finish through everyone from 20 yards.

But four minutes later O'Toole headed home a quick reply from a Maris corner.

And on 62 minutes the Stags were level as Bowery headed home a far post cross from Elliott Hewitt.

Maris then turned the game on its head as his left wing cross from a half-cleared corner sailed straight into the net on 66 minutes.

Two minutes into added time, Gavan Holohan thought he had stolen a point as he touched home a long free-kick only to be denied by a raised offside flag.

Match Stats
Home Team Mansfield Away Team Hartlepool
Possession Home 54% Away 46%
Shots Home 22 Away 5
Shots on Target Home 8 Away 3
Corners Home 12 Away 2
Fouls Home 11 Away 12


Depleted Mansfield Town fight back to win five-goal Boxing Day thriller against Harlepool United
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sunday 26th December 2021

Three goals in 11 sensational second half minutes saw depleted Mansfield Town hit back from 2-0 down to beat visiting Hartlepool United 3-2 at a foggy One Call Stadium this afternoon.

It was a 10th win in 11 games for Nigel Clough's men and, although earned the hard way, was thoroughly deserved.

And it was a nervous finish as Hartlepool saw a 92nd minute finish ruled out for offside.

Dominant Stags should not have been behind at the break and were stunned to let in a second early in the second half, leaving them needing a minor Christmas miracle.


But, despite missing key names, they showed huge character to reward a big Boxing Day crowd with all three points.

Stags had to formulate a new look midfield with George Lapslie, Stephen Quinn and Harry Charsley all unavailable along with defender Richard Nartey.

There was no confirmation pre-match as to the nature of their absence and whether it was down to Covid or other reasons.

In the end Nigel Clough made two changes to the starting line-up from the last game against Salford City two weeks ago with John-Joe O'Toole and Jason Law coming in for Quinn and Lapslie.

The lack of players left Clough with only five players on an inexperienced bench and Oli Hawkins was named as captain.

Hawkins again moved into central defence in a back four, O'Toole into midfield with Bowery and Oates up front and Law just behind them.

The visitors, unbeaten in December and unbeaten under new boss Graeme Lee, were roared on by a huge away following of over 1,000 fans.

On a chilly Boxing Day afternoon, the match began in foggy conditions which worsened throughout.

It was a cagey opening with Stags doing most of the pressing and the visitors soaking it up with comfort.

On 10 minutes O'Toole had a tame shot blocked and then a Hewitt cross was just too high for Oates.

Three corners followed as Stags tried to go up a gear.

On 13 minutes Law was wide of the near post from Bowery's lay-back - the game's first real effort.

By the 18th minute Stags had already won corner number six. From that, Rawson met Law's flag kick with a flicked header that passed inches wide.

Rawson missed another chance on 22 minutes as McLaughlin curled a tempting 28-yard free kick in front of goal from the left and Rawson simply bundled the ball tamely to the keeper when any good contact would have scored.

A minute later Law's far post cross saw Bowery head back past Killip, but Liddle was well placed to clear off the line.

However, from Hartlepool's first real attack they swept ahead against the run of play on 25 minutes.

A neatly-worked move down the left released Daly into space and when he pulled back a low cross, Cullen was on hand to sweep home a low finish.

There was then a brief hold up after the away fans threw a blue smoke bomb onto the field in celebration.

A marvellously timed sliding tackle from Hewitt halted a dangerous Pools break from Stags' corner on 34 minutes, which drew huge applause from the stands.

Killip was wasting as much time as possible and when he ran away with the ball after Stags had won a 38th minute corner he was shown a yellow card.

Byrne joined him two minutes later for hauling back Oates.

Stags almost levelled on 42 minutes as Law threaded Oates in down the middle. He managed to lift a finish over the advancing keeper but just wide of the target.

On the restart Oates won a free kick 22 yards from goal which McLaughlin drilled into the wall and when the rebound reached Maris he fired over the bar.

Featherstone caused Stags problems with a clever dribble on the left after a short corner but eventually drilled a low cross through everyone.

But United did double their advantage on 51 minutes.

Bishop caused a scramble when he failed to hold onto a Ferguson cross from the right and the ball eventually rolled out the box towards Featherstone, who simply smashed it through everyone into the net.

But Stags replied within four minutes. Maris sent over a corner from the left and O'Tottle popped up in the six yard box to nod home inside the far post.

Hewitt was just wide from distance soon after as the home fans began to really get behind their team.

The deserved equaliser duly arrived on 62 minutes when Hewitt floated a great cross towards the far post where Bowery guided home his header.

The goals continued to flow and on 66 minutes Mansfield were ahead for the first time.

A corner was cleared to George Maris on the left and his cross somehow found its way through everyone and into the net.

Killip was in the way of a low Bowery shot two minutes later while O'Toole sliced wide after a neat turn as Mansfield looked for a killer fourth.

Stirk was too high with a cheeky lofted effort from the centre circle with 10 minutes to go while sub Sinclair forced Killip to gather a low shot.

There was late drama two minutes into the added as Holohan touched home a long free kick only to be denied by an offside flag.

STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins, McLaughlin, O'Toole, Maris (Sinclair 81), Stirk, Law, Oates, Bowery. SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Burke, Ward, Gale.

HARTLEPOOL: Killip, Sterry (Ogle 53), Ferguson, Liddle, Odusina, Shelton, Featherstone, Cullen, Molyneux, Byrne, Daly (Holohan 76). SUBS NOT USED: Mitchell, Burey, Smith, Cook, Francis-Angol.

REFEREE: Simon Mather.

ATTENDANCE: 5,958 (1,010 away).


Mansfield Town 3-2 Hartlepool United: Pools surrender two goal lead at Mansfield
hartlepoolmail.co.uk, By Joe Ramage, Sunday 26th December 2021

Hartlepool United surrendered a two goal lead against Mansfield Town as Graeme Lee tasted defeat for the first time as manager.

Pools went in front against the run of play when Luke Molyneux expertly finished Matty Daly’s cross.

And Lee’s side looked to be on their way to just their second away win in league this season when captain Nicky Featherstone doubled the lead with a well taken finish from the edge of the area.

But Nigel Clough’s Mansfield are the form side in League Two for a reason and they showed why here with a stunning 11 minute turnaround through goals from John-Joe O’Toole, Jordan Bowery and George Maris.


Pools almost rescued an unlikely point at that stage deep into stoppage time when substitute Gavan Holohan finished from David Ferguson’s freekick only to be denied by the officials.

Pools made one change to the side who drew with Scunthorpe United as Daly returned in place of Tom Crawford.

Daly escaped after O’Toole robbed him of possession on the edge of the area with the midfielder's effort deflecting wide for a corner.

Then came the moment all Pools fans didn’t want to see as Elliott Hewitt broke clear down the right and looked to have put it on a plate for former striker Rhys Oates at the back post but Timi Odusina did just enough to thwart the Stags frontman.

Jason Law and Farrend Rawson were both off target as the Stags dominated.

Pools had Gary Liddle to thank in the 23rd minute when he got back on the line to clear Bowery’s header away before the visitors hit the front foot.

Ferguson played into the path of Daly who had time and space to pick out his man and his pass found the on-rushing Molyneux from 12 yards who was able to sweep the ball home into the far corner.

Oates had the chance to level things just before the break when Law slipped a pass inbetween Odusina and Neill Byrne but the ex-Pools man clipped his effort wide of the post.

Lee’s side started the second half in the perfect manner when Ferguson sent over a teasing freekick which Bishop could only fumble into the path of Liddle.

Liddle adjusted to strike on goal only for Bishop to save before the ball rebounded to Featherstone and the Pools captain powered home first time in front of the travelling fans.

But their two goal lead lasted just four minutes as the Stags clawed their way back into the game through O’Toole who headed in from Maris’ corner.

And the Stags were back on level terms within seven minutes as Hewitt found space on the right and was able to skip by Featherstone before delivering a perfect cross for Bowery who glanced beyond Ben Killip.

But Nigel Clough’s side weren’t done there as they completed their turnaround moments later through Maris who whipped an inviting ball in first time from the left which evaded everyone in the penalty area and found its way into the far corner.

And Pools were robbed of a late equaliser, the Holohan effort ruled out for offside.

Mansfield Town XI: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins, McLaughin, O’Toole, Maris (Sinclair ‘81), Stirk, Law, Oates, Bowery
Subs: Stech, Burke, Ward, Sinclair, Gale
Hartlepool United XI: Killip, Sterry (Ogle ‘53), Odusina, Liddle, Byrne, Ferguson, Featherstone, Shelton, Daly (Holohan ‘76), Cullen (Burey ‘63, Molyneux
Subs: Mitchell, Francis-Angol, Smith, Cook



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