STAGS HELD BY SALFORD IN SUPERB END-TO-END GAME
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Salford City 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
Turnbull 2, Lund 52. McLaughlin 15, pen 45+3
Attendance: 3,765 (1,286 from Mansfield)
Date: 2 May 2022
Martin Shaw at the Peninsula Stadium, Moor Lane
Mansfield Town drew 2-2 at Salford City at lunchtime today in a pulsating end-to-end game with both sides really going for it. The draw was a result that neither side wanted. Salford needed a win to keep alive their play-off hopes, while Mansfield needed a win to realistically stay in the hunt for automatic promotion. The Stags players and manager Nigel Clough were absolutely gutted at the end of the game. Indeed players from both sides sunk to the floor as the final whistle went. I could barely drag myself back to my car afterwards.
The Stags’ chances of automatic promotion are now incredibly slim, needing to beat Forest Green on Saturday and hope that Bristol Rovers somehow fail to beat no-hopers Scunthorpe, one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen in League Two, and Northampton fail to win at Barrow. It is hard to imagine both of those latter two happening, especially Scunthorpe getting something at Bristol Rovers.
And the Stags still have work to do to ensure a play-off place. A draw at home to Forest Green would ensure that. If the Stags lose, they would need ONE of the following to happen to still reach the play-offs:
Sutton to draw or lose at Harrogate
or Swindon to draw or lose at Walsall
or Port Vale to lose at Exeter.
The game was a fantastic advert for League Two, live on Sky Sports.
The Stags started disastrously. Lucas Akins conceded a free kick in the first minute, and after 90 seconds the ball was in the back of the Stags net as Jordan Turnbull was left unmarked by Stephen McLaughlin to head in from the resulting free kick.
The Stags should have been level after 8 minutes as James Perch put in a great cross from the right and Matty Longstaff met it unmarked beyond the far post to side-foot a half-volley inches wide of the right post. He should have scored. Nigel Clough told me after the game that Longstaff should have met it a yard closer to the net, he could then have taken it on the volley which would have made it an easier chance rather than relying on the bounce of the ball.
A dynamic run from Rhys Oates two minutes later but from 25 yards he fired over the bar.
The Stags were level after 15 minutes. Akins headed inside to Jamie Murphy who was brought down by Turnbull 21 yards from goal. Turnbull was booked.
UPDATE: From the review of the video in frame by frame, Turnbull actually won the ball, by getting to it first, so it shouldn’t have been a free kick, and Turnbull shouldn’t have been booked.
McLaughlin stepped up to take the free kick and sent a great shot past the wall into the bottom left corner of the net, with the keeper getting his fingertips on it but unable to keep it out. Credit to Akins who did well to create the space in the wall for McLaughlin to fire the free kick through.
What should have been a key moment off the ball came after 20 minutes when Matty Lund should have been sent off for deliberately stamping on the back of Longstaff’s heel. It was missed by the referee but not by the Sky Sports cameras. One of the officials should have seen it.
Oates won the ball off Theo Vassell and was through in a 1-on-1 with the keeper after 26 minutes, but he just knocked the ball slightly too far in front of him and the keeper was able to save for a corner, when Oates might have scored or won a penalty.
The Stags took the lead after 45+3 minutes. Murphy won a free kick 45 yards from goal. McLaughlin chipped the free kick into the area, Hawkins and Turnbull both rose to meet it and Turnbull stuck up his left arm and handballed it under pressure from Hawkins. A clear penalty. Turnbull escaped a second yellow card, I think the correct decision as it wasn’t a deliberate handball in my opinion, I think he was off balance with the contact from Hawkins. McLaughlin stepped up to take the penalty and sent it down the middle as the keeper dived to his left. After the game McLaughlin explained that he expected the keeper to dive that way as he had only taken one previous penalty this season and sent it that way.
A really good half from the Stags after that disastrous opening and the Stags deservedly in front.
Turnbull should have received a second yellow after 49 minutes when he deliberately shoved Oates over. The hapless referee didn’t even give a free kick. Salford could have been down to 9 men. Having said that, Turnbull should not have received the first yellow.
On 52 minutes, Salford were level. Thomas-Asante put in a great cross from the left, McLaughlin was marking Lund in the middle but allowed Lund to get away and get a free header from 7 yards into the net. McLaughlin admitted after the game "in fairness he ran across in front of me, I should have done better." Lund shouldn’t have been on the pitch though.
On 55 minutes, both sides were within a whisker of scoring as the game was end-to-end. First, from a corner from the right from Ibou Toure, Lund got away from his marker Lapslie to head against the bar. Lund shouldn’t have been on the pitch.
Within seconds, the Stags were so nearly back in front. Oates made a run from just outside his own box to control a Maris ball forward, he ran towards the edge of the area, and from 20 yards thundered a shot goalwards which hit the keeper and deflected just wide. Outstanding stuff from Oates. Moments later, Murphy crossed from the right and O’Toole’s header was held on the line by the keeper.
What a game this was.
Both sides had more chances as Stephen Kelly fired straight at Bishop and Donald Love’s shot was pushed wide by Bishop. At the other end Murphy had a shot blocked after cutting inside, then after 67 minutes after a great move, Maris curled a low shot just wide of the right post from 20 yards.
Into the final few minutes and both sides could have won it. After 88 minutes, the dangerous Thomas-Asante crossed from the left and Matt Smith headed wide.
After 90+1 minutes, Oates was away on another great run, but Turnbull got back to put in a brilliant block tackle as Oates shot from the edge of the area.
Then on 90+4 minutes, a brilliant run from Oates yet again, past two men, into the area, and his thunderous shot from 17 yards was parried up in the air by the keeper. Three Stags players were more or less unmarked in the box but the ball didn’t fall for any of them.
At the end of the game, players from both sides sunk to the floor in disappointment.
At any other stage of the season, you would say this was a good point away at a good side. Today a point wasn’t what the Stags wanted. An opportunity missed.
On to Saturday.
DETAILED REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
MON 02 MAY 2022, LEAGUE TWO
Salford City 2-2 Mansfield Town: Draw ends Ammies' play-off hopes
Turnbull (2'minutes), Lund (52'minutes)
McLaughlin (15'minutes, 45'+3minutes pen)
Touray (2'minutes), Thomas-Asante (52'minutes)
Report supplied by PA Media.
Salford City manager Gary Bowyer insisted they are moving in the right direction, despite seeing their hopes of reaching the play-offs ended by a draw with promotion-chasing Mansfield Town.
The Ammies made a dream start by scoring inside 90 seconds when Jordan Turnbull met an enticing Ibou Touray delivery with an emphatic header.
Nigel Clough's men responded positively and were soon rewarded when a curling Stephen McLaughlin free-kick nestled in the corner.
Buoyed by a 1,286-strong travelling support, the Stags looked to complete a quick turnaround, with Rhys Oates threatening.
And their persistence paid off when Turnbull handled in the area and McLaughlin notched his second of the afternoon from the penalty spot.
Despite the setback, the hosts returned from the interval in the ascendancy and found an equaliser through Matty Lund's precise header.
Lund then struck the woodwork from close range, yet neither side could find a winner as Salford were resigned to another campaign in League Two, while Mansfield missed a chance to climb into the top three with one game to go.
"[It's] disappointing 100%, and the lads are absolutely gutted because they gave everything like they have done again today. They're a great set of lads to work with and we've got to come back stronger now," Bowyer told BBC Radio Manchester.
"You look at the way that they are on the pitch and they're going in the right way."
This is Salford's third season since joining the English Football League for the first time in 2019.
"The start of the season we played really well. We didn't quite pick up the points that I felt the performances deserved and then we had a real bad spate of injuries - I think we had 13 missing at one point and we can't call the games off," said Bowyer.
"Then Covid comes and you can call the game off with a couple of cases, the timing of that, you need a bit of luck on that. We've just got to come back better now."
Tenth-placed Salford face Stevenage away on the final day of the season, while Mansfield host already promoted Forest Green Rovers looking to secure the one point they need to guarantee them a play-off place.
While Nigel Clough's team are only a point behind third-placed Northampton Town, the draw with Salford means the chance of automatic promotion is still possible but now out of their hands as they need the Cobblers and Bristol Rovers to drop points.
"It would have been nice to have a chance at automatic, but obviously with Bristol Rovers' fixture at home to Scunthorpe that is highly, highly unlikely now. But anything happens on the final day. You never know," Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham.
"Players are disappointed in there because they know realistically we haven't got a chance of automatic now. That's finished, that's gone, we've got three or four days to get over it, clear your heads and get ready for Saturday."
Home Team Salford Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 51% Away 49%
Shots Home 17 Away 14
Shots on Target Home 6 Away 5
Corners Home 6 Away 6
Fouls Home 10 Away 16
Mixed emotions as Mansfield Town have to settle for a draw in thrilling promotion showdown at Salford City
chad.co.uk, Monday 2nd May 2022
Mansfield Town’s automatic promotion hopes were all but ended though at the same time they all but secured a play-off spot as they shared the spoils with Salford City in an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Penisula Stadium.
Before the live Sky TV cameras, the Stags found themselves fall behind inside 90 seconds, but a Stephen McLaughlin double in the first half completed a quick turnaround.
Matty Lund levelled after the interval as a dramatic tie took another twist, but neither side could find a winner as Nigel Clough’s side moved up to fifth ahead of Saturday’s season finale.
Rivals Port Vale later missed out on the chance to leapfrog Mansfield when they lost 2-1 at home to Newport leaving Stags even more thinking ‘what if?’
Stags will also believe goalscorer Lund should not have still been on the field after a nasty incident with Matty Longstaff was not spotted by the referee.
After fouling Longstaff, TV cameras showed him clearly stand on the midfielder's ankle as he lay on the grass.
Hosts Salford, who entered the fixture with slim play-off hopes of their own, secured a dream start when an unmarked Jordan Turnbull headed in an emphatic opener.
Despite the early setback, the visiting Stags enjoyed the majority of the ball in a frenetic opening period and could have found an immediate leveller through Longstaff.
The Newcastle United youngster’s blushes were saved by McLaughlin, with the latter’s precise free-kick from 20 yards nestling in the corner beyond a despairing Tom King.
Rhys Oates had two opportunities in quick succession to complete a rapid turnaround and Mansfield’s efforts were eventually rewarded moments before the interval.
Goalscorer Turnbull became villain when he handled in the area and McLaughlin obliged to convert the resulting spot-kick - a seventh goal of the season for the 31-year-old as he sent the ball straight down the middle.
The Ammies returned for the restart in the ascendancy and secured a lifeline for their play-off ambitions when Lund ran in to head precisely beyond Nathan Bishop inside 52 minutes.
A flat-footed Bishop was then left thanking his woodwork a few moments later when Lund headed onto the crossbar from close range as Salford rallied in pursuit of a winner.
The visitors, spurred on by a 1,286-strong away end, could have gone third with victory but a George Maris effort that troubled King was the closest to a decider as Salford's play-off hopes were ended.
Third place Northampton Town and fourth-placed Bristol Rovers now look set to fight out the final automatic spot with Rovers having an ‘easy’ home game with relegated Scunthorpe and Northampton away at Barrow.
But should Stags thwart Forest Green in their bid to win the title on Saturday and win the match, Stags could still go up in third if Northampton and Bristol both suffered unlikely defeats.
SALFORD: King; Lowe, Vassell, Turnbull, Touray; Kelly; Lund (Hunter 85), Love (Henderson 76); Watson; Thomas-Asante, Smith. SUBS NOT USED: Torrance, Ndaba, Willock, N’Mai, Shepard.
STAGS: Bishop; Perch (Hewitt 89), O’Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin; Maris; Lapslie (Wallace 76), Longstaff; Murphy; Oates, Akins (Bowery 71). SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Rawson, Clarke, Stirk.
REFEREE: Sebastian Stockbridge.
ATTENDANCE: 3,765 (1,286 away).