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Archived News from May 2022

18th May 2022 11:12

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two - Play-off semi-final 1st leg
Mansfield Town 2 - 1 Northampton Town
Oates 13, Bowery 32. Koiki 61
Attendance: 7,469 (1221 from Northampton)

Date: 14 May 2022

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town beat Northampton Town 2-1 at the One Call Stadium in the first leg of the play-off semi-final last night. The Stags raced into a deserved 2-0 lead in the first half with goals from Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery. But the Stags were pegged back as the Cobblers scored after 61 minutes and put the Stags under plenty of aerial pressure in the final 30 minutes, but there were no further goals. 2-1 was just about a fair scoreline with Mansfield playing very well and much the better side for 55 minutes, but Northampton put Mansfield under considerable pressure in the final 35 minutes, and the Stags had to defend well to hold out. So Mansfield take a single goal lead to Sixfields for the second leg on Wednesday night with all to play for.

It was Mansfield’s 14th win in 16 home games in the league and play-off games, an extraordinary run, and again the atmosphere created by the fabulous Stags fans was incredible.

There were opportunities at either end in the opening stages as a great run and low cross from Stephen McLaughlin just evaded the stretching Rhys Oates in the middle after 5 minutes, and then Nathan Bishop pushed away a 25 yard shot from Louis Appere after 11 minutes.

Mansfield took the lead after 13 minutes. McLaughlin intercepted a stray ball inside his own half, pushed forward into the Northampton half, slid the ball inside to Bowery, and Bowery laid a beautiful pass forward into the area for Oates to run on to and smash a low hard shot through the keeper’s legs and into the net from 12 yards out on the right. A fine goal from the Stags. A bit of luck though as Oates was fractionally offside as Bowery played the ball forward for him, but it was missed by the linesman. A 12th goal of the season for Oates, and an 8th assist for Bowery (which puts him second in the number of assists this season, level with Oates, behind McLaughlin, see list below).

The Stags made it 2-0 after 32 minutes. Hawkins and O’Toole both made great tackles in the early build-up to the goal. Lovely football as the Stags played the ball around on the right before Longstaff played a great crossfield pass to Murphy just inside the area on the left. Murphy took a couple of touches on to his left foot to create space to smash a low cross across the six yard box. It took the slightest deflection off the boot of the keeper and Bowery coming in at the far post turned it into the net from a tight angle. Another crucial goal from Bowery, which had some similarities to his goal against Forest Green a week ago. His 9th goal of the season, which makes him second top scorer.

Oates made a run down the left and fired wide of the left post after 34 minutes, while after a brilliant move on the right, Perch chipped over the bar after 40 minutes.

The Stags deservedly 2-0 ahead at half time.

Inside the opening minute of the second half, Quinn had a great opportunity to put Oates in a run through on goal but just played the ball too far in front of him. Then after 48 minutes, Oates nearly made it 3-0. Perch played the ball forward from halfway inside his own half, brilliant skill from Oates as he nicked the ball past defender Guthrie and surged forward from the halfway line into the area. Just as he fired in a powerful shot from 12 yards, defender Horsfall slid in and got a slight deflection on the shot, and keeper Maxted made a brilliant save to parry it away. If the reserve keeper Maxted, in his first game since October in for Liam Roberts who was suspended for one game, could have perhaps done better with the first goal letting it through his legs, he made up for it here with a fine and important save for the Cobblers.

After that, Northampton got on top, putting the Stags under plenty of aerial pressure for much of the remainder of the game.

They pulled a goal back after 61 minutes. Quinn gave the ball away as the Stags were on the attack. Northampton counter-attacked, Mitch Pinnock played the ball out to the left, Perch fouling him in the process. Appere cut in from the left, past O’Toole, to Ali Koiki on the edge of the area. Koiki took a couple of touches to make half a yard of space before firing low under Maris, who tried to the block the shot, and it took a slight deflection off Hawkins which took it past Bishop into the net. It little bit of luck for the Cobblers with the deflection. Perch was booked for the earlier foul. A rare piece of good refereeing from Anthony Backhouse on the night playing advantage for the Cobblers.

After that, the Stags were relying on some great defending from Hawkins, O’Toole, McLaughlin and Perch, who all played well, to keep Northampton out. The closest the Cobblers came to equalising was after 78 minutes. Pinnock’s long throw, one of very many on the evening, was headed on by Horsfall and came to Sam Hoskins 16 yards out. His first time shot was blocked by O’Toole, then Josh Eppiah’s cross shot, from the rebound, hit McLaughlin’s knee and landed on the roof of the net.

The Stags had a couple of half opportunities to create something in stoppage time as Oates was fouled just outside the area on the left but the hapless referee failed to give a blatant free kick. It capped a poor night for the referee and the other officials, but fortunately we have a much better referee in Bobby Madley on Wednesday night. Then Oates tried to get past Guthrie for a run at goal but fouled Guthrie before he could get to the ball.

So a lead for the Stags to take in to Wednesday night.

A word on the attendance, which at 7,469 was the biggest at the One Call Stadium since 2017 and a crowd 7,525 against Chesterfield. Surprisingly Northampton came nowhere near to selling out their allocation, with only 1221 away fans travelling to the game. Mansfield sold out their away allocation of 1400 for Wednesday night in just a few hours and I’m sure could easily have sold over 3000 if they had been available. Quite a difference in the level of away support.

On to Sixfields on Wednesday. Once again the game is live on Sky Sports, so it cannot be streamed live on iFollow, though of course we will have full match commentary as always.



Mansfield Town establish 2-1 first leg lead in play-off semi-final thriller with Northampton Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Saturday 14th May 2022

Mansfield Town will take a 2-1 home first leg lead to Northampton Town on Wednesday night after tonight's thriller at the One Call Stadium.

The Stags were completely on top in the first half and had an interval 2-0 lead to show for it, thanks to Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery.

But the Cobblers were not done and after pulling one back on 61 minutes, there were some nervy moments for the Stags as they tired and nerves began to jangle.

Stags were unchanged but the Cobblers made two changes with Jonny Maxted coming in for suspended keeper Liam Roberts and Idris Kanu in for Josh Eppiah, who wasn't fit enough to start.


The game kicked off in bright sunshine and a deafening noise from both sets of supporters.

Stags carved out the first chance on five minutes as Murphy found McLaughlin on the left and his low drilled cross passed inches in front of the outstretched leg of Oates as he slid in to try to turn the ball home.

At the other end on 11 minutes Bishop dived to his right to turn aside a 25-yard shot from Appere.

But the home side swept in front on 13 minutes.

McLaughlin laid the ball to Bowery who sent a cutting pass to Oates, coming into the right hand side of the box, and he buried his low shot under the body of Maxted.

Kanu tried to send Hoskins clear on 19 minutes, but Bishop was alive to it and was quickly out to win the race for the ball.

On 22 minutes the referee produced his first card after McWilliams had brought down Oates.

A cheeky backheel by Hoskins sent Pinnock clear but Stags were rescued by an offside flag.

Instead the home side went 2-0 up on 32 minutes. Longstaff switched the play from right to left with a great ball into space in front of Murphy.

He got to the byline and drilled the ball hard across goal and Bowery popped up to smash it home at the far post.

Three minutes later Oates tried to go it alone on the left but his low shot from distance was wide as Stags went into half-time in the box seat.

Oates almost made it 3-0 just three minutes into the second half as he turned his man neatly with a great first touch from Perch's pass and forced Maxted to make a great save from his powerful finish.

On 50 minutes Maris was booked for his foul on Hoskins, who needed treatment.

On 53 minutes Hoskins was not far away from pulling one back as he tried to curl a 25 yard finish across Bishop from the left but saw his shot bounce wide of the far post.

But Northampton were back in the contest on 61 minutes.

Breaking quickly down the centre, Pinnock led the charge, Perch unable to halt him with a lunge that earned him a booking.

But Appere continued the break and found Koiki on the edge of the box and he tucked away an excellent low finish inside the left post.

There were boos from the home fans as ex-Stags striker Rose came on as a substitute on 66 minutes.

Northampton continued to press and on 79 minutes O'Toole made a superb block to deny Hoskins, Eppiah's close range follow-up deflecting over for a corner from which Horsfall headed wide.

O'Toole made another great interception as Rose sent a low ball in front of goal as Stags hung onto what they had.

STAGS: Bishop, Perch, O'Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin, Maris, Longstaff (Wallace 60), Quinn (Stirk 77), Murphy (Akins 86), Oates, Bowery. SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Hewitt, Clarke, Lapslie.

NORTHAMPTON: Maxted, Sowerby, Guthrie, Horsfall, Hoskins, Pinnock, Koiki, McWilliams, Kanu (Eppiah 56), Mills, Appere (Rose 66). SUBS NOT USED: Woods, Harriman, Pollock, Zimba, Dyche.

REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse.

ATTENDANCE: 7,469 (1,221 away).


Cobblers beaten at Mansfield but Koiki strike gives Brady's men play-off hope
northamptonchron.co.uk, By James Heneghan

Ali Koiki’s first goal for the club has given Cobblers a fighting chance in their play-off semi-final with Mansfield Town after Saturday’s topsy-turvy first leg at Field Mill.

Mansfield took a two-goal lead with just a little more than half-an-hour played and threatened to kill the tie off there and then, but Town fought back well in the second 45 minutes and will fancy their chances back at Sixfields in Wednesday’s second-leg.

There was not much between the teams in general play before half-time but Mansfield undoubtedly carried the greater threat and that was reflected by their 2-0 half-time lead, given to them by goals from Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery.

Cobblers improved though and they made all of the running in the second-half, getting themselves right back in the tie through Koiki’s deflected effort before missing chances to equalise.

The teams will do it all again at Sixfields on Wednesday evening to decide who goes to Wembley.

Jon Brady made two changes from the last game of the regular season with Jonny Maxted and Idris Kanu both handed starts.

Regular number one goalkeeper Liam Roberts served his one-game suspension and Josh Eppiah was only fit enough for the bench.

A crackling atmosphere set the scene for a huge game of football and Mansfield were always likely to make a fast start, although Cobblers weathered the opening 10 minutes without too many alarms.

The first shot of the contest came at the other end where the ball dropped kindly to Louis Appéré on the edge of the box and he struck a sweet effort that had to be pushed behind by Nathan Bishop.

But it was Mansfield who made the breakthrough with a controversial opener after 14 minutes.

Jack Sowerby’s pass was intercepted in midfield, the hosts sprung forward and Bowery slipped in an offside-looking Oates who slammed a shot between the legs of Maxted.

The first-half was generally quite even and Cobblers strung together some decent passages of play without creating a clear-cut chance.

However, the visitors also were uncharacteristically open and loose at the back and that allowed a dangerous Mansfield attack to create chances and eventually double their lead.

The second goal arrived on 33 minutes and it was too easy for Jamie Murphy to get free down the left and send in a low cross that was tapped in at the back post by an unmarked Bowery.

That took the wind out of Town’s sails and whilst they did well to get to half-time only two goals behind, it almost became three moments after the restart when the impressive Oates was denied by Maxted.

Sam Hoskins curled a shot a yard wide from the edge of the box but Town’s attack remained disjointed and struggled to properly trouble Mansfield, and Brady duly sent for Eppiah with still over half-an-hour to play.

And Cobblers had one back just five minutes later.

The move began just outside their own penalty box as Shaun McWilliams won back possession and instigated a counter-attack that was carried on by Mitch Pinnock and Appere.

The ball eventually made its way to Koiki and his right-foot shot from just inside the penalty box deflected into the bottom corner.

The tie had turned and suddenly Cobblers were now in the ascendency and pushing for an equaliser.

Hoskins fired in an effort that was well blocked and Eppiah’s cross-cum-shot was nearly turned in by a defender.

A vital defensive intervention from John-Joe O’Toole also prevented a tap-in for Eppiah and Joseph Mills headed a good chance wide but although an equaliser would not come, Town are very much in the tie going back to Sixfields.

Match facts

Mansfield: Bishop, Perch, O’Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin, Maris, Longstaff (Wallace 60), Quinn (Stirk 77), Murphy (Akins 86), Oates, Bowery

Subs not used: Stech, Hewitt, Clarke, Lapslie

Cobblers: Maxted, Mills, Horsfall, Guthrie, Koiki, McWilliams, Sowerby, Pinnock, Hoskins, Kanu (Eppiah 56), Appere (Rose 66)

Subs not used: Woods, Harriman, Dyche, Pollock, Zimba

Referee: Anthony Backhouse

Attendance: 7,469

Cobblers fans: 1,221


Mansfield Town 2 Northampton Town 1: James Heneghan's player ratings
The League Two play-off semi-final between Mansfield and Northampton is perfectly poised at the halfway stage after Saturday’s to-and-fro encounter at Field Mill.

northamptonchron.co.uk, By James Heneghan

Mansfield made all of the early running and led through Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery, but Cobblers responded with an excellent second-half display and have given themselves every chance heading back to Sixfields thanks to Ali Koiki’s deflected effort. Here are our player ratings...

Jonny Maxted
Chucked into the deep end due to Roberts' suspension and he may feel disappointed to have let Oates' shot squeeze through his legs. Decent stop from the same man prevented it going to 3-0 early in the second-half... 6

Joseph Mills
Struggled in the first-half, particularly when he allowed Murphy to set up the second goal, but like so many of his team-mates he was much better after half-time. Got forward more and so nearly headed in a late equaliser... 6

Fraser Horsfall
Cobblers' defence held firm for the most part. It was cut open for the second goal but the first was offside and Mansfield were limited to just four other shots throughout the game, only one of which came in the second-half... 7

Jon Guthrie
Stood up strong against the impressive Oates and ensured he didn't get too many more clear sights of goal after the early opener... 7

Ali Koiki
Good response to being caught flat-footed for Bowery's tap-in as he surged forward with increasing regularity in the second-half. That goal has been coming all season and he chose a good moment to finally score it... 7

Shaun McWilliams
One of only perhaps three Cobblers players to produce the goods in both halves. Did his job in and out of possession as he won his tackles, made his interceptions and used the ball intelligently, all of which was perfectly illustrated by his work for Koiki's crucial goal... 7.5 CHRON STAR MAN

Jack Sowerby
It was his loose pass that allowed Mansfield to spring forward for the opening goal, however he didn't let that affect his general performance and helped Cobblers sustain pressure throughout the second-half... 6.5

Mitch Pinnock
Mansfield had clearly worked on their set-piece defending because they stood up impressively to all of his corners and free-kicks, and he couldn't quite deliver the final pass or shot from open play... 6

Sam Hoskins
A man playing with confidence and belief and he was a problem for Mansfield with his direct and constant running. Curled a beauty just a yard wide of the far post and it needed some desperate defending to block another effort as Town chased an equaliser... 7

Idris Kanu
His first start since January and frankly it showed during a very rusty first 10 minutes. Did improve but little surprise when his number came up early in the second period... 5.5

Louis Appere
Stung the palms of Bishop with a well-hit early effort and there were clear signs he would cause problems for Mansfield's defence with more support around him, and so it proved as Cobblers dominated in the second 45 minutes. Excellent work for the goal. Brady will want him fit and firing for the second leg... 7.5


Josh Eppiah
Cobblers were a more cohesive and dangerous attacking unit with him on the field and only a last-ditch intervention by O'Toole denied him a tap-in... 7

Danny Rose
An absolute workhorse for the final 20 or so minutes. Seemed to challenge for every aerial duel in the Mansfield half... 6.5



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