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Archived News from February 2023

22nd February 2023 20:07

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Tranmere Rovers 0 - 2 Mansfield Town
Harbottle 34, Keillor-Dunn 54
Attendance: 6,282 (905 from Mansfield)

Date: 18 February 2023

Martin Shaw at Prenton Park

Mansfield won 2-0 at Tranmere Rovers yesterday afternoon to continue a fine run that has seen 4 wins and a draw from the last 5 games, including 3 wins in a week, with 3 clean sheets. It is the first time the Stags have kept 3 consecutive clean sheets under Nigel Clough. In fact the first time since November 2017, a run that included that memorable win at Coventry City (thanks to Jake Garner for pointing this out).

It was another brilliant performance from Mansfield, a comfortable victory and one that had the home fans booing their side, so comprehensively were their side outclassed. By contrast, the 900 visiting Stags fans were in great voice throughout, even before taking the lead.

The Mansfield players wore black armbands, as a mark of respect to Kevin Bird, who passed away this week. Kevin was one of the best players to ever play for the club, clocking up an incredible 463 appearances, and despite being a defender, scoring 63 goals. The Stags fans did him proud, singing his name and spontaneously applauding during the game. If you weren’t lucky enough to watch Kevin play, I wrote https://stagsnet.net/vintage/reports/kevinbirdprofile.htm "> this profile of him which I hope did him some justice.

Mansfield took the lead after 34 minutes. Akins won a free kick down by the corner flag on the left. Quinn played it short, inside to Bowery, who returned it to Quinn. Quinn chipped a delightful cross into the six-yard box where Harbottle met it 5 yards out and turned it into the net. It wasn’t a clean header from Harbottle, he said it came off his shoulder into the net, but it doesn’t matter, they all count. Harbottle had his second goal of the season against Tranmere, and his fourth in total. Quinn is up to 5 assists this season, level with Maris and Hewitt (see my stats below).

The Stags were very good indeed in the first half and the only disappointment at half time was that they only led 1-0.

Quinn missed a glorious chance after 20 minutes. Hewitt was fouled 35 yards from goal. He took the free kick quickly, catching the home side out and sending Akins away to the byline on the right. Akins whipped in a beautiful cross which found Quinn unmarked 8 yards out, and with three quarters of the net gaping, but he could only turn it wide, possibly off his knee. To be fair to Quinn, it was perhaps a difficult height for him. He put his head in his hands.

There were other chances too, as Harbottle’s throw-in found Akins, who turned very well and got in a shot that the keeper just saved, low on his line, after 19 minutes. A minute earlier, Hewitt sent Keillor-Dunn away into the area for a great run, but with Akins in space to his left, he shot straight at the keeper. Keillor-Dunn had more chances towards the end of the half. On 44 minutes, from Wallace’s ball forward, Keillor-Dunn got into the area and shot straight at the keeper. Then on 45+1 minutes, he sent a free kick from 22 yards just over the bar.

But Keillor-Dunn got his first goal in a Stags shirt 9 minutes into the second half. Kilgour lifted a long ball forward from 20 yards inside his own half, Clarke ran on to it, but despite being sandwiched between two defenders, he headed the ball down, and lifted a left footed shot over keeper Murphy from 16 yards. The keeper did superbly to get finger tips on to it and turn it against the bar, and Keillor-Dunn was left to turn the rebound into the empty net. Tranmere defenders and keeper appealed for offside against Keillor-Dunn but he was fully 4 yards onside. Brilliant play from Clarke, who was only denied the goal by an outstanding save from 41 year old keeper Joe Murphy. And Keillor-Dunn was in the right place to turn the rebound in.

It could have been 3-0 after 65 minutes, as the Stags were denied by another outstanding save from the keeper. Hewitt’s long throw-in from the right, was flicked on by Keillor-Dunn and came to Bowery, 7 yards out. Bowery struck it goalwards, into the ground, it deflected off defender Jameson, and the keeper stuck out his right hand to turn it away. A wonderful reflex stop, especially given the deflection.

Four minutes later, a great move down the left involving Quinn, Bowery and Keillor-Dunn, and Keillor-Dunn fired just over the bar from 22 yards.

Tranmere huffed and puffed, but were kept at bay by some good defending from Mansfield, and Pym in goal didn’t have a single save to make in the match.

Worth noting that Tranmere were missing three important players through injury: striker Kane Hemmings, formerly of the Stags of course, right midfielder Kieron Morris, and defender Jordan Turnbull. What was obvious, was that the quality of replacement was lacking. Contrast this with Mansfield, who have so many quality players out injured, but are able to replace them with other players of similar high quality. Testament to Nigel Clough’s policy of having a squad of players all of whom are of high quality, despite not being a squad of huge quantity.

One booking for Mansfield: Harbottle was booked after 62 minutes. Incidentally, Mansfield don’t have anyone close to a suspension through accumulation of bookings at the moment.

Mansfield are in 5th place, three points behind third placed Carlisle with a game in hand. Level with 4th placed Northampton. And now only 5 points behind 2nd placed Stevenage, who have a game in hand.
The Stags are also now joint top scorers in League Two with 49 goals, level with Carlisle.

It was Mansfield’s first win at Tranmere since 1985 (at the 8th attempt), and the first double over Tranmere since 1957-58 (stat from Paul Taylor).



Tranmere Rovers 0-2 Mansfield Town
Harbottle (34'minutes), Keillor-Dunn (54'minutes)
Quinn (34'minutes)

Match report by PA Media.

Mansfield Town confirmed themselves as genuine League Two promotion contenders with an impressive 2-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.

Goals from Riley Harbottle and Davis Keillor-Dunn were the difference as Nigel Clough's side claimed a third successive win to move within three points of the automatic promotion places while Tranmere's poor run of form continues.

The home side began the game on the front foot with both Harvey Saunders and Lee O'Conner having opportunities in the opening minutes.

But the visitors grew in confidence as Keillor-Dunn and Lucas Akins forced saves from 41-year-old Rovers goalkeeper Joe Murphy while Stephen Quinn stabbed wide from close range.

And their pressure was rewarded in the 34th minute when Harbottle rose to head home Quinn's cross for his fourth goal of the season.

The Stags continued to dominate after the break and doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Keillor-Dunn tapped home after the ball cannoned off the crossbar.

The visitors could have added to their tally but for Murphy once again being called into action, this time to deny Jordan Bowery from close range.

Match Stats
Home Team Tranmere Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 56% Away 44%
Shots Home 11 Away 12
Shots on Target Home 0 Away 7
Corners Home 4 Away 5
Fouls Home 9 Away 8


Six unbeaten as impressive Mansfield Town coast to victory at Tranmere Rovers
chad.co.uk, Sat 18 Feb 2023

In-form Mansfield Town kept up the pressure on the top three automatic promotion places with a convincing 2-0 win over Tranmere at Prenton Park this afternoon.

Goals from Riley Harbottle and Davis Keillor-Dunn ensured the Stags picked up their eighth away win of the season as they stay three points adrift of the top three.

It was a sixth game unbeaten and a third clean sheet in a row as they defended superbly, preventing the home side getting a shot on target with Christy Pym having no saves to make and little to do.

It was the home side who started the game the brighter with early chances from Harvey Saunders and Lee O’ Conner before Mansfield were able to settle.


But the visitors grew in confidence as the first half progressed and began to assert their pressure with Davis Keillor-Dunn and Lucas Akins forcing saves from Rovers keeper Joe Murphy while Stephen Quinn stabbed wide from close range.

And the Stags’ pressure was rewarded in the 34th minute when Riley Harbottle headed home from close range following a short corner routine on the left hand side for his fourth goal of the season from Stephen Quinn's cross.

The goal seemed to spring Mansfield into life and they continued to dominate for the remainder of the first period with the impressive Keillor-Dunn drawing another save from Murphy when put through on goal just before the break.

It was a similar story after half-time and Stags doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Davis Keillor-Dunn had the simplest of tap-ins after Tranmere keeper Murphy could only deflect Ollie Clarke’s goal-bound shot onto the crossbar.

Mansfield continued to press and could have added to their tally when Murphy was once again called into action, this time to deny Jordan Bowery from close range.

Following their impressive 4-0 win at Carlisle in midweek, Clough’s side have now won three games on the bounce for the first time since an eight-game winning run between November 2021 and January 2022.

TRANMERE: Murphy, Dacres-Cogley, Bristow, O’Connor, Davies (capt), Hawkes, Jameson, Hendry, Mumbongo (Burton 58), Saunders, Turner-Cooke (Chalmers 58). SUBS NOT USED: Hewelt, Merrie, Nolan, Lewis, Fisher.

STAGS: Pym, Hewitt, Harbottle, Kilgour, Perch, Bowery, Clarke, Wallace, Quinn, Keillor-Dunn (Boateng 78), Akins. SUBS NOT USED: Maris (correction by Martin: was replaced by Abdullah), Johnson, Flinders, Law, Anderson, Wauchope

REFEREE: Lee Swabey

ATTENDANCE: 6,332 (correction by Martin: 6,282).


Tranmere Rovers 0-2 Mansfield Town

Tranmere Rovers were defeated 2-0 at home against Mansfield Town on Saturday afternoon in Sky Bet League Two.

Riley Harbottle’s header 11 minutes before half-time saw Rovers trail the promotion-chasing Stags at the break.

Davis Keillor-Dunn extended the advantage for Nigel Clough’s men early into the second-half, which completed the scoring at Prenton Park.


Micky Mellon made three changes from Tuesday’s game at Bradford City - with Joe Murphy becoming Rovers’ oldest player aged 41, as he replaced Mateusz Hewelt in goal, while Jay Turner-Cooke and Joel Mumbongo came in for Kieron Morris and Kane Hemmings.

Rovers had two early openings at goal within five minutes. Firstly, Harvey Saunders pounced on a misplaced pass by Elliott Hewitt on the left to drag his low effort wide across goal before Lee O’Connor’s strike from distance went over the crossbar of goalkeeper Christy Pym.

Mansfield’s first threat towards the Rovers backline came minutes later when Keillor-Dunn’s cross had to be headed behind for a corner by Josh Dacres-Cogley. The resulting set-piece dropped in the box but was defended through Josh Hawkes’ clearance.

On 18 minutes, Murphy was called upon, dropping down well to thwart Lucas Akins after the attacker turned Kyle Jameson in the box having reacted the quickest from Harbottle’s long throw.

Akins was involved in Mansfield’s next opportunity, as he set off on a surging run down the right to cross into the box which was met by the unmarked Stephen Quinn, who scuffed his close-range attempt wide.

On the half-hour, stand-in captain Tom Davies produced a vital interception on the ball to head back to Murphy when Kieran Wallace’s lofted pass almost released Keillor-Dunn.

The Nottinghamshire outfit were in front after 34 minutes. Quinn played a neat one-two with Jordan Bowery from a free-kick to cross into a crowded box from the right, which Harbottle met to guide his header over the line despite the best efforts of Murphy to keep it out.

Searching for an equaliser, Dacres-Cogley linked up well with Turner-Cooke down the right, however the forward on loan from Newcastle United struck left-footed outside the box which landed off target.

Mansfield went close to a second late in the first-half, as Murphy saved from Keillor-Dunn who had been played through by James Perch.

Two minutes after half-time, Hawkes had the ball in the net after firing in a well-taken finish but he was flagged offside.

Up the other end, captain Ollie Clarke profited from Keillor-Dunn’s headed knockdown to hit a rising right-footed shot just over Murphy’s right-post.

Mansfield did have their second of the afternoon with 54 minutes on the clock. Alfie Kilgour’s long searching ball dropped to Clarke, who got in-between Jameson and Ethan Bristow - his chip was pushed onto the bar by Murphy but Keillor-Dunn followed up right-footed to put Town two ahead.

In response to the goal, Mellon made a double change, bringing Logan Chalmers and Jake Burton on in place of Turner-Cooke and Mumbongo.

Pushing to half the deficit on the Wirral, Bristow’s pinpoint cross from the left was headed over his own crossbar and to safety by Kilgour, with Saunders and Burton lurking.

On 65 minutes, Akins and Keillor-Dunn combined to set up Bowery, with Murphy superbly saving his goal-bound shot.

Rovers were enjoying a positive spell of play, as Burton and Regan Hendry saw strikes charged down by Stags defenders.

Davies headed Hendry’s corner from the right into the path of Jameson, however the defender’s overhead kick narrowly missed.

With ten minutes left, Chalmers’ through ball set Saunders free. The attacker pulled it back for Hawkes, but Harbottle threw himself in the way of his powerful strike.

Hendry and Chalmers both had late chances which failed to test Pym, as Rovers suffered a home defeat.

TRFC are back in action next weekend when they travel to Stevenage, kick-off 3pm.

Tranmere: Murphy, Dacres-Cogley, Davies, Jameson, Bristow, Hawkes, Hendry, O'Connor, Turner-Cooke (Chalmers 58), Saunders, Mumbongo (Burton 58)

Subs not used: Hewelt, Fisher, Merrie, Nolan, Lewis



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