OUTSTANDING STAGS FINALLY BEAT HARROGATE
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Harrogate Town 1 - 4 Mansfield Town
Sutton 80. Brunt 8, Akins 36, 38, Maris 73.
Attendance: 2,304 (458 from Mansfield)
Date: 24 October 2023
Martin Shaw at Wetherby Road (EnviroVent Stadium)
Mansfield Town finally beat Harrogate Town for the first time, last night, at the 8th attempt, after 6 Harrogate wins and 1 draw in league and cup. The Stags were outstanding, and whilst the final scoreline was only 4-1, it was an absolute rout, with the Stags clocking up 34 shots at goal, comfortably the highest in League Two this season. Indeed, man of the match Lucas Akins, who scored twice, clocked up 11 shots on his own, the first player in any of the top 4 leagues to register double figures this season. The Stags scored 4 for the second game running, for the first time since April, but more remarkably it was 4 goals in successive away league games for first time since 1966.
Mansfield remain unbeaten in league and cup this season (18 games), and remain the only EFL or Premier League club to be unbeaten this season in all competitions.
Mansfield are now 14 league games unbeaten this season and that extends the club record for the longest unbeaten start to a league season (see club records here).
Including last season, Mansfield are 15 league games unbeaten. The club record is 20, set in 1976.
If you include cup games, including last season, Mansfield are 19 league and cup games unbeaten in all competitions. The club record is still 20, set in 1976.
Mansfield are 13 away league games unbeaten. The club record is 15, set in 2018-19 (stat from Paul Taylor).
Mansfield have also conceded the fewest goals in League Two (11 goals in 14 games this season).
At Wetherby Road, 22 of Mansfield’s 34 shots came in an incredible first half. The Stags went in at half time 3-0 up, but it should have been 5 or 6.
The Stags took the lead after 10 minutes. Lucas Akins curled in a fine shot from the edge of the area that deflected just over the angle of bar and post. From the resulting corner from the left, taken by George Maris, Aden Flint headed back across the box and Lewis Brunt was on the end of it to sweep a shot into the net from 12 yards. It took the slightest of deflections but was probably going in anyway. Brunt’s first goal for Mansfield. He was to go on to have a great game.
It was 2-0 after 36 minutes. Aaron Lewis slid a good ball into Akins, back to goal on the edge of the area. Akins turned and fed Davis Keillor-Dunn just inside the area. Keillor-Dunn took a touch to control the ball, and toe-poked a shot towards the roof of the net. The keeper parried it, straight out to Ollie Clarke on the edge of the area, and he thumped a shot against the left post. It came out for a second time, this time to Akins, also on the edge of the area, and he crashed it into the bottom left corner of the net. It was Akins’ second goal in consecutive games. The goal had been coming, and that’s an understatement.
Within two minutes, it was 3-0. Calum Macdonald dispossessed Kayne Ramsay on the left touchline. Keillor-Dunn took it to the byline, cut inside, and pulled back to Macdonald. Macdonald slid a shot, falling over as he did so, towards the bottom left corner of the net. The keeper made a great one-handed save to keep it out. It came out to Keillor-Dunn who fired a low hard cross-shot that reached Akins at the far post, and he turned it into the net from 3 yards. Two goals in two minutes for Akins, taking his tally for the season to 7.
Plenty of near misses for the Stags in the first half as Louis Reed sent a shot over the bar, Maris swept wide from 22 yards, Reed brought a great save from the keeper with a super shot from 28 yards, Brunt was brought down in the box for what should have been a penalty which wasn’t given, Keillor-Dunn sent a shot just wide with Akins just missing it at the far post, Akins stabbing a shot wide from 7 yards, Akins with a low shot saved from outside the box, Clarke with a good shot from 25 yards just over the bar, Bowery with a cross-shot blocked. Then Flint with a header from a corner saved on the line by the keeper, Akins having a shot from the rebound blocked, then Maris having his shot on the rebound blocked. Then Reed had a free kick from 24 yards which looked to be heading for the top corner before it deflected wide off the wall. And finally Lewis had a powerful cross-shot just wide.
What a 45 minutes from Mansfield. Last season, Mansfield were 3-0 down here at half time. What a difference.
Harrogate had a better spell at the start of the second half, but some good blocks and defending from Mansfield prevented them scoring.
Keillor-Dunn might have made it 4-0 after 57 minutes, with brilliant control, a great run and a shot just wide. Akins was close to completing his hat-trick after 71 minutes when he had a free shot from 16 yards but the keeper parried it away. Akins headed wide from the resulting corner.
It was 4-0 after 73 minutes. Brilliant play from Keillor-Dunn just outside the area, and he teed up Maris for a free shot from 14 yards, which he clinically finished left-footed into the right corner of the net. A 4th goal of the season for Maris. And a 7th assist of the season for Keillor-Dunn (see my stats below).
The chances kept on coming. Keillor-Dunn was inches wide of the right post with a low shot from 20 yards. Sub George Williams headed over from a corner.
Harrogate scored a consolation goal after 80 minutes. Levi Sutton shot from 18 yards, Flint tried to block it, it skimmed off the top of his head, over Christy Pym, and in off the underside of the bar.
More chances for Mansfield. On 84 minutes, sub James Gale crossed in from the left, another sub Will Swan turned and shot just wide in one motion, a good effort. Then Swan headed over the bar from another Gale cross, this time from the right. And finally sub Hiram Boateng shot just over the bar from 22 yards in stoppage time.
Only 458 Stags fans in attendance, the allocation of tickets reduced due to building work at the ground, but they enjoyed this performance and gave their side a great ovation at full time.
Plenty of great performances throughout the team. Akins was my man of the match for his goals, getting in 11 shots in total, and incredible work rate. Lewis Brunt had his best game for Mansfield, a brilliant performance, boosted by his early goal. One mistake when he gave the ball away and Sam Folarin blasted a shot over the bar, he has to cut those errors out, but otherwise he defended superbly. Flint was a colossus as normal. Both full backs Bowery and Macdonald did well, getting forward at will. The midfield was excellent again, Reed, Lewis, Clarke and Maris. And Keillor-Dunn was outstanding, with two assists and plenty of mesmerising attacking. Pym was a virtual spectator, and only beaten by a deflection over him.
Disappointingly Mansfield had two players booked for stopping free kicks being taken quickly, including Macdonald who is now on 4 bookings and just one away from a suspension.
Harrogate were made to look so poor by Mansfield. Boss Simon Weaver rightly described it as “men against boys”. Harrogate had been in reasonable form, winning 3 away games on the trot, though losing 2 on the trot at home, and were right in the middle of the table, only 4 points behind the Stags at the start of play.
The next game is at home to Walsall on Saturday. Walsall are unbeaten in 3 games, including beating Gillingham 4-1, and are in mid-table. Danny Johnson scored for Walsall in the 88th minute against Crawley last night, but Crawley equalised in stoppage time. Danny Johnson will certainly be fired up against his former club. The game has been made all-ticket, so get your tickets while you can.
DETAILED REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
TUE 24 OCT 2023, LEAGUE TWO
Harrogate Town 1-4 Mansfield Town
Brunt (8'minutes), Akins (36'minutes, 38'minutes), Maris (73'minutes)
Flint (8'minutes), Keillor-Dunn (73'minutes)
Match report supplied by PA Media.
Mansfield racked up a 19th game unbeaten in all competitions following a thumping 4-1 victory at Harrogate.
Lucas Akins scored twice and Louis Reed and George Maris also netted for the visitors, with Levi Sutton's reply proving mere consolation for the hosts.
The ruthless Stags dominated the first half, with on-loan Leicester centre-back Reed scoring his first EFL goal in the eighth minute when he drove in from 15 yards after Aden Flint rose highest to meet Maris' corner.
Akins then made the points safe before the break by netting twice in quick succession.
The 34-year-old striker fired home from just outside the penalty area in the 36th minute after home goalkeeper Mark Oxley had denied Davis Keillor-Dunn and Ollie Clarke had thumped a follow-up attempt against an upright.
Akins then stretched out a leg to divert Keillor-Dunn's firm cross into the net from close range two minutes later.
Mansfield made it 4-0 in the 73rd minute when Maris beat an exposed Oxley from eight yards after being teed up by the menacing Keillor-Dunn.
The hosts' late riposte saw Sutton's deflected edge-of-the-box effort strike the underside of the crossbar and bounce over the line.
Home Team Harrogate Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 53% Away 47%
Shots Home 11 Away 34
Shots on Target Home 3 Away 11
Corners Home 2 Away 7
Fouls Home 9 Away 13
Sparkling Mansfield Town roar to another big away win to finally beat bogey side Harrogate Town
chad.co.uk, Tues 25 Oct 2023
Mansfield Town finally chalked up a first ever victory over bogey side Harrogate Town with a second successive 4-1 away win to continue their incredible unbeaten start to the season.
Stags headed to Harrogate having lost six and drawn one of the clubs' seven all-time encounters, but tonight made it 18 games unbeaten in all competitions with a brilliant overall performance in securing three more points which lifted them back into the top four.
Mansfield could and should have won by an even bigger margin as they rained in 31 attempts on goal against the shellshocked Sulphurites.
Confidence-fuelled thanks to a thumping win at Notts County last time out, the Stags roared out of the blocks.
George Maris and Lucas Akins had both gone close before the visitors broke the deadlock after only eight minutes.
Lewis Brunt was perfectly placed to slot home his first Stags goal after he met Aden Flint’s precise far post knock-down from Mansfield's first corner.
Nigel Clough’s men were running the show, and both Louis Reed and the normally deadly Davis Keillor-Dunn went mighty close to adding a second.
Harrogate finally gained something of a foothold in the game, and Jack Muldoon threatened when he saw a powerful strike blocked.
However, the Stags responded positively again and Akins forced ‘keeper Mark Oxley into a decent stop.
Akins then scored twice in two minutes to leave the Stags in cruise control.
Firstly he pounced on 36 minutes to fire home a rebound after a Keillor-Dunn was saved and Ollie Clarke's follow-up hit the post, Akins then making sure at the third time of asking for the visitors.
On 38 minutes Akins then turned home from close range after Keillor-Dunn’s sent the ball into his path from the left.
Harrogate’s half-time sub Abraham Odoh tested Christy Pym in the early stages after the restart - the keeper's first real action - as the home side tried to go up a gear.
But the Stags remained firmly in control and Keillor-Dunn almost made it four as he was thwarted by Oxley.
The Harrogate keeper was superb again soon after as he denied Akins following some terrific work from Maris.
But it was Maris who did make it four when he coolly converted a low square ball from Keillor-Dunn, who had done well to win the ball back.
However, the clean sheet was spoiled on 80 minutes as Levi Sutton fired goalwards and the ball lopped up and over Pym from the head of Aden Flint.
Brunt was booked for a cynical foul to join full backs Callum Johnson and Calum Macdonald, who both picked up silly cautions for kicking the ball away.
But Stags are now unbeaten in 14 league games this season and, after beating Accrington Stanley earlier this season, have ended yet another hoodoo against a bogey side.
HARROGATE: Oxley, Ramsay, McDonald, O’Connor, Foulds, Cornelius (Falkingham, 46), Sutton, Thomson, Daly (March, 77), Muldoon (Odoh, 46), Folarin (Armstrong, 77). SUBS NOT USED: Burrell, Daly, Thomas.
STAGS: Pym, Bowery, Flint, Brunt, MacDonald (Johnson, 74), Lewis (Boateng, 74), Reed, Maris (Gayle, 74), Clarke (Williams 79), Akins, Keillor-Dunn (Swan 79). SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, McLaughlin.
REFEREE: Stephen Martin.
TOWN 1-4 Mansfield Town - First-half blast sees Town fall to defeat
A first-half blast from Mansfield Town saw Town fall to a 4-1 defeat this evening at The Envirovent Stadium.
An early strike from Lewis Brunt ended Town’s bright start to the game but after finding their footing a quickfire brace from Lucas Akins before the break saw the visitors put themselves in the box seat at the break.
George Maris made it four midway through the second-half before Levi Sutton struck a consolation ten minutes from time but it was to no avail at Town fell to a fourth successive home defeat.
Despite victory on Saturday against Colchester United Simon Weaver opted to make three changes. Back into the starting line-up came Sam Folarin, so impressive in recent weeks, Jack Muldoon and the fit-again Rod McDonald. Josh March, Warren Burrell and James Daly all dropped to the bench.
For the visitors, who had their game at the weekend postponed due to the weather, there was just the one change to the side that defeated Notts County 4-1 in their last outing. Into the side came Lewis Brunt, at the expense of Bailley Cargill.
It was an entertaining start to the game with both sides making early inroads into the opposition defence. The Stags saw an early shot from range from Aaron Lewis flash only narrowly over whilst for Town both Matty Foulds and Matty Daly got in good positions down the left-hand side, but the final delivery on both occasions failing to find a home shirt.
The visitors struck the first blow though on eight minutes. Town failed to clear their lines from a corner and an unmarked Brunt made no mistake from ten yards out.
Only the excellence of Mark Oxley prevented Town from falling further behind on 12 minutes. Louis Reed picked up possession on the edge of the area and wasted no time in getting his shot away, only for Oxley at full stretch to tip the ball over.
Midway through the half Oxley was again alert, this time to quickly get down low to smother a shot from Lucas Akins.
Ollie Clarke then profited from hesitation amongst the Town defence to aim a shot at Oxley’s but the direction was lacking and the effort sailed harmlessly wide.
Town responded on the half-hour mark when a marauding Kayne Ramsay run from his own half to the edge of the Mansfield box ignited the crowd. He was unlucky to see his effort deflected away to safety.
Ten minutes before the break Town fell further behind. They had twice looked as though they had escaped the danger, first when Oxley saved from Davis Keillor-Dunn before Clarke struck the rebound against the post but Akins was on hand to fire home.
Less than a minute later the game was all but over. Keillor-Dunn’s shot on goal was deflected by the Town defence but straight into the path of Akins who steered home.
There were two changes for Town at the break, Abraham Odoh and Josh Falkingham coming on for Muldoon and Dean Cornelius.
The changes almost had an immediate impact when Odoh set up Daly, who beat the first man before seeing his shot deflected behind for a corner.
Odon then ghosted in beyond the backline to meet Ramsay’s cross to the far post but his header was safely dealt with by Christie Pym.
Town were certainly brighter after the break, Odoh in particular involved in several positive passages of play but for all of their effort they couldn’t fashion the clear cut chance to provide them with some semblance of hope.
The visitors meanwhile continued to threaten, breaking quickly out of nowhere to put Town on the back foot with Keillor-Dunn’s chip dropping narrowly wide of Oxley’s post.
Folarin’s pace was always a threat for the Stags defence and having moved into a more advanced position following the half-time changes he carved out an opportunity but fired over the bar.
Ramsay then saw his name go into the book when he was adjudged to have attempted to win a penalty before Callum MacDonald was shown a yellow card for dissent.
Akins was denied the hat-trick with twenty minutes remaining when Oxley turned away his powerful shot at goal from just inside the penalty area.
The Stags were not to be denied though when Maris fired home with fifteen minutes remaining when he slotted home coolly from Keillor-Dunn’s pass.
The goal saw a trio of changes from Nigel Clough with Callum Johnson, James Gale and Hiram Boateng for Lewis, Maris and Callum MacDonald before Luke Armstrong and Josh March were introduced for Daly and Folarin.
Keillor-Dunn was inches away from adding a fifth with only a strong hand from Oxley turning his shot away, with the midfielder withdrawn shortly after following a showing of immense quality.
Town grabbed a goal with ten minutes remaining when Sutton fired home from distance off the undersisde of the bar which was reward for a brighter showing after the break but it was little more than consolation.
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