STAGS HELD AT HOME BY SUTTON
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Sutton United
Maris 35. Angol 8
Attendance: 6,490 (40 from Sutton)
Date: 23 January 2024
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town were held 1-1 by relegation threatened Sutton United at the One Call Stadium last night. The Stags had comfortably won 2-0 at Sutton last month, but this was a Sutton side already looking rejuvenated by a new manager, having drawn with Barrow in his first game, and an influx of new players.
It was a windy night with gusts around 45mph, though with the wind seemingly coming from behind the West Stand which thus provided at least some shelter, the conditions were not quite as bad as I expected, though still bad, until around the last 15 minutes of the game when the wind got even stronger. Not surprisingly in poor conditions, it wasn’t an entertaining game.
Sutton came to get men behind the ball, starting out with a back five, but leaving two men up front to clear it up to them as quickly as possible. And the one thing Mansfield didn't want to do was gift them an early goal to hang on to. But they did precisely that after just 8 minutes with a ridiculous ball square across his own penalty area by Lewis Brunt. It was seized upon by former Stag Lee Angol who then had a free shot at goal past Christy Pym from 12 yards. It was the second home game running where Brunt has gifted a goal to the opposition in the opening minutes with a ridiculous ball inside his own area, and both have been enormously costly. He's also done it previously this season including at Colchester and Gillingham which also cost points. When Brunt also picked up a booking midway through the first half, he was quickly substituted. Brunt was playing at right back, but his error really can't be attributed to that as he had made similar errors from other positions.
Manager Nigel Clough was rightly annoyed after the game calling the mistake following on from the same thing happening against Crewe "disgraceful" and saying "the message isn't getting through". Brunt has been very good this season, but has made too many of these errors. Clough has stuck with him after previous errors, but he will probably come out of the team now.
The Stags equalised after 35 minutes. Sub Stephen McLaughlin, on for Brunt, drilled in a great low cross from the left and George Maris cleverly flicked it past the keeper from inside the six yard box. It was a super finish from Maris, for his 8th goal of the season.
The Stags didn't create too many other clearcut chances in the first half. The best came after 18 minutes when a shot from Aaron Lewis was deflected for a corner. And from that corner, Aden Flint's header was deflected away and eventually came out to Louis Reed whose shot was blocked.
Sutton tended to rely on long throw-ins, wind assisted from the West Stand side. They did go close very early on, after 4 minutes, when new signing Olly Sanderson, on loan from Fulham, fired wide from 8 yards from a Ryan Jackson cross after Jackson cut inside past Jordan Bowery.
The Stags had chances to win it in the second half. After 51 minutes, Maris fired in a good free kick into a good area, from the left not far from the corner flag, it went through a crowd of players, flew off Lucas Akins and just over the bar. After 72 minutes, great played from Keillor-Dunn on the right, he chipped a cross-shot towards the far post and it just evaded Maris and went just wide.
Maris limped off after 73 minutes and Nigel Clough told me after the game he will be only 50:50 for Saturday's game. In a triple change, Boateng, Clarke and Swan came with Quinn and Lewis also going off.
Swan was straight into the action with good play between him and Keillor-Dunn, and Swan's curling shot with the outside of his boot was goalbound but blocked, and then hit another Sutton player Christian N’Guessan before going agonisingly wide. So close to an own goal.
Swan should have won the game after 84 minutes. A good move from the Stags down the right, Clarke fed the overlapping Bowery who put in a perfect cross onto Swan's head but he headed inches wide from four yards. The wind was now blowing even stronger which may have marginally affected the cross, but he should have scored.
The final chance came after 90+5 minutes when Flint's goalbound volley from a Keillor-Dunn corner was blocked on the line.
A frustrating result. Ultimately in difficult conditions you cannot afford to gift the opposition an early goal to hang on to.
The referee had a terrible game, with multiple poor decisions, such as restarting the game after head injuries with Sutton in possession when Mansfield had been in possession, not clamping down on time-wasting, etc etc.
What a boost it could have been for everyone if Swan could have scored the winner but it wasn't to be. Hopefully Maris will be fit for Saturday and the Stags can bring in a good striker in the next week. Nigel Clough has a cut-off point of this week for bringing in his main striker target.
Mansfield remain in third place, a point ahead of 4th placed Crewe, and 2 ahead of 5th placed Barrow, with a game in hand on both. MK Dons are up to 6th, and just 6 points behind Mansfield. I think they are the biggest threat to the top 3.
Mansfield visit AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. Wimbledon played well in the 0-0 draw at Mansfield earlier in the season. They will definitely still be without impressive striker Al-Hamadi at the Asian Cup as Iraq are through to the next stages, though Bugiel could possibly be back with Lebanon not having won a game in the same tournament.
The Stags made two changes from the side that drew at Morecambe ten days ago. Quinn and Lewis started in place of Clarke and Macdonald. Macdonald is out for 4-6 weeks with a calf injury that forced him off in the Morecambe game.
Flint and Cargill continued at centre half. Bowery switched to left back with Brunt filling in at right back. Clough told me after the game McLaughlin wasn't quite fit enough to start, though with Brunt's error and booking, he was to come on for the last hour.
It was a diamond in midfield, with Reed behind Lewis (right) and Quinn (left). And Maris behind Keillor-Dunn and Akins.
O'Toole was back on the bench after Clough said he was back in training on Monday.
Sutton have a new manager, former Millwall manager Steve Morison. He has brought in four new signings. Charlie Lakin, on loan from Burton, impressed in midfield. Nino Adom-Malaki, on loan from Millwall, did well at left back. Olly Sanderson, on loan from Fulham, was up front with former Stag Lee Angol. Angol is a confidence player and the early gifted goal was just what he needed. Striker Harry Smith, who was pretty much Sutton's only threat in the game at Sutton in December, is out suspended for six games.
The game was quickly rearranged after it was postponed on Saturday due to a frozen pitch and also the game at home to Forest Green last Tuesday had gone the same way.
Storm Jocelyn brought winds with gusts on 45mph. The pitch was not in great condition, as it hasn't been since the FA Cup game against Wrexham, but was at least playable after plenty more rain.
The game saw Stags fans in the North Stand, in a trial, with the stand split to also accommodate the small number of visiting fans. It will also be trialled against Forest Green. It was the first time Stags fans have been in the North Stand since the pay-what-you-want game against Gateshead in 2010, and before that since 2004. In the event, there were only about 130 Stags fans in there, with season ticket holders not allowed to transfer their ticket from other stands.
DETAILED REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
TUE 23 JAN 2024, LEAGUE TWO
Mansfield Town 1-1 Sutton United
Match report supplied by PA Media.
Mansfield remain third in League Two after Will Swan's late miss saw them held 1-1 at home by struggling Sutton in dreadful windy conditions.
Sutton should have gone ahead on four minutes when Ryan Jackson put over a superb cross from the right wing and Oliver Sanderson turned it wide of the near post with a first-time effort from 12 yards out.
But they did strike four minutes later thanks to a dreadful loose pass by Lewis Brunt across the edge of his own box - former Stags striker Lee Angol intercepted and crashed home a great finish past a helpless Christy Pym.
Mansfield built a head of steam and after Aaron Lewis saw a good shot deflect just wide, they were level on 35 minutes.
Substitute Stephen McLaughlin drilled in a firm low cross from the left which was turned home from five yards by George Maris at the near post.
Lucas Akins flicked a header over from close range on the restart and, as the home side toiled, Swan somehow headed wide from only three yards with four minutes left.
Home Team Mansfield Away Team Sutton United
Possession Home 67% Away 33%
Shots Home 17 Away 2
Shots on Target Home 2 Away 1
Corners Home 13 Away 8
Fouls Home 8 Away 13
Frustration as Mansfield Town are held at home by struggling Sutton United
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 23 Jan 2024
Promotion-chasing Mansfield Town dropped more vital points as they were held 1-1 at home by strugglers Sutton United on a difficult, windy evening at the One Call Stadium tonight
It meant Nigel Clough's men have now only taken two points from a possible nine in their last three games and missed the chance to go second
Mansfield were punished for a slow start as ex-Stag Lee Angol punished a dreadful mistake by Lewis Brunt with the opening goal after only eight minutes.
But the home side rallied and grew into the game and were deservedly level through George Maris 10 minutes before the break.
A frustrating second half saw Lucas Akins and Will Swan both missed close range headers as Sutton defended well in the increasingly difficult conditions with the draw a fair result.
Stags made two changes with Aaron Lewis and Stephen Quinn starting in place of Ollie Clarke and the injured Calum Macdonald.
The game started in blustery conditions with swirling rain and strong winds from Storm Jocelyn.
It was the first time in 20 years that Stags had some of their own supporters in the North Stand, with a small area cordoned of for the few Sutton supporters who had braved the journey.
Pym had to grab a long Jackson throw from the right in the opening seconds as it spun into the air off the heel of Flint.
The home side also two early Sutton corners to defend.
And the visitors should have been ahead on four minutes as Jackson darted between two opponents on the right and placed a firm, low pass into the box where Sanderson turned the ball wide of the near post first time from 10 yards.
A third corner in six minutes had to be defended too before Stags' first foray forward which ended with Bouzanis grabbing Quinn's low cross- cum-shot from a tight angle on the left.
However, the visitors were rewarded for their positive start with a goal on eight minutes.
It was gifted to them as Brunt, playing at right back, played a terrible loose square pass straight to Angol just inside the box and the ex-Stag smashed home an unstoppable finish from 12 yards.
Keillor-Dunn won a free kick 22 yards out centrally but sent his kick into the wall.
Stags won a successsion of corners from one of which Lewis saw a shot deflect wide.
From another corner Flint turned the ball into the sidenetting at the far post as the home team finally began to build some pressure with 20 minutes gone.
Brunt brought down Adom-Malaki on 21 minutes after he beat him for pace to pick up the night's first booking.
Clough had seen enough and withdrew Brunt for McLaughlin with just 27 minutes played. Bowery switching over to right back and McLaughlin at left back.
Keillor-Dunn was felled for a booking to Kizzi on 28 minutes and a minute later Quinn looked to be pulled back in the box as he shot.
No penalty was given and a furious Quinn booked for his protests with home fans also irate and letting the officials know.
Stags' improved performance paid dividends on 35 minutes as they finally levelled the match.
McLaughlin drilled in a powerful low cross from the left by-line and Maris got the vital touch to turn it past Bouzanis from just inside the six yard box.
Akins almost put Stags ahead six minutes after the restart but could not keep his header down as he flicked the ball over from four yards after Maris had whipped in a free kick from the left by-line.
By now the wind speed had increased and was causing both sides increasing problems judging things.
Maris also needed treatment after falling awkwardly but was able to go back on.
Soon after a Keillor-Dunn cross passed inches over the leaping Maris at the far post with the goal at his mercy.
With 17 minutes to go Clough made a triple change as Swan, Clarke and Boateng came on for Maris, Lewis and Quinn.
Keillor-Dunn was well over from distance as home frustration grew.
Swan then looked certain to score six minutes from the end but sent his near post header wide from three yards from Bowery's cross.
Nine minutes were added in which Flint had an effort blocked from a corner, but Sutton held on for the point.
STAGS: Pym, Cargill, Akins, Bowery, Maris (Swan 73), Flint, Lewis (Clarke 73), Quinn (Boateng 73), Brunt (McLaughlin 27), Reed, Keillor-Dunn. SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Williams, O'Toole.
SUTTON: Bouzanis, Adom-Malaki (Hart 79), Sowunmi (Patrick HT), Goodliffe (John 76), N'Guessan, Eastmond (Beautyman 64), Kizzi, Jackson, Lakin, Angol, Sanderson (Coley 64). SUBS NOT USED: Arnold, Moore.
REFEREE: Ed Duckworth.
ATTENDANCE: 6,490 (40 away).
Match report for Mansfield Town 1 Sutton United 1
suttonunited.net, Tues 23 Jan 2024
Mansfield Town 1(Maris 35) Sutton United 1 (Angol 8)
Sutton continued the battle to climb away from the League Two relegation zone with an excellent point against promotion chasing Mansfield. In a game increasingly spoilt by the strong wind and partly played in swirling rain, U's took an early lead but were pegged back by an equaliser ten minutes before half time having survived a spell of Mansfield pressure. The home side had a lot of the ball again in the second half, but created few clear chances, although substitute Will Swan did miss a golden chance close to the end to deny Sutton the point the performance deserved.
U's lined up in an unfamilar 5-3-2 formation, with Ryan Jackson and Nino Adom-Malaki as wing backs and Olly Sanderson making his debut alongside Lee Angol, and Sanderson almost had an immediate impact when he got across his marker to meet Jackson's low cross but turned his shot just wide. U's weren't to be denied an early lead, though, and it came when Lewis Brunt's misplaced pass after he had intercepted a long Bouzanis clearance presented the ball to Angol on the edge of the penalty area, and the striker placed his shot past Christy Pym in to the corner of the net.
U's defended the lead well as Mansfield enjoyed the majority of the possession, Ben Goodliffe throwing himself in the way of a Louis Reed shot, although there may have been a let off when Jackson grabbed Stephen Quinn's arm in the penalty area as the Mansfield player was about to shoot, Quinn's furious reaction to not being awarded a penalty earning him the third yellow card in an eight minute spell. The first had gone to Brunt for a lunging tackle on Adom-Malaki, and his unhappy evening was ended before the half hour mark as he was replaced by Stephen McLaughlin. It proved a good move from Nigel Clough, as within eight minutes McLaughlin had delivered a low cross from the left that was neatly turned in at the near post by George Maris.
Omar Sowunmi failed to appear for the second half after feeling unwell, with Omari Patrick brought on in a changed formation, and again although Mansfield had more of the ball U's defended well and chances were few and far between. Lucas Akins headed over from close range after a left wing free kick had been flicked on, although the pace of the ball was such that Akins knew little about it, but apart from that U's most anxious moment came when a clearance rebounded off Christian N'Guessan and looped just wide of his own goal.
Sutton had some promising moments on the counter attack, Josh Coley particularly prominent after coming on as a substitute but unable to find the final pass, but Pym was as untested as Bouzanis as the gale began to make playing constructive football difficult and took two balls out of the ground. Mansfield did have one glorious chance, though, when Swan met Jordan Bowery's cross at the near post but put his header wide, and despite ninbe minutes of stoppage time Sutton were able to preserve a well earned point to the delight of the 40 supporters who had followed U's to the One Call Stadium on a miserable day for travelling.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, N Adom-Malaki (sub S Hart 79), O Sowunmi(sub O Patrick H-T) B Goodliffe (sub L John 72), C Eastmond(sub H Beautyman 64), R Jackson, C N'Guessan, L Angol, O Sanderson (sub J Coley 64), C Lakin. Subs n/u S Arnold, D Moore. Booked: Kizzi
Mansfield: C Pym, L Brunt (sub S McLaughlin 27), S Quinn (sub O Clarke 73), L Reed, A Flint, B Cargill, L Akins, A Lewis(sub W Swan 73), J Bowery, G Maris (sub H Boateng 73), D Keillor-Dunn. Subs n/u S Flinders, G Williams, J-J O'Toole. Booked: Brunt, Quinn
Referee: Ed Duckworth
Attendance: 6,490(40 away)
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