STAGS OUTPLAYED AND BEATEN AT HOME AGAIN
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 2 - 3 Colchester United
Sweeney 45, Sterling-James 90. Comley 8, Senior 74, Gambin 87.
Attendance: 4125 (212 from Colchester)
Date: 2 November 2019
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town were beaten at home by Colchester United this afternoon. Colchester fully deserved their victory, which could have been by more than 3-2 but for an excellent display by Stags keeper Conrad Logan, and in my opinion were the best side Mansfield have come up against this season. However, for the Stags it was a 5th home defeat of the season, with just 2 wins, in 9 home games. No other clubs in League Two have lost more home games and only Morecambe and Walsall have also lost 5 games at home. Nowhere near good enough for a club that has aspirations of promotion this season.
The Stags came into the game on the back of an improved run of form, with 10 points from the previous 5 games, which had eased some of the considerable pressure on young manager John Dempster. Colchester came into the game on the back of the remarkable achievement of reaching the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup in midweek where they have been drawn away to Manchester United, having earlier in the competition knocked out Champions League runners-up Tottenham Hotspur.
At the start of the day, Colchester were just three points ahead of Mansfield, but in truth Colchester were streets ahead of the Stags during the 90 minutes here.
Perhaps it would have been different if the Stags had taken the lead early in the game as they so nearly did, with Kellan Gordon putting in a high hanging cross which was perfect for Andy Cook who leapt high in typical fashion and headed down, bringing a fantastic one handed save from Colchester keeper Dean Gerken, after just 4 minutes.
But it was Colchester who took the lead after 8 minutes as Brandon Comley fired a magnificent shot into the top right corner of the net from 28 yards.
Colchester remained good value for their lead but the Stags were surprisingly level on the stroke of half time as Ryan Sweeney was left unmarked at the far post to knock into the net from close range from Mal Benning’s corner from the right, as Colchester keeper Gerken seemed to slip over. Sweeney’s first goal of the season.
It should have been a good time for the Stags to score, but instead it was Colchester who flew out of the traps early in the second half, and they won a penalty after 48 minutes as midfielder Kwame Poku embarked on a tricky run into the Stags area and was tripped by Mal Benning. It was the sort of run you wanted Otis Khan to be making at the other end, but that never happened all afternoon. Frank Nouble, the player who ended Hayden White’s season in January with that lunging challenge, stepped up to take the penalty and sent it to Conrad Logan’s left, but Logan made a magnificent save with a strong right hand.
Again, you would have hoped Mansfield would take heart and gain some momentum, but it was Colchester who continued to be the better side, and had three more efforts on goal shortly afterwards.
After 64 minutes, both sides went close. Firstly Nicky Maynard did superbly to get to the byline and put in a great cross for Cook whose effort hit Ryan Jackson on the line. Then Logan pulled off another stunning save as he turned Callum Harriott’s shot onto the right post.
Logan made another good save after 70 minutes from Courtney Senior, but Colchester were back in front after 74 minutes as Senior waltzed past Preston into the area and fired past Logan.
Colchester’s midfield of Senior, Poku, Comley, Harriott and Ben Stevenson had completely outshone Mansfield’s disappointing midfield of Neal Bishop, Conor Shaughnessy, Alex MacDonald and Otis Khan all afternoon. Finally, after 78 minutes, Stags boss John Dempster made a double change, removing Bishop and Khan, and replacing them with Jacob Mellis and CJ Hamilton. At last the Stags looked more lively. After 81 minutes, Hamilton did well to set up a chance for Maynard with a square ball across the 6 yard box, Maynard stabbed it goalwards but it was cleared. A minute later, Mellis fired in a shot from 20 yards which was saved by the keeper just inside the post. Mansfield made a third change as MacDonald was replaced by Omari-Sterling-James after 84 minutes.
But Colchester made it 3-1 after 86 minutes as Cohen Bramall’s low cross into the box was completely miscued by Preston into the path of Tom Lapslie whose goalbound shot was blocked by Benning but only into the path of Luke Gambin who kneed the ball into the net.
The Stags pulled a goal back on the stroke of 90 minutes as Hamilton did well to pull a low cross back from the left into the path of Sterling-James who fired into the net from 14 yards via a deflection.
But it was too little too late, and Colchester were worthy winners. The Colchester midfield caused Mansfield so many problems with runs from outside the box into the box, and they looked very much more lively than the Stags. Mansfield’s midfield was collectively very poor, while last season’s best defence in League Two continued to leak goals, with Preston in particular poor here as he could have done better for the second and third goals.
Not many positives at all for the Stags, with Logan being clear man of the match, keeping the Stags in the game with another fine display. CJ Hamilton on as a late substitute was another positive perhaps, providing an assist for the late goal, and creating a good chance for Maynard. Hamilton was in the League Two team of the year last season, and scored 14 goals. This season, he’s yet to score and has been very disappointing. A return to form for him could make a massive difference to Mansfield’s season.
It’s a break from the league now as the Stags take on Chorley in the FA Cup next Saturday. A good run in the FA Cup would be very important for Mansfield’s season, to provide some cheer, and perhaps as it has for Colchester in the League cup, some much needed momentum.
Mansfield made one expected change from the side that won at Walsall, with Preston coming in for the injured Pearce. Mellis returned from injury to the bench, while Sterling-James also returned to the bench, in preference to Afolayan. White and Rose remained out with injury. Rose told me before the game that he hopes to return to training on Tuesday, well ahead of schedule, then he hopes to be available for selection for the bench against Chorley, and to start against Burton in the EFL Trophy in 10 days time.
There had been a lot of rain during the morning but Michael Merriman and his groundstaff did a great job getting the pitch ready and in good condition.
Before the game, The Last Post was performed beautifully followed by minute’s silence to remember the fallen. The club had put up huge banners on the West Stand hoardings with poppies on them and “Lest we forget” written on them, which looked good.
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
Mansfield Town 2 v 3 Colchester United: Stags suffer home loss to play-off chasing U’s
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Saturday 02 November 2019
Mansfield Town were beaten 3-2 at home by a powerful, in-form Colchester United this afternoon.
Nicky Maynard wiped out Brandon Comley’s spectacular early long range finish just before the break.
But, despite long spells of home possession, United looked solid and always capable of causing damage on the break with their powerful forwards.
Mansfield had already had one escape when the impressive Conrad Logan superbly saved Frank Nouble’s penalty just after the break.
But when Courtney Senior and Luke Gabin both netted within nine minutes of each other late in the game there was no way back for John Dempster’s men, who grabbed a late consolation through sub Omari Sterling-James.
On this showing Colchester could be a real force this season and have now only lost three times in 19 games and reached the Carabao Cup quarter-final.
Stags tried to play football and retained possession well, but they struggled to pierce a well-drilled United and always looked vulnerable to the counter.
The Mansfield side showed one change with skipper Krystian Pearce ruled out with a groin strain and Matt Preston in as a straight replacement in the centre of defence.
Midfielder Jacob Mellis made a return from injury to the bench.
Visitors Colchester had top scorer Luke Norris ruled out with an injury picked up in their midweek Carabao Cup win over Crawley.
Mansfield started well and almost took a fourth minute lead as Cook’s close range header from Gordon’s hoisted cross was blocked one-handed by an alert Gerken in the United goal.
Logan then had to smother a dangerous, deflected low cross from Bramall.
There was more danger as Khan lost the ball and Poku saw his deflected shot pass just over the angle.
But United were ahead from the corner. It was cleared out to Comley 30 yards from goal and he blazed a top drawer finish into the top right hand corner, giving Logan no chance.
Another rapid Colchester break on 11 minutes saw Shaughnessy stretch out to block Stevenson’s finish.
Mansfield continued to dominate possession but the visitors looked lethal on breakaways and were defending well, Benning sending a good effort wide from the outside of his boot from 20 yards in the only real goal effort of that spell.
On 26 minutes Jackson pulled a cross back from the right which saw Stevenson volley straight to Logan from 18 yards.
United came close again from another break on 31 minutes as Harriott got down the left and zipped a low shot at goal from an angle which Logan got just enough on to turn for a corner.
Then Senior fired another shot straight to Logan after a near move from the right while Bramall sent a 25-yard free kick into the home wall as Mansfield struggled for a foothold into the game.
On 43 minutes Shaughnessy’s fine pass down the centre reached Maynard who saw his 20 yard blast parried by Gerken.
But Stags were finally level on 45 minutes. Benning’s right wing corner swung through everyone to give Sweeney a close range tap-in at the far post to go in all square at the break after a tough half.
Mansfield had a huge let-off on the restart. Benning’s trip on Poku in the box was a penalty all the way, but Logan pulled off a tremendous save to deny Nouble from the spot as he threw himself full length to his left to push it away.
Senior was only just over from distance soon after.
Cook was unhappy with a shove on him in the box by Prosser as a free kick bounced out for a goal kick, but nothing was given.
A great run by Senior down the right ended with Harriott lifting a finish onto the roof of the home net, then a poor clearance at the other end saw Maynard hurry a shot well off target.
On 64 minutes Stags looked set to go ahead as Maynard’s cross reached Cook at the far post, but Jackson managed a superb block after initially failing to clear.
United broke upfield and Harriott’s fierce shot was tipped onto the post and out by Logan.
Logan was also down to grab a low, deflected Senior shot as the U’s came forward again with purpose.
But a moment of magic from Senior restored Colchester’s lead with 15 minutes to go.
He picked up a pass just outside the box but then came alive and beat two opponents before smashing home an unstoppable finish.
Desperate Mansfield made a double change, sending on Mellis and Hamilton for Bishop and Khan on 78 minutes.
With 10 minutes left Bramall saw the game’s first yellow card for a trip on Gordon.
Hamilton’s low cross on 82 minutes saw Maynard’s stabbed effort blocked, then Gerken was down to save a low Benning effort as Stags tried to turn the screw.
Gambin came on as a sub with five minutes left and within two minutes had wrapped up the points as Stags failed to clear Bramall’s low cross, and after a couple of blocks Gambin steered the loose ball into the gaping goal.
But in the last minute Stags’ subs combined as Hamilton pulled a low cross back that Sterling-James calmly turned home, but it was too little too late for the home side.
STAGS: Logan; Gordon, Preston, Sweeney, Benning; MacDonald (Sterling-James 85), Bishop (Mellis 78), Shaughnessy, Khan (Hamilton 78); Cook, Maynard. Subs not used: Olejnik, Tomlinson, Knowles, Smith.
COLCHESTER: Gerken, Jackson, Bramall, Prosser, Senior, Comley, Harriott (Gambin 85), Eastman, Stevenson (Pell 89), Nouble, Poku (Lapslie 82). Subs not used: Ross, Sowunmi, Brown, Clampin.
REFEREE: Seb Stocksbridge of Tyne.
ATTENDANCE: 4,125 (212 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Conrad Logan
Relentless U's move to within one point of the play-offs
by Carl Marston
Colchester United moved to within just one point of the League Two play-offs, following a deserved 3-2 away success at Mansfield on Saturday, just four days after they had booked a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie against Manchester United with a win at Crawley.
John McGreal's men could even afford the luxury of another penalty miss as they made it three wins on the bounce, while stretching their unbeaten run to four games.
McGreal enthused: "This was more than just another win - I thought the boys were excellent, especially after the euphoria of the win on Tuesday (at Crawley) and all the TV highlights of what's got on in the draw on Thursday, to get possibly the biggest club in the world.
"The boys nailed the tactical side of it, particularly in an attack sense, and to put in a performance like that, against a Mansfield side who have picked up of late, was terrific.
"I thought the 3-2 score-line suggests it was a little bit closer than it really was, because some of our play was there for all to see.
"It could have been 'After The Lord Mayor's Show,' but it wasn't," added McGreal.
Midfielder Brandon Comley broke the deadlock with a superb 30-yarder on eight minutes, only for the Stags to equalise through Ryan Sweeney's close-range tap-in from Mal Benning's corner.
Benning tripped Kwame Poku to hand the U's a 48th minute penalty, but Frank Nouble's spot kick was saved by keeper Conrad Logan. However, the U's heads did not drop, even after Callum Harriott's shot was turned onto a post by the impressive Logan, just after the hour mark.
Courtney Senior finally regained the U's the lead, thanks to a fine solo effort in the 74th minute, and substitute Luke Gambin made the game safe by sweeping home the third in the 87th minute, from Cohen Bramall's cross. Omari Sterling-James bagged a stoppage-time consolation for the hosts.
McGreal added: "Noubs (Nouble) is as disappointed as anyone to miss two penalties in a row (also at Crewe). He has apologised to the boys, but he has again put in a terrific shift."
There was also the bonus of a cameo appearance from Harry Pell, as a late substitute, on his comeback from injury.
COLCHESTER: Gerken, Jackson, Eastman, Prosser, Bramall, Comley, Stevenson (sub Pell, 90), Senior, Poku (sub Lapslie, 82), Harriott (sub Gambin, 85), Nouble. Unused subs: Sowunmi, Brown, Clampin, Ross.
Colchester United record impressive win at Mansfield Town
gazette-news.co.uk, By Jonathan Waldron
COLCHESTER United ended an excellent week on a high after running out impressive 3-2 winners following an eventful encounter at Mansfield Town this afternoon.
Goals from Brandon Comley, Courtney Senior and Luke Gambin secured the U's a third straight win in all competitions in front of 212 of their jubilant fans, at Field Mill.
It was a superb performance by John McGreal's side to boost their League Two top-seven hopes with the victory.
Callum Harriott was recalled to the U’s starting line-up in a left-sided role, with leading scorer Luke Norris missing out due to a groin injury.
Theo Robinson was suspended but there was a welcome return for Harry Pell, who was among the substitutes for the U’s and in the matchday 18 for the first time since the opening day of the season after recovering from an Achilles injury.
Colchester almost fell behind in the fourth minute when goalkeeper Dean Gerken pulled off a fine one-handed low save to prevent Andy Cook’s header from Kellan Gordon’s deep cross from sailing in.
But the U’s soon warmed to the task and Senior was just unable to connect with Cohen Bramall’s low cross into the six yard box after a swift break.
Colchester then took the lead in magnificent style, two minutes later.
Brandon Comley let fly with a magnificent shot from nearly 30 yards that flew into the top corner, to put the visitors ahead.
The midfielder’s only other league goal for the U’s had come at the same venue back in March, 2018.
Seemingly not content with the one goal, Colchester went in search of more after that.
Ben Stevenson’s shot landed straight into the arms of keeper Conrad Logan after a good U’s attack, midway through the first half.
And just after the half hour mark, Callum Harriott’s firm strike was pushed away by keeper Logan for a corner after Stevenson’s long pass had set him free.
Senior then fired straight at Logan from inside the area after Frank Nouble and Ryan Jackson had done well to set him up.
But Mansfield finished the first half strongly and two minutes before the break, Nicky Maynard’s long-range strike was pushed away well by Gerken.
And just before the break, Ryan Sweeney tapped home from two yards after U’s failed to deal with Mal Benning’s corner.
The visitors felt there had been a foul on Gerken in the build-up but the goal stood and Colchester went in at the break level.
The U’s were presented with a golden opportunity to regain their lead less than three minutes after the break, after Stags captain Benning tripped Kwame Poku in the area.
But Nouble’s high penalty was pushed away well by the diving Logan, as the U’s forward saw a spot-kick saved for the second time in three league games.
Nouble almost made amends for his penalty disappointment seconds later when his low effort was deflected wide for a corner.
And on the hour mark, Harriott's looping effort from 20 yards landed on the roof of the net as Colchester pressed.
Ryan Jackson did brilliantly to recover in his own six-yard box to block Andy Cook’s effort, after Nicky Maynard had delivered a dangerous cross.
But the U’s came agonisingly close to restoring their lead with 25 minutes remaining when Harriott’s sweet left-foot strike rattled the outside of the post.
Senior's deflected strike was saved by Logan before Colchester regained their lead, with 15 minutes to go.
Senior latched onto Poku's pass and went past a defender before lashing a shot past Logan and in, for his third goal of the season.
Gerken made a good save at the feet of Maynard before Colchester added a third goal three minutes before the end through Luke Gambin, who slotted in from close range after fellow substitute Tom Lapslie's shot had been saved by Logan.
Mansfield substitute Omari Sterling-James slotted in the hosts' second in the opening seconds of four minutes of stoppage-time to ensure a nervy ending for the U's.
But the visitors were able to see the game out and claim an impressive away win.