STAGS BEATEN 3-0 AT HOME BY CHELTENHAM
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 0 - 3 Cheltenham Town
Smith 32, Boyle 52, Addai 86
Attendance: 3715 (157 from Cheltenham)
Date: 7 December 2019
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town were beaten 3-0 at home by Cheltenham Town on Saturday afternoon. It was Mansfield’s 6th home defeat in 10 home league games this season, and with only 2 wins achieved, Mansfield’s home record is the 2nd worst in League Two (only Morecambe have picked up fewer points).
Cheltenham were the deserved winners. They scored three and created other chances, testing returning keeper Bobby Olejnik on a few occasions, while Mansfield didn’t give visiting keeper Scott Flinders a difficult save to make, though did have a few goalbound shots blocked.
It wasn’t all bad from Mansfield. Indeed the side was clapped off at half time. Alex MacDonald, although not captain, led from the front with an all-action display in the first half, and Jacob Mellis also had a good half in midfield. There was determination from the players and the fans responded positively in that first half.
The Stags had a bit of bad luck on 13 minutes as Nicky Maynard showed good pace to break through the defence and was blatantly pulled down just outside the area by Charlie Raglan,who was the last defender. Both managers were clear in post match interviews that it was a blatant foul. The only decision the referee should have had to make was whether to issue a red card or a yellow card. He didn’t even give the foul. It was the first in a series of terrible decisions from the hapless referee. But the referee certainly wasn’t the reason that Mansfield lost.
Despite the spirited first half display from the Stags, it was Cheltenham who were ahead at the break with a goal after 32 minutes. An overload for the visitors on the left with 3 Cheltenham players versus only two from Mansfield allowed Doyle-Hayes room to cross and Conor Shaughnessy, playing at centre half in this game, allowed Jonte Smith too much space to head into the net unmarked from 6 yards. Poor marking from Shaughnessy, and a tactical error from the side allowing the overload on the left. Indeed it wasn’t the only time Cheltenham created an overload on the wings as Mansfield were out-thought by the visitors. Several times, central defender Charlie Raglan joined the right wing to create an overload on that side as well. After the game, Cheltenham boss Michael Duff explained: “Today we hurt them in loads of areas, our overloads in wide areas for the first goal and chances in the second half, 2 v 1 and they bring someone over to make so we make it 3 v 2 and they bring someone over, so we just put another one over there.”
Mansfield had a goal rightly disallowed after 26 minutes as Andy Cook barged into the keeper, knocking him over, before bundling the ball into the net, following a high hanging cross from CJ Hamilton.
The Stags best chance to score came on 44 minutes with a great move as Hamilton played inside from the right to Mellis who laid off a perfect ball into the path of Maynard who shot across the keeper from the right and inches wide of the far post. Another good move a couple of minutes later involving Maynard and Mellis, who found Cook who chested down and his shot was blocked straight to the keeper.
Into the second half and the Stags went close after 47 minutes as a great run from Hamilton was cynically halted by Chris Hussey, who should have been booked but wasn’t, and from the resulting free kick, Mal Benning curled it just over the angle. We’re nearly halfway through the season now, and the Stags still haven’t scored from this sort of position.
But Cheltenham made it 2-0 after 52 minutes with what proved to be a killer goal. Hussey curled a free kick from 30 yards out on the right, into the area, and two Cheltenham players attacked it with Will Boyle heading into the bottom right corner of the net. Central defenders Sweeney, Shaughnessy and Preston just left them to it, and Shaughnessy appealed in the vain for offside. Dreadful defending and after the game boss John Dempster couldn’t understand why his defenders attempted to squeeze up to play for offside as they never work on that, they only work on defending the ball.
Mansfield didn’t really look like getting back into the game after that. Cook lobbed over the keeper and just over the bar after 54 minutes and there was a triple chance on 78 minutes following a corner from sub Otis Khan as Mellis had a goalbound shot blocked, then Maynard had a goalbound shot blocked, and finally Mellis’s shot from the edge of the box was straight at the keeper. (As an aside, the official post match statistics suggest that Mansfield didn’t have a shot on target and the Cheltenham keeper didn’t make a save - both wrong).
But that was about it from Mansfield, and Cheltenham had more chances, as Olejnik saved from the lively Alex Addai on 53 minutes, Ryan Broom fired just wide after 59 minutes, Chris Clements had a shot deflected wide after 67 minutes, and Addai fired over the bar after 83 minutes.
Cheltenham made it 3-0 after 86 minutes. Addai played a great 1-2 with Broom, Addai got away from Shaughnessy and slotted under Olejnik from 9 yards. It capped an awful defensive display from Shaughnessy who had a part in all three goals.
So another defeat for Mansfield. Despite some reasonable approach play and getting into good areas, they didn’t create anywhere near enough chances, while Cheltenham created more chances and Mansfield’s defending for the goals let them down badly as it has done so many times this season. Cheltenham were efficient, solid and clever in their play and were comfortable winners despite missing four of their best players. It was easy to see why they are now 13 points ahead of Mansfield with a game in hand. Mansfield are simply leaking too many goals, and not scoring enough.
Mansfield sit just a single point above 3rd bottom place having taken just 21 points from the first 20 games of the season. After the game, dejected manager John Dempster said he believes we need 17 wins from the final 26 games to get in the play-offs, and described it as “a mountain to climb”.
Going back to John Dempster’s press conference on Thursday, he said: “December will be key to my future. So far I have not been good enough as a manager and the players have not been good enough individually. We have a massive month ahead of us. We don’t want the gap getting any bigger. Looking at the games this month, we need 8 or 9 points, at least. The chairman has put faith in me. I intend to repay him. That needs to happen quickly in this next short period otherwise, let's be realistic, there will be changes.”
So by “December will be key to my future” and “let's be realistic, there will be changes”, he clearly means there will a change of manager if Mansfield fail to get 8-9 points from what was 5 games in December, and is now 4 games. Whether Dempster means he would fall on his sword or would be sacked is not clear.
John Radford has been keen to give Dempster every chance to succeed as a young manager. Here’s what he said in his programme notes for yesterday’s game: “As we enter a significant month, with five games against teams who too have ambitions of a top seven finish, results must be improved both radically and quickly. Let me state that I have faith in John Dempster as manager. This is not a dreaded vote of confidence, but a measured judgement. In today’s football culture of pulling open the trap door after a sequence of poor results, I am of the opinion that people sometimes need a little longer in their roles to perform to their maximum potential. Additionally, the cost of changing a management and bringing in a new one would cost me close to a seven-figure sum. Whilst I have funded over £20m into our beloved club in the past nine years, and will continue to invest, the pursestrings cannot become looser at a whim and it is the long-term sustainability of Mansfield Town Football Club which is, and should always be, my overriding duty. Make no mistake, we remain ambitious this season. The turnaround in results must be considerable, but it is not impossible.”
Some people have queried the “close to a seven-figure sum”. What John Radford must be referring to is the cost of changing the outgoing management team, the incoming management team, and an estimate of players an incoming management team would be likely to want to bring in. In fact, director Steve Hymas has separately confirmed on facebook that this is the correct interpretation. But it doesn’t mean that John Radford won't change the manager. I think he’s just giving context to not changing the manager too often.
It was actually John Radford’s birthday yesterday. Happy birthday John, even though it wasn’t a great day with a bad result, and thank you very much for looking after the club over the past 9 years. When John took over, Mansfield were a Conference club and one that did not look like getting back into the Football League. Now we are an established Football League club again and in safe hands. His immense contribution to the club cannot be overstated.
Mansfield made four changes to the side that lost at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup. One big positive was the return to the league starting line-up after almost exactly a year out for Bobby Olejnik, who came in to replace Conrad Logan. Olejnik is a great keeper. Logan, however, was unlucky to lose his place having been in good form. Kellan Gordon is out for at least 6-8 weeks with a serious back problem. Krystian Pearce was out ill. Alistair Smith dropped out of the side after a poor performance in the EFL Trophy at Port Vale on Tuesday. In came Bishop, MacDonald and Benning, who all played in the EFL Trophy at Port Vale on Tuesday. Hamilton switched to right wing back. Conor Shaughnessy played in central defence, alongside Preston and Sweeney. It was great see Danny Rose return to the bench after injury. Omari Sterling-James was unlucky not to start after another goal from the sub’s bench on Tuesday. There was a change in captaincy with Ryan Sweeney taking over the armband. Benning has been captain in the absence of Pearce previously.
Cheltenham included former Stag Chris Clements. Cheltenham were without key players including Ben Tozer (ill), Reuben Reid (injured), Luke Varney (injured).
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
MATCH REPORT: More misery as Mansfield Town crash 3-0 at home to Cheltenham Town
CHAD.CO.UK, BY JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 07 December 2019
Visitors Cheltenham Town heaped more misery on Mansfield Town with a comfortable 3-0 victory at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
They won a poor game with two free headers, one in each half, and a late third and Stags rarely looked capable of coming back as they went a fifth match without a win.
Chairman John Radford backed his manager John Dempster in the match programme, but hopes of narrowing the gap on the play-off places failed to materialise and the Stags were booed from the field.
The home side rarely looked like scoring and looked beaten as soon as the second goal went in early in the second half.
Goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik made his first league start of the campaign.
It was one of four changes from the side beaten at Shrewsbury last weekend.
Also out were Smith (dropped), Pearce (ill) and Gordon (injured) with Bishop, MacDonald and Benning coming in.
Neither side threatened in a cat and mouse opening to the game before Doyle-Hayes had to head off the Cheltenham goal line after a Benning corner threatened to curl straight in.
Stags were furious on 13 minutes when Maynard burst between two defenders to try to go clear and was hauled back with nothing given.
Cheltenham created their first opening on 19 minutes as Broom fed Addai on the left of the box and he forced Olejnik down to block his low shot.
Olejnik was in the way of another fierce Addai drive on 22 minutes from a right angle on the right after Stags had lost gthe ball in midfield and the Robins had broken quickly.
From the corner MacDonald got a vital block on a Doyle-Hayes shot, who then tripped the Stags midfielder as he tried to break past him and was shown the yellow card.
On 25 minutes MacDonald made what looked a perfectly good tackle, the referee gave a foul and MacDonald was booked for his protests.
Soon after the home side got the fans onside with an impressive passage of play that ended with an offside flag before Cook headed into the net.
As decisions continued to go against his side, Dempster was reported by the fourth official for comments made on 28 minutes and shown a yellow card as the home fans let the referee know what they thought of his performance so far.
The mood did not improve as Cheltenham took a 32nd minute lead.
Hamilton failed to win a tackle on the right of the box and Doyle-Hayes sent a great cross in for Smith to guide home a free header as Mansfield's defending was again found wanting.
Olejnik safely clutch a low 20-yard effort by Addai on 35 minutes.
Three minutes later Greaves was booked for halting Maynard in full flight as he threatened to go it alone.
A minute from the break Stags almost levelled with their first serious shot as Hamilton and Mellis worked Maynard into the right of the box and he lashed a low shot across the face of goal.
In the last of four added minutes Boyle sent a near post header over the bar from a corner.
Hamilton's pace won Stags a free kick just to the right of the box as the second half began which Benning lashed over the far angle.
Bishop was lucky to escape a yellow card on 52 minutes for a very late tackle. But the punishment came from the free kick as Boyle stooped to guide home a diving header, again unopposed, from Hussey's kick.
Olejnik then had to dive to his left to push away a Doyle-Hayes shot while Cook was too high with his lob at the other end.
A loose pass from Preston set up Doyle-Hayes for another shot that flew wide with Olejnik rooted.
Khan replaced Bishop as Stags sought a spark on 62 minutes.
Two minutes later Boyle banged into Maynard after a tackle on the touchline and astonishingly the referee booked both players.
Fit-again Rose took over from Cook up front for the last 19 minutes and three minutes later Stags went for broke as striker Sterling-James replaced wing back Benning.
Mellis did loft an effort straight at Flinders after Maynard's shot had been blocked, but the visitors were defending their lead comfortably and Addai wasn't far off a third with a powerful rising shot on 84 minutes.
With four minutes to go, Broom sent a return pass down the middle for Addai to race away and slot under Olejnik and cap a miserable afternoon for the Stags.
STAGS: Olejnik; Preston, Shaughnessy, Sweeney; Hamilton, MacDonald, Bishop (Khan 62), Mellis, Benning (Sterling-James 74); Cook (Rose 71), Maynard. Subs: Logan, Clarke, Knowles, Smith.
CHELTENHAM: Flinders, Long (Horton 90+3), Hussey, Raglan, Clements, Broom, Boyle, Addai, Doyle-Hayes, Greaves, Smith. Subs not used: Lovett, Sheaf, Debayo, Lloyd, Reilly, Ince.
REFEREE: Sam Purkiss of England.
ATTENDANCE: 3,715 (157 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alex MacDonald.
Report & highlights: Mansfield Town 0-3 Robins
Cheltenham Town continued their excellent away form to make it eight matches unbeaten on the road in all competitions as headers from Jonte Smith, Will Boyle and a late finish from Alex Addai secured three points against Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium.
Bermudian striker Smith pulled away from his marker to head in a fourth goal for the Robins but a first in League Two to give the visitors a huge lift at half-time.
In the 52nd minute the advantage was doubled as Boyle finished excellently with a diving header to send Cheltenham on their way to a place in the top four with a game in hand after 19 matches.
In-form Addai made it six goals for the campaign by adding a third in the 86th minute to round off a brilliant display.
Manager Michael Duff made three changes to the team that were knocked out of the FA Cup last weekend, including captain Ben Tozer, who was absent for the first time in League Two this season due to illness.
Charlie Raglan replaced Tozer and Jonte Smith came in up front for the injured Reuben Reid, with Chris Clements starting against his old club in the place of Rohan Ince in central midfield.
Amongst the substitutes for the Robins was Josh Debayo, who returned to the squad after a three-month absence because of a groin injury.
Duff’s side had an early opportunity to get at the hosts, but Jake Doyle-Hayes opted to pass rather than shoot on the edge of the box and Jacob Greaves’ low attempt was blocked and cleared.
The Stags could have gone ahead shortly after when CJ Hamilton won a corner after a burst down the right-hand side only for Doyle-Hayes to head the ball off the line after Scott Flinders failed to get anywhere near the set-piece.
The home support was left frustrated shortly after as Nicky Maynard ran straight at the Robins defence, got past Will Boyle only for Raglan to halt his progress, with most in yellow and blue claiming a foul that fell on deaf ears.
Ryan Broom threaded a pass into Addai for Cheltenham’s best chance in the 19th minute only for returning goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik to block, the pacey forward then fired another shot in to force a corner which was close to being turned in by Doyle-Hayes.
But the breakthrough did come after 32 minutes as Hussey passed to Doyle-Hayes, the Irishman then clipped a brilliant cross into the box for Smith to nod in a first Football League goal for the club following a hat-trick in the Leasing.com Trophy.
The goal lifted Cheltenham as Addai tested Olejnik again as the travelling Robins fans began to make themselves heard.
As half-time approached there was an opening for John Dempster’s side as Jacob Mellis flicked on for Maynard - who despite getting away from Boyle saw his low shot fire inches past the far post - as Cheltenham went into the interval ahead.
As the second half started stand in captain Hussey conceded a foul on the corner of the penalty area which led to Mal Benning whipping an effort over the crossbar.
But it was fast becoming the Robins’ day though, as after some extended pressure Hussey delivered a low free-kick into the middle and Boyle dived in to head in the second in front of a jubilant away end.
Confidence was flowing as Doyle-Hayes and Broom both came close with efforts from distance and Cook hooked over at the other end with the match opening up following the second goal.
Tempers were starting to rise with a few bookings handed out on both sides, but Duff’s side handled themselves excellently and were creating chances at will with Clements the next player to come close via a deflection.
Despite making attacking changes the Stags still hadn’t seriously tested Flinders as Addai took advantage of the space in behind to seal the victory, exchanging passes with Broom before running in to slot under the advancing keeper.
Youth product Grant Horton was given his debut for Cheltenham in added time too, coming on for Sean Long.
MANSFIELD: Olejnik (Gk), Preston, Shaughnessy, Sweeney, Hamilton, Bishop (Khan 62), Mellis, MacDonald, Benning (Sterling-James 75), Cook (Rose 71), Maynard.
Subs not used: Logan (Gk), Clarke, Knowles, Smith.
ROBINS: Flinders (Gk), Long (Horton 90+3), Hussey, Raglan, Clements, Broom, Boyle, Addai, Doyle-Hayes, Smith, Greaves.
Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Sheaf, Debayo, Lloyd, Reilly, Ince.
ATTENDANCE: 3,715 (157 from Cheltenham)
REFEREE: Sam Purkiss
Latest | December 2019