STAGS DENIED WIN IN LAST MINUTE AT BOLTON
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Bolton Wanderers 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Sarcevic 90. Lapslie 57
Attendance: behind closed doors
Date: 3 November 2020
Martin Shaw at the University of Bolton Stadium
Mansfield Town were so close to their first victory of the season last night when they were deservedly leading 1-0 at Bolton but an equaliser on the stroke of 90 minutes for the home side left the Stags utterly frustrated and the long search for a win this season goes on.
For the first 15 minutes of the game, Bolton were on top, firing in shots from distance and passing the ball around nicely, while former Stag Alex Baptiste broke into the box and shot over the bar though the offside flag was raised, albeit rather late.
But the Stags grew into the game and twice went close to taking the lead in the first half as Nicky Maynard’s goalbound shot following a corner was pushed away by keeper Billy Crellin after 18 minutes, and then, after 31 minutes Jordan Bowery, who had a much-improved game, brilliant controlled George Lapslie’s ball into the area, muscled his way past Baptiste, and found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but Crellin made himself big and made the save.
At the other, Marek Stech made a good save pushing away a 27 yard shot from Antoni Sarcevic.
0-0 was a fair scoreline at the break, but the Stags took control in the second half. After 49 minutes, Lapslie made a surging run forward, the ball broke for George Maris, who played a lovely one-two with Bowery, and Maris curled a shot just wide of the right post from 16 yards. That was a wonderful move.
Mal Benning, happily back in the side after testing positive for Covid-19, made a great run from 40 yards out and fired a terrific low shot inches wide of the right post, with the keeper just getting his fingertips on it. It was classic Mal Benning and something we haven’t seen enough of in recent times. From the resulting corner from the right on 57 minutes, Stephen McLaughlin floated a super corner to the near post and Lapslie glanced a header past the keeper for his first goal in a Mansfield shirt. The Stags were deservedly in front.
The Stags rarely looked troubled and there was controversy on 87 minutes as substitute Jamie Reid swivelled away from Ricardo Santos and would have had a clear run on goal from 40 yards but was cynically brought down by Santos. It was a clear and obvious foul and the only decision the referee should have had to make was whether to produce a yellow or a red card, with the red card probably the correct one in my opinion. But the hapless referee bottled the decision and decided not even to award a free kick.
Disaster struck with less than 10 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining as Ali Crawford chipped a magnificent ball forward from the halfway line into the area and the Stags defence parted allowing Sarcevic to run on to it and lob over Stech and into the net. Stech got a hand on it but it wasn’t enough to keep it out. Poor defending from the Stags as it appeared that McLaughlin should have tracked Sarcevic’s run into the box but let him go, and failing that, Corey O’Keeffe, on as substitute after returning from self-isolation, could have done better in picking up Sarcevic’s run.
Utter frustration for the Stags who remain perilously positioned in the bottom three with only seven points from 11 games. The Stags have led against Leyton Orient, Exeter, Newport, Walsall and now Bolton, and failed to win any of them.
This was perhaps Mansfield’s best performance of the season but it is wins that the Stags need to climb away from the bottom of the table. Much credit to caretaker boss Richard Cooper, who’s done a fine job steadying the ship after the humiliation against Barrow a week ago, and it might be Cooper’s last game in charge with a new manager possibly in place by the weekend for the visit to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in the FA Cup on Saturday (3pm kick-off, a game UK viewers can watch on iFollow Stags, but not overseas viewers due to broadcasting restrictions for the FA Cup).
This was Mansfield’s first visit to the University of Bolton stadium (originally known at the Reebok stadium), and it was the first game between the two clubs for 27 years.
Bolton sat three points ahead of Mansfield, having lost 4-0 at Crawley on Saturday, but they had beaten Bradford 1-0 a week ago. Former Stag Alex Baptiste was in a three man central defence for the home side. Former Stags trialist Arthur Gnahoua was on the bench.
Mansfield made two changes to the side that drew with Walsall. Mal Benning was back into the side after his self-isolation. And Jordan Bowery started up front in place of Andy Cook. Jamie Reid also dropped to the bench.
As on Saturday, it was a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in midfield, with Maris at the back of it and Lapslie at the front of it in an attacking midfield role, with Charsley and McLaughlin in central midfield. Maris had passed a late fitness test to play.
Corey O’Keeffe was back on the bench after his self-isolation. Youngsters James Clarke, Jason Law and Alistair Smith dropped out of the 18.
FULL REPORT TO FOLLOW
Last-gasp Bolton Wanderers goal leaves Mansfield Town still searching for first win
chad.co.uk, Tuesday 3rd November 2020
A last-gasp leveller cost Mansfield Town what looked to be their first win of the season.
The Stags were leading 1-0 in the 90th minute, only for the curse of the late goal to catch them out yet again.
George Lapslie opened the scoring in the second half as he headed home Stephen McLaughlin's header.
However, the latest sucker punch was delivered by Antoni Sarcevic, who finished from 15 yard sto take Town's winless run to 14 matches.
The early exchanges saw Bolton's Ali Crawford fail to hit the target with two efforts while, at the other end, Nicky Maynard latched onto a poor clearance but couldn't get the better of Billy Crellin.
The Wanderers stopper then denied Jordan Bowery before another Crawford effort, this time from a free kick, failed to hit the target.
Into the second half and George Maris fired wide of the Bolton goal before Malvind Benning forced Crellin to tip his effort off target.
The all-important opener arrived in the 57th minute as Lapslie netted, meeting McLaughlin's corner to put the Stags in front.
As the away side looked for another Maynard skewed a strike wide.
And just as it appeared Town would take all three points, they saw two slip away. Again.
BOLTON: Crellin, Almeida Santos, Delaney, Delfouneso (Miller 70), Sarcevic, Crawford, White, Darcy (Gnahoua 57), Brockbank (Gordon 29), Baptiste, Kioso; Subs (not used): Hickman, Greenidge, Tutte, Isgrove.
STAGS: Stech, Gordon, Rawson, Perch, Benning (O'Keeffe 70), Maris (O'Driscoll 86), Lapslie, Charsley, McLaughlin, Bowery, Maynard (Reid 76); Subs (not used): Menayese, Cook, Sinclair.
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Mansfield Town - Big match verdict
By Marc Iles MarcIles
ANTONI Sarcevic rescued Wanderers once again - but a point against Mansfield Town should not paper over the cracks of a poor performance.
Due credit to Bolton’s non-stop skipper for once again pulling his team out of the smelly stuff with a 90th-minute strike but Ian Evatt will know in his heart of hearts that the second-half display deserved little more than defeat.
Wanderers had looked bright in the early stages but fashioned only one shot of note against a managerless side who had yet to win a game in League Two this season.
Defensively, there was improvement on what we had seen a few days earlier at Brisbane Road but the free-flowing, expansive football we were promised in the summer looks as far away as it ever has.
Wanderers set a furious pace early on, perhaps determined to exorcise the demons of that Halloween horror show at Leyton Orient.
No team in League Two had conceded more goals inside the first 15 minutes than Mansfield, and so there was a feeling that if the Whites could get into their opponents early, there were goals to be scored.
The passing was crisp, the movement was good, but Bolton never quite managed to turn it into an advantage.
The closest they came was a low drive from Sarcevic, who linked up beautifully with Nathan Delfouneso - in after passing a late fitness test - before bringing a smart save out of Marek Stech.
Billy Crellin’s recent form has been discussed by all and sundry over the last few weeks and though penalty saves against Bradford and Orient earned him a little respite from the critics, error-free appearances have been few and far between.
News that goalkeeper coach Matt Gilks is now in training with a view to contesting a first-team spot places further responsibility on the Fleetwood youngster to improve his consistency and his first-half performance against Mansfield was definitely a step in the right direction.
His first save from Nicky Maynard was arguably as a result of his own poor punch - but Crellin definitely pulled one out of the bag moments later, making an excellent block after Jordan Bowery had rolled Alex Baptiste far too easily.
Evatt’s decision to keep faith with Baptiste also raised eyebrows. The former Blackpool man had been hooked at half-time at the weekend and had his keeper to thank for sweeping that particular error under the carpet. Otherwise, it must be said, the experienced defender was solid enough.
Ronan Darcy’s return to the starting line-up meant a slight tweak in the team shape, the youngster taking a position alongside Ali Crawford, tucked just behind Delfouneso.
Bolton’s best work came through the middle, as Sarcevic and Delfouneso joined up well early on, but the shooting - as so often has been the case of late - was sub-standard.
Mansfield began the second half as brightly as they had finished the first, with ex-Aston Villa man Bowery at the heart of most of their enterprising play.
A neat one-two cut Bolton open a few minutes after the restart, presenting George Maris with a chance he did well to miss from eight yards out.
Moments later, Crellin got fingertips on Mal Benning’s low drive to divert it around the post. And from the resulting corner, Charlton loanee George Lapslie climbed highest to head home the opening goal.
Evatt reacted by throwing on Arthur Gnahoua for Darcy and playing more of a traditional front two but the team had lost all of its previous energy. With half an hour to go, they were already looking beaten.
As the night wore on the sound of fireworks popping around Horwich and beyond could be heard at the empty UniBol but when a spark was needed to ignite the Whites, it was nowhere to be found.
Crawford’s night had deteriorated badly. The Scot had been imperious against Bradford a week earlier but laboured to the bitter end against the Stags, unable to get his game going in any way, shape or form.
Shaun Miller came off the bench for his first appearance since September 8 and showed a couple of decent touches but nothing, alas, to get Bolton going once more.
Mansfield’s resolve to protect their points strengthened as the game wore on. Wanderers, rather fittingly given the way their season has gone thus far, developed a worrying habit of slipping on the turf whenever they got close to the Mansfield goal.
And then with all hope seemingly lost, Crawford’s long pass found Sarcevic through the middle and the skipper did enough to force the ball over the advancing Stech for the equaliser.
Performance-wise November has started as October ended, with Bolton looking more like a team that should be staring anxiously over their shoulder at the bottom two than one with any sort of aspirations to be playing in a higher division next season.
Bolton Wanderers 1 Mansfield Town 1 - How the players rated out of 10
By Marc Iles
WANDERERS struck in the last minute of normal time to earn a point against Mansfield Town - but how did the players rate?
BILLY CRELLIN 6.5.
Came up with two big saves in the first half, without which this would have been a much unhappier night.
ALEX BAPTISTE 5.5.
Did most of the basics right but got rolled too easily by Bowery after half an hour, which could have been a costly mistake.
RICARDO SANTOS 6.5.
Much steadier than he was at the weekend, bringing the ball out of defence a couple of times and winning the challenges he needed to.
RYAN DELANEY 6.5.
Unfussy but effective. He was another one who came back to form after a bad day at the office at Orient.
PETER KIOSO 4.5.
Performance has dipped in the last couple of games and his quality of delivery just wasn’t good enough from the right.
ANTONI SARCEVIC 6.5.
Excellent for the first 15 minutes and then again for the last 15 - not quite the swashbuckling performance of Barrow but a vital goal nonetheless.
TOM WHITE 4.5.
Looked off the pace on his return to the starting line-up and really only existed in the margins of the game.
HARRY BROCKBANK 5.
Unlucky to pull up with a hamstring injury after half an hour. Fingers crossed it is not a long lay-off.
ALI CRAWFORD 4.5.
After a few neat exchanges in the first 20 minutes it looked like the Scot was back on form - but his radar malfunctioned completely until the final minute, where his pass set Sarcevic through the middle.
NATHAN DELFOUNESO 5.
Credit to the striker for getting out there after picking up a hamstring injury at the weekend but it was clear to see he was struggling after the first half.
RONAN DARCY 5.5.
Worked quite well with Crawford in the opening exchanges but got budged out of the action after half time.
Subs: Gordon 6, 29 (for Brockbank), Gnahoua 4, 57 (for Darcy), Miller 5, 70 (for Delfouneso).
Not used: Hickman, Greenidge, Tutte, Isgrove.
Mansfield (4-3-3): Stech; Gordon, Rawson, Perch, Benning; Charsley, Lapslie, Maris; Bowery, Maynard, McLaughlin.
Subs: O’Keefe 71 (for Benning), Reid 75 (for Maynard), O’Driscoll 86 (for Maris).
Not used: Stone, Menayese, Cook, Sinclair.
Referee: Andy Haines 7/10
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Mansfield Town
November 03, 2020, By Chris Mann
Bolton left it late yet again as Antoni Sarcevic scored in the 90th minute to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to winless and managerless Mansfield Town.
Trailing to a 57th minute header from George Lapslie, who had headed home from a Stephen McLaughlin corner, Sarcevic ghosted into the box in the final minute of normal time to loft the ball beyond Marek Stech to salvage a point from yet another uninspiring Wanderers display.
The result sees the Trotters drop to 20th place in League Two with 11 games played, leaving frustrated supporters watching online fearing the months ahead as improvement continues to look a million miles away.
Ian Evatt made two changes to the Bolton side that started in defeat at Leyton Orient on Saturday as Tom White and Ronan Darcy returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Andrew Tutte and Arthur Gnahoua, both of whom were named amongst the substitutes.
After a slow opening to the game, the first chance fell the way of the hosts as Ali Crawford bent a strike wide from 25 yards with a little under 10 minutes on the clock.
Alex Baptiste was next to try his luck for Wanderers, prodding over from 12 yards after being put in by Crawford, although he would turn around to see an assistant referee's flag raised against him for an offside.
Crawford was involved again moments later, this time shooting over after being teed up by Peter Kioso, shortly before Billy Crellin was called into action for the first time at the other end to deny Nicky Maynard after he had made a hash of gathering a corner from McLaughlin.
Sarcevic forced Stech into a low save with a stinging drive from the edge of the box midway through the half, before Wanderers were forced into an early change as Harry Brockbank left the field clutching the back of his left leg - Liam Gordon coming on in his place.
Mansfield should have gone ahead on the half hour as Maynard's ball picked out Jordon Bowery. However, after shrugging off the challenge of Baptiste, Bowery was denied by Crellin.
Crawford fired off-target once again with a 25-yard free-kick which had been awarded for a foul on Ricardo Santos, while Town had the final chance of the half as Kellan Gordon latched on to a pass from Maynard before directing a shot wide of goal.
Both managers opted to stick with the players that had ended the opening 45 minutes as the teams returned for the second period, which began with George Maris firing inches over the crossbar after he had played a one-two with Bowery.
Crellin was at full stretch to push a goalbound strike from Mal Benning behind on 56 minutes, but Mansfield were ahead from the resulting corner as McLaughin's delivery was headed home at the near post by an unmarked Lapslie.
Maynard sliced wide on the hour as Mansfield pressed forward in search of doubling their advantage, before Jamie Reid sliced horribly wide with 10 minutes remaining as the visitors pushed on with what at this point had become a rare attack for either side.
Gnahoua, who has yet to score for Bolton, had the sting taken out of a strike in the 89th minute as the ball rolled frustratingly through to Stech but the Town goalkeeper was beaten moments later as the hosts rescued a point their play had scarcely deserved.
A teasing crossfield pass from Crawford allowed Sarcevic to ghost in towards the edge of the Mansfield box and although his lobbed attempt forced Stech into action, the ball would bounce beyond the goalkeeper and into the net to make it 1-1 with what would prove to be the final shot of the game.
The draw means Bolton drop to 20th place in League Two, where they will remain for at least another 10 days as league competition takes a break this coming weekend in favour of the FA Cup first round.
Wanderers will be back on home soil for their cup tie on Saturday, when League One Crewe Alexandra provide the opposition at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Bolton Wanderers: Crellin, Delaney, Santos, Baptiste, Brockbank (Gordon 29), White, Sarcevic, Kioso, Crawford, Darcy (Gnahoua 57), Delfouneso (Miller 70)
Subs Not Used: Hickman, Greenidge, Tutte, Isgrove
Goals: Sarcevic 90
Mansfield Town: Stech, Gordon, Rawson, Perch, Benning (O'Keeffe 71), Charsley, Lapslie, Maris (O'Driscoll 86), Bowery, Maynard (Reid 77), McLaughlin
Subs Not Used: Stone, Menayese, Cook, Sinclair
Goals: Lapslie 57
Referee: Andy Haines