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21st November 2020 18:42

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Colchester United
Maynard 67. Norris 85
Attendance: behind closed doors

Date: 20 November 2020

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were denied their first home win of the season last night by an 85th minute equaliser from Colchester United in a 1-1 draw at the One Call Stadium. It was Nigel Clough’s first home game in charge of the Stags and the whole mood around the club and supporters has changed palpably since Richard Cooper did a great job of steadying the ship after Graham Coughlan was sacked, and Clough then came in and steered the team to the first league win of the season away at Forest Green last week, building on two away cup victories.

In a tight game without too many clearcut chances, the Stags took the lead after 67 minutes when Nicky Maynard’s fantastic strike from 23 yards flew over keeper Dean Gerkin and crashed off the underside the bar into the net. It was an inspirational moment from Maynard, though keeper Gerkin should have done better and been able to tip it over the bar.

Colchester’s equaliser came on 85 minutes as substitute Callum Harriott lobbed the ball forward to the edge of the Stags area, Marek Stech came charging out to get there but was caught in no-man’s land as another substitute Luke Norris expertly lobbed the ball over him and into the empty net. A clear misjudgement from Stech that was unfortunately very costly after his man of the match display in the win at Forest Green.

Real frustration for Mansfield to concede the late equaliser but little doubt I think that the draw was a fair result.

Colchester are a good side. They reached the play-offs last season, and missed out by a point the season before. They are already well-placed this season and it was encouraging that Mansfield were able to hold their own against them, as they did against Forest Green last week. The Stags are still precariously placed near the bottom of the table but they look good enough to start climbing the table, at least into mid-table anyway to start with.

The first half saw the Stags have the better of the opening stages with half chances for Ollie Clarke, Mal Benning and Harry Charsley. But then a real let-off for Mansfield after 31 minutes as Harry Pell’s high cross into the middle found Noah Chilvers completely unmarked and with no defender within 8 yards of him on the edge of the six yard box. Chilvers made a mess of his free header, tamely heading down and straight to Stech almost like a guided back-header from a defender. It was a glorious chance, and very poor defending from Farrend Rawson and Kellan Gordon who both just stood and watched, appealing in vain for offside. The Stags’ best chance of the half came on 44 minutes as Ollie Clarke fired a powerful shot goalwards from 24 yards after a good lay-off from Stephen McLaughlin and keeper Gerkin parried it away.

Harry Charsley was within a whisker of opening the scoring after 53 minutes, shooting just wide of the right post from 15 yards with the keeper motionless.

After the Stags took the lead, Maynard tried his luck again from 25 yards, but this time was off target. At the other end, substitute Michael Folivi headed wide via a deflection from a cross from another substitute Joshua Bohui. Then Luke Norris’s shot from a tight angle was blocked by Benning for a corner, but it was Norris who did equalise 5 minutes from time. Jordan Bowery had a chance to win it after 89 minutes cutting inside from the left but his low shot was easily saved by the keeper.

So, frustration for the Stags but plenty of positives to take and the Stags are now looking a much better side than earlier in the season. The next game is on Tuesday night against Harrogate Town at the One Call Stadium (7pm kickoff). It will be the first ever game between the two sides. It will be another tough game. Harrogate were impressive in getting promotion from the National League last season, and have looked good this season too.

It was a wet day in Mansfield, albeit nowhere near as wet as the monsoon conditions at Forest Green last week. But the pitch was soggy.

Mansfield made one enforced change from the side that won at Forest Green. Ollie Clarke started in place of George Maris, who was out with a rib injury he picked up in that game. There was a slight tweak in formation from the diamond shape in midfield, and instead it was a flat 4 across the midfield, so George Lapslie was in a less advanced role than previous games. Nicky Maynard played just behind Jordan Bowery in what was effectively an attacking midfield role. So both teams were essentially in a 4-5-1 formation. Tyrese Sinclair came into the 18 in place of Maris.

Colchester had Jevani Brown on his own up front in their 4-5-1 formation. Brown had scored 8 goals in his last 4 games, and 11 goals this season. George Lapslie’s brother Tom has been out with injury all season and was not involved.
Colchester were 7th in the table with a game in hand and had a chance to go 3rd if they had won.

This was the first game in the EFL where the new rule allowing five substitutes to be used was in place. Colchester used it to good advantage with their fourth substitute Luke Norris scoring the all-important equaliser. And their other three substitutes were involved in creating chances.

This was the first Friday night game at the One Call Stadium since goalkeeper Alan Marriott scored for the Stags against Wrexham in the Conference in April 2012! Thanks to Jake Garner of BBC Radio Nottingham for digging out that stat.

Before the game there was a minute’s silence for Pam Radford, mother of John Radford and Tina Broughton. Our thoughts are with John and Tina and the rest of Pam’s family. Rest in peace.