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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Scunthorpe United  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Sparrow 30, Winnall 41
Attendance: 5241 (1500 from Mansfield)
Date: 3 August 2013


Martin Shaw at Glanford Park

Mansfield Town started life back in the Football League with a 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe United, who were playing in the Championship two seasons ago. The scoreline doesn’t tell the full story, as the Stags were the better side for the opening 30 minutes, but two sloppy goals conceded before half game turned the game in Scunthorpe’s favour. The Stags also finished the game stronger in the last 20 minutes but more missed chances and then a missed penalty meant the Stags went home empty-handed. There were some encouraging performances from Mansfield, most notably from debutante Sam Clucas, who looked very good as he has done in pre-season. While striker Ollie Palmer, who signed on Friday, came on for the last half hour and looked lively and promising.

It was great to be back in the Football League, and we’ve waited a long time for this day to come. It captured the imagination of Stags fans as a brilliant following of exactly 1500 fans made the journey to Glanford Park, and made a fantastic noise, backing their side.

Boss Paul Cox handed debuts to centre half John McCombe and winger/striker Sam Clucas. Ross Dyer started his first league game since the first game of last season, on the right side of midfield. Matt Rhead was a surprise choice (to me anyway) up front, starting alongside Lee Stevenson in a 4-4-2 formation:
Beevers, Dempster, McCombe, Jennings;
Dyer, Murray, Howell, Clucas;
Stevenson, Rhead.

None of Briscoe, Meikle or Daniel were in the starting XI, which surprised me. On the bench were new signings goalkeeper Ian Deakin, Jamie McGuire and striker Ollie Palmer. Palmer is a player I have seen several times before for Woking and Havant & Waterlooville. He’s got pace, is good in the air, and is a good finisher. I think he’s a great signing, and hopefully he will be able to step up two divisions. Palmer played in the same Woking side as Keiran Murtagh.

The Stags made a very positive start to life back in the football league against one of the early season favourites. On 2 minutes, Murray played the ball inside for Stevenson who was in a great position inside the box but pulled his right foot shot wide of the left post. The Stags looked solid throughout the side and Marriott had an early confidence boost when he made a good catch. On 14 minutes, good play from Stevenson as he won the ball 25 yards out and his first time shot was deflected wide for a corner. Brilliant play from Clucas on 16 minutes as he ghosted past 2 defenders into the box but his right footed shot was at the keeper.

Little had been seen of Scunthorpe as an attacking force and McCombe made a great tackle on 19 minutes as Collins tried to weave his way into the box. The Stags had a free kick 27 yards out on 20 minutes but Jennings struck it straight into the wall.

Mansfield had the ball in the net on 21 minutes. A right-footed cross from Jennings from the right was headed back by Rhead, and Dyer blasted the loose ball into the net. However the linesman flagged that the ball had gone out of play as Rhead headed it back. From my position, halfway between the halfway line and the edge of the penalty area, I did think the ball had gone out of play. From the match DVD, filmed from the halfway line, it is hard to tell.

The first chance for Scunthorpe came on 23 minutes following a free kick from the right, as Collins blasted wide from the edge of the box. On 27 minutes, a chance for Clucas, as a throw from Jennings fell to Clucas 20 yards out, who knocked the ball up to himself before volleying just over the bar.

Having been much the better side for the opening half hour, the Stags were behind, completely against the run of play and out of the blue on 30 minutes. A misplaced header by Murray in the Scunthorpe half started a Scunthorpe break and Welsh crossed from the left. The ball reached Sparrow on the right of the box, totally unmarked, and he blasted past Marriott on the half volley with the outside of his right boot. It was poor defending from the Stags.

On 35 minutes, Dawson’s free kick from 20 yards was well saved by Marriott, diving to his left. Another good save by Marriott a minute later as he was out quickly to save at the feet of Hawkridge.

The Stags were 2-0 down on 40 minutes and it was more poor defending. A long ball was played into the Stags half. The Stags defence stopped, attempting to play the offside trap, and Winnall latched on to the ball getting there just ahead of Marriott who had hesitated as he came out. The ball ricocheted away allowing Winnall to sweep it into the empty net. There was an inquest amongst Dempster, McCombe and Jennings as Scunthorpe celebrated.

On 44 minutes, Beevers fine deep cross from the right found Rhead at the far post and Rhead was flagged offside as he headed against the top of the bar. Rhead however appeared to be onside from my position.

2-0 to Scunthorpe at half time and the Stags were punished for two defensive lapses having been much the better side in the opening 30 minutes. Scunthorpe’s Hawkridge, signed from Gainsborough, looked impressive for the home side.

Half time 2-0

Meikle replaced Stevenson on 51 minutes. Meikle went straight on to the left with Clucas going up front.

On 55 minutes, Stags played a long ball over the top for Rhead to run on to which was a pointless tactic as that’s not his game.

A rare lapse by Beevers on 59 minutes as Nolan crossed from the right and Beevers allowed Welsh a free header which he sent wide.

Ollie Palmer replaced Rhead on 61 minutes.

The home side had half-hearted calls for a penalty on 66 minutes as a shot hit Dempster in the chest.

On 71 minutes, a brilliant cross from Beevers from the right was met by the diving Dyer who sent his header just wide from 6 yards. Paul Cox jumped in the air and then had his head in his hands. It was Dyer’s last contribution as he was replaced by Briscoe.

Briscoe was straight into the action with a good cross from the right but Clucas couldn’t quite get it under control. Scunthorpe keeper Slocombe was out quickly to deny Meikle on 76 minutes when a mistimed tackle would have seen a penalty. A rare chance for Scunthorpe on 82 minutes when Welsh’s shot was blocked.

The Stags earned a penalty on 90 minutes as a cross from Clucas from the left was clearly handballed by Nolan. It was a stone wall penalty and Nolan was sent off for a second yellow card. The only player on the pitch who had previously taken a penalty for the Stags was Louis Briscoe and he stepped up but blasted horribly well over the bar. No other way to describe it other than a terrible penalty.

The Stags were all over Scunthorpe at this stage. On 90+2, Palmer chested down to Clucas who sent a left footed shot over the bar. On 90+5, Beevers sent a great cross in but Briscoe couldn’t quite get on the end of it and then, a minute later, Howell headed down from a Beevers’ cross but the ball was cleared. It was a strong finish from the Stags and you got the feeling that one goal could have brought two but it was not to be.

Man of the match: Sam Clucas

Report by: Martin Shaw at Glanford Park

Line Up:
Marriott 7 Some good saves and good handling throughout. Maybe a fraction slow to come out for the second goal, but I don’t think he can really be blamed for the goal.
Beevers 7 Solid. One bad lapse in the second half when he allowed Welsh a free header.
Dempster 7 Solid.
McCombe 7 Some good blocks and tackles. Looked better today than in the pre-season games. The lack of pace between the central defensive pairing worries me a little though.
Jennings 6 Both goals found Jennings out of position. Not entirely his fault though.
Dyer 6 Disallowed goal was finished well. Missed a glorious chance with a header which he should have converted.
Murray 7 Combative, and never lost the midfield battle.
Howell 6 Did ok, though some distribution was not the best.
Clucas 7.5 Some great touches to go past defenders with ease. Clever and direct. Won the penalty.
Stevenson 6 Missed a great chance after 2 minutes. Later, a good effort when he won ball and had his shot deflected wide. Started brightly but had started to fade out of the game by the time he was subbed.
Rhead 6 Good header against the bar which was (wrongly in my opinion) flagged offside. Good header back across goal for the disallowed goal.
Sub Line Up:
Meikle (for Stevenson, 51) 7 Made a few things happen.
Palmer (for Rhead, 61) 7 Looked lively.
Briscoe (for Dyer, 71) - Was quickly into the action as Mansfield finished the game strongly. But his penalty was terrible. As bad as the legendary penalty by Joe Laidlaw in the 1980s.
Subs not used: Deakin, Sutton, McGuire, Speight.
Opposition Line Up:
Slocombe; Nolan, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson; Hawkridge, Collins, Sparrow, Welsh (Clark 88); Burton (Iwelumo 81), Winnall (Godden 77). Subs not used: Severn, Ribeiro, McAllister, Howe.
Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear) 6 Generally did ok.

Season 13/14 Reports