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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League Cup - Capital One Cup Round 1
Tranmere Rovers  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Robinson 1, Atkinson 45+1
Attendance: 3067 (173 from Mansfield)
Date: 6 August 2013


Martin Shaw at Prenton Park

Mansfield Town lost 2-0 at Tranmere tonight to crash out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle. And as at Scunthorpe on Saturday, it was two really poor goals conceded that cost the Stags dear. Tranmere took the lead after just a minute, when a throw-in from the right was flicked on and Andy Robinson was left with a free header to beat Marriott from 4 yards. Absolutely calamitous defending from the central defenders. Then on the stroke of half-time, Alan Marriott was beaten at his near post by a powerful shot from Chris Atkinson. A mistake from the Stags keeper and one which he held his hands up to after the game. In between, there was another free header in the Stags six-yard box, this time the header went wide. The first half defending simply wasn’t tight enough, and manager Paul Cox reacted at half-time by withdrawing John McCombe (described as a tactical substitution by Cox, even though McCombe did pick up a slight injury in the first half), and replacing him with Ritchie Sutton, who slotted in at centre half. The defending in the second half was much more solid, with Sutton in fine form, and the Stags rarely looked like conceding. At the other end of the pitch, new boys Sam Clucas and Ollie Palmer, who played up front together, were excellent, especially considering the standard of players they were up against. They oozed potential and both look as though they are going to become top players. The Stags had enough chances to have levelled the game, as Louis Briscoe missed a golden opportunity but fired wide after Sam Clucas took the ball round the keeper and pulled it back to him. More seasoned professionals than Clucas would probably have gone down and earned a penalty. Lindon Meikle also missed a great chance when he volleyed straight at the keeper from 4 yards, though at least he did get it on target. James Jennings showed great skill to get into a shooting position having beaten two players, but shot straight at the keeper. So a disappointing defeat, but against this quality of opposition, the Stags are not looking bad at all to me. Calvin Andrew will surely come into the side on Saturday, playing alongside Palmer, while I expect Clucas to be given a more free role and I can see goals coming from those three. At the back, Sutton will surely retain his place in the centre, probably with Riley returning from injury alongside him. McGuire, assuming he is recovered from his bout of food poisoning, will probably come into the midfield.

For Mansfield’s first game in the league cup for six years, Paul Cox made three changes from the side that started against Scunthorpe. I had been surprised that none of Meikle, Briscoe and Daniel had started on Saturday. Two of these three had probably played just about every game last season. Tonight, both Meikle and Briscoe started. Ollie Palmer also came into the starting eleven, having signed too late last week to have been considered for starting on Saturday. Dyer, Stevenson and Rhead dropped to the bench. Martin Riley was not considered fit enough to return to the squad having only resumed training on Monday, but should be fit for Saturday. Jamie McGuire missed the trip due to food poisoning. Ian Deakin was also not fit for the game, so the Stags went into the game without a sub keeper, despite seven spaces on the bench.

The Stags were behind after exactly 60 seconds in a dreadful start. A throw-in from the right was flicked on and Andy Robinson was left with a free header to beat Marriott from 4 yards. Absolutely calamitous defending from the central defenders.

On 7 minutes, Clucas won the ball in the middle, and made progress forward, then sent a tame shot at the keeper. Good play though.

A minute later, Jennings got forward down the middle, and his low shot from 22 yards was saved low down. On 10 minutes, excellent tracking back from Briscoe who got back to thwart a Tranmere break. On 11 minutes, Palmer squared to Clucas, who sent a left foot shot wide of the right post.

More bad defending from the Stags on 13 minutes. A corner from the left found Taylor unmarked as he rose above the defence and headed wide. Video evidence showed that it was Howell who lost his man. Two balls in and two free headers, not good enough from the Stags.

Excellent interplay between Palmer and Clucas on 24 minutes, but Clucas was just offside.

Marriott was into the action on 27 minutes with a fine save. Great play by Atkinson in a one-two with Ryan Lowe, and Atkinson’s shot from 20 yards was well saved by Marriott diving to his right.

On 35 minutes, Clucas manufactured a chance with Palmer on the edge of the box and Clucas fired just over with the aid of a deflection. Another corner for Tranmere on 42 minutes, and Taylor headed over the bar, but at least this time under a challenge. A good run from Clucas on 45 minutes from the halfway line, down the left, but his shot from 18 yards was well wide.

Tranmere made it 2-0 on 45+1. Great play from Atkinson who got into the box on the left and powered a shot past Marriott at his near post. Marriott was perhaps expecting a cross. A mistake from the Stags keeper and one which he held his hands up to after the game.

On 45+3, excellent play by Palmer who chested down to Howell who couldn’t quite get in control of the ball in the box. Straight to the other end and Marriott did well to claim a cross from the right by Thompson, just in front of Sodje.

As the players came off for half time, Marriott had his head down and looked gutted with himself.

Half time 2-0

Sutton replaced McCombe at the start of the second half. McCombe had taken a knock in the first half but manager Cox confirmed afterwards that it was a tactical change.

Within 15 seconds, Palmer had a shot from 18 yards blocked. On 48 minutes, Marriott saved well from a cross.

Great play from Jennings on 51 minutes, as he cut in from near the corner flag, got past two defenders and into a shooting position, and sent a right foot shot into the keeper’s chest. Great play, but having got into that position, he should have bagged his first Stags goal.

On the hour, Meikle fed Clucas, who in turn found Briscoe, whose shot was deflected wide.

A great chance for the Stags to pull one back on 61 minutes. Meikle sent Clucas away down the left. Clucas took the ball round the keeper and pulled it back to Briscoe, who had a golden opportunity from 12 yards but fired wide. He should have at least hit the target. Meanwhile, more seasoned professionals than Clucas would probably have gone down and earned a penalty.

Another glorious opportunity for the Stags on 62 minutes. Beevers put in a super cross from the right, and Meikle, coming in at the far post, sent a side-footed volley straight at the keeper. He should have scored, though he did at least get it on target.

Speight replaced Briscoe on 73 minutes. Clucas moved to left midfield, and Meikle to the right.

On 79 minutes, Palmer headed over from a Jennings free kick.

On 86 minutes, Robinson cut in from the left and his low shot was saved low down by Marriott.

On 90 minutes, half-hearted call for a penalty from the home fans as Akpa-Akpro’s shot struck Dempster full in the chest, and the referee correctly waved play on .

Two minutes into stoppage time, Ryan Lowe broke into the Stags box on the right and fired wide.

On 90+4 minutes, Cox received a telling-off from the ref, after Cox exchanged heated words with the fourth official.

All in all, a decent second half performance from the Stags, and the first half wasn’t bad apart from the really poor defending for the goals.

On editing the video highlights later, it struck me how few chances Tranmere created, though when they did, they either did score or nearly scored. It also struck me the excellent interplay between Clucas and Palmer, and I deliberately included a lot of that on the video highlights.

Man of the match: Sam Clucas/Ollie Palmer - both very good

Report by: Martin Shaw at Prenton Park

Line Up:
Marriott 5.5 Made some really good saves and showed super handling. But his mistake for the second goal was very costly.
Beevers 6 Looked solid enough. Great cross in the second half for Meikle’s volley.
Dempster 5 Poor first half. Improved in the second half.
McCombe 4 Very poor, the central defence was responsible for two free headers in the first half, one of which was the crucial first goal after one minute. Was withdrawn at the break for tactical reasons.
Jennings 6.5 Did ok at the back, and pushed forward well. Unlucky not to score his first Stags goal.
Briscoe 6 Worked very hard, though missed a glorious chance to get the Stags back into the game.
Murray 6 Ok.
Howell 6 Did ok. His place looks under threat from McGuire as he is not quite dominating the midfield enough.
Meikle 6.5 Worked his socks off. Some good play and should have scored with his volley but did at least get it on target. Still often frustrating in the final third.
Palmer 8 Really impressive full debut. Some fine lay-offs, good passing, and won almost all of his headers.
Clucas 8 Oozed class. Plenty of great play. Lost his shooting boots tonight as he put a few shots wide. But the goals will come, as he demonstrated in pre-season.
Sub Line Up:
Sutton (for McCombe, 46) 7 Shored up the defence and didn’t put a foot wrong at centre-half.
Speight (for Briscoe, 73) - Disappointing and didn’t really stake a claim for a starting place.
Rhead (for Palmer, 79) -
Subs not used: Clements, Dyer, Stevenson, Daniel.
Opposition Line Up:
Fon Williams, Holmes, Horwood, Taylor, Foster, Thompson, Robinson, Rowe (Koumas 64), Atkinson, Lowe, Sodje (Akpa Akpro 71). Subs not used: Goodison, Baggie, Kirby, Stockton, Mooney.
David Webb

Season 13/14 Reports