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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 3
 Oxford United
Stevenson 45+4.
 Rigg 12, Constable 45+8, Williams 65.
Attendance: 3831 (769 from Oxford)
Date: 16 November 2013


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were unable to recover fully from giving away an early gift goal and then a red card for Jamie McGuire after just 22 minutes, as Oxford United deservedly stormed their way to the top of the table. Even though the Stags equalised with a fine goal by Lee Stevenson after 45+4 minutes, Oxford regained the lead on 45+8 minutes with a trademark goal from James Constable, his 100th for Oxford and just two minutes after coming on as substitute. The Stags had a couple of good chances to equalise again in the second half but once Oxford made it 3-1 on 65 minutes, the result was not in doubt. Mansfield’s players worked very hard with a man short but the quality of Oxford’s players was there for all to see: Ryan Williams, on loan from Fulham, was outstanding on the right wing, as was Sean Rigg on the other wing; Dave Kitson showed some of his class that took him to the Premiership with Reading and Stoke; and Oxford were able to bring prolific goalscorer Constable from the bench.

The red card for McGuire was Mansfield’s sixth red of the season. Far too many. McGuire has already been suspended this season and before this game had seven yellow cards. His red card in this game was for a two footed lunge which he might have got away with a yellow, but was nevertheless reckless and ultimately cost the Stags the chance of getting something from the game.

Mansfield made three changes from the side that won 8-1 at St Albans: Lee Beevers and John Dempster returned to the defence following suspension, at the expense of Pilkington and McCombe. And with Ollie Palmer out injured after his impressive display last week, Paul Cox recalled Jake Speight from his loan spell at Alfreton. Speight had scored five goals on loan at Alfreton and hence returned to the club in good form having been in poor form in pre-season and early season and then not able to get a game so lacking match sharpness. From everyone’s point of view, this was a good use of the loan system. Stevenson played behind Speight in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Oxford included former Stag Johnny Mullins, who was the Oxford captain.

The Stags were off to a positive start in the first ten minutes. On 3 minutes, Clucas’ shot from 25 yards was deflected for a corner. On 9 minutes, from a corner from the right from Jennings, Stevenson got in a fine header goalwards which was well saved by keeper Ryan Clarke. Moments later, Daniel was fouled a foot outside the box right in the centre. Daniel took the free kick himself and put his laces through it but it came off the wall and deflected wide.

After the Stags had started so well, it was Oxford who took the lead after 12 minutes with a goal so soft that it was always going to deflate the team. Rose broke into the box on the right hand side and his shot was so soft that it should have been an easy save for Marriott but somehow Marriott let it straight through his grasp and it fell to Sean Rigg who had the easiest of tasks to turn the ball into the empty net.

Things got much worse for Mansfield on 22 minutes when McGuire went in two-footed on Rose. The referee immediately produced a red card. In the aftermath there was a melee amongst most of the players, and absurdly Speight was booked when all he was doing was trying to keep the peace. The Stags had little choice but to switch to a 4-4-1 formation and Stevenson dropped back into midfield.

On 25 minutes, a free kick from Jennings was tamely headed wide by Howell. At the other end on 27 minutes, a superb run from Ryan Williams and he shot wide from 25 yards. On 36 minutes, an Oxford free kick 35 yards out and Mullins got in front of Beevers and headed over.

It was a niggly game and the Stags were looking a little ragged at the back after the two earlier body blows.

On 44 minutes, following another Oxford free kick, Kitson fired wide, though the whistle had already gone for high kicking.

An incredible 8 minutes of stoppage time was added. After 4 of those, the Stags were level. A Jennings free kick from the halfway line was headed up in the air by Dempster, and then headed out by Raynes. The ball dropped to Stevenson on the edge of the box and he sent a sweet volley into the back of the net.

A minute later, good play from Daniel as he set Speight away but Speight couldn’t control it and it was through to the keeper.

On 45+6 minutes, James Constable came on for Oxford following an injury and within 2 minutes, the prolific marksman had his 100th goal for Oxford. A brilliant reverse pass from Kitson, put in Williams down the right and his pull back was turned in by Constable from 7 yards, off the left post.

Half time 1-2

One side note, on one occasion the ball went out of play on the west stand side and Lee Stevenson had to run fully 40 yards to retrieve the ball as there were no ball boys around. It was embarrassingly unprofessional from the club.

Oxford nearly increased their lead a minute after the break. Substitute Asa Hall’s shot from the right hand side clipped Sutton and was deflected into the side-netting with Marriott beaten. A minute later, Jennings got in a good block from a Williams shot. Then a minute after that, Constable headed wide from a Kitson cross. And, on 50 minutes, Williams headed over from a cross from the left. It was a powerful start to the second half from Oxford.

But the Stags were nearly level on 51 minutes. Clucas clipped an excellent ball over his shoulder allowing Speight a run through on goal on the right and Speight fired in a venomous shot heading for the top corner that Ryan Clarke did well to tip away. Straight to the other end and Constable turned and shot from the edge of the box but Marriott was equal to it with a fine save to tip it over the bar. On 55 minutes, Constable sliced his shot wide of the right post from 14 yards. On 58 minutes, a Stags free kick from the half way line from Jennings eventually found its way through to Dempster but he couldn’t get any power on a shot which ran through to the keeper.

The Stags had a golden opportunity to equalise on 63 minutes. Clucas went round the goalkeeper on the edge of the box, but with three players between him and the goalline, he elected not to shoot and instead squared the ball but it was easily cleared.

It was 3-1 to Oxford on 65 minutes. Kitson played a great ball forward to Rigg who crossed from the left byline and it was met by Williams who turned the ball home from close range.

On 67 minutes, a long throw from Jennings was headed on by Dempster and Speight’s header was saved by the keeper.

Cox made his first change on 71 minutes as Meikle replaced Jennings. Daniel moved to left back.

Clucas had a half chance on 76 minutes with a left footed shot but he was slightly off balance and skewed his effort wide of the left post.

Murtagh replaced Stevenson on 83 minutes.

On 86 minutes, Rose shot over the bar after Murtagh had given the ball away.

Man of the match: Lee Stevenson

Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Line Up:
Marriott 5 At fault for the first goal when he failed to save a soft shot from Rose allowing Rigg an open goal. Made a good save from Constable in the second half.
Beevers 5 Given a difficult afternoon by the impressive Rigg.
Dempster 5.5 Part of a defence that had a poor game collectively.
Sutton 5.5 As for Dempster. All three Oxford goals were turned in from close range.
Jennings 5 Roasted by the excellent Ryan Williams, on loan from Fulham. Too many set pieces were easy for the keeper.
Clucas 6 Not at his best, but managed to get in a few efforts, and a fine ball to set up Speight’s chance.
McGuire 4 Reckless challenge; sent off after just 22 minutes which cost the Stags the chance of getting something from the game.
Howell 5 Distribution was very poor.
Daniel 6 Worked hard and got stuck in.
Stevenson 6.5 Another fine goal showing good technique on the volley. Had a good header well saved. Played in central midfield after McGuire was sent off.
Speight 6.5 Worked hard and kept going throughout. One fine effort in the second half which was well saved.
Sub Line Up:
Meikle (for Jennings, 71) -.
Murtagh (for Stevenson, 83) -
Subs not used: Deakin, Pilkington, McCombe, Andrew, Rhead.
Opposition Line Up:
Clarke; Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey; Williams, Whing (Hall 19), Rose, Rigg (Ruffels 78); Kitson, Smalley (Constable 45). Subs not used: Crocombe, Bevans, O'Dowda, Davies.
Charles Breakspear 5 Probably got the McGuire red card about right. But generally handled the game poorly. The yellow card for Speight in the aftermath of the McGuire red was ridiculous judging by the footage from the match DVD.

Season 13/14 Reports