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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Cheltenham Town  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Jombati 86.
 Howell 21, Rhead 45+2.
Attendance: 2928 (166 from Mansfield)
Date: 29 December 2013


Martin Shaw at Whaddon Road

Mansfield Town came in to this game without a win in 13 league games (and in more than 3 months), and just one game away from equalling the club record of 14 games without a win, set in 2000. Cheltenham were 11 games unbeaten. The Stags were so bad at Rochdale that it was hard to see where the next win was coming from. But the Stags turned the form book upside down with a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win. The Stags were incisive going forward, creating plenty of good chances, and defended very well (... generally, though there were some worrying lapses). The returning Ryan Tafazolli produced an outstanding performance at centre half, especially in the second half. The also returning Matt Rhead was very effective up front and deserved his goal. Ollie Palmer worked tremendously hard going forward, typified by a bad miss on 45 minutes, but almost immediately he did really well to earn a corner, from which the Stags scored. And there were some other good performances, but more than anything the Stags played well as a team. Anthony Howell put Mansfield in front on 21 minutes, with a shot that took a deflection. He had missed a much easier chance earlier on. Rhead made it 2-0 with a header from a corner. Cheltenham had caused Mansfield a lot of problems down the right side in the first half through the impressive former Bath City right back Sido Jombati, who gave James Jennings a torrid time, but Jennings improved significantly in the second half to somewhat nullify the threat. In the second half, the Stags defended solidly, until Cheltenham pulled one back with a header from a corner, on 86 minutes (credited to Jombati, but may have been an own goal off Howell); disappointing defending. Despite five minutes of stoppage time being added, Mansfield held firm for the win. I have to admit I feared we would concede an equaliser in those last few minutes, just because we seem to have forgotten how to win. Relief was enormous at the final whistle, and hopefully this result will be a springboard to an upturn in form.

Having made five changes against Accrington, and four against Rochdale, boss Paul Cox made five more changes: in came Tafazolli and Sutton into central defence, Jennings at wing-back, McGuire in the middle, and Rhead up front. Out went McCombe, Beevers, Murray, Dyer and Andrew. Having played three central defenders against Accrington, then four at the back against Rochdale, Cox reverted to three central defenders (Tafazolli, Sutton and Riley), with Westlake and Jennings at wing-back. McGuire and Clements were in central midfield, with Howell in an attacking midfield role behind Palmer and Rhead. 3-4-1-2 or 5-2-1-2 depending on how you look at it. Cheltenham were unchanged.

On 6 minutes, Jombati rolled the ball inside for McGlashan, unmarked, who fired over. Moments later, Jombati crossed again and Harrison headed wide. Early warnings for the Stags with crosses coming in and unchallenged efforts at goal, just as happened far too frequently at Rochdale.

On 7 minutes, Rhead nodded down a high ball into the box and eventually Howell dragged a shot wide of the post from 3 yards. A good chance.

On 8 minutes, a great cross from Westlake into a dangerous position but Rhead couldn’t quite get on to it. On 12 minutes, a big clearance from Marriott, Rhead did well to flick it on to Howell, but Howell’s first touch was terrible. Moments later, Westlake crossed to the far post and Rhead headed straight at the keeper from a tight angle.

On 17 minutes, Harrison worked a bit of space, just outside the area, on to his left foot, and fired just over. On 19 minutes, Richards’ free kick from 30 yards was straight into the wall.

This was a much more solid looking Stags than we saw at Rochdale.

The Stags were in front on 21 minutes. Clements rolled the ball to McGuire, who fed Howell whose low left footed shot from 20 yards took a deflection off a defender into the bottom right corner of the net.

On 24 minutes, a cross from Jombati somehow went through everyone and out for a goal-kick. On 31 minutes, a stupid free kick given away by McGuire 22 yards from goal was taken by Richards but it was straight at Marriott. A minute later, Noble was given too much space for a shot which deflected wide from 20 yards.

On 34 minutes, a John Smith’s moment as Rhead slammed a clearance over the stand. ’Ave it!!!

An extraordinary moment on 35 minutes as a terrible clearance from Jennings turned into a perfect cross for the experienced Cureton, who headed over the bar. Ridiculous from Jennings.

Moments later, a Cheltenham player put the ball out of the ground and so many yellow balls had been booted out of the ground, by both sides, that a white ball had to be used for a while.

On 37 minutes, a good corner from Jennings, Riley headed the ball goalwards, and eventually the ball came back out to Riley whose shot was blocked. A free kick for the Stags 20 yards out to the right of centre, on 38 minutes, but Clements sent it straight into the wall. A chance for Cheltenham on 42 minutes came as Harrison headed just over from 6 yards from a great cross from Noble. Then a minute later, great play from Jombati as he got inside Jennings and Tafazolli, his initial cross came back to him, and he fired the loose ball over the bar.

It should have been 2-0 to the Stags on 45 minutes. Clements played a fabulous ball through for Palmer who was one-on-one with the keeper but the keeper saved it.

Palmer didn’t let his head go down and soon afterwards did really well to win a corner. From it, the Stags did make it 2-0. Jennings took the corner from the right to the far post where Rhead stooped to head in from close range.

There was still time for Jennings to give away a silly free kick on the edge of the box on the right. From the free kick, a header was easily saved by Marriott.

An exciting first half. The Stags played really well and deserved to be ahead. A real concern for Mansfield however was their defending down Cheltenham’s right.

Half time 0-2

McGuire went off at half time with a groin injury and was replaced by Daniel. Daniel moved in behind the front two, and Howell moved back to central midfield.

On 52 minutes, a good header away by Tafazolli. Then good defending by Palmer to stop a cross.

A minute later, a good break by the Stags, and Westlake’s cross was cleared for a corner.

On 55 minutes, a good cross from McGlashan and Sutton did well to stop Harrison getting in a clean header and put it behind for a corner. From the resulting corner from the right, Brown headed goalwards and Marriott saved. On 59 minutes, a good challenge by Daniel to dispossess Roofe. Then on 60 minutes, a great ball into the box from McGlashan, Cureton controlled the ball well with his first touch, but Tafazolli did well to clear.

On 61 minutes, Riley put the ball into the stand and a great header from a Cheltenham fan put it straight back on to the pitch (possible comedy clip for YouTube site).

On 63 minutes, great play from Palmer. He played the ball back to Daniel on the edge of the area, Daniel took a good first touch but then fired wide. A minute later, a great run by Clements and he played a good ball to Daniel who showed terrific pace to get beyond the last defender. His close range shot was saved, hit Daniel and went out for a goal kick. It was a good effort from Daniel.

On 65 minutes, Cureton headed closer to the corner flag than to the goal, from a cross from the left. A minute later, Tafazolli did well to clear a cross from the right. A great run by Palmer soon afterwards but the Stags couldn’t capitalise. Then, at the other end, great strength from Sutton to shepherd the ball behind for a goal kick. On 70 minutes, Daniel crossed, the ball was pulled back by Palmer but Cheltenham were able to clear.

Daniel’s pace was causing Cheltenham lots of problems.

Then there was a good catch from Marriott from a free kick. On 76 minutes, Rhead went down with an ankle injury but was able to continue after treatment. Then some great tracking back by Clements.

Howell was lucky to escape with a yellow card on 78 minutes for a bad challenge which looked distinctly two-footed. On 79 minutes, superb defending from Clements as ?? was about to shoot. Then a good header away by Riley. On 80 minutes, Gornell fired over from the edge of the box.

Meikle replaced Palmer on 80 minutes, Palmer having worked so hard.

On 82 minutes, Roofe sent an ambitious effort over the bar from 25 yards. On 83 minutes, Jennings was booked for a late challenge. Moments later, there was a good challenge from Sutton as a ball was crossed in.

Cheltenham pulled a goal back on 86 minutes. A corner from Roofe from the right went in from 3 yards. It was credited to Jombati, but went in off Howell’s shoulder, and may have been an own goal.

On 88 minutes, Cheltenham came close. Roofe crossed and it was just missed by a Cheltenham player and went straight through to Marriott. Any sort of touch could have taken it in.

Tafazolli blocked a shot from the edge of the box on 88 minutes.

Five minutes of stoppage time was added when surely there should have been only 3 or 4.

On 90+3, Howell gave away a free kick 25 yards out. Roofe’s shot was blocked by the wall. A minute later, a ball into the box was fired over by Brown.

The final whistle brought relief and celebration from the players, management and fans. A good performance from Mansfield. Tough, uncompromising and solid, and some quality going forward.

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli

Report by: Martin Shaw at Whaddon Road

Line Up:
Marriott 7 Good handling. No difficult saves to make.
Westlake 7.5 Wing-back. Defended solidly. A couple of very good crosses.
Sutton 7 Solid. One particularly good challenge, and showed good strength at the back.
Riley 7 Good game. One particularly good header away.
Tafazolli 9 Outstanding performance at centre half in his first game since October, especially in the second half. Dominant. Must get a sustained spell in the side.
Jennings 6 Wing-back. Poor first half, but improved significantly in the second half. Given a torrid time by Jombati in the first half. One crazy clearance turned into a perfect cross which Cureton headed over. Silly free kick given away at end of first half in a dangerous position. Great corner for Rhead’s goal.
McGuire 6 Went off with groin injury at half time. One stupid free kick given away in a dangerous position.
Clements 7.5 Plenty of quality including some good tracking back. One superb challenge as a player was about to shoot. Fabulous ball to set up Palmer for a 1-on-1.
Howell 7 Much improved. Missed a great chance early on but then scored crucial goal with a deflected shot. Gave away silly free kick 25 yards out late on but the Stags survived. Lucky to only get a yellow for a two-footed challenge in the second half.
Palmer 7.5 Worked tremendously hard going forward, typified by a bad miss on 45 minutes, yet almost immediately he did really well to earn a corner, from which the Stags scored. Great play to set up chance for Daniel. Some good runs.
Rhead 8 Very effective up front and deserved his goal with a header from a corner. Two good nod-downs to set up chances in the first half.
Sub Line Up:
Daniel (for McGuire, 46) 7 Added pace going forward as an attacking midfielder behind the front two, and twice got himself into goalscoring positions but couldn’t convert them. Good challenge to dispossess Roofe as he broke forward. Gave them ball away stupidly in stoppage time which nearly sent me into apoplexy, but the Stags escaped.
Meikle (for Palmer, 80) -
Subs not used: Deakin, Dempster, Beevers, Stevenson, Dyer.
Opposition Line Up:
S.Brown; Jombati, T.Brown, Goldson, Braham-Barrett (Roofe 58); Noble, Taylor (Deering 75), Richards, McGlashan; Harrison (Gornell 58), Cureton. Subs not used: Roberts, Penn, Ajala, Vincent.
Stephen Martin 7 Handled the game ok, though one or two odd decisions.

Season 13/14 Reports