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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League Cup - Capital One Cup Round 1
Sheffield United  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Butler 53, McNulty 86.
 Fisher 57
Attendance: 7929 (1250 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 August 2014


Martin Shaw at Bramall Lane

Mansfield Town were beaten in the first round of the League Cup by League One pre-season favourites Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Wednesday night. The Stags put in a fine display and deserved to take the game to extra time but lost to an 86th minute goal. After a good first half performance in which the Stags gave as good as they got, Mansfield went behind to another goal from a corner on 53 minutes, something that needs to be eradicated quickly after the same thing happened at Northampton on Saturday. But the Stags were level within 4 minutes as Alex Fisher turned home left-footed from 10 yards to send the 1250 Stags fans behind the goal crazy with delight. The Blades won the game on 86 minutes as Marc McNulty forced his way past some weak defending from John Dempster on the edge of the box before firing under Sascha Studer. A great ovation for the Stags at full time for a fine performance and Paul Cox made a point of asking me to make sure the fans understood how much the management and players appreciated that. There was disappointment on the night with injuries to key players as Liam Hearn limped off in the first half with a twisted knee. Paul Cox made it clear after the game that it is not Hearn’s cruciate ligament and it is not related to his previous injury, and we won’t know straight away how long he’ll be out for, but hopefully not too long. And Martin Riley limped off with a groin injury and again we don’t yet know how bad that is. With Palmer and Murray also injured and Jones not yet 100% fit, and Rhead suspended, the Stags are already down to the bare bones after just two games. Manager Cox was visibly frustrated and upset about the injuries but proud of the team’s performance.

By my calculations, the Stags may be down to 14 available outfield players for Saturday.

Plenty of good performances tonight throughout the side, and Ryan Tafazolli was the pick of the bunch with an outstanding display.

Mansfield made four changes from the side that lost at Northampton. Martin Riley replaced John Dempster, Chris Clements replaced Fergus Bell, Jamie McGuire replaced the injured Adam Murray, and Liam Hearn replaced the injured Ollie Palmer. The Stags only had 18 available players and Paul Cox was forced to take the unusual step for him of naming a keeper on the bench in Cameron Belford.

Inside the first minute, a great block tackle by Tafazolli. On 2 minutes, a free kick from Rob Taylor from the right was nodded on by Riley into Sheffield United keeper Howard’s arms.

On 5 minutes, the first chance for the home side as Jose Baxter shot from the edge of the area and Studer did well to palm away. Then Collins header wide from a Blades corner.

On 8 minutes, Jamie McGuire was downed by a rough challenge and looked incensed, but the referee did not give a foul.

On 12 minutes, Clements and Tafazolli ran into each other, Jamal Campbell-Ryce got to the byline and put in a cross that was well-taken by Studer.

A huge concern on 13 minutes as Hearn went down. Physio Chris Bowman was soon indicating that he’d have to come off and as Hearn limped away, Hearn looked visibly upset. Disaster just 13 minutes into his first start for the Stags.

Clucas replaced Hearn and went up front alongside Fisher.

On 17 minutes, Andy Butler headed over for the Blades.

A great 1-2 between Heslop and Clucas on 20 minutes, and Heslop’s cross was put behind for a corner from a good position. From Rob Taylor’s resulting corner from the right, keeper Howard failed to claim it, Sutton fired a shot against a crowd of home defenders and the ball was cleared.

On 26 minutes, a great tackle by Sutton outside his own box. A minute later, Studer did well to punch away a Campbell-Ryce cross. On 28 minutes, a great tackle by Heslop by his own corner flag on Campbell-Ryce in front of the massed Stags fans.

On 30 minutes Tafazolli played the ball forward to Clucas who teed up Fisher who fired wide left footed. On 33 minutes Campbell-Ryce crossed from the right, it was nodded up in the air and Studer confidently claimed.

The Stags came close on 34 minutes. Clucas did well to feed Heslop who broke into the box and rode a couple of tackles and squared for Clucas. Clucas’s left-footed shot was tipped wide by Howard. From the resulting corner, Tafazolli missed an overhead kick but the ball fell to Clucas who fired wide of the right post.

On 37 minutes, a Ben Davies free kick from the left missed everyone and fizzed just wide. On 38 minutes Riley did well to tidy up as Chris Porter nearly broke through. On 39 minutes, Jose Baxter fired wide from 25 yards, given too much space to shoot. On 43 minutes, Ben Davies curled a free kick from 21 yards just wide after the Stags had been aggrieved at a foul given. On 45+3 minutes, a Blades cross from the right went straight through everyone in the six-yard box.

A good first half performance from the Stags who gave as good as they got and deserved to be level at the break.

Half time 0-0

On 48 minutes, Clucas played inside to Clements who couldn’t get a shot away and played it back to Heslop whose shot was deflected wide. From the resulting Taylor corner from the right, Clucas at the far post headed onto the top of the bar. Close.

On 50 minutes, Clements picked up a loose ball, Fisher was screaming for the ball on his right, but Fisher was offside and never got himself onside. Straight to the other end and Beevers was booked for a foul. From the resulting free kick, Ben Davies fired over from wide on the right.

On 52 minutes, Doyle’s shot from 22 yards was deflected inches wide.

But Sheffield United were in front from the resulting corner. Davies put in the corner from the right, Baxter got in a free header goalwards, Studer made a terrific save diving to his right, but Butler at the far post found the net with a close range diving header. No blame attached to Studer who made a great save, but the defending from the corner was poor and the second time the Stags have conceded from a corner in two games. Manager Cox was very disappointed with this after the game.

From the restart, Fisher fired over from 20 yards.

The Stags were level on 57 minutes. Beevers fired in an attempted shot from the right, which was heading well wide until Fisher turned it home left-footed from 10 yards to send the 1250 Stags fans behind the goal crazy with delight.

McGuire was booked on 58 minutes for bringing down Baxter. From the resulting free kick by Ben Davies, Neill Collins headed wide.

On 62 minutes, Fisher shot well wide. Two minutes later, Clucas found Fisher whose shot was blocked, it came back to Taylor and his shot was blocked too. The Stags fans were now in great voice. Moments later a good ball from Clements to Clucas though it came to nothing.

On 65 minutes, Ben Davies crossed from the right, and Riley did well to put it behind for a corner.

Fergus Bell replaced McGuire on 67 minutes. Paul Cox explained afterwards that with McGuire already booked, he could not afford to take the chance of him getting sent off with the squad so depleted. Fergus Bell went into the attacking midfield position, Clements dropped back to central midfield. Riley took the captain’s armband from McGuire.

On 68 minutes, Rob Taylor was booked for a professional foul on Ben Davies. From the resulting free kick, Neill Collins headed just wide.

On 70 minutes a great break out from defence by Tafazolli.

More bad injury news on 72 minutes as Riley limped off. Cox explained afterwards it was a groin problem. Dempster replaced him and took the captain’s armband. The Stags were now down to the bare bones.

On 76 minutes, Campbell-Ryce crossed from the right, Beevers attempted to chest back to Studer but it was intercepted by McNulty who fired over. Terrible from Beevers. On 80 minutes, an important tackle from Beevers to clear a Campbell-Ryce cross. Then good tracking back by Clements to win the ball. On 83 minutes, a good header away by Sutton from Ben Davies’ cross.

On 84 minutes, Doyle shot from 25 yards, and Studer made a good save low to his left.

The Blades took the lead again on 86 minutes as Marc McNulty forced his way past some weak defending from John Dempster on the edge of the box before firing under Sascha Studer. Could Studer have done better? I’m not sure, though I wouldn’t blame him for the goal.

On 90 minutes, Fisher was just unable to control a ball forward to him. On 90+4 good defending from Rob Taylor who showed good pace to get back in front of Campbell-Ryce.

A great ovation for the Stags at full time from the 1250 Stags fans for a fine performance with some incisive attacking and good defending. Much encouragement for the future, but the Stags need to start winning some games.

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli

Report by: Martin Shaw at Bramall Lane

Line Up:
Studer 7 Made four good saves, and some good punches and claims from crosses. Could he have done better with the second goal and got down to it quicker? I’m not sure, though I wouldn’t blame him for the goal.
Sutton 7 Some of good clearances. Good game.
Riley 7 Some tidy defending before he limped off.
Tafazolli 9 Outstanding display with several blocks. Also set up some attacks bringing the ball out from defence.
Beevers 5.5 Inadvertently set up the Stags goal with a shot off target. Nearly gifted the Blades a goal when attempted to chest back to Studer and it was intercepted, though followed it up straight after with an important tackle.
Taylor 6 Some good corners and free-kicks. Up against the dangerous Campbell-Ryce who mostly got the better of him, which is no disgrace.
McGuire 6 Did ok. Replaced after he picked up a yellow card.
Heslop 7.5 Good game; involved in a lot at both ends, creating chances and tackling back.
Clements 5.5 A couple of good balls but not involved anywhere near enough. One good example of tracking back late on.
Fisher 7.5 Worked very hard, got in a few shots, and deserved his goal. One occasion where Clements wanted to thread the ball forward for him but he was offside and remained offside.
Hearn - Limped off early on with a twisted knee. Hopefully the news on the injury will not be too bad.
Sub Line Up:
Clucas (for Hearn, 13) 7 Set up a few chances, had one very good shot that was well-saved, and headed against the bar.
Fergus Bell (for McGuire, 67) -
Dempster (for Riley, 72) 5 Weak defending in the build-up to the second goal.
Sub not used: Belford, Jones, Thomas, Amari’i Bell.
Opposition Line Up:
Howard; Davies, Collins, Butler, Harris; Campbell-Ryce, Doyle,McGinn (Murphy 71), Baxter; McNulty (McGahey 88) , Porter (Higdon 72). Subs not used: Basham, Flynn, Willis, De Girolamo.
Geoff Eltringham 7 Had a decent game, barely noticed.

Season 14/15 Reports