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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Exeter City  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Grimes 67.
 Bingham 15, Bell 40.
Attendance: 2771 (137 from Mansfield)
Date: 6 September 2014


Martin Shaw at St James Park

A week ago, after the defeat against Burton, Paul Cox and Micky Moore told me privately that they had a striker on trial who had the potential to be better than Matt Green and who also in the short term could be something very special. Today we saw exactly what they meant as Rakish Bingham hit the ground running with an outstanding first half display to score one, he should have had another when he got himself clean through on goal, and generally gave the Exeter defence the run-around. He ran out of the steam a little in the second half, not surprising given he hadn’t played this season, but he’d already done enough to contribute to a fine victory at Exeter. Just behind the front two of Bingham and Matt Rhead, Fergus Bell started his first game since the defeat at Northampton and produced an equally outstanding performance, providing the shot that was parried for Bingham to net the first, and then powering home a pildedriver from the edge of the box to put the Stags two up. Bell had to limp off in the second half having taken a blow bravely diving in front of a shot to block it, and he told me after the game that it was worth it because he thought the shot was dangerous. With Bell off, and with Sutton limping off too to be replaced by Rob Taylor who was ill but bravely battled on with no other defensive options available, the Stags were rocked by a magnificent free kick on 67 minutes by England under 20 international Matt Grimes to pull Exeter back into it. But the Stags deservedly held on for the points, with Evtimov not having to make a save, although Exeter did have one chance near the end when Keohane blazed over from 8 yards. So a good end to a bad week, and a thoroughly deserved victory on the back of a first half performance that was just about as good as anything the Stags have produced away from home in three years under Paul Cox.

Despite such a disappointing week, there were more Stags fans at the game than last season - a great effort from the travelling fans.

The Stags made four changes to the side that didn’t turn up in the JPT on Tuesday: Rob Taylor had been ill for 24 hours but bravely agreed to be on the bench with the squad down the bare bones and literally no other defensive players available. Beevers replaced him at left wing-back. McGuire came in for Heslop in central midfield. Fergus Bell replaced Clements in the attacking midfielder position. And Rakish Bingham came in for his debut after signing on Monday, in place of Fisher. Exeter included former Stags loanee left back Craig Woodman. Exeter have two England U20 internationals: Christy Pym started in goal, while Matt Grimes was on the bench. They both played the last 10 minutes in England U20’s 6-0 win over Romania at Telford last night, and by my reckoning they were the only players from clubs outside the Premier League and Championship.

On 5 minutes, Bingham made half a yard of space for himself on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked. On 7 minutes, McGuire did well to clear. On 8 minutes, Evtimov came for a cross from the left and got a little touch on it but not enough to clear, allowing Oakley to find space for a speculative shot which he sent well wide. On 11 minutes, Murray took a free kick from the left, Tafazolli headed it back across goal but it was cleared.

On 14 minutes, Riley gave an unnecessary free kick away 26 yards out. The free kick was worked to the left and Woodman fired wide with a thin deflection.

The Stags were in front on 15 minutes. McGuire headed forward from the halfway line, Bell flicked on to Bingham who played the ball back to Bell. Bell shot from the edge of the box, keeper Pym parried it but it fell into the path of Bingham who slotted into the empty net from 8 yards. A poacher’s goal for the debut striker.

On 20 minutes, a good touch from Bingham to set up Bell on the edge of the box and his shot was deflected just wide. On 22 minutes, Murray sent a free-kick into the box, Tafazolli headed down and a weak shot from Rhead was deflected for a corner.

Bingham was looking excellent in and around the box, McGuire was playing well and Tafazolli had put in some towering clearances.

On 29 minutes, Murray put a great ball into the box for Bingham, Bingham’s first touch was a bit heavy but he still kept possession and played the ball back to Beevers but Beevers’ cross was overhit. On 31 minutes, a good header away by Sutton, then Evtimov punched away a cross, and the Stags broke to the other end as Murray found Bingham but Bingham was crowded out by two defenders.

It should have been 2-0 on 37 minutes. Bingham got clean through on goal from a Rhead flick on but his shot was saved by the keeper. He should have scored; another option would have been going around the keeper.

At the other end, Evtimov did well to clear just outside his box. On 39 minutes, a Stags free-kick from the halfway line was cleared to Beevers who tamely fired wide. A minute later, Sutton sent a free kick from the halfway line into the box, Rhead headed it goalwards, Murray and a defender got there at the same time as Murray tried to force the ball in but the ball was put behind for a corner.

From the resulting corner, the Stags were two ahead. Tafazolli headed down, Sutton’s shot was blocked, the ball came out to the edge of the box and Bell hit a piledriver, left-footed, into the bottom left corner. It was his first league goal for the Stags, after his screamer in pre-season at Lincoln.

On 41 minutes, Evtimov headed clear outside his box. Then a minute later, an Exeter long throw into the box was headed away by Rhead, and then Sutton did well to clear from a low cross.

On 45+2, a brilliant pass from Rhead to Bingham, Bingham cut inside from the left, and his shot was deflected for a corner.

A really top draw first half from Stags, with Bingham and Bell outstanding and deserving their goals, while Bingham should have had another when clean through on goal. 3-0 would not have flattered the Stags at the break.

Half time 0-2

On 47 minutes, great play from Bingham to win a ball he had no right to win in front of the Stags fans.

On 49 minutes, Riley gave away a silly free kick 20 yards from goal. Sercombe’s shot was blocked by the wall. A minute later, Woodman crossed from the left and Ribeiro had a chance for a header at goal but instead chose to head the ball backwards and the Stags were able to clear.

On 53 minutes, Bingham put Marsden in on the byline and his low cross was well taken by the keeper. On 55 minutes, Bingham weaved past a defender but just overran the ball as it went through to the keeper. Straight to the other end as Tafazolli blocked a Sercombe shot, and then Riley blocked another shot.

Sutton had picked up an injury and tried to soldier on but couldn’t. With no other fit defenders in the squad, Rob Taylor had to come on despite feeling ill. Great commitment from Taylor. Beevers moved into the back three and Taylor to left wing back.

Taylor was straight into the action with a good ball out to Bingham on the left.

On 57 minutes, a loose ball from Murray gifted Exeter possession. They broke forward and Riley blocked a shot. On 60 minutes, Exeter were awarded a free kick just in from the corner flag, Woodman powered it through the six yard box hoping for a ricochet but it went through everybody and out for a throw in.

Great play by Tafazolli on 61 minutes as he won the ball, and sent the ball upfield for Bingham who found Rhead but Rhead sent a poor shot well wide.

On 63 minutes, Riley threw himself at a Wheeler shot to deflect it over the bar. Moments later, Fergus Bell did the same to block a shot and took a knock in the process. He had to limp off, to a great reception from the travelling fans, and was replaced by Heslop.

Exeter pulled a goal back on 67 minutes. Taylor gave away a silly foul, to concede a free kick on the right and picked up a booking in the process. Grimes sent in a sweet shot from a tight angle into the top left corner. It was great hit. Should Evtimov have tipped it over? Possibly. Grimes had come on as a half-time substitute.

On 71 minutes, Riley gave away another free kick 35 yards out, which came to nothing. The Stags were giving away too many free kicks.

On 73 minutes, Bingham controlled a long clearance, his cross to Heslop was overhit though. Then Taylor had a shot blocked. At the other end, Murray gave away another silly free kick but Exeter wasted it. Straight to the other end and Rhead found Bingham on the right but his cross was overhit.

Bingham was running out of steam so Cox brought on Palmer to replace him on 78 minutes.

Poor refereeing on 84 minutes as he awarded a free-kick to Exeter who still had possession going forward. Woodman wasted the free-kick by putting it straight to Evtimov. On 87 minutes, Tom Nichols fired well wide from 20 yards.

On 88 minutes, Palmer did well by the corner flag to win a throw. From Marsden’s long throw, Rhead nodded down to Heslop who fired just over the bar. It was very close.

A possible moment of fortune came for the Stags on 89 minutes as the ball seemed to hit Tafazolli on the hand near the byline in the right corner of the box and the referee gave a corner. Exeter boss Tisdale said after the game that the referee said it wasn’t a penalty because he didn’t mean it. Also it clearly wasn’t goalbound or anywhere near.

Six minutes of stoppage time were added on, and on 90+1 minutes, Exeter had their one real chance to equalise. Wheeler got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Keohane who blazed over from 8 yards. Evtimov was booked for time wasting before the goal-kick was taken.

The Stags held the ball at the far end very well in the closing minutes, winning several corners and throw-ins and Exeter had just one more half chance on 90+4 when Grimes shot miles wide from 22 yards.

A good ovation from the travelling fans at the final whistle, applauding every player as they went down the tunnel. A good performance, and just about the only thing I can really criticise is that the Stags gave away too many unnecessary free-kicks.

Man of the match: Rakish Bingham/Fergus Bell - both were outstanding, especially in the first half

Report by: Martin Shaw at St James Park

Line Up:
Evtimov 6.5 Didn’t have a single save to make, but did very well to come out of his area twice to clear, once with his head. Punched one cross emphatically, but only got a light touch on another which led to a half-chance.
Sutton 7.5 Very solid, with some good clearances. Limped off with a hamstring injury.
Riley 6.5 Put his body on the line with 3 good blocks. Did give away 3 free-kicks though which was too many.
Tafazolli 7.5 Some towering clearances, and was a threat in the Exeter box too.
Marsden 7 Looked very assured after a nervy opening 10 minutes.
Beevers 7 Solid game out of position at left wing-back and then in the back 3.
McGuire 7 Fine game in a defensive midfield role.
Murray 7 Very good first half pushing forward. One poor ball led to trouble in the second half.
Bell 9 Outstanding performance, providing the shot that was parried for Bingham to net the first, and then powering home a pildedriver from the edge of the box to put the Stags two up.
Bingham 9 Dynamite. Outstanding first half display to score one, he should have had another when he got himself clean through on goal, and generally gave the Exeter defence the run-around.
Rhead 7 Fine game, at both ends, with plenty of good balls to others both with his head and feet.
Sub Line Up:
Taylor (for Sutton, 56) - Great commitment to come on despite feeling ill. Did give away the free-kick that led to Exeter’s goal, but could perhaps be excused given he was unwell.
Heslop (for Bell, 65) - Could have scored late on, but fired just over.
Palmer (for Bingham, 78) - Held the ball in the corner well in the closing stages, earning throw-ins and corners.
Sub not used: Studer, Clements, Thomas, Fisher.
Opposition Line Up:
Pym, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin (Grimes 46), Ribeiro (Keohane 64), Sercombe, Oakley, Moore-Taylor (Nichols 64), Wheeler, Nicholls, Cummins. Subs not used: Hamon, Butterfield, Davies, Tillson.
Tim Robinson 7 Generally handled the game well. Failed to give Exeter one advantage which would have been sensible. Rightly deemed that Tafazolli’s handball wasn’t a penalty because he didn’t mean it. Also it clearly wasn’t goalbound or anywhere near.

Season 14/15 Reports