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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Tranmere Rovers  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 4092 (122 from Mansfield)
Date: 21 October 2014


Martin Shaw at Prenton Park

Mansfield Town and Tranmere Rovers played out an abysmal goalless draw in terrible conditions at Prenton Park this evening. Heavy rain before the game left the pitch very skiddy but it was the gusting gales that were the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo that made creating anything resembling good football very difficult for both sides. After the game I chatted with Fergus Bell who confirmed to me how difficult it was to string passes together in the conditions. Tranmere were buoyed by the arrival of new manager Micky Adams and two on-loan strikers but neither side looked like scoring all evening and indeed the first shot on target in the match came on 72 minutes. The second and last shot on target came on 90+7 minutes. Both were from Tranmere and both from well outside the area. The Stags didn’t create a meaningful chance all match. The Stags defended well throughout and the back three of Martin Riley, Jamie Sendles-White, Ritchie Sutton were Mansfield’s best players. Unbelievably though Mansfield were struck down by two more injuries. With Dempster, Tafazolli, Jones, Clements, Hearn, Palmer, and Rhead all out (plus Murray suspended), the Stags lost Kieron Freeman with a twisted knee (he’ll have a scan to assess the extent of the damage) and Alex Fisher with a dislocated shoulder (he’ll be out for 4 weeks). None of these players is expected to be available for the trip to York apart from Murray. Heslop deserves huge credit for playing with injections before the game and at half-time (and clearly limping at times) while Bell was also not feeling very well (he told me afterwards). The Stags failure to create many goalscoring opportunities in the last two games is a big concern and shows how Mansfield are missing Clements especially and also Murray. The Stags are also missing Rhead whose ability to hold the ball up front and bring others into play was obviously missing tonight. This really was poor fayre for the fans but in the circumstances (the new manager effect for Tranmere and the Stags injury crisis) not a bad point. So after not drawing any of the opening 11 games, 3 have now come along on the trot. The Stags remain 7 points above the relegation places but are now 5 points behind the play-offs.

Before the game, the Stags brought in striker Daniel Carr, on loan from Huddersfield. Having not even met the players until arriving at the ground, he went on to the bench, while the starting XI was unchanged from Saturday. New Tranmere manager Micky Adams brought in new loan strikers Armand Gnanduillet and Danny Johnson, from Chesterfield and Cardiff City respectively.

Despite the positivity of most home fans with Micky Adams having arrived as new manager there were moans and groans from some home fans inside the first 120 seconds as a pass was misplaced. Tranmere had the first effort on goal on 3 minutes as Gnanduillet sent an awful shot miles wide. Matt Halfpenny laughed that it was the worst shot he’d ever seen. It certainly would have to be a contender. On 8 minutes, a free kick from Power skimmed off the top of Gnanduillet’s head. On 11 minutes, Gnanduillet cut inside and shot well wide again though a deflection earned him a corner. Gnanduillet picked up a yellow card on 13 minutes for deliberate handball. The Chesterfield loanee was certainly making an impression, but not a positive one. A sniff of a chance for the Stags on 18 minutes as Bingham laid the ball forward, Holness helped it back towards his own keeper, Fisher tried to nip in, but the keeper just got there first. It was a very low quality start to the game. The wind was gusting and it looked like it was difficult to judge where the ball was going.

A scare for the Stags on 22 minutes out of the blue as Studer made a real mess of a cross from the right from Power, dropping the ball, but he got away with it. On 29 minutes, Laird fired well over from 25 yards.

A blow for the Stags on 32 minutes. Freeman went down under a heavy challenge and received prolonged attention before he had to be replaced by Rob Taylor. Another injury was the last thing the Stags needed.

On 35 minutes, Holmes skimmed a low ball across the 6 yard box from the left and Kirby put it well wide at the far post.

Heslop had a chance to put Bingham in the clear on 36 minutes but a poor ball let him down. A minute later a cross was Beevers was cleared to McGuire who fired just over from 25 yards. On 39 minutes, Riley fouled Kirby 21 yards out just to the right of centre. Johnson sent the free kick just over the bar, with Studer stretching though it looked like Studer would have got there if it had been under the bar.

A positive run from Rob Taylor on 41 minutes and he did well to earn a corner. Taylor took the corner himself and Riley looked like he might get on the end of it, but it was cleared. On 42 minutes, a free kick from Rob Taylor from 40 yards was cleared to Heslop who sent a piledriver wide of the left post. On 44 minutes, a rare piece of skill during a dreadful half, from Bell who embarked on a skilful run, but he slipped over on the edge of the box, to sum things up.

A very poor half, lacking in entertainment; certainly in large part down to the conditions. Not really a decent chance for either side.

Half time 0-0

Heslop joined the action 60 seconds into the second half. He was having another injection. And it was soon clear that he was limping.

On 51 minutes a Tranmere corner was headed well off target but into the path of George Barker whose shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner Holness headed over. It looked to be a goal kick but the officials gave a corner. On 55 minutes, from a corner, Gnanduillet acrobatically shot over the bar with the aid of a deflection. From the resulting corner, Studer misjudged it badly as it sailed over his head and Beevers did well to bundle it behind for a corner. Poor from Studer but he was got out of jail by the defence. On 57 minutes Gnanduillet laid back to Power who fired well over. Tranmere were the better side for the 15 minutes after the interval.

On 62 minutes, new loan signing Daniel Carr replaced Bell. Bell told me afterwards that he was not injured but he had not been feeling very well. Bingham, Fisher and Bell were up front in a 3-2-2-3 formation.

On 64 minutes, Fisher went on a run but the lost the ball. It summed up his poor game. On 66 minutes, a rare good move from the Stags as Carr fed Heslop who fed Beevers on the right and he put in a good cross but it was put behind for a corner. Rob Taylor took the resulting corner but it was flapped away by the keeper as Sendles-White had found space at the far post and tried to get on the end of it. On 71 minutes, good defending by Heslop as a Tranmere player broke into the box.

The first shot on target in the entire game came on 72 minutes as Kirby fired in a low drive straight at Studer who pushed it away. Moments later Sendles-White did well to clear under pressure.

On 78 minutes, a ball forward to Fisher who was pushed off the ball too easily.

The Stags were forced into another change on 83 minutes as Fisher landed awkwardly. A stretcher was called for but eventually Fisher was able to walk off with his arm in a sling. After the game we saw him emerge from the treatment room and he told us he was fuming with frustration at the injury. He has a dislocated shoulder and he’ll be out for about 4 weeks. Reggie Lambe came on to replace Fisher.

On 90 minutes Gnanduillet dribbled along the edge of the box with the crowd screaming for him to shoot, but he didn’t and eventually Heslop cleared. On 90+4, Sendles-White was booked to tripping Gnanduillet. Power’s resulting free kick from deep was awkward for Studer who clawed it away from underneath his bar.

On 90+7, Laird sent in a shot from 35 yards straight at Studer who saved but couldn’t hold it and was grateful to dive on it as Odejayi sniffed a chance.

An abysmal game but the travelling Stags fans gave the players warm applause at the end for battling and making sure they got something out of the game.

Man of the match: Martin Riley, Jamie Sendles-White, Ritchie Sutton

Report by: Martin Shaw at Prenton Park

Line Up:
Studer 6 Made a bad mess of two crosses and got away with them. Made two straightforward saves from shots straight at him and did well to claw out an awkward cross that might have crept under the bar in stoppage time.
Sutton 8 Very solid, with no mistakes.
Sendles-White 8 Very assured display that snuffed out the Tranmere attack including the hapless Gnanduillet.
Riley 8 Nothing got past him all night though gave away one foul on the edge of the box.
Beevers 7 Worked hard. Solid defensively. Didn’t get forward often but did put in one good cross.
Freeman - Went off injured in the first half; the last thing we needed. His surging forward runs were a feature of the previous away game.
McGuire 6.5 Did reasonably well.
Heslop 7 Battled on bravely in pain and limping at times and did some good defensive work.
Bell 5.5 Unable to provide a spark and that killer pass going forward. The poor conditions and not feeling well probably contributed to that.
Fisher 5 Too lightweight. Poor.
Bingham 5 Disappointing; never really got into the game.
Sub Line Up:
Taylor (for Freeman, 32) 7 Did well both defensively and with a couple of forward runs. Lasted the 60 minutes well so is hopefully back to full fitness.
Carr (for Bell, 62) - Only met the players just before kick-off. Didn’t really get into the game.
Lambe (for Fisher, 83) -
Sub not used: Evtimov, Marsden, Thomas.
Opposition Line Up:
Fon Williams; Donacien, Holness, Ihiekwe, Holmes; Kirby (Odejayi 86), Power, Laird, Barker (Baggie 74); Gnanduillet, Johnson (Donnelly 73). Subs not used: Brezovan, Davies, Rowe, Gill.
Tony Harrington 7 Handled the game well though there were really no contentious decisions to make.

Season 14/15 Reports