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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Cheltenham Town
Oliver 55.
 
 Kotwica 88
Attendance: 3324 (155 from Cheltenham)
 
Date: 13 December 2014

STAGS PEGGED BACK BY LATE EQUALISER

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were pegged back by a late equaliser from Cheltenham Town in a game low on goalmouth action and entertainment, but lit up by two fabulous goals. In Adam Murray’s first game as permanent manager at home and in the league, the first half saw only one shot from the Stags as a low 24 yard effort from Chris Clements was easily saved, while at the other end Cheltenham came to life in 44th minute with four chances in two minutes as returning goalkeeper Dimi Evtimov made three good saves. Mansfield took the lead after 55 minutes. Evtimov’s long goal kick was headed by a Cheltenham defender to Reggie Lambe, who chested the ball down, and flicked the ball forward to Oliver. Oliver controlled the ball on his chest, turned past his marker, and from about 28 yards hooked the ball over keeper Carson into the top right corner of the net for an incredible goal. Other than that there were few chances for either side in the second half: Oliver headed over from a corner, and Evtimov made a decent save from a free kick. But out of the blue, on 88 minutes, Cheltenham levelled with another great goal. Junior Brown took a heavy touch and just managed to avoid giving away a corner by knocking the ball for a Cheltenham throw-in near the corner flag on the left. From the long throw-in into the box, Oliver headed the ball out as far as Zack Kotwica 23 yards out who took one touch and belted an unstoppable shot into the right corner of the net giving Evtimov no chance. Brown had tried to charge down the shot but couldn’t quite get there in time. After that, Cheltenham had a chance to win it with a free kick from 23 yards which the Stags’ wall deflected over the bar. Conceding the late equaliser was a bitter blow for Mansfield, but I thought there was no doubt that Cheltenham deserved it, and the Stags didn’t create anywhere near enough chances to deserve to win the game. The Stags are now 11 points behind the play-off positions, and just 5 points above the relegation zone, which is far too close for comfort.

Boss Murray made five changes from the side that drew at Cambridge in the FA Cup. Goalkeeper Dimi Evtimov came in for Sascha Studer. Studer is carrying a leg injury and was rested with a view to him therefore being able to play in the FA Cup replay on Tuesday as Evtimov is not available for that game. It was Evtimov’s first game since September. Kieron Freeman, also not available for the FA Cup games, returned in place of Lee Beevers. It was the first league game this season that Beevers has not started. Luke Waterfall came in for the injured Martin Riley. Tafazolli was given the captain’s armband. Junior Brown came in for Rob Taylor. Fergus Bell came in for Rakish Bingham. The dropping of Taylor, who was my man of the match at Cambridge, and Bingham, who scored at Cambridge, was a huge surprise to me. It was also a huge surprise that the Stags went with just one up front, Vadaine Oliver, in a 4-5-1 formation. Lambe was on the right and Junior Brown on the left of the five man midfield, with Fergus Bell as an attacking midfielder, and Clements and Heslop in central midfield. Sutton continued at right back with Freeman at left back. Cheltenham played a 4-4-2 formation. Paul Black was on the bench for Cheltenham, though didn’t come on.

It was a bitterly cold day, never getting above 4 degrees centigrade, but a day full of sunshine, and the pitch was in near-perfect condition.

The match was the first of three in successive months which is just £7 entry (for tickets bought in advance). The crowd of 3324 was probably about 800 up on a crowd of about 2500 which I would have expected otherwise. But it was well down on what crowd it would have been reasonable to expect given entrance prices lower than typically for Non-league step 4 (ie lower than the 8th tier of English football).

The Stags made a positive start in the opening minutes. On 3 minutes, a cross from Lambe was behind for a corner. At the other end on 4 minutes, Braham-Barrett shot wide of the left post. Then on 6 minutes, quick feet from Byron Harrison who fired wide of the left post.

A good move from the Stags on 12 minutes. Clements played a great ball from the right out to Brown on the left, who took a great first touch, showed good trickery, and squared the ball towards Heslop who looked on for a free shot, but Oliver took it off his toe and Oliver’s shot was blocked. It would have been a better chance for Heslop.

On 22 minutes, a long Cheltenham throw into the box was headed on and Evtimov made a good save at his near post from Gornell.

The Stags’ best chance of the half came on 26 minutes. A good move ended with Brown playing the ball back to Clements, 24 yards from goal, and his low shot was on target but saved low down by keeper Carson. On 29 minutes, Oliver shot well wide across goal, Brown kept it in near the corner flag, and played a good cross back to Oliver but a defender headed behind for a corner.

On 32 minutes, a Cheltenham free kick was well-claimed by Evtimov. On 36 minutes, Sutton did well to block a shot from Hanks.

On 39 minutes, Lambe found Bell, who played a nice flick forward but it was just too far for Brown. A minute later at the other end, Sutton did well to head away from a corner.

On 42 minutes, a great tackle from Brown, who set Bell off on a great run forward before he was chopped down 32 yards from goal. But the Stags wasted the free kick.

The game sprung into life as Cheltenham ended the half on top. On 44 minutes, Kane Ferdinand got past Freeman and his first shot was well saved by Evtimov, then almost immediately Waterfall cleared off the line and Evtimov then made another good save at his right post. On 45+1 minutes, Ferdinand got past Freeman and his shot brought a fine save from Evtimov high to his left.

The half time whistle came at a good time for Mansfield, who were indebted to Evtimov for keeping the score at 0-0.

Half time 0-0

Freeman had taken a knock towards the end of the first half and was replaced at left back by Beevers.

On 49 minutes, Bell got into the box but ran into a defender and went down. There were some claims for a penalty but it didn’t look like it from my position.

On 54 minutes a good move involving Lambe, Brown got into the area on the left, and his cross was deflected narrowly over for a corner. From the resulting corner from the left, Oliver headed over.

Mansfield took the lead after 55 minutes. Evtimov’s long goal kick was headed by a Cheltenham defender to Reggie Lambe, who chested the ball down, and flicked the ball forward to Oliver. Oliver controlled the ball on his chest, turned past his marker, and from about 28 yards hooked the ball over keeper Carson into the top right corner of the net for an incredible goal.

On 58 minutes, a Cheltenham free kick from 24 yards, taken by Matt Richards was well held low down to his left by Evtimov, with two strikers waiting to pounce on any scraps.

Great play by Oliver on 60 minutes, getting down the left, his cross went all the way back to Sutton, whose shot was nowhere near goal. A minute later, Oliver got into the area, but his shot was blocked. He had Lambe in space on his left, better positioned.

On 70 minutes, Brown fed Oliver, who teed up Heslop who fired wide.

Two minutes later a possible escape for the Stags as a ball forward towards Gornell seemed to hit the hand of Waterfall, but the referee wasn’t interested in a penalty. Then on 74 minutes, Gornell cut inside Tafazolli and his cross was deflected wide.

Waterfall was booked on 76 minutes for a pulling back offence.

Taylor replaced Lambe on 80 minutes.

Waterfall fouled Gornell on 82 minutes and collective hearts were in mouths as the referee decided it was not worthy of a second yellow card.

But out of the blue, on 88 minutes, Cheltenham levelled with another great goal. Junior Brown took a heavy touch and just managed to avoid giving away a corner by knocking the ball for a Cheltenham throw-in near the corner flag on the left. From the long throw-in into the box, Oliver headed the ball out as far as Zack Kotwica 23 yards out who took one touch and belted an unstoppable shot into the right corner of the net giving Evtimov no chance. Brown had tried to charge down the shot but couldn’t quite get there in time. (sidenote: the goal is reported in the press as 87 minutes. Timed from the DVD, it was 87:02, hence should be reported as 88 minutes).

Bingham replaced Bell before the restart. I would have started the game with Bingham, or at the least brought him on much earlier.

On 90+2 minutes, Tafazolli was booked for a foul and Cheltenham had a chance to win it with a free kick from 23 yards by Hanks which the Stags’ wall deflected over the bar.

All in all, a disappointing result and performance against a team in Cheltenham that I expect to be well inside the bottom half of the table at the end of the season. A fair result though.

Man of the match: Junior Brown/Dimitar Evtimov


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



Line Up:
Evtimov 8 Five decent saves. Good handling, including good catches from crosses, and holding on to a shot with strikers waiting to pounce. A couple of poor kicks into touch but not ones that created danger.
Sutton 7 Solid performance with blocks and clearances.
Waterfall 7 Clearance off the line. Defended solidly.
Tafazolli 7 Good game.
Freeman 6 Given a few awkward moments by Ferdinand towards the end of the first half. Went off injured at half time.
Lambe 6.5 Involved in some good moves. Not enough good crosses though.
Clements 6 One great crossfield pass, and one shot on target. Some good defensive work.
Heslop 7 Pick of the midfield. Got the team moving forward.
Bell 6 Quiet game, apart from a couple of good runs forward.
Brown 8 Very lively, good runs, good crosses.
Oliver 7.5 Fabulous goal. Some good passages of play, though several things didn’t quite come off for him.
Sub Line Up:
Beevers (for Freeman, 46) 6 Did ok.
Taylor (for Lambe, 80) -
Bingham (for Bell, 88) -
Subs not used: Bishop, McGuire, Rhead, Palmer.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2) T Carson; J Deaman, M Taylor, T Brown, C Braham-Barrett; K Ferdinand, J Hanks, M Richards (A Haworth, 65), R De Vita (O Sterling-James, 65); B Harrison (Z Kotwica 72), T Gornell. Subs not used: M Gould, P Black, H Williams, B Dale.
Referee:
Chris Sarginson 5 No critical errors but didn’t handle the game well.


Season 14/15 Reports