{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Cheltenham Town  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Burns 47.
 Kee 68
Attendance: 2,597 (283 from Mansfield)
Date: 7 March 2015


Martin Shaw at Whaddon Road

After a week in which Mansfield earned precious wins over Dagenham and Newport, it was important to keep the momentum up by avoiding defeat at second-bottom Cheltenham today and thus preserving the gap between the Stags and the bottom two. The Stags did just that by coming from behind for a hard-earned and deserved point. In an even first half, the Stags hit bar through Junior Brown, while Wes Burns had best chance for Cheltenham, firing wide from a good position. Cheltenham took the lead two minutes after the break when Burns was able to turn and fire home in the box as the Stags defence momentarily went missing. Stags introduced substitute Billy Kee on 52 minutes and he was close to equalising on 67 minutes when he turned and fired over. But a minute later he scored a fine equaliser firing into the top right corner of the net after good play from Clements and Lambe. After that, both sides could have won it, but neither side was able to, and the Stags were happy with the result, as the 283 Stags fans gave the side a rousing reception at the final whistle. This was only the second point Mansfield have picked up this season after going behind, the first being at York, and represents a big result. The gap to the bottom two is increased to 8 points with Tranmere’s defeat. With 11 games left, Mansfield are 15 points ahead of Hartlepool, 8 ahead of Tranmere, 7 ahead of Cheltenham, and 6 ahead of Carlisle and York. Still work to be done, but the run of 14 points from the last 8 games represent a massive step in the right direction. As a sidenote, Mansfield have the same number of points as this stage last season (42 points from 35 games). No midweek game this week, then a big week with games against Bury, Wimbledon and Hartlepool. Come on Mansfield!

After the game, Adam Murray said he has spoken to Scunthorpe about future plans for Billy Kee and would love to have him at Mansfield next season. Kee is not allowed to play in the last 5 games of this season according to the terms of his loan from Scunthorpe, but Kee said for his part that he loves it at Mansfield and he would like to be here next season if the two clubs can work it out.

Adam Murray made four changes from the side that won at Newport, bringing back Pidgeley who hadn’t been allowed to play at Newport, and bringing back three of the players who he had rested at Newport: Ravenhill, Lambe and Oliver. Out went Studer, McGuire, Monakana and Kee. Martin Riley was playing against his former club. Cheltenham started with new signing Pablo Mills, who was on trial at Mansfield in the pre-season of the promotion season, while new signing Shaun Harrad, who was on trial at Mansfield in the pre-season of this season, was on the bench.

It was a gloriously sunny day, but windy. The Stags had the wind behind them in the first half but didn’t make good use of it.

On 4 minutes, a quick free kick forward to Lambe who cushioned the ball down to Oliver but Oliver scuffed his long range shot. On 6 minutes, Braham-Barrett got into the area on the left and his low cross was cleared by Riley. On 9 minutes, Ravenhill gave the ball away outside the box, Cheltenham played the ball into the box and Beevers did well to head the ball back to Pidgeley. Two minutes later, Beevers played a ball down the wing to Oliver. Oliver did well to get to the byline but his pull back was wasted. Moments later, a high cross from Heslop into the box, Oliver got his head on to it and directed it goalwards but it was an easy save for the keeper.

On 22 minutes, Brown played a cross-field pass to Elder who got into the box and cut on to his right foot but lost the ball.

A heart stopping moment on 26 minutes as Tafazolli played a back-pass to Pidgeley, the ball took a horrendous bobble and Pidgeley completely mis-kicked it for a corner, just wide of the left post. It was an unnecessary back-pass from Tafazolli and the ball could easily have ended up in the net. It was yet another example, and we’ve had several in recent weeks, of why you shouldn’t play back-passes on bobbly pitches. I shared my angst with Adam Murray post match and he told me he’s asked the players not to play back-passes on bobbly pitches.

The Stags were so close to taking the lead with a triple chance on 28 minutes. A good cross from the right by Beevers, Junior Brown rose well and his header thumped against the bar on the left. It rebounded to Clements who fired into the ground and it was well saved by the keeper, who pushed the ball out to Heslop whose shot was blocked. Bad luck for the Stags. (A correction to my initial report: I originally thought the Clements shot hit the post, but video footage shows it was saved. Apologies, an optical illusion from where I was sitting, shared with Andy Webb and Charlie Slater, either side of me).

On 31 minutes, a corner from the right for Cheltenham by Richards was deep to the far post, Troy Brown headed it back towards the top of the net and Pidgeley did well to tip it wide. A minute later, Oliver did well to keep the ball in on the left touchline, cut inside but he fired over the bar with Clements in a good position on his right. Moments later, a good tackle from Junior Brown to prevent a cross.

On 35 minutes, a good run down the right from Beevers, he crossed to Oliver at the near post who flicked a shot well wide. Beevers was getting forward a lot and had lots of space on the right.

On 40 minutes, Burns got past Elder to the edge of the area, cut inside Ravenhill and pulled a left footed shot wide of the right post. A good chance. On 45+1, Elder crossed from the left, Junior Brown headed back across goal and Tafazolli headed goalwards but it was easily caught by the keeper.

A first half which was not high on quality or entertainment.

Referee Trevor Kettle did his best to keep the game flowing, incredibly only blowing for 3 fouls in the first 45 minutes. As Charlie Slater said to me at half time “he was the Kettle that wouldn’t whistle”. English humour at its best!

Both sets of fans were very quiet in the first half, probably through nervous tension.

Half time 0-0

On 47 minutes, a huge goal-kick caught in the wind from the Cheltenham keeper and Elder had to put it out for a throw as Burns bore down on him. From the resulting throw, Cheltenham were in front. The throw was flicked on and bounced off Tafazolli to Burns who turned from 10 yards out and fired low into the net. Poor defending from Mansfield.

The Stags were within a whisker of equalising on 50 minutes with a free kick 25 yards out on the left. Heslop took it and curled it inches wide of the right post.

Murray made a change on 52 minutes bringing on Kee for Heslop and changing to a 4-4-2 formation.

Another free kick for the Stags on 55 minutes. Clements took it from the left but it was too close to the keeper who held it beyond the far post.

Monakana replaced Brown on 65 minutes.

On 66 minutes, Elder played the ball into the box, Kee flicked the ball forward for Oliver in a great position near the penalty spot but he couldn’t get a shot in.

The Stags came close to equalising again on 67 minutes. Elder played the ball into the box again, Oliver nodded it down and Kee turned and fired over. It was good play from Kee who looked as though he was finding his range.

And on 68 minutes, Kee did find the net. Clements in a central position played the ball to Lambe on his left who fed the ball back in to Kee who side footed the ball towards the top right corner. The keeper got a touch on it but couldn’t keep it out. A great moment as the Stags players celebrated in front of the visiting fans.

On 72 minutes, the Stags appealed for a penalty for a handball on the right it the box but it was not given. Seconds later, the referee did blow for a handball a yard outside the box. Clements took the free kick just to the right of centre from 19 yards and got a good connection on it but it was straight at the keeper. On 77 minutes, Clements took a free kick from the right, Oliver came flying in at the far post but couldn’t get his head on it.

Nothing had been seen of Cheltenham as an attacking force since they took the lead on 47 minutes. But on 81 minutes, Burns cut in from the right on to his left foot and from 25 yards, fired wide of the left post.

The Stags had another shout for a penalty on 84 minutes. Clements played the ball in from the right and Kee went down in the area with what looked like a shove in the back. The referee waved away appeals and Kee looked disappointed. By my reckoning, that is six penalty appeals turned down in the last two games, and the Stags still have not had a penalty awarded since November 2013. Truly incredible.

On 85 minutes, a quick Cheltenham free kick down the right and a low cross in from the byline. Harrad got a little backheel on it and put it just wide of the left post. It was close. On 86 minutes, Lambe went on a great run and played the ball to Oliver on the left and he shot straight at the keeper. A minute later at the other end, the ball came in to Harrad in the box and he completely missed his kick.

On 89 minutes, Beevers had a chance to clear the ball up field but didn’t and eventually gave away a free kick. It was ridiculous defending from Beevers who otherwise had a very steady game. It presented Cheltenham with a free kick 20 yards out to the left of centre. Harrad took it and fired straight into the wall. The ball eventually went out for a corner which Taylor header well over.

No more chances for either side in 4 minutes of added time and the Stags were happy to go home with a point.

The draw was probably a fair result, though on reflection, the Stags definitely had the better of the chances.

Man of the match: Billy Kee

Report by: Martin Shaw at Whaddon Road

Line Up:
Pidgeley 6.5 No chance with the goal. One save, tipping away a header from Troy Brown. Made to look foolish with the back-pass that hit a bobble, but the back-pass should never have been made.
Beevers 7.5 Some good clearances and generally defended solidly apart from his crazy defending in the final minute. Got forward well with some good runs and good crosses.
Riley 7 Pretty solid.
Tafazolli 6.5 Some good tackles. Might have done better for the Cheltenham goal.
Elder 6.5 Given a difficult afternoon by Burns, Cheltenham’s best player. But generally did ok and got forward.
Ravenhill 6.5 Gave the ball away and beaten a couple of times. Did ok apart from that.
Lambe 7.5 Some good set-up play including an assist for the goal.
Heslop 6.5 Good free-kick just inches wide, and went close in the follow-up to Junior Brown’s header. Did ok.
Clements 7 Some good play to drive the Stags forward. Shot blocked in the follow up to Brown’s header and a decent free-kick that was on target.
Brown 6 So unlucky with header that thumped against the bar. Quiet game apart from that.
Oliver 7 Good game. Won lots of headers. Couldn’t make the most of a few opportunities.
Sub Line Up:
Kee (for Heslop, 52) 8 Took his goal very well. Went close with a shot on the turn. Looking like the player we knew he was before he signed. Might have earned a penalty when he was shoved down.
Monakana (for Brown, 65) - Didn’t really get into the game.
Subs not used: Studer, Sutton, Rhead, Bingham, Thomas.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-1-4-1): T Carson; L Vaughan, M Taylor, Troy Brown, C Braham-Barrett; P Mills; M Sparrow (Wynter, 82), M Richards; W Burns (E Richards, 81), M Manset (S Harrad, 66); D Haynes. Subs not used: M Gould, J Deaman, J Hanks, D Berry.
Trevor Kettle 7 Very lenient on giving free-kicks. Mostly handled the game well.

Season 14/15 Reports