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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Cambridge United  
3 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Kaikai 3, 43, Elliott 88.
 Bingham 64
Attendance: 4,667 (274 from Mansfield)
Date: 18 April 2015


Martin Shaw at the R Costings Abbey Stadium

Mansfield Town put in a poor performance at Cambridge this afternoon to fall to a 3-1 defeat, but, unsurprisingly, results elsewhere for the bottom three meant that Tuesday’s win over Tranmere was enough to secure safety for this season. In a lacklustre first half showing, the Stags found themselves 2-0 down due to an error from goalkeeper Sascha Studer as a 35 yard free-kick was allowed to go in. And then a free shot from the edge of the area took a deflection off Oliver and beat Studer. Poor defending for the second goal. An incident that shocked me was that there was a free-kick from an identical position to the first goal just 10 minutes after the goal and the goalkeeper did not set up a wall. The free-kick flew wide but that was unbelievable. The other key incident of the first half was when Jack Thomas appeared to be tripped on the edge of the box but the referee waved away Thomas’s furious appeals for a penalty (again, I need to see the video to confirm as it was 70 yards away from me). After such a lacklustre display, Murray had to make changes at the break and he brought on Bingham and Rhead, and that had the desired effect as both played well, Bingham especially effective showing a good touch and desire to go forward. Bingham got the goal his performance deserved on 64 minutes firing into an empty net after fine play from Thomas. The Stags could have been level when good play from Bingham set up a chance for Clements, but Clements dallied when he needed to shoot first time and the chance was gone. Cambridge were 3-1 in front on 88 minutes as Elliott was allowed to head in unmarked from close range with Raynes and Tafazolli not marking anyone after Dunk was given too much space by Beevers to cross. So a poor performance really and not a single corner for the Stags in 90 minutes, though the second half was an even affair. Bingham, Rhead, Thomas and Raynes did well today but the rest were disappointing. Despite the performance today I have to same I’m very pleased that with two games to go, we are safe from relegation and I feel sorry for fans of the bottom three who will be going through agony right now. A big well done to Adam Murray and his management team for getting us safe. Murray knows though that next season needs to be better and not another relegation dogfight. After the game Murray confirmed that he has not put pen to paper on a contract for next season but is planning to be in charge and is already planning for the new season. He stated that the performance of a number of players confirmed what he already knew and that they won’t be here next season. It will be an important summer for Murray. A word on the opposition: Cambridge’s on-loan Crystal Palace winger Sullay Kaikai was quite outstanding today, as good a performance as I have seen from any player in League Two this season. I gather Richard Money said afterwards that it was not even his best performance of the season, but the home media assured me that was nonsense.

Murray made three changes from the side that beat Tranmere and all were enforced. Elder was out with concussion, McGuire was not fully fit but was on the bench, and Lambe was suspended. In came Beevers, Ravenhill and Hawkridge. It was a continuation of the 4-1-4-1 formation with Ravenhill in front of the back four and Oliver on his own up front. Sutton was at right back and Beevers at left back though they were to switch around during the second half after Beevers had been given the run around by Kaikai. The Stags turned out in red and white hoops, the last time the kit will be used. It was a gloriously sunny day in Cambridge.

The staggering incompetence of Cambridge United meant that for the second game here this season there was no match DVD available. So I haven’t been able to confirm some incidents. Nor will there be extended highlights for StagsPlayer subscribers in the next day or so.

The Stags were behind after just three minutes. Following a Stags throw in the Cambridge half, Mansfield conceded a free-kick 35 yards from goal, dead centre. Kaikai took it and struck it into the right corner of the net. Studer got a hand on it but it went in. Studer hung his head and it was clear that he took the blame, which was confirmed afterwards. He certainly should have saved it.

Cambridge were forced into an early change on 10 minutes as Donaldson was forced off by what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by Greg Taylor. Taylor of course is fondly remembered by Stags fans having played the last few games of our promotion season at left back. Today he came on and played in left midfield though he did move to left back later on.

On 14 minutes, another free-kick for Cambridge in the identical position to the earlier one 35 yards out in a central position was given. Having seen the earlier free-kick fly in, I couldn’t believe my eyes as the Stags did not line up a wall. This has to be the goalkeeper’s responsibility. Kaikai took it again and fired it just past the right post.

There was controversy on 16 minutes as Jack Thomas appeared to be tripped on the edge of the area (just inside it looked like to me, albeit I was 70 yards away). It certainly looked like his quick feet had induced a foul. The referee waved away appeals and Thomas berated the decision. Two minutes later, quick feet from Thomas again and this time he was clipped inside his own half. The referee immediately gave a free-kick. The Stags players gesticulated to ask the referee what the difference between the two incidents was.

On 27 minutes, Clements did well to win the ball but his ball forward for Oliver was over hit and through to the keeper.

Thomas was booked for a trip on 30 minutes. He was clearly still frustrated with the referee.

Beevers crossed from the left, Oliver battled for the ball at the far post and got it back to Thomas but Thomas was not able to get a shot in. On 35 minutes, Dunk shot well wide from 25 yards. A minute later, a classic piece of cheating from home captain Champion. Champion lunged in with a very bad challenge and, clearly knowing it was a bad challenge, he stayed down, the game carried on and, when the ball came near him 5 seconds later, he quickly got up to try to win it. The ball immediately went out of play and Champion got a long lecture from the referee but there was no card.

A couple of high balls into the Stags box which Studer went up for but on both occasions, he didn’t get there and the ball ran loose. Poor goalkeeping.

It was 2-0 on 43 minutes. Kaikai cut in from the right across the edge of the box past Thomas, and he was allowed a free shot left footed. It took a deflection off Oliver, Studer got a hand on it and couldn’t keep it out. Given there was a deflection, I don’t think Studer should be blamed for the goal but the poor defending certainly can.

On 45 minutes, Kaikai got to the edge of the box, the ball was blocked to Elliott who fired over. Two minutes later, a Cambridge free kick was whipped in and there was a half chance but someone miskicked in front of goal and it was cleared.

A very lacklustre first half showing from Mansfield who produced almost nothing going forward whilst a goalkeeping mistake and poor defending contributed to two goals conceded.

Half time 2-0

Murray needed to do something at the break and there were several candidates for players who could be replaced. He elected to remove Hawkridge and Oliver, both of whom were very poor, albeit being far from alone. On came Bingham and Rhead who had both played well in recent matches from the bench.

Straight after the break, Ravenhill was booked for a late challenge. On 49 minutes, a Clements half volley from 25 yards hit a defender in the area. Clements claimed it hit a hand but it didn’t look like it to me. On 50 minutes, a good tackle from Ravenhill on Slew on the edge of his own area.

On 51 minutes, Thomas did well to win the ball in his own half and he played a nice ball to Rhead down the right but Rhead played a poor ball across to Bingham. A minute later at the other end, Kaikai got past Beevers too easily and Kaikai’s low cross was held by Studer. Straight to the other end and a cross field ball from Beevers to Rhead who headed straight at the keeper.

The Stags were looking much more positive going forward giving the impression that Murray had read them the riot act at half time.

On 54 minutes, there was a free kick for Cambridge 32 yards out in a central position. This time, there was a Stags wall. Clearly the Stags management had had words at half time. Kaikai took the free kick again. It was on target but Studer saved it easily.

A minute later, there was another great run from Kaikai who fed Greg Taylor on the left but Sutton got in a timely touch to clear. On 60 minutes, a Cambridge cross from the left and Elliott got above ??? (to be confirmed when I get the video) to head just wide. There was to be a carbon copy later when Elliott scored.

On 61 minutes, Thomas won the ball on the right and crossed to beyond the far post. Rhead met it with his right foot when his only chance of scoring was to go with his left foot and he put it well wide.

Sutton and Beevers changed sides. Kaikai had been ripping Beevers to shreds and it said a lot about Beevers’ performance that he was switched to the other side.

Murray introduced youngster Fitzpatrick for Ravenhill on 62 minutes.

The Stags pulled a goal back on 64 minutes. A bad back-pass from Coulson was intercepted by the alert Thomas who played a delightful square ball to Bingham who was able to fire into the empty net. It was just reward for Thomas and Bingham who had both played well.

On 66 minutes, Beevers crossed and Rhead headed across goal but it was cleared. Two minutes later at the other end, a good tackle by Raynes on Bird outside the area. On 70 minutes, a free kick for Cambridge was taken high into the box. Studer came for it but dropped it and the ball was cleared.

On 76 minutes, another crossfield pass from Beevers, and Rhead nodded down but it was just cleared.

Moments later, a great run down the right by Bingham who got into the area, his square ball reached Clements who had a chance to shoot first time but dallied and eventually his shot was blocked. Great play from Bingham though.

On 78 minutes, Kaikai volleyed well wide from 25 yards. On 81 minutes, yet another free kick for Cambridge 35 yards from goal in a central position. Surprisingly, Kaikai did not take a shot. Instead, Cambridge took it quickly and gave the ball away. On 82 minutes, Elliott turned on the edge of the box and his shot was deflected well wide. From the resulting corner, Nelson headed well wide.

On 84 minutes, a great flick on from Bingham to Rhead who blazed wide from 20 yards. On 85 minutes, a free kick for the Stags 30 yards out on the right. It was a rare chance for the Stags to put a set piece into the box. Clements took it but it was cleared. Straight to the other end with a Cambridge break. Elliott shot goalwards and Studer saved above his head.

Cambridge made it 3-1 on 88 minutes. Dunk was allowed too easily by Beevers to cross from the left and Elliott headed into the bottom right corner of the net, with Raynes and Tafazolli not marking anyone.

On 89 minutes, a long ball forward and great control from Bingham who got the ball back on to his left foot and fired wide. A minute later, Kaikai ran at the Stags’ defence but a good tackle from Tafazolli.

On 90+2 minutes, great control from Bingham again who found Thomas, back to Bingham, but it was cleared. Good play nonetheless.

On 90+4 minutes, a great flick on from Bingham, and Thomas was fouled 30 yards out on the left. Clements took the free kick into the area but the keeper came out and claimed well.

A disappointing performance and result for the Stags but results elsewhere meant that the bigger picture was that Mansfield will be playing League 2 football next season. Two games left, and Stags fans will be looking for better performances at home to Portsmouth and away to Accrington. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Rakish Bingham

Report by: Martin Shaw at the R Costings Abbey Stadium

Line Up:
Studer 4 Bad mistake after just 3 minutes to concede the first goal. Then didn’t set up a wall for an identical free-kick. Came for 3 high balls and didn’t get them or dropped them.
Sutton 6 Ok. Eventually Murray switched the full backs around and Sutton did better against Kaikai than Beevers did.
Raynes 6.5 The pick of the back four.
Tafazolli 5 Not at his best.
Beevers 4 A difficult afternoon against Kaikai but was very poor. Did put in some good crossfield passes. Switched by Murray midway through second half to the other side. But then the cross for the third goal came in from his side.
Ravenhill 5 One good tackle.
Hawkridge 4 Totally anonymous. Hauled off at the break.
Thomas 7 Some good play. Unlucky not to earn a penalty with quick feet (to be confirmed when I see the video).
Clements 5 Not in the game enough. Had one decent chance but dallied too long and then his shot was blocked.
Brown 5 Tried hard but nothing went his way.
Oliver 4 Very poor.
Sub Line Up:
Bingham (for Hawkridge, 46) 8.5 Excellent second half with good running, good flicks and a goal.
Rhead (for Oliver, 46) 6.5 Some good knock-downs.
Fitzpatrick (for Ravenhill, 62) - Did ok.
Subs not used: Pidgeley, Marsden, McGuire, Hearn.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2) Dunn; Ball, Coulson, Nelson, Dunk; Donaldson, Champion (Taylor 10), Morrissey, Kaikai; Slew (Bird 59), Elliott. Subs not used: Norris, Tait, Hunt, Mendez-Laing, Simpson.
Kevin Wright (of Cambridgeshire - that surely shouldn’t be allowed by the way) 7 Not a difficult game to handle and generally did it well. I think he missed a penalty for the Stags though (to be confirmed from video).

Season 14/15 Reports