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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 2
Thomas 67. Sutton sent off 1.
 Tubbs pen 2, Wallace 55.
Attendance: 4222 (1091 from Portsmouth)
Date: 25 April 2015


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

A penalty for Portsmouth after 41 seconds, coupled with a red card for Ritchie Sutton, who had only minutes earlier collected Player of the Season awards, set the scene on a difficult afternoon for Mansfield at Field Mill this afternoon. Matt Tubbs scored from the spot. The Stags therefore played the remaining 90+5 minutes with ten men but acquitted themselves well and in the end were unfortunate in my opinion to fall to a 2-1 defeat. The Stags had the better of the chances in the remainder of the first half as Rakish Bingham stabbed goalwards from close range and was denied by goalkeeper Jones, Jack Thomas fired just wide from the edge of the box and Bingham fired just wide twice. At the other end, Lenny Pidgeley pulled off a great save from a Craig Westcarr shot while Jed Wallace chipped just over the bar. At the start of the second half, a double chance for the Stags as Junior Brown’s low shot was saved by keeper Jones, and Matt Rhead’s follow-up was blocked. But on 55 minutes a fortunate goal for Portsmouth as Jed Wallace’s shot from 30 yards took an outrageous bounce to go in over the diving Lenny Pidgeley’s outstretched arm. With a regular bounce, Pidgeley would surely have saved it. The Stags were back in the game on 67 minutes with a lovely goal from the superb Jack Thomas who curled into the far corner of the net from 20 yards. But the Stags couldn’t find an equaliser and with gaps at the back through pushing forward with ten men, Portsmouth could have increased their lead. So defeat for Mansfield in the final home game of the season, but a very hard-working performance with a man down that deserved a point in my opinion. Jack Thomas was once again outstanding; the only thing he had been missing in previous performances was a goal and he got that today. Joe Fitzpatrick also played very well on his first start, out of position at centre half after Ritchie Sutton had been sent off. This was Portsmouth’s first league victory over Mansfield at the sixth attempt. The two teams will meet against next season. The Stags will also be playing Barnet, promoted from the Conference today, and Hartlepool who pulled off the great escape at the expense of Cheltenham and Tranmere who are relegated. One more game this season, away to Accrington and another chance for Mansfield’s youngsters to shine.

Before the game, Ritchie Sutton picked up the Player of the Year award from the SSA (runner-up Jack Thomas), the Shirebrook Stags Supporters Club, and the Ollerton Stags Supporters Club. Jack Thomas picked up the Jack Retter Young Player of the Year award, Chad Readers Stags Player of the Year, the Emma Stamp memorial trophy for most man of the match awards, and the Roy Palmer Memorial Shield as the Westfield Stags Player of the Year. Well done to both players. My own player of the season based on my ratings from every game (for players who started at least 15 games) is Rakish Bingham, followed by Tafazolli and Sutton. If the minimum appearances rule is removed, my player of the season is Jack Thomas.

John Radford also made a presentation to Doug Carroll who has done a great job as Sammy the Stag for the past 13 years and this was his last game today.

At half time, players from the 1974/75 team were introduced to the crowd. It was very well organised and a lovely moment for the players and fans, especially those fans who are old enough to remember that season. That team was probably the best Mansfield Town side I have ever seen. Also introduced to the crowd was Dave Smith, the manager of that side, and I was very happy to briefly interview him live on StagsPlayer immediately after the final whistle for his thoughts on the day and the match. Not surprisingly he picked out Jack Thomas as a tremendous talent.

With safety having been assured a week ago, manager Adam Murray made six changes from the side that lost at Cambridge, notably bringing in Joe Fitzpatrick for his first start, and recalling Liam Marsden after a long time since his last start. Pidgeley came in for Studer in goal. Marsden and Callum Elder came in for Beevers and Raynes, Fitzpatrick replaced Ravenhill, Bingham came in for Hawkridge, and Rhead replaced Oliver. Fitzpatrick started in a defensive midfield role. Sutton was in central defence alongside Tafazolli. Bingham partnered Rhead up front. Centre half Corbin Shires was on the bench for the first time, and didn’t get a chance to come on, but I expect him to play a part at Accrington. Not in the 18 at all were Beevers, Hawkridge and Raynes.

The attendance of 4,222 was the second highest of the season (after the Northampton game), and the impressive Pompey following of 1,091 was also the second highest away following of the season (after Northampton). The increased attendance today means that the average attendance at Field Mill this season just ticks over 3,000 to 3,021.

Some rain around Mansfield before kick-off and during the first half, before sunshine took over in the second half.

An incredible start to the game with a penalty for Portsmouth on 41 seconds immediately followed by a red card for Ritchie Sutton. Clements gave the ball away on the halfway line, Jed Wallace broke and played a one-two with Tubbs and was about to shoot just inside the area when Sutton bundled him down from behind. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Sutton was shown the red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. Perhaps a little unlucky for Sutton but had it been the other way around, we would have been enraged if it hadn’t been a penalty and a red card. Mind you with the Stags not having been awarded a penalty since November 2013 (that’s now 80 league+cup games without a penalty), despite some nailed-on appeals in that time, maybe we wouldn’t have got it! Tubbs took the spot kick and sent Pidgeley the wrong way, burying it into the left corner of the net. By the way, I’m fairly sure it’s the quickest sending off of a Mansfield player in our history, though not the easiest thing to confirm.

Joe Fitzpatrick, a midfielder on his first start, dropped back to centre half to replace Sutton. Bingham dropped back from striker to right midfield in a 4-4-1 formation.

On 7 minutes, a great tackle from Bingham, tracking back.

On 10 minutes, a good ball forward from Marsden, Rhead knocked it down to Thomas who lashed a shot well wide.

On 15 minutes, a ball forward to Tubbs but he miscontrolled and it went through to Pidgeley.

Junior Brown was booked for a tackle from behind on 16 minutes.

On 20 minutes, a free kick from Pidgeley was flicked on by Rhead, and Bingham fired over from wide on the right.

On 24 minutes, a bad mistake by Elder allowed Westcarr through on goal on the right, but Pidgeley made a great save diving to his left, pushing it away for a corner.

On 30 minutes, a free kick for Portsmouth 27 yards out. Wallace took it and fired straight into the wall. A minute later, Junior Brown headed back to Pidgeley calmly under pressure.

On 33 minutes, Wallace chipped Pidgeley from the edge of the area, but it was over the bar.

The Stags went close on 36 minutes. Marsden’s long throw, was back-headed by Rhead, and Bingham stabbed it goalwards from close range but keeper Jones somehow saved it on his line with his elbow.

A minute later, Bingham turned, 25 yards out, and fired wide of the left post, left footed.

On 41 minutes, a short corner from Portsmouth eventually came to Dunne who blasted well over the bar.

Mansfield had acquitted themselves well in the first half despite the man disadvantage. Four decent chances for the Stags compared to just the penalty and Westcarr’s shot that was saved by Pidgeley. Several formation changes during the half, with Bingham switching back to up front in a 4-3-2 formation, and later even Matt Rhead playing on the right of midfield.

Half time 0-1

Murray made his first substitution at the break, bringing on Lambe for Bingham. Bingham had had a good half.

A minute after the break, Fitzpatrick played a lovely ball out to the left wing, Lambe fed Junior Brown whose low shot was saved by keeper Jones, and Matt Rhead’s follow-up was blocked.

A good move from Portsmouth on 53 minutes, ended with Tubbs playing the ball inside to Ben Close who swept the ball over the bar.

But on 55 minutes a fortunate goal for Portsmouth as Jed Wallace’s shot from 30 yards took an outrageous bounce to go in over the diving Lenny Pidgeley’s outstretched arm. With a regular bounce, Pidgeley would surely have saved it. After the game, Wallace tweeted: “@mansfieldtownfc tell your groundsman I owe him a beer!”

On 59 minutes, Clements crossed from the left but it was a fraction high for Rhead who couldn’t get over it and could only headed high and wide.

Liam Hearn was on for his long awaited return at Field Mill (he did come on as sub away at Plymouth), to replace Marsden. A great reception for Hearn. It was a 3-4-2 formation with Lambe and Brown on the wings (not really wing-backs since they didn’t get back much). Notable that the Stags now only had two regular defenders in Tafazolli and Elder on the pitch, though Fitzpatrick was playing as a defender.

On 64 minutes, Tubbs pulled the ball back from the byline on the left and Elder did well to put it behind for a corner. A minute later, Butler sent in a left footed shot from 30 yards which Pidgeley did well to tip over.

It was 2-1 on 67 minutes with a lovely goal from the superb Jack Thomas who curled into the far corner of the net from 20 yards.

On 70 minutes, a Pompey break and Westcarr crossed from the left but it was poor and went out for a goalkick on the far side. Two minutes later, Wallace got into the penalty area on the left, and Elder put in a good block. A minute after that, Westcarr turned on the edge of the box and fired just over. Portsmouth were getting chances with Mansfield committing so many men forward.

On 74 minutes, Thomas won a tackle, but then in an odd incident Webster whacked the ball against Thomas, the ball ricocheted and went just wide of the right post from 25 yards. Straight to the other end and Wallace fired over from 25 yards.

McGuire replaced Clements on 75 minutes. As an aside it was warming to see McGuire applauding all the 1974/75 team during the half time interval.

On 75 minutes, a double chance for Portsmouth. Firstly a ball flicked wide off a Stags defender from a ball into the box. From the resulting corner, a header at the near post was deflected wide of the far post for another corner.

On 81 minutes, Lambe got to the edge of the area but couldn’t get through three defenders. Tafazolli then beat 2 men before playing the ball forward but it came to nothing. On 83 minutes, McGuire won a great header, and then a great touch from Hearn.

On 85 minutes, the Stags should have had a free kick just outside the box when a shot from Thomas from 25 yards was blocked by a Pompey hand, but the referee ignored Mansfield’s furious appeals.

On 90 minutes, a superb tackle from Thomas at the back after he sprinted back to clear danger. Moments later a shot from the left from Danny Hollands and Pidgeley made a good save. From the corner, Dunne blazed well wide. Straight to the other end and Thomas crossed from the right but keeper Jones claimed.

At the full time whistle the noisy visiting fans celebrated only their third away win of the season. A decent reception for the Stags players for a hard-working performance with ten men for over 90 minutes. A terrific performance from Jack Thomas, and also a very good performance from Fitzpatrick who did well in defence as the prolific Tubbs was kept pretty quiet. There had been a plea for home fans to stay off the pitch after the game, which they did, but the players didn’t return to wave to the fans as most fans had gone home by then!

Man of the match: Jack Thomas

Footnote: Following yesterday’s game, these are my average player ratings based on the 51 league+cup games so far this season (top 6 players):
Bingham 6.89, Tafazolli 6.71, Sutton 6.69, Riley 6.59, Rhead 6.58, Studer 6.48.
Note: only ratings for players starting a game are included - ie. sub appearances not included.
Minimum appearances: 15, ie. one-third of the games started.
If the minimum appearances rule is removed, the top player is: Thomas, average 7.55 from 10 starts.
Thanks to Pete Wright for his spreadsheet.

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

Line Up:
Pidgeley 7 One great save and two good saves. Beaten by an outrageous bounce for the second goal and in my opinion not at fault.
Marsden 7 Solid.
Sutton - Sent off after 41 seconds just after picking up Player of the Season awards!
Tafazolli 7 Solid game.
Elder 6.5 Bad mistake to allow Westcarr in for a chance. Some good blocks.
Fitzpatrick 8 Played very well on his first start, out of position at centre half after Ritchie Sutton had been sent off.
Clements 5.5 Not at his best. Gave the ball away in the build-up to the penalty.
Thomas 9 Outstanding. Terrific attacking play, terrific tackles, and added a terrific goal to his repertoire.
Brown 6 Did ok.
Bingham 7 Good first half. Unlucky with good save from keeper on his line.
Rhead 7 Several good flick-ons setting up chances for others.
Sub Line Up:
Lambe (for Bingham, 46) 6 Did ok.
Hearn (for Marsden, 62) - On for his long awaited return at Field Mill.
McGuire (for Clements, 75) - Battled well. One great header that he had no right to win.
Subs not used: Studer, Shires, Heslop, Oliver.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Jones; Devera, Ertl, Webster, Butler; Dunne, Close (Shorey 85), Wallace, Hollands; Tubbs (McCallum 88), Westcarr (Chaplin 81). Subs not used: Poke, May, Fogden, Atangana.
Graham Horwood 7 Probably got the penalty and red card right. Missed a clear handball for what would have been a Stags free kick in a good position.

Season 14/15 Reports