Blackpool win 5-4 on penalties. Mellor 38.
Attendance: 587 (*) (60 from Mansfield)
Date: 6 December 2017
STAGS OUT ON PENALTIES IN CHECKATRADE TROPHY
Martin Shaw at Bloomfield Road
Mansfield Town are out of the Checkatrade Trophy, losing a penalty shoot out to League One Blackpool, after the teams were level 1-1 in 90 minutes. There was an eerie atmosphere in a super stadium at Bloomfield Road as the game was played in front of a very small attendance of around 300-350 (see below *). The first 30 minutes of the game saw almost no chances for either side. Then Jacob Mellis embarked on a great run from the halfway line and his low shot from just inside the area was saved. But it was the home side who took the lead on 38 minutes. They went close as Danny Philliskirk’s shot was deflected by Krystian Pearce onto the top of the bar. An important touch from Pearce. But from the resulting corner, Kelvin Mellor beat his marker Jimmy Spencer to head home. Spencer rightly took the plaudits for his hat-trick on Sunday but he didn’t do his job here and it was costly. The Stags were nearly level within a minute as Mal Benning’s free kick from 40 yards was out to Alfie Potter on the right, who played the ball back across the face of goal and a combination of Paul Digby and Pearce knocked it goalwards where it was cleared off the line. Then 2 minutes after that Potter crossed from the right and Benning tried a repeat of his screamer against Newport in 2015 but volleyed just wide of the left post. Bobby Olejnik made a good save on 43 minutes saving at his near post from Gnanduillet. The Stags were within a whisker of equalising on 51 minutes. Benning’s free kick from 40 yards was flapped at by the keeper allowing David Mirfin to turn it goalwards, Pearce headed it on and Nick Anderton cleared off the line. iFollow video replays, from a perfect angle along the goal-line, show that the ball was mostly across the line but not completely across the line and the linesman made the correct decision. Unlucky nonetheless. The Stags were the better side in the second half and deservedly equalised on 88 minutes when Calum Butcher headed home at the far post from Benning’s fine delivery from a free kick 35 yards out on the right. With the game level at 90 minutes, it was straight to a penalty shoot-out. Digby, Benning and Sterling-James scored Mansfield’s first 3 spot kicks while Andy Taylor fired against the top of the bar and over for Blackpool, giving the Stags a 3-2 lead after 3 kicks each. But Potter’s low kick to the right of the goal was superbly tipped onto the post by the keeper. Delfouneso then scored to make it 3-3 after 4 penalties each. Mellor and Jimmy Spencer both scored to make it 4-4 after 5 penalties. But then Jack Thomas’s weak penalty down the middle was saved by the keeper, and Quigley scored the next penalty to give Blackpool a 5-4 win. Disappointing for Mansfield to go out in that manner and they more than held their own here against League One opposition. The Stags move on, and it’s back to the League on Saturday with a visit to Crawley.
Note - as a result of drawing here in normal time, the Stags’ unbeaten run actually continues and now stands at an impressive 12 games in all competitions.
(*) A word on the attendance. We were warned before the game by the local press that the crowd given out would be higher than the number of people in the stadium, and that proved to be the case. The official number from Mansfield of 60 is correct as Stags fan John Peers counted them and got approximately the same number. But the overall crowd was given as 587, and quite simply that cannot possibly be the actual number of supporters in the stadium. The real number in the stadium was between 300 and 350. Perhaps Blackpool were counting 200 free tickets that they had given out where people did not turn up, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter anyway.
Attention switches to the FA Youth cup on Thursday night as Mansfield host Crystal Palace in the third round. Unfortunately I can’t be there, but good luck to the young team.
Once again Steve Evans utilised his full squad by making 9 changes from the side that beat Guiseley on Sunday. Atkinson and Spencer remained in the starting XI. Steve Evans explained that Spencer has played so few games that he needs minutes on the pitch. Evans went with a back three of Digby, Mirfin and Pearce. Potter and Benning were at wing-back. Atkinson and Mellis in central midfield. Butcher was in the number 10 attacking midfielder role, behind Spencer and Angol up front. The Stags only brought 5 subs, allowing some of the squad to remain at home resting up for Saturday. Blackpool also made 9 changes, from their last league game.
It was a windy night on the Fylde coast. However the wrap-around nature of three-quarters of the stadium meant there was minimal input on the game.
On 5 minutes, the first half-chance of the evening as D’Almeida shot well wide from 30 yards.
On 7 minutes, Angol made a good run to the edge of the box, where he was tackled by Anderton, but the loose ball fell for Potter who whistled a shot wide.
There was no notable action for a further quarter of an hour, in what was a really low key start to the game. On 21 minutes, Mellis dispossessed Cooke and made a good run forward, into the area, but a defender was able to clear.
On 22 minutes, Butcher’s shot from 18 yards was blocked. Two minutes later, a good run down by the right by Butcher earned the first corner of the match for either side.
On 26 minutes, Gnanduillet turned and shot from the edge of the area, but it was blocked. Then on 33 minutes, Cooke tried a shot from 35 yards, well over the bar.
The best moment of the game so far came on 34 minutes. Jacob Mellis embarked on a great run from the halfway line and his low shot from just inside the area was saved.
On 36 minutes, Andy Taylor’s free kick from 38 yards was flicked tamely well wide by Gnanduillet.
It was the home side who took the lead on 38 minutes. They went close as Danny Philliskirk’s shot was deflected by Pearce onto the top of the bar. An important touch from Pearce. But from the resulting corner, Kelvin Mellor beat his marker Jimmy Spencer to head home. Spencer rightly took the plaudits for his hat-trick on Sunday but he didn’t do his job here and it was costly.
The Stags were nearly level within a minute as Benning’s free kick from 40 yards was out to Potter on the right, who drove a great ball back across the face of goal and a combination of Digby and Pearce knocked it goalwards where it was blocked on the line by the keeper’s legs. From the resulting inswinging corner by Benning, Mirfin headed wide and over the bar.
Then 2 minutes after that Potter drove another cross in from the right and Benning tried a repeat of his screamer against Newport in 2015 but volleyed just wide of the left post.
On 42 minutes, a free kick from Andy Taylor from level with the edge of the area on the left, found Kelvin Mellor unmarked at the far post and he hooked wide. Really bad marking from Mansfield. From the video replay, it was again Spencer who should have been marking Mellor. Then Olejnik made a good save saving at his near post from Gnanduillet after the big striker had got away from Mirfin.
Blackpool ahead at the break and two pieces of bad marking by Mansfield cost one goal, and nearly cost another right at the end of the half. The Stags had gone close with one effort cleared off the line, and Jacob Mellis had shone with some good runs in an otherwise flat evening.
Half time 1-0
On 46 minutes, Benning pushed forward, to Butcher who scuffed a shot wide. A minute later at the other end, Gnanduillet got away from Digby, turned and shot but it was just wide. Then a minute after that, Quigley cut in from the left past Digby and shot wide. On 49 minutes, Benning chipped in a free kick from 35 yards, but it was cleared.
The Stags were within a whisker of equalising on 51 minutes. Benning’s free kick from 40 yards was flapped at by the keeper allowing David Mirfin to turn it goalwards, Pearce headed it on and Nick Anderton cleared off the line. iFollow video replays, from a perfect angle along the goal-line, show that the ball was mostly across the line but not completely across the line and the linesman made the correct decision. Unlucky nonetheless.
On 56 minutes, Gnanduillet turned and shot miles over the bar. Then a great piece of defending from Pearce on 61 minutes, to deny Gnanduillet. Moments later, Clayton pushed forward down the right and his low shot was saved by Olejnik.
Sterling-James replaced Angol on 66 minutes. Useful minutes for Angol, returning from injury, but other than a good run in the opening minutes, he hadn’t played well.
On 69 minutes, a good move down the left by Mansfield, involving Mellis, ended with Benning firing across the face of goal with no-one getting on the end of it.
Jack Thomas replaced Atkinson on 70 minutes.
On 73 minutes, Potter clipped a ball forward, just over Spencer.
The Stags were knocking on the door, and taking the game to Blackpool.
On 74 minutes, Butcher broke forward, to Sterling-James, who dragged a shot wide of the left post.
On 78 minutes, great play by Jack Thomas and he was fouled after a good run. A yellow card for Mellor. Sterling-James tried a shot from the resulting free kick, 10 yards outside the area on the left, but his effort was straight into the wall.
Mirfin had gone down injured, and went down again on 81 minutes. He had to go off. Evans said afterwards that it was the same knee that had kept Mirfin out previously. Young striker Zayn Hakeem replaced Mirfin. The Stags reverted to 4 at the back, Digby and Pearce at centre half, Jack Thomas filled in at right back, Potter moved forward.
On 85 minutes, Quigley got past Thomas on the left and fired in a shot which Olejnik saved well. Thomas looked good going forward, but exposed out of position at right back.
On 86 minutes, a great crossfield pass by Benning out to Sterling-James who got into the area on the right and his low shot was blocked.
The Stags had been the better side in the second half and deservedly equalised on 88 minutes when Calum Butcher headed home at the far post from Benning’s fine delivery from a free kick 35 yards out on the right.
On 90+2 minutes, Sterling-James was taken out by Delfouneso, 31 yards from goal. Yellow card for Delfouneso. Sterling-James took the resulting free kick, but his effort was deflected over. From the resulting corner, Hakeem curled a shot just over the bar. What a moment that would have been, and he wasn’t far over the bar. Then on 90+4 minutes, D'Almeida shot from 30 yards out on the right and Olejnik made a good save.
With the game level at 90 minutes, it was straight to a penalty shoot-out.
It was the ABBA format, the first time Mansfield have taken part in a penalty shoot out using this format.
1-0 Philliskirk sent Olejnik the wrong way, firing into the left of the net.
1-1 Paul Digby belted into the left of the net.
1-2 Mal Benning drilled into the roof of the net.
2-2 Cooke sent Olejnik the wrong way, firing into the left of the net.
2-2 Missed! Andy Taylor fired against the top of the bar on the left and over for Blackpool, as Olejnik dived the correct way for the first time.
2-3 Omari Sterling-James belted into the left corner. Advantage Mansfield who led 3-2 after 3 kicks each.
2-3 Alfie Potter’s low kick to the right of the goal was superbly tipped onto the post by the keeper Mafoumbi. Oh no.
3-3 Delfouneso then scored into the bottom left corner to make it 3-3 after 4 penalties each.
Confusion amongst the players as Spencer stepped forward, but it wasn’t Mansfield’s turn!
4-3 Kelvin Mellor fired straight down the middle as Olejnik dived to his left for the 4th time in 5 penalties.
4-4 Jimmy Spencer had to score to keep Mansfield in it, and did, into the left of the net.
4-4 Jack Thomas’s weak penalty down the middle was saved by the keeper Mafoumbi. Oh no.
5-4 Quigley scored the next penalty, straight down the middle as Olejnik dived to his left again, to give Blackpool a 5-4 win.
Disappointing for Mansfield to go out in that manner after they more than held their own here against League One opposition. A poor penalty from Thomas and a great save from the keeper Mafoumbi from Potter proved the difference in the shoot out, with Olejnik unable to get anywhere near any of the Blackpool penalties after Andy Taylor had blazed over.
A real shame to go out. This competition had proved really useful this season to give competitive game time to players in Mansfield’s strong squad who hadn’t been able to force their way into the league and FA Cup sides. And some of those players, like Hamilton after his performance at Notts County, had then done well in the league side.
Man of the match: Mal Benning
Report by: Martin Shaw at Bloomfield Road
Olejnik 6 Three good saves in normal time. But didn’t get close to saving any of the penalties.
Digby 7 Generally defended well apart from a poor couple of minutes at the start of the second half. Good penalty in the shootout.
Mirfin 7 Tough encounter with Gnanduillet and mostly came out on top. Went off with the same knee that had kept him out previously.
Pearce 7 Defended well. Unlucky not to score.
Potter 7 Lively. Some good driven crosses. His penalty was saved but it was a very good save rather than a terrible penalty.
Benning 7 Some good set pieces, including for the goal. Super penalty in the shootout.
Atkinson 6 Did ok.
Mellis 7 Some good runs. At the heart of most of the good things Mansfield did.
Butcher 7 Great header for the goal.
Spencer 5 Rightly took the plaudits for his hat-trick on Sunday but here he didn’t do his job marking at the back on two occasions, one for the goal. Did little up front. Took his penalty well.
Angol 5 Useful minutes for him, returning from injury, but other than a good run in the opening minutes, he didn’t play well.
Sub Line Up:
Sterling-James (for Angol, 66 mins) - Lively. Tried 4 shots in normal time. Converted his penalty well.
Thomas (for Atkinson, 70 mins) - Looked good going forward, but exposed out of position at right back. Won 2 free kicks, including the one for the goal. Weak penalty.
Hakeem (for Mirfin, 81 mins) - Curled a good shot just over the bar.
Subs not used: Logan, Hamilton.
Opposition Line Up:
Mafoumbi; Mellor, Robertson (Aimson), Anderton, Taylor; D'Almeida, Cooke, Philliskirk, Clayton (Delfouneso), Quigley, Gnanduillet. Subs not used: Allsop, McAlister, Spearing, Longstaff, Solomon-Otabor.
Seb Stockbridge 7 Decent game. Yellow cards were correct. Conned by D'Almeida who dived as the ref gave a free kick against Benning.