Matt Taylor 39
Attendance: 6031 (544 from Mansfield)
Date: 10 February 2018
STAGS BEATEN IN TIGHT GAME AT SWINDON
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the County Ground
Since losing to Swindon at the One Call Stadium in October, Mansfield had lost just one game in the next 18 league games. But Swindon completed the double over the Stags here today thanks to a single goal from the outstanding Matt Taylor, Swindon’s left wing back, who was the difference between the sides. Matt Taylor’s powerful low shot on 39 minutes from two yards inside the box, to the left of centre, beat Conrad Logan at his near post and nestled in the net. A rare mistake from Logan, but high quality from Taylor. Mansfield didn’t have quite enough quality in the final third to force a goal despite having lots of possession. But there were several near misses. Kane Hemmings should have scored on 14 minutes with a lob over the keeper and over the bar, Will Atkinson was just a couple of inches wide with a header on 23 minutes. In the second half, despite lots of possession, clearcut chances were few and far between, with Mal Benning’s goalbound shot from 12 yards blocked for a corner and Danny Rose’s acrobatic shot just over the bar from 12 yards. Swindon had other chances too, Conrad Logan made a fine save tipping over from Keshi Anderson on 28 minutes, then Logan made an even better save on 50 minutes, somehow blocking with his legs from a point blank range shot from Marc Richards (UPDATE: the offside flag was already up for this chance). And Rhys Bennett produced a fine goalline clearance on 72 minutes, booting off the line from Keshi Anderson’s header. So a rare defeat for the Stags and a big disappointment for the large following who got behind their team so well throughout the game. Arguably Mansfield deserved a point, but just didn’t quite have the quality to earn it. Mansfield aren’t used to defeat and it doesn’t taste nice. The Stags are three points behind third place and three points above 8th place. Newport come to the One Call Stadium on Tuesday. Expect another tight game, but hopefully the Stags will have enough quality to force victory and keep on pushing towards automatic promotion.
This was Mansfield’s first visit to the County Ground for 11 years, a year before relegation to the Conference.
Swindon’s season had been characterised by superb away form, and indifferent home form. However they had won their last 3 home games, whilst not winning their last two away games.
Mansfield were unchanged from the side that beat Barnet. The bench was also unchanged. Steve Evans usually asks me to name the team for a bit of fun. Today I was still busy trying to set up the commentary kit after a few technical issues, so I asked my co-commentator Dean to tell Steve that I thought it would be completely unchanged. I gather there was much laughter as Steve Evans said I was right, and he would have to mix things up on Tuesday to catch me out :-)
It was a wet and miserable day in Wiltshire, though the rain stopped before kick-off. The pitch was fine despite all the rain.
Swindon created the first chance of the game inside just 50 seconds. MacDonald’s ball forward hit a Swindon player, allowing Norris to break forward, he found Matt Taylor on the left, who crossed in and Norris knocked high over the bar.
On 2 minutes, MacDonald’s free kick from 35 yards into the area was headed out and rebounded out to Rose who sent a low shot straight at the keeper from 14 yards.
Good strength from Atkinson on 6 minutes just outside the box to win the ball, but he wasted the ball forward towards Benning out for a goal kick.
Swindon wanted a penalty on 9 minutes. A ball was headed forward, Marc Richards went down under pressure from Bennett and Premier League referee Kevin Friend said no foul. From the video, it was clumsy from Bennett but not a penalty. Bennett didn’t need to make the challenge with the ball heading for the byline to give the referee a decision a make.
A good run forward by Benning on 11 minutes to win a corner. A minute later, Rose’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked. A minute after that, Benning had a shot from 28 yards that was blocked following Paul Anderson’s deep cross from the right. Straight to the other end and a shot from Ollie Banks from 30 yards was over the bar.
The Stags should have been ahead on 14 minutes. Logan’s long kick forward was missed by the defenders and Rose, and bounced into the path of Hemmings, who allowed the ball to bounce again, before lobbing over the keeper and over the bar from 8 yards out just to left of centre. It was glorious chance out of nothing.
Two chances for the Stags to get in good cross on 17 minutes, but both MacDonald from the left and Anderson from the right, wasted their balls in.
Byron was booked on 18 minutes. The only booking of the game. The referee waved play on after one Byrom foul, but when Byrom fouled again seconds later, the referee had no choice but to book him
A good move from Swindon on 19 minutes, ended with Matt Taylor’s fine ball in from the left and Elsnik swept wide of the left post.
On 20 minutes, Hemmings turned and shot well wide of the left post from 30 yards.
The Stags were within a whisker of taking the lead on 23 minutes. Benning put in a fine cross from the left, and Atkinson superbly glanced a header that missed the right post by a couple of inches with the keeper completely beaten.
MacDonald was fouled 30 yards out on 25 minutes, but surprisingly no yellow card for the Swindon man. MacDonald dinked the free kick into the area, but the referee blew for a free kick.
On 28 minutes, Logan made a fine save to keep the scores level. Keshi Anderson got past Paul Anderson down the left, to the edge of the area, cut inside onto his right foot and sent a shot towards the roof of the net, where Logan did well to tip it over.
MacDonald shot wide of the left post after a fine back flick from Atkinson, on 29 minutes.
A mistake by Paul Anderson on 32 minutes, as he knocked the ball up in the air under pressure from Marc Richards, Richards got onto the ball and lobbed over Logan and wide of the right post. It looked close from our angle, but the video on the other side, it was actually well wide.
Good possession from the Stags on 36 minutes, keeping the ball, but eventually putting it out for a goal kick.
On 37 minutes, a throw-in on the right on the right and Hemmings fired in a powerful shot from a tight angle which was parried away by the keeper.
Swindon took the lead on 39 minutes, and it stemmed from a Stags throw-in by the Swindon corner flag. MacDonald gave the ball away half way inside the Swindon half, Keshi Anderson broke forward into the Stags half, played forward to Elsnik, who fed Matt Taylor on the edge of the area to the left of centre. Logan might have been expecting a cross, but instead Taylor rifled a powerful low shot from two yards inside the box which beat Logan at the near post and into the net. A rare mistake from Logan, but high quality from Matt Taylor.
On 41 minutes, a terrible ball from Byrom, and he was rescued by a great tackle from Bennett.
On 43 minutes, Knoyle’s shot from 26 yards was wide of the right post.
A very entertaining first half, Swindon ahead with a bit of quality from Matt Taylor and a rare error from Conrad Logan. The Stags had earlier had two fine chances when Hemmings should have scored with a lob, and Atkinson was a couple of inches wide with a header.
Half time 1-0
It seemed that Swindon had nearly doubled their lead on 50 minutes, but it turns out the offside flag was already up. A low powerful ball in from the left by the outstanding Matt Taylor was met by a Mark Richards shot which Logan somehow blocked with his legs from point blank range on the line. But the offside flag was already raised.
On 53 minutes, MacDonald played a 1-2 with Atkinson, and from 28 yards sent a good effort just over the bar.
At the other end on 55 minutes, Elsnik’s shot from 25 yards was straight at Logan.
A great run by MacDonald on 56 minutes to the edge of the area where he found Hemmings, whose shot was blocked. Straight to the other end, and Paul Anderson did well to wrestle the ball off Keshi Anderson. On 59 minutes, great tracking back by Atkinson, on Elsnik.
Miller replaced Byrom on 60 minutes. The Stags went to three up front, with Miller and Hemmings either side of Rose. MacDonald and Hamilton were either side of Atkinson, in a 4-3-3 formation.
On 61 minutes, keeper Charles-Cook’s long free kick forward found its way into the area to Keshi Anderson, who was flagged offside but sent in a shot which Logan brilliantly tipped over the bar. A great save but it wouldn’t have counted.
Great play from Miller to win a free kick on 68 minutes.
Before the free kick was taken, Matt Penney replaced Hamilton, on 68 minutes, for his Stags debut.
The resulting free kick came out to Paul Anderson who fired over the bar from 30 yards.
Despite being behind, the Stags fans were really getting behind their team with great support.
On 70 minutes, great pushing forward by Benning, to Penney but Swindon put the ball behind for a corner.
The Stags were right on top in terms of possession, and Swindon were playing on the break.
Swindon nearly scored on 72 minutes, Knoyle dinked a super cross in from the right, Keshi Anderson got up well, above Paul Anderson, to head down towards the net, and Bennett produced a fine goalline clearance, booting off the line.
Penney fouled Norris 30 yards out in a central position. Matt Taylor’s free kick was into the wall.
On 77 minutes, Richards headed straight at Logan from Knoyle’s cross.
At the other end a minute later, Benning sent a poor shot over the stand. At the other end again on 79 minutes, Banks fired over the bar from 35 yards.
On 80 minutes, the Swindon ballboys deliberately let the ball run away to waste time, angering the Stags bench.
Potter replaced Hemmings on 82 minutes.
The Stags were close to an equaliser on 84 minutes. A good move down the left, Benning took aim from 12 yards, his shot was on target and blocked by Matt Preston for a corner, as he put his head in his hands.
Moments later, the ball was crossed in to Danny Rose whose acrobatic shot was just over the bar from 12 yards.
Swindon had by now packed their defence and were just playing on the break.
On 89 minutes, MacDonald’s throw-in came to Atkinson whose shot was blocked.
5 minutes of time was added on. The Stags, despite pinning Swindon back, didn’t have the quality to create any further chances. On 90+5 minutes, a break for Swindon and Norris fired over the bar.
So defeat for the Stags and a big disappointment for the large following who got behind their team so well. Mansfield didn’t have quite enough quality in the final third despite having lots of possession. The outstanding Matt Taylor, Swindon’s left wing back was the difference between the sides, as he was in the game at Mansfield. He was the only player to consistently provide quality balls into the box. He’s the best left sided player in the division in my opinion and easy to see why he played in the Premier League.
Man of the match: Will Atkinson
Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the County Ground
(4-4-2 diamond formation in midfield)
Logan 5.5 Made three fines saves (though two were from chances that were offside), and otherwise played well. But his rare mistake was costly, allowing Matt Taylor’s shot to beat him at the near post. Se we have to score him below 6 on this occasion.
Anderson 5 Poor game, though he was up against the outstanding Matt Taylor. Hayden White will be available after suspension against Newport, and I would expect him to return.
Pearce 6 Did ok.
Bennett 7 Fine goalline clearance, one fine tackle. Unnecessary challenge in first half which could have cost a penalty.
Benning 7 Good game pushing forward. Solid defensively.
Byrom 5.5 Not involved enough. Booked. Subbed after an hour.
MacDonald 6 Worked hard, like a terrier. Some poor crosses.
Atkinson 7.5 Pick of the midfield. Good tracking back, some good touches going forward. Unlucky with one header a couple of inches wide.
Hamilton 5 Didn’t get into the game.
Rose 6 Didn’t get enough service. Acrobatic shot was just over the bar from 12 yards.
Hemmings 5.5 Should have scored with his lob. A couple of other shots blocked.
Sub Line Up:
Miller (for Byrom, 60 mins) - Good play to win one free kick. But didn’t get into the game after that.
Penney (for Hamilton, 68 mins) -
Potter (for Hemmings, 82 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik. Digby, King, Spencer.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2) Charles-Cook; Purkiss, Preston, Menayese; Knoyle, Banks, Elsnik, Anderson (Mullin 90), Taylor; Norris, Richards. Subs not used: Moore, Romanski, Robertson, Iandolo, Dunne, Woolery.
Kevin Friend 7 Premier League referee handled the game well.