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Season 17/18 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Lincoln City
Byrom 49. Bennett sent off 90+2.
 Palmer 90. Waterfall sent off 90+1
Attendance: 6091 (1680 from Lincoln)
Date: 6 March 2018


Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with Lincoln City at the One Call Stadium this evening in the first game under new manager David Flitcroft. Lincoln shaded a goalless first half. The Stags took the lead after 49 minutes through a fine header from half time substitute Joel Byrom, his first goal for the club, after a great cross from Hayden White. The Stags were put under a barrage of pressure from high balls into the box aimed at former Stags striker Matt Rhead, who won nearly every header, and finally the pressure paid off for Lincoln in the 90th minute when Rhead headed down a high ball to another former Stag Ollie Palmer who hooked into the net from close range despite Conrad Logan getting a hand to it. In the aftermath of the goal, Lincoln centre half Luke Waterfall, another former Stags player, was sent off for throwing a water bottle back into the crowd in the West Stand. The bottle had been thrown towards Palmer, who was celebrating in front of the Stags fans. After the game, Lincoln boss Danny Cowley said it was the correct decision to send off Waterfall. Just a minute later, Mansfield were also down to ten men when Rhys Bennett, earlier booked for time wasting, picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Palmer. So it finished as a draw, which was gutting for Mansfield after leading until the 90th minute. However Lincoln certainly deserved their point, with Mansfield not at their best going forward, and conceding too much possession to Lincoln who were allowed to put long ball after long ball into the Stags box. With Rhead winning almost everything, it was not surprising that they finally scored from such an opportunity. Ollie Palmer had been taunted by the Stags fans when he came on after 80 minutes, and once again made the Stags pay, as he had previously for Leyton Orient and for Lincoln this season in the Checkatrade Trophy. It wasn’t a pleasing style of football from Lincoln, but they were certainly very effective at it. Accrington’s win tonight moves them just a point behind leaders Luton. Notts County drew tonight, so Mansfield are one point behind Notts County and Wycombe, who are in 3rd and 4th place. Mansfield have a game in hand over Notts County and have played the same games as Wycombe. It’s very tight for that 3rd automatic spot. Mansfield remain 7 points above Coventry and Lincoln, who are in 8th and 9th place (though Coventry have a game in hand). On to Saturday, and another home game, the third on the trot, this time against Colchester.

It was the first game of the David Flitcroft era. Since the last match, against Coventry, ten day ago, Steve Evans had resigned and been appointed manager at Peterborough United. Then Mansfield had approached Swindon for permission to talk to their manager David Flitcroft. Permission was granted and after discussions, Flitcroft came in as the new Stags manager, bringing assistant Ben Futcher with him. Futcher had played on loan for Mansfield in 2011. Flitcroft had taken over at Swindon in the summer and guided Swindon into the play-off positions, three points behind Mansfield. Swindon had done the double over Mansfield this season, and indeed Mansfield had never beaten a Flitcroft side, whether at Swindon or Bury. The appointment of Flitcroft was, in my opinion, a good one. With Mansfield in with a chance of automatic promotion and just 12 games to go before tonight, the requirement was for someone who can carry on this season, get us over the line and achieve promotion, and who is a quality manager. I think Flitcroft ticked those boxes, knowing the league well and opposition well, plus knowing about our players, and he should have been able to hit the ground running.

The resignation of Steve Evans was a shock. It was gutting. The timing was particularly disappointing with just 12 games left in the season. He had done something similar before of course, leaving Crawley for Rotherham with six games left of the season. However to me there was a big difference. At Crawley he left with one promotion under his belt and hence would remain a hero there. At Mansfield, Evans actually achieved nothing. From his own words, nothing is achieved until you actually are promoted. Had Evans stayed until the end of the season and got the Stags promoted, he could have left as a hero. What Evans did leave of course was a good squad of players, thanks to tremendous backing from John and Carolyn Radford. He left after a great run of form: just two defeats in his last 21 games, and second in the form table over last 12 games. The same form over the final 12 games of the season would surely have led to promotion. Hopefully it still will under David Flitcroft.

The episode was a stark reminder of the complete lack of loyalty in the football business, apart from fans of course.

David Flitcroft made one change to the side that played the last game against Coventry. Alfie Potter missed out with a slight tweak of his hamstring. He might be available for Saturday. So Hayden White came in at right back, and Paul Anderson moved to right midfield. Angol replaced Miller on the bench.

Lincoln included former Stags Matt Green and Matt Rhead up front, and Luke Waterfall in central defence, with Ollie Palmer on the bench. Lee Frecklington, who signed for Lincoln in January rather than for Mansfield, started for Lincoln. Before the game, Matt Green applauded the Stags fans as the players came onto the pitch.

The game went ahead after over 100 Stags fans helped players and management clear the pitch of snow on Sunday.

The match was played in a great atmosphere with a crowd of over 6000, and with both sets of fans in good voice.

On 6 minutes, Eardley sent a high cross beyond the far post where Rhead headed straight at Logan from a tight angle.

King was booked for a challenge on Woodyard on 11 minutes in the centre circle.

On 13 minutes, a high ball in from Habergham, Rhead turned it goalwards, Logan could only half clear away and Benning cleared off the line fairly comfortably.

On 14 minutes, the first sight of Mansfield as an attacking force, good play from Hamilton on the edge of the area but he just lost the ball although the whistle had already gone for a foul.

On 15 minutes, Rhead flicked on, and Jordan Williams sent an effort on the turn high over the bar.

On 17 minutes, another high ball into the Stags box from Habergham, and Waterfall headed well wide.

Lincoln had started the game on top.

On 18 minutes, Hemmings found Anderson who played a ball in, Rose controlled and sent a left footed shot over the bar. Better from Mansfield.

Jordan Williams skinned King and Pearce on 19 minutes, but good covering from Bennett cleared the danger. Straight to the other end, Anderson found Hamilton whose cross-shot was blocked.

A minute later, good set up play by Hamilton to MacDonald who shot low and wide of the left post from 25 yards.

On 27 minutes, Hamilton got to the byline, and his low cross was put behind for a corner.

On 28 minutes, Rhead knocked down to Williams, whose shot was deflected wide for a corner. From the resulting corner, Waterfall headed forward, and Rose did well to clear. Moments later, following a throw-in, Waterfall’s powerful low shot was saved well by Logan right on his line.

On 30 minutes, a long ball forward from a free kick, Rhead flicked on, and Logan just claimed bravely at the feet of Green.

Another chance for Rose on 31 minutes, as Hemmings headed inside to Hamilton, who laid inside to Rose, who set himself before sending a left footed shot just over the bar.

On 34 minutes, MacDonald ran down the left wing, and went down in front of the Stags dugout under a challenge from Williams. The referee gave a foul to Lincoln for a dive by MacDonald, but did not book him. From the pitchside video footage, it was a foul by Williams, who dived in on MacDonald.

On 36 minutes, Rhead headed inside, Logan punched clear of the area, and Bostwick sent a shot from 25 yards well over the bar. On 39 minutes, Woodyard’s ball forward to Williams who sent a low shot straight at Logan. A minute after that, Bostwick played a 1-2 with Woodyard and shot well wide.

On 43 minutes, another Lincoln long ball forward, Rhead flicked on, and Logan claimed as Pearce’s attempted clearance hit Green and rebounded towards the keeper.

0-0 at the break. Lincoln had certainly shaded it, with Rhead winning almost everything in the air, and Logan sharp in the Stags goal. Not much quality going forward from Mansfield , with just a few glimpses, and Rose sending a couple of left-footed shots just over the bar.

Half time 0-0

Flitcroft brought on Byrom for King at the start of the second half. King had been booked early on, and because the second half would be very competitive, he thought the chances of King getting a second yellow were high.

On 48 minutes, a quick throw-in from Lincoln, and Rhead knocked the ball across the goalline from the left (I couldn’t quite see what happened as supporters in hospitality were late heading back to their seats obscuring my view!). From the video, Rhead got away from his marker Pearce and squeezed the ball across the face of goal.

The Stags were in front on 49 minutes. Hemmings laid the ball into the path of White who crossed perfectly from the right for Byrom at the near post who glanced a great header into the net. It was Byrom’s first goal for the Stags and you’d have got good money on it being a header!

Great defending from White inside his own half on 55 minutes.

On 57 minutes, a Lincoln corner from Habergham, Rhead headed on, and Green sent an overhead kick over the bar from close range.

There was a minute’s applause for Stags fan Ian Coupe who passed away recently, on 59 minutes.

A great catch by Logan on 63 minutes, under pressure from Rhead from another high ball across.

Brilliant play by Hamilton on 70 minutes with a great run from inside his own half into the area, but his scuffed his right footed shot.

On 72 minutes, a shot from Lincoln sub Rowe from the edge of the area was blocked by Hamilton.

Rhead was booked for dissent on 74 minutes.

On 76 minutes, Benning’s corner came out to the far side to Bennett, who knocked back in to Benning who slashed the ball over from a tight angle.

Spencer replaced Hemmings on 76 minutes. Hemmings had worked hard.

White did well again on 77 minutes, winning a free kick.

Atkinson replaced Anderson on 80 minutes. At the same time, Ollie Palmer replaced Matt Green for Lincoln.

Rhys Bennett was booked for time wasting on 82 minutes. The whistle had gone for the ball going out for a throw-in, Bennett kicked the ball away, though it was soon after the whistle so he could probably argue that it wasn't deliberate. Then he let the ball run away.

On 85 minutes, Harry Anderson hooked the ball over from Habergham’s corner from the left. Two minutes later, a good punch away by Logan.

Lincoln finally got the equaliser that they deserved on 90 minutes. Another high diagonal ball into the box from Eardley, Rhead headed down and Palmer hooked into the net from close range despite Logan getting a hand to it and turning onto the inside of the post and in. I don’t think Logan should be blamed as Palmer’s shot was from close range, and Logan was stretching to reach it. In the aftermath of the goal, Lincoln centre half Waterfall, another former Stags player, was sent off for throwing a water bottle back into the crowd in the West Stand. The bottle had been thrown towards Palmer, who was celebrating in front of the Stags fans. After the game, Lincoln boss Danny Cowley said it was the correct decision to send off Waterfall. The Waterfall incident was not captured on the main camera, but is captured from one of our two pitchside cameras.

Just a minute later, Mansfield were also down to ten men when Rhys Bennett, earlier booked for time wasting, picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Palmer. It was a very soft yellow card for barely a foul. From the video, it should definitely have not been a booking, very poor refereeing.

On 90+4 minutes, the resulting free kick from Eardley into the Stags box saw Logan fouled and the whistle gone before Palmer rolled the ball into the empty net. A minute later, Harry Anderson’s shot was deflected up in the air and Rhead headed straight at Logan.

So it finished as a draw, which was gutting for Mansfield after leading until the 90th minute. The Stags didn’t create enough and will need to be better on Saturday against Colchester. A word on Matt Rhead, who was excellent for Lincoln, winning almost every header from a constant stream of high balls into the box.

Some final thought’s on the new manager’s performance in his first game: The team selection was very sensible, with the only change being White in because Potter was injured. White is our man of the match so that looked a good team selection. He brought Byrom on at half time and Byrom made an immediate impact with the goal. So another good change. The Stags conceded possession too much allowing Lincoln to pump too many balls into the Stags box, and Flitcroft noted this in the post match interview. However, the team itself didn't play particularly well, and hopefully will be better on Saturday.

Man of the match: Hayden White

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

Line Up:
Logan 7.5 Good game, punching and catching under considerable pressure. One fine save on his goalline.
White 8 Very good return to the side. Super cross for the goal. Several good pieces of defending.
Pearce 5.5 Difficult game against the excellent Matt Rhead. Poor header in the build up to the equaliser.
Bennett 6 Sent off for two yellow cards and will miss the Colchester game, where he will surely be replaced by Diamond. First yellow card for time wasting was silly, but second was harsh and soft.
Benning 6 Good first half, deteriorated in second half.
Anderson 6 Not influential enough in the game.
King 6 Booked early on and subbed partially as a result at half time.
MacDonald 6.5 Worked hard as usual.
Hamilton 6 Several pieces of good play but final product in terms of shots and crosses wasn’t good enough on this occasion.
Rose 6 Two left-footed shots just over the bar in the first half.
Hemmings 6 Worked hard, and involved in the build-up to the goal, but no goal attempts.
Sub Line Up:
Byrom (for King, 46 mins) 6.5 Super goal, his first for the club.
Spencer (for Hemmings, 76 mins) -
Atkinson (for Anderson, 80 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Diamond, Mellis, Angol.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Ryan Allsop; Neal Eardley, Scott Wharton, Luke Waterfall, Sam Habergham; Alex Woodyard, Michael Bostwick, Lee Frecklington (Harry Anderson 67), Jordan Williams (Danny M Rowe 64); Matt Green (Ollie Palmer 80), Matt Rhead. Subs not used: Paul Farman, Sean Long, Elliott Whitehouse, Tom Pett.
Graham Salisbury 5 Sending off of Waterfall was correct, from our pitchside video footage. The second yellow card for Rhys Bennett was a very poor decision based on video footage. The foul against MacDonald for a dive was another poor decision, based on video footage.

Season 17/18 Reports