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Season 17/18 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Forest Green Rovers  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Reid 54, Grubb 78.
 
 Pearce sent off 84
Attendance: 2828 (430 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 24 March 2018

ATROCIOUS STAGS WELL BEATEN AT FOREST GREEN

Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Mansfield Town put in an atrocious performance at lowly Forest Green Rovers to be soundly beaten 2-0 in a game that the Stags needed to win to get back on the automatic promotion trail. Mansfield have played 4-4-2 all season to get themselves into a position where automatic promotion was a possibility, but new manager David Flitcroft has, unwisely in my opinion, tinkered with the formation and switched to 4-3-3. Today’s performance wasn’t helped by top scorer Danny Rose getting injured with less than 20 seconds on the clock. Rose was replaced by CJ Hamilton who was substituted into a striker role on the right. This made little sense to me when he has played all season on the left wing and created danger from there. Hamilton was later switched to the left but it was a baffling decision to play him on the right in the first place. The first half was a poor spectacle from both sides with little quality on show. In particular Mansfield’s balls into the box, from crosses in open play and from set pieces, were terrible. Forest Green came closest when Dayle Grubb cut onto his right foot on the edge of the area and smacked a fine shot against the bar with Conrad Logan beaten. That came after Pearce had been beaten on the byline by the lively Tahvon Campbell who had crossed to Grubb. Pearce had earlier been beaten by Campbell and forced to bring him down to earn a booking which became significant later. Mansfield’s best chance came right at the end of the half when Mal Benning’s powerful on-target shot from the edge of the area was blocked. The second half got worse for Mansfield. On 53 minutes, Logan made a great save coming out to deny the excellent Reuben Reid. But Forest Green were ahead on 54 minutes. Logan bowled the ball out towards Hemmings, but it never reached Hemmings and was intercepted by Osbourne who headed the ball forwards to former Stag Lee Collins. Collins played back to Osbourne on the left. Osbourne’s ball into the middle should have presented Pearce with an easy clearance but he completely miscued into the path of Reuben Reid, who fired into the net through Logan’s legs from 14 yards. A calamity for Logan, who was otherwise excellent, and Pearce. Logan then made a great save from Campbell turning his shot over. Mansfield brought on Ricky Miller as sub and he nearly equalised on 71 minutes with a good effort from the left after good play from Hemmings. Logan was called into action again on 77 minutes with a brilliant save turning away a shot from Reuben Reid. More calamity for Mansfield on 78 minutes as Joel Byrom gave the ball away on Mansfield’s left, Grubb cut in towards goal and fired in from a tight angle on the right. A dreadful mistake from Byrom, who was almost immediately substituted. On 83 minutes, it should have been 3-0 when Campbell missed a sitter heading over the bar, completely unmarked, after great play on the right by Reid and a fine cross. Pearce’s afternoon got even worse on 84 minutes when Reid played a great ball forward for Campbell who was tripped by Pearce and Pearce picked up a second yellow card to be sent off. It capped a dreadful afternoon for Mansfield who was so poor and were well-beaten. The Stags were terrible going forward, set pieces were awful, crosses didn’t reach their targets. There was no creativity, no invention, and no quality. Just one shot on target all game, from Benning which was blocked by a defender, and the FGR keeper did not have a single save to make. At the back, the defence had a day to forget, especially Pearce against Campbell, but also Bennett against Reid. Logan was at fault twice for the opening goal, but otherwise kept the Stags in the game, and mistakes from him have been very rare this season. This was probably Mansfield’s equal worst performance of the season, ironically probably equal with the defeat to David Flitcroft’s Swindon at the One Call stadium. I made a comment earlier about formations, but in truth it is players that win matches not formations. The players looked all at sea today. The Stags players need to step up to the plate, regardless of formation, and play better than this. If they do that, we know that they have the quality to do well against Accrington on Friday. All is not lost, far from it, and it could still be a really exciting end to the season. Come on Mansfield!

The Stags are now 7 points behind 3rd placed Wycombe with just 8 games to go, albeit Mansfield have a game in hand. The Stags are 2 points above 8th placed Lincoln and need points urgently to stay in the play-off places.

Mansfield made three changes to the side that drew at Notts County. White came in for Anderson at right back, Anderson dropped to the bench. Anderson had a disappointing game at Notts County and this was a sensible change. Byrom came in for King. King had a quiet game at Notts County and this was another sensible change. Angol came in for Hamilton. Manager Flitcroft had commented that Angol and had trained well and done well in reserve games, so bringing in Angol per se was sensible. However it meant changing to a 4-3-3 formation which was unwise in my opinion for reasons already stated. Manager Flitcroft explained his reasoning after the game for the formation saying it was to get the ball forward earlier and get the strikers closer together. There was one other change on the bench, with Spencer replacing Sterling-James who has joined Solihull on loan for the rest of the season. No place in the squad for Potter, Mellis and Diamond, presumably all still injured.

Forest Green made five changes to their side that lost at Crewe. Former Stag Lee Collins continued as captain, playing in front of the back four. Another former Stag, Chris Clements, dropped to the bench, and was to come on as a very late sub. Top scorer Christian Doidge is out injured. Reuben Reid, a very astute signing, led the attack with promising youngster Tahvon Campbell, on loan from Premier League West Brom. Forest Green had lost three games on the trot.

It was a mild dry day in Gloucestershire. Mansfield played at the New Lawn six times during our Conference years, but this was the first visit for almost exactly five years.

Mansfield’s pre-match plans were in ruins with less than 20 seconds played as Danny Rose went down with a leg injury. There was a signal from the physio to the bench that Rose would not be able to continue but Rose was determined to try to play on and came on for another couple of minutes before being taken off. After the game, manager Flitcroft said it was possible ligament damage to Rose and we’ll know more in the next couple of days. We will probably hear more news on Tuesday, at the next scheduled manager press conference.

Rose was replaced by Hamilton. Hamilton started in the centre of the front three just for a minute or two, but then moved onto the right of the front three, until about midway through the half when he switched to the left of the front three.

No early goalmouth action at either end. On 9 minutes, Angol did well to charge down the keeper who was slow to clear, the keeper’s clearance hit Angol but unluckily span away from the Stags striker. Good play from Angol.

On 11 minutes, Atkinson played a good ball forward to White whose cross was over everyone and out for a goal kick. The poor quality of crossing was to become a pattern.

On 16 minutes, a good Stags move, after Byrom had won the ball, the Stags pushed forward to Hamilton whose cross was deflected through to the keeper.

Pearce was booked on 17 minutes. Sloppy from Pearce, who tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick on the left but was beaten by Campbell and forced to bring him down. The booking became significant later.

Forest Green came closest to scoring on 19 minutes when Campbell did well on the right, getting too the byline, and pulling the ball back and across to Dayle Grubb who cut onto his right foot on the edge of the area and smacked a fine shot against the bar with Conrad Logan beaten.

On 23 minutes, MacDonald’s throw-in came back to him and he fired well wide from 35 yards.

On 25 minutes, a Stags free kick was cleared to Atkinson on the edge of the D, but his shot was blocked. Forest Green broke straight to the other end and Grubb got into the area with men over before being crowded out.

On 33 minutes, good play from Atkinson winning the ball and setting up a move, but eventually Benning ran the ball out of play. A couple of minutes later, good play on the byline on the left by Angol to win the ball, he found MacDonald, who played inside to the overlapping Benning, but Benning was barged away from the ball fairly.

On 42 minutes, great play from Atkinson to push forward and win a throw-in. Moments later, MacDonald put in a rare good cross to the far post when Benning disappointingly headed onto the roof of the net.

On 45 minutes, Atkinson threaded the ball forward to Hamilton in the area, Hamilton turned well and a pass into the middle was cleared to Byrom who fired wide of the left post from 25 yards.

On 45+1 minutes, Mansfield’s best chance of the half when Benning’s powerful on-target shot from the edge of the area was blocked. That came after Angol headed down White’s cross to him.

A poor first half with few chances for either side. A lack of spark and creativity from Mansfield, with the final ball, from set pieces and open play, often poor.

Half time 0-0

The second half was to get worse for Mansfield.

Atkinson was booked for a blatant trip on Lee Collins on 51 minutes.

On 53 minutes, Logan made a great save coming out to deny the excellent Reuben Reid. The chance came as a result of Byrom giving the ball away 25 yards from his own goal.

But Forest Green were ahead on 54 minutes. Logan bowled the ball out towards Hemmings, but it never reached Hemmings and was intercepted by Osbourne who headed the ball forwards to former Stag Lee Collins. Collins played back to Osbourne on the left. Osbourne’s ball into the middle should have presented Pearce with an easy clearance but he completely miscued into the path of Reuben Reid, who fired into the net through Logan’s legs from 14 yards. A calamity for Logan, who was otherwise excellent, and Pearce.

On 57 minutes, Logan made a great save from Campbell turning his shot over. From the resulting corner, Logan clawed away low on his line as the corner threatened to go straight in at the near post.

On 58 minutes at the other end, Benning and Hamilton combined on the left, Benning got in a shot which was blocked to MacDonald, who had a chance to shoot but took too long and the ball was cleared. Moments later, the ball was recycled and a great cross from the right by MacDonald looked good for Benning who was coming in behind Hamilton but the ball skimmed off the top of Hamilton’s head.

Seconds later, Hamilton won a free kick. MacDonald took it, straight to the keeper. So many poor set pieces from the Stags.

On 60 minutes, Hamilton went on a great run to win a corner.

Ricky Miller came on for Lee Angol on 60 minutes

On 63 minutes, Miller and Hamilton made a good break down the left, but with Hemmings in space to the right, Hamilton couldn’t find him.

Miller was booked on 65 minutes. Hemmings played the ball forward, Miller tried to get there before the keeper, but the keeper was just first to it. From the pitchside video, Miller caught the keeper with his boot which was in the air at the time, as he tried to hurdle him. A yellow card was reasonable.

On 67 minutes, Bray made a good run down the right for Forest Green, past Benning, Hamilton and Byrom.

Sub Miller nearly equalised on 71 minutes with a good effort from the left after good play from Hemmings. His shot whistled just wide of the right post.

Logan was called into action again on 77 minutes with a brilliant save turning away a shot from Reuben Reid.

It was 2-0 on 78 minutes and more calamity for Mansfield. Byrom gave the ball away on Mansfield’s left, Grubb cut in towards goal and fired in from a tight angle on the right. A dreadful mistake from Byrom, who was almost immediately substituted by Spencer.

On 80 minutes, good play from Hamilton on the left, he got to the byline, but his cross was just over Spencer.

On 83 minutes, it should have been 3-0 when Campbell missed a sitter heading over the bar, completely unmarked, after great play on the right by Reid and a fine cross.

Pearce’s afternoon got even worse on 84 minutes when Reid played a great ball forward for Campbell who was tripped by Pearce and Pearce picked up a second yellow card to be sent off. It capped a dreadful afternoon for Mansfield who was so poor and were by now well-beaten.

Atkinson shifted to right back, with White moving to centre half.

The resulting free kick was taken by Grubb, straight at Logan from 30 yards.

On 85 minutes, Hemmings squared to MacDonald whose shot from the edge of the D was blocked. Moments later, MacDonald’s shot from the left hand side from 25 yards out was just wide of the right post.

Osbourne sprung the offside trap on 88 minutes, on the left, and shot wide from a tight angle.

Chris Clements replaced Lee Collins for Forest Green on 90+2 minutes. Collins came off to a good reception having had a good game.

On 90+3 minutes, a free kick for Mansfield from 25 yards. MacDonald took it and fired over the bar. Another poor free kick. At the other end on 90+5 minutes, Clements sent a weak shot well wide.

Nowhere near good enough from Mansfield. Still 8 games to go. Mansfield need to improve, and quickly, but the players are good enough to do so, and now need to show it.

Man of the match: Conrad Logan (despite his double mistake for the first goal) and Will Atkinson

Report by: Martin Shaw at the New Lawn



Line Up:
(4-3-3)
Logan 7 Several fine saves, but a double mistake for the first goal.
White 5 Dreadful cross early in the game set the scene for the performance.
Pearce 4 Made a mess of a clearance to present the first goal to Reid. Sent off for two yellow card offences. A day to forget against Campbell.
Bennett 5 Also had a poor day, against Reid.
Benning 6 Got forward ok on the left a few times and unlucky with an on-target shot that was blocked.
MacDonald 5 Continued to work so hard, but quality was consistently poor.
Atkinson 7 Plenty of pieces of good play, winning the ball and trying to drive the team forward.
Byrom 4.5 Gave the ball away leading to the second goal. Also gave the ball away in the lead up to a chance for Reid.
Rose - Injured inside the first 20 seconds. After the game, manager Flitcroft said it was possible ligament. We will probably hear more news on Tuesday, at the next scheduled manager press conference.
Angol 5.5 Not too bad in the first half. Subbed after an hour.
Hemmings 5.5 Set up a couple of chances. No chances for himself.
Sub Line Up:
Hamilton (for Rose, 4 mins) 6 Initially played out of position on the right. Some good play on the left later on.
Miller (for Angol, 60 mins) - One good effort that whistled just wide.
Spencer (for Byrom, 79 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Digby, Anderson, King.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-1-3-2): B.Collins; Bennett, Hollis, Gunning, Wishart; Lee Collins (Clements 90+2); Bray (Laird 85), Osbourne, Grubb; Reid, Campbell. Subs not used: Belford, Simpson, Cooper, Brown.
Referee:
Antony Coggins 7 Sending off of Pearce was correct.


Season 17/18 Reports