STAGS UNABLE TO SCORE AND CAUGHT BY SUCKER PUNCH
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 0 - 1 Plymouth Argyle
Attendance: 3379 (460 from Plymouth)
Date: 26 October 2013
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Despite playing some of their best flowing football of the season, Mansfield Town were once again unable to find the net, and were then beaten by a 93rd minute goal in a smash and grab raid by Plymouth Argyle. The game actually had 0-0 written all over it: Mansfield had previously failed to score in nearly 3 full games (since the 10th minute against Bristol Rovers); at the other end Mansfield had kept 7 clean sheets in the 13 games this season, and Plymouth had failed to score in 5 of their previous 7 games. However for most of this game it was one way traffic. The first half saw a corner count of 8 for Mansfield to nil for Plymouth. And the Stags had played some sublime football from the start with flowing moves involving Blake, Clucas, Hutchinson, Daniel and others. A move on 12 minutes involving Rhead and Beevers and ending with Clucas bringing a brilliant save from the Plymouth keeper from point blank range, wouldn’t have been out of place in a higher division. Yet it typified Mansfield’s day, and indeed last few weeks - the lack of a clinical goalscorer is obvious to everyone connected to the club from the manager to the fans. Mansfield continued to play well into the second half, and at the back the inclusion of Pilkington and McCombe to replace Riley and Dempster hadn’t weakened the solidity of the defence. And Liam Mitchell, replacing the injured Marriott, looked solid. But it looked increasingly likely that the Stags weren’t going to score and Mansfield really only came close to scoring twice in the second half as Sutton sent a bullet header over the bar and Daniel’s fine shot was well saved on 86 minutes. Then in the third minute of stoppage time, a free kick for Plymouth into the box saw Mitchell fatally come for the ball and not get there, and Calvin Andrew switch off for a second and lose his man Trotman who was allowed a free header into the net. Probably the first mistake at the back by the Stags, but punished to the full. Overall this was a good performance from the Stags that lacked the crucial ability to put the ball into the net. After the game, manager Cox told the media that he is chasing a striker from the development squads of premiership and championship clubs and hopes to have a player in within the next couple of weeks.
Plymouth were visiting Field Mill for the first time in over a decade and manager John Sheridan was a man under pressure. Mansfield were without defenders Dempster (suspended), Riley (injured) and Jennings (suspended). In came McCombe (for his first game since the Tranmere cup game), Pilkington (recalled from loan at Forest Green), and Sutton, who formed a central defensive back three. Alan Marriott was out with a back spasm, so Liam Mitchell replaced him for his first Stags game since Dartford away, exactly a year ago to the day. The fifth change was Hutchinson in for Palmer. It was a 3-4-1-2 formation with Beevers and Daniel pushing forward as wing-backs. Hutchinson played behind the front two of Clucas and Rhead.
Stagsnet report here
Man of the match: George Pilkington
Saturday, 26th October 2013: Mansfield Town 0, Plymouth Argyle 1
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
Mansfield Town suffered late heartbreak today as Plymouth Argyle caught them with a late sucker punch to take all three points.
The Stags, although heavily depleted on the day, had only themselves to blame after a dominant 90 minutes in which they had chances to grab the win their approach play deserved.
Instead, Neal Trotman secured a first win in eight games for the struggling Pilgrims as he rose to head home from a long Conor Hourihane free kick with no challenge.
Mansfield had to make five changes with three of the back four from midweek missing and keeper Alan Marriott also ruled out.
However, all those who came in did superbly well and Stags barely let Argyle out of their own half in the first 30 minutes.
The late winner was the first that Stags had conceded in 276 minutes of League football.
But, perhaps more tellingly, they have now not scored in 338 minutes - over five and a half hours - and that is manager Paul Cox’s biggest problem.
For this game, defenders John Dempster and James Jennings were both suspended and Martin Riley out injured.
On top of that, keeper Marriott reported in with a back spasm and failed a pre-match fitness test on the pitch.
Liam Mitchell replaced him in goal while centre half George Pilkington was recalled from his loan at Forest Green and there were also places for John McCombe, Ben Hutchinson and Ritchie Sutton, Ollie Palmer dropping to the bench.
McGuire was made skipper for the day in the absence of Dempster.
Forgotten men McCombe and Pilkington both turned in excellent displays on rare appearances in the side in the absence of the regulars, one big bonus on a day otherwise to forget.
But the display wasn’t bad enough to justify some of the comments towards the end of the game and shouts after the whistle from some disgruntled home fans as Stags went a fifth game without a win.
Clucas forced a left wing corner within 30 seconds of kick-off, a second immediately following.
Blanchard was hurt trying to clear the aftermath of the second corner as Rhead slid into him late, the defender able to continue and the Stags striker lectured.
Mansfield had begun very much on the front foot and some neat passing earned corner number three on four minutes, Argyle again able to clear.
Another dazzling display of passes right across the park on nine minutes ended with Blake seeing a shot blocked for corner number four.
That came out to McGuire whose sliced first time attempt almost went for a throw.
On 13 minutes Stags compiled the move of the match as Beevers swapped passes along the right with Rhead before sending in a low cross skidding in front of goal where McCormick made a superb reaction save to block Clucas’ finish and Blanchard managed to hook the loose ball clear before Hutchinson could follow up from close range.
Mitchell had been a spectator for the first 20 minutes but finally had work to do to get down to cut out a dangerous low Reckord cross from the left in Argyle’s first real attack of menace.
Clucas continued to be in the thick of things for the home side and did well to control a firm Blake pass and spin before hooking a finish well over the top from 18 yards.
Blanchard came up with another crucial challenge as he slid in to block Rhead as he tried to put away a low pulled back Clucas cross.
From the right wing corner, Beevers headed back across goal and Clucas jumped to nod just over the bar on 27 minutes.
Two minutes later Boco burst in the home box and fired in a shot on target which was straight at Mitchell.
Arygle threatened again on 35 minutes, two visiting players flicking on a long free kick to Alessandra, who nodded over from inside the six yard box.
On 37 minutes Hutchinson went in on Hourihane with a solid tackle that won the ball but showed too much stud for the referee’s liking and out came a yellow card for the Stags man.
Rhead’s header was well over from home corner number six as Stags continued to plug away.
Mansfield forced two more corners as we entered the two added minutes at the end of the half, Rhead heading over from the second, as the sides went in goalless.
Mitchell had to block an angled Boco blast within two minutes of the restart and McGuire headed the corner clear.
Plymouth had come out in determined mood and quickly forced another corner.
Daniel then spurned a great chance on 51 minutes as Rhead bent in a superb low ball across goal and Daniel at the far post was unable to guide it at the gaping goal.
A minute later McCormick had to save a Rhead header from a long Hutchinson free kick.
Mitchell was fully behind a low Boco effort from 20 yards, then Sutton threw himself at a Hutchinson cross and sent a powerful header just over as we continued to await the breakthrough.
Slack making from Stags a throw allowed Reid the chance to turn and send a low shot at Mitchell, but again it was a routine stop.
McCormick safely clutched Hutchinson’s corner on the hour, then Daniel was well over the top with a 30 yard free kick.
Hourihane was well off the mark with a long range effort on the run on 68 minutes, Rhead replaced by Andrew before play restarted.
Within a minute Blake was cautioned for a foul on Reckord.
With 12 minutes to go Palmer took over from Clucas in the home attack in a last ditch bid for glory.
McCombe slid in to make a great block on Reid in the box in a rare Argyle threat.
Meikle came on for Hutchinson seven minutes from time, two minutes later Argyle made a double switch, both teams knowing a single goal would now win it.
Daniel got a firm rising shot away from 18 yards, but the keeper was well placed.
Trotman was then too high with a far post header as we began the four minutes of stoppage time, McGuire booked in the penultimate minute of it for a foul.
But disaster struck with just over a minute to go as Trotman stole the winner.
Hourihane launched a long free kick from the Plymouth half into the box where Mitchell seemed to start to come to claim it but halted.
The home defenders all switched off for a second, which was all Trotman needed to rise and plant home the winning header just as Mansfield thought they were about to record a third 0-0 draw in eight days.
STAGS: Mitchell, Sutton, Pilkington, McCombe, Beevers, Blake, McGuire, Daniel, Clucas (Palmer 78), Hutchinson (Meikle 83), Rhead (Andrew 68). Subs not used: Black, Murtagh, Stevenson, Howell.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE: McCormick, Bury, Blanchard, Branston, Hourihane, Alessandra (Harvey 85), Boco (Gurrieri 75), Reid, Trotman, Nelson, Reckord (Hayes 85). Subs not used: Cole, Young, Wotton, Bencherif.
REFEREE: Gary Sutton of Lincolnshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3, 379 (460 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: George Pilkington.
Mansfield Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1: Match report
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
WOULD Mansfield Town have scored if they'd still be playing this morning? On current form, you do have to wonder.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-0-Plymouth-Argyle-1-Match-report/story-19994717-detail/story.html#ixzz2j17hjqek
Since Lee Stevenson's header put them ahead in the home match with Bristol Rovers earlier in the month, the goal-shy Stags have now gone 338 minutes - getting on for six hours - without finding the net.
That can be put down to a variety of things - good goalkeeping, poor finishing, bad luck and effective defending.
But with every minute that ticks by, it highlights what is becoming a serious problem for Mansfield in their aspirations to challenge for promotion honours again this term.
The fact is they are badly missing a goalscorer. They are missing someone to give them that little bit of extra know-how. They are missing someone who can convert 0-0 draws into 1-0 wins. They are missing someone to put them in control when they have played well in the early part of games, as they did against Plymouth in the 1-0 defeat at the One Call Stadium.
Quite simply, they are missing Matt Green.
Realistically there was never much hope of keeping the now-Birmingham player following the Stags' promotion from the Conference.
Having scored 50-odd goals in two seasons at the One Call Stadium, he was always destined for bigger things.
But that has not made it any easier to find an adequate replacement, which was always going to be Paul Cox's toughest assignment in remoulding his squad for the Football League.
He tried to find an immediate answer in bringing in the likes of Calvin Andrew and Ollie Palmer, and giving Matt Rhead more time as a starter rather than an impact player off the bench.
And, for a while it seemed that converted winger Sam Clucas might be a surprise candidate after his terrific beginning to the campaign, helped during the Stags' eight-game unbeaten run through parts of August and September by others chipping in too.
But with strikes from all sources having now dried up, it's patently obvious there is still a need for a recognised goal-grabber to be drafted in - and Cox knows it only too well.
The truth is Mansfield have not been playing at all badly in the games concerned.
They were well on top in the final stages of their game at Torquay, by far the better side prior to John Dempster's sending off at Bury and as good as they have been all season for patches of Saturday's match.
Yet all they have to show for their efforts is two points - it would have been three but for Neal Trotman's undeserved winner for Argyle three minutes into stoppage time. Had Green, or someone of his ilk been in situ, it would have been at least seven, or maybe even nine.
In other areas of the field, Mansfield looked well equipped to cope with what League Two has to throw at them. Defensively, they look very strong.
Despite the absence of Alan Marriott (back), Martin Riley (Achilles) and suspended duo Dempster and James Jennings, the Stags rarely looked like conceding and would have ended the day with the best defensive record in the division but for their late lapse.
The likes of forgotten man John McCombe and George Pilkington - recalled from a loan spell at Forest Green - slotted into the rearguard alongside the recalled Ritchie Sutton as if they had been playing all season, leaving another new face, goalkeeper Liam Mitchell, with precious little of note to do.
In midfield, Jack Blake made an encouraging home debut where his neat passing kept the Stags on the move and provided a complimentary contrast to the ever-tenacious Jamie McGuire, while Ben Hutchinson, the fifth and final change, did his best to provide an inventive streak.
But as Cox noted afterwards, it's what happens in both boxes that matters and Mansfield were culpable of failing to make the most of their opportunities.
Clucas should have done better when superb play from Lee Beevers in cahoots with Rhead sliced open Plymouth, only for the former Hereford man's close-range shot to be too close to keeper Luke McCormick, who made a smart save.
It was a similar story after the break when Rhead's inviting low cross found its way through to the back post for Colin Daniel who seemed destined to put Mansfield ahead before skewing his finish horribly.
Either side of those misses there were other moments of promise and not too many scares at the other end until Trotman rose highest to head home a right-wing free-kick at the far post after Mitchell came but didn't claim.
Still, there should be no need to panic. Even without a prodigious sharpshooter, Mansfield will start to find the net again eventually if they keep up this level of performance.
Certainly, there was no call for the over-reaction from a small section of home fans who booed and ranted and raved at the players as they left the pitch.
The Stags' exceptional start to the campaign has naturally raised expectations, but most would have been happy for the club to survive at this level in 2013-14 and, in that regard, 11th place at this point represents good progress.
Mansfield Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1: Match report
By Chris Errington Chief Football Writer @ChrisErrington1
Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/story-19993051-detail/story.html?#ixzz2is66Odng
MANSFIELD TOWN 0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1
CENTRE-BACK Neal Trotman could not have timed his first goal for Argyle much better than this.
Trotman headed home a free-kick from captain Conor Hourihane deep into stoppage time at the end of the second half to clinch victory.
It capped a superb man-of-the-match performance from the Pilgrims' defender.
Argyle had gone eight games without a win in all competitions and the last-gasp win against Mansfield will ease some of the pressure on manager John Sheridan.
The Pilgrims were put under heavy pressure in the first half but Mansfield did not turn their dominance into any goals.
It was much more even after the break, with Argyle coping better with what the home team could throw at them.
They would have probably settled for a point but Trotman's late headed goal sent them back to Plymouth with a much-needed and morale-boosting victory.
Argyle's starting line-up showed three changes from the 0-0 draw with Newport County at Home Park on Tuesday.
There were recalls for Durrell Berry and Jamie Reckord, plus Guy Branston, as the Pilgrims went with a new 3-4-3 formation.
Luke Young and on-loan Brentford striker Paul Hayes dropped down to the substitutes' bench and there was no place in the squad for Andre Blackman.
Mansfield had a makeshift defence because John Dempster and James Jennings were both suspended and Martin Riley was injured.
The Stags were so short of cover that George Pilkington was recalled from a loan spell at Forest Green Rovers and went straight into their side.
Mansfield were also without experienced 'keeper Alan Marriott, who failed a late fitness test.
He was replaced by Liam Mitchell, who made his first appearance of the season after signing from Notts County in the summer.
Despite all the changes, Mansfield made a very purposeful start to the match.
They forced four early corners and on-loan Nottingham Forest midfielder Jack Blake had a goalbound shot blocked behind by Neal Trotman.
Mansfield had an excellent chance to take the lead in the 13th minute after a break down the right by Lee Beevers.
He crossed into the penalty area and striker Sam Clucas had a shot superbly saved at point-blank range by Luke McCormick.
Mansfield were well on top and Mitchell, who had a loan spell with the Stags last season, did not even touch the ball until 18th minute.
Argyle defender Maxime Blanchard blocked a shot from striker Matt Rhead for a corner before the very lively Clucas headed over the bar from close range.
The visitors had their first chance in the 29th minute when striker Reuben Reid threaded the ball through to Hourihane.
The Argyle captain got away a left-foot shot from inside the box but it was easily saved by Mitchell.
Lewis Alessandra headed over the bar soon afterwards after a Hourihane free-kick was not dealt with by the Stags.
Mitchell then dived on a low cross from Hourihane just before the break, with Reid ready to pounce, as it remained goal-less.
Argyle had a good chance early in the second half when Reid's fierce shot on the turn was parried away by Mitchell for a corner.
The striker claimed his shirt had been pulled by Mansfield defender John McCombe but his penalty appeals were in vain.
Mansfield should have taken the lead in the 52nd minute when Colin Daniel got on the end of a low cross from Rhead.
However, instead of getting away a shot from close range, Daniel inexplicably put the ball back across the goal and none of his team-mates could apply a finish.
Moments later, a header from Rhead was well saved by McCormick under his own bar after a free-kick from Daniel into the heart of the penalty area.
Mansfield defender Ritchie Sutton then headed over from a Ben Hutchinson cross.
Reid had a weak shot saved by Mitchell after good play from Hourihane as the game started to open up.
Argyle made their first substitution in the 75th minute with Boco making way for Andres Gurrieri.
Reid had a shot blocked by McCombe as both sides showed a lot of endeavour, without creating too many chances.
Tyler Harvey and Paul Hayes were sent on as 85th minute substitutes for Argyle, to replace Alessandra and Reckord.
McCormick did well to hold onto a fierce shot from Daniel before Trotman headed wide for the visitors after a free-kick from Hourihane.
It looked as though the game was destined to end in a goal-less draw until Argyle struck in the third minute of stoppage time.
Hourihane aimed a free-kick into the penalty area and Trotman powered home a header.
That was enough for the Pilgrims to secure their first win since beating Bristol Rovers 1-0 at Home Park on September 7.
MANSFIELD: Liam Mitchell; Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington; Lee Beevers, Jack Blake, Ben Hutchinson (Lindon Meikle 83 mins), Jamie McGuire, Colin Daniel; Matt Rhead (Calvin Andrew 68 mins), Sam Clucas (Ollie Palmer 78 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Paul Black, Keiran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, Anthony Howell.
ARGYLE: Luke McCormick; Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman, Guy Branston; Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Conor Hourihane, Jamie Reckord (Tyler Harvey 85 mins); Lewis Alessandra (Paul Hayes 85 mins), Reuben Reid, Rommy Boco (Andres Gurrieri 75 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole (gk), Luke Young, Paul Wotton, Hamza Bencherif.
REFEREE: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire)
ATTENDANCE: 3,379 (460 away)
GOALS -Mansfield: None; Argyle: Trotman 90 +3 mins
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