STAGS BOW OUT DESPITE FINE DISPLAY
Football League Cup - Capital One Cup Round 1
Sheffield United 2 - 1 Mansfield Town
Butler 53, McNulty 86. Fisher 57
Attendance: 7929 (1250 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 August 2014
Martin Shaw at Bramall Lane
Mansfield Town were beaten in the first round of the League Cup by League One pre-season favourites Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Wednesday night. The Stags put in a fine display and deserved to take the game to extra time but lost to an 86th minute goal. After a good first half performance in which the Stags gave as good as they got, Mansfield went behind to another goal from a corner on 53 minutes, something that needs to be eradicated quickly after the same thing happened at Northampton on Saturday. But the Stags were level within 4 minutes as Alex Fisher turned home left-footed from 10 yards to send the 1250 Stags fans behind the goal crazy with delight. The Blades won the game on 86 minutes as Marc McNulty forced his way past some weak defending from John Dempster on the edge of the box before firing under Sascha Studer. A great ovation for the Stags at full time for a fine performance and Paul Cox made a point of asking me to make sure the fans understood how much the management and players appreciated that. There was disappointment on the night with injuries to key players as Liam Hearn limped off in the first half with a twisted knee. Paul Cox made it clear after the game that it is not Hearn’s cruciate ligament and it is not related to his previous injury, and we won’t know straight away how long he’ll be out for, but hopefully not too long. And Martin Riley limped off with a groin injury and again we don’t yet know how bad that is. With Palmer and Murray also injured and Jones not yet 100% fit, and Rhead suspended, the Stags are already down to the bare bones after just two games. Manager Cox was visibly frustrated and upset about the injuries but proud of the team’s performance.
Plenty of good performances tonight throughout the side, and Ryan Tafazolli was the pick of the bunch with an outstanding display.
FULL REPORT ON THURSDAY
Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli
Late cup KO for brave Stags at Bramall Lane
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
A Mark McNulty goal four minutes from time sent brave Mansfield Town spinning out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle as they lost 2-1 away to League One neighbours Sheffield United tonight.
But Stags will be more concerned over the fitness of striker Liam Hearn, who limped off with a knee injury on his full debut after just 15 minutes.
They also lost defender Martin Riley with a groin injury and could have a threadbare squad for the weekend visit of Oxford United after only two games with Alex Fisher the only striker likely to be available.
Hearn had not started a match for 10 months so his injury must be a big worry.
Fisher at least opened his Mansfield account at Bramall Lane to send 1,250 Stags fans wild on 57 minutes, just four minutes after Andy Butler had put Nigel Clough’s men ahead.
United had been the better side over the 90 minutes, but it seemed the Stags had done enough to at least force extra-time until McNulty produced that late hammer blow.
Hearn had finally made his full Mansfield Town debut.
The striker came on as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 opening defeat at Northampton.
He was one of four changes with Martin Riley, Chris Clements and Jamie McGuire also coming in, McGuire named skipper for the night.
Out went John Dempster, Fergus Bell, Adam Murray and the injured Ollie Palmer.
Defender Luke Jones, who has been out injured during pre-season, was a welcome sight on the bench.
The home side also shook up their pack, making no fewer than eight changes from the weekend.
But they almost made an explosive start.
McNulty was almost put clear down the centre by Baxter straight from the kick-off. But Tafazolli slid across him superbly to block before he could test Studer.
A minute later Taylor sent a right wing free kick into the home box, Howard claiming it as Riley jumped with him.
On six minutes Baxter swapped passes down the centre before forcing Studer to beat away his 18-yard drive for a corner, from which big defender Butler headed wide of goal.
Play was held up for treatment to McGuire, who stayed down after a challenge just outside the centre circle, but was able to continue.
There was more danger for Mansfield as Tafazolli made a good interception only to run into team mate Clements and cough up possession, Studer eventually down to smother a dangerous low Campbell-Ryce cross from the right.
Hearn was the next Stags player to stay down injured, always a worry with someone who has been out that long, and those worries intensified when he eventually limped off to be replaced by Clucas with only 15 minutes played.
Stags defended another home corner, and when the ball was pumped back in a second time, Butler headed over at the far post.
Clucas put Heslop into space on the right, but his first time low cross was blocked for a corner at the near post.
When keeper Howard failed to claim it, Sutton fired a shot against a crowd of home defenders and the ball was hacked clear.
It was safety first as Studer got down to punch out another Campbell-Ryce cross from the right as the home side powered forward menacingly once more.
Stags fashioned a decent half-chance of their own on the half-hour mark as Tafazolli went long and Clucas cushioned the ball down into the path of Fisher whose 20 yard finished lacked power and direction and ended harmlessly wide.
Studer then dealt well with a flicked-on cross from the left after Campbell-Ryce had switched wings and put into another tempting ball.
Great work from Clucas on 34 minutes saw him feed the ball into Heslop who strode powerfully into the box and somehow rode tackles and held the ball up before squaring for Clucas, who forced Howard into his first real save, diving to his right.
From the corner, the ball fell again for Clucas who this time pulled a low finish wide.
But that was much better from Mansfield, who had spent periods of the half under pressure.
However, United came close again on 37 minutes when Davies sent in a long free kick from the left touchline that bounced through everyone and inches wide of the far post, needing only the slightest of touches to break the deadlock.
Still the Blades whirred onwards towards the Mansfield goal and Riley was in quickly to stop Porter racing away onto a flick, then Baxter was narrowly wide from 25 yards with a low shot that zipped across the surface.
Two minutes from the break, McGuire tugged on McNulty 20 yards from goal in a very central position.
Davies needed little encouragement to step up and curl a splendid free kick fractionally wide of the left post with Studer only able to stand, watch and hope.
Howard clawed away Stags’ third corner of the half. Then United won a corner in stoppage time which saw Studer and Baxter begin a shoving match that ended with a reprimand from the referee.
Stags survived that as well as a Davies cross from the right that saw two home players throw themselves at it but fail to connect as the score stayed 0-0 at the break.
Within three minutes of the restart Clucas raced onto a flick but checked instead of shooting first time from an angle and tried to work his way into the box where he was held up.
The ball eventually broke for Heslop, whose low 20 yard drive deflected just wide for a corner from which Clucas’ far post header nestled onto the roof of the net.
Then Fisher was furious as Clements played a through ball too far in front of him when in plenty of space as Stags took the early initiative.
United broke down the left on 50 minutes and Beevers earned the game’s first booking for upending Campbell-Ryce.
Davies whipped a vicious free kick in from a tight angle but it was just over the top.
But the opening goal was only just round the corner and it went to the Blades.
Davies put in a right wing corner that was met by the head of Baxter, who forced a great save from Studer, diving to his right. But the loose ball sailed towards Butler at the far post who found the net with a close range diving header.
On the restart Fisher was too high from distance as Stags looked for an immediate reply.
And the reply was swift as on 57 minutes the ball ran loose. Beevers drilled it low at goal from the right of the box and it came back off a defender to the lurking Fisher who tucked it away from eight yards, again off a defender, to spark massive celebrations behind the goal.
A minute later McGuire was booked for a foul on Davies and, from the free kick, Butler guided an angled header just wide.
United won two more corners without troubling Studer.
Fergus Bell took over from McGuire in midfield on 67 minutes.
Taylor became Stags’ third booking on 68 minutes as Davies caused more problems on the right, Collins wide with a headed attempt from the free kick.
Worryingly, Stags lost Riley with injury on 72 minutes, replaced by Dempster.
Beevers almost committed footballing suicide on 77 minutes as he chested a Campbell-Ryce cross back towards Studer at the far post. McNulty was next to him and, showing good anticipation, stretched out a leg and lifted a finish over the top from close range with Stags mightily relieved.
Doyle brought a smart save from Studer with a powerful low effort from almost 30 yards as extra-time began to loom with five minutes to go.
But Mansfield’s night was shattered with four minutes to go.
Baxter and Higdon combined to send McNulty into the box where he superbly rode attempted tackles by Tafazolli and Sutton before drilling a low finish under Studer from 10 yards.
Stags were given four extra minutes at the end to save the day, but the Blades comfortably held on to what they had.
BLADES: Howard; Davies, Collins, Butler, Harris; Doyle, Campbell-Ryce, McGinn (Murphy 71), Baxter; McNulty (McGahey 88) , Porter (Higdon 72). Subs not used: Basham, Flynn, Willis, De Girolamo.
STAGS: Studer; Sutton, Tafazolli, Riley (Dempster 72); Beevers, McGuire (F. Bell 67), Clements, Heslop, Taylor; Hearn (Clucas 15), Fisher. Subs not used: Jones, Thomas, Belford, A. Bell.
REFEREE: Geoff Eltringham of Tyne and Wear.
ATTENDANCE: 7,929 (1,250 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ritchie Sutton.
Match Report: Sheffield United 2 Mansfield Town 1
A win marks progress along the road to Wembley.
Defeat represents an opportunity to concentrate solely on the League.
There are no shortage of narratives on offer for clubs entering the Capital One Cup at the first round stage but Sheffield United did not need any excuses after dispatching Mansfield Town at Bramall Lane, last night.
Marc McNulty’s goal with four minutes remaining of the match secured the hosts a second round tie away at Premier League West Ham United after Alex Fisher had earlier cancelled out Andy Butler’s opener.
Nigel Clough, whose old-fashioned approach to knockout competitions sets him apart from those who argue they no longer boast a significant place in the game, later expressed his satisfaction with aspects of United’s performance which, despite never quite hitting the heights, provided glimpses of the potential which exists within their ranks.
But he acknowledged Mansfield’s contribution to an entertaining if not enthralling fixture meant his players were forced to show character as well as calibre in order to secure a place in the draw.
Despite making eight changes to their starting eleven - Michael Doyle, Neill Collins and Butler among those recalled - United burst out of the traps when Jose Baxter and McNulty combined to test Sascha Studer’s reflexes.
The Swiss goalkeeper was called into action again moments later when Baxter unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area but it was Jamal Campbell-Ryce who perhaps came closest to breaking the deadlock, before Butler’s 53rd minute intervention at least, when his tantalising centre was smothered at the near post.
Having led United into the semi-finals of the FA Cup earlier this year, Clough has made no attempt to disguise the fact he believes success in these tournaments can have a positive effect upon results in the league.
The visit of Paul Cox’s team, who finished 11th in the bottom tier last season, represented an opportunity to not only rebuild confidence following Saturday’s defeat by Bristol City but also allow players such as Butler, making his 400th career appearance, Stephen McGinn and McNulty to stake claims for prominent roles at Coventry City this weekend.
With Mansfield finding chances limited before the interval, it was Baxter and Campbell-Ryce who impressed the most although McNulty, a summer signing from Livingston, also looked lively and went close with a diving header midway through the opening period.
But the introduction of Sam Clucas for the injured Liam Hearn after a quarter-of-an-hour equipped the visitors with a cutting edge and the substitute twice drew smart saves from Mark Howard.
Nevertheless, United were inches away from taking a 39th minute lead when Ben Davies’ set-piece evaded both Chris Porter and Butler before flying agonisingly wide of target.
Davies went close himself with a long-range free-kick moments before the interval.
But it was Mansfield who made the brighest start to the second-half with Clucas depositing a header on the roof of Howard’s net.
United wrestled back control when Doyle saw a low shot deflected behind for a corner and, when Baxter met Davies’ expert delivery, Butler was on hand to scramble home at the far post.
Their lead lasted less than five minutes with Fisher drawing Mansfield level in fortuitous fashion courtesy of another wicked deflection.
McNulty hooked over the crossbar after pouncing on Lee Beevers’ error while Studer was called into action to deny Doyle from distance.
But he was left horribly exposed when McNulty, holding-off Ryan Tafazolli and Ritchie Sutton, claimed his first United goal since arriving from Scotland from substitute Michael Higdon’s pass on the 86th minute.
Sheffield united: Howard 6, Harris 6, Butler 6, Doyle 6, Baxter 8, McNulty 7 (McGahey 88) McGinn 6(Murphy 71), Collins 6, Davies 8, Porter 6 (Higdon 72), Campbell-Ryce 7. Not used: Basham, Flynn, Willis, De Girolamo
Mansfield Town: Studer 7, Sutton 6, Riley 6 (Dempster 72), Tafazolli 6, Fisher 6, Hearn 4 (Clucas 16, 7), McGuire 6 (F Bell 67), Heslop 6, Beevers 6, Taylor 6, Clements 7. Not used: Jones, Thomas, Belford, A Bell.
Latest | August 2014