STAGS PEGGED BACK BY LATE EQUALISER
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Cheltenham Town
Oliver 55. Kotwica 88
Attendance: 3324 (155 from Cheltenham)
Date: 13 December 2014
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town were pegged back by a late equaliser from Cheltenham Town in a game low on goalmouth action and entertainment, but lit up by two fabulous goals. In Adam Murray’s first game as permanent manager at home and in the league, the first half saw only one shot from the Stags as a low 24 yard effort from Chris Clements was easily saved, while at the other end Cheltenham came to life in 44th minute with four chances in two minutes as returning goalkeeper Dimi Evtimov made three good saves. Mansfield took the lead after 55 minutes. Evtimov’s long goal kick was headed by a Cheltenham defender to Reggie Lambe, who chested the ball down, and flicked the ball forward to Oliver. Oliver controlled the ball on his chest, turned past his marker, and from about 28 yards hooked the ball over keeper Carson into the top right corner of the net for an incredible goal. Other than that there were few chances for either side in the second half: Oliver headed over from a corner, and Evtimov made a decent save from a free kick. But out of the blue, on 88 minutes, Cheltenham levelled with another great goal. Junior Brown took a heavy touch and just managed to avoid giving away a corner by knocking the ball for a Cheltenham throw-in near the corner flag on the left. From the long throw-in into the box, Oliver headed the ball out as far as Zack Kotwica 23 yards out who took one touch and belted an unstoppable shot into the right corner of the net giving Evtimov no chance. Brown had tried to charge down the shot but couldn’t quite get there in time. After that, Cheltenham had a chance to win it with a free kick from 23 yards which the Stags’ wall deflected over the bar. Conceding the late equaliser was a bitter blow for Mansfield, but I thought there was no doubt that Cheltenham deserved it, and the Stags didn’t create anywhere near enough chances to deserve to win the game.
Saturday, 13th December 2014: Mansfield Town 1, Cheltenham Town 1
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
A late equaliser for the second successive Saturday ruined new Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray’s first home game in full charge as sub Zack Kotwica stole Cheltenham Town a 1-1 draw at a freezing One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The Stags had looked set to take all three points thanks to a spectacular Vadaine Oliver strike from almost 30 yards.
But, as at Cambridge the week before, a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Kotwica, only on the field for 16 minutes, the chance to bury a superb finish.
Although the Stags played some pretty football and controlled possession for long spells, the truth is they didn’t create enough clear chances and the Robins were worth a point, having had the lion’s share of the afternoon’s opportunities.
The home side were lucky that Kane Ferdinand, cousin of Rio, didn’t open the scoring with three chances just before the break, Dimitar Evtimov keeping out two of them and Luke Waterfall clearing another off the line.
Stags came back out in a higher gear and deserved to go ahead through Oliver.
But they failed to then take an iron grip and grab a second, ending up defending deeper and deeper and were caught out in the end.
However, it is still early days yet and Murray’s men did impress the higher-than-average crowd, due to a cut-price ticket offer, with some of their football.
Ryan Tafazolli was immaculate at the back with full debutant, loanee Junior Brown, showing his talents on the wing and winning the sponsors’ man of the match.
Murray made five changes and swapped things round formation-wise, going 4-3-3 after playing 4-4-2 at Cambridge last weekend.
Despite being rushed into hospital last weekend with a chest infection, Evtimov replaced Sasha Studer in goal, who missed out with a thigh problem.
Martin Riley’s tight hamstring kept him out, so loanee Waterfall was brought into the centre of defence, though Riley is hoping to be fit for Tuesday.
Also, loanee Keiron Freeman returned to left back, which meant Lee Beevers was left out.
In midfield Fergus Bell joined Simon Heslop and Chris Clements with Oliver the lone striker, flanked by wingers Reggie Lambe and loanee Brown, making an eyecatching full debut.
That meant Rakish Bingham and Rob Taylor were dropped to the bench.
Stags began with some pleasing-to-the-eye football, even Evitomov getting in on the act by sidestepping a forward.
Stags then won a fourth minute corner which the Robins cleared at the second attempt.
Cheltenham’s first foray forward ended with a tame shot well wide by Braham-Barrett.
Harrison was closer on six minutes as he turned and whipped a low shot just wide from a left wing throw.
Clements then picked out the run of Brown down the left and his low cross was intended for Heslop, only for team mate Oliver to step in and have a shot blocked, Clements wide with the follow-up.
Brown went on another run down the left and this time his cross took a deflection that looped it up on target, Carson having to stretch to save.
Stags were playing some nice football, but the first 20 minutes was largely uneventful.
From a long throw from the left, Gornell had a near post shot smothered by Evtimov on 23 minutes as Cheltenham threatened again.
On 26 minutes Clements tested Carson with a low shot from Brown’s lay-off, but firm as it was, the ball was always straight at the keeper.
Braham-Barrett had to beat Oliver to a far post cross on 29 minutes after Brown had done well to get the left by-line, the home side winning a corner.
Another followed soon after, Carson clutching Clements’ inswinging ball in just under his bar.
The Robins cleared Mansfield ‘s fourth corner as we awaited a breakthrough.
Bell’s flick from Lambe’s pass almost put in Brown, Carson down quickly to beat him to the ball.
Sutton then headed away the visitors’ second corner.
A Stags breakaway, led by the run of Bell, was unceremoniously halted by Taylor’s trip, earning him a booking.
However, on 44 minutes Stags had a double let-off as Ferdinand was left spare on the right and forced Evtimov into a good block and then Waterfall was in the way to block Ferdinand’s follow-up off the line.
Ferdinand tested Evtimov again in stoppage time with a vicious shot from 15 yards that the keeper turned around his near post as the half ended goalless.
Beevers replaced Freeman at left back for Stags for the second half.
Bell was blocked off by the challenge of Troy Brown as he raced into the box, but the referee waved play on.
A nice one-two between Oliver and Brown saw his far post cross deflect over for a corner, from which Oliver headed over the bar.
But Oliver provided the breakthrough at last on 55 minutes.
With Carson off his line, Oliver unleashed a superb dipping half-volley from almost 30 yards that looped over the keeper before dropping under the crossbar to put Stags ahead.
Four minutes later Evtimov had to get down to grab a decent free kick from Richards from just outside the box as the visitors looked for a quick reply.
The visitors made a double change on 65 minutes, then Gornell was fortunate not to be booked for going in very late on Waterfall.
On 71 minutes Stags came close again as Oliver controlled a Brown cross and cued up Heslop for a first time shot he pulled wide of goal.
Mansfield cleared their lines from Cheltenham’s first corner of the second half as we entered the last 15 minutes.
Waterfall was booked for a foul on 77 minutes after Sterling-James had got the better of him.
Taylor took over from Lambe on the wing for the last 10 minutes.
Gornell was caught in the face by the elbow of Waterfall and needed treatment, but the referee disagreed with the Robins that the elbow was deliberate.
Soon after on 84 minutes a furious Gornell brought down Bell in temper and he was booked.
But Cheltenham were level out of the blue with just two minutes left.
A long throw from the left was headed out to Kotwica 25 yards out and the sub, only on the field for 16 minutes, let fly with a swerving right foot effort that cleared Evtimov’s dive and found the top right corner.
Three minutes into stoppage time there was further worry as Tafazolli was booked for a free kick just outside the box, Hanks’ free kick deflecting wide for a corner as the game ended all square.
MANSFIELD: Evtimov; Sutton, Tafazolli, Waterfall, Freeman (Beevers HT); Heslop, Clements, Bell (Bingham 88); Lambe (R. Taylor 80), Oliver, J. Brown. Subs not used: Rhead, McGuire, Palmer, Bishop.
CHELTENHAM: Carson, Braham-Barrett, M. Taylor, T. Brown, Ferdinand, Richards (Haworth 65), Harrison (Kotwica 72), Gornell, Deaman, Hanks, De Vita (Sterling-James 65). Subs not used: Gould, Black, Williams, Dale.
REFEREE: Chris Sarginson of Staffordshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,324 (155 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Tafazolli.
Zack Kotwica's wonder goal rescues a point for Cheltenham Town at Mansfield Town
By Gloucestershire Echo
Mansfield Town 1 Cheltenham Town 1
AT THE end of a week when the debate among Cheltenham Town fans has been all about giving young guns a chance, one of the Robins starlets settled the argument.
Read more: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Mansfield-Town-v-Cheltenham-Town-Updates-Field/story-25705684-detail/story.html?#ixzz3LtiPaSSu
The Robins were drifting towards yet another frustrating defeat before Gloucester-boy Zack Kotwica’s stunning goal - his first in a Robins shirt rescued a point.
It cancelled out a similarly outstanding effort from Mansfield’s Vadaine Oliver on an afternoon where two remarkable goals shone in a game of precious little quality.
Paul Buckle made just one change was made to the Robins side after the FA Cup failure against Dover, with Jason Taylor omitted from the matchday squad.
The combative midfielder has already been outcast once in his two years as a Robin, but the decision to remove him from the squad here, brings his future severely into question.
His place in the centre of midfield was taken by Joe Hanks, who showed that he is ready and able to play his part in Buckle’s pragmatic system.
While Hanks and Matt Richards struggled to show much by the way of free-flowing football they got involved in the necessary muck and bullets.
So too did widemen Kane Ferdinand and Raffa De Vita, who’s most telling work was often done in the defensive, rather than attacking third as Buckle looks to build base camp.
As would be expected from two sides with new managers, confidence and fluency was in short supply in a frenetic opening.
The Robins had an early chance when Byron Harrison latched onto a long throw from Craig Braham Barrett, but in keeping with the opening six minutes, he blazed wide when he had more time.
Another missile from the Robins left-back in the 11th minute saw Harrison flick-on for strike partner Terry Gornell, who saw his shot well-saved by Stags goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov.
Denied the lead that either chance could have given them, the Robins then had to settle for hard-work in defence as the hosts began to turn the screw.
The fleet-footed talents of Junior Brown were a constant menace to the Robins back four and it was through their big-haired winger that the home side had their best moments.
But other than a pot shot from distance from Chris Clements, the Stags failed to test Trevor Carson as the Robins defence and their midfield shield held firm.
And as they grew into the game, the visitors began to become more and more of an attacking force and they should have led after an almighty melee a minute before the break.
Ferdinand was fed into a shooting position just inside the box and his low shot was parried by Evtimov back to the Peterborough loanee whose second shot was cleared off the line.
Undeterred he fed the ball into the danger a third time where Harrison and De Vita had efforts heroically blocked by a scrambling defence.
Ferdinand made it a hat-trick of close calls in first-half stoppage time as he outmuscled Kieron Freeman to a Joe Hanks ball, but his volley was saved by a flying Evtimov.
If the Robins were perhaps rueing their luck during their half-time break at failing to take the lead they were certainly doing so within 10 minutes of the restart.
Powerful striker Vadaine Oliver had showed little during the frenetic first-half, but he made a telling contribution on the game in sublime style.
After bringing the ball down almost 30 yards from goal he summed up his options in an instant and struck a dipping volley that arced into the net over a helpless and stranded Trevor Carson.
The Robins had done their utmost to cut out a route to their goal during the preceding 55 minutes - Paul Buckle has made defensive solidity his first task since taking charge.
But when a striker pops one in first time on the volley from 30 yards out, there is little you can do but smile and get on with things.
They did try. Buckle rang the changes within ten minutes of the goal, throwing on Andy Haworth and Omari Sterling-James in place of Matt Richards and Raffa De Vita.
And when Zack Kotwica replaced a flagging Byron Harrison with 18 minutes remaining, there was a sense of Buckle changing the guard after watching some established players failing to deliver.
With Sterling-James playing alongside Gornell and Kotwica providing some pace on the flanks the Robins threw caution to the wind looking for a route back into the game.
It looked as though the chance would not come before the ball fell to Kotwica 30 yards out and he took one touch to control and another to fire an unstoppable shot past Evtimov.
The Robins had a chance to win it late in the game when Ryan Tafazolli fouled Terry Gornell on the edge of the box in injury time, but Joe Hanks’ free-kick was deflected over.
The Robins probably didn’t do enough to win the game, but they certainly didn’t deserve to lose it and after two battling draws, Paul Buckle will point to a base camp being established.
Mansfield Town: D Evtimov; R Sutton, L Waterfall, R Tafazolli, K Freeman (L Beevers, 46); R Lambe (R Taylor, 79), C Clements, S Heslop, J Brown, F Bell, V Oliver.
Subs not used: M Rhead, R Bingham, J McGuire, O Palmer, A Bishop.
Cheltenham Town: T Carson; J Deaman, M Taylor, T Brown, C Braham-Barrett; K Ferdinand, J Hanks, M Richards (A Haworth, 65), R De Vita (O Sterling-James, 65); B Harrison (Z Kotwica 72), T Gornell.
Subs not used: M Gould, P Black, H Williams, B Dale.
Att: 3,324 (155 away)
Referee: M Brown (Martin comment - incorrect)
Fan's view: Peter Fielding on Mansfield 1 Cheltenham Town 1
Mansfield Town 1 Cheltenham Town 1
Read more at http://www.ctfc.com/news/article/fans-view-peter-fielding-on-mansfield-1-cheltenham-town-1-2143025.aspx#sf9ViiOF6uLsW8ch.99
Two moments of brilliance lit up what was otherwise one of the most uninspiring, morose games involving Cheltenham Town this season, as Zack Kotwica’s stunning late strike ensured a point for the Robins at Mansfield.
Boss Paul Buckle’s team selection was certainly questionable, as just one change was made from last week’s devastating Dover defeat. While it was pleasing to see Joe Hanks recalled, other members of the team were more than lucky to keep their places.
Almost predictably, the Robins started badly. Fortunately, Mansfield weren’t much better. A 4-4-2 formation simply didn’t suit the Cheltenham starting eleven, while tactical cohesion was completely lacking.
Even more frustratingly, the attitude from some of Buckle’s men was far from desirable. While some spent extended periods of the game arguing, others simply didn’t look interested, as Mansfield’s Junior Brown - the game’s only good player - ensured his side were firmly on top.
The second half initially marked no improvement from the Robins, as the hosts took the lead through a sublime Vadaine Oliver strike, which certainly didn’t befit such an atrocious game.
Cheltenham looked dejected, and frankly, many other teams in this division would have put the game to bed with ease. Thankfully, however, Mansfield could not consolidate their advantage.
Sarcastic cheers emanated from the disgruntled away support as the ineffectual Raffaele De Vita, Matt Richards and Byron Harrison were hauled off for Andy Haworth and Omari Sterling-James and Zack Kotwica respectively.
Still there was no real improvement, as the Robins faithful resorted to heckling the hosts for failing to extend their lead. There was, however, still a glimmer of hope, which was epitomised by Buckle’s three substitutes.
Thankfully, one of them delivered, as Kotwica showed the ambition and guile to spectacularly smash the ball home, prompting outpourings of joy and relief in equal measure in the away end.
At last, the Robins looked confident, even dangerous, as although inexperienced, the likes of Sterling-James and Kotwica offered pace and flare which was previously lacking.
Though the late equaliser ensured a memorable and deserved draw, the Cheltenham Town performance was by no means impressive, with it clear that Paul Buckle has a tough job on his hands.
Unlike last week, Buckle warrants praise being more decisive with his substitutions, as despite showing many of their previous inadequacies, the Robins did, eventually, battle harder, deserving their full-time applause.
Clearly there are deficiencies in all departments of the Cheltenham Town squad, and it is going to take time to get things right, though an improvement was on show.
For now, all we can expect is genuine passion and unrelenting effort, though Buckle does now need to start turning draws into wins.
Latest | December 2014