TERRIBLE DEFENDING COSTS STAGS AGAIN
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 2 - 3 Exeter City
Kee 57, Oliver 68. Tom Nichols 37, Bennett 77, Alex Nicholls pen 83.
Attendance: 3881 (267 from Exeter)
Date: 17 January 2015
TERRIBLE DEFENDING COSTS STAGS AGAIN
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Just a week after poor defending cost Mansfield dearly in a 2-1 defeat at Burton, the Stags were at it again with more calamitous defending to gift Exeter a 3-2 victory at Field Mill. Mansfield played some fine stuff going forward and had a total of six efforts cleared off the line by defenders, not to mention some great saves from the Exeter keeper. Having been a goal down at the break, Mansfield were level when Billy Kee headed in from a Chris Clements corner on 57 minutes on his home debut. 11 minutes later, Mansfield were in front when Vadaine Oliver fired home from 12 yards to raise the roof at Field Mill in front of the biggest crowd of the season. It should have been enough to earn the Stags victory but dreadful defending was so costly. Exeter had taken the lead on 37 minutes when Nichols got in front of his marker Michael Raynes to head home a cross. This came just a minute after slack marking from Martin Riley who allowed Moore-Taylor a free header from a corner. And after Mansfield had forced their way in front, two personal disasters for Riley gave the points away. On 77 minutes, an Exeter corner was flicked home at the near post as Tom Nichols lost his marker Riley. Then even worse on 83 minutes as Riley was messing around at the back when under pressure and instead of putting the ball out of the ground, he tried a pass to keeper Adam Smith and Smith attempted to clear and only brought down Wheeler. No blame attached to Smith. It was a clear penalty and Alex Nicholls scored, though Smith was very unlucky not to save it, diving the right way and would have saved it if the ball hadn’t bounced over his outstretched hand. Smith actually had a good home debut making a good save with his legs in the first half, and a brilliant diving save in the second half, and no chance with the goals. Plenty of positives going forward for Mansfield with so many near misses, but it’s points the Stags need, and the gap to the relegation zone is now down to a single point. Fabulous entertainment today for the neutral and one of the best games of the season but the defensive errors need to be eliminated now, or Mansfield will soon be favourites to join Hartlepool for the drop. Five defensive errors in two games have seen six points given away. Unbelievable, and hard to stomach.
Saturday, 17th January 2015: Mansfield Town 2, Exeter City 3
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
A dreadful backpass by Martin Riley six minutes from time led to Exeter City snatching a 3-2 victory from the jaws of defeat in an absolute thriller at Mansfield Town this afternoon.
With six players making home debuts in Adam Murray’s new-look side, the Stags lived up to their rich promise with a superb attacking display that could have yielded them double figures.
But a combination of poor finishing, six goal line clearances, a post and some good goalkeeping by James Hamon denied them more then two goals.
And some dreadful defending at the other end of the pitch proved so costly in the end as Stags sank to within a point of the drop zone.
It was hard to believe they were 1-0 down at the break after dominating the first half.
But two goals in 11 minutes then had them deservedly ahead before switching off twice at the back to allow the Grecians to end a run of three straight defeats with a late winner from the penalty spot.
Riley’s terrible backpass saw keeper Adam Smith, who had a fine afternoon, bring down David Wheeler and sub Alex Nicholls bag the winner.
With reduced price tickets bringing in a bigger crowd of 3,881, it is to be hoped that, despite the result, the returning fans saw enough to entertain them and bring them back for another game.
But with a home game with leaders Wycombe next week followed by a relegation six-pointer at Carlisle the week after, these are worrying times for the club.
Boss Murray stuck by the same XI that performed so well in the second half of last week’s narrow defeat at Burton.
That meant midweek signing Blair had to be content with a place on the bench.
Five of the Stags side - Smith, Ravenhill, Raynes, Elder and Kee - were making home debuts against a Grecians side who had just lost three on the bounce.
Stags began in positive fashion and in the third minute Kee was just wide with a low shot after sidestepping a defender from Brown’s square pass from the left.
Brown was then blocked in the box as he tried to take advantage of an Oliver flick.
City then had to defend a long Elder throw which was put out for a corner on eight minutes.
Brown sent that long from the left and Riley looped in a header from beyond the far post that Davies had to head off the line.
Exeter’s first attack saw Riley in the way of a Davies drive in revenge after some neat passing in the box by the visitors.
Ravenhill was booked on 14 minutes after slicing down Nichols with the City players reacting angrily, wanting him sent off and Nichols staying down until the physio reached him, when he was able to jump up and trot off to boos from the home fans.
Brown was close to turning home a low Lambe cross in from of goal, but Bennett was just able to hook it clear.
There were cheers from home fans as Nichols was booked on 19 minutes for a late challenge as Raynes made a clearance.
Another low Brown cross went agonisingly across goal out of the reach of Kee as Stags continued to press.
Harley warmed Smith’s hands with a swerving 20-yarder on 22 minutes.
City threatened again on 26 minutes as Sercombe cut into the box on the right and flashed a shot into the sidenetting.
A minuter later Nichols was almost clear but by the time had the ball under control he had two defenders at him and lifted a poor finish well over.
On 29 minutes City had a double let-off from a Clements free kick as Oliver’s header hit the post and Kee’s follow-up was blocked on the line.
The Grecians lost experienced striker Morrison to injury on the half-hour, replaced by Wheeler.
Oliver was then added to the notebook for a foul on Noble on 32 minutes.
Smith had his first real save to make on 33 minutes as Exeter broke well and Nichols fed Davies for a low shot that the keeper blocked with his legs.
City missed their best chance so far on 36 minutes as Bennett ran in late from a corner to send a free header wide of the target.
But Exeter did score the goal they were threatening on 37 minutes. Davies floated the ball in from the right and Nichols expertly guided a header under the left angle.
Brown sent a tame header at Hamon from a long Elder cross as Stags looked for a reply.
Mansfield won corner number two on 45 minutes and again City had a double let-off with Hamon making a great save to turn aside Raynes’ header and then Kee’s follow-up blocked on the line.
In stoppage time Oliver saw a low angled shot save as Stags went in wondering how they were behind.
Two minutes into the restart Oliver turned well and tried his luck from distance, the ball taking a deflection for a corner.
That reached Riley at the far post and his header back in front of goal was half-cleared with Sutton then having a shot blocked.
On 50 minutes Stags were caught napping from a quickly-taken short corner and Nichols guided a header at goal from Oakley’s cross that Smith had to save.
Brown tried to put Kee away in the box, but Hamon threw himself in the way before the striker could find a way past him.
Soon after a throw from the right saw Lambe lift a 15 yard effort over the top.
Mansfield were pouring forwards now and a Brown cross from the left picked out Oliver at the far post whose dipping header was cleared off the line on 54 minutes.
Seconds later both Oliver and Kee failed to net from close range from another Brown cross though an offside flag was raised anyway.
Two home corners followed in succession.
And, from the second, Mansfield were deservedly level.
Clements sent it over and Kee got himself free to guide home an unstoppable header.
A second almost followed as Brown and Kee swapped passes before Brown’s finish was charged down by a defender as City wobbled.
Harley got a 30 yard free kick over the home wall and on target, but it was never likely to trouble Smith who held on with ease.
On 63 minutes Blair came on for his debut in place of Lambe.
And five minutes later Mansfield were ahead for the first time.
Raynes lofted the ball into the box, Kee made a nuisance of himself with two defenders and the ball broke invitingly for Oliver who steadied himself before smashing home a low finish.
On 75 minutes City almost levelled out of nowhere as Wheeler broke quickly, came inside Elder and blasted at goal where Smith made a great parry.
But City were level on 77 minutes from a corner. It was taken low to the near post where Bennett raced in unmarked to turn home a low finish under Smith.
An 80th minute corner for Mansfield then saw Hamon claw away a Raynes header from under the bar.
Kee went down in a challenge in the box and wanted a penalty, but the referee was having none of it.
Instead it was a penalty at the other end that saw Exeter back in front on 84 minutes.
It stemmed from a suicidal backpass from Riley from the left by-line that put Wheeler in, Smith sliding in and taking him down.
Up stepped sub Nicholls and, although Smith went the right way, the ball was hit firmly and skidded under his dive into the corner.
Stags won two corners on the trot but couldn’t make them count.
Four minutes were added, but the damage was already done.
STAGS: Smith, Sutton (Rhaed 85), Riley, Ravenhill (McGuire 68), Lambe (Blair 63), Brown, Oliver, Elder, Clements, Kee, Raynes. Subs not used: Studer, Fisher, Heslop, Beevers.
EXETER: Hamon, Woodman, Bennett, Sercombe, Oakley, Davies, Moore-Taylor, Noble, Nichols (Nicholls 76), Harley, Morrison (Wheeler 31, Cummins 89). Subs not used Butterfield, Keohane, Tillson, Pym.
REFEREE: Nicholas Kinseley of Essex.
ATTENDANCE: 3,881 (267 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Vadaine Oliver.
"Grecian O'Grecian" from the Exeter Fans' Website, ExeWeb.
Well, we probably shouldn't have won that. We really had to weather the storm for large periods throughout the match and Mansfield will rightly be disappointed not to have picked up anything from the match.
The line up was how it sounded. 3 centre halves of Bennett, Oakley and JMT. Woodman and Davies as the wing backs. Sercombe, Noble and Harley as the 3 centre mids with Nichols and Morrison up front.
Mansfield started much the better and had the first opportunity when Kee shot wide from just outside the box when well placed. Mansfield had a rather considerable height advantage on us at set pieces and from a corner Davies had to head one off the line from a far too easy attempt from the Mansfield player. It was not the last time we needed a goal line clearance to prevent us from falling behind. They were getting a lot of joy down the flanks and especially from Junior Brown who I thought was very impressive throughout. His direct play down the right ended in him drilling one across the face of goal which Bennett dealt with brilliantly to touch the ball away. It took us about 20 minutes to register a shot when Sercombe hit one from 25 yards straight at the goalkeeper. A few moments later he had another attempt where he lashed one into the side netting from just outside the box on the angle. Despite us growing into the game, Mansfield were still the more dangerous of the sides and another header from the corner came back off the post, with Hamon left in no mans land. The rebound was luckily for us hit straight at him and we eventually managed to clear after a goalmouth scramble. Soon after, we hit Mansfield on the break as Nichols ran clear. He picked his moment to slot in Davies 1-1 with the Mansfield keeper who did well to save with his legs. A few moments later Scot lost his marker to meet a corner with a free header but he could only scew it wide. Our best chance and it really should have been 0-1. Luckily, whilst enjoying our best spell of the match, we managed to make the breakthrough. Davies did really well to beat his man and hang up a cross into the box. Tom beat the defender to the ball to brilliantly guide his header over the keeper and into the far corner. A really great finish from someone who's continuing to look better game by game. Just before half time, the game had what looked like a real contraversial moment. A corner by Mansfield was kept out by Hamon well and was helped back into the 6 yard box despite it looking like it had gone out of play, Kee then looked like he had equalised when he seemed to have bundled the ball over the goal line but the referee not the linesman signalled for anything and despite the Mansfield protests play continued. I'm pretty convinced it went over the line but I also think the ball had already gone out of play seconds before so in a sort of roundabout way, justice was done. Half time. 0-1.
Like the first half, Mansfield came out the better and once again had another goal bound header cleared off the line from a corner. Hamon soon after made a very good instinctive save from Kee who's rebound somehow dropped just over the bar when it looked easier to score. A goal for Mansfield was very much on the cards and it came when disappointingly one of the smallest players on the pitch in Kee had a free header from a corner and deservedly equalised for Mansfield. We couldn't get a grip on the game and the ever menacing Junior Brown junked inside from the left past a couple lacklustre challenges and looked set to smash Mansfield into the lead. That was until JMT came charging across to throw himself at the ball and stop us from going 2-1 down. I can't exaggerate how brilliant the defending was. Heroic, brave, manly take your pick. We still couldn't get it together and fell behind for the first time when their striker ran through 1-1 with Hamon and powerfully drilled the ball past him into the net. 2-1 Mansfield. We almost equalised 5 minutes later when a terrific solo Wheeler run down the left saw him cut inside, sell the defender before he shot at the near post which the wrong footed Mansfield keeper did very well to keep out and tip behind. As badly as we had dealt with our defending at corners, the defending from Mansfield for our equaliser was woeful. Sercombe hit a low corner to the front of the 6 yard box which Bennett did very well to volley first time past the keeper. Very poor marking and defending but a well taken goal on our behalf. 2-2. It was now either teams to win. With fast, end to end football being the match for the last 10 minutes. And because of some fantastic high pressing from our then front two of Wheeler and Nicholls, we won ourselves a great opportunity to retake the lead. Nicholls would give the Mansfield deender an easy way out and he forced him into a blind back pass to the keeper who tripped down Wheeler as he was beaten to the ball. No doubts from the ref and no complaints from the Mansfield players. Alex Nicholls stepped up and despatched the penalty superbly. The keeper guessed the right way but the shot was so perfectly placed in the corner that he had no chance of keeping it out. We professionly kept our heads and saw the game out well and held on for the much needed 3 points.
My man of the match would have to go for the returning Moore-Taylor. I thought he was really superb, especially considering it was his first 1st team start since returning from injury. He is ridiculously strong for someone of his age and height. A very good game. I also thought Bennett had a good match. It is in no doubt that his best position is at centre back and he obviously wanted to prove that to the management. Time after time he made good interceptions and challenges to prevent opportunities for Mansfield. He got done for pace a couple of times in the second half but can you really blame him for that? Is it really anyones fault if they're just not that fast? Wheeler did well when he came on for the injured Clinton. He's a really powerful runner this year, more so than last year. He has definitely got stronger. Tom Nichols just continues to impress this season. A great glancing header for his goal and his all round play is improving game by game. I would still go for himself and Wheeler as our starting strikers. Hamon had a weird game for me. His shot stopping looks decent and he made some good blocks and smothering saves to prevent goals. But, from crosses and balls into the box he looked often in no mans land. His positioning just seemed all over the place at times. A very 50/50 game from him. Saves=good. Dealing with balls into the box=not good.
Also, about the whole Tisdale/Nichols/Perryman/Morrison incident. At the time we were 2-1 down so when Tom's number came up on the substitution board there were boo's from some of the City fans and chants of "you don't know what you're doing". Perryman was then shouting/waving his arms about/gesturing towards us in the away end which ended in shouting back at him and the sorts. Morrison then came into the away end, from what looked like his own decision and told us and I quote "Tis wouldn't have taken off Tom if he wasn't injured, he got a knock". So that's when we found out Tom was injured, hence his substitution. Then just after we scored our penalty to make it 3-2, Perryman started gesturing to us in the away end again giving it the big "see, we were right, you weren't, look what happened we're 3-2 up, not booing anymore are we?'. It was poor from him. More interested in point scoring with the supporters than being pleased we had just gone 3-2 up. Like I said, very poor from him.
So yes that's that. I'm still buzzing with the win. We didn't deserve it in my opinion but evidently we took our chances better than Mansfield and as many of you have been saying after our defeats to Stevenage, Wimbledon etc. It's all about taking your chances. Good win and on to Oxford next Saturday. UTC!!!
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