ADDITIONAL STAGSNET REPORT
Report: Mansfield Town 1-2 Portsmouth
by Daniel Egginton
This afternoon's lacklustre game summed up Mansfield's season pretty well, a sublime goal from Jack Thomas providing mere consolation for the 3000 home fans present. Things weren't helped by a referee who seemed to give every decision to the visiting Portsmouth team, including a soft penalty and red card for "player of the season" Ritchie Sutton within 45 seconds.
The Stags made 6 changes to the side which lost 3-1 at Cambridge last week; Lenny Pidgeley replacing Sascha Studer in net, Liam Marsden and Callum Elder coming in for Michael Raynes and Lee Beevers in defence, Joe Fitzpatrick replacing Ricky Ravenhill in midfield and Rakish Bingham and Matt Rhead coming in for Terry Hawkridge and Vadaine Oliver. It was hard to work out the formation, but it seemed that Junior Brown was playing on the left of the midfield three of Thomas, Fitzpatrick and Chris Clements, providing extra cover to counter the attacking threat of Pompey right-back Joe Devera. Bingham played more centrally alongside Rhead. Portsmouth lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Stags: Pidgeley; Marsden, Sutton, Tafazolli, Elder; Thomas, Clements, Fitzpatrick, Brown; Bingham, Rhead.
(Subs): Studer, Hearn, McGuire, Heslop, Lambe, Oliver, Shires.
Portsmouth: Jones; Devera, Ertl, Webster, Butler; Close; Dunne, Hollands; Wallace; Tubbs, Westcarr.
(Subs): McCallum, Shorey, Fogden, Poke (GK), Atangana, May, Chaplin.
Any tactical plans were out the window within the first minute however. After a 1-2 with Matt Tubbs, Jed Wallace caught Sutton napping, but as he got goalside of the Mansfield defender he went down. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and produced the red card, despite there seeming to be little contact between Sutton and Wallace. Tubbs sent Pidgeley the wrong way, hitting the spot-kick to the keeper's right. 0-1 and down to ten men within the first two minutes.
Fitzpatrick dropped into Sutton's place in defence, with Junior Brown taking a more central role in midfield, the Stags appearing to change to a 4-3-2 formation. Rakish Bingham took up more of a free role and put a decent amount of effort in, including tracking back and winning the ball back after losing it around the 9 minute mark. With both sides relying on long balls, Clements had a chance in the 10th minute, firing wide under pressure from the edge of the box, after a knock-down by Rhead. Jack Thomas won a free kick with some good footwork a minute later.
On 14 minutes, a good cross from Hollands on the left was poorly headed back across the box by Tubbs, in plenty of space, and Craig Westcarr could do little with it. Brown was booked for the hosts a couple of minutes later with a very bad tackle on Wallace, who was causing the Mansfield defence lots of problems. The Stags appeared to be struggling to organise their midfield throughout the first half, with Brown, Bingham and Rhead all dropping deeper and deeper. Elder and Thomas were often making runs forwards, only to find no support around them.
In the 20th minute, a good chance for Bingham to equalise. After a foul in the Mansfield half, Pidgeley hit a long ball forwards from the ensuing free-kick. Rhead flicked the ball on from the edge of the box, but Bingham fired over from around 12 yards out, to the right of the goal.
Pidgeley did well to thwart Westcarr 4 minutes later. After a long throw from Marsden on the left was headed clear, Thomas was forced to pass the ball back to Elder under pressure. Elder's touch was poor and put Westcarr through, but from a tight angle he couldn't beat the onrushing keeper. In the 34th minute, Wallace chipped over the bar from the edge of the box.
Mansfield were dropping deeper and deeper, Brown at times playing at left-back and getting forwards very slowly.
Bingham had another chance to equalise in the 36th minute. A long throw from Marsden was flicked on by Rhead, and Bingham had the goal at his mercy from two yards out. Stretching, he could only poke the ball straight at the Portsmouth goalkeeper. He missed a shot from outside the box two minutes later after build-up play by Brown and Clements in midfield.
In the 40th minute, a clear dive by Wallace over the outstretched leg of Fitzpatrick on the edge of the Mansfield box. The referee awarded a goal kick and spoke to Wallace, but bizarelly did not book him for simulation. A minute later a low cross from Devera on the right caught Pidgeley in no-man's land, Portsmouth winning a corner. After some passing around the edge of the box James Dunne hit a shot over the bar.
HT: Mansfield 0 - 1 Portsmouth
Reggie Lambe replaced Bingham at half-time, playing up front with Rhead. Mansfield did well from the restart, Brown having a shot saved after getting into space on the left of the box. Rhead's follow-up was blocked.
On 53 minutes, after some good passing football by Portsmouth (with little pressure by the Mansfield defence), Dunne hit another shot over the bar, this time from the centre of the box. But two minutes later, his teammate Wallace made it 2-0, with a speculative shot that took an awkward bobble and bounced over Pidgeley, who had committed very early to his dive.
In the 57th minute, Dunne ran into the box. With Pidgeley in no-man's land again and unsure whether to come out or not, Tafazolli came to his rescue and cleared the ball. Liam Hearn replaced Marsden in the 62nd minute, Mansfield changing to a 3-4-2 formation. Fitzpatrick, Tafazolli and Elder played in defence, with Lambe at right wing-back and Brown on the left. Clements and Thomas remained in midfield with Hearn and Rhead up front.
After a Portsmouth corner in the 64th minute, Ben Close's shot from 20 yards out was tipped over the bar by Pidgeley. The save was acrobatic but fairly comfortable, with the shot being very central.
In the 68th minute, after some good work on the left to make space, Brown pulled the ball back to Thomas, who hit a sublime strike into the top right corner from close to 30 yards out. The keeper had no chance with a wonderful finish. 1-2.
FINISHED REPORT LATER.
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