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Season 19/20 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League Trophy - Leasing.com Trophy
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Crewe Alexandra
Crewe win penalty shoot-out 4-3 for an extra point. Knowles 18.
 
 Finney 45.
Attendance: 800 (39 from Crewe)
 
Date: 8 October 2019

KNOWLES STUNNING GOAL AS STAGS DRAW IN EFL TROPHY BUT LOSE SHOOT-OUT

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra at the One Call Stadium in the group stages of the EFL Trophy (now named Leasing.com Trophy, formerly Checkatrade Trophy). There was then a penalty shoot-out for an extra point, which Crewe won 4-3, so Crewe came away from the game with two points and Mansfield one point. Mansfield play at Burton in the remaining game in the group stages where a win in 90 minutes will ensure Mansfield progress to the next round (see note * below).
Both sides made wholesale changes from their last league game, Mansfield made ten changes from Saturday’s win at Grimsby, while Crewe made 8 changes.
The Stags took the lead after 18 minutes when 17 year old Stags youth team striker Jimmy Knowles was gifted the ball on the edge of the area by a stray square ball from Crewe’s Owen Dale, Knowles took a couple of touches to steady himself and slammed a wonderful shot past the keeper into the net. It was a stunning strike from Knowles for his first goal in first team football.
Crewe were level in bizarre fashion after 45 minutes. Callum Ainley on the left wing played the ball inside to Oli Finney. Finney, from just inside the area on the left, only a couple of yards from the byline, smashed a cross-shot between Bobby Olejnik and the near post and into the net from an incredibly tight angle. From my position in the West Stand, I thought it had gone into the side netting, and I was just trying to work out if the officials would give a goal-kick or a corner. There was general confusion, and for example the Crewe official twitter feed immediately tweeted that the ball had gone into the side netting. The referee and his assistant seemed unsure what had happened, and the assistant signalled a goal kick, but they eventually gave the goal, correctly. I was grateful for chairman John Radford, watching the game live on iFollow Stags, as he always does when he and Carolyn are not at the game in person, for sending me the video of the goal at half time, filmed from the opposite side of the ground, to clear up my utter confusion. Aside from the confusion, Olejnik on his return to the side, will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post.
Other than the two goals, the best chance of the half fell to Mansfield, as Alistair Smith sprayed a great ball out to the right to James Clarke, Clarke’s low ball into the middle found Knowles who turned and shot, the keeper parried his shot up in the air, it was headed out by defender Travis Johnson to Andy Cook who blasted a volley goalwards from 8 yards and it was somehow turned over the bar by the keeper. Cook so close to his first goal for the Stags.
Crewe passed the ball around nicely, but only provided Olejnik with a couple of easy saves.
Into the second half, and the Stags were so close to regaining the lead after 56 minutes when Smith did well to hold off Paul Green on the halfway line and slid a superb defence-splitting ball forward into the path of Knowles who took a touch to go around the keeper but as he did the ball ricocheted off his other foot and away from him for a goal kick with the empty goal gaping. Such a shame for Knowles who looked as though he couldn’t believe it.
After that, neither side came close to winning it until the very last kick of the game when Crewe sub Charlie Kirk curled a shot wide from a tight angle on the left. A flat second half, and 1-1 was a fair result.
On to the penalty shoot out for an extra point. Olejnik saved Crewe’s first kick, from Perry Ng. But Andy Cook smashed his penalty straight down the middle against the keeper’s legs and away, and Alistair Smith saw his penalty brilliantly turned onto the left post by the keeper, as Crewe scored their remaining kicks to win the shoot out 4-3 and claim the extra point. The Stags have now lost all three penalty shoot outs this season, all at home, and four on the trot at home, if you count the play-off semi-final from the end of last season.
The main positives for the Stags were the performance and goal of Knowles, a strong defensive display from the back three of Matt Preston, Conor Shaughnessy and Ryan Sweeney, and the return from injury after 10 months out for Bobby Olejnik. The Stags return to the league on Saturday as Oldham visit the One Call Stadium. It’s so important that Mansfield build on that morale-boosting last gasp win at Grimsby and put together back-to-back victories.

A couple of statistical notes, the attendance of 800 was the equal lowest at Field Mill for any competitive Stags first team game, equalling the 800 against Torquay United in the football league in March 1939.
And Jimmy Knowles, at 17 years, 256 days, became the Stags' youngest goal scorer in the EFL Trophy, and the sixth youngest in any first team game in the club’s history. Ian Stringfellow was the youngest player to score a first team goal for the Stags, at 17 years 145 days, in 1986 against Gillingham (goalscoring stat from Paul Taylor).

(note *) That is because if Mansfield win at Burton in 90 minutes, they will have 5 points. If Crewe beat Everton U21, Crewe and Everton U21 will also have 5 points. However Mansfield will be guaranteed to have a better goal difference than one of them. If Crewe don’t beat Everton U21, then Mansfield would be second in the group on points behind Everton U21. If Mansfield don’t beat Burton, they will go out.

Mansfield made ten changes from the side that won at Grimsby. Ryan Sweeney was the only starter from Saturday. Matt Preston was available in the EFL Trophy despite being still suspended for one more game in the league. Preston was installed as captain. Bobby Olejnik returned to the side after being out for 10 months, which was great news. Jacob Mellis was on the bench, having not started since the Crawley game. Mellis though had to go off, a precaution with a tight hamstring having come on as sub. Young Kian Sketchley, a left back from last season’s youth team, was an unused sub. He played in the first team pre-season friendly at Alfreton. Omari Sterling-James was not available as he is on international duty for Saint Kitts and Nevis this weekend.


It was a pleasant evening in Mansfield.

After 3 minutes, Ainley sent a shot over the bar from 19 yards. Two minutes later, a low show from Finely, and Olejnik was down to save comfortably. On 7 minutes, Wintle’s shot from 30 yards was deflected and Olejnik took the safety first option to push it wide.

Good play from Afolayan after 8 minutes, to win the ball and play in Knowles who over-ran the ball going forward. On 10 minutes, Clarke pushed forward and his low shot gave the Crewe keeper Richards an easy save. Super play from Knowles a minute later to earn a free kick.

After 12 minutes, Anene’s header was easily saved by Olejnik.

Afolayan embarked on a good run and won a free kick 35 yards from goal. Afolayan took the free kick himself, dinked it into the area, Cook headed, but Preston was offside.

The Stags took the lead after 18 minutes. Knowles was gifted the ball on the edge of the area by a stray square ball from Crewe’s Owen Dale, Knowles took a couple of touches to steady himself and slammed a wonderful shot past the keeper into the net. It was a stunning strike from Knowles for his first goal in first team football.

After 21 minutes, Ainley shot into Olejnik’s midriff. After 24 minutes, Finney turned on the edge of the area and his shot was deflected over the bar. From the resulting corner, a good tackle by Preston as Green was looking for a yard for a shot.

After 26 minutes, Alistair Smith sprayed a great ball out to the right to Clarke, Clarke’s low ball into the middle found Knowles who turned and shot, the keeper parried his shot up in the air, it was headed out by defender Travis Johnson to Andy Cook who blasted a volley goalwards from 8 yards and it was somehow turned over the bar by the keeper. Cook so close to his first goal for the Stags.

Cook was booked on 27 minutes for a foul on Nolan.

Hamilton drew a foul and a free kick 30 yards out after 31 minutes. Tomlinson’s short free kick didn’t come off.

Then good defending by Sweeney to snuff out a break from Dale. On 33 minutes, a great block from Preston on a shot from Dale.

Great play by Afolayan after 37 minutes, he got the ball out to Clarke on the right, and Clarke’s cross was headed behind for a corner.

A lung busting run from Clarke after 41 minutes, he found Knowles but it came to nothing.

Good defending from Shaughnessy after 42 minutes to usher Crewe away from goal. Then great defending by Sweeney after a mistake by Smith.

Crewe were level in bizarre fashion after 45 minutes. Callum Ainley on the left wing played the ball inside to Oli Finney. Finney, from just inside the area on the left, only a couple of yards from the byline, smashed a cross-shot between Bobby Olejnik and the near post and into the net from an incredibly tight angle. From my position in the West Stand, I thought it had gone into the side netting, and I was just trying to work out if the officials would give a goal-kick or a corner. There was general confusion, and for example the Crewe official twitter feed immediately tweeted that the ball had gone into the side netting. The referee and his assistant seemed unsure what had happened, and the assistant signalled a goal kick, but they eventually gave the goal, correctly. I was grateful for chairman John Radford, watching the game live on iFollow Stags, as he always does when he and Carolyn are not at the game in person, for sending me the video of the goal at half time, filmed from the opposite side of the ground, to clear up my utter confusion. Aside from the confusion, Olejnik on his return to the side, will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post.

Half time and it was 1-1. The Stags ahead through that great strike from Knowles and Crewe level in a fashion that left everyone in the West Stand completely bamboozled. Crewe had passed the ball around nicely, but only provided Olejnik with a couple of easy saves.

Half time 1-1

Mellis replaced Tomlinson after 52 minutes.

The Stags were so close to regaining the lead after 56 minutes when Smith did well to hold off Paul Green on the halfway line and slid a superb defence-splitting ball forward into the path of Knowles who took a touch to go around the keeper but as he did the ball ricocheted off his other foot and away from him for a goal kick with the empty goal gaping. Such a shame for Knowles who looked as though he couldn’t believe it.

A good block by Preston on a shot from 25 yards after 60 minutes.

Mellis surged forward and had a shot blocked by Adebisi after 62 minutes.

A good turn by Knowles after 64 minutes and he drew a foul. Mellis took the resulting free kick from 27 yards and fired it well over the bar. Clarke then put in three crosses which were all blocked by the first man.

Mellis had to go off with a hamstring strain after 71 minutes, to be replaced by Benning. Benning moved into the back three of Preston-Sweeney-Benning, as Shaughnessy moved into midfield.

The game had become very quiet with nothing in the way of goalmouth action.

Khan replaced Knowles after 83 minutes. Knowles went off to a standing ovation.

Ng fired over the bar from fully 35 yards after 86 minutes. A minute later, Finney was booked for diving in the area trying to win a penalty.

After 88 minutes, Hamilton got to the byline on the right and pulled back to Khan, whose soft shot was blocked.

Good defending by Clarke, twice, after 90+1 minutes. Hamilton won a corner a minute later. Khan took the corner and Sweeney headed over the bar.

Neither side had come very close to winning the game late on until the very last kick of the game when Crewe sub Charlie Kirk curled a shot wide from a tight angle on the left.

Full time and a point each. A flat second half, and 1-1 was a fair result.

On to a penalty shoot-out at the North Stand end, for an extra point:
Mansfield went first.
1-0 Hamilton fires straight down the middle as the keeper dives away.
1-0 Ng takes the penalty and Olejnik saves, low to his right.
1-0 Cook smashes his penalty straight against the keeper’s legs as the keeper doesn’t move.
1-1 Jones rolls into the net.
2-1 Afolayan rolls it into the bottom right corner.
2-2 Pickering sends Olejnik the wrong way.
2-2 Smith’s kick is brilliantly turned onto the left post by the keeper.
2-3 Finney scores into the right corner. Olejnik gets his fingertips on it but can’t keep it out.
3-3 Benning must score to keep it alive, and he does, rolling it into the bottom left corner.
3-4 Kirk steps up with a chance to win it, and he does, into the right corner of the net.


Man of the match: Jimmy Knowles


Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill



Line Up:
(3-4-3)
Olejnik 6 One fine save in the penalty shoot out, and got his fingertips to another penalty. Will have been disappointed to be beaten at his near post for the Crewe goal. Otherwise looked assured.
Preston 7.5 Several good blocks and tackles. Strong display.
Shaughnessy 7 Defended well.
Sweeney 7.5 Several pieces of good defending.
Clarke 7 Some good runs. Had a bad patch when he put in three poor crosses in quick succession, but overall did well.
Smith 7 Mixed game. Some great passing including to put Knowles through 1-on-1 and to find Clarke on the right. Also gave the ball away. His penalty was denied by a brilliant save.
Tomlinson 6 Went off feeling ill. Didn’t really get in to the game, probably because of illness.
Hamilton 6.5 Did ok, won some corners and free kicks. Converted his penalty.
Afolayan 6.5 Impressive first half. Faded badly in the second half probably due to lack of game time. Converted his penalty.
Cook 5.5 Blasted a volley goalwards from 8 yards and it was somehow turned over the bar by the keeper, so close to his first goal for the Stags. Smashed his penalty straight down the middle against the keeper’s legs and away.
Knowles 8 A stunning strike for his first goal in first team football. Good turn and shot that led to Cook’s chance. Missed a 1-on-1 after a good first touch.
Sub Line Up:
Mellis (for Tomlinson, 52 mins) 6 Played well but only last 19 minutes before he had to go off, a precaution with a tight hamstring.
Benning (for Mellis, 71 mins) 6 Converted his penalty.
Khan (for Knowles, 83 mins) -
Subs not used: Stone, Kian Sketchley, Gordon, Maynard.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-3-3): Richards; Johnson, Ng, Nolan, Adebisi (Pickering 83 mins); Green (Jones 76 mins), Wintle, Finney; Dale (Kirk 83 mins), Anene, Ainley. Subs not used: Booth, Porter, Hunt, Lundstram.
Referee:
James Oldham 7 The first time he’s refereed a Stags game. Handled the game well. Correctly awarded the goal for Crewe.


Season 19/20 Reports