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Season 19/20 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Forest Green Rovers  
2 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Collins 30, Aitchison 62.
 
 Cook 63, 75.
Attendance: 2276 (309 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 19 October 2019

COOK DOUBLE RESCUES DRAW AT FOREST GREEN

Martin Shaw at The New Lawn

Mansfield Town rescued a point in a 2-2 draw at Forest Green Rovers this afternoon thanks to two goals from substitute Andy Cook, his first goals for the club. For the first hour of this game, Forest Green were very good while the Stags were terrible.
The first half was particularly one-sided. The Stags came nowhere near close to troubling Forest Green keeper Lewis Thomas, while Conrad Logan was forced into three fine saves. But Logan was beaten after 30 minutes as Aaron Collins let fly with a left-footed drive from 25 yards and the ball seemed to swerve markedly away from Logan and into the bottom left corner of the net. After the game Stags boss John Dempster, who would have been right behind it, explained that it had actually taken a deflection.
After that dreadful first half, with too many players off their game, the Stags brought on Andy Cook at half time as a partner for Nicky Maynard. But after Logan had made his fourth save of the game, Forest Green deservedly made it 2-0 after 62 minutes with Jack Aitchison turning and shooting from the edge of the D into the bottom left corner of the net.
The game seemed up but Andy Cook had other ideas. Just a minute later, Mal Benning sent a great ball over the top down the left for Otis Khan to run on to, Khan controlled the ball on the byline and chipped a fabulous ball into the middle for Cook who rose highest and headed down into the net from 4 yards. Mansfield were at last in the game. Nicky Maynard volleyed over the bar after 67 minutes. And the Stags were level after 75 minutes. Neal Bishop knocked the ball forward to the edge of the area where Cook showed brute strength to hold off defender Farrend Rawson and get in a shot which somehow squirmed through keeper Thomas and trickled over the line. A goalkeeping howler but reward for Cook doing well to get the shot in.
2-2 and it was anyone’s game now. Both sides had a chance to win it. After 79 minutes, Forest Green sub Elliott Freer had a clear sight of goal inside the area but sent his shot well off target. Then on 85 minutes, Cook nearly had an extraordinary hat-trick as Conor Shaughnessy headed the ball forward to him just outside the area, Cook chested down and on the turn volleyed left-footed towards the bottom right corner of the net. It took a slight deflection and the keeper just got down to it and pushed it wide. That was a superb effort from Cook.
In truth that would have been an outrageous case of daylight robbery had the Stags stolen it. But great character nonetheless from the Stags to come back from two goals down to rescue a point. Forest Green were impressive, knocking the ball around very well, and will bemoan how they let the 3 points slip due to that goalkeeping howler. The point for Mansfield meanwhile keeps the mini-run going, 7 points from 3 games, and they will look for 3 more points at home to Salford City on Tuesday night at the One Call Stadium.

Mansfield were forced into three changes from the side that beat Oldham 6-1. Ryan Sweeney was suspended for picking up his fifth booking of the season. Back came Matt Preston to replace him after a four game suspension. Danny Rose and Alex MacDonald missed out through injury. Rose had gone off injured against Oldham but returned to training on Thursday, a training session in which he rolled his ankle and he will now be out for 4-6 weeks. Very bad news for Rose, who’s had a really good season albeit having tailed off a little in recent matches. Bad news for Mansfield too of course, though the news is tempered slightly by the excellent performance of Andy Cook today as substitute. Also out through injury was Alex MacDonald, with a hip injury. MacDonald is expected to return to training on Monday so should not be out for long. MacDonald has been in fine form in recent weeks and was a big miss today. Rose and MacDonald were replaced by CJ Hamilton and Willem Tomlinson. During the first half commentary I mentioned that I was surprised that John Dempster hadn’t simply gone for a like-for-like replacement of Rose with Cook to start the game. After the game, Cook admitted he was not match fit, but you only get match fit by playing games. Dempster had in fact set out with a 4-3-3 formation with Hamilton and Khan either side of Maynard up front, the intention being to press Forest Green high. But it turned out that Maynard was isolated up front in the first half and in essence it was more of a 4-5-1 formation which didn’t work at all, hence a change at half time bringing on Andy Cook and switching to 4-4-2. In the first half, the midfield three for the Stags was Shaughnessy, Bishop and Tomlinson. The Stags bench had a youthful look to it, including Jimmy Knowles, Alistair Smith, and James Clarke. Omari- Sterling-James returned to the 18 after international duty. Bobby Olejnik also returned to the bench. Jacob Mellis remained out with a hamstring injury that forced him off in the EFL Trophy game against Crewe, though it is hoped he will be back training within a week.

By the way, in an unrelated point for those who are interested in such things, confirmation today that the fourth goal against Oldham last week has been taken away from Mal Benning and credited as an own goal, by the EFL Dubious Goals committee.


It was a lovely sunny day in deepest Gloucestershire, in stark contrast to the poor weather that awaited the Stags here twice last season.

Just 15 seconds into the game, Benning was on the receiving end of a terrible challenge from Dominic Bernard, who was booked.

Forest Green knocked the ball around nicely but created nothing in the way of chances in the opening 20 minutes.

Shaughnessy was booked after 19 minutes for blocking off Ebou Adams. Joseph Mills took the resulting free kick from 35 yards and tried a shot which was deflected for a corner.

After 21 minutes, a diagonal ball from Mills into the Stags box, Farrend Rawson headed down, but Logan easily pouched. Two minutes later, Aaron Collins tried his luck with a shot from 25 yards, it was heading wide before it deflected off his own man Matt Stevens and went further wide.

Logan produced the first of his good saves after 24 minutes. A fine passing move from Forest Green, Stevens got away from the Stags defence into the area on the right and was 1-on-1 with Logan, but Logan was out quickly to narrow the angle and block the shot. Moments later a long range shot from Ebou Adams was well wide. It was clear that Forest Green were keen on shooting from distance.

A second good save from Logan after 26 minutes. Collins got into the Stags area on the left and was again 1-on-1, Logan again made himself big and saved well, this time with his hands.

Gordon was booked after 28 minutes, after Aitchison got away from him on the byline. Preston then did well to clear away a dangerous cross after 30 minutes.

But Logan was beaten after 30 minutes as Collins let fly with a left-footed drive from 25 yards and the ball seemed to swerve markedly away from Logan and into the bottom left corner of the net. After the game Stags boss John Dempster, who would have been right behind it, explained that it had actually taken a deflection.

After 33 minutes, Collins got into the area again, but good defending from Pearce. Seconds later Collins crossed from the right and Bernard headed wide into the side netting.

The third of Logan’s super first half saves came after 35 minutes. Liam Shephard broke forward from the halfway line and fired in a powerful low shot from outside the area, which Logan saved superbly at full stretch with his right hand.

Finally something of attacking intent from Mansfield as Gordon went on a good run to the edge of the area, but he couldn’t find anyone to pass to and dribbled all the way back to the halfway line.

After 43 minutes, a good break from Shaughnessy from well inside his own half, he set Hamilton away on a good run to the edge of the area, he fired in a shot but it was blocked. Forest Green broke straight to the other end and Preston fouled Stevens 29 yards out. Shephard tried yet another long range shot for the home side, but the wall did its job. Then Shephard tried another long range shot, over the bar.

A dreadful first half from Mansfield who barely got the ball into the Forest Green box. Forest Green played well and were asking all the questions. Logan kept the Stags in it with 3 good saves, but the home deserved their lead.

Half time 1-0

The Stags brought on Andy Cook at half time as a partner for Nicky Maynard, and replacing Will Tomlinson who had done little in the first half, though he wasn’t alone there. There was a switch in formation to 4-4-2 as explained above, with Hamilton on the right of midfield and Khan on the left.

After 47 minutes, Aitchison got to the edge of the area and had a shot blocked, with Mills firing the rebound well wide. Moments later another good move from Forest Green and Preston did well to get in a block. On 52 minutes, Shephard crossed from the right and Stevens headed wide.

Logan made another save after 53 minutes as Winchester made a great run into the area and fired in a shot from an angle on the right, Logan got down well to push it wide at his near post. The video replay shows the shot was going wide already as it happens.

Afolayan replaced Hamilton after 58 minutes. Hamilton had a very poor game, but did at least get in a shot after a good run towards the end of the first half, which was more than anyone else did.

Forest Green deservedly made it 2-0 after 62 minutes with Aitchison turning and shooting from the edge of the D into the bottom left corner of the net.

The game seemed up but Andy Cook had other ideas. Just a minute later, Mal Benning sent a great ball over the top down the left for Otis Khan to run on to, Khan controlled the ball on the byline and chipped a fabulous ball into the middle for Cook who rose highest and headed down into the net from 4 yards. Mansfield were at last in the game.

Nicky Maynard volleyed over the bar after 67 minutes. That came after Afolayan had been brought down 30 yards from goal, on the right. Khan’s free kick into the middle was headed out to Maynard.

After 70 minutes,Gordon forced his way down the right and tried a 1-2 with Maynard which didn’t quite come off.

Benning was booked after 73 minutes after giving the ball away and fouling Adams trying to get it back.

The Stags were level after 75 minutes. Neal Bishop knocked the ball forward to the edge of the area where Cook showed brute strength to hold off defender Farrend Rawson and get in a shot which somehow squirmed through keeper Thomas and trickled over the line. A goalkeeping howler but reward for Cook doing well to get the shot in. 2-2 and it was anyone’s game now.

Both sides had a chance to win it. After 79 minutes, Forest Green sub Elliott Freer had a clear sight of goal inside the area but sent his shot well off target.

Then on 85 minutes, Cook nearly had an extraordinary hat-trick as Conor Shaughnessy headed the ball forward to him just outside the area, Cook chested down and on the turn volleyed left-footed towards the bottom right corner of the net. It took a slight deflection and the keeper just got down to it and pushed it wide. That was a superb effort from Cook.

In between those two efforts, Winchester fired a shot high and wide from 25 yards after 83 minutes.

After 87 minutes, Benning was fouled on the right. Khan sent a disappointing shot from the free kick over the bar.

Knowles replaced Maynard after 90+3 minutes.

Bishop was booked for a foul after 90+5 minutes.

6 minutes of stoppage time had been added on. In the 7th minute, a corner from the left for Forest Green which Logan decisively punched away. The final whistle immediately blew and there was a kerfuffle down by the corner flag on the opposite side involving a few players. The incident was off camera from both the main camera and our pitchside camera. However according to eyewitness Stags fan Pete Wright, “it started with Liam Kitching kicking the ball very hard and from very close range at Otis Khan. Khan reacted by shoving him in the chest, then all handbags broke loose.” Unless there is footage from a Forest Green camera, I doubt anything more will come of this.

Great character from the Stags to come back from two goals down to rescue a point. Overall though this was not a good performance from Mansfield while Forest Green were impressive, knocking the ball around very well. Special mention to Andy Cook for his two goals, and to Conrad Logan for a very good performance.

Man of the match: Andy Cook


Report by: Martin Shaw at The New Lawn



Line Up:
(4-5-1)
Logan 8 Very good performance including four good saves. Was responsible for keeping the Stags in it in the first half.
Gordon 7 Some good runs forward. Did well against the dangerous Joseph Mills.
Pearce 6 One or two good pieces of defending.
Preston 6 Did ok.
Benning 6 Great ball over the top down the left in the build-up to the first goal.
Hamilton 4.5 Had a very poor game, but did at least get in a shot after a good run in the first half, which was more than anyone else did in the first half.
Shaughnessy 6 One or two good pieces of play. Probably the pick of midfield.
Bishop 5 An assist for the second goal though Cook did most of the work, aided by the Forest Green keeper. Didn’t get a grip of midfield.
Tomlinson 4.5 Did little in the first half, though he wasn’t alone there, and sacrificed at half time.
Khan 7 Wonderful cross for Cook’s first goal. Poor shot from free kick near the end.
Maynard 6 Totally isolated up front in the first half. Had one chance in the second half volleying over the bar.
Sub Line Up:
Cook (for Tomlinson, 46 mins) 8 Two goals, his first for the club and nearly had an extraordinary hat-trick (and a perfect one too, header, right foot, left foot) with a superb effort near the end. Very much responsible for earning a point. Will surely start his first league game against Salford.
Afolayan (for Hamilton, 58 mins) - Did well to win a free kick in the second half.
Knowles (for Maynard, 90+3 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Clarke, Smith, Sterling-James.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-4-1-2): Thomas; Bernard (Mondal 82), Rawson, Kitching; Shephard, Winchester, Adams (Morton 90), J.Mills; Aitchison; Stevens, Collins (Frear 70). Subs not used: Wollacott, Allen, Godwin-Malife, Taylor.
Referee:
Ollie Yates 6 Booked seven players and got most of them right in my opinion and could have booked even more. Handled the game ok. No major errors.


Season 19/20 Reports