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Season 19/20 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Walsall  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Adebayo 45.
 
 Cook 30, MacDonald 68.
Attendance: 4521 (877 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 26 October 2019

MANSFIELD PICK UP IMPORTANT WIN AT WALSALL

Martin Shaw at the Banks’s Stadium (Bescot Stadium)

Mansfield Town picked up an important 3 points in their first visit to Walsall for 13 years this afternoon, winning 2-1 with goals from Andy Cook, against his former club, and Alex MacDonald, whose goal was the first by a Stags midfielder this season (*). It felt particularly important for the Stags to win after creating 24 chances against Salford on Tuesday yet falling to defeat. The Stags created nowhere near that number of chances today and overall it was not a game that was full of quality, but Mansfield did show more quality than a Walsall side that lost its fifth game on the trot and Walsall looked a poor outfit, and hence it was a deserved win.
The Stags took the lead after 30 minutes and what a goal it was. Otis Khan picked up the ball in the centre circle and dribbled his way to the byline on the left side of the penalty area before chipping a perfect cross over the goalkeeper and on to the head of Andy Cook who rose above Liam Kinsella to head into the net from 3 yards. Simply sensational from Khan and a sweet moment for Cook whose every touch was booed by the home fans. Cook scored 18 goals for Walsall last season, a handy return for a side that was relegated. Walsall equalised on the stroke of 45 minutes and it came from a free kick which was soft to say the least as Ryan Sweeney was adjudged to have fouled Walsall sub Elijah Adebayo. The free kick from 30 yards out on the right was well-delivered into the box by Rory Holden and Adebayo headed into the net from 6 yards as the ball floated just over Krystian Pearce. Pearce should have defended that better.
The Stags regained the lead after 68 minutes as Mal Benning played a short pass to Conor Shaughnessy and made a run forward into the box, Shaughnessy then slid an inch perfect ball into Benning’s path as he forced his way into the box. Benning pulled the ball back from the byline and it deflected into the path of MacDonald, who took a touch before slamming the ball into the net from 8 yards. Great play particularly from Shaughnessy and Benning. It was a wonderful moment right in front of the travelling 877 Stags fans who got behind their side superbly all afternoon.
The Stags rarely looked like surrendering the lead and saw the game out for 3 big points.
Otis Khan was my man of the match, having a terrific game, particularly in the first half with the home side often unable to get the ball off him. Huge credit also to Conrad Logan who made several fine saves in a high quality performance. In the first half, Rory Gaffney was through 1-on-1 with Logan and Logan saved well with his legs. Early in the second half, Logan pushed a shot by Adebayo wide after MacDonald had gifted the ball to Adebayo. But the best and most important of the lot came just moments before the Stags went 2-1 up as Gordon gave the ball away to Liam Kinsella who played in Gaffney, and Logan made a brilliant save to deny Gaffney who was through 1-on-1. What a key moment that was, indeed it was a match-changing moment with the Stags notching the winner less than a minute later.
Mansfield are up to 14th in the table and will probably move in to the top half of the table if they can beat Colchester next Saturday, and the play-off positions will at last look a lot closer. It will be a big game and it’s vital the Stags again put back-to-back wins together.

(footnote *) assuming Afolayan and Sterling-James are counted as strikers.


There had been a huge amount of rain all morning and night and indeed on Friday so it was remarkable that the pitch was in perfect condition. Huge credit to the groundstaff and to Walsall for such a good pitch.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that lost to Salford. No changes on the bench either. Mansfield continued with the 4-4-2 formation. White, Mellis and Rose remained out with injury. Mansfield had three former Walsall players in the squad: Mal Benning, who got no reaction from the home fans, Andy Cook who was booed on his every touch, and Matt Preston, who was applauded when he came on as sub.
Walsall had lost four games on the trot and only scored 10 games in their first 15 games of the season. Manager Darrell Clarke, a former Stags player of course, had taken over in the summer and not got off to a good start.


Mansfield were not off to a good start in the game. After 3 minutes, poor defending from Pearce who lost the ball to Josh Gordon, but his cross was cleared by Benning. Then slack work from Benning giving away an unnecessary corner after 6 minutes. From the resulting corner, Roberts knocked it down and Cockerill-Mollett diverted it goalbound but Logan blocked it.

The Stags started to get things together. After 10 minutes, a good move, and Bishop was in space to put in a cross but he put it behind for a goalkick.

A great move from the Stags after 12 minutes, Benning crossed from the left and Maynard headed goalwards but it was saved on the line by the Walsall keeper Rose. After 16 minutes, Gordon played inside to Maynard whose left foot shot was deflected for a corner.

MacDonald was booked after 17 minutes. Following that Stags corner, MacDonald lost the ball and was then late with a tackle trying to win it back.

After 23 minutes, a high ball over the top from the back by Walsall, Rory Gaffney was through 1-on-1 with Logan and Logan saved well with his legs. Both Benning and Bishop complained to Logan that he could have come for the ball over the top. But it was a good save from Logan who more than atoned.

It was a low quality game thus far, summed up by a Walsall cross behind for a goalkick.

The Stags fans however were in superb voice, right behind their side, and chanted “One Johnny Radford”. John and Carolyn had flown over from Portugal on Friday, according to Carolyn’s Instagram and facebook page, and John Radford got up to acknowledge the fans.

Walsall were forced into an early change. Striker John Gordon limped off and was replaced by Elijah Adebayo. It proved a good change for the home side as he went on to be comfortably their best player.

The Stags took the lead after 30 minutes and what a goal it was. Otis Khan picked up the ball in the centre circle and dribbled his way to the byline on the left side of the penalty area before chipping a perfect cross over the goalkeeper and on to the head of Andy Cook who rose above Liam Kinsella to head into the net from 3 yards. Simply sensational from Khan and a sweet moment for Cook whose every touch was booed by the home fans. In the celebrations, Cook gestured as if he was stroking a bulging tummy, having been called a fat c**t by Walsall fans.

A minute after the goal Benning did well to block from Gaffney as Adebayo got away from Pearce and laid into his path and Gaffney had a clear sight of goal.

After 36 minutes, a free kick from Khan from the left was cleared to Benning who curled a shot with the outside of his left boot wide of the right post from the edge of the area.

A great move from the Stags after 40 minutes, Shaughnessy found Cook who shot across the keeper and just wide of the left post.

A good block by Bishop after 42 minutes on a shot from Stuart Sinclair from the edge of the area. Then Logan did well to pouch a cross from the left and was hurt by Gaffney in the process.

Walsall equalised on the stroke of 45 minutes and it came from a free kick which was soft to say the least as Ryan Sweeney was adjudged to have fouled Walsall sub Elijah Adebayo. The free kick from 30 yards out on the right was well-delivered into the box by Rory Holden and Adebayo headed into the net from 6 yards as the ball floated just over Krystian Pearce. Pearce should have defended that better.

1-1 at half and what a bad time for the Stags to concede an equaliser. Walsall had not looked a good side and it was a sucker punch for the Stags. Otis Khan had been outstanding in that first half, with the ball sticking to his boot time and again.

Half time 1-1

After 50 minutes, Logan pushed a shot by Adebayo wide after MacDonald had gifted the ball to Adebayo.

After 56 minutes, calls for a penalty from Maynard as his header hit the arm of Scarr in the box following a cross from Gordon, but it was at too close range to be a penalty. Walsall broke straight to the other end, Adebayo crossed from the left and Norman volleyed over the bar.

Preston replaced Pearce after 58 minutes. Pearce was injured, but again had not looked himself. Preston was applauded on to the pitch by his former fans.

Great play from Khan on the left after 60 minutes, he found Benning whose cross was put behind for a corner. Three minutes later, Benning was fouled level with the edge of the Walsall area on the left. Khan’s free kick was cleared. At the other end on 65 minutes, a Walsall corner was headed wide of the left post by Kory Roberts though the referee blew for a foul on Sweeney anyway.

A game changing minute midway through the second half. Gordon gave the ball away to Liam Kinsella who played in Gaffney, and Logan made a brilliant save with his legs to deny Gaffney who was through 1-on-1. Less than a minute later the Stags regained the lead. Benning played a short pass to Conor Shaughnessy and made a run forward into the box, Shaughnessy then slid an inch perfect ball into Benning’s path as he forced his way into the box. Benning pulled the ball back from the byline and it deflected into the path of MacDonald, who took a touch before slamming the ball into the net from 8 yards. Great play particularly from Shaughnessy and Benning. It was a wonderful moment right in front of the travelling 877 Stags fans who got behind their side superbly all afternoon.

After 70 minutes a good cross from the right by Norman and Logan caught well with Adebayo behind him. At the other end a minute later, a great cross from MacDonald, and Norman did well to head behind with Cook coming in at the far post.

A chance for Walsall after 77 minutes. A free kick from the right was headed over the bar by Adebayo.

The Stags were close to extending the lead after 80 minutes. Benning’s free kick from the left found Cook who volleyed in a cross from the right it deflected off Scar and Walsall keeper Rose made a point blank save.

Walsall sub Wes McDonald put a shot almost into the upper tier of the big stand behind the goal after 83 minutes.

After 87 minutes, Maynard won a free kick out of the nothing on the left outside the area. From the free kick, Khan teed up Benning who sent a shot just wide of the right post via a deflection for a corner.

Hamilton replaced Maynard before the corner was taken. Maynard was annoyed to be taken off. After the game, boss Dempster explained that Alex MacDonald had shouted to him “Cooky’s getting cramp”. Dempster misheard as “Nicky’s getting cramp” and promptly took Maynard off not wanting to take any chances!

From the corner, the ball came out to Bishop whose shot was blocked.

Cook was taken off after 90 minutes, with Afolayan replacing him.

A free kick for Walsall after 90+2 minutes in a similar position to where they scored the first goal. Preston did well to head it away.

Not the highest quality game overall, but a big win for the Stags.

Man of the match: Otis Khan


Report by: Martin Shaw at the Banks’s Stadium (Bescot Stadium)



Line Up:
(4-4-2)
Logan 8 Made several fine saves in a high quality performance.
Gordon 6 Got forward well on occasion. Gave the ball away and was rescued by Logan who made a brilliant save from Gaffney.
Pearce 4.5 Two mistakes early in the game before he lost Adebayo who headed in Walsall’s goal. Went off injured. Does not look himself.
Sweeney 7.5 Very solid game.
Benning 7.5 Involved in much of what Mansfield did that was good, including an assist for MacDonald’s goal.
MacDonald 7 Got the winner with his first goal of the season. Gifted the ball to Adebayo and was rescued by Logan.
Shaughnessy 7.5 Wonderful ball to Benning in the build-up to MacDonald’s goal. Teed up Cook for a chance.
Bishop 6.5 Put in some good blocks.
Khan 9 Sensational assist for Cook’s goal. Had a terrific game, particularly in the first half with the home side often unable to get the ball off him.
Maynard 6.5 Had a header saved on the line. Won some free kicks.
Cook 8 Scored a typical Cook goal rising above his marker to head in. The goal was a sweet moment for Cook whose every touch was booed by the home fans.
Sub Line Up:
Preston (for Pearce, 58 mins) 7 Good header away from a dangerous free kick in stoppage time. Will surely replace the Pearce in the next game.
Hamilton (for Maynard, 87 mins) -
Afolayan (for Cook, 90 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Smith, Tomlinson, Knowles.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Jack Rose; Norman, Scarr, Kory Roberts, Cockerill-Mollett; Holden (Wes McDonald 72), Bates (Guthrie 62), Sinclair, Kinsella; Gordon (Adebayo 25), Gaffney. Subs: Liam Roberts, Liddle, Facey, Hardy.
Referee:
Andy Haines 7 Handled the game well. The free kick from which Walsall scored was very soft though.


Season 19/20 Reports