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Season 19/20 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Macclesfield Town  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
 
 
Attendance: 2055 (734 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 16 November 2019

STAGS IN MID-TABLE 0-0 DRAW AT CRISIS CLUB MACCLESFIELD

Martin Shaw at Moss Rose

Mansfield Town drew 0-0 at Macclesfield Town this afternoon in a game which had 0-0 written all over it from the first minute to the last. It was a game that looked like it was between two lower-mid-table sides, which was exactly what it was.
Mansfield and Macclesfield were locked together on the same number of points before the game, though Macclesfield had a game in hand. But the expectations of the two clubs are poles apart. Mansfield have a stated expectation of promotion, while Macclesfield are a club in crisis. Macclesfield’s players had been on strike a week ago refusing to play in the FA Cup tie with Kingstonian. The players returned to work to play in the Leasing.com trophy on Wednesday, but threatened to refuse to play in this league game, and for much of Thursday and Friday it looked like the game might not go ahead. It wasn’t until 9.15pm on Friday night that it finally became clear that the game would go ahead.
The first half was competitive and very even with few chances for either side. The Stags had two chances as Will Tomlinson’s shot was deflected straight through to the keeper, and Nicky Maynard got in a shot from just outside the area that the keeper just about pushed away. The first chance for Macclesfield came with the last kick of the first half as Arthur Gnahoua’s powerful shot was palmed away by Conrad Logan with strong hands.
The Stags went close in the first minute of the second half as Kellan’s Gordon’s great cross from the right across the edge of the six yard box was missed by the home defence and sort of hit Maynard and trickled wide. Maynard had the best chance of the game on 60 minutes as Alex MacDonald laid a great ball forward for him to run on to, he got to the edge of the box but in a 1-on-1 with the keeper, Maynard slid his shot agonisingly just wide of the right post. And that was pretty much it in terms of chances for either side, although Maynard put in a great cross after 79 minutes, across the six yard box for sub Danny Rose who slid in on it and missed it though he was offside anyway.
The Stags had to play the last 7 minutes plus stoppage time with ten men as Danny Rose limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury, dreadful news if it is confirmed to be correct after Rose’s injury problems.
It was encouraging to see the Stags defence in solid form, with Krystian Pearce returning from injury and putting in several good tackles, while Matt Preston and Ryan Sweeney did well either side of him.
But there was a distinct lack of creativity in midfield. On Tuesday night in that hugely impressive win at near-full-strength Burton, Alistair Smith and Jacob Mellis provided much-needed creativity in a terrific midfield display. Either or both should have started here in my opinion, but neither did. It suggested that Mansfield were prioritising not losing over the chance of winning. But the clearly stated aim is promotion, and from the league position Mansfield find themselves in, below mid-table, it is victories that will get Mansfield into the promotion picture, draws just aren’t going to do it. That’s not to say that a draw at top-of-the-table Swindon next week wouldn’t be a good result, of course it would. But at Macclesfield, a win should have been targeted.
October was a good month for Mansfield in the league, but November has started badly in the league, with just one point from two games. In those two games, Mansfield have looked no more than a lower-mid-table side, and absolutely nowhere near the promotion side that chairman John Radford is expecting to see.


Mansfield made two changes to the side that beat Chorley in the FA Cup. Bishop and Khan missed out through injury. In came Pearce and Shaughnessy. Bishop had a slight back problem, Khan had a slight groin problem picked up against Chorley. Pearce was returning from injury. Knowles was given the weekend off after playing 120 minutes in the exciting FA Youth Cup win on Wednesday night. I said in commentary before the game that I thought Mellis and Smith were unfortunate not to earn starting places from their performances at Burton on Tuesday in the Leasing.com Trophy. Boss Dempster understandably stuck with three at the back, a system that worked well at Burton, with Shaughnessy switching from the back three to midfield, replaced by Pearce.

Macclesfield’s players and staff have repeatedly been paid late. The game was in doubt until late on Friday night as already mentioned. Macclesfield’s players reportedly didn’t train this week. But they played 90 minutes on Wednesday night in the Leasing.com Trophy so it would have been pretty much only recovery since then anyway, which their players as professionals would have done anyway on their own. We know from Bury last season that teams can still perform to a high standard in this situation, so no-one should have expected Macclesfield to be a pushover or to tire. Macclesfield included two players who have been on trial at Mansfield: Arthur Gnahoua who played against Alfreton and Blackburn in pre-season under John Dempster, and Nathan Cameron, who was on trial a year earlier under David Flitcroft.

We’ve become used to seeing matches played on pitches like bowling greens recently. Not today at Moss Rose though. This was the worst pitch I’ve seen for a while, even down to non-league step 4. With staff being paid late, presumably the groundsman hasn’t been tending to it as you would expect at other clubs.
The weather forecast was for a dry day, but it rained all afternoon. I don’t think the rain affected the game, but the half of the 734 travelling Stags fans who were on the terrace got very wet.


The first action of note came after 6 minutes with a great break by Theo Archibald and a great block by Preston for a corner.

After 14 minutes, good play between Maynard and Cook, the ball broke for Tomlinson whose shot was deflected, the sting taken out of it, and it went straight at the keeper. The first chance for either side.

Preston was booked for a deliberate trip on Gnahoua after 19 minutes.

Benning was also booked, after 21 minutes, for deliberately bringing down Welch-Hayes after Welch-Hayes knocked the ball through his legs. Benning is now on 4 yellow cards, and like Bishop and Gordon, is one booking away from a suspension.

Gnahoua fired very high and very wide from 20 yards after 29 minutes.

After 33 minutes, MacDonald chipped a diagonal ball into the area for Cook, but Cook didn’t get enough power on his header and it was an easy save for the keeper.

The Stags were lacking quality in midfield. Numerous attempted balls went straight through to the Macclesfield keeper with no Stags player anywhere in sight.

After 41 minutes, Maynard got in a shot from just outside the area that the keeper just about pushed away. A good effort.

A good tackle by MacDonald on Welch-Hayes two minutes later.

The first chance for Macclesfield came with the last kick of the first half as Gnahoua’s powerful shot was palmed away by Logan with strong hands.

A competitive and very even first half with few chances for either side. Poor entertainment and the Stags crying out for some creativity in midfield. The Stags needed to get some more creative players on at half time, but didn’t make a change.

Half time 0-0

The Stags went close in the first minute of the second half as Gordon’s great cross from the right across the edge of the six yard box was missed by the home defence and sort of hit Maynard and trickled wide.

After 49 minutes, Gnahoua’s free kick from 32 yards was deflected well wide.

Poor play from Pearce after 54 minutes as he conceded a corner under no pressure.

In the 56th minute, three chances for the home side in quick succession as Welch-Hayes, Harris and Welch-Hayes again had shots blocked, by Benning, Pearce and Preston respectively. Good defending.

A minute later a great tackle by Pearce.

On 59 minutes, a great move from the Stags as Maynard found Benning but Benning was offside.

Maynard had the best chance of the game on 60 minutes as Alex MacDonald laid a great ball forward for him to run on to, he got to the edge of the box but in a 1-on-1 with the keeper, Maynard slid his shot agonisingly just wide of the right post.

Mellis replaced Tomlinson after 62 minutes.

Fitzpatrick sent a low shot well wide of the right post on 64 minutes.

After 66 minutes, MacDonald crossed in from the left, Sweeney was in space in the middle but chose to head back across goal rather than towards goal and the chance was gone.

At the other end after 63 minutes, a low shot from Harris nicked off Shaughnessy and wide of the left post. It was going wide anyway.

Rose replaced Cook after 75 minutes.

Maynard put in a great cross after 79 minutes, across the six yard box for Rose who slid in on it and missed it though he was offside anyway.

Hamilton was the final sub, replacing Maynard after 80 minutes. I wouldn’t have taken Maynard off, he looked Mansfield’s biggest threat.

Bad luck for Mansfield after 83 minutes as Rose had to limp off with what looked like a hamstring injury, dreadful news if it is confirmed to be correct after Rose’s injury problems. With three subs on, it meant the Stags had to end the game with ten men. Rose had pulled up after chasing a dreadful punt forward from Preston that went out for a goal kick. The Stags played far too many of these balls today.

Another great tackle by Pearce after 87 minutes.

The Stags nearly gifted the game to Macclesfield after 90+2 minutes. Preston left a backpass short to Logan, Logan really didn’t want that, Logan tried to clear, it ricocheted off Stevens and wide of the goal. Dreadful.

Good tracking back by Hamilton a minute later as Gnahoua broke forward following a Stags free kick. Then in the final minute of stoppage time (90+5), a cross from Kirby was headed down straight to Logan.

Full time and if ever a game deserved to be 0-0, this was it. Frustrating for Mansfield that after all that creativity shown at Burton, they went backwards here. I think that was a big mistake.

Man of the match: Krystian Pearce


Report by: Martin Shaw at Moss Rose



Line Up:
(3-5-2)
Logan 6.5 One good save as he palmed away Gnahoua’s powerful shot with strong hands. Otherwise nothing much to do.
Preston 7 Good game. A couple of good blocks. Poor backpass in stoppage time.
Pearce 7.5 Several great tackles and one good block. One poor piece of play as he conceded a corner under no pressure.
Sweeney 7 Good game.
Gordon 6.5 One great cross from the right across the edge of the six yard box sort of hit Maynard and trickled wide. Did ok.
MacDonald 6.5 Great ball forward for Maynard to run on to for a 1-on-1 with the keeper. Two good crosses.
Shaughnessy 6 Created little.
Tomlinson 6 One shot deflected through to the keeper. Otherwise created little.
Benning 6 One good block. Booked, and like Bishop and Gordon, is one booking away from a suspension.
Maynard 6.5 Three chances, including a glorious one in a 1-on-1. Good cross for Rose, although Rose was offside.
Cook 6 One header, but not enough power on it.
Sub Line Up:
Mellis (for Tomlinson, 62 mins) -
Rose (for Cook, 75 mins) -
Hamilton (for Maynard, 80 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Smith, Sterling-James, Afolayan.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-4-1-2): Evans; Cameron, Kelleher, Vassell; Welch-Hayes, Kirby, Harris, Fitzpatrick; Gnahoua; Stephens (Blyth, 90+4), Archibald (Ironside, 48). Subs not used: Charles-Cook, Horsfall, Ntambwe, Michael Rose.
Referee:
Chris Sarginson 7 Had a decent game.


Season 19/20 Reports