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Season 19/20 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Swindon Town  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Doyle 23
 
 
Attendance: 6741 (215 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 23 November 2019

STAGS UNLUCKY TO BE BEATEN AT TOP-OF-THE-TABLE SWINDON

Martin Shaw at The County Ground

Despite an attacking performance which was a huge improvement on last week’s performance at Macclesfield, Mansfield Town fell to a 1-0 defeat at the top-of-the-table Swindon Town this afternoon.
Swindon showed why they are top in the opening 35 minutes with some impressive football going forward, hitting the woodwork twice and scoring what turned out to be the only goal of the game. The goal came after 23 minutes when the league’s top scorer Eoin Doyle notched his 17th goal of the season, knocking into the net from 7 yards from a low cross from the right from Kayne Woolery after Ryan Sweeney had headed away a cross from the left from Anthony Grant, to Woolery. It was disappointing defending from Mansfield’s three central defenders, Pearce, Preston and Sweeney, who surrounded Doyle on three sides yet effectively left him unmarked to knock into the net.
Earlier, after 8 minutes, Swindon had been unlucky when right back Paul Caddis cut in from the right, onto his left foot and curled a fabulous shot from just outside the area against the inside of the far post. Swindon hit the woodwork again after 36 minutes, but this time it wasn’t bad luck that kept it out, it was a magnificent save from Conrad Logan. Jerry Yates chipped a great ball forward into the Stags area, Michael Doughty cushioned the ball down perfectly into the path of Doyle whose shot from 14 yards bounced into the ground and Logan pushed it up and against the bar.
But from that moment on it was the Stags in the ascendancy, really taking the game to Swindon, and in the end unlucky not to come away with a point. In the final 7 minutes of the first half, Jacob Mellis was through 1-on-1 with Swindon keeper Steven Benda, but Benda was out quickly to block Mellis’s shot. Then Nicky Maynard fired wide of the left post after a great move involving CJ Hamilton and Andy Cook. After 43 minutes, a great ball forward from Conor Shaughnessy put Kellan Gordon in behind the defence on the right but Gordon’s cross-shot was wide of the far post and too far ahead of Maynard. Gordon was in behind the defence again moments later, after a great ball from Mellis to put him in, but his cross was cleared. Gordon’s delivery needed to be better. Then a corner from Mellis was headed back by Preston to Shaughnessy who turned in the area but the ball was cleared.

The Stags continued to be on top into the second half. Twenty seconds into the half, great play from Hamilton to get to the byline, he pulled the ball across and it just evaded Maynard.
After 52 minutes, the Stags hit the post. Great play involving Shaughnessy and Cook got Maynard into the area on the right and from a difficult angle Maynard thundered a super shot goalwards which the keeper could only push against the post. A lucky let-off for the keeper who should have kept it out more easily but it was a good effort from that position by Maynard. The keeper made a better save after 58 minutes when he clawed away a close range header from Andy Cook after Hamilton had crossed from the left.
If Maynard was unlucky after 52 minutes, he was guilty of a bad miss after 60 minutes. A misplaced header from Zeki Fryers set Maynard through on goal with just the keeper to beat from 10 yards, but Maynard sliced his shot wide. It was a bad miss with plenty of the goal to aim at, and Maynard put his head in his hands.
Boss Dempster made attacking substitutions after that bringing on Omari Sterling-James, Otis Khan and Jimmy Knowles, whilst leaving his other strikers on, but the Stags were unable to break the Swindon door down. Swindon were mightily relieved to hang on to the points and remain top of the table.

The Stags deserved a point in my opinion and after the game Swindon boss Richie Wellens conceded his team rode their luck.

This was a style and level of performance that the Stags should have been putting in all season, really taking the attack to the opposition. Indeed, today's good attacking performance really highlights just how massively underperforming we are this season. The Stags find ourselves just two points above 22nd place after 19 games. That’s two points above third bottom place. If we were in any other division, where normally three or four sides go down, we'd be in a massive relegation struggle, but because there is only one team going down from League Two, we are not.

This performance also re-clarified that last week's team selection at Macclesfield was a big error of judgement in my opinion. I said in my report last week: “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.”

Smith and Mellis were both brought into the side at Swindon, and both performed well, as the Stags looked highly creative going forward. Smith was in for his first league start. There were plenty of other good performances through the side as well.

October was a good month for Mansfield which saw 10 points from 5 games. November also needed to be a good month in the league to keep that improvement going, but has been a disaster with just 1 point from 3 games, such that October and November combined has brought only 11 points from 8 games. Mansfield have beaten only five sides in the league this season, and all five are below Mansfield in the table. Looking up the table, Mansfield are nine points behind the play-offs with both the 6th and 7th placed teams having two games in hand. And twelve points behind third place with the third place team having a game in hand. The Stags are absolutely nowhere near the promotion positions that chairman John Radford is expecting to be in. Yet today’s performance showed what should be possible with these players as the top-of-the-table side were left lucky to hang on for the win at home.


John Dempster made three changes to the side that drew at Macclesfield. In came Smith, Mellis and Hamilton. They replaced Tomlinson, MacDonald and Benning. I’ve already commented on Smith and Mellis coming in. Tomlinson is a more defensive midfielder. Benning was suspended for picking up 5 yellow cards. According to the FA disciplinary website last week Benning was still one booking away from a suspension, which turned out to be incorrect, so apologies for relaying incorrect info in my last report. Hamilton was in at left wing back, in a 3-5-2 formation. Shaughnessy, Smith and Mellis were in central midfield, with Mellis the most advanced of the three. Mansfield included Matt Preston and Kellan Gordon who have previously played for Swindon.

The Stags came into the game unbeaten in 6 away from home (3 wins and 3 draws). Swindon came into the game with 4 wins in a row in the league. Dion Donohue, who was involved in that incident at Mansfield earlier in the season along with Jacob Mellis, while a Mansfield player, was expected to play for Swindon but didn’t. After the game, Swindon boss Richie Wellens said that there had been an objection from the FA due to a gap between his initial one month contract ending at Swindon and Swindon then re-signing him this week, so the FA did not accept his registration.

The Stags played in the teal third kit. A nice kit I think and the first time the team have played in it (or last year’s green third kit) when it wasn’t necessary due to playing Newport, Cambridge or Burton. Perhaps it was because the players enjoyed playing in it and winning at Burton or maybe the club thought they might entice a few more sales of the kit at Christmas.


Mansfield won a free kick after 2 minutes. Mellis’s set piece was headed down by Shaughnessy but straight to the keeper.

After 3 minutes, at the other end, a great cross from Caddis but Doyle was offside in the middle.

After 8 minutes, Swindon were unlucky when right back Paul Caddis cut in from the right, onto his left foot and curled a fabulous shot from just outside the area against the inside of the far post. It more or less rolled along the line so close was it to going in.

At the other end, after 10 minutes, Maynard turned well on the right, got to the byline and his low cross was cleared. Four minutes later, Mellis played a good ball forward for Maynard but the keeper was out quickly like a sweeper to clear.

Preston was booked for a late tackle on Doughty after 15 minutes. Correct decision from the ref, but he made a gaffe after 19 minutes when a clear foul on Gordon was not given, Swindon broke and won a corner, which was cleared.

The only goal of the game came after 23 minutes when the league’s top scorer Eoin Doyle notched his 17th goal of the season, knocking into the net from 7 yards from a low cross from the right from Kayne Woolery after Sweeney had headed away a cross from the left from Anthony Grant, to Woolery. It was disappointing defending from Mansfield’s three central defenders, Pearce, Preston and Sweeney, who surrounded Doyle on three sides yet effectively left him unmarked to knock into the net. It was the 7th game in a row that Doyle has scored.

Alistair Smith was booked a tackle from behind after 26 minutes.

On 28 minutes, Caddis took a short free kick to Doughty who fired over the bar from 25 yards.

On 32 minutes, Hamilton’s cross was caught on the line under his bar by the keeper under pressure from Cook.

Swindon had showed why they are top-of-the-table in the opening 35 minutes with some impressive football going forward, and hit the woodwork again after 36 minutes, but this time it wasn’t bad luck that kept it out, it was a magnificent save from Conrad Logan. Jerry Yates chipped a great ball forward into the Stags area, Doughty cushioned the ball down perfectly into the path of Doyle whose shot from 14 yards bounced into the ground and Logan pushed it up and against the bar.

But from that moment on it was the Stags in the ascendancy, really taking the game to Swindon, and in the end unlucky not to come away with a point.

After 38 minutes, Shaughnessy played Mellis through with a great ball so that Mellis was 1-on-1 with keeper Steven Benda, but Benda was out quickly to block Mellis’s shot. Then a minute later Maynard fired wide of the left post after a great move involving Hamilton and Cook.

At the other end after 41 minutes, Yates had a shot deflected for a corner.

After 43 minutes, a great ball forward from Shaughnessy put Gordon in behind the defence on the right but Gordon’s cross-shot was wide of the far post and too far ahead of Maynard. Gordon was in behind the defence again moments later, after a great ball from Mellis to put him in, but his cross was cleared. Gordon’s delivery needed to be better. Two minutes after that on 45+1 minutes, a brilliant ball from Gordon to Smith who beat his man to get into the area and crossed in, but a defender’s clearance hit another defender and behind for a corner. From that corner from Mellis it was headed back by Preston to Shaughnessy who turned in the area but the ball was cleared.

The Stags could have been 3-0 down in the opening 36 minutes, but really had Swindon under the cosh by half time.

Half time 1-0

The Stags continued to be on top into the second half. Twenty seconds into the half, great play from Hamilton to get to the byline, he pulled the ball across and it just evaded Maynard.

At the other end after 48 minutes, a mistake by Shaughnessy gifted the ball to Doughty, who found Doyle with his back to goal. Doyle laid off to Hunt who fired well wide.

Cook showed great strength and pace after 51 minutes to get away from his defender, he tried to lay the ball sideways to Maynard but couldn’t find him.

After 52 minutes, the Stags hit the post. Great play involving Shaughnessy and Cook got Maynard into the area on the right and from a difficult angle Maynard thundered a super shot goalwards which the keeper could only push against the post. A lucky let-off for the keeper who should have kept it out more easily but it was a good effort from that position by Maynard. Two minutes later a good run by Hamilton into the area and he put a low ball into the right area but no-one was there.

One member of the coaching staff from each bench was booked by the ref after 56 minutes. It was Drewe Broughton from Mansfield and Noel Hunt from the Swindon coaching staff. Richie Wellens was not happy with Hunt after the game over this as it is apparently Wellens that will get the fine. Wellens said that Hunt will have to pay it for him.

The Swindon keeper made a better save after 58 minutes when he clawed away a close range header from Cook after Hamilton had crossed from the left.

If Maynard was unlucky after 52 minutes, he was guilty of a bad miss after 60 minutes. A misplaced header from Zeki Fryers set Maynard through on goal with just the keeper to beat from 10 yards, but Maynard sliced his shot wide. It was a bad miss with plenty of the goal to aim at, and Maynard put his head in his hands.

A great tackle from Hamilton tracking back on Woolery after 62 minutes. Good play from Doyle after 68 minutes on the right, he played a ball across to Yates who knocked over the bar. Yates had another pot shot after 72 minutes firing well over the bar. Good keeping from Logan after 74 minutes out quickly to avert danger.

Boss Dempster made attacking substitutions after that, firstly bringing on Omari Sterling-James for Shaughnessy after 77 minutes.

Preston made a good clearance after 78 minutes. Two minutes later, Doyle tried to chip over Logan from 30 yards but was well over the bar.

Otis Khan replaced Gordon after 82 minutes.

More good tracking back from Hamilton after 88 minutes as Swindon broke.

A shot from Mellis from 25 yards was blocked after 89 minutes.

Jimmy Knowles replaced Mellis after 89 minutes.

But the Stags were unable to break the Swindon door down. Whilst Swindon were mightily relieved to hang on to the points and remain top of the table, the Stags weren’t able to create any good chances in the final 30 minutes. As the Swindon Advertiser reporter sitting next to me said, Swindon successfully parked the bus.

The Stags deserved a point in my opinion and after the game Swindon boss Richie Wellens conceded his team rode their luck. But over the course of the season, and we’re now only 4 games short of half way, no-one can argue the Stags deserve to be anywhere other than lower mid-table, considerable closer to the bottom than the top.

Man of the match: Jacob Mellis


Report by: Martin Shaw at The County Ground



Line Up:
(3-5-2)
Logan 7 No chance with the goal. Magnificent save turning Doyle’s shot into the bar.
Preston 6 Poor start to the game including being booked and could have done better for the goal. Really good game after that.
Pearce 6 Solid game apart from not marking Doyle for the goal.
Sweeney 6 Solid game apart from not marking Doyle for the goal.
Gordon 6 Twice got in behind the defence at the end of the first half but his delivery needed to be better.
Shaughnessy 7.5 Several good pieces of play including great balls forward for Mellis and Gordon.
Smith 8 Good creative game on his first league start.
Mellis 8 Very good game in advanced midfield role. Should have scored when through 1-on-1. Great ball to put Gordon in behind the defence.
Hamilton 8 Several good runs forward. Two great tackles tracking back. Must have a run in the side.
Maynard 6 Great shot turned against the post by the keeper, but later guilty of a bad miss.
Cook 7 Good strength and gave the home side some problems.
Sub Line Up:
Sterling-James (for Shaughnessy, 77 mins) -
Khan (for Gordon, 82 mins) -
Knowles (for Mellis, 89 mins) -
Subs not used: Olejnik, Clarke, Tomlinson, MacDonald.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-3-3): Benda; Caddis, Baudry, Fryers, Hunt; Grant, Lyden (Rose, 45), Doughty (Broadbent, 59); Woolery (Iandolo, 90+1), Yates, Doyle. Subs not used: McCormick, Curran, Jaiyesimi, Twine.
Referee:
Nick Kinseley 7 Got most things right though missed one clear foul.


Season 19/20 Reports