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Season 20/21 Stagsnet Match Report
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Bolton Wanderers  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Sarcevic 90.
 
 Lapslie 57
Attendance: behind closed doors
 
Date: 3 November 2020

STAGS DENIED WIN IN LAST MINUTE AT BOLTON

Martin Shaw at the University of Bolton Stadium

Mansfield Town were so close to their first victory of the season last night when they were deservedly leading 1-0 at Bolton but an equaliser on the stroke of 90 minutes for the home side left the Stags utterly frustrated and the long search for a win this season goes on.
For the first 15 minutes of the game, Bolton were on top, firing in shots from distance and passing the ball around nicely, while former Stag Alex Baptiste broke into the box and shot over the bar though the offside flag was raised, albeit rather late.
But the Stags grew into the game and twice went close to taking the lead in the first half as Nicky Maynard’s goalbound shot following a corner was pushed away by keeper Billy Crellin after 18 minutes, and then, after 31 minutes Jordan Bowery, who had a much-improved game, brilliantly controlled George Lapslie’s ball into the area, muscled his way past Baptiste, and found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but Crellin made himself big and made the save.
At the other, Marek Stech made a good save pushing away a 27 yard shot from Antoni Sarcevic.
0-0 was a fair scoreline at the break, but the Stags took control in the second half. After 49 minutes, Lapslie made a surging run forward, the ball broke for George Maris, who played a lovely one-two with Bowery, and Maris curled a shot just wide of the right post from 16 yards. That was a wonderful move.
Mal Benning, happily back in the side after testing positive for Covid-19, made a great run from 40 yards out and fired a terrific low shot inches wide of the right post, with the keeper just getting his fingertips on it. It was classic Mal Benning and something we haven’t seen enough of in recent times. From the resulting corner from the right on 57 minutes, Stephen McLaughlin floated a super corner to the near post and Lapslie glanced a header past the keeper for his first goal in a Mansfield shirt. The Stags were deservedly in front.
The Stags rarely looked troubled and there was controversy on 87 minutes as substitute Jamie Reid swivelled away from Ricardo Santos and would have had a clear run on goal from 40 yards but was cynically brought down by Santos. It was a clear and obvious foul and the only decision the referee should have had to make was whether to produce a yellow or a red card, with the red card probably the correct one in my opinion. But the hapless referee bottled the decision and decided not even to award a free kick.
Disaster struck with less than 10 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining as Ali Crawford chipped a magnificent ball forward from the halfway line into the area and the Stags defence parted allowing Sarcevic to run on to it and lob over Stech and into the net. Stech got a hand on it but it wasn’t enough to keep it out. Poor defending from the Stags as it appeared that McLaughlin should have tracked Sarcevic’s run into the box but let him go, and failing that, Corey O’Keeffe, on as substitute after returning from self-isolation, could have done better in picking up Sarcevic’s run.
Utter frustration for the Stags who remain perilously positioned in the bottom three with only seven points from 11 games. The Stags have led against Leyton Orient, Exeter, Newport, Walsall and now Bolton, and failed to win any of them.
This was perhaps Mansfield’s best performance of the season but it is wins that the Stags need to climb away from the bottom of the table. Much credit to caretaker boss Richard Cooper, who’s done a fine job steadying the ship after the humiliation against Barrow a week ago, and it might be Cooper’s last game in charge with a new manager possibly in place by the weekend for the visit to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in the FA Cup on Saturday (3pm kick-off, a game UK viewers can watch on iFollow Stags, but not overseas viewers due to broadcasting restrictions for the FA Cup).


This was Mansfield’s first visit to the University of Bolton stadium (originally known at the Reebok stadium), and it was the first game between the two clubs for 27 years.

Bolton sat three points ahead of Mansfield, having lost 4-0 at Crawley on Saturday, but they had beaten Bradford 1-0 a week ago. Former Stag Alex Baptiste was in a three man central defence for the home side. Former Stags trialist Arthur Gnahoua was on the bench.

Mansfield made two changes to the side that drew with Walsall. Mal Benning was back into the side after his self-isolation. And Jordan Bowery started up front in place of Andy Cook. Jamie Reid also dropped to the bench.
As on Saturday, it was a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in midfield, with Maris at the back of it and Lapslie at the front of it in an attacking midfield role, with Charsley and McLaughlin in central midfield. Maris had passed a late fitness test to play.
Corey O’Keeffe was back on the bench after his self-isolation. Youngsters James Clarke, Jason Law and Alistair Smith dropped out of the 18.


Bolton had the first shot of the game after 9 minutes as Crawford fired wide of the left post from 20 yards after McLaughlin gave the ball away. Two minutes later, Baptiste broke into the box and shot over the bar though the offside flag was raised, albeit rather late. Then Crawford fired over the bar from the edge of the area after a great move, but Bolton were being given too much space.

The Stags grew into the game. After 17 minutes, good play from Maynard to find Bowery. Bowery’s low ball in was put behind for a corner. McLaughlin’s corner was heading for the crossbar and keeper Crellin tipped it over the bar. From the next corner, Maynard’s goalbound shot was pushed away by Crellin.

At the other, Stech made a good save pushing away a 27 yard shot from Antoni Sarcevic.

After 31 minutes Bowery brilliant controlled Lapslie’s ball into the area, muscled his way past Baptiste, and found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but Crellin made himself big and made the save.

After 34 minutes, Crawford sent a free kick over the bar from 29 yards after a foul by Rawson.

A great move from the Stags after 42 minutes which started with a Maynard dummy and eventually Kellan Gordon cut inside onto his left foot and fired just high and wide.

0-0 was a fair scoreline at the break. Bolton started the better but the Stags had done well after that and gone close through Maynard and Bowery.

Half time 0-0

The Stags took control in the second half. After 49 minutes, Lapslie made a surging run forward, the ball broke for Maris, who played a lovely one-two with Bowery, and Maris curled a shot just wide of the right post from 16 yards. That was a wonderful move.

After 55 minutes, Charsley sent a powerful cross across the six yard box, but no-one was there. The Stags were moving the ball well.

Mal Benning made a great run from 40 yards out and fired a terrific low shot inches wide of the right post, with the keeper just getting his fingertips on it. It was classic Mal Benning and something we haven’t seen enough of in recent times. From the resulting corner from the right on 57 minutes, McLaughlin floated a super corner to the near post and Lapslie glanced a header past the keeper for his first goal in a Mansfield shirt. The Stags were deservedly in front.

Maynard turned and sent a shot well wide after 61 minutes. At the other end after 67 minutes, Rawson headed a Crawford free kick behind for a corner. Then Rawson headed away the resulting corner as well.

O’Keeffe replaced Benning after 71 minutes. Both Benning and O’Keeffe had just returned from self-isolation so this was probably pre-planned.

Reid replaced Maynard after 76 minutes.

Lapslie was booked for a foul after 77 minutes.

Reid’s pot-shot from 25 yards was wide of the right post after 83 minutes. At the other end, great play by Kellan Gordon to get the ball off Liam Gordon and win a free kick.

Maris limped off after 86 minutes. He was replaced by O’Driscoll who slotted into the defensive midfield role.

There was controversy on 87 minutes as Jamie Reid swivelled away from Santos and would have had a clear run on goal from 40 yards but was cynically brought down by Santos. It was a clear and obvious foul and the only decision the referee should have had to make was whether to produce a yellow or a red card, with the red card probably the correct one in my opinion. But the hapless referee bottled the decision and decided not even to award a free kick.

Gnahoua fired in a weak low shot, which gave Stech an easy save after 89 minutes.

Disaster struck with less than 10 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining as Crawford chipped a magnificent ball forward from the halfway line into the area and the Stags defence parted allowing Sarcevic to run on to it and lob over Stech and into the net. Stech got a hand on it but it wasn’t enough to keep it out. Poor defending from the Stags as it appeared that McLaughlin should have tracked Sarcevic’s run into the box but let him go, and failing that, O’Keeffe, on as substitute after returning from self-isolation, could have done better in picking up Sarcevic’s run.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Gnahoua’s cross was saved by Stech.

Utter frustration for the Stags as Bolton stole a point. Two cup games now before the return to the league at Forest Green a week on Saturday.

Man of the match: George Lapslie


Report by: Martin Shaw at the University of Bolton Stadium



Line Up:
(4-4-2, diamond in midfield)
Stech 6 Good save from Sarcevic in the first half. Got a hand on Sarcevic’s lob for the equaliser, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out.
Gordon 7 Had another good game at right back.
Rawson 7 Strong defensive performance with some good headers away.
Perch 6.5 Did ok.
Benning 7 Happily back in the side after testing positive for Covid-19. Great run and shot which led to the corner which brought the goal.
Maris 7.5 Lovely one-two before curling a shot wide from a great position. Limped off having passed a fitness test before the game.
Charsley 7 Good game.
McLaughlin 6 Super corner for the goal. Should have tracked Sarcevic’s run into the box but let him go as Bolton equalised. Good set pieces but disappointing in open play.
Lapslie 8 Very good game in attacking midfield role. Scored his first goal for the club. One impressive surging run.
Maynard 6.5 Close to scoring when keeper saved his shot. Several good pieces of play.
Bowery 7.5 Much improved game. Brilliantly controlled Lapslie’s ball into the area, muscled his way past defender, but couldn’t beat the keeper in a one-on-one. Lovely one-two with Maris to set up a chance.
Sub Line Up:
O’Keeffe (for Benning, 71 mins) - Could have done better in picking up Sarcevic’s run for the equaliser.
Reid (for Maynard, 76 mins) - Good turn should have seen Bolton down to ten men.
O’Driscoll (for Maris, 86 mins) -
Subs not used: Stone, Menayese, Sinclair, Cook.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-4-1-2): Crellin; Baptiste, Santos, Delaney; Kioso, Sarcevic, White, Brockbank (Liam Gordon 29); Crawford; Delfouneso (Miller 70), Darcy (Gnahoua 57). Subs Not Used: Hickman, Greenidge, Tutte, Isgrove.
Referee:
Andy Haines 5 Had only one decision of note to make on the evening and bottled it, deciding not to even award a free kick after Reid swivelled away from Santos and would have had a clear run on goal from 40 yards but was cynically brought down.


Season 20/21 Reports