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24th February 2021 22:31

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 0 - 3 Cambridge United
Mullin 57, 65, Knibbs 90+1
Attendance: behind closed doors

Date: 20 February 2021

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were beaten 3-0 at home by League Two leaders Cambridge United this afternoon. The first half was very even as the Stags went toe to toe with Cambridge, but the Stags were poor in the second half while Cambridge stepped up a gear and the visitors ran out very comfortable winners thanks in part to some clinical finishing from League Two top scorer Paul Mullin who helped himself to a brace.
On a windy day and on a muddy pitch, the first half saw few chances for either side. Jordan Bowery went close for the Stags after 23 minutes when he was found by Stephen Quinn, Bowery cut in from the left onto his right foot and fired just wide of the right post with the keeper motionless. Then after 34 minutes Harry Charsley picked up the scraps after a good run by Ollie Clarke towards the edge of the area, and Charsley sent a left footed shot wide of the right post from inside the D.
The first significant save for either keeper came after 40 minutes when Wes Hoolahan was left in 10 yards of space in the penalty area, he controlled a chip to him from former Stag Greg Taylor, and blasted a shot goalwards from 6 yards which Aidan Stone did very well to block for a corner. Terrible defending, good goalkeeping.
Goalless at the break after an even first half, but Cambridge took the lead after 57 minutes. Luke Hannant set left back Harrison Dunk away down the left. Stags right back James Perch was out of position and nobody got back to stop Dunk getting in the cross. Worse still, Ryan Sweeney was five yards away from Paul Mullin as the cross came in and Sweeney also missed the chance to clear, allowing Mullin to turn it left footed past Stone into the right corner of the net. Dreadful defending.
Ollie Clarke had a shot after 61 minutes from a similar position 25 yards out to his goal on Wednesday, but this time it was along the ground and Cambridge keeper Callum Burton made a comfortable save. A minute later, a good run from Bowery and he pulled the ball across to Charsley who brought a great save from Callum Burton but the offside flag was up anyway against Charsley.
Cambridge doubled their lead after 65 minutes. Mullin crossed high from the left hand side beyond the far post to Adam May who controlled the ball, found Kyle Knoyle who in turn found Liam O’Neil who chipped a cross beyond the left post to Mullin who was completely unmarked in 10 yards of space near the byline. Mullin had time to control the ball and slide his shot from a tight angle past Stone. Terrible defending from the Stags to leave Mullin in so much space. Both Perch and Sweeney were trying to mark Ironside as O’Neil’s chipped cross came over, leaving Mullin unattended. The Stags appealed that May had controlled the ball with his hand in the build-up. The video is inconclusive on that. Regardless, Sweeney stood looking at the linesman appealing as Mullin was about to shoot, when he should at least have played to the whistle. Terrible defending all round, and Stone should not have been beaten from such a tight angle.
The Stags were guilty of some dreadful set pieces including corners from Maris and McLaughlin.
Jason Law was a surprise substitute in place of the tiring Stephen Quinn and he was to provide one bright spark of the second half with an impressive 30 minute cameo. Incredibly it was Law’s league debut, five years after he was signed by Adam Murray (he has previously only played in the EFL Trophy). Law slid a wonderful ball forward for Bowery to run on to, but Bowery lost his footing at the crucial moment after 68 minutes. Then after 77 minutes, a fine effort from Law, as he cut inside from the right and curled a shot which was deflected and went wide of the left post.
A chance for Jamie Reid after 81 minutes as Perch put in a fine cross but Reid’s header was poor and well wide.
Cambridge made it 3-0 after 90+1 minutes. Great play from Hoolahan whose trickery got him to the edge of the box with no-one able to get the ball off him, he found Ironside who battled for the ball with Sweeney, it ran loose and Cambridge substitute Harvey Knibbs was quickest to pounce on it smashing low into the net from 12 yards, with Stone getting a hand on it but unable to keep it out.
Tyrese Sinclair was also on as substitute and his free kick from 25 yards after 90+4 minutes nearly provided a consolation goal for the Stags but Callum Burton produced a fine save as it headed for the top corner. A good effort from Sinclair. Probably as close as Mansfield have come with a shot from a free kick from outside the box for 2 years since Jorge Grant scored against Tranmere!
So, a poor result for Mansfield and a poor second half performance. Cambridge boss Mark Bonner pointed out that it was a good time for Cambridge to play Mansfield, with the Stags having a tough game on a muddy pitch on Wednesday night, and that probably showed as Cambridge got on top in the second half.
Taking nothing away from Cambridge though as they extended their lead at the top of the table. Mullin was clinical with his finishing, Hoolahan showed great skills, Ironside was a real handful for the Stags defence, while Knoyle and Dunk impressed as full backs.
For Mansfield, not too many good performances, especially in defence. My man of the match was Jason Law who had an impressive 30 minutes on his league debut.

The Stags are 10 points behind the play-off positions and remain 11 points above the relegation zone. But Mansfield are second bottom in the league table based on home games only, with just Grimsby picking up fewer points at home. The Stags are however 6th in the away table, and will look to build on that at Harrogate on Tuesday. It will be our first ever visit to Harrogate Town, as Mansfield look to avenge what was the first defeat under Nigel Clough back in November. (Note that the Stags did play at Harrogate Railway in the FA Cup a few years back, a game shown live on BBC1, but that is a different club).



Mansfield Town 0-3 Cambridge United

Mullin (57'minutes, 65'minutes), Knibbs (90'+1minutes)
Dunk (57'minutes), O'Neil (65'minutes)

Match report supplied by PA Media, by John Lomas.

A brace from League Two top scorer Paul Mullin helped leaders Cambridge stay top of the pile with a 3-0 victory at Mansfield.

Mullin struck twice in eight second-half minutes to take his season tally to 22 before Harvey Knibbs bagged the third in stoppage time.

Both sides had only lost once in nine previous games and a tight first half saw home goalkeeper Aidan Stone make the only real save after 40 minutes. Greg Taylor picked out Wes Hoolahan unmarked at the far post and Stone did well to block his near-post finish.

Mansfield twice went close as Jordan Bowery and Harry Charsley both shot narrowly wide.

But United broke through after 57 minutes when Harrison Dunk's left-wing cross beat defender Ryan Sweeney and Mullin was lurking behind him to turn home from six yards.

Mullin doubled his tally from the tightest of angles eight minutes later as Liam O'Neil hoisted the ball to the left byline where Mullin controlled and somehow squeezed home.

United then rounded off the win a minute into added time as substitute Knibbs sent a low 18-yard shot under the body of Stone after the Stags failed to clear a loose ball.

Match Stats
Home Team Mansfield Away Team Cambridge
Possession Home 56% Away 44%
Shots Home 12 Away 7
Shots on Target Home 4 Away 5
Corners Home 8 Away 2


Mullin nets brace as Mansfield Town beaten by leaders Cambridge United
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Saturday 20th February 2021

Paul Mullin netted a second-half brace as Mansfield Town were beaten by League Two leaders Cambridge United.

Harvey Knibbs had the final say in stoppage time to make it two defeats in three days for the Stags, their first back-to-back league losses since early December when the U’s recorded a 1-0 home win days after defeat at Harrogate.

Nigel Clough suggested the arrival the highflying Cambridge would be an opportunity to test how far his side have progressed this season.


At the interval his Stags' battling attributes had limited their highflying guests to only one real chance, but United showed enough quality in the final third to board the bus home with three points as their grip on the game grew tighter in the second 45.

Some sloppy final balls in to the box didn't aid Mansfield's cause in a game where efforts on goal were few and far between.

U's attacker Joe Ironside had the ball in the net early on at a blustery One Call Stadium, but the effort was riled out following a shove on Farrend Rawson in the build up.

The Stags, unchanged for the third game running, created their first chance as Stephen McLaughlin's corner whizzed through the crowded box before Ryan Sweeney's contact failed to truly test Callum Burton.

Jordan Bowery curled a strike inches wide from a wide angle and Harry Charsely also saw an effort from distance fail to hit the target.

But the best chance of the half fell to United midfielder Wes Hoolahan, the former Republic of Ireland international's effort denied by a brave close-range save from Stags stopper Aidan Stone.

Mullin gave the league leaders a 57th-minute lead as he finished off a swift counter-attacking move.

Luke Hannant set Harrison Dunk free down the left and his cross evaded Sweeney's outstretched boot before being volleyed home from close range.

As the hosts looked to level, Ollie Clarke's low effort didn't have the pace to trouble Burton, who then pulled off a fine reaction save to keep out Charsley's effort, which was flagged for offside.

Mullin's second of the day came eight minutes after his first. Collecting the ball at the back post after Mansfield failed to clear their lines, the striker powered a low effort beyond Stone from the tightest of angles.

As Jason Law looked to bend a 20-yarder into the Cambridge net a deflected ensured his effort didn't call Burton into action.

At the other end Stone got behind Harvey Knibbs' effort to keep the score down.

But Knibbs got that third in stoppage time with a powerful low effort, reacting quickest after Hoolahan and Ironside had worked the ball into the box.

Tyrese Sinclair came within a whisker of netting a late consolation, but Burton got across well to claw away the goalbound free kick.

STAGS: Stone, Perch, Rawson, Sweeney, McLaughlin, Maris, Quinn (Law 62), Clarke, Charsley (Sinclair 73), Reid, Bowery (Sarkic 90); Subs (not used): Stech, O'Keeffe, Benning, O'Driscoll.

CAMBRIDGE: Burton, Dunk, Okedina, Taylor, Knoyle, O'Neil (Drysdale 71), Hoolahan, May, Hannant (Knibbs 80), Mullin, Ironside; Subs (not used): McKenzie-Lyle, Davies, Alese, Iredale, Worman.

REFEREE: Sam Purkiss



A second half Paul Mullin brace and late Knibbs goal ensured Cambridge United returned to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two with a physical 0-3 victory over Mansfield Town at the One Call Town.

Mullin moved to within two of David Crown’s club record of 24 League goals before Harvey Knibbs smashed in a third in stoppage time, as Mark Bonner’s side solidified their place at the perch of the League Two table.

Mark Bonner made a pair of changes with Liam O’Neil making his first start since September, and Harrison Dunk returning having missed the previous fixture with Southend United.


On a challenging soft surface both sides looked to get to grips with the pitch in the early stages which saw little goalmouth action.

Joe Ironside powered in a header from a Kyle Knoyle cross on six minutes at close range, but referee Sam Purkiss rightly chalked the effort off for an overzealous wrestle to win the ball on Farrend Rawson.

Jordan Bowery had the first clear cut chance of the game on 23 minutes when invited to shoot on his right foot by the U’s defence inside the 18 yard box, but the Mansfield striker fired beyond Burton’s far past.

The game continued to be brutally competitive with the pitch really dictating it could only really be about which side could physically compete stronger than the other. Joe Ironside epitomised this in the way he made himself a real handful for the Stags defence all half.

The best chance fell the way of Wes Hoolahan five minutes before the break, the Irishman picked out in an unmarked position at the back post by Greg Taylor’s chipped pass, but Aidan Stone used his shin to great effect in the Mansfield goal to deny United an opening goal.

The U’s did however earn themselves the lead just before the hour mark with an excellently worked goal. The outstanding Joe Ironside battled with Rawson to free up Luke Hannant in possession on the halfway line who played a precise pass into the path of an overlapping Dunk down the left wing. He crossed neatly into Mullin who as expected provided a composed finish to register his 23rd goal of the campaign in all competitions.

He made it 24 shortly after, this time Liam O’Neil the provider with an exquisite cross for Mullin who had time to take a touch and score past Stone from the tightest of angles.

From there Mark Bonner’s men managed the game expertly and went close to registering a third ten minutes from time but Knoyle’s firm effort on target was palmed away by Stone at his near post.

The U’s would get another though through Harvey Knibbs in stoppage time, who popped up at just the right moment to hammer home his second League goal of the season underneath the Stags keeper to round off a sublime afternoon.

Mansfield Town: Stone, Sweeney, Rawson, Charsley (Sinclair, 72 mins), Clarke, Bowery (Sarkic, 89 mins), Maris, Perch, Quinn (Law, 60 mins), Reid, McLaughlin

Bookings: Maris

Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Okedina, Dunk, Hannant (Knibbs, 79 mins), O’Neil (Drysdale, 70 mins), May, Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside



Paul Mullin moves to within two goals of Cambridge United league goalscoring record with brace in League Two victory at Mansfield Town
The forward took his tally to 22 goals for the League Two campaign to help send the U's four points clear at the top of the division

By Stephen Page

Paul Mullin moved to within two goals of equalling Cambridge United’s record goalscorer for a league campaign as the forward struck twice in United’s 3-0 win at Mansfield Town.

The striker netted a second half brace to take his tally to 22 goals in the league, with the forward having scored 24 times in all competitions.

The top goalscorer in League Two is now two goals off equalling David Crown’s record of 24 league goals in a season for Cambridge United, registered in the 1985-86 campaign.

Mullin’s strikes, as well as an injury-time effort from substitute Harvey Knibbs, helped the U’s to record an impressive victory at the One Call Stadium.

The win secured United’s first win in three matches and keeps the U’s top of the division on 52 points from 30 matches.

Mark Bonner made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Southend United last time out.

Liam O’Neil was brought into the side to make his first start since the opening day of the season, whilst Harrison Dunk returned from his head injury. Declan Drysdale and Jack Iredale dropped to the bench.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that were beaten 3-2 by Bolton Wanderers, having led 2-0 with 12 minutes to play.

The away side had the opening chance of the fixture as Joe Ironside headed home from close range following a cross by Kyle Knoyle, but the goal was ruled out for a push from the striker.

The U’s had a couple more opportunities in the opening ten minutes as Wes Hoolahan had a shot blocked on the edge of the box, before Luke Hannant struck a low effort from distance wide of the target.

The hosts had their first chance of the contest as Harry Charsley had a shot blocked, before a corner evaded the United defence but Ryan Sweeney could only find Callum Burton with a touch.

The Stags went close in the 24th minute when Jordan Bowery curled an effort wide of the target following a break by the home side.

Charsley then found a pocket of space just outside the U’s area ten minutes before the break but dragged his left-footed effort wide of the post.

United had the best chance of the first half in the 40th minute, as Greg Taylor found Wes Hoolahan completely unmarked inside the box, but the attacking midfielder had his shot saved by Aidan Stone, as the sides went in level at half-time.

The U’s showed their counter attacking qualities to take the lead in the 57th minute.

United worked the ball to Hannant in the middle of the park, who in turn freed Dunk down the left-hand side. The left-back floated a cross into the box and Mullin diverted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner to give the visitors the lead.

The home side had a couple of good opportunities in response, as Ollie Clarke forced Burton into a save from distance, before the keeper expertly tipped over Charsley’s header but the forward was in an offside position.

Mullin took his tally to 22 league goals in the 65th minute, as O’Neil stood a ball up to the back post, and the top scorer in League Two was on hand to fire low into the bottom right-hand corner from close range to make it 2-0.

In response, Jason Law had a shot deflected wide, whilst Reid planted a free header wide of the target.

Substitute Harvey Knibbs rounded off the victory in stoppage time as the forward’s drilled effort went in underneath Stone, as the U’s recorded a convincing victory.

Mansfield: Stone, Sweeney, Rawson, Charsley (Sinclair 73), Clarke, Bowery (Sarkic 90), Maris, Perch, Quinn (Law 62), Reid, McLaughlin. Unused subs: Stech, O’Keeffe, Benning, O’Driscoll.

U’s: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Hannant (Knibbs 80), O’Neil (Drysdale 71), Mullin, Dunk, Hoolahan, Okedina, May, Ironside. Unused subs: McKenzie-Lyle, Iredale, Alese, Davies, Worman.