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Archived News from March 2021

19th March 2021 15:38

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Carlisle United
McLaughlin 80. Zanzala 66
Attendance: behind closed doors

Date: 16 March 2021

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town came from behind to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Carlisle United last night.

In a tight game, the Stags had the better of the chances overall, but fell behind after 66 minutes when a deflection fell favourably for the visitors. The move started as Jordan Bowery tried to dribble towards his own goal and lost the ball 40 yards out. Jon Mellish pushed forward and his shot from 23 yards deflected off Farrend Rawson perfectly into the path of Ozzy Zanzala who only had Aidan Stone to beat from 7 yards and he blasted into the roof of the net. A good finish from Zanzala but a bit of luck in its making. Poor play from Bowery.

The Stags equalised after 80 minutes. Kellan Gordon lifted a high ball into the area. Carlisle keeper Magnus Norman, on his first league appearance for the club, came out to collect but spilled it. Harry Charsley got to the loose ball first and was brought down by Callum Guy inside the D. Referee Trevor Kettle was perfectly positioned and gave the free kick. After the game Carlisle boss Chris Beech questioned the decision but in real time from the West Stand and from the video from the Bishop Street side it looked the correct decision to me. Stephen McLaughlin stepped up and slotted the free kick from 19 yards into the bottom left corner of the net. A fine goal. After the game, Stags boss Nigel Clough explained that "[McLaughlin] said he saw the keeper take half a step to his left and he slotted it in the bottom corner. It's almost passing it into the net they used to call it.” Clough also noted that "We don't hit the target enough from free-kicks from that area.” That is certainly true. Indeed it was the first Stags goal from a free-kick from outside the box for over two years, since Jorge Grant against Tranmere, and before that only Lee Angol against Yeovil and Chris Clements against Accrington had done it in the past five years.

The Stags came within a whisker of winning the game two minutes into stoppage time. Gordon crossed in from the right, Jamie Reid headed it across and Bowery met it crisply on the half volley but his effort was inches wide of the right post with the goalkeeper motionless. It was so close.

The first half had been pretty even. Carlisle had the better of the early exchanges and had a good opportunity to open the scoring after 10 minutes. Following a corner, Jack Armer lifted the ball back into the box from 25 yards and found former Stag Rhys Bennett unmarked six yards from goal. Bennett chested it down but with just Stone to beat he swept his shot five yards wide. A minute later at the other end, Jamie Reid turned well on the edge of the area and fired straight at the keeper. After 17 minutes, Harry Charsley’s corner found Mal Benning unmarked just inside the area but Benning scuffed his shot wide. Jason Law was fouled 27 yards out after 25 minutes. McLaughlin fired the free kick over the bar. Five minutes later at the other end, McLaughlin conceded a free kick 23 yards out. Brennan Dickenson sent the free kick into the wall and Rhys Bennett fired the rebound wide. After 32 minutes, a great run down the left by Benning to the byline, he found Reid inside, and Reid pulled back perfectly to Jason Law 12 yards out. Law tried to place hit shot goalwards but it was blocked. It was a weak effort from Law who probably should have put his foot through it. A moment of controversy after 40 minutes as Benning was barged over by Guy right on the edge of the box. From the video, it certainly looks like a foul by Guy, and it was fractionally inside the area. Referee Kettle decided it was not a foul and ignored the Stags protests.

Into the second half and Jason Law was close to putting the Stags in front after 52 minutes. Reid slid a nice ball forward into the area and Law’s low shot from 7 yards was very well saved one handed by keeper Norman. The ball was recycled by Quinn with a chipped cross into the middle which Charsley headed down straight at the keeper from 12 yards. A good chance for Charsley as well.

After Carlisle took the lead on 66 minutes, Charsley had another good chance after 70 minutes following a great Stags move. Gordon’s long ball forward was headed down by Bowery to Reid. Reid pulled the ball back inside to Bowery and Bowery teed up Charsley who took a touch before lifting his left-footed shot over the bar from 9 yards. It was great set-up play by Bowery and Reid but a poor finish from Charsley.

The Stags went so close after 74 minutes. McLaughlin lifted a high ball into the area. Keeper Norman came out, didn’t get much of a connection on it. The ball was cleared to James Perch 16 yards out. Perch chested it down and volleyed a tremendous shot towards the roof of the net, the keeper though made a magnificent save, getting his finger tips on it to turn it onto the underside of the bar. Unlucky for Perch but credit to the keeper for a great save.

A minute later another good chance as Benning’s cross was headed back by Charsley and Reid volleyed over the bar from 16 yards.

Then after the Stags equalised, Bowery nearly won it in stoppage time with that half-volley inches wide.

So the Stags with much the better chances in the second half, but at least avoided defeat having been behind for 15 minutes. The Stags continue the run of three home games in a week as bottom-of-the-table Grimsby Town are the visitors on Saturday. The Stags are 15 points clear of Grimsby but the visitors have two games in hand including one on Wednesday evening. Mansfield will want to win the game on Saturday, but it will also be important not to lose it.

Kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes. Four Carlisle players and the manager were stuck in traffic on the M62. They had not been travelling from Carlisle. The team bus, which had travelled from Carlisle didn’t come on the M62 of course, as you wouldn’t from Carlisle, they came on the A66, and they arrived in plenty of time. Stags boss Nigel Clough was annoyed that the EFL insisted that the kick-off was delayed with the team bus and the large majority of the players having arrived on time. It does set a dangerous precedent when a team bus arrives on time but the odd player here or there travelling separately arrives late.

Mansfield made two changes from the side that lost at Crawley. Aidan Stone returned from injury and replaced Marek Stech. Nigel Clough had originally said that Stech would get a run in the side. However after the game last night he said "Aidan [Stone] was first choice before his injury at Barrow. I wasn't too happy with the way we conceded the goals against Cheltenham and at Crawley so Aidan came back in." In the other change, Ollie Clarke was rested, feeling the effects according to Clough of not having a pre-season. He was replaced by Harry Charsley. So with Lapslie and Maris also out through injury, the Stags were missing their three first choice midfielders. The formation reverted to 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield, with McLaughlin in front of the back four, and Law behind the front two.

Carlisle made one change from their side that beat in-form Bradford as goalkeeper Paul Farman was injured and Magnus Norman came in for his first league game for Carlisle. Former Stag Rhys Bennett was in central defence. Carlisle had been on a terrible run of form that had seen them slip into mid-table. Since the two sides met in December at Brunton Park in front of 2000 home fans, when Carlisle were second in the table, Carlisle had taken only 12 points from 13 games including that win over Bradford and before the game last night, while Mansfield had taken 24 points from 16 games.



Mansfield Town 1-1 Carlisle United
McLaughlin (80'minutes)
Zanzala (66'minutes)


Match report supplied by PA Media, by Jon Lomas.

Stephen McLaughlin rescued Mansfield Town a 1-1 draw with a late free-kick as the Stags came from behind against Carlisle United.

Kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes due to some United players being stuck in traffic, but Carlisle still started well, with three early chances.

Jon Mellish blazed across the face of goal on eight minutes, then Aidan Stone had to tip away Offrande Zanzala's finish from Jack Armer before Rhys Bennett slipped at the vital moment when Armer's cross reached him.

For Mansfield, Jamie Reid turned well but fired straight at Magnus Norman, who kept out a Jason Law shot after the break and a Harry Charsley header in quick succession.

But, on 66 minutes, Jordan Bowery lost the ball and Mellish ran on to send in a shot that spun away from a deflection to Zanzala who made no mistake with a rising finish - his fourth goal in three games.

The Stags then came desperately close in a succession of chances as Charsley lifted one over on 71 minutes, before James Perch hit the bar via Norman's fingertips on 74 minutes and Reid volleyed over a minute later.

But they were finally level with 10 minutes to go when McLaughlin found the bottom left corner with his 19-yard free kick.

Match Stats
Home Team Mansfield Away Team Carlisle
Possession Home 60% Away 40%
Shots Home 14 Away 14
Shots on Target Home 5 Away 3
Corners Home 4 Away 4


Mansfield Town 1 Carlisle United 1: Blues denied after Zanzala strike
newsandstar.co.uk, By Jon Colman, Tuesday 16th March 2021

Mansfield Town 1 Carlisle United 1: Carlisle United were denied victory at Mansfield after Offrande Zanzala's latest goal was cancelled out by Stephen McLaughlin's free-kick.

Frontman Zanzala got his fourth in three games when Jon Mellish's deflected shot fell his way, and he rifled it high past keeper Aidan Stone.

That was the 65th-minute breakthrough - but Mansfield equalised 15 minutes later.


It came after Magnus Norman could not hold onto a cross under pressure, and United then conceded a free-kick on the edge of their box when Callum Guy's challenge was penalised by ref Trevor Kettle.

McLaughlin stepped up and drove the 19-yard free-kick low into the net.

Neither side could find a winner as Carlisle struggled for clear-cut chances after an early flurry of opportunities in the first half.

The Blues are now, though, three games unbeaten and edged up a place to 11th in League Two.

The game got under way 30 minutes later than planned because some Blues players had been held up in traffic following a serious accident on the M62.

After the rearranged 7.30pm kick-off, Carlisle made the early running, Zanzala forcing a diving save from keeper Aidan Stone.

In the 10th minute Jack Armer found Rhys Bennett onside as United sent a cleared corner back into the box.

But the defender's control let him down from a great close-range position and the hosts survived.

At the other end, Jamie Reid tested United league debutant keeper Magnus Norman - in for Paul Farman who was out with a "slight knock" - after evading a Blues defender.

Mansfield's Mal Benning then opted to cross instead of shoot when a low corner picked him out in the box.

As the hosts edged on top, McLaughlin later sent a free-kick over the bar, with Brennan Dickenson also unsuccessful from a Blues set-piece.

Carlisle then got a vital block in to deny Jason Law after Reid got behind United on the left.

After the break United failed to take advantage of a flurry of corners, before Norman made an excellent save after Law broke through the Blues defence.

At the other end, Guy won a good challenge before driving forward to shoot, Mansfield blocking his attempt just before the hour mark.

After Zanzala then fired United in front, Harry Charsley put a good Mansfield chance over the bar.

And Norman then came to the Blues' rescue with a brilliant fingertip save as he turned James Perch's volley against the bar.

But McLaughlin's next set-piece then made it 1-1 with 10 minutes to go, the Blues aggrieved that Guy's challenge was penalised.

Ethan Walker came off the bench late on in United's only substitution, while Jordan Bowery shot just wide with the game's last effort.

Mansfield had initially suggested they were not happy about the delayed kick-off to a game which had been scheduled to start at 7pm.

In a pre-match tweet, which was swiftly deleted, they wrote: "The decision [on the delayed kick-off] comes following instruction from the EFL, which the club has reluctantly had to accept."

Also caught up in the long motorway tailbacks was referee Michael Salisbury, who could not make it to Mansfield as a result, Kettle stepping in instead.

Police said several people were reported injured in the crash on the M62 which involved four lorries and a car, with emergency services called to the incident at about 2.30pm.

Mansfield: Stone, Gordon, Rawson, Perch, Benning, McLaughlin, Quinn (Sarkic 76), Charsley, Law (Clarke 89), Reid, Bowery. Not used: Stech, Sweeney, Wright, Ward, Sinclair.

Goal: McLaughlin 80.

United: Norman, Tanner, Armer, Bennett, McDonald, Guy, Riley, Mellish, Alessandra (Walker 86), Dickenson, Zanzala. Not used: Breeze, Anderton, Hayden, Patrick, Charters, Toure.

Goal: Zanzala 65.

Booked: Zanzala, Dickenson.

Ref: Trevor Kettle.


Match verdict: Carlisle United settle for scrappy point at Mansfield
newsandstar.co.uk, By Jon Colman, Tuesday 16th March 2021

Mansfield Town 1 Carlisle United 1: If we were to look really hard for an omen, a sign that Carlisle are inching gradually back towards better things, we might study Jordan Bowery's injury-time shot which, for a split-second, had Mansfield Town bottoms rising from seats.

It whipped just wide of the right-hand post. Nigel Clough threw up his arms, and a short while later the final whistle went.

If you believe in fate as a Blues supporter you can probably picture that shot sailing directly into the top corner of the net in one of those spells when Chris Beech's side are particularly down on their luck.


At Colchester a couple of weeks ago, maybe, it flies in. At Mansfield, though, it did not, and so the hope has to be that this draw - which is what United were worth, overall - suggests, in its own strange way, that Carlisle are indeed coming through the worst of their recent run, that they are more competitive again, less self-harming.

A better side gets better breaks, in other words. It is not as if United left you purring about their play at the One Call Stadium, but they might be improving incrementally, painstakingly building a small unbeaten run (three games now) which certainly improves the tone after eight without a win.

It was frustrating to see Carlisle lose a lead wih 10 minutes to go, but the truth is that both teams got what they deserved from a high-energy battle on a poor pitch which was often low on last-third class. The Blues appeared to have edged their way towards another extremely welcome victory thanks to a lethal finish from Offrande Zanzala: a striker suddenly in irrepressible form.

United, though, were never dominant leaders, and Stephen McLaughlin’s free-kick brought Clough’s side on terms after a challenge from Callum Guy which Carlisle were convinced was fair.

McLaughlin's shot went low past Magnus Norman, ending what until then had been an increasingly defiant league debut from the goalkeeper. Promoted because of injury to Paul Farman, the summer signing made a couple of outstanding saves in the second half before, under pressure, he could not hold onto a cross near the front of United's box, ref Trevor Kettle then awarding the set-piece that got them level.

Carlisle before and after that blow were competitive without bringing much attacking panache to proceedings. Zanzala put all of himself into the physical contest against Clough's centre-halves, getting little change from Kettle, but United did not consistently create once they had gone beyond an opening 10-minute period when they could easily have scored twice.

In a game whose kick-off was delayed by half-an-hour as some players got held up en route - the result of a serious accident on the M62 (in a badly-judged tweet they wisely deleted, Mansfield said they “reluctantly” accepted the decision to push the start back) - Carlisle started positively, punching out early chances.

The first came when Lewis Alessandra laid a long Norman kick inside to Jon Mellish, but the midfielder’s pass to the right was poor. Another arrived on eight minutes when Callum Guy fed Brennan Dickenson’s driving run, Mellish picking up the resulting tackle and flashing the ball across goal.

A third raid could have brought a goal when Jack Armer’s cross reached Zanzala, but Aidan Stone saved his under-hit shot. From the cleared corner, Armer dinked it back in and Rhys Bennett found himself onside and in acres: the best chance of the lot, only for the defender to miscontrol at close range.

It proved United’s best spell of a half Mansfield then grew into, their attacking and wide runners forcing Carlisle back and into some watchful defending. Jamie Reid was too swift for them on one occasion but Norman’s first proper save was secure. A while later, a deceptive corner found Mal Benning in space, but his low delivery was cleared.

Carlisle struggled to thread their attacks together, while Dickenson went central to engage Mansfield midfielder McLaughlin. The pair exchanged free-kicks and United were then glad to survive a Jason Law chance after Reid got behind the Blues to the left.

There were the usual running exchanges with Kettle, who seldom referees to all parties' satisfaction. He audibly advised captain Guy to tone down the “yap yap yap” at one stage, but Carlisle needed to show more bite in Mansfield’s half.

They began the second half with a few front-foot opportunities, but again failed to make the most of them, Dickenson robbing McLaughlin but his pass striking Alessandra’s heel, a series of corners bringing nothing, and United then grateful to Norman who produced a strong save when Law broke thrugh their back line.

Eventually, though, Carlisle did find the devil to go with their effort, and credit can go to both maker and taker for the way they slipped into the lead. Mellish’s energy and pressing set up the chance, which he took on himself, and when his shot spun off a defender, Zanzala’s anticipation was sound and his high finish superb.

This was now an excellent position for Beech’s side to protect, yet they did so with difficulty. Bowery’s hold-up play served Harry Charsley with a great chance which he sent over the bar, and then Norman reached back to tip a James Perch volley against the bar.

It was brilliant work from the keeper, but Carlisle could not find a way to take a firmer hold on the game, and when Kettle penalised Guy, nor could they get in the way of McLaughlin’s low, driven free-kick.

Beech waited until the 86th minute to make a change (Ethan Walker for Alessandra) but it was too late to reignite something which, in truth, had only just been flickering in any case. Bowery's final attempt whistled wide, and while you still don't know quite where this Carlisle season is going to go next, there is probably something to be said for staying intact - just about - away from home, when so much of the difficult recent past had not reached par like this.



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