STAGS FAIL TO TURN UP AND ARE BEATEN BY NOTTS CO
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Notts County 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 12,660 (4283 from Mansfield)
Date: 16 February 2019
Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane
Mansfield Town chose a very bad day to turn in their worst performance of the season and lose to Notts County at Meadow Lane this afternoon. The Stags have now lost just 5 games this season and this was certainly the most disappointing. Mansfield have put in a few dreadful performances over 45 minutes this season, Macclesfield away springs to mind, but this was certainly the worst over the 90 minutes in my opinion. Indeed the Stags failed to create a single effort on target in the entire game. The closest the Stags came was a shot from Tyler Walker when he fired just over the bar from 25 yards after just 60 seconds. Notts County, on the other hand, looked rejuvenated with January transfer window signings Michael Doyle and Jim O’Brien dominating the midfield, Craig Mackail-Smith terrorising the Stags down the right, and former Stag Mitch Rose putting in a great performance at right back. It was Mackail-Smith who scored the only goal of the game as Rob Milsom crossed into the middle, and Virgil Gomis teed up Mackail-Smith to fire a brilliant shot into the bottom left corner of the net from 23 yards. But Mackail-Smith was given too much room to pick his spot and should have been closed down, with Jacob Mellis the nearest player to him and too slow to realise the danger. Earlier than that, in fact as early as the 6th minute, Mackail-Smith got goalside of the Stags defence just outside the box and was deliberately brought down by Stags debutant Ben Turner. The Stags were fortunate that Premier League referee Lee Mason, who didn’t have a good game overall, only booked Turner when it could have been a red card. Notts dominated the first half with the Stags under the cosh for much of it.
The Stags switched formation at half time to 4 at the back, taking off Turner, who looked off the pace in his first game after an injury lay-off and a definite candidate for picking up a second yellow card, and for 10 minutes at the start of the second half, the Stags looked better. Half time sub Nicky Ajose headed wide from Mal Benning’s cross, and then good play between Ajose and CJ Hamilton on the right with Hamilton firing just over the bar from 17 yards. But it proved to be a false dawn as the Stags regressed to their poor form from the first half and never looked like getting back into the game in the 35 minutes after that with a feeble performance as Notts County comfortably held on for the win. Notts County were much the better side and look a very good bet to avoid relegation now despite still being bottom of the table.
So disappointing for Mansfield who surrender their 12 game unbeaten run against Notts County in the league. Indeed Notts County’s last league win over Mansfield was back in 2005 (that was at Mansfield), and their last win over Mansfield at Meadow Lane was all the way back in 1997.
Hard to pick out any positives from the Mansfield performance. It was a bad day all round, though great to see Alex MacDonald return from his long injury lay-off.
A great following from Mansfield of 4,283 went away very let down by the performance. It was Mansfield’s highest away following since 5,500 Stags fans at Newcastle in January 2006 in the FA Cup (not including the FA Trophy at Wembley of course), and it was the highest Stags following for any away league game since away attendances started being quoted as official figures in 2002.
MK Dons, in 4th place, are just two points behind Mansfield now and look a big threat. The Stags have been great this season though, and I expect them to bounce back with a massively improved performance at home to Forest Green Rovers next Saturday. It can still be a magnificent season, but we can’t afford many more days like today.
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
Match report: Notts County 1-0 Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 16 February 2019
Craig Mackail-Smith's 19th minute volley proved enough for bottom club Notts County to win the big local derby at home to a disappointing Mansfield Town in today's lunchtime kick-off at Meadow Lane. The Luton loanee won overall man of the match as he led the Stags a merry dance on an afternoon when the visitors simply failed to get into gear, despite almost 4,300 away fans cheering them on. Stags arrived second with the chance of going top. But, despite their bottom place, the Magpies are a very different animal after eight January signings and four points from their previous two games and simply looked like they wanted in more on the day. It could have been even worse for the visitors as new boy Ben Turner was lucky not to see a red card for bringing down Mackail-Smith after only nine minutes as he looked set to go clear.
This was a first defeat at Notts in a league game in nine visits and over 21 years for the below-par Stags, who failed to test home keeper Ryan Schofield all afternoon. It was also a second defeat in a row for David Flitcroft's men and piles the pressure on them for next weekend's visit of Forest Green. The Mansfield side saw two changes, both in defence. There was a surprise debut for new signing, centre half Turner who was said to have no chance of being fit in the week. He came in to replace the suspended Ryan Sweeney. There was also a full debut for right back Gethin Jones with striker Nicky Ajose dropped to the bench and CJ Hamilton pushed up into an attacking role. Turner had his first touch in a Stags shirt within seconds of kick-off, heading clear with O'Brien then smashing a hopeful 35-yard effort well over. But before the opening minute was out, Stags' first raid forward ended with Walker sending a dipping shot inches over from 25 yards.
There was controversy on six minutes as Mackail-Smith almost wriggled clear onto a quickly-taken Doyle free kick only to be pulled down by Turner on the edge of the box. Notts wanted a red card but the debutant defender escaped with a yellow and O'Brien's free kick hit the wall. Benning's deflected shot won a ninth minute Stags corner from which Bishop headed over from the far post. County grabbed the lead out of nowhere on 19 minutes. Stags failed to clear a Milsom cross and the loose ball bounced invitingly 20 yards from goal and Mackail-Smith caught it perfectly on the volley to beat Smith low inside the left post. Notts had their tails up now and soon after Forest loanee Gomis cut in from the left and shot into the sidenetting. Turner's header was too high from Grant's second corner as Stags continued to search for parity. On 28 minutes Mackail-Smith got goalside of Turner again and it took a fantastic sliding block by Preston to prevent Gomis finding the net. Stead's foul on Bishop on 31 minutes saw County earn their first yellow card of the afternoon. Great persistence from Boldewijn on 33 minutes saw him finally get in a low shot that Smith had to deal with. A Stead header then dropped inches wide of the post a minute later from a Rose cross, and soon after Mackail-Smith fired over as County continued to dominate. Smith also had to grab a Rose shot that reared up from hitting the turf from another home corner as Notts went in well on top. Stags upped the attacking ante at the break as striker Ajose came on for defender Turner, Stags going to a flat back four, and he soon made an impact, glancing a header wide. This was much better from the Stags and on 51 minutes Hamilton dipped a shot over after swapping passes with Ajose. Mellis was booked for stretching into a tackle on 59 minutes that sparked a brief pushing melee between the sides. After a good start to the half for Mansfield, Notts have begin to turn the screw again and the home side have forced three quick corners. MacDonald, a surprise inclusion on the bench after a lengthy injury spell, was thrown in to replace Mellis on 54 minutes. The match continued to be stop-start with a succession of fouls and little in the way of chances, though on 74 minutes Boldewijn fired over after being set up by Gomis' pass. O'Brien was narrowly wide of the far post with a volley on 79 minutes after a headed clearance sailed towards him - the closest we'd come to a goal all half. Boldewijn was added to the book on 81 minutes for a foul before Notts made a double change for fresh legs with seven minutes to go at which point Stags sent on Khan for Benning too. Pearce became the next man in the book on 85 minutes for bringing down Mackail-Smith. In the four added minutes Preston came up with the tackle of the game as sub Alessandra tried to break clear. Unlike last year there was to be no fairytale late leveller for Stags as the final whistle brought ear-shattering celebrations around three sides of Meadow Lane.
NOTTS COUNTY: Schofield, Barclay, Gomis (Hemmings 83), Boldewijn, Stubbs, O'Brien, Milsom, Rose, Mackail-Smith, Stead (Alessandra 83), Doyle. Subs not used: Fitsimons, Tootle, Bird, Hewitt, Vaughan.
STAGS: J. Smith; Preston, Pearce, Turner (Ajose HT); Jones, Mellis (MacDonald 54), Grant, Bishop, Benning (Khan 83); Walker, Hamilton. Subs not used: Logan, Atkinson, Tomlinson, A. Smith. REFEREE: Lee Mason of Bolton. ATTENDANCE: 12,660 (4283 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Neal Bishop.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/match-report-notts-county-1-0-mansfield-town-1-9599347
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