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English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 4 - 2 Cheltenham Town
Hamilton 42, 45, Atkinson 77, MacDonald 90+2 . Hussey 59, Raglan 69.
Attendance: 5276 (181 from Cheltenham)
Date: 2 March 2019
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town beat Cheltenham Town 4-2 in an unusual game at the One Call Stadium this afternoon. The Stags were without top scorer Tyler Walker through suspension but any worries that Mansfield might struggle to find the net were allayed as they knocked in four goals for only the second time in the league this season.
After a turgid opening half an hour when neither side created much, manager David Flitcroft changed formation moving CJ Hamilton up front with Nicky Ajose, and switching from 3 at the back, to 4 at the back. It nearly paid dividends on 39 minutes as Willem Tomlinson played a great ball forward to Hamilton, who controlled it superbly outside the area, turned and his shot was deflected over the bar by defender Charlie Raglan. On 42 minutes the Stags took the lead, and it was Tomlinson who threaded another superb ball forward into the path of Ajose. Ajose had Hamilton in space to his left and rather than shooting laid it off to his left. Raglan intercepted, the ball squirmed backwards and keeper Flinders could only palm away straight into the path of Hamilton who rolled the ball into the empty net from 7 yards. On 45 minutes, it was 2-0 as Jacob Mellis lobbed a clever ball forward which Hamilton ran on to, controlled very nicely and then rolled a right footed shot across the keeper and into the bottom left corner of the net from 16 yards. Hamilton didn’t catch his shot particularly cleanly, which seemed to wrong-foot the keeper. It should have been 3-0 on 45+2 minutes. Tomlinson played another great ball forward from inside his own half which Hamilton ran on to, on the left. Hamilton got to the byline and crossed to the far post for Ajose who could only knock wide from 3 yards. A breathless end to the first half and a wonderful 5 minutes for Hamilton after 40 minutes of nothingness.
The Stags started the second half as they ended the first, with Hamilton forcing a save from the keeper, and then Pearce and Mellis having shots deflected wide. But the game started to change again on 59 minutes when Mal Benning was booked for foul on the edge of the D. From the video, Benning cleared the ball and Varney fell over him. A ridiculous decision. But Chris Hussey punished the Stags with a superb free kick into the top right corner of the net beating the dive of Jordan Smith. And within 10 minutes, on 69 minutes, Cheltenham were level. Chris Hussey delivered a corner from the right, and Raglan escaped from his marker Benning to glance a header into the net.
The Stags were stung and needed to regroup. On 76 minutes, Tomlinson curled a great ball into the box and Jorge Grant stretched to turn it goalwards but the keeper made a great save. From the resulting corner, the ball was cleared to Mellis just outside the box, he fired in a powerful shot which the keeper parried away for another corner. And from that corner, Mansfield regained the lead. Grant’s corner to the far post was headed back across goal towards the far post by Ryan Sweeney, and sub Will Atkinson, who had come on at half time, dived low to head into the net from 2 yards. It was a brilliant moment for Atkinson and his first goal of the season. Even better was to come. Alex MacDonald, who has been out injured for so long, came on as another sub, after 90 minutes. And on 90+2 minutes he scored a fabulous goal to seal the victory. MacDonald intercepted the ball from Raglan 10 yards inside his own half, and showed a great turn of pace to charge nearly 50 yards to the edge of the Cheltenham area and slot the ball wide of the advancing keeper into the net. It was a goal that brought the house down. A proper champagne moment. Just magnificent from MacDonald.
And so the Stags sealed the victory. From 2-0 up, pegged back to 2-2, but then scoring twice again in the final 15 minutes through two substitutes. Great fighting spirit from the side. Well done also to David Flitcroft, who has now completed a year in charge of Mansfield, and his formation change moving Hamilton up front in the first half, and then his two substitutions, paid full dividends today.
Lincoln, Bury and MK Dons also won today and the top four sides have really pulled away from the rest now. It looks increasingly likely that it will be 3 of the top 4 sides to take the automatic promotion places. 11 games to go, strap yourself in for the ride. On to Port Vale next Saturday where Mansfield will surely take a huge following.
It was another good crowd, with over 5000 Stags fans, aided by the great initiative of letting under 18’s in for free for the third and final time this season.
The Stags made two enforced changes to the side that beat Forest Green. Tyler Walker was out through suspension. He was replaced by Nicky Ajose. And Matt Preston missed out with a knee problem that he’s been carrying for some weeks. He was replaced by Ryan Sweeney who returned from suspension. Preston should only be out short term, according to Flitcroft. The Stags started with a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Ajose on his own up front, and at the back a central defensive 3 of Sweeney (right), Pearce (middle), Benning (left). But the Stags switched to 4-4-2 after about half an hour with Benning moving to left back, and Pearce (right) and Sweeney (left) in central defence, as Hamilton moved up front. With the Stags short of four strikers through injury and suspension, Zayn Hakeem came onto the bench. He’s been on loan at Coalville up to January, then had a slight injury but is now fit and was in the matchday squad for the first time in around two years.
Cheltenham had lost their last 4 away games, without scoring a goal, though had won their last 4 home games to move well clear of the relegation zone. They included former Stag Chris Clements on the bench, but January signing Rakish Bingham, who scored some vital goals for the Stags four years ago, was not in the squad.
Unusually, Mansfield kicked towards the Quarry Lane end in the first half. I’d guess that Cheltenham must have won the toss and chosen to kick towards the North Stand in the first half. There was a slight wind, perhaps they were influenced by that, or maybe just wanted to disrupt Mansfield’s usual routine.
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
Match report: Mansfield Town 4-2 Cheltenham Mansfield's third goal
chad.co.uk, by Stephen Thirkill
Will Atkinson and Alex MacDonald hit late goals as Mansfield Town boosted their play-off hopes with a 4-2 win over Cheltenham Town. The Robins had mounted an unlikely second half fightback with Chris Hussey and Charlie Raglan levelling after CJ Hamilton gave Stags a 2-0 lead at the break. The Stags celebrating in the first half But Atkinson headed home with 14 minutes to go before MacDonald wrapped it up in stoppage time. Mansfield hit the front went Hamilton tapped home into an empty net on 42 minutes. What is an Innovative Finance ISA? Better returns than a Cash ISA Promoted by RateSetter And he doubled that lead four minutes later when he calmly slotted home after getting away from his man. ADVERTISING Hamilton was denied a hat-trick by a smart save by Flinders as he attempted to round the keeper just after the restart. Mansfield were pegged back after going two up Chris Hussey curled a beautiful free-kick home on 59 minutes, before Raglan glanced a header in from a corner. Atkinson then headed home from a corner on 76 minutes seconds after Scott Flinders brilliantly kept out Jorge Grant. MacDonald slotted home on the break to get his first goal after returning from injury. Stags were able to name just one recognised striker for the visit of Cheltenham after injuries and suspensions hit hard. Nicky Ajose was tasked with leading the line, while youth striker Zayn Hakeem was given a place on the bench. Jacob Maddox blazed over from around 12 yards as the visitors enjoyed the first sniff at goal after 90 seconds. Nicky Ajose had a fourth minute effort blocked by a defender as Stagsd looked to get going. MATCHDAY LIVE: Follow Mansfield's Town's League Two clash with Cheltenham Town But, from that point, the game lapsed into a midfield battle as neither side failed to get a grip. Kevin Dawson scuffed a long range effort on 22nd as the chances continued to be a rarity. Neil Bishop failed to connect with a shot at the back post on 25 minutes after CJ Hamilton picked him out. Mal Benning had to clear Conor Thomas’ cross from under his own crossbar seconds later. Dawson was booked for what the referee saw a dive in the box on 31 minutes. CJ Hamilton failed to pick out a bursting run from Jacob Mellis five minutes later following a Stags counter attack - before Dawson mopped up the danger. Hamilton fired over with the aid of a deflection on 39 minutes as Stags showed signs of getting into their stride. And the pressure paid off on 42 minutes when Hamilton bundled home into an empty net after Flinders had made an initial save. There was a massive amount of fortune involved after Nicky Ajose’s attempted pass was nearly turned into his own net by a defending before being saved by the keeper. It got even better on the stroke of half-time when Hamilton went clean through before cooly firing home. Hamilton was denied a hat-trick by a smart save by Flinders as he attempted to round the keeper just after the restart. Hussey curled a beautiful free-kick home on 59 minutes to the anger of the Stags fans and management. And Charlie Raglan glanced a header home from a corner on 69 minutes to complete an unlikely comeback. But Atkinson headed home at the back post on 76 minutes seconds after Scott Flinders brilliantly kept out Jorge Grant to send the One Call Stadium wild. And the afternoon was made even sweeter when Alex MacDonald scored on the break with a cool finish seconds after coming on.
Mansfield Town: Smith; Sweeney, Pearce, Benning, Jones (Atkinson 45), Bishop, Tomlinson, Hamilton, Mellis, Grant (Turner), Ajose (MacDonald). Subs: Logan, Khan, Atkinson, Smith, Hakeem.
Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Broom, Raglan, Tozer (Barnett 45), Boyle, Hussey, Dawson (Lloyd 85), Thomas, Tillson, Maddox (Waters 82), Varney. Subs: Forster, Clements, Pring, Lapworth
Ref: Alan Young
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/match-report-mansfield-town-4-2-cheltenham-1-9626251
Five things we learned from Cheltenham Town's 4-2 defeat at Mansfield Town
Mansfield Town 4 Cheltenham Town 2
gloucestershirelive.co.uk, By Jon Palmer, 2 MAR 2019
A much-improved away performance undone by individual errors
Michael Duff changed the shape of his team, with an extra midfielder added in place of Billy Waters and Luke Varney deployed as a lone centre forward.
Jacob Maddox and Kevin Dawson played in attacking midfield roles, with the returning Jordan Tillson and Conor Thomas deeper, matching up the 3-4-2-1 formation favoured by Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft.
For the second match this season, Cheltenham caused Mansfield real problems but were denied the result they wanted.
At home they were leading 2-1 until Tyler Walker's second of the game in the 90th minute rescued a point for the Stags in November.
On this occasion, Cheltenham performed well for 40 minutes but found themselves 2-0 down at the break, with CJ Hamilton scoring both.
But the tactical switch had brought about a much-improved attacking display from Duff's team, who had failed to score away from home since the 4-1 win at Yeovil Town on New Year's Day.
They looked a genuine threat on the counter attack, but when they ended their wait for a goal on the road it was a 59th minute free-kick from Chris Hussey.
By that time Varney had Tyrone Barnett playing alongside him in attack, with centre-half Ben Tozer sacrificed at the break and Will Boyle taking the captain's armband.
Cheltenham levelled when Charlie Raglan headed in a corner from the right, but it was only nine minutes before Mansfield regained the lead, also from a corner, with substitute Will Atkinson heading home from close range after poor marking.
The fourth gave the scoreline a rather harsh look, with the ball given away by Raglan in the centre circle, allowing another substitute Alex MacDonald to power through the middle of the pitch on his own before beating Flinders with a fine low finish in stoppage time.
Flinders had earlier saved well to deny Hamilton a hat-trick and also denied Jorge Grant just before Mansfield's third.
It was far better than the 3-0 capitulation at Colchester United on February 9 and there was much more of a threat going forward than Cheltenham had shown in their 1-0 defeat at Grimsby Town a week later.
Any hopes of returning from the One Call Stadium with any points were spoiled by individual errors, but for long periods of this game Duff's side went toe to toe with their title-chasing hosts.
Jordan Tillson's best performance for Cheltenham Town so far
The no-nonsense Tillson is unlikely to weave around opponents and do anything fancy in the final third, but the on-loan midfielder from Exeter City showed what his game is about against Mansfield.
In his favoured deep-lying role, he stopped several attacks with well-timed tackles, broke up play and did his best to play simple passes to the more creative players in the team, with the gameplan working well until Hamilton's first goal in the 42nd minute.
He is different to the other midfielders at Duff's disposal and if he continues to play at the level he produced on Saturday it will be difficult for the manager to leave him out.
Chris Hussey's dead ball skills among best in club's recent history
It was always likely that when Hussey scored his first Cheltenham goal, it would be from a free-kick.
The left wing-back curled an inch perfect effort into the top right corner to make it 2-1 in the 59th minute, before swinging in the corner from which Raglan made it 2-2 just under 10 minutes later after a foul on Varney near the edge of the box.
"A neutral wouldn't have been able to tell which team was near the top and which was near the bottom" - every word of Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff's interview after the 4-2 defeat at Mansfield Town
Kevin Dawson making strong case for a new deal
Both of Dawson's seasons at Cheltenham have been hampered by injury, but there is no doubt that when he is fit and available, he influences the team in a positive way.
A central midfield role with licence to attack seems to suit his attributes and he was another player to shine in the first half against Mansfield, with Cheltenham unfortunate to be 2-0 down at the break.
Dawson's first thought is to drive forward and he is also not afraid to get stuck in.
Too often this season the middle of the pitch has been lifeless and pedestrian, but Dawson has added energy and dynamism.
The 28-year-old is one of 12 players out of contract at Cheltenham this summer and there are certain to be several departures, but on recent evidence Dawson is giving his manager plenty of food for thought over an extended stay at the club.
One game closer to safety
Going into Saturday's match Cheltenham were 11 points from the relegation zone with 12 games left to play.
They are now 11 points clear with 11 remaining after Macclesfield Town's 3-0 defeat at Bury, who visit the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Tuesday night.
The forthcoming home matches against Notts County (March 9) and Northampton Town (March 23) provide opportunities to finish off the job and ensure they are not dragged back into the mire.
Based on Bury's performance at Gigg Lane in their 4-1 win over the Robins on November 27, they are good value for their lofty league position, three points behind leaders Lincoln City.
Despite an impressive four home wins in succession, if Cheltenham pick up even one point on Tuesday, it will be an exceptional effort.
Mansfield Town (3-4-2-1): J Smith; R Sweeney, K Pearce, M Benning; G Jones (W Atkinson 46), N Bishop, W Tomlinson, C Hamilton; J Grant (B Turner 80), J Mellis; N Ajose (A MacDonald 90). Subs not used: C Logan, O Khan, A Smith, Z Hakeem.
Cheltenham Town (3-4-2-1): S Flinders; C Raglan, B Tozer (T Barnett 46), W Boyle; R Broom, J Tillson, C Thomas, C Hussey; K Dawson (G Lloyd 85), J Maddox (B Waters 82); L Varney. Subs not used: F Lapworth, J Forster, C Clements, C Pring.
Referee: Alan Young.
Attendance: 5,276 (181 away).
Star Man: Jordan Tillson.