STAGS OUTPLAYED AND BEATEN AT EXETER
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Exeter City 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 4316 (262 from Mansfield)
Date: 31 August 2019
Martin Shaw at St James Park
Mansfield Town put in a dreadful performance to be beaten 1-0 at Exeter City yesterday. The goal typified Mansfield’s unexpectedly error-ridden defensive start to the season. Last season, the Stags had the best defensive record in League Two. This season, with mainly the same players, the Stags have conceded sloppy goal after sloppy goal. Here at Exeter, after just 5 minutes, Mansfield conceded a throw-in halfway inside their own half on the Exeter left when the ball came off Alex MacDonald. Dean Moxey took the throw-in quickly and Krystian Pearce was asleep for a split-second allowing Ryan Bowman to get away from him, goalside and into what would have been an offside position except you can’t be offside from a throw-in, and Bowman thrashed a powerful shot into the net from 8 yards giving keeper Conrad Logan no chance. It was that split-second mistake that has dogged the defence all season, including in pre-season, and is hard to explain given that we know these same defenders played so well last season.
The margin of victory should have been greater for Exeter. After 38 minutes, from a corner from the right, none of the defenders tracked the run of Bowman who was allowed a free header from 3 yards which smacked against the inside of the post. The ball rebounded against Will Tomlinson’s knee and was heading into the net before the alert Danny Rose did very well to clear it off the line. Exeter hit the woodwork again after 82 minutes when Jake Taylor sent a shot from 22 yards against the bar. Logan made a good save after 15 minutes when Lee Martin cut inside from the right and Logan did well to parry away his shot.
The Stags were so sloppy in possession, regularly giving the ball away, showing poor control and general lacking quality on the ball. Manager John Dempster described the performance as “inept”.
Exeter goalkeeper Lewis Ward only had one save to make in the entire game, and that came when a clearance from an Exeter defender hit another defender and went goalwards. Nicky Maynard went closes for Mansfield in the first half, doing well to create a chance for himself just inside the box and firing wide of the left post. Jacob Mellis also shot just wide from 24 yards. But it wasn’t until Omari Sterling-James came on as substitute after 70 minutes that the Stags looked lively going forward, and he was unlucky not to start the game or come on much earlier in my opinion after his stand-out performances in the EFL Trophy and the EFL Cup. Sterling-James immediately whistled a great shot just wide of the left post. CJ Hamilton came on after 78 minutes and the Stags looked livelier still, but it was too little too late. Hamilton in my opinion, should also have been on much earlier, or started the game. Exeter fans, and probably the manager and defenders too, were quaking in their boots about him after he ripped them to shreds here on 30th March.
To compound matters for Mansfield after such a poor performance, they lost Ryan Sweeney sent off after 86 minutes. I did not see the incident in real time, as I was watching MacDonald who was waiting to take a long throw-in. But with Bowman on the floor in the six-yard box, the referee brandished the red card at Sweeney. From the pitchside video footage, Sweeney simply barges Bowman away and Bowman goes down as if poleaxed. Play-acting from Bowman. I would expect the Stags to use the footage to get the red card over-turned. And I’d also expect Bowman to be charged for play-acting.
Not good enough from Mansfield, who drop to 19th after 6 games. We had texts into commentary calling for manager Dempster to be sacked. That is premature in my opinion after just 6 games as all new managers need to be given time and a chance and this was only the second defeat. Improvement is needed though and is needed fast. Exeter remain top, they were efficient and steady, but far from outstanding. They were however much better than Mansfield.
The Stags arrived at St James Park with a wonderful record since returning to the Football League of 5 wins in 6 games, including that stunning CJ Hamilton-inspired 4-1 win last season.
Mansfield were able to welcome back four players from injury: Nicky Maynard (after a grade one hamstring tear), Kellan Gordon (after a back spasm), Krystian Pearce (after an ankle injury picked up in training), and Hayden White (who had taken a whack where he broke his leg though with no long term damage). Maynard, Gordon and Pearce started, replacing CJ Hamilton, Otis Khan and James Clarke from the last league game, against Stevenage. White returned to the bench. New signing Dapo Afolayan, signed on loan from West Ham for the first half of the season, was also on the bench. With Gordon and White back in the 18, there was no room on the bench for Clarke.
It was a 3-4-1-2 formation with Mellis playing behind Maynard and Rose.
Exeter had 3 former Stags on the bench, Nicky Ajose, Alex Fisher and Craig Woodman. Only Woodman was to come on.
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
Report from EXETER CITY 1-0 MANSFIELD TOWN as Stags' poor start continues
chad.co.uk, by SPORTS REPORTER (Agency), Saturday 31 August 2019
Misfiring Mansfield drew a disappointing blank as they suffered a slender defeat away to league leaders Exeter.
Ryan Bowman’s fifth minute goal did the damage as the Stags failed to fire on the road.
And to rub salt into the wound Ryan Sweeney was sent-off with four minutes remaining for elbowing the match-winner.
Defeat means John Dempter’s side have still won just once this season in all competitions.
Bowman’s early strike gave the Grecians the perfect start at St James Park - and in truth they could have won by more if the woodwork had not denied them as well.
Dempster made three changes to his side which lost on penalties to Everton Under-21s in the Football League Trophy on Tuesday night at the One Call Stadium.
Skipper Krystian Pearce replaced James Clarke in the starting line-up, while Kellan Gordon and Nicky Maynard were recalled in place of CJ Hamilton and Otis Khan respectively.
And the changes worked well for the opening passage as the Stags started brightly against their high-flying opponents.
Midfielder Jacob Mellis went close but he saw his powerful left-footed strike fly wide of the right post after just four minutes.
But less than a minute later the Grecians were ahead thanks to a smart finish from Bowman.
A quick throw from Dean Moxey set Bowman free and the striker didn’t waste the chance to bag his second goal of the season.
Nicky Maynard shot wide as the Stags went in search of an equaliser, but at the other end Randell Williams forced a smart save from keeper Conrad Logan as the Grecians came close to doubling their advantage.
Lee Martin had a couple of efforts save by a busy Logan and then Bowman nearly scored his second goal, heading against a post and seeing his effort and cleared off the line.
Mal Benning shot wide for the Stags early in the second half and Alex MacDonald blazed over, but the visitors didn’t do enough to snatch even a point on their travels.
Omari Sterling-James shot wide as well for the visitors, but then Sweeney was given his marching orders for needlessly elbowing goalscorer Bowman and Stags weren't able to force an equaliser.
Exeter: Ward, Sweeney, Martin, Williams, Bowman, Jay (Woodman 88), Moxey, Sparkes, Taylor, Collins.
Subs: Maxted, Tillson, Ajose, Parkes, Fisher, Richardson.
Mansfield: Logan, Preston (Hamilton 78), Pearce, Sweeney, Gordon, Tomlinson (Sterling-James 70), MacDonald, Benning, Mellis, Rose, Maynard.
Subs: Stone, White, Khan, Afolayan, Smith.
Referee: Nick Kinseley
Exeter City 1 Mansfield Town 0 - Early Bowman goal keeps Grecians top of the table
devonlive.com, By Daniel Clark, 31 AUG 2019
An early Ryan Bowman striker extended Exeter City’s unbeaten start to the League 2 season and kept them top of the table.
His fifth minute goal, smashed into the roof of the net after Mansfield Town’s defense switched-off from a Dean Moxey quick throw, was enough for the Grecians to secure a 1-0 win.
City had chances to further extend their lead, with Bowman hitting the post with a header from a corner late in the first half, but despite the Stags having Danny Rose and Nicky Maynard upfront, failed to create enough chances and Lewis Ward had a comfortable afternoon in the Grecians’ goal.
A late red card for Ryan Sweeney for an off-the-ball elbow on Bowman capped the misery for the visitors who have now only won one of their last 14 games.
The win - only the second home win in the last 18 games between the two sides - means Matt Taylor’s stay two points clear.
The Grecians were forced into one change from the 3-2 win away at Morecambe with Matt Jay replacing the injured Nicky Law.
The Stags made three changes as Maynard, Kellen Gordon and Krystian Pearce returned from their own absences as they looked to move up the table.
It was the visitors who had the first chance as the ex-Chelsea youngster Jacob Mellis broke forward from midfield before hitting a 25-yard effort inches wide of the post with just four minutes on the clock,
Seconds later though, it was City who took the lead. A quick throw-in from Moxey caught the Stags napping. Bowman, standing behind the Mansfield defense, was left in acres of space and rifled a first time finish in the roof of the net, leaving Conrad Logan helpless.
Mansfield though continued to threaten and Maynard perhaps should have levelled things up. He beat Aaron Martin in the air before dragging a shot from ten yards wide of Lewis Ward’s post.
Taylor’s side continued to power forward and the impressive Lee Martin had chances to double the lead. Firstly, he cut inside on the edge of the penalty box and saw his left foot shot well saved by Logan, before failing to get enough of a contact on a Jay free-kick.
Randell Williams would have double the lead had he been inches taller and he just failed to get his head on a curling Martin cross.
And on 37 minutes, a Bowman header from Williams’ corner smashed into the post. The rebound cannoned off a Stags shirt and Rose cleared the ball from right on the goal line.
Chances were few and far between in the second half with neither keeper forced to make a save until the 77 minute and despite City looking comfortable, their exciting and attacking threat from the first half was replaced with a more solid and defensive outlook.
John Dempster rolled the dice with just 20 minutes to go, bringing on Omari Sterling-James for Willem Tomlinson, and it nearly paid dividend as the substitute fired a dipping half volley just wide of Ward’s goal.
And with CJ Hamilton also thrown on to try and rescue a point, Ward finally was forced into a save, although one of his own defence’s making. A Pierce Sweeney clearance was smashed into Aaron Martin’s shins, but fortunately it looped straight into the arms of Ward.
At the other end, Jake Taylor nearly put the game beyond doubt as the skipper hit the crossbar with a volley from the edge of the box after a Jay free-kick wasn’t cleared properly.
As the Stags pushed for an equalizer, their task got tougher when Sweeney was given his marching orders. As the players lined up for a throw in on the edge of Exeter’s own box, Bowman went down clutching his face.
Referee Nick Kinseley, who was looking straight at the incident, instantly went to his back pocket and pulled out the red card to send the centre back off, despite his team-mates’ complaints.
Despite late pressure, including Logan coming up a stoppage time corner, City held won to secure the win and increases their unbeaten start in the league to six.
Exeter City: Lewis Ward, Pierce Sweeny, Aaron Martin, Dean Moxey, Jack Sparkes, Randell Williams, Archie Collins, Jake Taylor, Matt Jay (Craig Woodman, 87) , Lee Martin, Ryan Bowman.
Subs: Johnny Maxted, Craig Woodman, Jordan Tillson, Nicky Ajose, Tom Parkes, Alex Fisher, Jayden Richardson.
Bookings: Bowman, Sparkes.
Mansfield Town: Conrad Logan, Krystian Pearce, Matt Preston (CJ Hamilton, 77), Ryan Sweeney, Kellen Gordon, Mal Benning, Alex MacDonald, Jacob Mellis, Willem Tomlinson (Omari Sterling-James, 70), Nicky Maynard, Danny Rose.
Subs: Aidan Stone, Hayden White, Otis Khan, Oladapo Afolayan, CJ Hamilton, Omari Sterling-James, Alistair Smith.
Sent off: Sweeney