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Match report: Blackpool 1-1 Stags (5-4 on penalties)

6 December 2017

Mansfield Town exited this season's Checkatrade Trophy at the second round stage after losing 5-4 to Blackpool in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road this evening.

Blackpool right-back Kelvin Mellor headed his side into a first half lead on a bitterly cold evening in Lancashire, before midfielder Calum Butcher equalised for the Stags with two minutes remaining.

The equaliser was the least the Stags deserved after dominating the game for large spells against their League One opponents.

Manager Steve Evans made nine changes to the side which beat Guiseley at the weekend, with just striker Jimmy Spencer and midfielder Will Atkinson retaining their places.

Goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik started between the sticks, whilst Paul Digby, Krystian Pearce, who skippered the side, and David Mirfin made up a back three.

Wideman Alfie Potter and left-back Mal Benning played as wing-backs, whilst Atkinson and Jacob Mellis played in a midfield two.

Attacking midfielder Calum Butcher supported the front two of Lee Angol and Sunday's hat-trick hero, Jimmy Spencer.

Stags settled into the game quickly and controlled possession in the opening five minutes. The artful Jacob Mellis was at the heart of everything good for the Stags, quickly playing the ball into the feet of the visitors' frontmen.

The first effort on goal came in the fifth minute when Blackpool midfielder Sessi D'Almeida picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, but he sliced a shot high and wide.

Stags were next to try their luck in the seventh minute when the impressive Mellis fired a ball into the feet of striker Lee Angol in the box, he was dispossessed by a well-timed sliding challenge but the ball broke for wing-back Alfie Potter, who fired a shot just over the top corner.

Possession changed hands on a number of occasions over the next seven minutes, with neither side able to create any clear-cut opportunities.

Stags undoubtedly played the more attractive football in the opening stages with Mellis and Potter enjoying time on the ball as Mansfield dominated their League One opponents.

After 21 minutes, Mellis pounced on a loose pass inside the Blackpool half and drove towards the edge of the box. He attempted to slide it through to former Peterborough United striker Lee Angol but it was deflected back into Mellis' pass. He tried to force his way through the back line but the bouncing ball appeared to be cut out by a Blackpool hand, however referee Seb Stockbridge was unmoved.

Stags, if anything, were looking like the side from a higher division and were playing some good football.

Attacking midfielder Calum Butcher was sent away down the right-hand side and a sliding challenge by Blackpool skipper Andy Taylor gave Stags a corner, which came to nothing.

Blackpool began to grow into the game around the half-hour mark and Stags needed some excellent defending from skipper Krystian Pearce to halt a run by winger Scott Quigley. The ball fell kindly for midfielder Callum Cooke but he fired a long-range effort well over the bar.

Stags came forward again and forced the first save of the game. Mellis won the ball on the edge of the centre-circle and drove into the box before firing a shot which Mafoumbi had to beat away.

In the 38th minute, however, Stags were behind. The creative Danny Philliskirk cut in from the right and saw a shot hit the top of the bar, via a Krystian Pearce deflection. From the resulting corner, Blackpool right-back Kelvin Mellor beat Jimmy Spencer in the air and powered a header into the top corner. Blackpool were ahead with half-time looming, albeit against the run of play.

Stags almost immediately got back on level terms but after Alfie Potter drove a cross into the six-yard box, Jimmy Spencer's flick was turned behind by Blackpool 'keeper Christoffer Mafoumbi.

A minute later, left-back Mal Benning got on the end of Alfie Potter's deep cross and fizzed an excellent volley marginally wide of the near post from 15 yards.

With two minutes of the half remaining, Blackpool had a golden chance to double their lead. Goalscorer Mellor got on the end of a deep cross from Andy Taylor and with no space around him, directed a volley wide from six yards out.

Less than a minute later, goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik was forced into a smart stop low to his right to deny frontman Armand Gnanduillet, who had cut in from the left.

Blackpool replaced centre-half Clark Robertson with Will Aimson at the break.

Stags began the second half on the front foot and midfielder Calum Butcher pulled a shot just wide of the post from the edge of the box inside the first minute.

The pendulum swung the other way in the 48th minute when powerful winger Scott Quigley cut inside Paul Digby from the left before curling an effort just wide of the far post.

With 51 minutes on the clock, Stags thought they'd equalised. Mellis was cynically fouled on halfway and Benning sent the resulting free-kick into the box. Goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi made a mess of claiming the high ball and dropped it to the feet of Mirfin, who clipped the ball into the six-yard box where the commanding Pearce headed against the inside of the post, with Stags adamant the ball had crossed the line. The officials, however, waved play on.

The next ten minutes passed without too much action, with both sides trying to get a foothold in the game, but ultimately cancelling each other out.

Blackpool came forward in the 62nd minute but Max Clayton's shot from 22 yards was comfortably held by Olejnik.

Stags' boss Steve Evans made his first two changes, bringing on striker Omari Sterling-James in place of Lee Angol on 66 minutes, before midfielder Jack Thomas replaced Will Atkinson after 70 minutes.

Former Solihull Moors man Sterling-James had his first sight of goal on 74 minutes when Butcher played it into him on the edge of the box, before pulling a shot wide of the far post.

Thomas won Stags a free-kick 35 yards from goal and fellow substitute Sterling-James took the set piece, but fired it into the wall.

Stags were forced into their final change on 82 minutes when, having gone down a few minutes previous, dropped to the ground with what looked like an injury. His substitution signalled a change in system as young striker Zayn Hakeem took his place.

Mansfield continued to press for an equaliser and Benning arrowed a brilliant volleyed cross-field ball for Sterling-James, who carried the ball into the box before having a shot cut out.

In the next action of the match, Stags equalised. Jack Thomas was brought down on the right-hand side, giving Mal Benning the chance to swing a free-kick into the box. The left-back whipped in a superb cross and Calum Butcher got on the end of it to head home and draw Stags deservedly level.

As four minutes of added time were shown by the fourth official, Stags had two chances to win it.

Firstly, Sterling-James won a free-kick 25 yards from goal and picked himself up to take it. He lifted to over the wall, but just caught the head of a Blackpool defender and went out for a corner.

A minute later, Hakeem had a shot which flew just over the bar. He cut in from the right-hand side and whipped a left-footed effort just over the top corner.

Former Exeter City goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik was forced into a late save as he beat away Sessi D'Almeida's long range effort in what was the final action of the match.

The game headed for penalties and ultimately, it was the Tangerines who emerged victorious.

After Danny Philliskirk scored the first spot kick, Stags took a 2-1 lead as Paul Digby and Mal Benning converted their kicks.

Callum Cooke then equalised for the hosts before skipper Andy Taylor slammed his effort against the bar.

Stags had the chance to take a two-goal lead, but Alfie Potter saw his spot kick excellently saved by Mafoumbi as he tipped it onto the post after Omari Sterling-James had converted his penalty.

With the scores at 3-2, Nathan Delfouneso, who stuttered in his run-up, sent Bobby Olejnik the wrong way to make it 3-3.

The hosts made it 4-3 through Kelvin Mellor before Jimmy Spencer confidently dispatched his effort to make it 4-4.

Midfielder Jack Thomas then had a tame penalty saved, giving Blackpool's Scott Quigley the chance to win the tie for his side.

Quigley stepped up and hit his penalty into the back of the net, via a glance off the inside of the post, to wrap up the tie and book Blackpool's place in the next round.

BLACKPOOL XI: Mafoumbi, Mellor, Taylor, Robertson (Aimson 46), D'Almeida, Clayton (Delfouneso 68), Gnanduillet, Anderton, Philliskirk, Cooke, Quigley.

SUBS NOT USED: Allsop, McAlister, Longstaff, Solomon-Otabor, Spearing

STAGS' XI: Olejnik, Digby, Pearce, Mirfin (Hakeem 82), Atkinson (Thomas 70), Mellis, Potter, Benning, Butcher, Spencer, Angol (Sterling-James 66)

SUBS NOT USED: Logan, Hamilton

ATTENDANCE: 587 (60 Stags' fans)

REFEREE: Seb Stockbridge


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