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Match Reports

Match report: Notts County 1-2 Stags

24 October 2017

Mansfield Town secured their second victory of the season against Notts County this evening, running out deserved 2-1 winners at Meadow Lane in the Checkatrade Tro

The Stags' got off to a dream start and opened the scoring after only 47 seconds, frontman Lee Angol finding the bottom corner with a drilled strike from 25 yards out. Mansfield's lead lasted until just after the half-hour mark when Notts County drew level through the experienced Alan Smith who converted from close range.

Mansfield scored what was deserved winner with just over 15 minutes remaining. Winger CJ Hamilton got his first goal for the Stags, hammering a shot into the top corner after Branislav Pindroch in the County goal had spilt a Paul Anderson cross.

As promised before the game, Mansfield manager Steve Evans made full use of his squad, making 10 changes from Saturday's 1-1 draw away at Newport County. Defender Rhys Bennett was the only survivor of that draw in South Wales with Paul Anderson, Paul Digby and Malvind Benning replacing Hayden White, Krystian Pearce and Johnny Hunt in the back line, respectively.

In central midfield, Joel Byrom made his long awaited return from a foot injury alongside Jacob Mellis, the duo replacing Calum Butcher and Will Atkinson whilst out wide, Omari Sterling-James and CJ Hamilton came in for Alex MacDonald and Alfie Potter. Up top, Lee Angol and Jimmy Spencer were the chosen pairing with Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings moving to the bench.

County also made ten changes to their line up from the weekend and given that there were two new-look elevens on show, both teams would have wanted to settle into proceedings well early on and get off on a strong foot.

As it transpired, it was the Stags who started much the better of the two sides and got off to a perfect start, taking the lead after just 47 seconds.

Former Peterborough United man Lee Angol won the ball 30 yards out and he drove into the vacant space before unleashing a low shot from the edge of the area which nestled into the corner past the dive of Magpies' 'keeper Branislav Pindroch.

It nearly got even better for Mansfield as they came agonisingly close to doubling their lead in the fifth minute. A Joel Byrom corner found defender Paul Digby in space and his header from close range looked to have gone over the line, but he somehow kept the ball out thanks to some juggling on the line.

Forward Jimmy Spencer tried his luck a minute later but saw his effort from inside the area blocked as the Stags continued to enjoy a very positive start to the game.

The home side's first chance came in the 14th minute. Former Leeds United striker Alan Smith did well to pick out winger Elliot Hodge at the far post and he teed up left-back Dan Jones who saw his shot from 20 yards go comfortably wide of the Mansfield goal.

Three minutes later, good play on the edge of the Mansfield area led to striker Callum Saunders going clear but he failed to test Stags' 'keeper Bobby Olejnik, smashing over the bar.

Saunders was nearly away once again moments later after racing onto Smith's flick, but Olejink was quick off his line and beat the County attacker to the ball.

Spencer did brilliantly to hold the ball up and win Mansfield a free kick in the 20th minute and when midfielder Joel Byrom took the dead ball, he found centre-half Rhys Bennett who saw a headed chance go wide of the upright.

Mansfield had half shouts for a penalty after quick feet by Omari Sterling-James took him past Jones but the County defender was adjudged by referee Graham Horwood to have taken the ball and he instead awarded the Stags a corner.

With Mansfield looking to maintain the local bragging rights after their 3-1 Derby Day win at the end of September, they almost added a second in the 27th minute.

Sterling-James chipped the ball on for Spencer who hit a thunderous half volley that beat Pindroch, but struck the frame of the County goal. Angol was closing in on the rebound but he couldn't get the ball under full control and the chance was cleared.

As the game reached the half-hour mark, Mansfield were once again appealing for a penalty. Spencer appeared to have beaten Pindroch to a ball at the near post but when the former Plymouth man was brought down by the Magpies' stopper, Horwood waved away the Mansfield protests.

The game was now quite an open affair and in the 34th minute, Notts County drew level, amongst controversy.

County had a corner in front of the Jimmy Sirrel Stand and as the kick was taken, defender Paul Digby went down with a head injury after an off-the-ball incident. Referee Graham Horwood didn't stop play and after the ball bounced free in the Stags' box, Alan Smith was on hand to turn it home from close range.

Mansfield then went up the other end and had a chance to retake the lead. Sterling-James saw a shot deflected wide after a free-kick from the left by Byrom had bobbled out to him on the edge of the box.

With half time nearing, Mansfield central midfielder Jacob Mellis smashed a long range chance over the bar before Spencer found the target with a curling effort that was comfortable for Pindroch.

In the last meaningful chance of the opening period, County defender Haydn Hollis almost put the hosts ahead but he wasted a good headed opportunity from a central position.

The second half was less than four minutes old when Mansfield had the first chance after the restart. Winger CJ Hamilton did well up against former Stag Nicky Hunt and his cross found Sterling-James at the far post who then saw his effort deflected wide.

Mansfield continued their pressure and two minutes later Sterling-James hit a rasping drive which Pindroch did well to parry away.

County's Liam Walker responded and he forced Olejnik into a smart save down to his left after the Magpies' attacker had cut inside from the right wing.

After recalling him from his loan at Boston United earlier in the day, Steve Evans brought on Jack Thomas in place of Joel Byrom on 57 minutes as he looked to give his side the advantage in what was proving to be a tight encounter.

Walker had two more chances as he looked to put County ahead for the first time. He first saw an effort go out for a corner after his shot clipped Bennett and when the home side played the resulting set piece short, Walker struck a curling effort which went just wide of the far post.

There had been nothing to separate the two sides in the opening twenty minutes of the second half but Hamilton nearly headed Mansfield in front, but his effort went straight at Pindroch after reacting quickest to a bouncing ball.

Hamilton didn't have long to wait much longer for his goal, however, as it arrived in the 73rd minute to put Mansfield ahead.

The Stags' captain for the night, Paul Anderson, crossed a terrific ball into the area which wasn't claimed by Pindroch and Hamilton took full advantage, taking a touch on his chest before smashing a right-footed effort into the roof of the net from 14 yards.

With the Stags now back in front, they looked to finish the game off and in the 76th minute, left-back Malvind Benning stung the palms of Pindroch with a long range free-kick.

Benning called Pindroch into action once again two minutes later. From near the right touchline, he whipped a ball in which evaded everyone in the area but forced Pindroch into an impressive reflex save after bouncing up off the surface.

The Stags were now well on top and Hamilton hit a swerving effort from distance that Pindroch did well to get a hand to.

Hamilton's goal had obviously given him increased confidence and he was involved again in the 82nd minute when he bombed down the left, leaving Hunt in his wake, but his chipped cross aimed for Sterling-James was cleared away by Dickinson for a corner.

With the clock running down, County were not giving up without a fight and in the 86th minute, Walker hit a low shot that skimmed just wide of the upright.

County had another chance in the last minute of normal time, with Hollis heading wide at the far post from a Walker corner.

Mansfield's resolve was going to be severely tested once the fourth official indicated for an additional five minutes but the men in amber and blue saw the game out professionally to secure their second win against the Magpies this season.

STAGS' XI: Olejnik (GK), Anderson, Digby, Bennett, Benning, Mellis, Byrom (Thomas 57'), Sterling-James (Potter 89'), Hamilton, Spencer, Angol (Hemmings 90')

SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Pearce, Atkinson, Rose

NOTTS COUNTY XI: Pindroch (GK), Hunt, Brisley, Hollis, Jones (Dickinson 62'), Walker, Thompson, Milsom (Grant 81'), Hodge, Smith (Alessandra 80'), Saunders

SUBS NOT USED: Fitzsimons (GK), Forte, Bird, Howes

REFEREE: Graham Horwood

ATTENDANCE: 2,290 (405 away)


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