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Match Reports

Match report: Cheltenham Town 3-0 Stags

26 September 2017

Mansfield Town saw their six-game unbeaten run come to an end as they slipped to a 3-0 defeat against Cheltenham Town under the floodlights at the LCI Rail Stadium this evening.

The Stags were punished for not taking numerous first half opportunities as striker Brian Graham, midfielder Joe Morrell and frontman Danny Wright all struck for the Robins in the second period.

Graham glanced in a header from Morrell's free-kick for the opener after midfielder Paul Digby had given away a free-kick 30 yards from goal.

The second goal came in peculiar circumstances after Mansfield had thought a free-kick had been awarded for a trip on second half substitute Omari Sterling-James. Referee Brett Huxtable didn't blow his whistle and Morrell curled the ball past stationary goalkeeper Conrad Logan from 25 yards.

Cheltenham scored their third and final goal in the closing minutes of the match, their second half dominance ending as Danny Wright slotted the ball past Logan - punishing Stags with a fast counter-attack.

Stags' boss Steve Evans had made five changes to the side that defeated Cambridge United 2-1 in their last league fixture with right-back Rhys Bennett, midfielder Jacob Mellis, frontman Lee Angol and wingers Paul Anderson and Will Atkinson returning to the starting XI.

The hosts started the brighter of the two sides, holding onto possession and restricting Mansfield, with Brian Graham having the side's first chance but his weak header was comfortably held by Conrad Logan.

Minutes later, Joe Morrell couldn't control frontman Mohamed Eisa's fast-paced cross and his effort dribbled wide.

Stags' first opportunity fell to Angol who saw his shot deflected well wide of the left post and the resulting corner was ultimately wasted.

Centre-half David Mirfin was almost left red-faced as his poor defensive header allowed Eisa to pounce for the hosts, playing through Brian Graham who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper but also the crossbar.

Referee Brett Huxtable had to have words with manager Steve Evans on the touchline after the Mansfield boss was aggrieved with an earlier challenge on Danny Rose. After a long discussion, he escaped with a strong warning.

After Joe Morrell saw his effort parried away by Logan, the visitors rushed forward on the counter attack with Mellis unselfishly playing in Angol. It was the visitors' best chance of the half as the former Peterborough man's shot taking a deflection before hitting the side-netting.

A cleverly worked free-kick from the Robins resulted with Eisa having his effort blocked by a packed penalty area as another big chance passed the hosts by.

The pace of Mellis once again proved a thorn in Cheltenham's side as he powered through the Robins' defence. In an almost identical counter-attack to the previous one, Mellis' through ball to Angol was perfectly-weighted, but the frontman's effort well blocked by the hosts' defence.

Danny Rose found himself in space courtesy of an Angol ball but he couldn't find the target as the ball powered past the wrong side of the post from the right-side of the box.

Following another well worked Robins' set-piece, Stags were fortunate to see the offside flag raised. The ball flicked onto Morrell who had snuck ahead of the visitors' defensive line – although his strike trickled wide of the post regardless.

As the game moved on, Mansfield found themselves having more opportunities in front of goal - Danny Rose's low effort from the right went narrowly wide of the far post midway through the first half.

Robins' defender Jamie Grimes entered the referee's book for a late and deliberate tackle on Mellis who was sprinting forward on the counter attack for the visitors.

Mansfield dominated in the final minutes of the half as Angol and Mellis both saw efforts blocked before Paul Anderson showed great vision to hit a volley from 40 yards out – almost catching out Cheltenham's Scott Flinders but the ball landed on the roof of the net.

Cheltenham thought they had broken the deadlock when Kevin Dawson's free-kick was floated into area and Morrelll's header left Logan rooted to the spot – rattling the post. The subsequent rebound was turned in only for the official to raise his flag, much to the relief of the travelling fans behind the goal.

The hosts had two penalty claims in the four added first half minutes – Eisa going down under light pressure before Harry Pell tumbled after colliding with captain Krystian Pearce. The referee confidently waved away both calls.

At the start of the second half, Rhys Bennett was adjudged to have illegally stopped Pell on the halfway line. The resulting free-kick was lifted into the air and after a scrap between Cheltenham attackers, the ball was headed back to Logan by Pearce.

But just five minutes into the second period, the Robins found the breakthrough with their first shot on target. Morrell's free-kick 30 yards from goal was glanced in by Graham ten yards from goal.

Cheltenham piled on the pressure as they looked to double their advantage. Eisa first had a shot blocked by Mirfin before right-back Carl Winchester danced through the Stags' defence before blasting his effort over.

An off the ball incident with Harry Pell resulted in Logan being shown a yellow card.

Midfielder Calum Butcher and winger Alex MacDonald were introduced for the final half-an-hour with Digby and Paul Anderson making way.

Cheltenham almost grabbed their second of the match, but Logan produced a brilliant one-handed save to deny Morrell. A goalmouth scramble ensued with Pearce able to hook it away as the hosts looked to pounce.

Pell looked to have produced superb skill to deliver a second goal but his 25-yard effort after chesting the ball down cannoned back off the post with Logan at full stretch.

With 25 minutes remaining on the clock, Mansfield made their final change with striker Omari Sterling-James replacing Lee Angol.

Another fantastic save from Logan kept Mansfield in the contest after Eisa had found the ball at his feet just eight yards out.

A bizarre moment then saw Cheltenham double their lead. Sterling-James was tripped while receiving the ball in his own half and thought he had been fouled. Mansfield looked to have stopped but the referee didn't blow his whistle and Morrell swept the ball past a bemused Logan from 25 yards out.

Sterling-James was booked for his complaints and manager Steve Evans was sent to the stands for the final 15 minutes of the game for voicing his disapproval of the referee's decision.

Robins' substitute Danny Wright was unfortunate not to extend his side's lead, striking the ball straight at the Mansfield 'keeper.

Mansfield's best chance of the second half fell to Danny Rose, who dragged the ball past the left-side of the post.

Chasing the game in the final moments, Danny Wright hit Stags with a superb counter-attack which ended with the striker slotting the ball under Logan after being played through in the box.

A frustrating night for the visitors ended with Mellis shown a yellow card after the final whistle had been blown.

It is the first time Mansfield have tasted defeat in the league since their 2-1 loss to Accrington Stanley in mid-August, but have the chance to bounce back when they welcome local rivals Notts County to One Call Stadium on Saturday.

CHELTENHAM XI: Flinders, Grimes, Storer Β©, Pell, Dawson (Hinds 90), Winchester, O'Shaughnessy, Eisa (Sellars 87), Graham (Wright 80), Morrell, Moore.

SUBS NOT USED: Flatt, Atangana, Boyle, Davey

STAGS XI: Logan, Bennett, Digby (Butcher 58), Pearce Β©, Mellis, Angol (Sterling-James 68), Anderson (MacDonald 58), Atkinson, Mirfin, Hunt, Rose

SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Hemmings, Spencer, Potter

ATTENDANCE: 2,480 (204 away)

REFEREE: Brett Huxtable


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