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Match report: Macclesfield Town 1-1 Stags

25 August 2018

Mansfield Town were held to a draw at Moss Rose as Mal Benning’s first-half opener was cancelled out by Harry Smith's 63rd minute strike.

It was a tale of two halves for the Stags as an excellent first-half display was followed by a half where Macclesfield had the majority of the chances.

After Benning had put his side ahead they looked in control, before a triple substitution at half-time by Mark Yates turned the game on its head and allowed Macclesfield Town to eventually rescue a point.

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft made a single change for this afternoon’s match in Cheshire as he handed 18-year-old Lewis Gibbens his league debut for the Stags, in place of Hayden White who picked up a knock.

CJ Hamilton won the game’s first corner for Mansfield with a purposeful run down the right-hand side. Khan’s delivery, a training ground routine, found its way to Alex MacDonald whose shot on the turn unfortunately sailed over.

Tyler Walker then found his strike partner, Craig Davies, in the middle but his header ricocheted against Keith Lowe to allow the centre-half to easily clear the danger.

As the home side began to grow into proceedings, Fiacre Keheller’s long-ball from a set-piece found the head of Nathan Blissett, who in turn only found MacDonald.

Then just before the ten minute mark it was Mansfield’s turn to attack. Mal Benning firstly fell as he strode towards goal, before Otis Khan’s whipped delivery narrowly missed the foreheads of both Davies and Walker.

Khan made space for yet another cross on the right flank, and Walker’s cushioned header back across the 18-yard-box bobbled past Davies.

The game's first glaring chance fell the way of left wing-back, Benning, but from six yards his effort was smothered expertly by the out-stretched leg of Lowe, who rushed across to extinguish the danger.

James Pearson delivered for the Silkmen and Smith rose highest to head over into the Stags’ away following.

Koby Arthur then made in-roads for the home side – but Krystian Pearce closed the forward down to ensure his attempted through-ball was wayward.

Macclesfield’s fans were soon left bewildered as to how they weren’t a goal to the good. Scott Wilson’s ball across the face of Bobby Olejnik’s goal was teasing but nobody was able to connect with it.

The ball found its way to MacDonald on the edge of the area; with the midfielder first body-feinting before forcing a smart save from Kieran O’Hara.

Hamilton fed Neal Bishop on 30 minutes, who turned and lofted a cross towards Davies, but the striker’s header looped into the arms of O’Hara with no troubles.

And just two minutes later the Stags were in front. Khan crossed the ball with pinpoint accuracy to the far-post and Benning extended his neck to power the ball home with his head; beating O’Hara the goalkeeper’s near-post.

Pearson then found Whitaker with a cross who side-footed his volley over the bar – much to the relief of the Stags fans behind the goal.

Hamilton was nicked of the ball but won it back after it bounced against the ankle of Keith Lowe, before curling an effort over the bar.

As the afternoon’s referee, Anthony Backhouse, was about to blow for half-time, Hamilton was allowed to run the length of the pitch before unleashing a shot which was blocked on the edge of the area.

This meant Flitcroft’s side went into the break with a deserved one-goal lead.

Early into the second-half, Khan rippled the top of O’Hara’s goal with a free-kick 25-yards out.

Hamilton then shot from close-range into the mid-rift of O’Hara before again causing problems down the right-hand side. The winger found Walker who was eventually able to get a shot away – which rolled into the arms of the Silkmen’s ‘keeper.

The home side suddenly burst into life and began to trouble the Stags with their attacking intent.

Smith missed a glaring opportunity with his head just past the hour mark; before making amends no less than a minute later.

With 63 minutes on the clock, Smith levelled up proceedings. As the ball fell kindly to the striker just 10-yards from goal, he calmly slotted the ball past Olejnik with a right-footed finish.

The Silkmen’s goalscorer then had two more opportunities, both headers that should have been on-target, but instead they fell wide of Olejnik’s right-hand post.

Substitute Omari Sterling-James drove forward with purpose as he found Benning’s overlapping run, but the wing-back’s cross evaded both Walker and Danny Rose.

In a second-half that was mostly dominated by the home side, the Stags regained their attacking verve late on. Walker unleashed a low attempt at O’Hara’s near-post but it ended up the wrong side.

In the 85th minute Ryan Sweeney, running back towards his own goal, then played a dangerous ball towards Olejnik, but the Stags’ shot-stopper arrived to clear before Smith was able to get a toe on the ball.

Mansfield were awarded a free-kick in a central position on 88 minutes and the subsequent delivery was headed out for a corner; however, it was to no avail as Rose’s header sailed off-target.

There were three minutes of added time signalled at Moss Rose as Mansfield searched for a late winner.

Malachi Napa found Smith as the home side looked to break away on the counter. The striker made his way to the by-line but any attempt to cross was denied by Sweeney.

And with the last action of the second-half, Sterling-James directed a header goalwards from Walker’s cross, but it was too weak as Macclesfield’s ‘keeper was able to pluck it out the air.

Mansfield Town will hope to put this afternoon’s disappointment behind them as they travel to the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening – facing West Bromwich Albion in the Carabao Cup.

MACCLESFIELD TOWN XI: O’Hara (GK), Fitzpatrick, Lowe (Evans 46’), Kelleher, Grimes, Wilson (Napa 46’), Smith, Blissett, Pearson, Arthur (Maycock 46’), Whitaker.

SUBS NOT USED: Taylor (GK), Marsh, Welch-Hayes, Vincenti.

STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), Benning, Pearce, Bishop, MacDonald (Mellis 72’), Davies (Rose 62’), Khan (Sterling-James 77’), Sweeney, Walker, Hamilton, Gibbens.

SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Atkinson, Graham, Butcher.

REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse.

ASSISTANTS: Steven Rushton & Paul Hobday.


ATTENDANCE: 2,624 (1,184 away).

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