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Match report: Forest Green 1-1 Stags

29 January 2019

Jorge Grant’s first-half opener was cancelled out by Reuben Reid as Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with Forest Green Rovers in a captivating contest on Tuesday evening.

Grant broke the deadlock with a neat finish in the 14th minute and Mansfield almost raced further in front as they struck the woodwork twice thereafter.

However, the home side sought the all-important equaliser after the break and it duly arrived by the head of Reid with 20 minutes remaining in the second period.

David Flitcroft named an unchanged starting line-up from his side’s 3-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers last Saturday.

Gethin Jones, who recently joined the Stags on loan from Fleetwood Town, had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

Both teams started in sprightly fashion under the New Lawn floodlights as they looked to assert their dominance.

Carl Winchester cleared Jordan Smith’s crossbar with a long-range effort before Jacob Mellis sought to profit from a forced mistake by James Montgomery.

The hosts had enjoyed an early spell of possession, however, Mansfield began to grow into the clash with little under nine minutes on the clock.

Grant was slipped in by Neal Bishop but had to settle for a corner prior to an effort that the on-loan midfielder stabbed wide.

But with his next opportunity, Grant made no mistake in opening the scoring in Gloucestershire.

He was fed the ball once more – this time by Nicky Ajose – and he slotted home via the inside of the post to put his side in pole position on 14 minutes.

Flitcroft’s charges had withheld some early pressure from the Green Devils and were deserved of breaking the deadlock.

Forest Green began to string some crisp passing moves together inside the Stags’ half as they sought the equaliser – but the visitors were mainly restricted to efforts from distance.

Ajose was left bewildered when his delicately-flicked header struck the upright and, unfortunately from a Stags point of view, rebounded back into play.

George Williams then found himself on the receiving end of a high, sweeping ball yet his measured volley only connected with the mid-rift of Smith.

The Stags continued to reply to each attack and were unfortunate not to find the back of the net once more.

Tyler Walker rifled a 25-yarder towards goal that cleared Montgomery, but would not dip underneath the crossbar in time as Mansfield struck the woodwork twice in quick succession.

It signalled the last notable action of an enthralling first period that marked Grant’s smart finish as the difference.

Rovers were at the Stags’ throats from the restart but more resolute defending ensured they were able to snuff out any immediate danger that looked to rear its head.

Paul Digby, who was part of the Stags' roster last season, then angled a header that dropped wide of Smith’s goalmouth.

It was a similarly frenetic opening to the second period as the home side pressed to restore parity.

As the clock ticked towards the half-hour mark, Flitcroft made his first switch; new signing Jones entered the fray in place of Ajose.

And the right wing-back’s first involvement almost saw him latch onto the end of a Rovers defensive mistake.

However, Jones instead connected with ‘keeper Montgomery who had to be replaced by his counterpart Lewis Ward for the remainder of the evening.

Winchester then fizzed a teasing ball into the middle but it ultimately evaded everyone inside the 18-yard-box.

And the hosts’ continual pressure told with 69 minutes elapsed.

Liam Shephard was allowed time to swing a delivery towards the near post – substitute Rueben Reid rising highest to turn it goalwards with his forehead.

Walker and Grant linked-up well as they so often do minutes later, but the latter was unable to beat Ward as the Rovers ‘keeper claimed the ball expertly.

The affair in Nailsworth ebbed and flowed as it was Forest Green’s turn to test their opposite numbers.

Winchester’s drilled attempt sailed wide of Smith’s target before Grant also watched an effort of his own fall marginally off target.

Rovers’ goalscorer, Reid, then squandered a brilliant chance as he lofted the bouncing ball over Smith’s bar rather than opting for power.

Mellis was adjudged to have fouled Brown as he charged forward – and the subsequent effort from the latter was knuckled wide of the mark.

Just one minute later, the Stags were awarded a dangerous set-piece of their own but it unfortunately had the exact same outcome.

The Stags had to defend for their lives with five minutes of added time signalled on the near side; and they did just that to take a well-deserved point back to the East Midlands.

Mansfield’s next outing sees them face Macclesfield Town at One Call Stadium this forthcoming Saturday.

STAGS XI: Smith (GK), Benning, Preston, Pearce ©, Bishop, Mellis, Sweeney, Walker, Ajose (Jones 55’), Hamilton, Grant.

SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Khan, Atkinson, Law, A. Smith, Rose.

FOREST GREEN XI: Montgomery (GK) (Ward 61’), Shephard, Rawson, Winchester, Doidge, Brown, Williams (Reid 59’), Gunning ©, McGinley (James 46’), Digby, Mills.

SUBS NOT USED: Collins, Campbell, McCoulsky, Mondal.

REFEREE: Christopher Sarginson

ASSISTANTS: Christopher Husband & Paul Hobday.


ATTENDANCE: 2,128 (204 away).

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