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Report: Stags 2-1 Salford

11 December 2021

Stephen McLaughlin’s magnificent free-kick fired the Stags to their fifth consecutive home win in all competitions as Mansfield defeated Salford City 2-1 at One Call Stadium.

The visitors had taken an early lead through midfielder Matty Lund on nine minutes but the Stags rallied before half time. 

A predatory flick from Rhys Oates guided the ball into the bottom corner to claim Mansfield’s 36thminute equaliser. 

The Mansfield turnaround was complete when McLaughlin deceived everyone by whipping a fabulous free-kick into the bottom corner rather than crossing on the stroke of half-time. 

The three points cement Mansfield’s position within the top half of Sky Bet League Two in 11th. The Stags have now claimed nine wins in ten matches in all competitions.

Manager Nigel Clough made three changes to the side that edge out Carlisle United 1-0 at One Call Stadium in midweek. 

Mansfield’s first changes saw centre-back pair Will Forrester and John-Joe O’Toole out of the starting eleven to be replaced by Farrend Rawson and Oli Hawkins. 

Striker Rhys Oates also made a return to the side having been side lined through injury, replacing Harry Charsley who moved to the bench. 

Mansfield’s positive start was stunted after 90 seconds when Stephen Quinn went down injured following a heavy challenge though the Irishman was able to continue. 

Stags were undone by a long throw into their box from Donald Love on nine minutes. The defender’s hurl into the penalty area was flicked on at the near post and crashed into the back of the net by Matty Lund. 

The Stags reacted well and carved themselves a good chance on 15 minutes. Stephen McLaughlin’s positive run from left-back guided the ball into George Lapslie who slid it between Salford’s defence to find Rhys Oates. The striker arrived inside the box but his off-balance shot sliced agonisingly wide of the top left corner. 

Eight minutes later Mansfield came even closer to scoring. Marauding left-back McLaughlin dropped an accurate cross into the path of Jordan Bowery at the back post who watched the ball well before seeing his volley cleared off the line by Theo Vassell.

Two minutes later a second goal-line clearance prevented a change to the score. This time, Conor McAleny’s tight-angled shot was slowed by a touch from ‘keeper Nathan Bishop before Elliott Hewitt hooked his foot around the ball to clear the danger off the line. 

Persistence from Mansfield eventually lead to an equaliser for the hosts.

Oates’ clever run won a free-kick on the edge of the box ten minutes before half-time. McLaughlin’s delivery was drilled across the floor taking a nick off Oates’ boot on its way into the bottom right corner, with the summer finding the back of the net for the fourth time in his last six appearances.

With their confidence restored Mansfield pushed for a lead before the break. Their opportunity came in the form of a deep free-kick from the left-wing on 45 minutes.

McLaughlin stepped up and, rather than cross the ball as Salford’s defence expected, the crafty defender clipped a shot over the wall, squeezing it just inside the bottom corner.

Mansfield began the second half positively and could have doubled their lead on 46 minutes. A crossed ball into the box was edged on by Oates but the ball settled unkindly for Bowery, allowing Tom King to recover it in the Salford goal. 

Bowery continued to cause trouble for Salford, curling an effort from outside the box narrowly beyond the post five minutes later. On the hour mark the lively striker rounded his defender to thump the ball into the side netting as Salford still couldn't contain the number nine.

Mansfield sat back and absorbed Salford’s pressure, allowing little space inside of the defence third. They did so successfully, sealing out Salford’s forward push at the close of the half to claim yet more Sky Bet League Two points. 

STAGS XI: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins, McLaughlin, Maris, Stirk, Quinn (Charsley 88’), Lapslie, Oates (Sinclair 82’), Bowery 

UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey, Nartey, Burke, Law, Gale 

 SALFORD XI: King, Touray, Vassell (Wright 83’), Eastham, Turnbull, Morris (Oteh 83’), Lund, Love, McAleny (Shephard 58’), Elliott, Lowe 

UNUSED SUBS: Jeacock, Dackers, Golden, Smith 

REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse  

ATTENDANCE: 4,113 (73 away) 


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