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Match Reports

Report: Tranmere 0-2 Stags

18 February 2023

Match Reports

Report: Tranmere 0-2 Stags

18 February 2023

In-form Mansfield Town extended their unbeaten run to six games with a solid 2-0 victory at Prenton Park, Tranmere.

Stags completed a magnificent week with another win, following a 2-0 beating of Gillingham and a 4-0 triumph at promotion rivals Carlisle in mid-week.

Defender Riley Harbottle and forward Davis Keillor-Dunn bagged a goal in either half to secure Stags’ latest three points.

The victory was scarcely in doubt following a dominant first-half display in which Mansfield created a plethora of golden chances in front of goal.

And the second period followed a similar pattern - with goalkeeper Christy Pym a relative bystander - as Stags limited shot-shy Tranmere to few opportunities.

Manager Nigel Clough named an unchanged XI following Tuesday’s victory in Cumbria.

The subs’ bench featured the return of midfielder George Maris and Academy left-back Darien Wauchope.

For Tranmere, former Stags’ frontman Kane Hemmings was sidelined through injury.

Stags’ players wore black armbands as a mark of respect for Kevin Bird – one of the club’s greatest ever players – who passed away on Thursday.

Mansfield were glad of an early let off in the fifth minute.

Defender Elliott Hewitt misplaced a pass into centrefield, where Harvey Saunders intercepted to advance forward and drag a poor effort well wide.

Stags earned the game’s first corner in the 15th minute when Davis Keillor-Dunn swung a deep cross into the box which was flicked behind by a Rovers’ defender.

And from the resulting flag-kick, commanding defender Alfie Kilgour was a stride away from the connecting as the ball whizzed dangerously across the 18-yard box.

After a cagey start, Stags began to settle and defensive midfielder Kieran Wallace tried to get them going, threading a delightful low pass for Keillor-Dunn who got the ball tangled in his feet as it trickled out of play for a goal kick.

And the ex-Burton midfielder had an even better chance in the 18th minute.

Cleverly knocking the ball beyond Rovers’ defender Kyle Jameson from the right-hand touchline, Keillor Dunn advanced into the box but was unable to get enough power behind the shot to seriously test home goalkeeper Joe Murphy.

The Dublin-born shot-stopper was called upon a minute later to deny Lucas Akins’ strike following a throw as Stags upped the ante.

With Tranmere starting to buckle under heavy pressure, Akins turned hopeful provider with a cross into the box, where Quinn struck agonisingly off target.

At the other end, Josh Dacres-Cogley whacked a pot shot high and wide from 22 yards in a rare foray forward.

A scrappy spell then ensued before Stags deservedly took the advantage in the 34th minute following a free-kick near the corner flag.

Following a one-two from taker Stephen Quinn and Bowery, the Irish midfielder clipped a superb hanging cross to the edge of the box where Riley Harbottle rose highest to head over the goalline, despite Murphy’s one-handed attempt to keep it out.

In the last minute of first-half stoppage time, Keillor-Dunn broke clear of the defence to fire at Murphy from the left of the box and then, moments later, Akins was a whisker away from connecting aerially from a right-wing floated cross.

In the dying seconds, Keillor-Dunn curled a 22-yard free-kick over the bar.

Stags flew out the traps in the second-half and within two minutes of the restart skipper Ollie Clarke lashed over a half-volley from the edge of the box.

Mansfield then sparked wild celebrations in the away end in the 54th minute with another goal.

After a long ball forward bobbled kindly off two Rovers’ defenders just outside the box, Clarke pounced to lob goalwards, with goalkeeper Murphy only able to palm onto his crossbar.

And quickest to react, Keillor-Dunn steered home from close range to send the visiting fans behind the goal into raptures.

Tranmere made a double change just before the hour-mark in a desperate bid to change their fortunes.

On 62 minutes, Riley Harbottle was the first name in the referee’s notebook for a foul on Harvey Saunders.

Stags survived a scare two minutes later as substitute Jake Burton raced clear of the defence, but defender James Perch helped thwart the effort with a back-tracking last-ditch block.

In the search for a third goal, Bowery produced an outstanding save from Murphy on 65 minutes.

Hewitt’s missile-like throw from the right caused all sorts of problems, and after it was flicked towards Bowery, the ex-Aston Villa man smashed an attempt into the ground from six yards, only to see Murphy produce fine reflexes to meet it with a hand.

Stags were brimming with confidence and Keillor-Dunn was next to try his luck with a venomous long-range drive which flew narrowly over the angle.

On 75 minutes, Akins was a step away from latching on to Quinn’s forward pass near the penalty spot, but Murphy again came to Rovers’ rescue with a sliding claim.

Keillor-Dunn was given a standing ovation in the away end on 78 minutes as he departed the field for Hiram Boateng.

Harbottle made a superb block for Mansfield a minute later when he flung himself in the way of a Josh Hawkes’ piledriver.

Tranmere pushed bodies forward in the final stages, but Stags’ defended well to comfortably see the game out and earn a third successive victory and clean sheet.

TRANMERE: Murphy, Dacres-Cogley, Davies, Jameson, Bristow, Hawkes, Hendry, O’Connor, Turner-Cooke (Chalmers 58), Saunders, Mumbongo (Burton 58)

UNUSED SUBS: Hewelt, Fisher, Merrie, Nolan, Lewis

STAGS: Pym, Hewitt, Harbottle, Kilgour, Perch, Bowery, Wallace, Clarke, Quinn, Keillor-Dunn (Boateng 78), Akins

UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Anderson, Wauchope, Law, Abduallah, D. Johnson

REFEREE: Lee Swabey

ATTENDANCE: 6,282 (905 Stags' fans)

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