Town v Newport County
4th August 2018 k.o 3:00pm
Sky Bet Football League Two
Report from Mark Vickery at The One Call Stadium
Mansfield Town 3 (Walker 12, Khan 56, 64)
Newport County 0
Mansfield find another gear to finish off County
Mansfield have a large squad expecting to challenge this season and the County starting side looks set to contain rather than ask questions of them
Very warm, sunny spells and light breeze. Pitch watered and in decent condition.
OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
In the game until half time but came out second with indifferent stand off approach and Mansfield exploited the space taking chances clinically.
First goal put County on the backfoot but charitable second goal killed off challenge.
County manager Mike Flynn introduced five new signings with new right back Tyler Forbes and central defender Fraser Franks alongside Mickey Demetriou and Dan Butler in a four man defence. Scott Bennett slotted in just in front of the centre of defence to partner ex-Wales international Andrew Crofts who named as the new team captain alongside Matt Dolan. There was also another new face with former Forest Green Rovers attacking midfielder Keanu March-Brown making his debut. Padraig Amond had a new partner up front alongside former Grimsby Town striker Jamille Matt. The early stages were even with County matching Mansfield offering some decent cohesion and movement in the final third. On 5 minutes, County worked a glimmer of chance when Butler did well to link with Marsh-Brown and cut back a low cross to the edge of the area which Crofts met first time somewhat mistiming his shot well wide of the left post. On 10 minutes, Mansfield were given another warning from a similar move manufactured on the left side by Butler and this time the cross into the area invited Crofts to steal in with a late run but his volley was poked wide from 14 yards. Mansfield were snappy when the won possession and quick to break and work openings in the final third with McDonald and Khan busy with the ball at their feet. On 11 minutes, County had a decent looking opportunity when Crofts delivered a good cross into the area which Matt looked favourite to finish but found himself marginally offside. Mansfield took the lead on 12 minutes from a corner on the right side after Day had saved a low effort 16 yards by Walker. Khan whipped in a vicious corner which County struggled to clear effectively and some opportunism by Mansfield saw Pearce head the ball back into the six yard box and the ball appeared to deflect off Franks and Walker was able to stab home from 6 yards with a shot on the turn. County kept plugging away despite the set back continuing to use their left flank well with Butler combining well to provide crosses. On 17 minutes, County created a decent looking chance when Butler raced forward to link deep inside the Mansfield half receiving a header from Matt. He whipped in a decent cross to pick out the run of Amond who ghosted in past Benning only for his downward header to be beaten away by Logan at the near post. County were at their most vulnerable when they were attacking and this was evident again just moments later. Mansfield went on the offensive with a quick move on the left flank which saw Benning find Davies and a strong run carried him inside near the left corner of the box before he struck a low vicious shot against the right post. County continued to work the ball around patiently often allowing Mansfield to regroup and looked more dangerous from first time crosses. On 26 minutes, a quicker move after a throw in on the right side saw Franks have a glimmer of chance when he met a cross but his header from 14 yards was mistimed. On 30 minutes, County worked another decent chance from a slick move deep inside the Mansfield area but the finish was lacking with Matt poking a weak low effort straight at the keeper from left corner of the box. Mansfield remained a threat with Walker robust in aerial challenges and Mansfield flooding players quickly from deep in support. However, County worked another decent chance on 35 minutes with Butler finding the bright run of Marsh-Brown but his effort from the left corner of the box went over when he should have a least worked the keeper. County were doing more to retain the ball in the middle for a time and Bishop was coaxed into a very late challenge on Dolan moments later which got him a yellow card. Mansfield were content to break up and disrupt play pressing harder off the ball which gave County little time to settle. On 38 minutes, this nearly paid dividends when Benning released Walker and he elected to cut inside and blasted an effort well over from 25 yards. Mansfield had a better spell as half time approached with McDonald pulling the strings with some strong run in support from deep which were often untracked by County. Deep in first half time injury time, County were forced deep but they were able to clear their lines but their poor retention in the final third was starting to impair their control of the game.
Mansfield came out for the second half more assertive and aggressive looking to finish the game. The early stages saw Mansfield have the upper stakes in midfield seeing the ball earlier and alertness was key. County were forced into giving away several free kicks and with Amond and Matt struggling to provide an outlet the ball kept coming back. On 55 minutes, County were given a warning when Khan made the most of space invited down the middle and he thrashed an effort from 25 yards wide of the right post. County failed to heed the warning and fell further behind on 56 minutes. Bishop made the most of the space offered in middle brushing off a challenge from Marsh-Brown and direct a simple ball in behind down the right side of the area for Walker to latch onto. His deft cross was precise in finding the late run of Khan who headed home unchallenged from 8 yards despite being the smallest player on the pitch. County freshened their pack on the hour with Crofts and Matt being replaced by Sheehan and Semenyo. Mansfield maintained their tempo and boldness with both full back pushing on and left wing back Benning had a shot well blocked by Franks from the left side of the area. With County struggling to put two passes together Mansfield added a third on 64 minutes when they made the most of space on the left side with Forbes outfoxed by Davies. He played a simple pass across the face of the area and Khan had acres of time to adjust and curl into the left corner from 20 yards beyond the grasp of Day. County made efforts to pick up their approach play and salvage something from the game. On 68 minutes, Sheehan delivered a neat crosses from left side of the pitch towards the back post which pinpointed Amond but his header from 8 yards was held well low down by Logan. County made their final change on 72 minutes with Cooper replacing Marsh-Brown and Mansfield responded soon after with Butcher replacing Khan. County offered more verve and energy in the latter stages of the match with Sheehan and Semenyo making some snappy runs. On 78 minutes, Sheehan did well find Semenyo who did well on the edge of the area showing good awareness to slip a pass in behind for Amond. He carried the ball forward rounding the keeper only for his shot from 8 yards to be cleared off the line by the recovering right back White. In the build up to the move the linesman was injured with play able to finally resume on 85 minutes. County kept plugging away not always getting the rub of the ball when Mansfield defended deep inside their own area. On 90 minutes, Mansfield made a change up top with Davies replaced by Graham. In the nine minutes of injury time, County created another reasonable chance with some more decisive craft around the edge of the area involving Semenyo and Amond who teed up a shot for Sheehan and curling effort from 14 yards was beaten away in the right corner by Logan. Mansfield were happy to run down the clock with the final change up front that saw Mellis replace Walker. In the final minutes of injury time, Dolan curled in a decent set piece from the left side which was scooped a tired effort over the bar by Amond when well positioned summing up a dismal day for County.
Day (6) made a couple of smart instinctive saves first half to keep County in game, kicked long on times but did it effectively. Given little protection on the second and third goals
Forbes (5) was bold coming forward and got into some decent positions but crosses were either under-hit or played to deep. Worked hard but let down by too many stray passes.
Butler (6) had an excellent first half initiating several decent moves and provided outlet for crosses. Forced to defend deeper after the break with Mansfield pinging ball in behind.
Demetriou (6) won his headers and generally the more composed defender strong clearing to set up some good moves. Was overworked on times second half covering left side.
Franks (6) dominated in the air, looked less comfortable on the floor but used ball effectively keeping it simple. Got forward for set pieces but threat was well marshalled.
Crofts (5) looked short of games and despite having some bright moments getting shots in and around box in the first half influence soon faded
Bennett (5) played more in the middle and looked laboured on times losing out in his tackles. not able to exert enough impact on the game despite passing well.
Dolan (6) never really settled to play in an often cramped and static middle of the pitch. Had few set pieces offered today with the majority coming from less favoured left side.
Marsh-Brown (5) had his spells either side of the first Mansfield goal and combined well with Butler but brushed off too easily on challenges and squandered possession cheaply.
Matt (5) did well in the aerial duals but disappointing with his retention and appetite to keep the ball, got into few areas to threaten but choked on a couple of chances.
Amond (6) could have had a hat trick with the best chances coming deep inside the area. Did his best to retain possession and offered guile to link well in and around area.
SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths centre backs were strong dealing facing ball and fending off challenges. Wing backs offered pace and craft and they countered quickly to work openings in final third.
Weaknesses centre backs were untidy with distribution when pressed and both full backs allowed room back which should have been punished.
they squashed play and were dynamic coming forward with the pace and energy they
had final third. Stepped up gears with tempo early second half.
Threats Khan and McDonald were creative in and around the box with quick feet. Walker and Davies combined well and effective with shots and supply into the area.
P Marsden (7) consistent reading of the game but generally lenient approach allowing number of tackles from behind go unpunished.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tyler Walker key player and nuisance working defenders constantly and prepared to shoot but effort off the ball was equally important.
IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Mansfield are a decent outfit who are likely to figure in the promotion race but they also looked more tuned in and alert in this match. It was a disappointing indifferent County performance and possibly the less taxing pre-season in comparison to the Mansfield schedule not helping. County still looked in pre-season mode on times today and it was enough for Mansfield to step up a gear or two after half time to kill off any chance of a comeback. The starting County line up was reserved and the midfield three of Crofts, Bennett and Dolan is too static and does not compliment enough with energy and enterprise lacking to open up streetwise sides like Mansfield. County will also need to get sharper with their ball retention both in the final third and across the middle which waivered especially after half time they were wasteful allowing Mansfield to ramp up their pressure. County were missing some players today but the four man defence did not look that assured which was evident with second half with Demetriou having to cover the left side too much. County need to put this result behind quickly and look to improve on their efficiency with the ball as when they did do it in brief spells Mansfield were opened up. It was just that they didnt do it enough. Next up at home is Crewe who had a good win today and it will important they do not allow them to settle into any rhythm with their passing game, stifle their counter attacks and start to take their chances inside the area.