The Stags reached the second round of the Carabao League Cup for only the second time since their return to the Football League, a decade ago, following Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win over Grimsby Town.
Having drawn their opening league game at the weekend, 2-2 away to Crewe Alexandra, Nigel Clough’s charges needed a big response following a game in which they should have won, Davis Keillor-Dunn’s first-half double ensuring a point was at least gained.
In midweek though, when hosting Grimsby, there was a more composed performance as progression was earned courtesy of a goal in each half, Lucas Akins unfortunate to have not had a hat-trick in the opening 45, instead settling for just the one, from the spot.
He’d first see an effort sail over the opposition crossbar inside 20 minutes, then, minutes after giving the hosts the lead, force a save from Harvey Cartwright, Grimsby’s shot-stopper very much at fault in the penalty decision.
A wayward back-pass would see Cartwright upend in the oncoming Akins, referee Scott Jackson pointing to the spot, and showing the ‘keeper the yellow card, Akins then proceeded to send Cartwright the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick in a half that was dominated by the hosts.
The visitors best chance of the half arrived with a little over five minutes remaining when former Stag, Danny Rose, who made over 165 appearances for the club between 2016 and 2021, saw his headed pushed away for a corner by Christy Pym in the home goal.
It was a similar scenario after the restart as well, the hosts putting the game pretty much to bed within ten minutes as Davis Keillor-Dunn, who notched a brace during the season opener, was seen to squeeze a pass through to Rhys Oates who managed to wriggle free in the box, and fire a low shot past Cartwright, from a dozen yards out, with the outside of his boot.
The visitors’ best attempts of the second period came via a blocked effort from Harry Clifton from outside the box, and Evan Khouri’s header from six yards out which was saved well by Pym, the hosts keeping any attacks against them, at a minimum.
Afterwards, Clough told BBC Nottingham that, although the performance was there, one thing was lacking: “We should have scored more goals.
“Some of our play was excellent; somebody is going to cop one during the season where, if we do put even a reasonable percentage of our chances away, we will be getting five.
“Some of the football was from a higher level.”
Next up for Clough’s Stags, another home game as they welcome a Morecambe side who were knocked out on penalties (at Rotherham), having edged their season opener (over Walsall), on Saturday 12 August.
Mansfield Town: Christy Pym, Calum Johnson, Alfie Kilgour, Aden Flint (Baily Cargill, 64), Jordan Bowery, Louis Reed (McKeal Abdullah, 90), Aaron Lewis (George Maris, 64), Stephen Quinn (Hiram Boateng, 45), Davis Keillor-Dunn, Rhys Oates (Ollie Clarke, 76), Lucas Akins
The Stags record in the League Cup has seen them not progress much beyond round two, they having done so just four times since first appearing in the competition during the 1960-61 season; the furthest they’ve progressed, the quarter-finals once, in 1975-76 before losing 4-2 away to eventual winners, Manchester City.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc the Stags celebrate reaching round two.