Mansfield Town 3-0 Morecambe (EFL League Two) 12.08.23
Nigel Clough’s charges picked up their first league win of the season, at the second time of asking, on Saturday afternoon, following up their opening day draw with a comfortable, home win, over visiting Morecambe.
Lucas Akins would bag two goals in the win over the Shrimps, netting late in each half as the Stags racked up some 27 shots on Stuart Moore’s goal in what was, pretty much, a one-sided encounter, Clough having only recently mentioned the need for his charges to score more.
However, it was the visitors who had the first, real chance of this EFL League Two clash, a cross was not dealt with and Tom Bloxham’s volleyed effort flew over Christy Pym’s crossbar, from ten yards out.
Shortly afterwards and the hosts had several opportunities in which to open the scoring, but to no avail as first Davis Keillor-Dunn’s snapshot was blocked by Jacob Bedeau, and Akins’ header, from Callum Johnson’s cross, was headed wide at the back post.
Both Rhys Oates, and Louis Reed, then tested the visiting shot-stopper, Moore, from distance midway through the half, followed by Aaron Lewis’ effort, from a little further out, whilst the Shrimps’ ‘keeper had to be on his toes to prevent Oates’ effort, pushing it round his post.
As the visiting goal was under constant bombardment, it’s perhaps surprising the Stags took until the stroke of half-time before opening the scoring; Alfie Kilgour had crashed a drive wide of goal, Akins missed two further chances, and Lewis curled a free-kick wide before the opening goal finally arrived.
In stoppage time at the end of the first period, the hosts were awarded a free-kick, just outside the box, on the left; experienced midfielder, Stephen Quinn, clipped a dangerous ball into the visiting goalmouth which was nodded on by the jumping Keillor-Dunn and into the flight-path of Akins, the Stags striker heading home from close range.
Having led at the break the Stags carried on their attacking prowess upon the restart, although the visitors did look to get themselves back into the contest at one point, that being snuffed out by the hosts’ second of the game, effectively killing the contest off.
It was a goal of the visitors’ undoing as well, they giving the ball away, and to the ever-dangerous Keillor-Dunn; given both space, and time, is the wrong thing to do and he punished the Shrimps when bursting through, and firing past the diving Moore into the right of goal, after 62 minutes.
After a couple of changes from Clough, bringing on Jordan Bowery and Hiram Boateng minutes following the second goal, it would be Rhys Oates who’d have the next chance on goal, Moore doing well to get down at full-stretch at push away the effort.
Oates would have several further chances to add to the Stags’ afternoon tally, however, he’d have to make do with a helping hand in their third, in the closing minutes, he being bundled over in the box as the referee, Scott Simpson, awarded a late spot-kick to the hosts.
Moore, in the visiting goal, had led a charmed life all afternoon, but was unable to prevent Akins doubling his tally for the day, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way from twelve yards out, and giving the majority of the 6,692 crowd more to shout and cheer about.
The Shrimps did have a late chance to pull one back, however, second half substitute, Jordan Slew, on for Bloxham with less than twenty remaining, missed a back-post sitter following a cross from the right, but the Stags were already far out of sight.
Afterwards, Stags boss, Clough, told iFollow Stags: “To score three goals in the first league game at home and keep a clean sheet is impressive.
“We should have been ahead before the 45th minute, with the amount of chances we created again. We have to put a couple more of them away earlier on in the game.
“We played well and kept the ball well. This groove that we’ve been in for the past few weeks, including the Hearts (pre-season) when we went up there and played incredibly well.
“And then you saw it in the past few weeks, we’ve played at a very high and consistent standard,” read more here.
Now, unbeaten in three to start to the campaign (two league, one cup), the Stags travel to Doncaster Rovers for their next league outing, on Tuesday (15 August) night, before making the trip to Grimsby Town, who they knocked out of the Carabao League Cup, on Saturday (19 August); as for the League Cup, Clough’s sides’ reward for beating Grimsby is a trip to Hillsborough, and Sheffield Wednesday, in the second round – tie to be on the night of Tuesday 29 August.
Stags: Christy Pym, Callum Johnson, Alfie Kilgour, Aden Flint, Baily Cargill (Jordan Bowery, 65), Louis Reed (Anthony Hartigan, 88), Aaron Lewis (Ollie Clarke, 88), Stephen Quinn (Hiram Boateng, 65), Davis Keillor-Dunn, Rhys Oates (McKeal Abdullah, 88), Lucas Akins.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc the Stags celebrate reaching round two.