Captain Fantastic. Walsall 1-1 Mansfield
Updated: Mar 9
After 17 days and 4 postponements, the Stags finally took to the field looking to extend their recovery under the stewardship of Nigel Clough. The Stags went into the game after five wins in a row also looking to make it seven Sky Bet League Two games unbeaten.
Captain Ollie Clarke returned to the bench after recovering from a knock to the knee, deadline day signing Oliver Sarkic was also introduced to the bench, alongside Tyrese Sinclair after his Covid lay off.
Played in sub-zero temperatures and at the risk of the pitch freezing, the game was brought forward fifteen minutes to try and combat the arctic temperatures as the evening went on, leading to both managers agreeing to no added time at the end of proceedings and to protect the players from further injuries, in a game where the Stags had already lost George Lapslie to a hamstring injury which Clough then confirmed he would be missing for at least 4 weeks now.
Both teams being out of action since the 23rd of January after multiple postponements and in the opening minutes at was clear to see the stags had not quite thawed out pregame and nearly went behind in the opening exchanges.
The stags lost George Lapslie on the 12th minute after pulling up holding his hamstring and was replaced the returning skipper Ollie Clarke.
Neither side created any clear-cut chances, but it would be the stags who were to be undone in the 23rd minute as Saddlers debutant Max Melbourne slotted the ball under the advancing Aidan Stone after a dangerous ball from Tyreik Wright, much to the frustration of the stags defence who resembled statues as the ball came in.
The Stags tried to respond immediately but full back Stephen McLaughlin’s effort whistled wide of the right-hand post.
Captain Ollie Clarke got the Stags back into the game less than ten minutes after falling behind with a well worked goal. After some fantastic link up play between Jamie Reid and Jordan Bowery, who now has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 games, the ball found itself at Bowery’s feet and after powering forward into the box, the ball was fed across to the surging skipper who tucked the ball under Roberts.
Mansfield carried on pushing to find another goal and to carry on their one hundred perfect record in 2021 but the goal just would not come.
The best of Mansfield chances falling to Jordan Bowery after a fantastic ball over the top from skipper Ollie Clarke and after bowering into the Walsall box, his shot bounced just in front of the Saddlers ‘keeper Roberts and the shot stopper did just enough to push the venomous shot wide.
Nigel Clough brought on Sarkic with just over 20 minutes on the clock as he replaced midfielder Quinn.
A foul by Kellan Gordon in the corner earned him a booking and that would be the last of the action in the West Midlands, with referee Alan Young brining a swift end to proceedings on the 90th minute after an agreement between both teams and match officials.
STAGS XI: Stone (GK), Gordon, Rawson, Sweeney, McLaughlin, Maris, Lapslie (Clarke 13’), Quinn (72’), Charsley, Reid, Bowery.
UNUSED SUBS: Stech (GK), Benning, Perch, Sinclair, Law.
WALSALL XI: Roberts (GK), Melbourne, Sadler, Scarr, Kinsella, Lavery (Osei Yaw 77’), Gordon, Bates (Vincent 77’), McDonald, White, Wright (Nolan 62’).
UNUSED SUBS: Rose (GK), Norman, Cockerill-Mollett, Osadebe.
REFEREE: Alan Young
ASSISTANTS: Kevin Howick & Ollie Williams
FOURTH OFFICIAL: James Oldham
Photo Credit Chris Holloway and The Bigger Picture Event Photography