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OPINION: Stags badly miss midfield playmakers

Mansfield Town v Barnet.'Danny Rose launches into a masked crusade against the Barnet defense.
Mansfield Town v Barnet.'Danny Rose launches into a masked crusade against the Barnet defense.

It was a bad weekend for Mansfield Town, going down to a very disappointing 1-0 defeat at home at Barnet.

The only goal of the game came, very predictably, from a moment of real class from Barnet’s big striker John Akinde, who broke forward and scored after the Stags needlessly gave the ball away just outside Barnet’s area.

It was a goal that deserved to win the game.

I said in my blog last week that the Stags would be wary of the huge threat of Akinde.

It was the only thing he did in the game, but it was enough.

Aside from that it was pretty even. Indeed, Mansfield certainly had more chances to score, but desperately lacked quality in the Barnet half.

The absence of Chris Clements with a recurrence of his hamstring injury is hurting Mansfield badly, and his most natural replacement, Adam Chapman, is also absent through a groin injury, leaving the Stags with no one to run the central midfield, sit on the ball calmly and provide that killer pass and moment of quality.

There were a few good performances from Stags players as Alex Iacovitti did well on his debut, with some solid defending and good distribution, Lee Collins was solid in a defensive midfield role, and Danny Rose did well on his return but crucially lacked match sharpness when he had a split second to pull the trigger in the box and his first touch let him down slightly.

Mal Benning also had a decent game and was involved in a lot, with some good distribution. And CJ Hamilton showed glimpses with some exciting wingplay, including several good runs and a couple of good crosses and a shot but also showed his inconsistency.

One or two players disappointed. Krystian Pearce perhaps should have done better with the goal when Akinde got past him too easily.

Rhys Bennett was uncharacteristically quiet, probably his poorest game of the season.

Ashley Hemmings fired a couple of shots over the bar, but didn’t do enough in my opinion.

And for Matt Green it was not his day as he missed a few chances.

The first half was very even and pretty entertaining.

Mansfield’s plans were hampered when George Taft limped off with a hamstring injury, the Stags’ third such injury of an injury-ravaged season, and the Stags completely changed formation.

The Stags were getting on top in the opening stages of the second half but the sucker punch came as Mitch Rose gave the ball away just outside the Barnet area, and Akinde got away from Pearce too easily to score.

As the game wore on, the Stags pushed Barnet further and further back but Barnet defended well as the quality of balls into the box got worse and worse.

The Stags had plenty of shots at goal from distance, almost all over the bar or wide of the target.

The Stags go to Hartlepool next on Saturday and desperately need either Clements or Chapman back in the centre of midfield.