Mansfield Town pundit Martin Shaw has given his verdict on the Stags’ 2-0 defeat at Forest Green Rovers, which saw the club drop to seventh and seven points off an automatic promotion place.
Here is his summary of the surprise loss that followed a run of 1-1 draws.
“Mansfield Town put in an atrocious performance at lowly Forest Green Rovers to be soundly beaten 2-0 in a game that the Stags needed to win to get back on the automatic promotion trail.
FLITCROFT BLASTS PLAYERS
“Mansfield have played 4-4-2 all season to get themselves into a position where automatic promotion was a possibility, but new manager David Flitcroft has, unwisely in my opinion, tinkered with the formation and switched to 4-3-3.
“Today’s performance wasn’t helped by top scorer Danny Rose getting injured with less than 20 seconds on the clock. Rose was replaced by CJ Hamilton, who was substituted into a striker role on the right.
“This made little sense to me when he has played all season on the left wing and created danger from there.
“Hamilton was later switched to the left but it was a baffling decision to play him on the right in the first place.
“he first half was a poor spectacle from both sides with little quality on show. In particular Mansfield’s balls into the box, from crosses in open play and from set pieces, were terrible.
“Forest Green came closest when Dayle Grubb cut on to his right foot on the edge of the area and smacked a fine shot against the bar with Conrad Logan beaten. “That came after Pearce had been beaten on the byline by the lively Tahvon Campbell, who had crossed to Grubb. Pearce had earlier been beaten by Campbell and forced to bring him down to earn a booking, which became significant later.
“Mansfield’s best chance came right at the end of the half when Mal Benning’s powerful on-target shot from the edge of the area was blocked.
“The second half got worse for Mansfield. On 53 minutes, Logan made a great save coming out to deny the excellent Reuben Reid. But Forest Green were ahead on 54 minutes.
“Logan bowled the ball out towards Hemmings, but it never reached Hemmings and was intercepted by Osbourne, who headed the ball forwards to former Stag Lee Collins. Collins played back to Osbourne on the left. Osbourne’s ball into the middle should have presented Pearce with an easy clearance but he completely miscued into the path of Reuben Reid, who fired into the net through Logan’s legs from 14 yards.
“A calamity for Logan, who was otherwise excellent, and Pearce.
“Logan then made a great save from Campbell turning his shot over. Mansfield brought on Ricky Miller as sub and he nearly equalised on 71 minutes with a good effort from the left after good play from Hemmings.
“Logan was called into action again on 77 minutes with a brilliant save turning away a shot from Reuben Reid.
“More calamity for Mansfield on 78 minutes as Joel Byrom gave the ball away on Mansfield’s left, Grubb cut in towards goal and fired in from a tight angle on the right. A dreadful mistake from Byrom, who was almost immediately substituted.
“On 83 minutes, it should have been 3-0 when Campbell missed a sitter heading over the bar, completely unmarked, after great play on the right by Reid and a fine cross.
“Pearce’s afternoon got even worse on 84 minutes when Reid played a great ball forward for Campbell who was tripped by Pearce and Pearce picked up a second yellow card to be sent off. It capped a dreadful afternoon for Mansfield who was so poor and were well-beaten.
“The Stags were terrible going forward, set pieces were awful, crosses didn’t reach their targets. There was no creativity, no invention, and no quality. Just one shot on target all game, from Benning which was blocked by a defender, and the FGR keeper did not have a single save to make.
“At the back, the defence had a day to forget, especially Pearce against Campbell, but also Bennett against Reid.
“Logan was at fault twice for the opening goal, but otherwise kept the Stags in the game, and mistakes from him have been very rare this season.
“This was probably Mansfield’s equal worst performance of the season, ironically probably equal with the defeat to David Flitcroft’s Swindon at the One Call stadium.
“I made a comment earlier about formations, but in truth it is players that win matches not formations. The players looked all at sea today.
“The Stags players need to step up to the plate, regardless of formation, and play better than this.
“If they do that, we know that they have the quality to do well against Accrington on Friday. All is not lost, far from it, and it could still be a really exciting end to the season. Come on Mansfield!”