Tuesday, 24th November 2015: Mansfield Town 0, Exeter City 2

Mansfield Town v Exeter City - Skybet League Two - One Call Stadium - Tuesday 24th November 2015''Matt Green gets marked out.
Mansfield Town v Exeter City - Skybet League Two - One Call Stadium - Tuesday 24th November 2015''Matt Green gets marked out.

A disappointing Mansfield Town were comfortably beaten 2-0 at home in a very below-par display against Exeter City tonight.

The Stags conceded two poor first half goals and never looked like getting back in the contest after the break with visiting keeper Bobby Olejnik without a major save to make all night.

Stags thought they had solved their goalscoring problems with Saturday’s 3-1 win over Hartlepool.

But they looked toothless once again tonight as they ended a sixth game in seven without a goal to show for their efforts.

It was also a third home defeat in four League outings for Adam Murray’s men and saw them booed at the end by some of the frustrated home fans.

The Grecians did their hard work in the first half with the two goals and then got men behind the ball to easily snuff out all Mansfield had to throw at them.

A poor first half by the home side saw them have plenty of possession but find themselves trailing 2-0.

Joel Grant and Lee Holmes were their chief tormentors as both scored one and made one.

On six minutes Grant was allowed to turn home a low Holmes cross into the net from close range after an Exeter counter-attack.

And the home defence were caught flatflooted on 41 minutes as Grant zipped past three challenges before setting up Mansfield-born Holmes for the second from 10 yards.

Mansfield made two changes with midfielders Chris Clements and Craig Westcarr were rested to the bench with a busy period ahead and Jamie McGuire and Jack Thomas given places in the starting XI.

On the home bench, there was a place for the first time for 16-year-old youth striker Zayn Hakeem.

Stags were looking to build on Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Hartlepool while City were still on a high after winning 2-1 away against local rivals and League Two leaders Plymouth Argyle.

Bizarrely, this was Stags’ first home midweek game of the season after seven away so far.

Jack Thomas bobbled the first shot of the game well wide in the fourth minute as Mansfield made a confident start.

However, the visitors grabbed the lead with their first serious raid.

They caught Mansfield on the hop with a counter-attack down the left as Holmes sped away and, with Exeter players outnumbering Stags players in the box, his low cross was swept home high into the net from six yards by Grant for his third goal of the season.

On 12 minutes Noble carelessly gave the ball away with a backheel to no one, Green in there quickly to get off a low shot that was easy for Olejnik.

On 19 minutes Exeter had the ball in the net again, but the whistle had gone well before Grant chose to slot low past Jensen with an offside flag raised.

Two minutes later Stags might have had a penalty as Brown pulled hard on Tafazolli’s shirt from a Chapman corner, but the offence went unpunished.

More good Mansfield pressure saw Lambe have a shot blocked and Jack Thomas decide not to fire a follow-up goalwards and, when Rose’s cross was caught by Olejnik, the moment was gone.

On 25 minutes we had the first yellow card of the night after Pearce slid in clumsily on Nichols.

On the half-hour Nathan Thomas saw his shot take a wicked deflection. But, with the keeper rooted, the ball flew wide for a corner.

That was cleared back to Chapman who found McGuire at the near post who sent a looping header across goal and wide of the far post.

City were rarely getting forward, but on 34 minutes Grant broke well down the right and crossed towards Nichols at the far post where Pearce managed to get a crucial touch for a corner.

Two minutes later Stags were almost level as, from a left wing Chapman corner, Rose powered a header wide of the left post by mere inches.

Instead it was the visitors who doubled their advantage on 41 minutes – and it was far too easy for them to do so.

Grant burst his way past three opponents on a good run before squaring a perfect ball to an unmarked Holmes who slotted home a low finish from 10 yards.

It was very un-Mansfield Town defending and left Stags with a mountain to climb.

Two minutes were added on in which McGuire conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal from which Nichols wasn’t too far wide as the home side went in with much work to do.

Inevitably there were changes at the break with Clements coming on for McGuire and Nathan Thomas replaced by Yussuf, Stags going 4-4-2.

Early in the half Green sent a tame header wide from a long Adams cross, then he saw a long range shot deflect wide for a corner. But still Olejnik was without a save to make.

Blair took over from Lambe on 56 minutes as Stags made their final change early.

But a poor backpass from Rose on 67 minutes put Stags in trouble, Grant helping set up Harley for a low shot that Jensen had to get down to block.

Stags rallied and the home fans tried their best to lift them.

Three home corners in succession were won, the second seeing a brief shooting chance falling to Yussuf, who failed to get hold of it properly.

Another home corner saw Pearce guide a header on target, but it proved an easy catch for Olejnik.

In the last minute Jensen was down well again to keep out a low Wheeler shot from the right of the box as the night ended in the inevitable boos from the stands.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Jensen, Rose, Pearce, Chapman, Green, N. Thomas (Yussuf HT), Tafazolli, Lambe (Blair 56), N. Thomas, McGuire (Clements HT), Adams. Subs not used: Shearer, Collins, Westcarr, Hakeem. 
EXETER CITY: Olejnik, Noble, Ribeiro, Harley, Holmes (Reid 65), Davies, Nicholls, Moore-Taylor, Nichols (Wheeler 56), Grant (Woodman 77), Brown. Subs not used: Oakley, Morrison, Harmon, Tillson.

REFEREE: Oliver Langford of West Midlands.

ATTENDANCE: 2,435 (140 away).