OPINION: Appointment of Evans a real coup for Stags

What a week in the life of Mansfield Town FC!

Monday, 21st November 2016, 8:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:06 pm
Mansfield Town v Crawley Town. Matt Green has an early attempt on goal.

The appointment of Steve Evans was a rare appointment of a manager with a proven record of guiding a team to promotions in the Football League, not seen at Mansfield since the likes of Ian Greaves and to a lesser extent Billy McEwan.

It is a real coup for the club to get a manager with such credentials.

John Radford had talked about wanting to get the club to the Championship, and appointing a manager who had done exactly that with Rotherham was a huge statement of intent from John and Carolyn.

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The arrival of Evans came after the departure of Adam Murray last Monday.

Murray had been a fantastic servant to the club in several spells as a player and then manager.

As a player he was in my all-time best Mansfield Town XI, joining Gordon Hodgson, Liam Lawrence and Jim McCaffrey in a mouth-watering midfield.

As a manager, he had the Stags safely in mid-table last season after being in and around the play-offs for three-quarters of the season, and again in mid-table this season before last week’s defeat to Portsmouth brought an end to his reign.

Murray gave his heart and soul to Mansfield Town over many years and I wish him well for the future.

There was a real buzz around the One Call Stadium for the first game of the Evans era and a game against one of his former clubs, Crawley Town.

The Stags registered an emphatic 3-1 victory to get the new era off to a winning start. It was a very good team performance from Mansfield, typified by tremendous work rate, getting the ball forward fast into the box, and fighting for every loose ball.

There were several candidates for the man of the match award on a day when no-one had a poor game, with Chris Clements just shading it for me, from Jamie McGuire, Matt Green and several others.

The defence was also generally solid with Mitch Rose filling in well at right back, in the absence of several defenders through suspension and injury.

Mansfield were the better side in the first half but were unable to break Crawley down before three-quarters goals in 10 minutes early in the second half decided the game.

First, a great crossfield pass from Chris Clements out to Matt Green on the left, Green cut inside defender Young onto his right foot, crossed to the right, Hoban headed back, and defender Garnett could only head the ball up to Clements who volleyed into the net from eight yards, Clements starting and finishing the move.

The second goal saw good use of the advantage by the referee as Ashley Hemmings was fouled coming forward, but the referee played on.

Green broke down the right wing, and his cross was perfect for Pat Hoban at the far post who volleyed in from seven yards.

It was delight for Hoban, who had been left out by Murray despite some good performances.

Then the Stags then made it 3-0 in quick succession.

Hemmings swept a ball down the left wing for Green to run onto, Green knocked the ball over the keeper who was a long way out of his area on the touchline.

Green steadied himself and played a lovely ball with the outside of his right foot to Clements, unmarked on the edge of the box, who smashed into the top right corner of the unguarded net.

Crawley pulled a goal back when Bobson Bawling’s powerful cross flicked off Rhys Bennett’s head into his own net under pressure from Matt Harrold.

But that didn’t affect the result and it was a great day for the Stags with the promise of more to come under Steve Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor.

The home attendance was 296 up (from approximately 2,600 to 2,900) from the Stevenage game, so it is going in the right direction and hopefully more fans will come back soon.

John and Carolyn Radford will certainly be hoping so after their statement of intent.