Stags Get Up And Running In The EFL Trophy Following a 3-2 Victory Over Doncaster Rovers
A late Callum Johnson winner earns Mansfield Town their first win in the EFL Trophy and extends their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions.
Many changes were made to the Stags’ starting XI but a two-minute double from James Gale put the hosts in the driving seat.
With one of his first touches, substitute Ben Close made a darting run to the near post and sent his header into the far corner to halve the deficit near the end of the first-half.
Doncaster Rovers were level in the 64th minute as Joe Ironside turned the ball home on the second attempt after hitting the upright with his first effort.
With the Rovers hitting the woodwork on multiple occasions, it was Mansfield Town that went on to win the game in the 87th minute. Hiram Boateng’s cross found the head of Aden Flint who headed the ball towards Johnson. Stags’ number two then headed the ball goalwards as it went under Rovers goalkeeper Ian Lawlor and into the back of the net.
The victory saw the amber and blues go level on points with Burton Albion and Doncaster Rovers, however, they remained in third place due to the Brewers’ superior goal difference and the Rovers’ superior goals scored.
Ahead of the clash, Stags boss Nigel Clough made numerous changes to his starting XI for the EFL Trophy clash with the focus solely on the Nottinghamshire Derby this weekend against Notts County at Meadow Lane.
Scott Flinders captained the side and started in goal with a backline of Johnson, George Williams, George Cooper and Calum Macdonald. The ever-present George Maris started in midfield alongside Lewis Brunt and Hiram Boateng with a forward line of James Gale, Will Swan and McKeal Abdullah who made his first start for the club.
For Doncaster Rovers, manager Grant McCann also made numerous changes from the side that were defeated 1-0 by Stockport County at the weekend.
Lawlor was the goalkeeper of choice with a back three of Bobby Faulkner, Joseph Olowu and Academy Product Will Flint ahead of him. Tavonga Kuleya, George Broadbent, Tommy Rowe, Owen Bailey and Deji Sotona were the midfield five with Louie Marsh and Jack Goodman upfront.
Goodman had two fantastic chances inside the first five minutes. Hesitation from the Stags defence handed the forward his first chance but his shot was not able to beat Flinders. His second chance saw Marsh play him through, and as the forward rounded Mansfield Town’s goalkeeper, he failed to get the ball out from under his feet for a shot on goal.
Marsh once again was the provider as he found Rowe but the midfielder’s curling effort was wide of the target.
The Stags hit the post in the ninth minute as Swan found Abdullah whose first-time shot cannoned off the woodwork.
Minutes later, the hosts were awarded a penalty as Faulkner pulled down Gale in the box. The forward stepped up to take the spot kick and slotted the ball home to give Mansfield Town a 1-0 lead.
The Stags’ advantage was doubled two minutes later as Swan picked out Gale with a cross as he headed the ball into the net.
It could have been 3-0 to Mansfield Town in the 17th minute as Gale’s cross found Macdonald, however, the defender’s header cannoned off the crossbar.
Doncaster, rocked by conceding two goals in two minutes, looked to respond as Marsh had a chance to shoot but fired his effort wide.
Macdonald had another fantastic chance to get on the scoresheet just before the half-hour mark but he fired his shot narrowly wide of the bottom corner.
After coming on for the injured Faulkner, substitute Close halved the deficit in the 38th minute as he met the corner at the near post and flicked his header into the far corner past the stranded Flinders.
Rovers had chances in the extended added time in the first-half following the injury to Marsh. Rowe was unable to direct his effort goalwards and a good move from substitute Luke Molyneux saw the ball evade Goodman.
The visitors started the second-half as they finished the first with chances Goodman and Molyneux but both strikers failed to trouble Flinders in the Mansfield Town goal.
Abdullah had the first chance of the half for the Stags as he fired a shot goalwards but Lawlor was equal to it as he gathered the ball into his grasp.
Mansfield Town continued on the front foot as Aaron Lewis’ cross was met by Swan but he headed the ball over the bar.
The away side kept on knocking on the door as Goodman’s shot was blocked and a first-time shot from Close forced Flinders into a save.
Doncaster finally did get their equaliser as Ironside remained persistent and latched onto his own effort that cannoned off the upright to turn the ball home at the second attempt.
The Stags looked to respond straight away as Gale sent Swan through but his left-footed shot was straight at Lawlor.
In the 77th minute, Rovers went close to getting a third as Molyneux’s curled effort cannoned off the upright.
10 minutes later, the post was rattled again as Broadbent ran onto a ball from Close before seeing his effort hit the post.
Up the other end, Mansfield got the winner as Flint knocked down Boateng’s cross into the path of Johnson who flicked the ball underneath Lawlor and into the net.
The game saw the Stags pick up their first win in the EFL Trophy and join Burton Albion and Doncaster Rovers on three points.
Mansfield Town are back in EFL Trophy action in November as they travel to the Pirelli Stadium to take on Burton and then host Everton under-21s a week later.
Both sides are back in League Two action this weekend as the Stags travel to Notts County for the first Nottinghamshire Derby since 2019 whilst the Rovers face Sutton United at home.
Mansfield Town’s XI: Flinders, Johnson, Williams, Cooper (Bowery 63′), Macdonald (Flanagan 86′), Maris (Lewis 46′), Brunt (Cargill 46′), Boateng, Abdullah (Flint 69′), Swan, Gale
Doncaster Rovers’ XI: Lawlor, Faulkner (Close 35′), Olowu, Flint, Kuleya, Broadbent, Rowe (Westbrooke 60′), Bailey, Sotona (Faal 60′), Marsh (Molyneux 45+4′), Goodman (Ironside 60′)