Saturday, 3 September 2022

Doncaster Rovers 1 v Mansfield Town 3 - EFL League 2

Saturday 3rd September 2022
EFL League 2
At the Eco-Power Stadium
Doncaster Rovers (1) 1
Lee Tomlin 45+2 pen
Mansfield Town (1) 3
Ollie Clarke 15, George Maris 56. Lucas Akins 71 pen
Attendance: 8,978 (inc. 2,826 away fans)
Mobile phone picture gallery: Click HERE
Ignore the kick-off time printed on the ticket, this game had a traditional Saturday 3PM start.
Doncaster Rovers:
Mitchell, Knoyle, Williams, Molyneux (Taylor 64), Clayton, Miller, Rowe, Biggins (Maxwell 64), Hurst, Tomlin (Agard 78), Faulkner
Unused subs - Jones, Long, Woltman, Kuleya
Mansfield Town:
Pym, Bowery, Perch (Wallace 73), Hawkins, Harbottle, McLaughlin (Gordon 87), Clarke (Quinn 87), Hartigan, Maris, Lapslie (Swan 90+3), Akins
Unused subs - Flinders, Gale
Riley Harbottle was a late amendment to the Stags 
line up in place of Elliott Hewitt who was unwell.
Prior to kick-off a respectful minutes applause was observed in memory of Sammy Chung, the former Rovers manager, who sadly passed away on Sunday 28th August. 
Cyril (his birth name) used to live just around the corner from me in Welham (near Retford) and as I recall he was a likeable and friendly soul. Rest in peace Mr Chung.
Going into today's game, Gary McSheffery's unbeaten Rovers side had won four and drawn two of their opening six league games. By contrast, Nigel Clough's Stags had made an indifferent start, winning three (all at home) and losing three (all away) of theirs. But as the final whistle finally sounded (in the ninety-seventh minute), Mansfield finished the afternoon just two-points a one league position behind their south Yorkshire hosts. 
Rovers made a lively start, but once Mansfield started to grow into the game, they never looked back and were good value for their three point haul today.
The Stags took the lead in the fifteenth minute, when George Laplie's right wing cross was headed away by Ro-Shaun Williams, but fell invitingly for Ollie Clarke who dispatched a sweetly-struck volley into the to-left corner of Jonathan Mitchell's net.
Building up a head of steam and pushing forward to build on their single goal advantage, the visitors went close again, when Lapslie was thwarted by Mitchell, who parried the ball away as far as Ollie Hawkins whose goal-bound effort glanced off of one Kyle Noyle onto the left-hand upright before rebounding onto Harrison Biggins and off the same post again via the back of Noyle, whereupon Mitchell finally smothered it. Lapslie kicked the ball from Mitchell's grasp and his goal-attempt was disallowed...and rightly so... but I'm not convinced that the ball hadn't already been goal-side of the line before then.
I thought that referee's have these new-fangled watches these days that receive a signal when the ball has crossed the goal-line. Maybe the battery had stopped working in Thomas Kirk's time-piece. 
I captured a very pixelated snap-shot on my phone, which probably wouldn't stand up as evidence in a court of law, but it would kind of suggest that Lapslie and his team-mates might have been justified to be celebrating a second Stags goal.
Update (5.9.22): I have been reliably informed that watch technology isn't available to the referees in League 2. Well... it bloody well should be.
A Rovers fan I was watching the game with said: "Bloody hell Rob!  I thought that had gone over the line before Lapslie kicked it". 
Me too! But it's the referee (who isn't in the blurred picture) and his plodding assistant that are the final arbiters of such matters and they can only go on what they've actually seen with their own eyes. 
I began a brief, tongue in cheek,  chant of: "VAR! VAR! VAR!", before remembering that I was sat among the home fans.
But hey! These things balance themselves out over the course of season and it didn't make the blindest bit of difference to the final outcome of the game, so moving swiftly on.
Rovers showed that they still capable of posing a threat, when Christy Pym denied George Miller a chance to level things up, when he acrobatically turned a well directed close-range header over the bar at full-stretch.
As their own manager testified, Rovers were fortunate to go in level at the break, following Lee Tomlin's penalty equaliser, after the referee had awarded a spot-kick for what to all intents and purposes had looked like a genuine collision between James Perch and Harrison Biggins inside the Stags penalty area. 
Lee Tomlin placed his spot-kick to the left, Pym dived the other way and against the run of play, it was all square. 
Tomlin lifted a finger to his lips to hush the away fans... that might make him look daft if he gets booked for diving in the second-half while the visitors put his side to the sword with two more goals, especially if one of them is a penalty and then he gets substituted. I think you can probably guess where this plot is going already ;-)
Rovers official website reporter posted: It deservedly was one a piece at half-time. 
Nobody else in the ground thought so.
As the second-half unfolded, Kyle Hurst crashed a long range shot against the left-hand post, well beyond the reach of Pym who never got near the ball as he dived at full-stretch to his right (see above). 
Clarke shot wide after a great touch from Lucas Akins had teed up an opportunity to have a strike at Rovers goal.
But the Stags were soon ahead again when George Maris picked up a sideways lay-off from Lapslie, who'd been picked out by a pinpoint cross by Akins, and planted it past Mitchell from just inside the area.
Pym saved a well struck effort from Hurst and subsequently the ball fell towards Tomlin; inexplicably, instead of trying to grasp a half-chance to restore parity, opted for a theatrical twist and triple-pike dive, that would've earned him a gold medal in the recent Commonwealth Games, but was only ever likely to get him yellow-carded in the cut and thrust of a League Two football fixture.
Hoodwinking the ref for the most-outlandishly executed assimilation, was seemingly a side-bet competition that the two sides were privately taking part in, but Tomlin's antics were far too blatant to pass under Mr Kirk's radar.
Stephen McLaughlin probably won the actual prize money for his falling down in instalments routine, when the players were squaring up to each other, while bickering over a hotly disputed throw-in decision.
Donny caved in as Mansfield upped the ante and in the seventy-first minute, the industrious and hard-working Lucas Akins was given the opportunity to wrap up the game, when James Maxwell, who'd only just entered the fray as a substitute, fouled Lapslie by the dead-ball line. Akins buried the resulting penalty with no small amount of aplomb, though I suspect there were a few keyboard-warriors of a (so-called) Stags persuasion who would have wanted him to have missed, because his man of the match performance and a goal won't fit in with their spiteful narrative.
Shortly after the Stags third goal. Tomlin was substituted, I raised my finger to my lips and though he wouldn't have known, uttered: "Now you shurrup Lee Tomlin!" What goes around ;-)
FT: Doncaster Rovers 1 v. Mansfield Town 3
A bloody decent game all told, I really enjoyed that.