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REPORT| McCoulsky scores again as County draw with Mansfield Town

21 October 2017

Shawn McCoulsky scored for the fourth successive game as The Exiles secured a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town at Rodney Parade.

But it was in-fact the visitors who took a lead into half-time, thanks to Danny Rose’s opener on 21 minutes.

The ball presented itself kindly to the Stags front-man just outside the six-yard area, who calmly planted a volley into the far corner.

But just as in the two previous league games, Mike Flynn’s inspired decision to bring on McCoulsky reaped dividends again.

From a Ben Tozer long throw, McCoulsky got ahead of his marker to stab home a strike from about ten yards to get County what was a deserved equaliser.

That means he moves onto seven goals for the season, his third at Rodney Parade, which coincidentally makes him County’s top scorer for the campaign.

Mike Flynn elected to name just the one change to the side that lost 2-1 at home to Colchester on Tuesday as captain Joss Labadie was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

His replacement Mark O’Brien took over the captaincy, with County using the familiar 3-5-2 system again. O’Brien returned to the heart of the defence while Scot Bennett pushed further up into the midfield.

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Barnet on Tuesday – two enforced and one tactical.

That saw Paul Digby drop to the bench, while Malvind Benning and David Mirfin missed out. In their place came Rhys Bennett, Alfie Potter and Johnny Hunt.

It also meant the Stags changed their system to a 4-4-2 formation instead of the 3-5-2 line-up last time out, with Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings starting up-front.

Right from the off it was evident that the conditions were going to play a huge part in the outcome of the game, as it was a wet and windy atmosphere at Rodney Parade.

That meant it took until the 11th minute for either side to muster an opportunity, O’Brien heading just past the post for the Exiles.

You would have to say that the possession was all with County in the first 15 minutes, Dan Butler blazing high and wide in the 13th minute, although away goalkeeper Conrad Logan had not had a save to make early-on.   

It took until the 19th minute for Mansfield to create their opening opportunity of the afternoon, although O’Brien had superbly read the cross from Will Atkinson to prevent Rose from having a chance at the far-post.

But just two minutes later, Rose did break the deadlock with a composed volley across the goal from 10 yards. The conditions had made it extremely difficult for County to clear another Atkinson cross, as the ball sat up perfectly for Rose to coolly dispatch the opportunity.

The goal seemed to stifle County’s positive start somewhat, a couple of corners for the Exiles but nothing to test Logan in the away goal as the game ticked past the half-hour mark.

But again, the conditions were causing havoc just after, as Rhys Bennett’s header back to his goalkeeper from Amond’s delivery drifted out for a County corner. And from it, the Exiles were so nearly level.

Nouble, who was again looking menacing throughout, was found at the front post but his header was cleared off the goal-line by Alex MacDonald.  

The striker had another opportunity on 36 minutes only to see his effort narrowly avoid the top corner, as it appeared that the away side were content with sitting back and defending their lead.

On the counter-attack, Johnny Hunt was intent on making a nuisance of himself, as David Pipe had to recover superbly to shield the ball out for a goal-kick.

It took until the 44th minute for referee Charles Breakspear to produce his first yellow card of the afternoon, Hayden White the offender for Mansfield, for what was a cumulation of fouls from the defender in and around the centre-circle.

At the end of the two additional minutes Mansfield again had to clear off the line, Nouble again denied as Stags captain Krystian Pearce rose well at the far-post to clear the header.

That brought the first-half proceedings to a close, in a game of limited chances for both sides.

All the possession was with the Exiles, Nouble and Mickey Demetriou again standing out, although you would have to say that the away side had adapted to the conditions better and took their chance when it arrived.  

The first chance of the second-half fell in the 52nd minute, but after Nouble had again skipped four or five challenges couldn’t find a County shirt in the area with his low cross.

Alfie Potter became the second man to receive a yellow card, for preventing a County breakaway, which had the referee played on, might have seen Bennett clear on goal.

On 58 minutes, Flynn made his first substitution and with it came a change of formation.

Sean Rigg replaced Ben White as County moved to a 4-3-3 system with Rigg playing in the wide-left position.

But the post had to come to Rigg’s rescue within 10 seconds of his introduction as his headed clearance looked like it might have just creeped into his own goal.

Shawn McCoulsky was introduced not long after that chance, in place of Bennett, to add even more depth to the County front-line.

That did leave the Exiles exposed defensively, Kane Hemmings testing Day with a fizzing 30-yard effort that the goalkeeper did well to hold.

But on 69 minutes, County did find their leveller and it was again McCoulsky off the bench to score it.

It was another inspired substitution by Flynn to introduce the front-man, who scored for the fourth successive game to become County’s top scorer for the season on seven goals, with a thunderous half-volley from just inside the area.

That forced Stags manager Steve Evans into a double attacking substitution of his own, Rose and Hemmings both coming off for Omar Sterling-James and Jimmy Spencer.  

McCoulsky had two further opportunities to give County the lead within the next five minutes, although couldn’t find the target on those occasions as the Exiles were clearly in the ascendency after the goal.

Logan made a decent save to deny Nouble on 78 minutes, after the front-man had done so well to skip past the challenges of four Mansfield players.

Dan Butler became the first County player to receive a yellow card on 82 minutes, for preventing Sterling-James from bombarding forward as Bennett hit the resulting free-kick into the side netting.

The pressure continued to build from the Exiles as the game approached the final five minutes, Logan required to make three stunning saves to deny Tozer, Nouble and Amond.

Four minutes of additional time was indicated at the end of the game, but no further chances were created as both teams had to settle for a point.

 

County: Day, Pipe, Butler, Demetriou, White (Rigg 58’), O’Brien (C), Dolan, Bennett (McCoulsky 65’), Tozer, Amond, Nouble

Subs not used: Bittner, Barnum-Bobb, Owen-Evans, Quigley, Willmott

 

Mansfield: Logan, White, Pearce (C), Bennett, Hunt, Potter (Anderson 87’), Butcher, Atkinson, MacDonald, Hemmings (Spencer 72’), Rose (Sterling-James 72’)

Subs not used: Olejnik, Digby, Mellis, Angol

 

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 3,146 (160 away)

Next up for County: Notts County (28th October) AWAY 


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