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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Evans wrong to say Mansfield dominated despite defeat

Stags supporters turn on their team at Colchester

Mansfield manager Steve Evans
1 of 1

Sky Bet League Two
Colchester 2 Mansfield 0
Murray 29
Mandron 34

So who do you believe? 

The Mansfield fans who chanted "what a load of rubbish" at the full-time whistle or Stags boss Steve Evans who claimed afterwards: "I think the players gave us everything. We've dominated for 75 minutes plus."

Mansfield were not rubbish at Colchester but the fans' frustration probably stems from yet another poor away result as their team have secured just one triumph in six road trips this season.

That success came in fortuitous circumstances at Lincoln where Mansfield scored with their only shot on target and didn't even force a corner.

However, if the Stags were better than rubbish, they were certainly not as in control as Evans claimed afterwards. It was a reasonably even encounter which did little to highlight why the Stags were seen as ante-post promotion favourites for Sky Bet League Two.

Mansfield looked a better side in the second half when Evans brought on the commanding Rhys Bennett and switched to a three-man rearguard formation from the starting 4-4-2, but Colchester were happy to give up territory by that point to defend a 2-0 lead.

There was little to separate the sides for 30 minutes before Sean Murray's weak free kick crept past Conrad Logan and within five minutes Colchester had doubled their advantage when the goalscorer turned provider for Mikael Mandron to head home powerfully.

Mansfield had not done a great deal wrong to find themselves 2-0 down but at the same time they had created only a couple of half-chances and lacked the kind of bite usually associated with teams managed by Evans.

Indeed, Evans, unusually given the perception of him, was quiet in the first period, leaving assistant Paul Raynor to do most of his bidding on the touchline.

It was much different in the second half with the Scot snarling at every decision against his side. There was a reasonable shout for a penalty when Alex MacDonald appeared to be tripped but it was hardly a case of underdogs Colchester desperately hanging on.

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MacDonald, freed by the change of shape, was a much greater threat early in the second half and as well as nearly winning a penalty he also forced Sam Walker into a smart save and delivered a cross from which the lively Danny Rose headed just over.

Substitute Lee Angol selfishly shot instead of passing to Rose in added time, although by then the travelling supporters had seen enough to dig out their own players.

Mansfield were hesitant at the back until Bennett arrived and fairly average across midfield until MacDonald was shifted off the left, while the off-form Kane Hemmings was lucky to last 65 minutes before being hooked for Angol.

Top scorer Rose was a threat and did not deserve the "rubbish" treatment. Despite his small stature he won his share of headers, combined well and did his best on limited service.

Expect Rose to continue to blossom as the season progresses. I would be in no rush to write off Mansfield solely on the back of this performance. However, they were also not nearly as good as Evans claimed in his post-match press conference.

The opposition

Colchester are up to 15th in Sky Bet League Two and they look a better side than their current position suggests after injuries contributed to United's poor start to the season.

Tom Eastman, Craig Slater and Kurtis Guthrie were on the bench on Saturday as they continue to search for full fitness and Murray twice went close on the counter late on to make the scoreline even more emphatic in favour of the hosts.

John McGreal started with a 4-4-2 but switched to a three-man defensive line following an early injury to Kane Vincent-Young with Eastman slotting alongside Frankie Kent and Ryan Inniss.

That's a solid base from which Colchester can look to kick on with Doug Loft keeping the ball well in midfield and Mandron was a real handful up front. It's a surprise he has scored only three times this term because on this evidence he can be influential for United.

Colchester 4-4-2: Walker; Jackson, Kent, Inniss, Vincent-Young (Eastman 20); Wright, Murray, Loft, Reid (Comley 55); Mandron, Hanlan (Kabamba 81).

Mansfield 4-4-2: Logan; Anderson (Mellis 64), Pearce, Mirfin, Hunt; Sterling-James (Bennett 46), Butcher, Atkinson, MacDonald; Rose, Hemmings (Angol 65).

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Mansfield had not done a great deal wrong to find themselves 2-0 down but at the same time they had created only a couple of half-chances themselves
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