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Kick off 19:00 (UK)

10 October 2023 Venue One Call Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:00 (UK)

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Match Reports

REPORT | Mansfield Town 3 Rovers 2

10 October 2023

A late header denied Rovers a superb comeback at Mansfield Town in the EFL Trophy.

Two goals in three early first half minutes from James Gale quelled a rapid start from Rovers and threatened to see Mansfield coast to victory.

But Ben Close netted shortly after coming off the bench to make a tie of it heading into the second half, with fellow substitute Joe Ironside finding the equaliser just after the hour.

The game appeared to be heading to a bonus point shootout until Callum Johnson netted a late header to see Mansfield claim the win.

It had been a breathless encounter between two attack-minded sides, with Rovers twice hitting the post. But the evening was marred by injuries to both Bobby Faulkner and Louie Marsh, who were forced off in the first half.

The pair were in the side as part of eight changes to the XI that started at Stockport County four days earlier. Academy graduate Will Flint was handed a debut in defence while Ian Lawlor made his first appearance following injury.

Rovers were almost in front inside the first 30 seconds as Jack Goodman forced an error inside the Mansfield box and pounced, only to send his shot straight at Stags keeper Scott Flinders.

And Goodman was put in on goal moments later with a stunning pass from Marsh but the striker could not get the ball out from under his feet to make the shot.

Rovers continued to push forward and Marsh fed through another excellent pass, picking out Tommy Rowe who shifted the ball onto his left foot and flashed a shot narrowly wide.

Mansfield showed their own threat in a breathless start to the game as McKeal Abdullah struck the upright on nine minutes after latching onto Will Swan’s ball across the face of goal.

And the door was opened for the hosts to take the lead on 11 minutes when George Broadbent was adjudged to have bundled over Gale in the box. Gale stepped up to slot the penalty home into the bottom corner.

The lead was doubled just two minutes later as Gale was left free at the back post to head home a cross from Swan.

Calum Macdonald flicked a header onto the crossbar as the frenetic pace of the game continued, while Marsh sent a shot from 25 yards just wide.

The pace dipped as the midpoint of the half passed but Macdonald was close to extending the hosts’ advantage when he raced onto a pass from Swan and shaved the far post with a low drive.

Bobby Faulkner was forced off with an injury ten minutes before the break, with Close replacing him.

And just three minutes after entering play, Close pulled a goal back for Rovers as he raced across the box to meet a corner and flick a header home.

There was real concern moments after play resumed when Marsh fell awkwardly on his arm and, after a lengthy period of treatment, was forced off with Luke Molyneux entering the fray.

Rowe lashed a free kick wide from 25 yards deep into added time in the first half.

Goodman chested a fine ball into the box from Close but could not get a good connection on his volley mere seconds after the restart.

Molyneux sent a raking effort wide from the edge of the box, while Abdullah stung the hands of Lawlor at the other end moments later.

Swan headed over the bar from six yards as he met a cross from Aaron Lewis.

Goodman latched onto a ball forward from Flint to surge into the box, before cutting past one defender and seeing a second block out his low drive for a corner.

Close forced a reaction save from Flinder with a first time strike from 35 yards.

The equaliser came on 64 minutes. Zain Westbrooke raced onto a ball around the corner from Close and crossed to the far post. Ironside struck the inside of the post with his initial header but made no mistake with the follow-up.

Lawlor denied Swan with an excellent save with his legs while Molyneux fired wide at the other end after surging in off the right.

Molyneux then struck the post with a curling effort after another fine run inside. Swan again could not beat Lawlor, who went full stretch to stop a low drive.

Both sides went through a spell of shooting on sight with Molyneux denied by Flinders from 25 yards while Hiram Boateng curled just off target from a similar distance.

It was the woodwork keeping Rovers out once again as George Broadbent darted onto a pass from Close and smashed a first time effort off the upright.

The close call would be rued moments later as Mansfield went back ahead on 88 minutes. Aden Flint nodded on a corner from Boateng and Johnson squeezed a header under Lawlor to hand the win to the hosts.

Rovers: Lawlor, Flint, Olowu, Faulkner (Close 35), Sotona (Faal 60), Broadbent, Bailey, Rowe (Westbrooke 60), Kuleya, Goodman (Ironside 60), Marsh (Molyneux 45+4). Subs not used: Jones, Nixon.

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