LOMAS ON STAGS: Strikers must come up with the goods

Mansfield Town's Matt Green heads for goal - Pic by Jeanette Holloway
Mansfield Town's Matt Green heads for goal - Pic by Jeanette Holloway

On paper, Mansfield Town look to have their best set of strikers for a long time.

Yet after Saturday’s fifth game without scoring, Stags have endured a poor 451 minutes off football without finding the net.

It is a huge dilemma for boss Adam Murray who knows he has brought more than enough into that department for the goals to be flying in.

But he needs to find who will click with who – and quickly.

Matt Green, Danny Rose, Pat Hoban and Darius Henderson all offer something different.

Click HERE to see Stags’ last goals at Leyton Orient

But after eight goals in the first six games, the flow has quickly dried up and seen Stags slide from fifth to 13th.

Murray often played Green in a solo role down the middle last season, but this year clearly believed he could build a partnership between the Stags legend and hungry young Bury goal ace Danny Rose.

Green, last season’s top scorer, started well and has three goals to his credit. But first he lost partner Rose to a three-game ban and injury.

Then Green found himself the subject of much speculation over a possible move away before the transfer deadline which he admitted had begun to affect his performances.

By the time Rose returned from his ban he had already suffered a fractured eye socket from an EFL Trophy game against Doncaster and, although he has bravely played on with an eye protector, the injury simply must affect him on the field.

Hoban and Henderson have both had limited opportunities to shine, Hoban having picked up a pre-season injury and the vastly experienced Henderson arriving without a full pre-season and in need of some work.

Hoban and Henderson are both target men who could hold up the ball and aid the likes of Green or Danny Rose, and Hoban certainly showed some ability in pre-season while Henderson arrived with an excellent pedigree.

Both of them now need to bring something to the party.

Right now nothing much is coming off for the Stags while mistakes at the other end are ruthlessly punished.

While the strikers sort themselves out, the responsibility to find the net needs to be shared more with only bustling midfielder Mitch Rose looking likely to add to his three goals at the moment.

Danny Rose and Kevan Hurst have both hit one apiece, but Stags are 11 games into the season and it simply isn’t enough.

The good news is that, ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Accrington Stanley, Mansfield are just a win away from being back in the play-off spots in what is proving to be a very cut-throat division.

Even Morecambe, who sit seventh in the final play-off spot, have a negative goal difference. So it’s far from panic stations as yet.

Some Stags fans are already calling for a change of manager, even though their side have only lost two of their last five League outings.

But the situation is made to look worse by the inability to win in front of the home fans, who will always be the most critical.

Home form proved costly last season and Stags know they need to sort it out quickly this time around if they want to stay in the reckoning.

Chances were created against both Barnet and Grimsby, substitutions made were attacking ones, yet still the Stags came up short.

With the transfer window closed until January, Murray must hope his quartet finally begin to get the goals for column ticking over.

Otherwise, it’s playing the likes of midfielders CJ Hamilton, James Baxendale or Ashley Hemmings up there, possibly in a No.10 role, or drafting in youngsters like Zayn Hakeem, who could really do without the added pressure of the growing tension over the lack of goals.

I still think Green and Danny Rose will come good and believe Henderson and Hoban are also capable of making a crucial contribution to the season.

But it needs to be soon and, hopefully, one will fly in off someone’s backside at Accrington and the relief will be palpable for all concerned.

If Stags draw another blank, it will be even harder at fifth-placed Crewe on Saturday and pile on the pressure for the return to One Call Stadium for the derby with Notts County in two weeks.