MANSFIELD MUSINGS STAGS BLOG: We can’t just rely on Matt Green up top

Four games into the new campaign and the Stags have made a pretty reasonable start.

A brilliant win at local rivals Notts County was followed up with a drab defeat on a dull night in Accrington.

These results were book-ended by two 1-1 draws at Field Mill against Carlisle and Oxford.

Adam Murray’s charges have managed four goals, three of which resulted from set pieces and one stroked home by Chris Clements following a flowing move at Meadow Lane.

Apart from the much-celebrated win over County, the resounding view is that whoever turns out as the Stags main striker is often isolated and left to chase hopeful channel balls rather than cultured through passes.

On Saturday against Oxford, the lack of support to the striker was accentuated by the lack of fitness of Matt Green.

Hopes are well and truly pinned on Green to rediscover the form that thumped Mansfield back into the Football League four seasons ago.

His injury problems have been well-publicised and the early weeks of the season have been marred by niggling injuries and stiffness.

Adam Murray’s main plan for goals from open play is to ask Green to run the channels and drive into the area, threatening often slower defenders with his pace.

This worked a treat in the opening half an hour on Saturday, as Green terrorised Johnny Mullins and Jake Wright when given something to chase.

Green had support from Rose, Westcarr and Lambe, and even Clements breaking from midfield.

The Stags looked a constant threat in the opening third of the game.

For the rest of the game however, Oxford were able to control possession and apply pressure to the Stags defence.

The Mansfield midfield were sitting a lot deeper to protect their back four as a result.

The channel balls that had worked so well in the opening phase of the game were now made to look like aimless punts, as a tired Green could not get to the ball first or on the occasions he did, either his touch let him down or the lack of support meant he had to find a route to goal himself, which was not easy for his weary legs.

It’s easy from the stands to highlight the issue, but what can be done to remedy it?

The obvious call would be to put another body up top to partner Green.

This would mean that Green could concentrate on being the last man and playing on the shoulders of defenders, rather than holding the ball up and challenging for headers.

This would mean taking a body out of midfield, which currently it appears Murray is reluctant to do.

Rose and Clements could easily operate as a pair in my opinion, but I think Adam Chapman would struggle in a two man midfield and he appears to be one of the first names on the teamsheet as far as the manager is concerned.

It seems Murray will stick with his five man midfield for the time being and there is no reason why this should not work, after all it did at Meadow Lane.

It relies on the Stags pressing the opposition high and winning the ball high up the pitch.

It also needs a fully fit Matt Green, full of running for ninety minutes and accurate passes into the his feet. Without these elements, the ball does not stick and the opposition are presented with the chance to build further attacks.

It is still early days and currently the lack of runners from deep could be attributed to tiredness following a hectic start to the season.

With a week on the training ground in front of Murray and his players, we will hopefully see a County-esque performance away at York on Saturday.