SKY BET LEAGUE 2 PLAY OFF SEMI FINAL FIRST LEG
Saturday May 14th, 7.45pm
One Call Stadium
MANSFIELD TOWN 2
Rhys Oates 14
Jordan Bowery 32
NORTHAMPTON TOWN 1
Ali Koiki 61
Attendance: 7,469 (1,221 Cobblers fans)
Mansfield: Nathan Bishop, Stephen McLaughlin, Jamie Murphy (sub Lucas Akins 86), Jordan Bowery, George Maris, Oli Hawkins, James Perch, Stephen Quinn (sub Ryan Stirk 77), Rhys Oates, John-Joe O’Toole, Matty Longstaff (sub Kieran Wallace 60)
Subs not used: Marek Stech, Elliott Hewitt, Ollie Clarke, George Lapslie
Cobblers: Jonny Maxted, Joseph Mills, Fraser Horsfall, Jon Guthrie, Ali Koiki, Jack Sowerby, Shaun McWilliams, Mitch Pinnock, Idris Kanu (sub Josh Eppiah 56), Sam Hoskins, Louis Appere (sub Danny Rose 66)
Subs not used: Charlie Woods, Max Dyche, Michael Harriman, Chanka Zimba, Scott Pollock
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Mansfield: George Maris (50), James Perch (62)
Cobblers: Shaun McWilliams (22), Jon Brady (62)
Jonny Maxted replaced the suspended Liam Roberts in goal for the play-off semi-final first leg while Idris Kanu came in for Josh Eppiah who was not considered fit enough to start. Aaron McGowan remained sidelined through injury. Former Cobbler John-Joe O’Toole was named in the Mansfield starting XI.
Louis Appere forced Nathan Bishop into the first save of the night, the Mansfield stopper doing well on the stretch to keep out a fiercely struck half-volley.
It was Mansfield though who took the lead through Rhys Oates, who having earlier just failed to connect with a low ball in from Stephen McLaughlin, made no mistake to slot home low past Maxted. Video replays suggested, although very tight, the goal appeared off-side.
Jon Guthrie saw a header saved from a Mitch Pinnock corner and Appere was denied by a tight off-side flag on the break as the Cobblers tried to get themselves back on level terms.
Mansfield scored a second just after the half-hour mark with Jordan Bowery in the right place at the right time to turn the ball in at the back-post.
Maxted made a good save to deny Oates at the start of the second half while Sam Hoskins went close for the Cobblers, whistling a shot just wide from the angle of the penalty area.
Josh Eppiah replaced Kanu in the Cobblers first change and Jon Brady’s side were firmly back in the tie on the hour-mark when Ali Koiki, played in by Appere, found the bottom corner from the edge of the area following a swift counter-attack.
The Cobblers, backed by over 1,200 travelling fans, were forced into a change after Appere picked up a knock with Danny Rose coming on against his former club.
Mansfield were now on the back foot and Hoskins had a shot blocked at close range and Fraser Horsfall went close with a header before O’Toole made a vital interception to prevent a ball across from Rose finding Eppiah or Pinnock.
Although they weren't able to find an equaliser the Cobblers were more than in the tie heading into the second leg at Sixfields on Wednesday night.
MANSFIELD MATCH STATS (first half in brackets, match total out of brackets)
SHOTS ON TARGET: (2) 3
SHOTS OFF TARGET: (2) 2
CORNERS: (1) 1
FOULS: (5) 12
CAUGHT OFFSIDE: (1) 2
COBBLERS MATCH STATS (first half in brackets, match total out of brackets)
SHOTS ON TARGET: (1) 3
SHOTS OFF TARGET: (0) 6
CORNERS: (3) 7
FOULS: (3) 7
CAUGHT OFFSIDE: (1) 1