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Mansfield 2 Walsall 0 - Report

Walsall's winless start to 2022 continued as they again showed a lack of ruthlessness in a 2-0 loss at in-form Mansfield Town.

Carl Rushworth in action
Carl Rushworth in action

The Saddlers had their moments at Field Mill, with George Miller going close in both halves.

Ultimately, though, Stags substitute Harry Charsley displayed the killer touch, with his brace sealing a second successive loss for Matt Taylor's lot.

Walsall have now won just one of their last eight games across all competitions, and this clash was summed up in a couple of second-half minutes.

Miller had a shot cleared off the line and right up the other end, Charsley capitalised on indecision from a long throw-in to put Mansfield ahead.

George Miller

He then made sure of the three points as the Saddlers sent bodies forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages, switching off defensively.

Walsall may feel the scoreline was harsh and they did battle, but with a tough tun of fixtures ahead, they need to find a way to consistently produce results.

This defeat leaves the Saddlers 15th in the League Two table. A home clash with eighth-placed Exeter City comes next.


After the defensive horror-show at Stevenage, Walsall brought in Tom Leak for his first league start under Taylor at centre-back.

Tyrese Shade and Emmanuel Osadebe also came in, while the Saddlers had a notable absentee.

Otis Khan – who the club have been trying to get tied down to a new deal in recent weeks – was not in the matchday squad, with Taylor later insisting it was due to illness.

Conor Wilkinson and Zak Mills dropped to the seven-man bench, which again included fans' favourite Liam Kinsella.

Mansfield came into the game looking for their sixth league victory on the spin and almost netted inside the first 10 minutes.

Joss Labadie

Ex-Villa striker Jordan Bowery lobbed the ball over Carl Rushworth but did not get the required power, and the sharp Leak was on hand to make a goal-line clearance.

The inexperienced defender – thrust into the spotlight amid Manny Monthe's FA ban and Ash Taylor's departure for Scottish side Kilmarnock on Friday – enjoyed a pretty solid start.

Walsall were doing well enough on the whole, too.

The boggy, bobbly pitch did not lend itself to fancy football, but the Saddlers were battling and organised.

They created the odd half-chance – Shade drifting inside and dragging a left-footed shot wide of the near post.

The Stags, meanwhile, were proving dangerous from set pieces. Stephen McLaughlin had a header from a corner blocked by former Mansfield man Hayden White.

Oli Hawkins then nodded wide, and Walsall needed to weather the storm.

Mansfield continued to threaten as they had Ollie Clarke prod the ball wide after Stephen Quinn's cross.

The Saddlers, though, while perhaps riding their luck at times, had managed to keep the hosts at bay going into the break.

They could have even nicked a goal as well, with Miller forcing a fine stop from Nathan Bishop before Shade dragged a free-kick wide.

Walsall chief Taylor would have been pleased with the first-half effort.

The Stags moved the imposing Hawkins from central defence to centre forward – as they often tend to do – for the beginning of the second period.

Then came a crucial couple of minutes.

Emmanuel Osadabe

The Saddlers almost went in front as White found striker Miller with a perfectly-weighted through-ball down the right.

He beat a few yellow and blue shirts, and shot-stopper Bishop with his strike, but was denied by George Maris.

The midfielder got himself in the right position to bravely block Miller's shot with his face, and Mansfield soon reaped the benefits.

Almost straight up the other end, Elliott Hewitt's long throw-in had Walsall in disarray, and half-time substitute Charsley pounced by hammering the ball home from 12 yards. Fine margins making the difference.

The Saddlers kept plugging away.

Kieran Phillips and Wilkinson were both introduced – the latter pulling a shot wide from the edge of the box. Miller also tested Bishop with a curling effort.

Walsall had Rushworth to thank for a series of smart stops, thwarting Hawkins and Bowery to keep up their hopes of a late leveller.

But as the Saddlers pushed, they were undone on the counter-attack.

Charsley and Bowery linked up wonderfully, and the former ghosted in unmarked and ended the move with an emphatic finish beyond Rushworth.

The Stags are now in the play-off places. For Walsall, though, it is three without a win and successive defeats.

That lack of a cutting edge playing its part once more.


Mansfield (4-4-2): Bishop; Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins (Gale, 90), McLaughlin; Clarke (c) (Charsley, 46), O'Toole, Maris, Quinn; Oates (Johnson, 90), Bowery

Subs not used: Stech, Nartey, Law, Sinclair

Walsall (4-2-3-1): Rushworth; White, Menayese, Leak, Ward; Labadie (Willock, 86), Earing; Shade (Phillips, 69), Osadebe, Kiernan (Wilkinson, 73); Miller

Subs not used: Rose (gk), Mills, Perry, Kinsella

Goals: Charsley (58, 89)

Attendance: 5,728 (884 Walsall fans)

Referee: Ross Joyce

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