Craig Priest Reports...
Fixture: Kidderminster Harriers V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier (Game #46)
Venue: Aggborough Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 28th April 2012 – 1pm
Attendance: 3565 (674)
Match Referee: Jez Simpson
I must admit to a degree of difficulty in writing this blog this afternoon, as I have no idea where to start. The talk around the house, on facebook, twitter etc has been all about the play-offs and the trip to York on Wednesday night, comparing the two’s form guide, discussing team tactics etc it’s starting to make my head throb and my heartbeat faster than normal, in fact with every minute that goes by yesterday’s final game at Kidderminster fades away – it shouldn’t as, despite its irrelevance it’s another story worthy of a couple of pages in the Mansfield Town story book!
Forgive me for not talking about the play-offs straight away, there’s so much I want to write my head seems like it’s about to explode! I guess I should start reflecting on our season just gone and the outcome of yesterday’s wonderful trip to Kidderminster. It’s fair to say that this season has been outstanding, I was sitting on my sofa last night thinking back and I can honestly say that never have I felt so proud to be a Stags fan or so privileged to be able to report on such a remarkable adventure. I know we are yet to win anything and the reality could be that we are still a blue square bet premier club in a few weeks time, but watching the progression of our squad and the way they’ve not only gelled together in the dressing room, but have fused together with the supporters – we have achieved so much already.
Stats wise the class of 2011-12 will be remembered for a long time in history, amassing 14 home wins, netting 50 home goals for the first time since the 1976/77 campaign, and also finishing with the highest home points total for many a year. Add to that our impressive away form; victory yesterday saw us reach 11 away wins for the first time since 1976/77 and for the third time ever in our history, we also set a new high number of away goals scored over the past ten years, finishing on 37 away goals scored, beating our previous high of 35 set in 2009/10 – the club record of away goals scored remains unbeaten, having scored 47 in the 1962/63 season, but still a great achievement. In terms of goal difference away from home, having conceded only 23 on the road we’ve finished with an PLUS away goal difference for the first time since 1994/95 and with our final away goal difference being +14 I’d be inclined to put money on it being one of the best away goal differences Stags have ever finished with. Back at Field Mill, conceding just 25 we’ve finished with a PLUS home goal difference of +25, meaning this season is the first time since the aforementioned 1994/95 campaign, we’ve finished with both a PLUS home and away goal difference.
Not only have we achieved all of the above, we’ve all set the highest points total ever achieved by a Stags side, finishing one shy on 90 with 89! Twice this season we’ve been close to grabbing six consecutive wins for the first time October 1991, yesterday’s victory means we’ve done this at the third time of asking and a win at York on Wednesday (PLEASE!) would see us grab a seventh consecutive win for the first time the 1991/92 season and for only the third time in our history – wins over York in both legs would see us with eight consecutive wins which would be a new club record, DARE TO DREAM! Onto individual feats, Matt Green became the first player to grab 30 goals in one season since Ray Clarke in the 1974/75 season. (thanks to Martin Shaw for the information)
This really is the season that has kept on giving, without tempting fate, let’s hope it continues and accumulates in the ending we’ve all be dreaming off. Away from the pitch our support has been outstanding, I can’t stress enough how much of a factor this could prove to be on May 7th in the second leg, yesterday I believe that Paul Cox gave us all a wonderful reward for all our support by winning, when all we asked for was a game in which we escaped with no injuries and no suspensions. Understandably with the hosts needing to win and Luton to lose to get into the play-offs themselves, their support was vocal at the start but was soon silenced by noise created by the pink nuns, the arrobas, the Flintstones, Spiderman, the bananas in pyjamas and various other costumed Staggies along with those who went in normal attire! The banter from our crowd is great, the drumming never stopped, the love never stopped – just wonderful, I think every player in the squad got a song in their name yesterday, great work! The pink nun on the run was hilarious, as we’re several other things – on the pitch things have been wonderful, it’s been the same off it too, it’s such a great feeling to support a well loved, well supported, good footballing club, I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it.
As I say, all we asked for was a game in which we got through without suspension or injury – to go on and win it its brilliant, especially when you consider Paul Cox made seven changes ahead of the play-offs. The fact we can change so many and still put in a performance on a par to the run we’ve made to get into the play-offs is phenomenal and just goes to show how strong we are not just as an eleven but as an entire team.
The team sheet threw up no surprises to me, I knew deep down we’d make changes and rest players. I was delighted to see Shane Redmond handed a debut between the sticks, Alan Marriott has been outstanding this season and has limited the Irish Gloves man to appearances in friendly’s only, fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to watch them and I’ve always been impressed with Redmond who, with more football under his belt (possibly with the Reserves next season) will develop into a very good goalkeeper. Cheltenham loan man Danny Andrew was handed his first full start following four appearances from the bench, he replaced the exceptional Ritchie Sutton. Exodus Geohaghon was handed a rest having made 13 consecutive starts, John Thompson made his first start since December’s FA Trophy trip to Droylsden having suffered a relapse on that horrific pre-season injury. In midfield there was a return for Jon Worthington, his last game being the 1-1 draw with Fleetwood last month – the former Huddersfield skipper took Anthony Howell’s place whilst Gary Roberts replaced skipper Adam Murray. On the left hand side there was a surprise return for player coach Andy Todd, making his first November when he came off the bench at Fleetwood in the FA cup hammering, he replaced Lindon Meikle. Creative midfielder Lee Stevenson rightfully kept his place in the line up but this time was placed just behind Matt Rhead, who made only his second full start at the expense of Ross Dyer. Martin Riley was rightfully handed the skippers armband after several impressive performances at the heart of defence.
Line Up: Shane Redmond (Marriott), Luke O’Neill, Martin Riley (C), John Thompson (Geohaghon), Danny Andrew (Sutton), Louis Briscoe, Jon Worthington (Howell), Gary Roberts (Murray), Andy Todd (Meikle), Lee Stevenson, Matt Rhead (Dyer)
Substitutes: Alan Marriott, Matt Green, Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson.
With the hosts needing a win, understandably they we’re first out of the traps and had a free kick on the left hand side after just 28 seconds. Shane Redmond was alert and punched Marvin Johnson’s powerfully away for a corner. Worked short and quick the Stags were caught off guard, Tom Marshall headed narrowly wide from Johnsons cross.
Three minutes later it was the hosts turn to defend as Mansfield pressured, Jon Worthington provided a chipped assist which saw Matt Rhead nip in as Tom Marshall and Tony Breeden failed to communicate, Rhead hit a stinging effort but Breeden was able to recover and palm away. With the move still alive, Lee Stevenson put a cross in from the right which Matt Rhead headed wide, having taken a suspicious knock from Lee Vaughn, Rhead required treatment before being able to carry on.
On the five minute mark it was again Mansfield who cantered forward, a neat pass this time from Roberts saw the athletic Andy Todd on the edge of the box, the player coach was tugged down by Marshall and the Stags awarded a free kick. Cheltenham loan man Danny Andrew stepped up but stuck the 22 yard central dead ball straight against the wall.
The seven Stags changes began to find there rhythm on nine minutes, building from the back. Danny Andrew attacked down the left hand side before finding Lee Stevenson some thirty yards from goal. The former Eastwood man let fly with a strong hit but failed to beet Tony Breeden who did well to hand onto the forceful effort. A minute later the hosts worked a free kick well down the left hand side with Kyle Storer passing low down the left for Mike Williams’ the Harriers captain’s cross was easily collected by debutant Redmond who then sent Stevenson on his way with a strong kick. The creative midfielder teed up Rhead who struck venomously on the volley from thirty yards, his effort though landed wide.
Shane Redmond was then called into action on 15 minutes as Ryan Rowe drove his way down the right hand side, skipping past the challenge of Danny Andrew, Rowe whipped into the middle for Kyle Storer whose shot was kept out well by Redmond. Two minutes later Gary Roberts split play with a crisp low pass from the half way line to the edge of the box finding Andy Todd, the player coach saw his left footed effort held by Breeden.
The hosts then enjoyed a spell of pressure and registered two shots in as many minutes with 22 on the clock. First Anthony Malbon drove a shot wide from the edge of the box following Rowe’s flick on, before Jon Worthington made a fine tackle on Marvin Johnson to concede a corner as the latter drove his way down the left. The resulting was headed wide by Kyle Storer who made a fine run after former Stag Luke Jones perfected the role of decoy.
Another attack for the hosts on 26 led to a Stags goal kick, from which they looked to press. Redmond’s ball down park found Matt Rhead in the air, the former Corby hit man nodded play wide for Louis Briscoe who upped the pace to drive forward and earn a corner via the boot of Mike Williams. Luke O’Neill, voted Mansfield Matters Listeners’ Player of the season before the match, whipped in a great corner but play was soon stopped as the returning John Thompson was judged to have fouled his marker in the air.
On the half hour mark the Stags powered forwards once more, Gary Roberts was influential as ever starting the move in the middle playing a 1-2 with O’Neill. From the return pass Roberts stretched the game with a delightful pass for Louis Briscoe whose first time cross was headed powerfully into the keepers hands by Matt Rhead at the back post.
Five minutes later the Stags should have really taken the lead with another flowing move. Gary Roberts had the hosts back peddling as he slipped play through to Andy Todd in the box. The player coach should have been greedier in a wonderful goal scoring position and taken the shot on himself, instead he found Lee Stevenson who was denied twice by Tony Breeden. The hosts scrambled the second ball away but only as far as Rhead on the edge of the box who again volleyed wide of the target. Two minutes later Andy Todd again provided for Stevenson this time chipped a ball down the left hand side, Stevenson held up well before finding Briscoe who hit a disappointing effort well wide of the target.
A minute later the 674 travelling Stags fans, team and visiting press nearly all suffered heart attacks as Shane Redmond landed himself in hot water from Martin Riley’s back pass. Unable to pick the ball up Redmond took too much time on the ball and quickly found Ryan Rowe in front of him, turning well Redmond had opportunity to slam away for a throw but chose to turn back inside and again found Rowe scrambling for the ball. The Irish shot stopper whose last start was over two seasons ago, was forced down to his hands and knees to shield the ball in what was described by Alan Marriott on twitter after the game as the spider dance, Martin Riley eventually waded in to slam away the danger!
John Thompson made a phenomenal siding challenge on Kyle Storer as Shane Redmond’s goal kick was headed back into Stags territory by Luke Jones at pace, James Vincent picked up the loose ball and fired harmlessly wide from 40 yards with three to go before the break, a minute later Lee Stevenson fired wide as the teams headed into the break level.
HALF TIME: Kidderminster 0-0 Stags
With Luton ahead at the break, the harriers needed some luck in the second to stand a chance of the play-offs, three minutes into the second half their task became increasingly difficult as Lee Vaughn was showed a straight red card for elbowing Matt Rhead. Two minutes later the burly front man nodded down O’Neill’s directional ball for Stevenson who was denied at the last millisecond by Breeden who collected the loose ball.
On 56 minutes the Stags took full advantage of the man advantage to take the lead following an excellent spell on the ball inside the Harriers half. First Luke O’Neill drove the Stags forward down the right hand side before passing inside the Jon Worthington, his drive from the edge of the box cannoned away off Marshall as far as Roberts on the half way line. Turning his man well Roberts linked up with Andrew who played a fine low pass into Rhead.
The burly hit man made a great dummy and may have got the faintest of touches inside for Stevenson who did the rest. To the left of the area, the former Eastwood man who arrived at the club with a fine reputation of 90+ goals over the past three seasons, kept his composure and tucked the ball beneath the legs of Breeden into the empty net to open the scoring and get the goal he truly deserved.
Kidderminster 0-1 Stags
From the restart the hosts looked to get back on level terms, attacking down the left hand side Marvin Johnson hit a nice volley drawing Redmond into a smart save.
Four minutes later the hosts came forward once more, Anthony Malbon’s left sided cross fell to substitute Jack Byrne on the edge of the box, his effort was diverted away for a corner which was headed wide at the back post.
Gary Roberts then began to push forward on 62 minutes, finding Matt Rhead on the edge of the box – his thunderous effort was well held by Tony Breeden. A minute later there was a lengthy stoppage as Louis Briscoe collided with Anthony Malbon as the latter attacked down the right wing. In a 50/50 tackle Briscoe came out on top but play was stopped as Malbon remained grounded, he was eventually stretchered off and needed the aid of an Oxygen mask after he was knocked unconscious. Louis Briscoe rightly received a booking which saw the home faithful furious as they demanded a red card. After the game, the ground was quickly cleared with the press being told to leave the ground, a compromised was reached allowing the press to get the post match interviews outside the near bye Staff loos, allowing an air ambulance arrived to take Malbon to hospital – he was later released given the all clear, great news.
Once the game got back underway some ten minutes later, the resulting free kick was tipped over by Shane Redmond after the intended cross had caught the wind.
There was another stoppage moments later as the game took a light hearted turn, the aforementioned pink nuns we’re all enjoying a nice sing song on the terrace communion before one of them had enough and escaped from the convent, storming the pitch running from corner flag to corner flag before “blessing” the home faithful at the other end and eventually being escorted from the ground to church for a confession!
With Jesus having spare food to hand out with the 5000 going down to 4999, he was on the lookout for a new person to share his kindness with, on 77 minutes brother Todd’s effort from distance was blocked before a delightful move saw Brother Briscoe blessed with his 11th goal of the season a minute later – Ritchie Sutton also took the pitch replacing O’Neill at right back, and with that, the puns end too!
Matt Rhead started the move holding up well on the edge of the box before sending Lee Stevenson on his way down the right, a first time cross from the opening goal scorer found Louis Briscoe unmarked in the middle, he completed the job by heading home the Stags second of the game. The wide man was then replaced by Ben Hutchinson as Stags moved to a 4-4-2 with Todd on the right and Stevenson on the left. Kidderminster 0-2 Stags
Two minutes after the restart Kidderminster looked to reduce the deficit, James Vincent’s low ball down the right saw substitute Nick Wright get in ahead of skipper Martin Riley, Shane Redmond got down low to keep out Wright’s curling shot. Moments later Lee Stevenson was disposed on the half way line and Nick Wright again looked to attack, this time the Harriers hit man was stopped by john Thompson who made an excellent sliding challenge, the resulting corner came to nothing.
Leading hit man Matt Green was given the final eight minutes plus additional time to shake off the cobwebs after missing last Fridays 2-0 win over Wrexham, he surprisingly replaced Danny Andrew as the formation switched once more, this time a 3-1-4-2 with Jon Worthington in front of the back four, Andy Todd back to the left as a wing back, Stevenson to the middle with Hutchinson on the right.
Leading front man Green then hit the 30 goal mark as Stags wrapped up the win with four minutes to go, quick thinking from Matt Rhead sparked the goal. Taking a quick throw from the right hand side, he found Gary Roberts to the right of the box; Roberts delivered a first time low pass to Green who turned his man before firing at goal, the shot bobbled up and was scrambled away by Jones, however the linesman judged the ball to have crossed the line and the celebrations began. Kidderminster 0-3 Stags
With nine minutes added time, the game failed to produce any more chances until the final minute. Good work from Hutchinson on the left from Todd’s pass saw him find Green. The on fire hit man held up well before teeing up Stevenson who fired over from the edge of the box.
The resulting goal kick signalled the end of the game and as news filtered through, it was confirmed that an 82nd minute strike from York City saw then seal 4th place and set up a tasty two legs with the Stags, which starts on Wednesday night. FULL TIME: Kidderminster 0-3 Stags
<< Full audio and build up with myself and Scott Rogers
With the scheduled season over, the Stags finish in third having played 46, won 25, drawn 14, lost 7 scored 87 conceded 48 – points 89. Beaten just twice in 2012 in the 21 fixtures played, the Stags have clocked up 16 wins three draws and just two defeats – stats which may give us a psychological edge, but realistically count for nothing ahead of two mightily tough games.
Join myself, Scott Rogers and Wayne Briggs from 7pm on Wednesday on MM-LIVE
and 106.9FM as the Stags face York in the first leg of the play-offs, we’ve full match commentary and unrivalled build up. Keep an eye on the website for previews etc in the coming games.
DARE TO DREAM! The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit an article, email email@example.com
Craig Priest looks ahead to the final game of the season at Kidderminster Harriers before the play-off battle commences...
I must admit that at this stage of the season, I usually sit penning various articles with a frown on my face and a sigh, knowing that only 90 minutes of football stand between weekends of adventure and weekends of climbing the ways like a dangerously over active 3 year old and a box of crayons. This season however I write with spring to my step, with a smile on my face and in all honesty, a lump developing in my throat as it’s not 90 minutes away from the end, but 90 minutes of football away from one of the greatest adventures there is to be witnessed – the promotion chase via the play-offs.
I’m reserving my thoughts on Wednesday’s trip to either York or Luton, hopefully the former, until Tuesday when I write the match preview and various other pieces – even though our place is sealed football is football, those who say they don’t really care about the fixture are lying – everyone wants to win, everyone wants to finish as strongly as possible. The same principle applies from all those months ago, as Paul Cox said – concentrate on today before thinking about tomorrow!
The gaffers no idiot and I expect changes tomorrow and a slight caution to how we play in some areas, but I don’t think the changes will be spontaneous and wild, they’ll be well planned, well rehearsed and strong to ensure our core keeps burning in the afternoon sky brighter than the sun. I won’t hazard a guess to the side we’ll put out as this time around I genuinely have no clue, what I can practically assure you though, is that the side we put out will be ready for the challenge that Kidderminster pose – that challenge with them needing a win to secure their own place in the play-offs, will be mightily tough.
Steve Burr in my opinion is one of the best managers at conference level and in his second season as Harriers boss has put together a strong side who you should not underestimate, on the last six games form guide, the Aggborough based outfit are first scoring 16 conceding seven, I’m sure you can guess who’s in second right? ... It’s us only on goal difference encase you didn’t know, both have won five and lost one of their last six outings, only defeat at Luton last Saturday prevented Burr’s men from six straight victories and a place in the play-offs.
For those interested in the permutations for tomorrow’s fixture both for our hosts and ourselves in terms of Wednesday’s semi-final they are as follows. Currently it’s Luton who sit in 5th place having failed to take advantage of their game in hand and seal their fate with a midweek draw at Gateshead, Paul Buckle’s men sit just two points above Kidderminster and travel to champions Fleetwood tomorrow, who will be looking to end their blue square adventure with a win following a shock defeat at Cambridge last weekend. Kidderminster will be heavily relying on Micky Mellons title winners to win once more to stand a chance of leap frogging Luton, a defeat for Luton will leave Kidderminster needing to beat us, should Steve Burr’s men prevent us from six consecutive wins at the third attempt this season and take all the points, and should Luton grab a point at Fleetwood, goal difference will come into play, and without being horrible to our hosts tomorrow of whom I have a fondness for, they’d need to smash us to stand a chance of reducing that goal difference. A draw between ourselves and Kidderminster and a defeat for Luton would not be enough for the Harriers to take 5th, they’d miss out by an agonising point – put simply, Kidderminster must win and hope – a dangerous combination to face in honesty!
In terms of where we travel on Wednesday for the first leg of the play-offs, it all depends on the final day’s results, it looks likely it will be York over two legs as they currently sit in fourth. A draw for BOTH sides would see us travel to York as things remain the same, a win for Luton plus a draw for York (at home to Forest Green) would see goal difference come into play, at the moment there’s just ONE goal in it, York on +35, Luton on +34 – as far as I’m aware, should goal difference be level (IE Luton win 1-0 and York draw) then goals SCORED will come into play, currently York have scored 80 to Luton’s 76, if this comes into play then I think it goes down to the rating of the half time tea and biscuits for press... (NOT TRUE!), either way, it’ll be tight and make for gripping viewing, well listening which is what we pride ourselves on here at Mansfield Matters.
Tomorrow’s game, permutations aside, will be tough considering Kidderminster’s strong home record, ranked 5th out of all the sides on home soil, the Harriers score an average of two goals per game, shipping 1.32 goals per game with a 45% home win rate. We can match this however, boasting the best away form in the division over the past six games with five wins and one defeat at Champions Fleetwood, our away attack is ranked 7th over the course of the season netting 34 on the road so far with an average of 1.55 goals per game, leaving 1.05 goals per game on the road.
Kidderminster will have added determination considering they’ve come close to a play-off slot twice since relegation back into the conference in the 2004/05 campaign. After a 15th, 10th and 13th placed finish in their first three seasons back in non-league the harriers missed out on a play-off space by two points back in the 2008/09 campaign, drawing one and losing two of their final three, another 13th placed finish the following season followed before Kidderminster ended last season in 6th, this time missing out by six points, with a final three games reading won-lost-drawn.
We may not have anything to play for in terms of where we finish etc, but we can play for personal achievements and of course, pride. Having notched up 10 away wins for the first time since 1991/92, we are on the hunt for 11 away wins, now I maybe wrong but so far as I can see, 11 away wins has only been achieved twice before, the 1976/77 division three (old) title winning campaign and the 1974/75 division four (old) title winning season – what an achievement that would be, to reach 11 away wins for the first time in somewhat, 24 years? Alan Marriott’s unbelievable goal at the One Call Stadium last Friday night was the 50th home goal of the season, something last achieved in the 1976/77 campaign, whilst our away goals isn’t as high as our home goals, it’s still at the highest it’s been for a number of years. Netting 34 so far, one more than last season’s 33, we are one behind our highest away goals scored total in over ten seasons, maybe more. Netting 35 in the 2008/09 season, we conceded a disappointing 38, setting an away goal difference of -3. It’s because of this goal difference which makes me think about this season and what we could achieve tomorrow , having only shipped 23 away from home this season we have a current away goal difference of +11, the first time since the 1994-95 play-off season, finishing with an away goal difference of +7 netting 39 conceding 32.
So even with nothing to play for in terms of the final position, this season keeps on giving an keeps on presenting challenges, I say we go and win those challenges! If you can’t get to Kidderminster tomorrow for the 1pm kick off, join myself, youth team player of the season Scott Rogers and all round nice guy Wayne Briggs for full match commentary plus unrivalled build up, getting underway on MM-LIVE and 106.9FM from 12noon! We’ll be revealing the winner of the MM-AWARDS, thanks for voting on those guys, the response has been unbelievable: voting by the way is now CLOSED!
Also whilst you’re hanging about waiting for the football to arrive, check out our play-off preview video, more stuff coming soon – Mansfield Matters is the place to be for the play-off adventure!
Last Time We Met:
Down the years these sides have only met 15 times in a relationship than began on Boxing Day 2000, tomorrow’s hosts Kidderminster are the latest of the two sides to be victorious, grabbing a 3-0 win at Field Mill back in September, our first home defeat of the campaign. At Aggborough the two have met just seven times with Kidderminster grabbing four wins, Stags grabbing two wins and the other game ending level. Between the two sides both home and way, 47 goals have been netted, 23 by Stags and 24 by the Harriers, on Kidderminster soil 20 of the 47 have been scored, with Stags grabbing nine to Kidderminster’s eleven.
Kyle Storer, Callum Gittings got two of the three from open play before skipper Lee Vaugn rounded things off from the spot with just 23 minutes on the clock as Mansfield put in a really poor performance ending the impressive eight game unbeaten run.
Stags 0-0 Kidderminster 24.9.11 Line Up: [4-4-2] Marriott, O'Neill, Futcher, Sutton, Kendrick, Briscoe [SO], Murray (C), Howell (Worthington), Meikle (Bolland), Dyer, Green SNU Redmond, Naylor, Connor
Commentary Podcast: Commentary from Craig Priest.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – to submit an article, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest Reports...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Wrexham
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier (Game#45)
Venue: One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Friday 20th April 2012 – 7.30pm (Live on Premier Sports TV)
Attendance: 3665 (184)
Match Referee: Richard Clark (Northumberland)
I’ve witnessed some things in my time as a broadcaster and indeed as my time as a support of my beloved Mansfield Town – I’ve seen Tyrone Thompson sensationally put the ball into the back of his own net and become a YouTube phenomenon, I’ve seen Liam Lawrence demonstrate how NOT to take a penalty, I’ve seen a world cup star influence the game from the bench, I’ve seen horrific tackles, stupid refereeing, bribed linesman, and much more, but one thing I’ve never seen live, is a goalkeeper become goal scorer – that was until last night when the Stags defeated second placed Wrexham at the One Call Stadium, Step forward Sir Alan Marriott.
The Stags shot stopper and joint longest serving current player, netted his first career goal with 61 minutes on the clock, his launched ball downfield towards Ross Dyer caught the wind and sensationally bounced over Joslain Mayebi’s head and trickled into the back of the net sparking mass celebrations. Making his 126th league appearance for the Stags last night, the former Lincoln and Rushden gloves man is always reliable at the back, grabbing his 47th clean sheet of his Stags league career last night – it’s rather fitting really that his efforts should be rewarded with a goal, the Stags’ 50th home goal of the season – even more impressive when you consider it’s the first time a Stags side have reached the 50 league goal mark on home soil since the 1976-77 old division three title winning campaign, when we netted 52, going unbeaten at home throughout the campaign.
Along with the Marriott magic, we should add the Mansfield magic to the mixing bowl – last night’s 2-0 victory saw us stretch out unbeaten home run to 13 games, having last lost on home soil to Cambridge on November 5th. In the home season over all, we’ve taken our win tally to 14, matching the number of home wins picked up in 2008-09 but beating the points tally of 47 set at home that season by a solitary point – our home record for 2011-12 reads played 23, won 14, drawn six lost three – impressive.
I honestly thought both sides would field “weakened” sides last night with both having secured a play-off spot – however Paul Cox certainly didn’t do so, making only three changes to the side which saw off Hayes and Yeading last Saturday. Skipper Adam Murray, wide man Louis Briscoe and attacking midfielder Lee Stevenson came in, the latter making his first start since our FA Trophy first round exit at Droylsden. Missing out we’re Gary Roberts, Ben Hutchinson and leading front man Matt Green as Stags opted for a flexible 4-3-3 moulding into a 4-4-1-1
Line Up: Alan Marriott, Luke O’Neill, Martin Riley, Exodus Geohaghon, Ritchie Sutton, Louis Briscoe (Green), Adam Murray (C) (Roberts), Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Lee Stevenson (Hutchinson), Ross Dyer.
Substitutes: Shane Redmond, Matt Rhead, Ben Hutchinson, Danny Andrew, Gary Roberts
The Stags made a bright start, registering their first opportunity with the clock barley past a minute. Exodus Geohaghon sparked the initial move with a long punt down field; Ross Dyer won the flick on finding Lee Stevenson – the former Belper Town midfielder controlled well before being fouled on the edge of the box. Luke O’Neill stepped up for the resulting free kick but saw his effort cannon back of the Dragons’ wall, Louis Briscoe chipped the already soaked ball back into the box but got a little too much on it, as the ball floated out for a goal kick.
Four minutes later it was second placed Wrexham on the attack with Rob Ogleby driving down the right hand side before being disposed by a final tackle from returning skipper Adam Murray, Lindon Meikle was then fouled picking up the second ball at left back and was awarded a free kick for his trouble. Wrexham keeper Joslain Mayebi caused a stir a few weeks back against champions Fleetwood with his risky touches, on six minutes his miscommunication with Nat Knight-Percival saw the latter have to slam away for a throw as Ross Dyer began to advance following a delightful Luke O’Neill lofted pass from right back.
On 11 minutes Mansfield won a throw down the right hand side which Exodus Geohaghon launched in to mix – Ross Dyer headed down for Murray on the edge of the area however the Stags captain failed to find an amber shirt with his pass allowing Wrexham to scramble away the initial danger, Ritchie Sutton mopped things up on the half way line and sent Lindon Meikle on his way down the left hand side. Charging forward the Stags wide man found Anthony Howell but again Wrexham forced Mansfield back to the half way line, this time Ritchie Sutton failed to deliver a pass to an amber shirt, his deep ball finding the grateful arms of Mayebi.
Two minutes later the Stags did deliver as the grabbed the lead, Anthony Howell did well on the right hand side to win a throw in against Dean Keates – Howell made his way into the box and timed his run well, rising at the near post to connect with Geohaghon’s swirling throw, heading into the bottom corner to grab his fifth goal of the season and break the deadlock.
Stags 1-0 Wrexham
From the restart the Stags we’re pushing on again and were a whisker away from doubling their lead. Luke O’Neill’s wonderful cross park ball found Ross Dyer bursting down the left channel, cutting back inside the burly front man fired into the side netting on his left foot. The visitors then had a small spell of pressure themselves on 15 minutes as a Stags attack broke down and allowed Neil Ashton to cover ground down the left wing, cutting inside the Wrexham wide man failed to keep his shot on target and blazed over Marriott’s bar, moments later the Stags number one held on to Jay Harris’ 30 yard drive following a deep Wrexham free kick.
Alan Marriott then pumped a goal kick down field sparked another attack on 27 minutes, Ross Dyer won the ariel battle against Knight-Percival and played a neat little 1-2 with Lee Stevenson. Central to the goal Dyer completed the link to the advancing Lindon Meikle who danced his way past his marker before earning the Stags’ first corner of the night via the boot of Stephen Wright. Luke O’Neill’s delivery was headed away but only to Louis Briscoe who struck venomously wide on the half volley from the edge of the box with the pace and angle of the ball against him.
On the half hour mark Alan Marriott had to be quick to race off his line to deny former team mate Jake Speight, however this was pretty much all Wrexham could muster in attack as Stags kept their foot on the gas, continuing to attack in numbers. With 11 minutes to go before the half time oranges and numerous towels to dry of from the pouring rain, Lindon Meikle again frightened Stephen Wright as he broke forward from the half way line. Cutting inside, former Eastwood man Meikle held up the ball well allowing Ritchie Sutton to make an advancing overlapping run from left back, picking the ball up from Meikle’s pass, Sutton turned inside onto his left but saw his driven low effort held by Mayebi.
Two minutes later Jake Speight saw his attacking run halted by Luke O’Neill, the Stags right back who scooped two awards prior to the game, moved into space before chipping forward for Anthony Howell. The defensive midfielder cut inside but saw his strike teasingly trickle the wrong side of the post.
Exodus Geohaghon then stretched the game with a throw from the half way line to the edge of the box down the right hand side on 39 minutes. Ross Dyer showed good composure and neat control before spinning round and letting fly – Joslain Mayebi palmed away and the loose ball found Skipper Murray on the edge of the box, wrong footed the Mansfield captain blazed well over, still in search of opening his Stags account for the season having not scored since bagging a brace at Boston United in pre-season.
Three minutes later there was controversy as Luke O’Neill sent Ross Dyer on his way with another ball over the top. Dyer charged through and had beaten the onrushing keeper before being upended by Mark Creighton, the referee blew his whistle but remarkably awarded Wrexham a free kick and flashed a yellow card in Dyer’s direction for simulation – an awful call.
On the stroke of half time there was time for one final Stags effort, Exodus Geohaghon launched in a long throw from the right finding Ross Dyer in the air, the front man headed wide with his back to goal.
Half Time: Stags 1-0 Wrexham
After the break the Stags wasted no time in putting the visitors under pressure, earning a corner after 43 seconds after good work between Dyer and Stevenson. Luke O’Neill’s ball in was headed away only as far as Howell who combined with Geohaghon and then Briscoe, who fired wide after cutting in from the right.
On 47 Luke O’Neill was again lively on the right hand side, sliding in winning tackle after tackle, the second of which saw him shoot into the side netting after Briscoe’s hold up on the right. At the other end two minutes later Alan Marriott made easy work of collecting Danny Wright’s long range effort.
Adam Murray then sent Ross Dyer on his way with a wonderfully weighted pass on 53 minutes, Dyer held up well before allowing Briscoe to take over on the right hand side eventually switching play to Lindon Meikle on the left. Meikle sent Lee Stevenson through on goal, his effort cannoned off the back tracking Wrexham defender and away for another Geohaghon throw. After the visitors mopped up the throw, Luke O’Neill was on hand to keep the pressure on the North Wales based side, controlled on the half way line and pinging the ball to the right hand side for Briscoe, who via a neat touch from Dyer, pushed play onto Stevenson – his left footed drive was well saved by Mayebi.
On the hour mark Wrexham briefly came alive down the left hand side, former Stag Jake Speight, who was leading scorer at Field Mill with 17 in the 2009/10 campaign, played a neat 1-2 with Jay Harris, the latter shot straight at Marriott from Speight’s return pass. Bizarrely and somewhat emphatically, this led to Mansfield’s second.
Alan Marriott held the ball for a few seconds allowing the Stags to regain their shape and launched a long ball in search of Ross Dyer, the further Stags player forward. The wind machine kicked in and saw the powerful kick fly past Dyer and loom dangerously towards goal. Foolishly expecting a clearing Wrexham header, Joslain Mayebi positioned himself on the edge of his own box and was left with egg on his face as Marriott’s ball bounced over the Wrexham gloves man’s head – the ball bounced once more before landing in the empty net to double Mansfield’s lead and give the 33 year old his first professional goal in a career which began way back in 1995 as a youth teamer with Tottenham Hotspur. Since the game, clips of Marriott’s 96+ yard strike have gained a fair amount of hits on YouTube plus getting an airing on the BBC’s football focus – Seriously couldn’t happen to a nicer goal keeper: Alan Marriott – Hero.
Stags 2-0 Wrexham
The Stags were far from happy to settle for a two goal lead in the pouring rain and continued to sail through the visiting defence. With 69 minutes on the clock a Luke O’Neill corner caused all sorts of trouble, Anthony Howell somehow saw his effort frantically scrambled away in a goal mouth scramble, before Louis Briscoe was unfortunate not to beat the on rushing Mayebi to Adam Murray’s excellent long range pass two minutes later.
With ten minutes to go the visitors pressured with two successive corners, the second of which the Stags counter from as Anthony Howell embarked on a fine run down the left hand side, playing in the on rushing Meikle who’s first time driven cross saw Stevenson flagged offside.
Matt Rhead came on for the final eight minutes replacing Louis Briscoe and was involved almost immediately. Another O’Neill corner was pumped back into the box by Murray, Joslain Mayebi raced out to collected ahead of Meikle after Matt Rhead had flicked the ball on. Anthony Howell was then named man of the match and was replaced to a standing ovation by Danny Andrew, the Cheltenham loan man slotted into left back with Ritchie Sutton moving into a five man midfield alongside Murray and Stevenson in the centre to shut up shop.
With a minute to go Matt Rhead was so unfortunate not to grab his third of the season and Stags’ third of the evening. Adam Murray did the hard work in the centre, sending Luke O’Neill on his way down the right hand side. The young full backs cross fell kindly for Rhead who, through a crowd of red shirts, fired agonisingly wide with his left foot for six yards.
Into added on time and Wrexham pilled on a half hearted bit of pressure which inevitably led to nothing and allowed the Stags to counter, Lindon Meilkle was upended by Creighton right on the edge of the box central to goal – Luke O’Neill’s free kick hit the wall quickly followed by the full time whistle – sealing the Stags’ 14th home win of the season and ensuring the all important home advantage for the play-off second leg. With the rain continuing to hammer it down, supporters wisely stayed off the pitch and just continued to sing late into the night as the beautiful season continued to give. Full Time: Stags 2-0 Wrexham
<< Listen again, full audio uploaded whilst writing, commentary from myself and Wayne Briggs
There is now ONE game to go before the play-off battle will commence, in the week I’ll open my thoughts taking a look at who we could play etc, next up it’s a tricky trip to Kidderminster which posses more dilemmas for Paul Cox – home and away we’re now unbeaten in five with five consecutive victories for the third time this season, we’ve also lost just twice in our twenty fixtures from and including New Years Day – our momentum is outstanding, do we keep this going which means keeping the core of the squad out there and not resting legs, or do we risk defeat to rest legs for the play-offs? It’s a tricky one and the more I type and think about the battles to come, the nervier I get! But do you know what? I absolutely love it!
I’m sure you like me will be keeping an eye on the other results from the BSBP this afternoon and will hate the excruciating pain the next week will bring as our next game awaits! If you can’t get to Kidderminster then be sure to join myself, Wayne Briggs and youth team player of the season Scott Rogers for full match commentary and build up from 12noon on 106.9FM and MM-LIVE!
I mentioned their Scott picking up the youth team player of the season award last night, as a friend, colleague and youth team correspondent for the club – I can honestly say it’s well deserved. On the pitch Scott always gets stuck in and reads the game very well and despite myself and James Williamson ribbing him about the one own goal he’s scored, is an excellent player with a very bright future. Scott’s a very polite lad whose knowledge of the game is second to none, from all at Mansfield Matters – congratulations on your award mate.
That’s it for today, as ever thanks for checking out Mansfield Matters – have a great week and we’ll see you next Saturday - don't forget to keep the votes coming for player of the season, goal of the season and game of the season via our MM-Awards page. PHOTOS: James Williamson an Dan WestwellThe views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit an article, email email@example.com
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow night’s TV encounter with second placed Wrexham...
Following our 3-1 victory of Hayes and Yeading United last weekend, our place in the play-offs as we all know is sealed meaning that for us, the final two fixtures against Wrexham and Kidderminster are fairly pointless apart from ensuring we head into the play-off lottery suspension and injury free.
We’ve beaten the clubs highest points tally with our current 83 beating the 81 set in the 1985-86 campaign, we’ve also notched up 10 away wins for the first time since the 1991-92 season and with one away trip remaining have a real shot at bagging 11 away victories for the first time since the 1976-77 season – what could possibly be better than this? How about cementing 3rd spot and sealing the all important home advantage in the second leg? Some say this doesn’t matter as it’s the two games of football that will define weather you get a shot at promotion rather than the venue, but in all honesty – out of the current crop of play-off sides (not including Wrexham who have already sealed second spot and the other home advantage) Stags have the best home record with 13 wins, 6 draws and only 3 defeats compared to York’s (4th) 10 wins 6 draws and 6 defeat and Kidderminster’s (5th) 10 wins, 7 draws and 5 defeats. Out of the current play-off sides, again not including tomorrow’s opponents Wrexham, the Stags are the highest home scorers with 48, only York have a better goals against tally, conceding 24 to our 25.
If stats aren’t enough to convince you we’d be better off at home in the second leg, how about this, the most important part of any football club: the support. There is no doubt that our support at Field Mill is outstanding, this season especially since the turn of the year we’ve really done ourselves proud, remaining loud and supportive even when things weren’t quite going in our favour – I’ll never forget the Fleetwood home game, nonstop noise, even when we conceded we rallied, we kept singing and in turn, we sent a message to our players – we are behind you, we believe in you – in the final minute we we’re reward, cheers Exodus! There have been so many games where I’ve had to attach a seat belt to my chair in the press box to stop the vibrations from around the ground launching me onto the pitch like a rocket! I genuinely feel, if we can get the usual singing crowd together in the play-offs, we can go on and win. I’ve never known support like ours, it’s beautiful – the love and passion we demonstrate is second to none, the togetherness we’ve so clearly been missing over the years is back and the bond is stronger than ever – as it says on the team picture from the start of the season ‘One team: one dream’ If I we’re an opposition manager, I’d be seriously worried if I had to bring my team to Field Mill for the second leg – coming to Field Mill and facing us with the crowd and our stance is difficult enough, I’d be even more worried if my team had to overturn a 2-0 score line in the second leg as well – I’m not going to paint pictures as looking too far ahead, you fail to see the lamppost your about to walk into, all I will say is that we are more than capable of going away and getting a decent lead.
Being at home in the second leg would be a massive psychological advantage – we only need a point to secure third, no matter what Luton or York do in their remaining games. I say let’s go out and do it, and as I said in my Chad column this week
, we are more than capable of doing so with whatever side we put to the field.
Moving onto tomorrow night’s game, a 7.30pm kick off due to TV coverage (they’d better not put the camera gantry in front of my seat again!) it’s Wrexham who come to Field Mill for what actually could prove to be, a very dull reserve team like affair, as both sides will be wanting to rest legs and not give away any trade secrets ahead of the play-offs. Providing Stags finish 3rd or 4th, they will avoid the North Wales based side in the semi’s and but could, touch wood, potentially meet again at Wembley, to fight it out for a place in league two – rather ironic as the two sides we’re relegated together back in 2008, Wrexham finished bottom though with Stags above in 23rd.
Questions may well be raised to what Wrexham’s mindset will be like having missed out on clinching automatic promotion and indeed, the league title – the dragons’ 2-2 draw with Grimsby last weekend ensure Fleetwood the title after a nervy two games against Wrexham and Lincoln. No matter the questions of mentality, it’s been a great season for player-manager Andy Morrell’s side, securing new owners and like us, ridding themselves of nagging off field issues, they’ve been able to concentrate on the beautiful game. Former Coventry hit man Morrell is now on his second spell with the Dragons’ initially returning as a player the previous summer, before taking over initially as caretaker manager from Dean Saunders, when he jumped ship to Doncaster earlier this season. A good run of form saw Morrell loose just once in nine games before being handed the post on a permanent basis, the defeat incidentally was to our good selves.
Since taking the job on a permanent basis, Morrell who has netted over 60 times in just shy of 200 league appearances for Wrexham, the dragons kicked on and went on a 16 game unbeaten run, grabbing 13 wins and six draws, breaking a club record of consecutive clean sheets on the way, going seven matches without conceding with four victories and three goalless draws. Aside from the solid defence, the best in the league shipping only 0.70 goals per game, the front line has been fairly hot too, netting 1.84 goals per game former Stags striker Jake Speight has twenty to his name whilst boss Morrell is on 12, closely followed by French man Mathias Pogba whose on 11 – only the Stags, Kidderminster and champions Fleetwood have score more than the North Wales based side in the conference this season.
On the road, the Dragons have only been beaten three times, Barrow, Stockport and Forest Green in the game which ended that aforementioned unbeaten run – Morrell’s side have drawn five and won the other 13 of their away games, the second highest number of away wins in the division only to Fleetwood, netting 36 shipping fourteen.
It’ll be a close game with a result that won’t make or break either sides season as both are guaranteed a play-off spot, offer me a point now to secure 3rd and I’ll bite your hand off and we can watch BBC comedy rather than football and continue our play-off rest! Only kidding, football’s football – let’s play ball! We’ve a home record to protect, currently on 13 home wins for the season and without defeat on home soil since November 5th against Cambridge. Our highest tally of home wins in the conference is 14 with five draws and four defeats set in the 2008-09 season when we went on that impressive unbeaten home run under David Holdsworth – with a total home points tally of 47 set that season, a win tomorrow night would take this seasons home points tally to 48, setting a new highest points tally outside the football league and becoming the second highest since we last achieved promotion in 2001-02.
If you can’t get, be sure to log onto MM-LIVE and 106.9FM from 7pm
for build up followed by regular updates with myself and Wayne Briggs – if you’re a premier sports subscriber and plan to watch it on the telly, press MUTE and get the best of both worlds!
Last Time We Met:
Earlier in the season we disrupted the dragons season by defeating the then league leaders 3-1. In a game that saw a red card for both with a lot of controversy surrounding the second of the two reds, it ended up being tighter than the score line suggests, Paul Connor’s goal in the 5th minute of added on time wrapped things up and sealed our first victory on North Welsh soil since 1986.
The two sides are no strangers to each other, with a history that spans 83 games and 243 goals – the Stags have the better goals total down the years with 124 to Wrexham’s 119. At Field Mill, or the One Call Stadium if you will be modern about things, the Stags have clocked up 19 victories to Wrexham’s eight, the other eight fixtures against the Dragons at Field Mill have ended all square – the Stags have netted 70 goals conceding 37 down the years at Field Mill.
Wrexham 1-3 Stags 27.09.12 Line Up: [4-4-1-1] Marriott, Naylor [So 2ndY], Futcher, Sutton, O'Neill, Dyer, Howell, Worthington (Bolland), Todd, Murray (C), Green [1p] (Connor ) SNU Redmond, Riley, Meikle.
Podcast: Commentary from myself and Scott Rogers
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – should you wish to submit an article please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest Reports...
Fixture: Hayes & Yeading United Vs Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier (Game#44)
Venue: Kingfield Stadium (Woking)
Date & Time: Saturday 14th April 2012
Attendance: 487 (Away unknown as no segregation was in place – approx 350)
Match Referee: Andy Davies
You know if you’d have asked me back in December could the Stags get in the play-offs, even with my most optimistic hats on I’d have said it’d be a be a big ask and that we’d need to make a few changes and work our socks off. In fairness we’ve made those changes, assuring the services of leading front man Matt Green on a permanent basis as well as adding quality to the ranks with the likes of Gary Roberts and Matt Rhead. We’ve more than worked our socks off too, picking up 14 wins, three draws and just two defeats since the turn of the year – rising from 9th (New Years Day) to 3rd, sealing our deserved place in the end of the season play-offs with a 3-1 victory over Hayes and Yeading United at the Kingfield Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Out climb has been wonderful and we should be proud of what the lads have achieved so far, anyone wanting to achieve anything in life should use Mansfield Town FC as an example, keep working throughout the rough patches, concentrate on what you’re doing and repeat the feat on a consistent basis and you will begin to feel the benefit and, hopefully, reap the final reward. That said, we as a club have won absolutely nothing yet and if we thought sealing our play-off spot was tough – we’ve seen nothing yet, as getting through the semi’s and to Wembley for a second time in as many seasons, will require one hell of a fight – bring it on!
The obvious discussions start now as to what Paul Cox does for the final two games against teams we’re undoubtedly going to become well acquainted with over the next month, second placed Wrexham and Fourth placed Kidderminster. Our spot is secured and only Luton and York can mathematically knock us from 3rd – a point from out last two games would be enough to seal third spot and the home advantage in the second leg – so with that in mind do you leave the likes of Murray, Roberts, Geohaghon, Green etc out so they don’t pick up injuries or suspensions? I know what I’d do and I’ll share my thoughts later in the week and I know Paul Cox isn’t daft, but on the other hand with two games against potential play-off rivals, will we field full strength sides just to see how we measure up against them? It’s a tough call, one I’m glad I don’t have to make – good luck gaffer!
If sealing a play-off spot wasn’t enough, there are a couple of other little achievements we’ve made following yesterday’s win. The three points which sealed our play-off spot yesterday also saw us clock up our 10th away win of the season, something last achieved in the 1991/92 season when we finished third to gain automatic promotion from the old division four. With one away game left, picking up 11 victories on the road is also achievable, a feat reached only twice before (as far as I can see anyway, forgive my noviceness if I’m wrong) in the 1976/77 old division three title winning season and in the 1974/75 old division four title winning season. Of course we’ve come mightily close to reaching double figures in our away wins column down the years, for example we’ve clocked up eight away wins in the past two seasons and hit nine in our last play-off reaching campaign in 2003/04, however the away losses column over shadowed our wins, so when was the last time Mansfield won more away from home than they lost away from home? *Pause for dramatic effect* ... It was the 1994/95 campaign, we clocked up eight wins to seven defeats away from home – so in contrast this seasons ten victories to just four defeats is brilliant, I don’t know for certain but I’d be willing to gamble on it being one of our best seasons ever on the road – statto’s its over to you.
The next impressive feat is the fact getting three points yesterday means we have a new record for the most points collected in total during a season since the points scoring became three for a win rather than two. Our previous high total was set in the 1985-86 campaign, finishing third again gaining automatic promotion from the old division four, our end of season points total was 81 – Paul Cox’s class of 2011/12 have racked up 83 and could finish on 89 should they beat both Wrexham and Kidderminster in the coming matches – happy days.
Away from stats which we should be proud of, let’s look back on yesterday’s game as we sealed our play-off fate. Paul Cox made four changes to the side which defeated Stockport County 2-1 at the One Call Stadium on Monday – Louis Briscoe, Adam Smith, Matt Rhead and skipper Adam Murray missed out, Ross Dyer, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson and Gary Roberts came in with Alan Marriott donning the skippers armband for the fifth time this season.
Line Up: Alan Marriott (C), Luke O’Neill, Exodus Geohaghon, Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, Ross Dyer (Briscoe), Gary Roberts (Murray), Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle (Smith), Ben Hutchinson (Rhead), Matt Green.
Substitutes: Shane Redmond, Jon Worthington, Louis Briscoe, Matt Rhead, Danny Andrew.
On a tough pitch made up of long grass and several cut up areas, Mansfield knew they’d have to be cleaver when playing it on the floor and adapted their game fairly well in the opening exchanges. With just thirty seconds on the clock Luke O’Neill’s long ball from the back was flicked on by Ross Dyer but only for a throw to the hosts which in turn led to a Mansfield throw just inside their own half. Exodus Geohaghon launched one from the half way line to the edge of the box where Ross Dyer cushioned the ball on for front man Matt Green, the search for goal number 29 of his season would have to continue though as the offside flag was raised almost too quickly.
With three minutes on the clock Mansfield kept up the early pressure with a well worked more sparked by Gary Roberts. In the centre of the park a neat turn saw the creative midfielder send a delightful ball to the right hand side where Ross Dyer held up under pressure from ex-stag Dan Spence. Dyer eventually got support from the advancing O’Neill however the full backs cross was far too deep and drifted out for a throw. At the other end a minute later Martin Riley git himself in a tiz as his attempted smash downfield just looped up in the air and landed for the hosts Daniel Wishart, who drove forward and earned a corner. Jamie Hand’s deliver was tame and the Stags we’re able to clear their lines.
Prior to the game the Stags we’re the third highest goal scorers from the top division down to the conference, on five minutes they netted their 80th goal of the season after a fine flowing move. Ben Hutchinson, making his first start since the 5-2 win over Darlington, started the move in a central position, picking up play and sending Matt Green on his way down the left channel with a fine crisp pass. Green then did the rest with a dominant drive forward into the area, drawing defenders to him and creating space for others, Anthony Howell made the run off the ball to arrive in space and rewarded Green and Hutchinson’s hard work by tucking home left footed into the bottom corner from Greens well weighted tee up.
Hayes and Yeading 0-1 Stags
Six minutes later the travelling Stags had another opportunity to delight the travelling faithful who without doubt outnumber the home supporters dotted around the ground in a ‘Where’s Wally’ type sketch. A long ball down park in search of Dyer was headed away by Dan Spence, however goal scorer Anthony Howell nipped into collect the second ball and send Green on his way forward. A neat switch of play from central right to wide left followed from Green and saw Lindon Meikle take control, nipping past his markers into the area before teeing up Hutchinson. The former Middlesbrough striker who scored the winner in the reverse fixture at Field Mill failed to keep his shot down and fired into the stand behind the goal.
From the resulting goal kick the Stags were trotting forward once again, Lindon Meikle did well to read the game on the half way line, controlling Steve Arnold’s poor kick, nipping inside under pressure from Jamie Hand before sending Matt Green on his way just to the left of the box. The on fire front man beat the offside trap and the keeper, however the ball nestled in the side netting rather than in the back of the net, meaning the search for goal 29 would have to continue a little while longer.
The hosts then gave Mansfield another scare as the game approached the 20 minute mark, a free kick from deep following a foul by Ritchie Sutton on the advancing Sam Argent saw Jamie Hand whip a strong ball in from the right hand side. Paul Cox’s men who have only conceded 23 times on the road this season, the best goals against (away) in all the conference seasons, stood firm and eventually scrambled clear the looming danger.
Six minutes later another golden chance presented itself at the other end, Ritchie Sutton’s clearance after an O’Neill free kick from deep was cleared saw the set piece taking full back on his way down the right once more. Upended by Tom Cadmore right on the edge of the box, Mansfield we’re awarded a free kick which Gary Roberts stepped up to take whilst O’Neill received treatment off the pitch. Roberts’ ball in was strong and found Ross Dyer at the far post, the burly front man headed down for Howell who scooped an effort just over the bar.
On the half hour mark Exodus Geohaghon looked to provided with a long throw from the right hand side, the thunderously travelling ball made its way to the left hand side where Lindon Meikle drove forward and earned a corner. Luke O’Neill’s delivery was initially headed away but only as far as Roberts who chipped a ball back into the mix, watching on in agony as Green headed marginally wide.
The game had the feel of a pre-season friendly to it in honesty and Mansfield, weather purposely or not, never got out of first gear – had it not been for the wonderful travelling fans doing their best to make some noise, the place would have seemed like a graveyard and a certain commentator we all know may well have fallen asleep, so cheers travelling Staggies! With seven to go before the break, it was the players who seemingly fell asleep as they conceded a soft equalizer, not switching on to a quickly taken free kick after Roberts delightful pass had found Green in an offside position. Tom Cadmore delivered the ball from deep finding Phil Walsh who out jumped Martin Riley on the edge of the box to get the flick on – Piero Mingoia nipped in between Geohaghon and O’Neill to squeeze a sloppy effort beyond the bemused Marriott to level the game and give his side, fighting against relegation, some hope.
Hayes and Yeading 1-1 Stags
With four minutes to go before the half time interval, Ben Hutchinson came alive inside the area and helped create a good move which should have seen Mansfield regain their advantage. Gary Roberts made a mockery of his man in the centre of the park with a neat little turn before chipping forward to the edge of the area, Ross Dyer provided the link to Hutchinson who controlled well on the six yard line, turned back inside and drove looking for an opening. Eventually Hutchinson passed the baton of play to Meikle on the left who cut inside and smashed a wonderful effort towards the top corner, Steve Arnold palmed the ball away but only into the path of Hutchinson who was flagged offside despite Hayes having a man on the line.
The half drew to a close with the Stags camped in the opposition half, Ben Hutchinson’s 1-2 with Meikle saw the former drive narrowly over from the edge of the area before heading off for his half time orange as Referee Andy Davies called town as soon as the resulting goal kick was struck.
Half Time: Hayes and Yeading United 1-1 Stags
Paul Cox gave the lads an absolutely rocket in the dressing room at half time, heard by many through an open window from round the back of the stand – no doubt there would have been tea cups flying had Stags not scored twice to take the game in the second half as the hosts, buoyed by the news relegation Rivals AFC Telford we’re losing, started the much stronger in the opening 10 minutes or so of the second half.
On 52 minutes Alan Marriott had to race off his line to deny the on rushing Phil Walsh after Jamie Hand had sent the wide man on his way following Steve Arnold’s quick release after the keeper held Roberts effort from distance. Three minutes later the hosts were cantering forward following a long throw from Sam Argent, Mark Bentley covered ground but failed to test Marriott, blasting wide from the edge of the box.
Paul Cox then made his first change of the afternoon, introducing Matt Rhead for Ben Hutchinson up top, the former Kilmarnock and Middlesbrough front man did well for me in his role just behind Matt Green, putting in some key passes and getting in the right areas – no doubt we’ll see more of him in the next two fixtures.
Miss communication at the back between Riley and Marriott gave the hosts a corner on the hour mark, however it came to nothing and Mansfield soon made their second chance of the afternoon, introducing Louis Briscoe for Lindon Meikle on the left hand side.
With 67 on the clock the Stag emphatically regained their lead following a free kick on the right hand side. Luke O’Neill’s ball from deep found Matt Rhead in the air, the Stags substitute cushioned down to the edge of the area for Ross Dyer, who struck a sweet left footed volley beyond the crowd and into the back of the net.
Hayes and Yeading 1-2 Stags
The hosts had an opportunity to level three minutes after the restart when Louis Briscoe was harshly penalised for a foul 30 yards from goal. Jamie Hand’s delivery was easy for Alan Marriott to collect and a minute later, Matt Green was on hand to seal the Stags play-off spot, bagging goal 29 of the season.
Luke O’Neill provided the assist down the right hand side with a well weighted long range pass, Green timed his run well and remained onside, rounding the on rushing Steve Arnold before driving home from a tight angle. Hayes and Yeading 1-3 Stags
Despite the two goal cushion and the quick deflating home morale, the Stags refused to settle with a two goal lead and went on in search of another. Exodus Geohaghon’s bullet throw from the right hand side after good work from O’Neill found its way to Matt Rhead, however the former Corby man, who made his first full Stags start on Monday, saw his connecting header bounce frustratingly wide of the target with Arnold rooted to his spot.
Two minutes later leading front man Green was perhaps a lucky boy as a Hayes corner saw the ball bobble up and brush Green’s hand – play went on though and the Stags attacked with intent. Gary Roberts took over from Green and pinged a ball with a yawn over the top for Briscoe who earned a corner. Luke O’Neill delivered strongly but somehow the hosts dealt with the physical presence of Rhead, Geohaghon and Dyer.
The Stags registered another two efforts in as many minutes with seven left to play. First it was Matt Green and Gary Roberts who interchanged on the left beautifully, the latter made the central run and saw his venomous effort well saved. A minute later Anthony Howell took a Stags free kick quickly on the half way line to send Briscoe on his way down the left, the goal scoring wide man saw his effort saved by the keepers boot and then scrambled away.
With five remaining another O’Neill corner broke down but only as far as the influential Roberts, he switched play with a first time ball to Matt Rhead who controlled well before volleying with his left towards goal, Steve Arnold was at full stretch to keep out the goal bound effort.
In the final minute Alan Marriott was at full stretch to keep out substitute Julian Owusu’s dipping shot following a forceful Tom Cadmore clearance, no sooner had the Stags vice captains defence cleared the resulting corner – the referee blew the full time whistle confirming Stags’ place in the play-offs. Full Time: Hayes and Yeading United 1-3 Stags
<< Full Audio with myself and Scott Rogers
The performance as Scott said in commentary replicated that of a pre-season friendly in the first half, the lethargic play from both in the first hour of the game made it very dull to watch at times, something which Paul Cox didn’t shy away from at full time, not that it mattered as our professionalism ensured we got the job done in the end – it’s not the end of our quest, it’s only just begging and boy is it exciting!
Two more league games to go, as I mentioned at the top of the piece, it’ll be a tough call for the gaffer as to who he picks, personally I hope that no matter the line up, we keep our heads and end the season unbeaten and get that one more point needed to seal third place – our home form is delightful, our last defeat came back in November to Cambridge, an unbeaten run of 12 games, in which we’ve collected nine wins and three draws. Our support is amazing, I know it’s going to be rocking for the play-offs – any opposition would be fearful of that regardless of form – keep your eyes posted for an article in the week which will delve deeper into that subject.
Congratulations to Paul Cox, his staff and players for securing the play-off spot – let’s continue to go on and achieve our dream. Be sure to join myself and Wayne Briggs for regular updates on the now penultimate home match of the season following our play-off guarantee. Second placed Wrexham are the visitors to the one call stadium, build up starts at 7pm on 106.9PM and following the acquisition of some “new” kit – at the same time on our MM-LIVE page
via USTREAM player.
And so those who dared to dream put in the work and made a bigger dream come within touching distance – rest easy until Friday and let it all continue, as Mansfield Town continue their climb! Good times! The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit an article, email email@example.com
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s long trip to Woking FC, to face Hayes & Yeading United.
After late goals for Southport and Kidderminster disrupted Mansfield’s plans for sealing a play-off spot on Monday, we dust off and get ready for another round of fixtures, however this time the task is much more simple as our fate lies entirely in our hands – A win guaranties a play-off spot.
At the moment there are now nine points to play for ahead of tomorrow’s round of fixtures, we are currently 7 points ahead of York (4th) and Kidderminster (5th), nine ahead of Southport (6th) and ten ahead of Luton (7th) who have two games in hand. Looking at the permutations if ALL the play-off sides to pick up victories, we would still have a 7 point lead on York and Kidderminster, the former WOULD be able to catch us though with their game in hand meaning they’d be 7 behind with 9 points still up for grabs. A win for Kidderminster would put them 7 points behind us with only six points up for grabs and with us to play. Southport, who lurk just outside the play-offs, would remain nine points behind us with only six points up for grabs – meaning in short that the lowest we could finish if the points gap remains the same after tomorrows round of fixtures would be 5th.
Seems simple right, if we win regardless of the others – we’re in the play-offs, could it possibly get any better? Yes, yes it can my friends! Permutation two can see us not only cement our place in the play-offs tomorrow but also cement third place, bagging that all important second leg home advantage. If Stags win at the Kingfield Stadium and Luton and York fall to defeat against Alfreton and Newport respectively – the duo, the only two bar Southport able to catch us, will be too far behind and will have to battle it out for 4th and 5th. Providing we grab victory and relegate Hayes & Yeading, a defeat for York against their FA Trophy final opponents Newport would put them 10 points behind Paul Cox’s men with only nine left up for grabs. Defeat for Luton at Alfreton would leave them needing 13 points to catch the Stags with only 12 up for grabs!
This is brilliant and in all honesty, I’m sure you’ll agree too, the second permutation about securing third would be the one we’d all love to come true – securing third and a play-off spot with two games still to go would leave us able to relax and rest players ahead of what will be a tough play-off, rather than constantly be looking over our shoulders to see where we finish and whose hunting us down. A stress free final two games, wouldn’t that be beautiful. That said I couldn’t care about the others results again, we cannot afford to take our eye of the ball, we have to win, we have to get this secure before we face Wrexham and play-off hunters Kidderminster – two very difficult games.
Once again we have the horrid task of relegating another team and like I wrote last week ahead of the Kettering game, should respect our opponents situation and be prepared for a fight. Currently Nas Bashiers men are sitting in 21st place, four points from safety with nine points still on offer, defeat for Hayes & Yeading plus a win for AFC Telford in their match at mid table Ebbsfleet would see the former Reading midfielders side needing 7 points from a possible six – a mathematical impossibility. A draw for AFC Telford and defeat for United would leave them need five points from a possible six and as such would not be relegated – however the Bucks, promoted last season via the Blue Square North play offs, have a vital game in hand.
Hayes & Yeading were formed back in 2007 as Hayes FC and Yeading FC decided to join forces and save money, their motto is the Latin phrase ‘Porro Simul’ which translates to ‘Forward Together’ something they’ve seemingly failed to follow this season, dropping from 1st place after an opening day win over Alfreton to the bottom four with a very poor run which has seen just six victories and three draws since October, when they crashed into the drop zone. Tomorrow they’ll have to be tight at the back as they come up against a rather impressive forward line, Stags are the third highest goal scorers over the top flight division, big spending premier league giants Manchester City are the team to match Paul Cox’s sides 79, whilst Sheffield United and conference champions elect Fleetwood are the two teams with a better goals for column, the Blades have netted 85 with Fleetwood’s midweek leveller against Wrexham marking their 100th league goal of the season.
Hayes & Yeading have only bagged 55 goals this campaign, conceding 85 – without the goals of Louis Soares who has 15 to his name, the former Church Road outfit may well have already been down. At the moment they are waiting to move into the redeveloped ground of Yeading FC, made famous by the movie ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, however the Beaconsfield Road site is not ready and with houses already dominating their former base at Church Road, the merger club have spent this season ground sharing with nearby Woking, a deal that will continue for part of next season.
We have been to the home of Woking FC once before, with the fixture against the then relegated side being the final away game of our debut season in the conference, wouldn’t it be a tad ironic that our play-off fate could be sealed on the ground we all left frustrated following a 2-2 draw thinking ‘I hope we don’t have to come to grounds like this again’ but knowing deep down we should get used to it!
If you can’t get to the game tomorrow, then our MM-LIVE page
and 106.9FM are the places to be, build up starts on both at 2pm followed by full match commentary with myself, Scott Rogers and Wayne Briggs (TBC) – we’ll be revealing the winners of the first batch of Mansfield Matters awards,
for which voting closes at Midnight.
Last Time We Met:
In five meetings with Hayes & Yeading, the Stags have failed to pick up victory when playing as the away team – picking up just a point in the February meeting of 2010 and of course being humiliated 4-0 in April last year in a game which propelled Tyrone Thompson to YouTube fame – less said about that the better, I’m getting all angry again – let’s just say that when I arrived home, the toys came out of the pram! What an embarrassment.
Fortunately our form against the merged side at Field Mill has been a lot better, winning all three of the encounters, the most recent of which came in January. Goals from Matt Green and Ross Dyer twice put us ahead however the visitors pegged us back – substitute Ben Hutchinson grabbed the winner in the last minute from the spot after Gary Roberts had been fouled. Stags 3-2 Hayes and Yeading 21.1.12 Line Up:
[4-4-2] Marriott, O'Neill, Dempster, Sutton, Kendrick, Meikle (Briscoe), Murray (C), Roberts, Smith, Green , Dyer  (Hutchinson [1p]) SNU Redmond, Riley PODCAST: Commentary comes from Craig Priest. The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – to submit your own work for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org
As the metaphorical fat lady warms up her vocal cords, it’s time to dish out some end of season accolades. This season we’re handing the final say over to you as we launch the Mansfield Matters Awards.
Of course our awards will include the usual ‘Player of the season’ – ‘Save of the season’ and ‘Goal of the season’ gong, of which voting will begin on Monday, however today see’s the voting begin for some more light hearted awards and awards suggested by your good selves on twitter last night. The results will be read out by the team on Saturday as Craig Priest along with pundits Scott Rogers and Wayne Briggs head for Woking as the Stags face Hayes & Yeading.
There’s still time to suggest an award and register a secret vote for any of the awards named below – simply email email@example.com
with the complete voting slip downloadable below – You can also vote by text - text MM VOTE followed the category and the name of your nominee to 07982 865 624 (Text costs your standard network rate) Voting will CLOSE at MIDNIGHT tomorrow. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE VOTING FORM - PLEASE READ WHAT THE AWARDS ARE FOR ETC FIRST! The awards, what they’re for and who’s nominated!
Numb Bum of the year
The award for the player to spend more time on the bench or in the stands than on the pitch
Shane Redmond – The Irish gloves man has failed to debut for the Stags since signing in the summer from the enemy, unable to keep out crowd favourite Marriott, the Stags deputy keeper has been limited to outings in friendlies.
Lee Stevenson – Paul Cox’s first summer signing along with Lindon Miekle has failed to get a real run in the side and along with a loan spell to neighbours Alfreton early the season, has made just five starts and one appearance from the bench, failing to take the pitch 12 times when being named on the team sheet.
Jon Worthington – well travelled and highly rated, former Huddersfield skipper Jon has not featured as much as supporters would have thought when he put pen to paper. With only seven starts and nine substitute appearances, Jon’s name being printed on the team sheet handed to the press is rather like a magic trick.... now you see it, then you don’t. Although, in fitness, when he has played – I’ve been impressed.
Chant of the season
The award for best chant from the fans – the Ken Barlow thing doesn’t count as it’s not about football, love the randomness tho.
The Exodus Theme – More commonly known as the noise made by our wonderful fans when Exodus Geohaghon picks up the ball to launch in a long throw, frightening yet beautiful!
Rheady Rhead Boing Boing – In homage of January signing Matt Rhead, you know the one!
Yellows – traditional, original and yet never boring.
Named because I’m watching Harry Potter (Don’t ask) and in celebration and appreciation of the players who work their socks off in games but often don’t get as much recognition as they should
Anthony Howell – Undoubtedly the player to bring many annoyed groans when he resigned from Alfreton in the summer, judged wrongly (by me included) by his time under David Holdsworth. Howell has been outstanding this season, winning over the fans during his 27 starts this season, had it not been for that red card at Forest Green, it may well have been more. Chipping it with outstanding tackles, well weighted passes and three goals, including THAT effort at Alfreton – Anthony could possibly be a contender for player of the season.
Ross Dyer – Unbelievable presence in the air winning flick on after flick on after flick on, the former Forest Green and Hednesford man is often criticized for his lack of goals. However Ross has is a wonderful weapon to have and not only is he used as a target man, he can be really affective when he gets the ball to feet.
Ritchie Sutton – The young Stags defender is often praised for his work rate and so perhaps shouldn’t be nominated, however with players like Murray, Green and Marriott most likely to pip him to the top gong for player of the season, the former Port Vale man deserves some recognition. Feature heavily with 40 starts, Sutton has played in every position across the back four, making the unfamiliar left back slot his own over recent weeks.
Chopper Harris challenge of the season
We have goal of the season and save of the season, so why not one for the challenge of the season – named in honour of former Chelsea defender Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris famed for being one of the toughest defenders of his era.
Paul Edwards (Darlington HOME) – Also nominated for pointless loan signing of the season, the Fleetwood full back, now on loan at Barrow, gets his hat thrown into the mix for his well timed goal line challenge to prevent Tamworth from scoring back in February.
Luke O’Neill (Kettering AWAY) – So many tackles from the former Leicester man it’s quite difficult to pick just one, however his challenge on former team mate Marcus Kelly at now relegated Kettering last Saturday kept Mansfield in a 1-0 lead and saw him cover ground at pace, sliding in to clear at the very last second as Kelly was about to pull the trigger.
Alan Marriott (Various) – The Stags shot stopper hasn’t made a crunch challenge of such, unless you count the one he made on Monday against Stockport which led to a booking. Marriott gets in for his constant commitment, putting his body on line with sever risking collections of the ball, both out of the air and sliding to the edge of his box.
Celebration of the season – sponsored by Roger Milla
Who? I hear you say – the guy who did that frankly wonderful dance back at a world cup many moons ago – if the picture above doesn’t jog you’re memory THIS VIDEO will – anyway, this award is self explanatory.
Exodus Geohaghon (Alfreton AWAY) – Netting to put day light between Alfreton and Stags in their recent evening meeting, Geohaghon revealed a t-shirt showing support for friend and Bolton defender Fabrice Muamba after he collapsed on the pitch a few days earlier.
Lindon Meikle (Bath City AWAY) – the strangest goal I’ve ever witnessed from the tightest angle possible, the former Eastwood wingers cross somehow drifted in at Twirton Park against now relegated Bath back in November. Meikle’s celebration a simple shrug of the shoulders complete with a bemused look!
Andy Todd (Alfreton HOME) – Barley used this season, the player coach would have been nominated for Numb bum of the season had it not been for his role on the coaching team. Winning the game in the last minute against rivals Alfreton back at Field Mill in October, the former Nottingham Forest man sprinted off in an aeroplane style in front of the Quarry Lane End, before getting high fives galore in the corner. The fact Todd is nominated becomes apparent when watching the highlights.... assistant kit man and ground maintained man Andy Johnson goes for the high five but gets rejected, a classic moment with Andy ‘Oh’ laughs about all the time – a top lad. The goals also nominated because we have a fairly awesome clip of myself and Scott Rogers laughing and dancing – don’t ask.
Cameo of the season, sponsored by David Holdsworths 60+ signings...
The award for the most pointless loan signing / the loan signing who just failed to deliver...
Paul Edwards – Told you his name would crop up again! Making just two starts and one sub appearance during his months loan from Champions elect Fleetwood, the full back may well have started more had a few postponements due to adverse weather not stepped in. That said, Edwards failed to impress in his time which included the 5-0 reserve team friendly drubbing at AFC Telford United – more so he has seemingly failed to impress with new club Barrow, being subbed after half an hour when we smashed seven past Barrow on there recent trip to Field mill.
Nialle Rodney – brought in to add fire to the front line from Bradford City, the young striker made two substitute appearances and was an unused sub three times, being left out entirely for the trip to Southport and Christmas double header with York City following a rant on Twitter – we’ll come to that on Saturday!
Louis Moult – In his second spell at Field Mill after impressing last year under Duncan Russell, the Stoke City front man feature twice as a substitute and made one start at Fleetwood in the FA Cup as leading goal scorer Matt Green was ill an unable to travel. Louis four game spell ended with a Sub Not Used mark in the goalless draw at AFC Telford United in November.
The Liam Lawrence late goal award
Named in memory of Liam Lawrence’s 90th minute winner at the enemy back on January 18th 2003, this award explains itself, recognising those who’ve netted dramatically late on!
Exodus Geohaghon (Fleetwood HOME) – put down as a loss by many, the Stags really fought that night in a past paced, high octane fixture. The league leaders thought they’d won it by the awesome atmosphere at Field Mill propelled Stags on, Big Ex sent those watching into pandemonium when he nodded home Luke O’Neill’s 90th minute corner to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat!
Paul Connor (Wrexham AWAY) – Although we held a 2-1 lead back at the racecourse back in September, both sides we’re down to ten and Wrexham we’re throwing everything forward in search of a point. Paul Connor broke free and sealed the game in the 5th minute of stoppage time, calming the nerves to give Mansfield their first win at then league leaders Wrexham since 1986
Ben Hutchinson (Hayes and Yeading HOME) – A ‘wildcard’ contender, Hutchinson stepped up to convert a 90th minute penalty against the side who we face again Saturday back in January after the Stags twice threw away the lead.
The Joey Barton Social Media Award
Footballers and social media is often an interesting mix – Joey Barton is often the subject of much controversy for his tweets, and as such gets an award named after him. We want you to nominate the Stags player whose most social network friendly rather than social media controversial, we’ve already got that covered!
Alan Marriott, Adam Murray and Martin Riley are the three front runners for constant interaction, however as with all our awards – you can nominate someone else.
Don’t forget you can vote via the polls above or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
and suggest your own category and winner. But for now, in the style of the ‘Big Brother’ voice over man “Who Wins: You decide!”....
Craig Priest Reports...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Stockport County
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier (Game#43)
Venue: One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Monday 9th April – 3pm
Attendance: 3883 (506)
Match Referee: Amy Fearn (Leicestershire)
Another game passes by and another three points are in the bag for our beloved side and even with some three games left to go – the season is still not over as, despite our rapidly widening points gap, we still have to battle for our end of season play-off spot as a late hat-trick from Kidderminster substitute Nick Wright and a late Southport penalty ensured they collected points, keeping Stags in their mathematical sites.
The drama will get going again on Saturday however by my workings out so long as Stags pick up another win Southport will be unable to catch us regardless of their result away at Tamworth, wins for both would put Southport nine points behind with only six more available. A win for Kidderminster (with a win for Stags too) would put them seven behind with six points left to play for – with us also to play). Luton are they only other team to really affect us, with two games in hand wins for both on Saturday would put them 10 points behind us with 12 left to play for – however I think that regardless of any results, Luton included, a win for us at Hayes & Yeading on Saturday would cement our deserved place in the play-offs, don’t quote me on it though! I’ll find out for certain for Friday’s match preview.
Away from permutations etc, yesterday was another fixture where we did what we had too, if I was to make one criticism it would be our miscommunication and sloppiness at the back allowing Stockport the late goal – we need to be focused from start to finish, at this vital point of the season you cannot afford to rest on your laurels, yes it was a tough pitch to play on in difficult conditions – cold and wet, no doubt Mez (Stags kit man) will be ordering some extra strong washing powder to get rid of all that mud! I thought we handled ourselves well against a Stockport side who, despite numerous counter attacks, offered very little in attack – there’s no doubt in my opinion that they came for a draw. That said we should have been more clinical in front of goal and need to be cautious at the space our own attacks create for others – no that it matters now, three points are in the bag and as ever Paul Cox and his coaching staff will be reviewing the match DVD and working hard on the training ground to ensure we end strongly and are in a good position for the play-off battle.
With two games in three days Paul Cox made three changes to the side which relegated Kettering with a 3-0 win at Nene Park. Skipper Adam Murray returned after being left out to avoid a booking and a suspension, surprisingly it was Gary Roberts the one replaced. Adam Smith replaced the outstanding Lindon Meikle on the wing whilst Matt Rhead was handed his first full start replacing Ross Dyer following a string of impressive cameos from the bench.
Line Up: Alan Marriott, Luke O’Neill, Exodus Geohaghon, Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, Louis Briscoe, Adam Murray (C) (Roberts), Anthony Howell, Adam Smith (Meikle), Matt Rhead (Dyer), Matt Green.
Substitutes: Shane Redmond, Ross Dyer, Lindon Meikle, Danny Andrew, Gary Roberts.
The Stags were out of the traps like Usain Bolt, unlucky not to be ahead after 34 seconds. Luke O’Neill cleared a Stockport directional ball over the half way line finding Anthony Howell who played a sublime crisp pass down the right channel for Matt Green. The leading hit man, who’s got his eye on that 30 goal mark last achieved by Roy Chapman (30) and Ken Wagstaff (34) in the 1962/63 campaign, charged down the right and delivered a delightful cross towards the back post finding Adam Smith who headed into the side netting.
Luke O’Neill picked up the Stags first booking of the afternoon on three minutes following a face to face confrontation with Matty Mainwaring as the Stockport winger looked to nip past O’Neill on the left hand side. A minute later it was the hatters’ wide man who looked to create the first chance for the visitors, charging down the left of the counter attack. After over running the ball Mainwaring was forced back to Paul Turnbull whose cross from deep failed to threaten, drifting harmlessly away for a goal kick.
Anthony Howell again proved why he was worthy of another start on six minutes, sparking another prolonged spell of pressure. Howell’s low pass again saw Green in down the right channel; this time the leading front man cut inside and opted for a driven shot which was saved well by Sunderland loanee Lewis King. The black cats’ keepers defence scrambled away the loose ball for a throw which Exodus Geohaghon launched in towards Matt Rhead, whose header was deflected behind for a corner. Luke O’Neill stepped up and whipped in for Martin Riley, who headed wide at the back post.
Two minutes later it was Louis Briscoe who tested the water from distance. Alan Marriott’s directional ball was flicked on by Matt Rhead to no avail, Stockport’s scrambled clearance fell to Briscoe 30 yards out, the wing man skipped into space and drove just wide of the target.
Adam Murray then took one for the team on 11 minutes as Stockport looked to counter through the middle, the resulting free kick from the half way line was easily cleared. Three minutes later the heat turned up as two dangerous tackles from both sides left players down injured. First Adam Smith bulldozed Sam Sheridan in the Mansfield half as the winger looked to pick up the second ball; referee Amy Fearn deemed the tackle legal and waved play on – Adam Murray then took control on the left hand side before being flattened by Paul Turnbull, eventually getting Mansfield a free kick after two groups of players came together, debating the Smith tackle in the middle and the Murray tackle on the near touchline.
Once the handbag had been put away and tempers calmed, the game continued a series of half chances followed for both before Exodus Geohaghon required lengthy treatment for a facial blow with twenty gone.
Six minutes later the Howell-Green combination worked once more, midfielder Howell sent Green on his way this time down the left, gaining ground hit man Green cut inside and fired tamely into the side netting with very little option in support. On the half hour good football between Murray and Rhead saw the Stags advance, Louis Briscoe earned the first of two corners with a deflected cross, however O’Neill’s set pieces came to nothing.
Mansfield had strong appeals for a penalty turned down on 34 minutes following another strong counter attack, this time sparked by Luke O’Neill, launching one down the right hand side after mopping up a half hearted Stockport attack. Matt Green was first to the ball and raced forwards into the area, sending the ball through the legs of AFC Telford loanee Sean Newton after turning back inside from the goal line. With Green about to pull the ball back across the face of goal, he was bundled down by Newton who cleared the loose ball – as appeals for a spot kick were turned down the second ball fell to Howell on the edge of the box, who blazed over left footed.
Three minutes prior to the break three Stags corners had Stockport on the back foot, the third and final corner was so close from finding the net, Martin Riley nodded the wrong side of the post from O’Neill’s right footed in swinging delivery.
A minute later Mansfield we’re furious as Amy Fearn stopped a clear advantage following a flowing move between Murray and Rhead from right to left. Matt green was ghosting in on goal about to pull the trigger when Fearn blew the whistle pulling play back for a free kick after Rhead was fouled. Luke O’Neill delivered the kick from deep, Anthony Howell nodded wide at the back post.
On the stroke of half time the Stags broke with venom once more, Adam Smith intercepted play on the right, bursting into space before seeing his cross sail out for a goal kick rather than find the four Stags bodies cueing up in the middle.
Half Time: Stags 0-0 Stockport
The Stags again came out flying for the second half and took the lead on 46 minutes, pressuring with two consecutive Exodus Geohaghon throws. It was the second of which that led to the goal, the bullet throw found its way to the back post where Green jumped high to head down into the mix – Adam Smith nipped in and smashed goal wards beyond King, grabbing his second of the season.
Stags 1-0 Stockport
Five minutes later Geohaghon provided once more with a strong clearance down the right hand side, Matt Green was first to the ball and held up for Adam Smith who delivered into the middle. Matt Rhead rose above the rest but headed wide of the target at the back post.
The Stags doubled their lead in empathic fashion a minute later with Geohaghon’s throw again proving vital. Launching one in from the right hand side the bullet was initially headed away however the excellent work rate and persistence from Adam Murray ensured Stags remained in possession. Murray provided the pass left and it deflected perfectly off the leg of hatters captain Joe Connor to land in space for Briscoe. The wing man bagged his tenth of the season with an outstanding first time shot which bent around the keeper, cushioned off the post and nestled into the bottom corner. Stags 2-0 Stockport
The visitors looked for a response but saw two corners come to nothing but Alan Marriott plucked a dangerous Matt Mainwaring cross out of the air as the hatters crept forward once more. At the other end Luke O’Neill was unlucky not to get on the score sheet on the hour mark. Ritchie Sutton’s throw led to the kick, finding Anthony Howell who sent Green on his way before the front man was upended 30 yards from goal. O’Neill stepped up and beat the wall, however he failed to beat King who watched the ball into his grateful hands.
On 65 Adam Murray switched play with a beautiful cross park ball, Adam Smith picked up and drove inside before firing over – moments later the combining duo were replaced as Lindon Meikle took the park for Smith and influential midfielder Gary Roberts replaced Murray, who handed captaincy over to Martin Riley.
With 74 on the clock a Geohaghon throw on the left led to one on the right, despite it being cleared strong defensive play between Sutton and Riley sent O’Neill on his way down the right hand side, earning the Stags another corner. The delivery from O’Neill was pitch perfect finding Exodus Geohaghon in the middle, his forceful header was scrambled off the line. Three minutes later Louis Briscoe’s charge down the right hand set up a change for Green, heading Briscoe’s cross into the air, the front man connected with a midair volley but couldn’t believe his luck as the effort smashed into the side netting.
Alan Marriott was booked as he raced off his line and slid into clear the Stockport danger with ten minutes to play, two minutes later he was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch as Jon Nolan chipped the ball back into the box after a corner had broken down finding Tom Elliott. Marriott made himself big and got very little of the ball as the two collided, the whistle had already gone though as the flag was raised for offside against the Hatters joint leading goal scorer.
With two minutes to go Mansfield totally switched off at the back and allowed Stockport to clear one back. A tame ball down field should have been dealt with by either Sutton or Riley, the duo both expected the other to clear and so stood static, Tom Elliott nipped in and drove forward, passing to Nolan on the edge of the box who in turn found substitute Jordan Rose, who curled beyond Marriott into the top corner. Stags 2-1 Stockport
End to end action saw the game eventually draw to its conclusion with four minutes added on. First the Stags broke in numbers over the half way line with a five v two attack – Matt Green sent Ross Dyer on his way through the middle, the front man who’d replaced Matt Rhead around five minutes earlier, was about to pull the trigger before being dispossessed by Paul Turnbull, who covered some 50 yards to get back and make a wonderful last ditch challenge. At the other end Luke O’Neill slid in on Stockport Sub Danny Rose to concede a corner which was eventually cleared to the sound of Amy Fearns full time whistle. Full Time: Stags 2-1 Stockport
<< Audio highlights, commentary from Craig Priest and Wayne Briggs
As the Stags game ended Southport, Kidderminster and Gateshead we’re all losing – had things remained the same in the Southport and Kidderminster matches a play-off space would have been sealed, but as I mentioned at the top of the piece, late goals for the duo mean our fate is not yet sealed.
Next up it’s the long trip to Woking to face Hayes & Yeading United – if you can’t get be sure to join myself, Scott Rogers and Wayne Briggs for full match commentary and extended build up on 106.9FM and MM-LIVE from 2PM. The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit an article, email email@example.com
Craig Priest previews tomorrow’s key game with Stockport County at the one call stadium...
Sunday’s are usually spent writing match reports not match previews, however the Bank Holiday schedule sees our next game just one sleep away, playing our first game at the newly renamed One Call Stadium, as Stockport County come to town. With the form we’re in at the minute plus the awesome buzz each game is bringing, I sit wishing it would be like this every week – one day on, one day off! If only!
The importance of tomorrow’s game is simple – WIN, doing so could result in securing a play-off spot as long as three other results go in our favour. As a journalist (ish!) it’s my duty to take a look at what could happen, personally I don’t like hyping up the pressure too much as it can ruin a good thing, but it’s the time of the season now where I have too. If we gain victory tomorrow over Stockport and Kidderminster, Southport and Gateshead ALL lose – we will secure a play-off spot (3rd – 5th) as the trio along with Grimsby would be unable to catch us as they would need 10 points or more with only 9 left to play for. Should we win and the aforementioned trio pick up a point in their respective matches will we STILL be mathematically catchable and as such WILL NOT be guaranteed a play-off spot after tomorrow’s round of matches.
Table As It Stands:
KEY: Teams highlighted in YELLOW, are uncatchable by all below and face each other on Tuesday. Teams highlighted in LIGHT BLUE are the teams that need to LOSE should we WIN.
How things could look after tomorrows games:
Taking goal difference out of the picture, this is how the table will look providing Stags WIN and Kidderminster, Southport and Gateshead ALL LOSE – the table is worked out on the assumption that YORK and LUTON both win their matches, the results from these games are irrelevant to the equation which revolves around STAGS WINNING and KIDDERMINSTER, SOUTHPORT and GATESHEAD falling to DEFEAT.
Right, enough with maths and permutations let’s talk about the football. With two defeats in our last 18 fixtures we are on a very positive run of form, winning 9 games of our last 11 outings as we search for a place in those play-off spots. We are playing some good stuff and have the key ingredient to any successful side – ability, we have the ability to adapt and rise to any situation we find ourselves in. Yesterday at Kettering we came up against a team who needed to win to survive and despite all their off field issues, came out fighting. We had to be patient and after soaking up the pressure, we took control of the game created chance after chance after chance and got the desired result with three well worked and well taken goals. Tomorrow will be a similar satiation at Field Mill, or the ‘One Call Stadium’, as although Stockport are above the drop zone in 17th, they are not mathematically safe – the hatters will want to ensure that two consecutive relegations are out of the picture. This is something they’ve been doing over the past few weeks, embarking on a run which has seen them win their last three fixtures, smashing Bath City and Lincoln City 4-0 both at Edgley Park, as well as a 3-1 away win at Kettering.
The hatters are currently in their debut season outside the football league, relegated after finishing bottom of league two ending a spell of 110 years in the football league. It’s fair to say they’ve struggled to settle in unfamiliar surroundings an earlier in the season, slumped from 14th to 23rd picking up just one win in 17 matches. A change of manager has also taken place for the Greater Manchester based side this season, ex boss Jim Gannon’s now in his second spell at the helm after former Liverpool star Dietmar Hamman quit the post in November last year. During his first spell in charge, Jim Gannon led the hatters to a football league record of nine games without conceding back in 2007 – whilst he turning the fortunes around slowly bur surley, the golden days for the county boss must seem a long time ago now, his club have conceded 70 times so far this season. Another worrying factor for the Stockport boss will be the fact that on the 24 occasions they’ve conceded first this season, they have failed to turn the game around and get a win, clawing back 8 draws but failing to defeats in the other 16 games. At the other end goals have been hard to come by, scoring just 52 this season – former Leeds United youngster Tom Elliott and Fleetwood loan man Danny Rowe both lead the scoring charts with eight goals apiece.
Over the last eight games, Stockport sit 6th in the form guide with five wins and three defeats whilst during their last six on the road they have collected two wins a draw and three defeats, netting eight goals but shipping sixteen.
Stockport will be coming to Field Mill looking to find a little bit of light after what has been a murky season and as such will fight for everything they can get, in a way it’s why I didn’t really want to talk about the permeations surrounding us, I remember sitting 9th and saying that in order to get where we are now, me must focus solely on us rather than others – if you start looking around, looking back etc you fail to see what is in front of you – we have come so far to mess up now, so tomorrow at the One Call Stadium, or Field Mill depending on your preference, let’s make the noise as we have been doing so beautifully, concentrate on us and keep enjoying the ride and the thrill of the chase.
If you can’t get to Field Mill (OCS) tomorrow, tune your radios into 106.9FM from 2pm for build up followed by regular updates with myself and Wayne Briggs.
Last Time We Met:
With a relationship that first started in 1932, the Stags and the Hatters have locked horns 82 times in all competitions, both winning 31 games with the other 20 fixtures ending all square. In the 37 fixtures played at Field Mill, Mansfield have been the more productive winning 22 of those matches, being beaten only five times and sharing the points on 10 occasions, majorly outscoring the hatters in the games on Mansfield soil 72-38. The last Stockport win on Mansfield soil came back in September 1983, 2-1.
In all competitions 265 goals have been scored in the two sides 82 meetings, in the reverse fixture earlier in the season it was just the one that was needed, Luke O’Neill’s second half strike game Mansfield their first way win of the campaign and there second clean sheet of the season, two days after beating Kettering 3-0 at home during the August bank holiday weekend – a repeat? Time will tell.
Stockport 0-1 Stags 29.8.11 Line Up: [4-4-2] Marriott, O'Neill , Futcher, Sutton, Kendrick, Briscoe, Murray (C), Howell, Meikle (Worthington), Green, Dyer (Connor) SNU: Redmond, Stevenson, Wood
Podcast: Commentary from Craig Priest and Scott Rogers
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Craig Priest Reports...
Fixture: Kettering Town V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier (Game#42)
Venue: Nene Park
Date & Time: Saturday 7th April 2012 – 3pm
Attendance: 1818 (877)
Match Referee: John Hopkins
For the first time in a very long time I’m sat penning this match report on the evening of a match, I’ve tried to put off writing it until tomorrow if truth be told but with the way today’s results have gone and the fact that we’ve another game on Monday, I can’t stop the writer in me from grabbing the laptop and tapping away at the keys.
Firstly commiserations to Kettering who after today’s result are now relegated, relegation is a horrible feeling and I felt really bad watching grown men cry as they exited Nene Park whilst me and Wayne sat there beaming from ear to ear as Stags moved seven points clear of the chasing teams with four games left to play. I wish them all the best for next season and hope they pull away from the financial difficulties and appoint a manager who can deliver – a certain trip to Kettering (Rocking Road not Nene Park) will always be remembered.
Anyway, onto us – four games left to go, 12 points left to play for, seven clear of the chasing pack, and ten clear of Luton and Gateshead in 7th and 8th respectively – a win on Monday would surely be enough? That’s a great feeling isn’t it.
Today we had to be wary of a team fighting for their lives and had to respect them, we did and then we had to be clinical, which we were. You could argue we should have grabbed a few more goals and been more ruthless but we did what we had to and didn’t really put a foot wrong, I just hope the gaffer bottles up this momentum and ensures injected ahead of a key final four fixtures.
Skipper Adam Murray’s ankle injury proved to be too troubling and was rested whilst Adam Smith was left out entirely, Anthony Howell and Lindon Meikle we’re the two too come in whilst Alan Marriott donned the skippers armband.
Line Up: Alan Marriott (C), Luke O’Neill, Exodus Geohaghon, Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell (Murray), Gary Roberts, Lindon Meikle (Smith), Matt Green, Ross Dyer
Substitutes: Shane Redmond, Jon Worthington, Matt Rhead, Ben Hutchinson, Danny Andrew
As you’d expect from a team fighting for the lives, it was Kettering who looked for the early opening, a first minute long throw launched in by Max York had the Stags back peddling however Martin Riley and Anthony Howell combined to get clear before Mansfield registered their first effort on the five minute mark.
Luke O’Neill’s throw down the right flank led to a second throw which was predictably launched in by Geohaghon. The throw was initially headed away but Geohaghon soon had the ball back at his feet, moving inside to Louis Briscoe who then provided the final link to Gary Roberts, who fired over the bar and out of the ground with his left boot.
Stags then registered three attacks in as many minutes as they stepped up the pace, Lindon Meikle danced his way in from the left on seven minutes but saw his shot held by Kelvin Jack, a minute later he provided a fine lay off for the advancing Ritchie Sutton on the left wing but the Stags full back crossed into the side netting before an Exodus Geohaghon throw saw Ross Dyer penalised for climbing above his marker.
Matt Green then tested the water on 11 minutes, hitting a venomous shot from just inside the box after Anthony Howell had provided with a well weighted chip. After strongly palming away Green’s shot, Poppies shot stopper Jack collected Luke O’Neill’s following corner with ease.
Two minutes later Jack was picking the ball out of the net as Mansfield broke the deadlock. A determined surge down the right hand side saw Gary Roberts hold off three markers to cross into the box, Lindon Meikle made a fine run to arrive from nowhere to head in at the back post.
Kettering 0-1 Stags
Matt Green should have had added a second Stags goal two minutes after the re-start, Exodus Geohaghon fooled everyone with a short throw to O’Neill, who provided with an excellent cross which Green headed narrowly wide. A minute later it was former Stags loanee Marcus Kelly who nearly levelled, a deep free kick from the right hand side from Max York saw Kelly flick the ball into the mix towards goal, Anthony Howell got clear to Meikle who then showed an electrifying burst of pace starting a counter attack. With Dyer to the left, Briscoe screaming for a pass on the right and Matt Green through the middle, Meikle opted for the later who was flagged offside just as he danced round the onrushing Kelvin Jack.
On 18 minutes it was again a counter attack which left the Stags frustrated with the final outcome. After Luke O’Neill had headed behind for a Kettering corner, Louis Briscoe picked up play on the edge of his own box and sprinted unchallenged to the edge of the Kettering box, feeding Ross Dyer who made a sublime run down the left, arriving in time to smash Briscoe’s pass into the side netting.
A delightful Roberts chip saw Green offside again before Marcus Kelly made a fine challenge on Anthony Howell following a 4 v 2 Stags charge on 23 minutes. The resulting throw was headed towards goal by Kettering left back Nathan Ralph forcing Kelvin Jack into action – two minutes later no Kettering player could do anything as Stags with real venom once more. Lindon Meikle read the game superbly on the half way, chipping a cross towards Anthony Howell on the edge of the box, his flick on found Green who thundered a volley against the bar, his beautiful strike would have been ruled out had it found the net, as the offside flag was once again at action stations.
Good work on the left hand side between Kettering’s Nathan Ralph and impressive Danny Mills earned a corner which was easily cleared with 29 minutes on the clock, five minutes later the hosts had Kelvin Jack to thank making a wonderful double save. Lindon Meikle created the quick fire double attack, cutting in from the left hand side and firing a driven shot towards the bottom corner. Kelvin Jack got down well to palm away, however he had to be tall to block the follow up as Ross Dyer steamed up to smash towards goal, only the poppies keeper will know how the ball stayed out, but it did – fine goal keeping.
On the stroke of half time, Kelvin Jack was again at his best, keeping out Louis Briscoe’s drive after Matt Green’s cheeky heel flick had allowed Dyer to pick out Briscoe from just inside the box.
Half Time: Kettering 0-1 Stags
A half time switch from Kettering again saw them start brightly, Marcus Kelly kept Alan Marriott on his toes a minute in to the second half, dominantly heading Max York’s deep free kick towards goal from the edge of the box. Two minutes later it was Kelvin Jacks turn to feel the ball in his hands as he collected Martin Riley’s header following another Big Ex throw.
The well travelled shot stopper then blotted his afternoon with an extremely poor throw, Gary Roberts nipped in to pick up possession, however his ball through to Matt Green was over hit and went harmlessly out for a goal kick. On 55 minutes Exodus Geohaghon connected with one of his own throw in's, well kind of! After seeing his bullet throw headed away, the former poppies defender saw the ball land at his feet and smashed a long ranged effort just wide of the target.
On the hour mark Matt Rhead was introduced for Louis Briscoe and three minutes later it was his presence that drew defenders away from leading front man Matt Green, allowing the deadly hit man to double Mansfield’s lead. Anthony Howell set it with a wonderful chip from just over the half way line, Green ghosted between the static defence, took the ball into the box, turned away from the back tracking Ashley Westwood and calmly tucked home to grab his 28th strike of the season.
Kettering 0-2 Stags
An immediate reply was attempted from the hosts whose relegation fate was fast approaching, Martin Riley made two well timed sliding tackles on half time sub James Gray, the second of which led to a free kick just outside the box with 64 minutes on the clock. Marcus Kelly stepped up and struck with perfection, only a fine save from ‘vice captain’ Marriott kept the hosts at bay.
Gary Roberts then looked to get on the score sheet with two efforts in quick succession, Lindon Meikle’s weaving ways provided the first of the two chances on 68 minutes, Roberts struck wide off balance from just inside the box. A Luke O’Neill free kick on 61 minutes created Roberts next chance, the creative midfielder drilled over from distance after Ashley Westwood had headed away the set piece.
On 74 minutes a fine flowing move saw Ross Dyer come within inches of grabbing a third. Lindon Meikle was again creator in what was an outstanding performance, collecting in the centre circle a neat burst of pace followed before spreading the game to the left hand side for Green who returned almost immediately. The former Eastwood wide man bobbed and weaved before finding Roberts with an excellent low pass into the middle, Roberts poked through for Green who then flicked to Dyer who fired narrowly over from the edge of the area.
Greens assist proved his final action as Ben Hutchinson came onto partner Rhead upfront, Jon Worthington also replaced Gary Roberts who headed off for some rest ahead of Monday’s home clash with Stockport County.
Seven minutes from time Mansfield wrapped things up, finally striking after a sustained spell of pressure. Luke O’Neill’s deep free kick was the start of the prolonged spell, Ross Dyer held play up on the right before finding Lindon Meikle central who in turn sent Matt Rhead into the box on the left hand side. Rhead battled past Max York but his drilled cross was turned away for a corner. O’Neill’s delivery was then headed out for a throw, which he took and then earned a corner, sending a shot through the crowd when the throw fell back kindly for the young full back. It was from the resulting corner that Mansfield struck, O’Neill’s ball in was perfect – finding Rhead who smashed his header powerfully into the top corner, sending the 877 travelling Staggies into sheer joy, sparking another conga.
Kettering 0-3 Stags
Kettering caretaker player manager Ashley Westwood picked up a booking for something he said to the referee when two Kettering free kicks lead to nothing, he was then heading for an early shower a minute into the three added on, picking up a second yellow following a foul on the advancing Ben Hutchinson. Luke O’Neill’s free kick was flicked into the middle by Rhead, Geohaghon couldn’t wrap thing up though as his back heeled effort was scrambled away.
The Stags did a fourth moments later as Alan Marriott’s long ball down park found Hutchinson in behind the static back four, Hutchinson converted past the keeper but his effort didn’t stand as the offside flag was up and the full time whistle blown, condemning the hosts to relegation and putting the metaphorical Mansfield boot firmly in the play-off door.
Full Time: Kettering 0-3 Stags
Former Stag Luke Jones’ actions for his currently employers Kidderminster saw Stags’ play-off rivals Southport drop to 6th, seven points behind the Stags with four games to play. Richard Brodie's goal for League Leaders Fleetwood prevented York from gaining any ground on us whilst Luton crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Braintree, Billy Gibson’s last minute penalty ensure the Hatters couldn’t grab a late leveller and snatch a point. All round it was a great round of results for Paul Cox’s men whose season just keeps getting better, Monday cannot come quick enough!
As it stands:
Next up it’s Stockport on Monday at Field Mill, join myself and Wayne Briggs for regular updates on 106.9FM only from 2pm – be sure to check out the match preview tomorrow! The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit an article, email email@example.com