On the morning of another game, the disappointing feeling is well and truly back for us Stags fans following Saturday’s last minute U-Turn of emotion as Cox’s men slipped to a 5-4 defeat at Fleetwood.
Mansfield are now without a win in nine league outings, collecting three points from a possible twenty-seven – this is far from the form our Champions hoped for and highlights real danger of slipping into a deep relegation battle rather the ambitious ‘climb the leagues’ form the plan outlined.
Boss Cox has spoken about changes, would fresh faces really do the trick or does the solution or indeed problem, lie deeper than fresh faces in the line-up.
It’d be drastic to change the entire line-up, realistically could it happen? Liam Mitchell seems to have faded away recently with Ian Deakin taking a more regular spot on the subs bench, but again is the inexperienced keeper the right man for the job at the critical point.
At the back, Paul Black is still awaiting his chance at left back whilst George Pilkington played a blinder when filling in a week or so ago alongside John McCombe – Another option is young Ryan Tafazolli who always puts in a shift. With Lee Beevers struggling with illness, Ritchie Sutton is the only other option, he’ll always put in a shift but if Cox wants change, who is there?
I could go on but there’s no point, the perfect brew comes not from change and panic but from the same sense of togetherness and willingness which won us the conference last term and romped to third the previous. Can it be found again or has it already gone – three points tonight will provide the answer.
LAST TIME WE MET
The Stags and the brewers have only ever met twice during the Stags debut season in the conference in which Burton were crowned Champions. The first meeting came at tonight’s venue where Burton ran out 1-0 winners whilst the other at the One Call saw Burton 2-0 winners during the Stags transition period between Billy McEwan and David Holdsworth.
Jamie McGuire again misses out through suspension whilst striker James Alabi heads back to parent club Stoke City following his three game ban. Lee Beevers and Lee Stevenson could be in doubt after being substituted during the 5-4 loss at Fleetwood.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Mansfield’s poor league form continued yesterday as they were narrowly edged out in a nine goal thriller, losing 5-4 at Fleetwood Town.
The Stags experienced a torrid final few minutes of emotions as first substitute Ross Dyer, back following a loan spell with Hereford United, popped up to equalise in the 89th minute as Stags clawed back from 4-2 down before elation turned to heartbreak as seconds after Dyer’s leveller, fellow substitute James Jennings conceded a penalty which was tucked away for the hosts to cruelly steal the points.
It was strange really as the Stags afternoon had already got off to a bad start, a mistake from Anthony Howell not once or twice but thrice gifted the hosts an opportunity in the box, Gareth Evans the one to eventually convert firing Fleetwood in front after a mere twenty seconds.
The Stags weren’t deterred by falling behind and staged a turn-around, Chris Clements grabbed Mansfield’s first ever goal at Fleetwood on nine minutes with a driven free kick right on the edge of the box which curled into the bottom corner. Howell then atoned for his early error by putting the Stags ahead on 15 minutes.
Mansfield’s lead lasted twenty minutes and the equalizer came in gift form as Martin Riley, back in the line-up following injury, gave away a spot kick - Antoni Sarcevic converted by drilling straight down the middle.
After the break Junior Daniel came close to putting the Stags ahead again as he smashed against the bar, however it was the hosts who seemed to put the game beyond doubt with two quick fire goals, first Sarcevic netted his second of the game on 64 minutes with a fine run before Evans netted his second two minutes later to make it 4-2.
Fleetwood didn’t bank on a Stags fight back, Sam Clucas relight the fire with a close range header on 77 minutes before Ross Dyer thought he’d written the headlines in the 89th minute, seeing the ball over the line as a shot came in through the crowd.
Elation for Mansfield at 4-4 soon turned to despair as back down in the Stags box, a last ditch challenge from substitute James Jennings saw the hosts awarded a penalty. Alan Marriott guessed correctly but couldn’t keep out Sarcevic’s second spot kick of the game, meaning the Fleetwood man not only took home the match ball, but also the points for the plucky hosts.
FULL TIME: Fleetwood 5-4 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 2,831 (300 Approximately)
Referee: Scott Matheison
Stags: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster ©, Martin Riley, Lee Beevers (James Jennings 60), Anthony Howell (Ross Dyer 78), Chris Clements, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson (Godfrey Poku 67), Sam Clucas, Ollie Palmer.
UNUSED SUBS: Matt Rhead, Ryan Tafazolli, Lindon Meikle, Ian Deakin.
The 8-1 victory over St Albans Town reignited hope that Paul Cox’s Stags could re-climb the table after a slump in form, however down to ten men last weekend against then second placed Oxford United the result was a forgone conclusion.
Once again, Stags must pick themselves up in the hope of putting together a solid run of form, tomorrow they face Fleetwood Town, a fellow conference Champion looking to spread their wings into the wider world of the Football League.
Fleetwood too have an ambitious chairman at the helm with a young manager who shares said ambitious, the comparison between the two clubs couldn’t be more similar.
Mansfield need to regain their focus, stay tight at the back against an attack which now includes former Nottingham Forest front man Nathan Tyson and boasts the best record in the division.
Defeat against bottom club Northampton last time out may have shaken growing Fleetwood whilst Stags are becoming increasingly desperate to get back to winning ways, without a win in eight league outings – It’s certainly shaping up to be not only a tough physical test, but a test of character as the cold temperature increases to drop and the seasons mould continues to set.
LAST TIME WE MET
The last meeting between these two came in the season when Fleetwood took the conference Champions crown in 2011-12. Stags were on a fantastic run to the play-off’s and a third placed finished but were stopped briefly by Fleetwood who ran out 2-0 winners at Highbury.
Earlier in the season, the Stags were just starting out on their epic romp to third with Fleetwood running away with the top spot. The energy at the One Call was electric and it was the first sign that Mansfield had thrown away the notion of ‘they’ll never achieve anything’. Despite Fleetwood taking the lead midway through the second half, the Stags faithful still kept belief and were rewarded in the final minute as Exodus Geohaghon popped up in front of the Quarry Lane End to thump home a header and earn Paul Cox’s men a deserved point.
One disappointing fact is that, in three meetings at Fleetwood, the Stags have failed to pick up even a draw loosing on all three visits to Highbury. In addition to the 2-0 defeat two seasons ago, earlier that season an illness and injury hit Stags were hammered 5-0 in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay, adding to the previous trips 3-0 defeat in 2010-11.
Paul Cox will be boosted by the return of Martin Riley, Ryan Tafazolli and Chris Clements who all came through 90 minutes in a behind closed doors friendly with Huddersfield which ended in a 4-0 defeat.
Striker Ross Dyer is now back from his loan at Hereford, its yet unknown if Ben Hutchinson or Ollie Palmer will be ok to face Fleetwood after recent injuries, midfielder Louis Briscoe is also out.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations
Mansfield Town failed to relight their season following last Saturday’s 8-1 win in the FA Cup, slipping to a 3-1 defeat against Oxford United playing the majority of the match with ten men following midfielder Jamie McGuire’s sending off.
The Stags were already a goal down before McGuire’s dismissal, the opening goal coming on twelve minutes as the home defence was sliced apart allowing the visitors to get a shot away.
Alan Marriott failed to deal with the effort and spilt the ball straight into the path of Sean Rigg who slotted into the empty net in front of the visiting fans.
Mansfield fought to get back in the game but soon faced an up hill struggle when McGuire appeared to walk off the pitch following a strong challenge, a fight broke out straight after the tackle and it transpires the Stags midfielder was shown a straight red card in the middle of the crowd.
Oxford used the extra man to their advantage and with pace and fluidity calved Mansfield apart, former Stag Johnny Mullins headed over a deep free kick on 36 minutes with Lee Stevenson collecting a yellow card for giving away the set play.
Shortly before the chance, John Dempster required treatment for a head wound which led to eight minutes added onto the first half, in the first of these Lee Stevenson pulled Stags level with a rasping volley following a deep James Jennings free kick. The game was level for all of five minutes as the visitors threw on James Constable, he slotted home unmarked after former Reading midfielder Dave Kitson’s defence slicing pass to put Oxford 2-1 up going into half time.
Jake Speight was recalled from Alfreton prior to the match and, back in the Stags line-up, came closest to again levelling the match as he drew a save from the Oxford keeper, however with a man less Stags were all over the place and the game was put beyond doubt on 65 minutes as Ryan Williams converted from close range after a drilled cut back from the left hand side.
FULL TIME: Mansfield 1-3 Oxford United
Attendance: 3,831 (769)
Referee: Charles Brakespear
STAGS: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, John Dempster (C), Ritchie Sutton, James Jennings (Lindon Meikle 73), Sam Clucas, Jamie McGuire, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson (Keiran Murtagh 84), Jake Speight
UNUSED SUBS: Ian Deakin, John McCombe, George Pilkington, Matt Rhead, Calvin Andrew
It was a relieving feeling on Saturday when Lee Stevenson finally broke the Stags goal curse, what followed too was a surprising burst of energy infront of goal as Cox’s men went onto grab a total of eight goals to romp through to the FA Cup second round, tomorrow though will be a much sterner test as second place Oxford United come to town.
League form has been frustratingly negative of late and tomorrow, hopefully reignited by the eight goal burst and victory, Cox’s men hope to put it right. Oxford are a good footballing side and stretch teams, the commitment and togetherness has to return if we hope to turn a corner.
Naturally there are still problems and errors with injuries, Ollie Palmer and Ben Hutchinson are both injured and with loanee James Alabi still suspended, the strike forced becomes even more stretched. Sam Clucas will be boosted by his four goals last week but can he bare the weight of expectancy? He’ll have back up presumably from Calvin Andrew or Matt Rhead with Lee Stevenson too however it’s almost critical that the partnership is right to break down what is statistically the best defence in the division.
One positive for Stags is the fact both captain John Dempster and right back Lee Beevers are back from suspension, no doubt this will relieve some tension after a few make-shift back lines in recent weeks.
LAST TIME WE MET
In total Stags and Oxford have met 30 times with the last meeting coming in the conference at the end of the 2009-10 season. David Holdsworth’s Stags lost 2-0 to an Oxford side who went onto gain promotion, whilst the reverse fixture at the One Call Stadium saw Stags edge the game 2-1 with Ryan Williams and Jake Speight (who scored again for Alfreton at the weekend mr Cox!) getting the goals.
At the One Call Stags have eight wins and have slipped to just three defeats.
Striker Ollie Palmer joins Ben Hutchinson on the sidelines whilst James Alabi is suspended and coming to the end of his months loan spell. Chris Clements is close to fitness but is unlikely to feature this weekend.
When Darren Locke headed St Albans City into an eighth minute lead yesterday, fans of Mansfield must have wondered if their goal-shy sides luck would ever change. Going into the match Stags were without a goal in 428 minutes so you can imagine the relief when Lee Stevenson slotted home to stop the clock, ending what was a 472 minute spell without a goal to level the FA Cup encounter.
What followed was an outburst of Stags attack as they dumped their part-time non-league opponents out of the cup by eight goals to one, midfielder Sam Clucas the star man bagging half of the Stags goals.
As mentioned, the Stags began skating on Banana Skins as Locke headed an eighth minute David Keenleyside cross beyond a bewildered Alan Marriott. The Stags were rocked by the saints opener and fought hard to respond and end the goal drought, Lee Stevenson the scorer after being restored to the line up after a man of the match performance for the reserves midweek.
Stevenson was teeded up by a low pass from captain Jamie McGuire a minute before the break and after levelling the match, were soon in front as a second goal followed just a minute later – goal scorer Stevenson turned provider for Anthony Howell who converted low to put the Stags ahead.
After the break the Stags showed no mercy on the hosts as they grabbed a third on 70 minutes thanks to Junior Daniel’s well struck tight angled volley, Sam Clucas got the fourth just four minutes later as he curled beyond Paul Bastock in the home goal.
Ollie Palmer added the fifth minutes later with a fine solo effort, twisting and turning from the half way line before driving a low effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
From then it was the Clucas show as he added goals six, seven and eight taking home the match ball in the process. Goal six came on 81 minutes as substitute Lindon Meikle sent Clucas clean through for a simple tap-in, the former Hereford man grabbed his hat-trick five minutes later, this time clipping the keeper from another Meikle pass before right at the death grabbing his fourth and Stags’ 8th of the tie racing through the middle onto a loose ball before cooly finishing.
FULL TIME: St Albans City 1-8 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 3,251 (450 Approx)
Referee: Mark Heywood
Stags: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington, James Jennings (Paul Black 88), Sam Clucas, Jamie McGuire (C), Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson (Lindon Meikle 78), Ollie Palmer (Godfrey Poku 90+1)
UNUSED SUBS: Matt Rhead, Calvin Andrew, Keiran Murtagh, Ian Deakin.
With a stretched defence and a strike force thats failing to deliver having not scored in what seems like an eternity, the last thing Mansfield Town need is to be facing a team from a lower division on there home turf who are hungry for an upset!
Last year during the Stags barron run in October and November, Cox's men stumbled through the FA cup fourth qualifying round at Workington thanks to Jake Speights double - they also scraped through the first round via a replay and penalty shootout. In the FA Trophy they slipped on the banana skin via a replay at Matlock being well beaten and outplayed.
Never underestimate the under-dog. This time around I'm hoping Stags will use there trip back into the unknown as a reality check - buck up your ideas or be back here.No disrespect intended in that statement to St Albans, they are going to give us one hell of a fight for not just the prize money but for the romance, something we witnessed first hand last term. A good cup run can ignite a season which is exactly what's needed right now. Goalless and with a deflating back line, a bit of magic would do us wonders.
Stags are without John Dempster who serves the final game of a three match ban, fellow defender Lee Beevers is also suspended for a match after being booked for the fifth time last Friday.Loanee James Alabi starts a three match ban with fellow hit man Ben Hutchinson also out for at least a month through injury. Martin Riley, Chris Clements and Ryan Tafazolli are also unlikely to feature.
Richard Cooper’s reserve team got back to winning ways last night as goals from Lee Stevenson and Anthony Howell saw off Doncaster Rovers at the One Call Stadium.
With the first team stretched defensively youngsters Ben Birch and Liam Marsden were both given 90minutes whilst left backs Paul Black and James Jennings also slotted into the back four, the latter partnering Birch in the middle and captaining the side.
Stags began brightly and could have had three goals inside the opening ten minutes, Ollie Palmer was denied by a defensive block from Jordan Binns after Lee Stevenson had threaded him through on goal whilst Rovers keeper Jon Maxted also kept out Stevenson who cantered forward after winning possession midway into the Doncaster half. Lindon Meikle also saw an effort go narrowly over, lifting a shot over the bar after Stevenson had again undone the visiting back line.
Palmer came close thrice more whilst midfielder Keiran Murtagh also came close from distance, the Stags eventually broke the deadlock through Lee Stevenson on 39 minutes as he tucked home his third goal in four games for the second string, latching onto Paul Blacks powerful cut back from the left hand side.
Meikle and Palmer had further attempts to double the Stags lead before the break but failed to find the killer touch, whilst after the break the Stags should have had a penalty when Meikle’s effort struck the hand of a Doncaster defender.
The visitors had a rare sight of goal on 50 minutes as Ian Deakin raced out to pressure the on rushing Chris Whincop, the pressure paid off as despite the Rovers man lobbing Deakin, his effort bounced wide of the gaping goal.
Three minutes later the Stags made the visitors miss pay as they doubled their lead, Liam Marsden provided an excellent assist with a right sided sweeping cross, Anthony Howell did the rest swivelling inside the area to drill underneath the despairing dive of Maxted.
Meikle and Howell had further efforts to extend the Stags lead but failed to beat Maxted for a third time, right at the death Stags glovesman Ian Deakin got down low to push behind Whincop’s effort after he broke the Stags back line, Deakin’s save ensuring a clean sheet for Cooper’s men.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-0 Doncaster Rovers
Referee: Michael Scriven
Stags: Ian Deakin, Liam Marsden, Ben Birch, James Jennings (C), Paul Black, Lindon Meikle, Keiran Murtagh, Godfrey Poku, Anthony Howell, Lee Stevenson, Ollie Palmer.
Unused Subs: Jordan Fell [GK], Kevin Hemagou, Jack Thomas, Conor Green, Ross Lamb
(C) @SUFCRootsHall Twitter - Was it over the line?
Mansfield Town’s miserable run continued last night as they were beaten 3-0 by Southend and had debutant loanee James Alabi and defender Lee Beevers both dismissed. Hosts Southend also had Conor Clifford sent off during the first half however in truth, the hosts were well in control from the off.
Paul Cox threw youngster Alabi straight into the mix as one of three changes, the stoke striker came close early on as he turned Ben Hutchinson’s cross wide however he was soon watching on as Anthony Straker converted Kevan Hurst’s 24th minute cross to put the hosts ahead.
Seven minutes later, Alabi went in harsh on the hosts Luke Prosser and was shown a straight red card meaning he’ll now miss the majority of his month’s loan through suspension. The hosts used their man advantage well and could have had a second had it not been for a fine save from the returning Alan Marriott and an expert block from Ritchie Sutton.
With four minutes to go before the break, the numbers were evened out as Calvin Andrew was fouled by Clifford, who followed in the footsteps of Alabi by being shown a straight red card.
Further controversy was to come before the break, Jamie McGuire sent a backwards header to Marriott who appeared to carry the ball over the line and subsequently concede the games second goal with the linesman ruling Marriott had indeed crossed the line with the ball.
Matt Rhead and Sam Clucas were introduced at the interval for Stags who were chasing a two goal turnaround, the duo linked up well and Clucas had a handful of efforts go astray however the majority of the play belonged to the hosts although Mansfield managed not to concede a third.
Their job was made difficult on 89 minutes as Lee Beevers picked up his second booking of the game for a foul on ex Stags man Will Atkinson, inevitably the hosts grabbed their third goal in the fifth minute of five added as Hurts shot deflected beyond Marriott.
Another defeat for Cox’s men see’s them slip to 12th – with Beevers suspended the defence becomes even more stretched ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup match with St Albans whilst the goal drought stretches to an alarming 428 minutes of football.
FULL TIME: Southend United 3-0 Mansfield
Attendance: 4,824 (199)
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington, Calvin Andrew (Sam Clucas HT), Jamie McGuire (C), Jack Blake, Junior Daniel (Lindon Meikle 62), Ben Hutchinson (Matt Rhead HT), James Alabi
Unused Subs: Keiran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, James Jennings, Ollie Palmer
As we move into November, another of our statistical poor months, Paul Cox’s men hope to stop the slump after a poor October which accumulated in late defeat against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
A point would have left fans frustrated having played so well in the opening 25 minutes or so, the manner of the loss left a bitter taste for sure but what has been the most disappointing factor is most definitely the lack of goals.
The Stags are 338 minutes of football, excluding time added on, without a goal – this is the longest goal drought under the guise of Paul Cox. Naturally there are a lot of calls for a return of Matt Green, it was always going to be difficult to replace someone of his talent, however its highly unlikely the goal machine will return and so the constant and ever growing conversations of “Matt Green would of scored that” are verging on annoying.
Paul Cox has to accept we need a new striker and should have done more in the close season to bring one in, he knew Green would be going and struggled to plug that gap. Calvin Andrew excited in pre-season but hasn’t delivered what was expected, is that due to him playing out of position or against a higher standard of opposition? Ollie Palmer is another excellent prospect with the sort of goal scoring record Green departed with having scored 37 in 67 games with Havent & Waterlooville, but were we all expecting too much from a young player whose never played full time football league football before, and on the flip side, how is he ever going to prove his presence if he’s not getting a look in.
Jake Speight, Ross Dyer and Louis Briscoe are all players that can put the ball in the back of the net yet are out elsewhere. Fair enough Louis Briscoe’s injured at the minute after taking a knock on his Nuneaton debut, Ross Dyer’s also on the road to recovery and, like Palmer to balance my argument, hasn’t played league football – however he’s getting a run at Hereford at the minute and has been on the score sheet. Speight is in the similar mould to Green and in the past I’ve criticised him for being a greedy player, yet despite his greed he gets goals and out on loan at Alfreton at the minute he’s already grabbed a handful of goals playing regular football for Nicky Law’s men – there are naturally going to be arguments against all three but it seems strange that whilst we’re struggling for goals and slipping down the table as a result, we have players elsewhere delivering the goods for other clubs. It’s like royal mail loaning out a postman to parcel force – I don’t get it.
Cox has admitted he’s going into the loan market, with Stoke City’s James Alabi set to arrive on loan as I type – another youngster with little experience but a good reputation. Will it solve any problems, we’ll wait and see. I genuinely think Hutchinson can get us goals, maybe pairing him with Palmer and not Rhead would ignite the spark – if we play football on the floor, the penny will drop it’s just that, as we proved on Saturday, we’re too impatient and are far too quick to resort to a direct game.
Tomorrow night against Southend will be another tough test, a mid-table clash against a side used to the evening conditions at Roots Hall. Fingers crossed, Friday night can be our night to stop the slump.
LAST TIME WE MET
Mansfield and Southend haven’t locked horns since the 2004-05 campaign where the Stags took four points from the six on offer. The sides last met at Field Mill where Adam Murray put the Stags ahead on 52 minutes, firing home Ritchie Barkers knock down following Alex Baptise’s deep free kick. The visitors pulled level controversially five minutes later as Murray was unfairly penalized for a late challenge, the resulting free kick was taken quickly and the Stags switched off allowing Gower to blast home.
The reverse fixture saw Stags take all the points at Roots Hall in late December. Loanee striker Paul Warne drilled the Stags ahead midway through the second half, Mansfield rode a late storm to take all the points.
In total, the sides have met 49 times (one cup meeting) with the Stags grabbing 20 wins to Southend’s 16 however on Southend turf, the Stags only have seven wins loosing twelve and drawing the other five.
Captain John Dempster serves the second of a three game ban whilst fellow defender Martin Riley remains side lined with injury. Left back James Jennings is back from suspension after serving a one match ban for five yellow cards, he could go back into the line-up to give us a natural left back however George Pilkington did an excellent job in deputising in what his first appearance in a Stags shirt for over a year.
Ryan Tafazolli may be ok for the bench but a lack of minutes could rule that one out, the same goes for Chris Clements whose still on the road to recovery. As of yet there’s also no news on keeper Alan Marriott who failed a late fitness test last weekend with a back spasm.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.