Craig Priest, Emily Sykes and Wayne Briggs write...
As the closing of the transfer window beckons, we sit here and reflect as giant defender Exodus Geohaghon rejoins from Kidderminster whilst midfielder Godfrey Poku departs without making an appearance for the first team, Poku destination being his former club Southport.
Undoubtedly there will be more player movement as we approach the 11pm deadline, however Paul Cox may not do any more business after capturing his main target. That said who knows the way football works there may well be a surprise or two in store before tomorrow’s game against Woking, which is where our attentions now lie.
There no hiding the fact that Monday’s game was a massive disappointment and a far from acceptable display, something Paul Cox and his playing Staff will be itching to put right. After Wednesday evening’s loss to Port Vale in the reserve league, Cox has plenty of things to mull over following several impressive performances. Before we mention influential Player Assistant Murray, one man worth considering is Ryan Tafazolli the only down side being the former Southampton trainees injury, which he picked up during the match. Another avenue worth exploring is the partnership between Stevenson and Rhead which looked lively until the latter was substituted. Stevenson is a player who after each game has been mentioned by the supporters as “the one we’ve missed” with 90 minutes under his belt could this be a springboard to a first team bow in the 2012/13 campaign.
As mentioned player assistant Adam Murray completed a full 90 minutes against the Valliant’s, as time went on he looked sharper and more confident- it was like seeing the Adam Murray we know and love become slowly reborn onto the hallowed turf, we’ve all said how much his influence has been missed – this showed in our performance on Wednesday. Whether or not the midfielder will be ready for action tomorrow or not is another question, however Paul Cox could be tempted to use his number two as tough tackling midfielder Gary Roberts serves a one match ban. After five games we have collected six points, the exact same amount as this time last term – the only concerning factor this time round is the alarming fact we have already shipped 15 goals this term. Today’s addition of Geohaghon could spark the turning point however for us the move may see us look back to last term rather than forward to this one, this is not a dig at the capture of Geohaghon who brings with him an ora with the fans seem to soak up, one thing’s for sure we need that positive atmosphere back to motivate the players on the pitch.
Tomorrow’s opponents Woking sit one place above us in the table, enduring an indifferent start to life in the conference after three seasons away, collecting two wins and three defeats so far – they too with a sloppy back line conceding 11 so far. Garry Hills boys won the conference South last term by 9 clear points – they gained a tough side to break down loosing just five matches all season keeping 15 clean sheets. This term the Conference South champions have kept the nucleolus of the successful squad, adding a number of promising young players with conference and football league experience.
LAST TIME WE MET
The two sides have met just twice over the course of history, the two matches taking place during the Stags debut season in the conference. At Field Mill as was, the cards ran out 1-0 winners against the Stags, the reverse fixture at the back end of the season a 2-2 draw at the Kingfield Stadium with Rob Duffy netting twice in Mansfield’s final away game of the season, a game which all but sealed Woking’s relegation fate.
New signing Exodus Geohaghon will be in contention for his second Stags debut after rejoining from Kidderminster whilst Tafazolli could miss out after an injury during the reserve game on Wednesday, Tuesday’s home fixture with Tamworth could be a more realistic target.
If you can’t get to the One Call Stadium tomorrow then join Craig Priest and Wayne Briggs for regular updates throughout the afternoon, build up beings at 2pm on our MM-LIVE page and on Takeover Radio 106.9FM.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – To submit a piece email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest writes....
Fixture: Grimsby Town V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #5
Venue: Blundell Park
Date & Time: Monday 27th August 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Mr C Evans
Attendance: 3397 (556)
How to tell the story of yesterday’s trip to Grimsby? How about we turned up, we fell apart, we lost, and we went home – the end! If only it we’re that simple as Stags crashed to their third defeat of the season, thus allowing all the negative energy to come flooding back in – Cox out? Behave.
You know I sometimes wonder why our positive memories are so quick to fade, it’s almost like we’ve forgotten that Paul Cox came in last summer rebuilt the club off the pitch and got us to a solid, comfortable, third place finish on it. Yet the negatives such as November when we failed to win or the amount of draws we picked up or pointless signings we made are at the front of our memories, ok so I may be over writing it a little but the point still remains – why do we wallow in a river of negativeness when we have an ocean of positives?
Yesterday wasn’t acceptable, but it wasn’t as bad as a selection of people make out – we we’re fairly solid until the second goal right on the stroke of the break, had that not gone in we may be talking about three points rather than non. Sometimes the little things get over looked and swept under the carpet, sometimes statements are seen in the wrong way – for example ‘Our Squads too big’ – We have a squad of 32 players with a reserve side to fill, four youth team graduates and two players on the coaching staff, so realistically we have a squad of 26 which then leaves ten players out of a match day 16 which is generally what every club has anyway right? So what’s wrong! ‘The manager doesn’t know what he’s doing’ – how many seasons has he had a poor start but either finished in the play-offs or picked up a cup winners medal? 98% of them, need I go on?! Why is it that whenever things go wrong we want a managerial change, seriously what good is it going to do?
I love this football club, it has given me a purpose in life on a personal level and taught me so many lessons – I want success as much as the next person, what grinds me most is the over reaction to a defeat, just stop and look back at years gone by – what good has change ever done and where has it taken us too? Faith and Belief are needed from the terraces, negative energy from their gets to the players and that gets bad results – be positive, stick with it and the turnaround will come – I can’t believe I find myself writing that after five games, I thought we we’re past that!
I know a lot of you will be stitching Craig Priest voodoo dolls after reading that little rant, before you get the matches out please understand that I am not dressing up the results so far as rosy, clearly things need to change and issues need to be addressed, but that’s the manager’s job and he’s capable of doing it, I say we let him, it could be a lot worse – we could be Kidderminster! Bigger picture and all that... In fact how many points did we have after 5 games last term? Six, how many do we have now? Oh yeah SIX!
Onto yesterday’s game before my ranting nature takes over, Paul Cox made two changes to the side which beat Hyde on Saturday, Louis Briscoe and Matt Rhead we’re swapped for Chris Clements and Jake Speight respectively as a 4-3-3 formation was preferred.
LINE UP [4-3-3] Alan Marriott – Ritchie Sutton – John Dempster – Luke Jones (C) – Junior Daniel – Gary Roberts – Anthony Howell – Chris Clements – Lindon Meikle – Matt Green – Jake Speight
Substitutes: Louis Briscoe – Nick Wright – Matt Rhead – Lee Beevers – Jamie Hand
I have to admit a degree of worry when I saw a 4-3-3 formation as it was clearly weak against Newport and Gateshead, the two defeats, however the additional to Chris Clements in the middle seemed to give us an edge, he started lively and was involved in Mansfield’s first chance of three minutes. Picking up the ball in the middle, he cantered forward well before finding Meikle, the wide man providing the final pass to Speight who, to the left of the box, fired at the keeper.
A series of corners went without a final product for the hosts before the Stags enjoyed a glorious opportunity to take the lead on 17 minutes. Clements was again involved linking up with Roberts in the middle, a trademark pass from him saw Meikle and Green link up on the edge of the box before Speight fired agonisingly into the side netting from an acute angle, again to the left of the area.
A similar phase of play followed two minutes later however this time it was Green who had the final shot, the lively front man curled around the keeper but saw his shot nestle in the side netting rather than land in the back of the net, Anthony Howell influential in the move with a fine defensive challenge on Greg Pearson as the former Burton man troubled on the edge of the Stags box, before a well weighted pass down the left for Speight.
On the half hour mark the Stags earned a corner after another fine passing move between debutant Clements, Lindon Meikle and Jake Speight – Gary Roberts’ delivery was dealt with easily and four minutes later, it was the hosts who grabbed the opening goal. A flowing move down the left saw Derek Niven’s pass find Joe Colbeck, the Mariners wing man nipped pass Junior Daniel before feeding Frankie Artus a pass on the edge of the box, Artus slamming into the top corner as nobody tracked his run or attempted to narrow the angle.
Grimsby 1-0 Stags
The Stags looked to respond well with a series of tough challenges in midfield; one saw Roberts booked on 36 minutes. Mansfield dug deep and pushed forward in search of the games next goal, something that worked on 44 minutes – it’s just a shame it went the hosts’ way. Jake Speight went on a surging run down the left but after losing possession, tracked all the way back with the advancing Colbeck, tripping him in the area for a Grimsby penalty. After Speight received a booking, Mansfield’s 14th of the season, Greg Pearson stepped up to send Marriott the wrong way and double the hosts lead, killing the game in the process.
Grimsby 2-0 Stags
There was barley any time for play to continue and what was looking like a cope-able score line at 1-0 turned into an uphill battle following the penalty, a battle Stags never looked up for – the character that returned against Kidderminster had gone.
HALF TIME: Grimsby 2-0 Stags
Grimsby nearly added a third seconds into the second half however Alan Marriott denied Pearson with a solid low save as the Stags defence were clearly still in the dressing room, at the other end James McKeown tipped over a deep Roberts free kick after the wind had seen the curling cross swerve towards goal, the Stags made little of the resulting corner.
Matt Rhead then replaced Chris Clements on 52 minutes to partner Green up front and push Meikle and Speight wide into a 4-4-2, it made little difference as it was Grimsby who looked the more lively, a fine challenge from Meikle on 54 stopped Colbeck bursting away after a Roberts’ free kick was cleared.
The boo’s for Paul Cox then rang out again on 56 minutes as Jake Speight departed for Lee Beevers, the change in my view obvious, allowing Daniel to move into a more natural attacking position rather whilst trying to stabilise the back four at the same time with plenty of time for a comeback. Daniel nearly did get the Stags a goal within minutes of adopting the left wing role, latching onto a Meikle pass after Sutton had switched play from right to left. Daniel drove forward past Bradley Wood and let a drilled effort go, James McKeown saved well to his credit.
On the hour mark Grimsby added a third as sloppy marking allowed three passes down the right and into the box as Stags sat too deep and remained flat footed – Joe Colbeck grabbed a deserved goal hammering through the crowd from 14 yards, Alan Marriott only able to parry up and into the net with his view well blocked.
Grimsby 3-0 Stags
A fourth was always coming and arrived fifteen minutes after the third from nowhere, a Grimsby corner to the front post saw Pearson loop a header beyond a frankly coma-like Stags defence and into the back of the net.
Grimsby 4-0 Stags
Louis Briscoe then replaced Junior Daniel and provided some slight on the afternoon, teeing up Roberts for a snap shot on 75 minutes, however the script writers never had a comeback on the cards, only more trouble, something which arrived with seven minutes remaining as Roberts lunged in very late on Craig Disley – the result a second booking and first dibs on the hot water.
With five remaining what was left of the 556 travelling fans behind the goal had something to half hearted cheer, Louis Briscoe crossed from deep after battling well to keep the ball in play, Matt Rhead nipped in to head powerful beyond a bemused McKeown – at least we scored.
Grimsby 4-1 Stags
The goal didn’t spark a revival and the full time whistle condemned Stags to their third defeat of the season and also marked the third game out of five where four goals had been shipped, the other seeing three with only one clean sheet – now that one is inexcusable and will be out right for Saturday, I hope!
FULL TIME: Grimsby 4-1 Stags
Poor defending and no real passion or desire to fight after the second goal cost us – I also don’t think the 4-3-3 got the best out of us either. Early on there were glimpses of what could have been but it wasn’t to be – that’s football though, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – football isn’t all blue skies and sunshine, there’s mud and thunderstorms too.
Compared to last year, we are one place lower with the same points total after five games – the one thing we’ve done is stop drawing!! Now to stop losing, conceding silly goals and arguing and all will be well again – bring on Woking!
Pics: Dan Westwell
The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email email@example.com
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow afternoons trip to Grimsby...
Bank Holiday weekends, an extra day off work, a trip to the seaside and an extra game of football – it’s not often Stags fans get all three, however tomorrow’s trip to Grimsby could round off the perfect hat-trick.
Grimsby’s ground sits roughly a mile from Cleethorpes and whilst supporters may opt for a pre-match stroll on the beach, Paul Cox and his players’ minds will be far from feeling the sand underneath their toes and focussed on the green grass of Blundell Park, as they search for a third consecutive victory and another bank holiday double.
After a frustrating start things are turning a corner with two back to back wins, the latter seeing us keep our first clean sheet of the season. Grimsby is always a tough place to go and if the Stags are to keep up their momentum they will have to ensure they are again at their best from start to finish, building on the wider foundations laid at the One Call Stadium yesterday, including the back four which looked a lot more assured throughout.
Grimsby are yet to get off the winning mark but have achieved strong, acceptable draws away to Southport and Wrexham, as well as holding newly promoted Nuneaton to a goalless draw on home soil. Rob Scott and Paul Hurst’s Mariners endured a very poor start last term but a midseason surge saw them an inch away from reaching the play-offs, a phenomenal 15 game unbeaten run saw them rise from 16th to 6th before defeat to champions Fleetwood rocked the boat a little too much and results go sour.
Despite losing a few keys faces in the summer Hurst and Scott have signed a wealth of players with football league experience as they look to drive Grimsby forward. Results so far have seen two clean sheets against strong attacking sides; Cox will need to see a little more bite from his front line after numerous chances went to pass against Hyde yesterday.
LAST TIME WE MET
Last term it was the Stags who took four out of six points against Grimsby, a 2-1 win at the One Call Stadium and a hard fought goalless draw at Blundell Park, a ground which hasn’t been too kind to the Stags down the years – their last victory being in 1987!
Out of the two clubs it’s been Grimsby who have enjoyed the more success against Stags at Blundell Park, notching up 11 victories to our 5 – the other five fixtures all ending level. In total the sides have met 44 times down the years with Mansfield grabbing 18 wins to Grimsby’s 15, a further 11 fixtures have ended all square. Goals have always been a plenty too, 125 have been netted so far with Mansfield netting 64 to the Mariners 61.
Paul Cox has pretty much everyone to choose from with the exception of long term absentees Ross Dyer and player boss Murray. One thing he may want to take into consideration is that Gary Roberts is two yellow cards away from suspension after picking up his third yellow of the season yesterday – a little side note here, after four games the Stags are technically the dirtiest team in the league with 11 bookings and one red.
If you’re not heading to Blundell Park tomorrow join myself and Scott Rogers for full match commentary – build up gets underway from 2pm via our mm-live page.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – To submit a blog email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest writes....
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Hyde FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #4
Venue: One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 25th August 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Charles Brakespear (Walton On Thames)
Attendance: 2203 (64)
After conceding ten goals in the opening three fixtures, the one thing I wanted to see more than most this afternoon was a clean sheet, well after seeing off Hyde 1-0 at the One Call Stadium earlier it’s pleasing to say the defensive performance was much improved from the three previous games.
There we’re improved performances too from Junior Daniel and Anthony Howell, the former taking sponsors’ man of the match after a solid home debut at left back. The back four as a whole kept their shape and we’re a solid unit, keeping one of the hottest properties in non-league in Scott Spencer quiet. In terms of conceding needless and silly set plays, there was much more control over the Stags game, the foundations for Paul Cox to build upon continues to widen ahead of another three tough fixtures with a trip to Grimsby and home encounters with Woking and Tamworth in the coming weeks.
Paul Cox made just one change from last Saturday’s win over Kidderminster, Andy Todd made way for Louis Briscoe as the Stags remained in a 4-4-2 system.
Line Up: Alan Marriott – Ritchie Sutton – John Dempster – Luke Jones (C) – Junior Daniel – Louis Briscoe – Gary Roberts – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle – Matt Green – Matt Rhead
Substitutes: Jake Speight – Nick Wright – Jamie Hand – Chris Clements – Lee Beevers
On an afternoon of indifferent weather it was the Stags that started the brighter, applying pressure from a right-sided throw with the game only 18 seconds old. Ritchie Sutton’s right-sided cross caused havoc, Hyde’s Adam Griffin slicing his clearance up in the air- Matt Rhead’s foul on the keeper the visitors let off.
Three minutes later Louis Briscoe was fouled on the edge of the box, Anthony Howell poking Gary Roberts’ wide after John Dempster had headed back across the box.
So far this term Mansfield had failed to register the first goal of the game, however on five minutes this curse was broken. Louis Briscoe won back possession on the half way line and sent a crisp pass down the right hand side which Matt Green latched on to. The dangerous hit man drove his way into the area and tucked home his third of the season with a strong finish to put Mansfield ahead.
Stags 1-0 Hyde
The Stags should have doubled their lead almost immediately, as a series of corners saw John Dempster and then Matt Rhead both came close. At the other end Alan Marriott got down low to deny Scott Spencer after Matthew Blinkhorn played a splitting pass.
The Stags remained in control and were inches away from doubling their advantage on 18 minutes. Alan Marriott’s free kick from deep found its way to Briscoe via a clever pass from Anthony Howell, Briscoe’s first time cross sat perfectly for Green who headed narrowly wide from close range.
A minute later captain Luke Jones conceded a free kick on the edge of the Mansfield box. Alan Marriott has no trouble in collecting Phil Jevons’ well hit dead ball.
Lindon Meikle was sublime in the victory over Kidderminster last weekend, however on 27 minutes he was left with his head in his hands after missing a golden opportunity. Junior Daniel and John Dempster paired up well to defend and attempted high breakaway, the latter delivered from deep towards Matt Rhead who nodded down for Matt Green. The goal scorer turned well before teeing up Meikle who then hooked over from six yards.
With a minute to go before the break John Dempster headed over from a Gary Roberts corner, The Stags heading into the dressing room one goal to the good at half-time.
HALF TIME: Stags 1-0 Hyde
It was again a bright start for The Stags, Louis Briscoe struck wide from distance before Anthony Howell saw a shot cannon away. On 50 minutes Anthony Howell and Gary Roberts combined to feed Matt Green into the box, despite tight control Hyde managed to scramble the ball away.
As the hour mark came and went Jake Speight was introduced for Matt Rhead, however the lively front man could only watch on as Phil Jevons broke through the middle for the visitors. Despite a momentarily lapse in concentration The Stags were spared their blushes as Matt Blinkhorn fired wide.
On 73 minutes Jake Speight couldn’t believe his luck as he was denied thrice by the visiting keeper, after Lindon Meikle had sent in a teasing cross from the left.
Jamie Hand then made his Mansfield debut with 12 minutes left as he replaced Louis Briscoe, his pass on 83 minutes saw Matt Green flagged marginally offside. With a minute remaining Nick Wright replaced Matt Green in attack, The Stags seeing out the remainder of the game to collect all three points and a well deserved clean sheet.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-0 Hyde
The Stags now move on to Bank Holiday Monday were they face a trip to Grimsby in a 3pm kick-off, those of you not going to the Cleethorpes based outfit can catch full match commentary via our MM-live page from 2pm.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email email@example.com
Craig Priest Previews Tomorrow’s home encounter with Hyde FC...
The one thing I’ve enjoyed about following my beloved Stags so far over our conference journey is facing new teams. When I come to pen my memories of following the Stags my fondest will always be discovering new teams and new places, take for example Northwhich Victory, Salisbury and Beautiful Barrow. Whilst tomorrow may not be a road trip to a new place, it’s still a new face, a new team – as for the first time in our history we take on Hyde FC.
Founded in 1885, Hyde have spent their entire footballing life in the non-league pyramid and now are higher than they’ve ever been before after taking the Blue Square Bet North by storm last term, finishing top of the table by a five point margin having lost just six games all season – getting out of the blocks quicker than Usain Bolt collecting a maximum of 30 points from their opening ten games! I’ll talk more about Hyde later on though as my attention now turns back to us and how we approach the game after yet another week of vastly different opinions.
Paul Cox was subject to numerous boo’s when he withdrew Matt Green for Nick Wright during our last match at Kidderminster, whilst the eventual victory will over shadow that I still can’t get my head around why it happened. It’s not just the booing to be honest, it was the whole negative vibe that I was personally starting to feel from the terraces all because we’d lost two on the spin, had a bit of a leaky defence which made some silly mistakes and not picked up from where we’d left off last term – As I said before you can’t move forwards whilst looking backwards. Not in any way is this a dig at the fans, I’ll just always have the ‘negativity gets you nowhere’ philosophy and after two games (prior to Kidderminster) I just felt that we needed to take a step back and look at what stage we’re actually at.
Moving on, another philosophy which is currently on my mind at the minute is, never change a winning team. I said we had foundations to build upon after Saturday’s victory and still sick by that as we head into the match with Hyde tomorrow afternoon, however with Jamie Hand back from suspension and new addition Ryan Tafazolli fighting for a start, Cox could be in for another tough team selection. Andy Todd was instrumental on Saturday and influenced to full effect, for me it’s his place which is the major gamble – If you take him out of the picture do lose that bite, fighting desire and command from the side – I personally feel we can’t afford too loose that yet, what we didn’t have on a constant basis through pre-season was a settled 11, we need to have that as the season’s opening month draws to a close. Last night I was having a debate over Todd as a player with him getting heavy criticism much to my annoyance – sometimes in football you need players who maybe don’t spend much time on the ball but are influencing constantly – Todd fits that description.
The problem is a few people follow the ball and not the shape and game in general; it’s because of this people like Todd get criticism – some people think that because a player spends little time on the ball it makes them a bad player, that’s far from the truth. It’s the same with Ritchie Sutton who I spoke highly of last week, because people saw Riley & Geohaghon on the ball more last term they discredited the efforts of Sutton who worked tirelessly to bellow instructions to the duo, study the opposition and keep things tight – When Marriott captained last term in Murray’s absence, Sutton was the one to relay the messages, Sutton was the one to pull the off ball strings and rally the troops when things weren’t sailing smoothly. Andy Todd does exactly the same, it was he that stood up and made the be counted after we conceded the second, it was he that said relayed messages and got the unseen jobs done – the comment that he looked poor and very tired was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, Todd could play six games in a day and still have energy in the tank to push Mo Farah to the finish line!
Before I lapse off into rant mode, if I haven’t already, I should move on – I personally think that Todd should keep his place and will do as good a job as others, however as much against a tinker to the formation and shape I am, I think one could benefit us against Hyde – maybe 4-2-3-1 to introduce Stevenson and Speight. I spoke of foundations to build upon, the defence is where we start – in my opinion we got caught a little too often at left back last weekend with Junior Daniel a more attack minded player (nothing wrong with that by the way!) so I’d be sending Ritchie Sutton across there to again command that area leaving Dempster and Jones as the centre half pairing as, as time grew, they formed a good pair. At right back with Sutton switching full back roles I’d introduce John Thompson for his first start of the season – his style stops wingers in their tracks and stops players from running through which is exactly what Hyde try and do and how they won the BSBN last term with the likes of Scott Spencer, who score 32 goals in 36 starts last season, the one likely to be a handful. Before you jump on my back, I like Anthony Howell and want to make it clear I’m a big fan of his and have been won over by his work rate since his second arrival last summer; it’s a close call between him and Roberts to make way for Jamie Hand in a defensive midfield two – I think I’d alternate between the three over this bank holiday weekend with Roberts getting the nod tomorrow as Hyde are, from what I’ve seen and read, are weak when teams play hard, quick and low.
Hyde tend to marshal there own box in the air but struggle in the wide areas especially against pace – it’s because of this I’d have to sacrifice Todd for Meikle wide right with Speight going to the vacant left, that said Todd would fit the role perfectly and could even be a contender for a more deeper role. In the middle, Stevenson is a no brainer, his creativity in that hole will have Hyde stretched and create gaps for Speight and Meikle to exploit. As the central front man, I don my tin hat as I pick Matt Rhead over Matt Green! A brave statement, Green has pace and can finish and I rate him very VERY highly – however Matt Rhead has this articulate nature, he’s strong where ever you play him the ball and will run across the front line all day, the trouble he could cause and the way Hyde defend, doubling up on players, could open no end of gaps for Stevenson, Meikle and Speight to exploit and punish to full effect. We need to be ruthless at home and take on a bullishness nature – I think in what could form a 4-2-1-3 formation, Rhead suits that more than Green, it’s time for us to share the burden before we become too Matt Green reliant.
The wonderful thing that you’ll all agree with now is I’m not Paul Cox and I don’t pick the team, I think Cox demonstrated that we can win and play without Green during Saturday’s game and I think he’ll do it again soon. Hyde we’re promoted as worthy champions last term playing the style of football I’ve just described, not only did they keep things firm at home they travelled extremely well and picked up points at all but five grounds on the road last term under the management of Gary Lowe, a trait new boss Scott McNiven will be keen to replicate.
The former Stags right back took the reins of newly promoted Hyde when Lowe stepped down after reading the tigers to promotion, he has strengthened the awarding winning side with numerous free transfers including the recent addition of Matthew Blinkhorn from York City, he scored Hyde’s only goal in their recent 2-1 defeat to Luton. Fleetwood midfielder Stefan Cox and AFC Telford centre half Robbie Williams have also joined the Hyde ranks along with McNiven’s twin brother David as Hyde look to stay safe in their debut season at the top of the non-league pyramid. With regular money from Premier League champions Manchester City and a link with the blues, Hyde are one of those rare stable clubs with a seemingly bright future – so long as City’s Elite Development Squad continue to use Ewan Fields as a base Hyde will not only have a stable income but presumably the first dibs at the talent being breaded through the premier league champions ranks. So far two draws and a defeat are on the board for McNiven’s side, he’ll be hoping for a victory against his former employers tomorrow.
LAST TIME WE MET
As mentioned above tomorrow’s match will be the first meeting between the two sides in a league fixture and as far as I can tell, any competition at all whether it be cup or friendly. One thing you can guarantee is a tough game tomorrow and again donning the tin hate, I need to say that we as a club need to approach the game with the same level of professionalism as usual – over confidence and under estimation will be out greatest downfall.
Let’s stick by whatever side Cox puts to the field and support them from start to finish; it’s true that our success last term was largely down to the noise and atmosphere at the One Call Stadium, time to start that up again.
Jamie Hand has now completed his prolonged four game ban after being sent off in Hayes & Yeading’s penultimate match of last season against Lincoln City whilst Lee Beeers one match ban for a second yellow at Gateshead is now completed, they’ll both be in contention for selection.
Another in the frame is Paul Cox’s latest addition Ryan Tafazolli who arrived on Monday. The 20 year old came through the ranks at Southampton and has had a spell lower down the non-league ladder in recent years with Salisbury City, a tall player who likes a challenge; he’ll be battling for a debut and could add yet more sturdiness to the defence.
Fellow young defender Jobe Shaw could be set to debut for Shepshed Dynamo after joining them on a month’s loan earlier today whilst Ross Dyer remains sidelined with injury.
It will be a personal special landmark tomorrow as I’ll pick up my 100th game collectively for Takeover and Mansfield Matters, they’ll be no celebrations though beside at full time with three points, hopefully, in the bag.
Join me for regular updates via our MM-LIVE page from 2pm.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – To submit a blog email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest Reports....
Fixture: Kidderminster Harriers V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #3
Venue: Aggborough Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 18th August 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Joss Joyce (Teeside)
Attendance: 1770 (400)
It certainly feels refreshing to be sat here talking about a victory however I can’t help but admit that six minutes into yesterday’s match I was sat cursing our luck, wondering if things would ever get better as we conceded from yet another set piece. Despite levelling the game two minutes before the break I still felt the game would turn away from us again and was right. At 2-1 down I was again beginning to sigh heavily until Lindon Meikle levelled the game on 60 minutes, there was just something about our body language at that goal which made me feel something inside burn from negative to positive, in the end it really was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the Stag!
Prior to yesterday’s game we we’re one point worse off than that stage last term (after two games) and there was a lot of negative thoughts and panic, now after three games we’re one point better off – kind of makes all that negitiveness pointless now doesn’t it – football’s won and lost over the course of a season rather than one afternoon!
I refuse to let it lie there as a few of you may say I’m painting a far too positive picture, I’ll hold my hands up and say it wasn’t encouraging in places but the important thing bar the victory, is that we’ve laid foundations to build on. There’s nasty rumour doing the rounds about Pilkington and Cox, I won’t elaborate on them nor intensify them but what I will say is that yesterday’s team selection proved that Cox will never pick anybody on merit or by status, captain or not he has to work like everyone else, he’ll have a tough job to move John Dempster out of the side, he one of four fresh faces yesterday and one of several players I can pick out that demonstrated something we’ve clearly lost over the past two games: Character.
Dempster came in to partner Jones, who donned the captains armband against his twice former employers, the former Crawley defender helped provide solidness at the back and as the game went on the duo gelled and reduced the Harriers to long range pot shots. I watched the pair closely, especially Jones whose been subject to heavy criticism, between them the win rate of headers inside their own half was roughly 85% - when a header was lost the other was there reading the game and covering, it was very rare the Harriers had opportunity to capitalize. Fair enough it wasn’t perfect and there’s definite room for improvement but again it’s a foundation to build upon.
The other names that helped assure us where again fresh faces, the first was player coach Andy Todd who played a right wing role. He helped stabilize the midfield with a number of challenges and encouraging runs, I watched him after we conceded the second and he rallied the whole team and was involved in 90% of our attacks as we looked to again pull level, his reaction with Murray after our third was exactly the one we’ve been looking for – passionate – for those who are suggesting dropping him in favour of Briscoe or Speight I can see your view point but I urge you to back Todd and just study the impact he has on the team off the ball. The other name was one I mentioned in the preview, Ritchie Sutton. Replacing Beevers at right back, he came in and made us solid down the right, if you we’re too watch the DVD back, I wouldn’t be far wrong when I say the number times Kidderminster got past Sutton for a cross was below five – it’s a shame the same can’t be said for the opposite side, maybe Sutton can go an influence that area and make a space for Thompson to come in at right back.
As mentioned Paul Cox made four changes to the line up to face Kidderminster, one in forced. Ritchie Sutton replaced the suspended Lee Beevers, John Dempster replaced captain George Pilkington at the heart of defence with Andy Todd on the right hand side of midfield replacing Jamie Tolley and Matt Rhead coming in to partner Green up front in favour of Andy Owens, Junior Daniel slotted in at left back.
Line Up [4-4-2]: Alan Marriott – Ritchie Sutton – Luke Jones (C) – John Dempster – Junior Daniel – Andy Todd – Gary Roberts – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle – Matt Green – Matt Rhead
Substitutes: John Thompson – Jake Speight – Louis Briscoe – Nick Wright – Chris Clements
The hosts kicked off but immediately found themselves on the back foot as Lindon Meikle intercepted James Vincent’s pass through the middle, taking the ball down the left the lively wide man slotted in Green who proceeded to round the keeper. Despite a heavy touch allowing the hosts to get back, Green still managed to win a throw in however the Stags failed to do anything with it.
Steve Burr’s Kidderminster had so far failed to score prior to the game, on six minutes they looked to change things as former Stags midfielder Keith Briggs played a neat, but unintended ball, to the edge of the box for James Vincent – his effort with the outside of his right boot forced Marriott into an acrobatic save, conceding a corner – yeah you guessed it, from which the Harriers scored. Marvin Johnson delivered a sweet left footed out swinger which saw the Stags fail to track the run of Jack Byrne who leapt high to nod forcefully into the back of the net.
Kidderminster 1-0 Stags
Four minutes later a late challenge from Gary Roberts saw him go into the referee’s book before the harriers registered another effort. Luke Jones thought he’d done enough to clear the danger with a dominant header away, Anthony Howell was disposed picking up the second ball by Vincent whose shot cannoned away of a red shirt. The ball fell into the path of Ryan Rowe who fizzed an effort well wide of the target from 20 yards.
At the other end Matt Green had opportunity to bare down on goal on 16 minutes, after Gary Roberts had played a delightful chip over the top. The goalkeeper got just enough on the ball to divert it away before Geohaghon hoofed clear, the Stags kept on the pressure though as Andy Todd collected on the half way line, driving forward before delivering a cross to Rhead who was inches away from connecting at the front post.
Alan Marriott was then the saviour for the Stags as Kidderminster’s Ryan Rowe raced through, Marriott out of his box to smash the ball away before Rowe could latch onto the clearance on 24 minutes, four later it was the Stags’ turn to trouble. Gary Roberts held up well in the middle before sending Ritchie Sutton on his way down the right, it was his strong cross towards the back stick that caused trouble with Rhead nodding back across the box from the far post. Anthony Howell then steamed in to head towards goal, Harriers’ shot stopper Danny Lewis picking the ball out of the air.
Lindon Meikle then thought he’d levelled the game on 32 minutes after Matt Green had flicked the ball up into the air following a Rhead flick. Meikle tapped into the empty net but only after the referee had awarded the hosts a free kick following a foul on the goal keeper by Green, thus the goal ruled out.
Moments later the goalkeeper stood tall to deny a Matt Green chip before Matt Rhead headed wide from a clipped cross from the advancing Junior Daniel down the left hand side with 37 minutes on the clock.
Mansfield’s determined attitude then saw them level proceedings with two minutes to go before the break as Exodus Geohaghon fouled Matt Green on the left hand touchline. Gary Roberts delivered a fine free kick towards Rhead at the back post, Rhead’s dominant header was saved well by the keeper but proved too hot to handle, the loose ball falling for Green who stroked home from close range.
Kidderminster 1-1 Stags
A late Geohaghon throw, the first of the game, caused no bother for the Stags who headed clear and at the half time whistle the teams went it all square.
HALF TIME: Kidderminster 1-1 Stags
The hosts registered half an effort with a free kick a minute into the second half however it was the Stags who started the brighter with Junior Daniel winning back possession on the left before switching play to Andy Todd. His right sided cross was just too quick for both the Matt’s before Meikle picked up on the left. The wide man’s curling cross was headed into the mix by Green but scrambled away by Mike Williams.
Despite Mansfield’s pressure it was again the Harriers who took the initiative on 51 minutes as a well weighted pass down the left hand side caught Junior Daniel out of position. Ryan Rowe played a low pass inside for Marvin Johnson, whose effort from the edge of the box took a slight deflection to go beyond Marriott and restore the hosts lead.
Kidderminster 2-1 Stags
Kidderminster searched for a third from a corner on 55 minutes however Alan Marriott was equal to Marvin Johnson’s delivery and five minutes later, the Stags came alive as cometh the hour, cometh the fight back. Kidderminster were pressuring however Luke Jones remained calm to volley away the danger, Matt Rhead dropped deep to pick up the loose ball and it’s in that moment where the Stags finally found their life. Rhead controlled tightly before playing a splitting pass through the middle for Green to race onto. The deadly front man found himself baring down on goal and skipped the challenge of the keeper and covering defender Rob Austin. With the angle against him he played Meikle inside and, after dancing out of trouble, squeezed home the leveller from a tight angle.
Kidderminster 2-2 Stags
Refreshed from the goal the Stags looked to kick on and take the lead, Andy Todd playing a well weighted pass for Roberts on 64 minutes. The creative midfielder showed good pace to get on the end of the pass but failed to pick out the onrushing Meikle as the hosts got back to clear their lines well. The Stags then had a further two chances in as many minutes, first Matt Rhead cut in from the left and saw his shot palmed away before Andy Todd struck narrowly wide from the edge of the box on 66 minutes to earn a corner – Gary Robert’s out swinger glancing off the head of Rhead and out for a goal kick.
Mansfield we’re beginning to dominate and it was an old favourite who became the villain in the Stags’ eyes as Geohaghon raced back to clear an Anthony Howell shot on 68 minutes before Andy Todd earned another corner. Lindon Meikle was then denied from distance two minutes later.
Paul Cox was then subject to a torrent of boos as he withdrew the lively Green for Nick Wright with half an hour left to go. With eight minutes left to go the Stags sent 400 travelling fans into delight as a fine break away saw the pressure finally pay off. Ritchie Sutton sparked the move with a dominant clearance from right back, Matt Rhead nodding down to Meikle. The wide man played a central ball for Wright who, in an offside position, stood clear but held off the defender allowing Meikle to burst into the box, round the keeper and smash into the top corner with his left boot.
Kidderminster 2-3 Stags
Harriers substitute Nathan Blissitt then drove into Marriott’s hands from the restart however it was again Wright and Meikle who linked up down the left, this time Meikle denied a hat trick as he drove into the side netting after skipping the challenge of ex stag Keith Briggs in the 85th minute.
With a minute left it was Geohaghon who caused havoc for the hosts, his trademark long throw had Stags on the back foot, however Alan Marriott collected via the head of skipper Luke Jones, the full time whistle signalling the end of a game in which Mansfield improved with time.
FULL TIME: Kidderminster 2-3 Stags
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Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s trip to Kidderminster....
A week ago I sat here looking forward to the season ahead, my head full of hopes and dreams of success after success, the truth is football isn’t like that at all and one week on and two games in, we still go in search of our first point of the season – heading for Kidderminster second from bottom in the league standings.
We are in a vicious cycle at the moment as defeat leads to frustration and frustration leads to defeat – it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we are only one point worse off than this time last term and ended up in a comfortable third placed finish. To quote Jonesy from Dads Army: DON’T PANIC! We can and WILL turn around our “bad form” and progress to where we want to be, football is not all blue skies and sunshine – if you’re not prepared to be dragged through mud and thunderstorms then you’re following the wrong sport in my opinion.
It’s clear to me what, or more pacifically WHO, we are missing – Adam Murray. I said it in my match report on Wednesday and have had numerous conversations about him on my social networking pages this week – his desire, love, willingness and work rate to name a few things are what’s missing from our side, the unfortunate thing is he’s injured and very unlikely to feature at all this season and so we can’t have him on the pitch. The same kind of applies for Martin Riley and Exodus Geohaghon who we’re at the heart of our defence during the play-off run last term – I’ve heard no end of people saying we should try swap deals to get them back or saying ‘that wouldn’t happen if Ex and Riles we’re here’ fact is, they are now with Wrexham and Kidderminster respectively and not us – sorry to be harsh to a few of you but it’s time we dealt with the fact they are NOT our players any more, they are a thing of the past and we should not only accept, but support who and what we’ve got now.
I know I’m breaking my own rule by talking about forgetting last season’s players and then babbling on about the one point difference and I apologise for that but I hope you see that what I’m trying to say and remind everyone of is a lesson we keep forgetting to learn: If you’re constantly looking back as you try and walk forward, your destined for a fall – be grateful of what you’ve experienced, thrive on its memory and just what you’ve got in that moment to walk on to greater things.
Yes we have been making very silly mistakes and they have cost us eight goals so far but we have the individuals and the work ethic somewhere deep inside to put it right. Last term we we’re struck by devastating injuries and had to bring in new faces from elsewhere to shore things up – we can do that now from within, Paul Cox could name practically an entirely different eleven tomorrow afternoon and it would still ooze quality – yes we do have that in our ranks, it’s just about ripping up the page and starting again.
Kidderminster are a very strong side and like us will be disheartened by their start to the season following a 6th placed finished last term, losing out on a play-off spot on the final day of the season because of defeat to us and the Luton result. Their side last term included Luke Jones at the heart of one of the best defences in the division and Nick Wright leading the way for one of the best attacking teams in the league – both are now with us and both capable of producing the goods given the chance. Despite losing the aforementioned duo to us along with other key players such as keeper Tony Breeden (Tamworth) and defenders Michael Briscoe (AFC Telford) and Tom Marshall (Tamworth) they’ve added solid players such as Geohaghon, Keith Briggs and Ryan Austin to their side as they look for a play-off chasing campaign once more. An opening day defeat to Lincoln City and a midweek home loss to Luton has seen them in the same boat as us, asking questions and wondering ‘what if’ – I think tomorrow’s game will be like a new start for both teams and only the team prepared for a war will win the game but progress from it and despite all this negative vibe I’m annoyingly feeling, my heart tells me it will be us.
Paul Cox won’t be afraid to make changes and throw the odd curve ball, once again I’ve no clue about who will play and must stress that whoever is picked, and I’ll trust Cox’s judgement. That said I still have my opinions on who should be involved and I’ll be honest, the first name on the team sheet for me would be Ritchie Sutton. The 26 year old is in my opinion always over looked when it comes to praise, when ever people speak about last season’s defensive turn around post Christmas (which included a further seven appearances for John Dempster) they very rarely mention Sutton who, from New Years Day onwards, started in every game bar Kidderminster on the season’s final day where he was rested but used as a substitute for Luke O’Neill. Sutton was key to the tightness of that impressive back four for me; I’d go as far to say as that he may have even been more key than Geohaghon who now skippers Kidderminster. Playing out position at left back for the majority of that post Christmas run he tightened up a problematic area and commended the box defending set pieces – he is a player that puts his body on the line, playing with guts and guile, there’s an assertiveness about his play and his demeanour within the squad – something I personally feel we’ve missed so far, I spoke about missing Murray’s influence on the pitch I think Sutton can not only be spoken off in the same way but could be the one to fill the role, not as skipper I grant you, but certainly to replicate the vibe I’ve spoken of.
Another name I’ve half mentioned is John Dempster, for me he’d be in alongside Jones with Pilkington the unfortunate one to miss out – a tough call considering he’s captain but I personally feel that Jones offer’s more dimensionally that what Pilkington does if it was a balancing act of replacing either Pilks of Jonah with Dempster. Lee Beevers is obviously suspended so right back is an area that will see a change, Sutton would be ideal although I’d like to see him at left back and the steadiness of Thompson in the right back role with him taking the captaincy. Yes we’d lose the long throw of Owens and wouldn’t be able to fight fire with fire as we know Geohaghon’s going to be launching them in all afternoon long – the beauty of that is we not only know what to expect and how to deal with it, but we also know how to counter from it and be a more flexible unit. In the middle it’s clear a 4-3-3 hasn’t worked and it would be a straight tossup between a flat 4-4-2 and an attacking 4-2-3-1 to incorporate Lee Stevenson – I’d be in favour of the latter as we did this in pre-season and it worked wonders, why we changed to a 4-3-3 in the first place and lost Stevenson in the first place is beyond me!
Last Time We Met:
When Kick off arrives tomorrow it will have been three months and thirteen days since these two last locked horns on the final day of the 2011-12 season, with Kidderminster needing a victory and a Luton slip up to get the final play-off space. Despite the Stags making seven changes ahead of the play-off showdown between either Luton or York, depending on the afternoon’s outcomes, they put in a classy performance running out comfortable 3-0 winners. A red card for Lee Vaughn, serving the last of his three match ban tomorrow, seconds into the second half saw the start of Kidderminster’s stumble before the Stags netted through Lee Stevenson, Louis Briscoe and substitute Matt Green whose strike was his 30th of the season.
The reverse fixture at the One Call Stadium or Field Mill as was back in September saw them running out 3-0 winners ending an eight game unbeaten run which ironically began after a heavy defeat at Gateshead in our second fixture of the season!
The sides first met on Boxing Day 2000 at Aggborough, the Harrier’s running out 1-0 victors. In total tomorrow’s hosts have grabbed a further five wins against the Stags who edge the wins column 7-6 with only three draws occurring over the course of 16 meetings so far. At Aggborough it’s tight however it’s the hosts with the slightly better fortune with 4 wins to our three, only one draw has been played out, the 1-1 meeting in September 2001.
Paul Cox will be without the services of Lee Beevers who serves his one game ban for his midweek dismissal at Gateshead, crunching midfielder Jamie Hand also serves the final match of a four game ban for a straight red card picked up during the penultimate game of last season whilst playing for Hayes and Yeading United.
Ross Dyer and player-assistant Adam Murray are the two on the injury list, with everyone else bar youth graduates Adam Somes (knee) and Scott Rogers (commentary duty! / knock in training) available for selection. As mentioned above the contenders for right back will be Sutton and Thompson, however I wouldn’t be ruling out a start for player-coach Andy Todd either.
If you’re unable to get to the game then join myself and Scott Rogers for full match commentary which follows build up from 2pm. Again the show will be broadcast on Takeover Radio 106.9FM and via our popular MM-LIVE page – interact throughout by tweeting @mtfcmatters or texting 07982 865 624 texts cost no more than your standard network rate.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – To submit a piece email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest Reports....
Fixture: Gateshead FC V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #2
Venue: The Gateshead International Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 14th August 2012 – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Darren Handley (Bolton)
Attendance: 801 (Approx 200)
Depending what route you take, it is possible to get to Gateshead FC via the infamous Angel of the North. Fair enough it’s the scenic route but still it’s possible, I’m just wondering though if Angels we’re real, that would mean Devils are too right? Metaphorically speaking I think the Stags’ devil lies in Gateshead as last night for the third season on the spin we had a player sent off and for the second season running, crashed to defeat in our first away match of the season.
The defeat has left Paul Cox seething and quite rightly so, Saturday was entirely different as that performance was one of fight, passion, desire and commitment – last night these words and feelings to 80% of our players was an alien concept as we fell to a 4-1 defeat to put us second bottom of the table after two matches.
There is of course no need to panic or do anything stupidly rash, those calling for the manager to be sacked are way off the mark and the comments saying he’s the worst manager we’ve ever had (yes I’ve seriously seen this comment made in the past 12 hours) I refer you to last season and the progress we made! I have faith in Paul to make the changes that clearly need making, he’ll know what areas need to see improvements and he’ll go out and make them as he showed during the game last night.
At full time I sat at the top of the stand looking down on the pitch obviously hurting by the defeat and the negative mannerisms we displayed, trying to think of what we’re missing. It’s clear that we are poor defending set pieces six of the eight we’ve conceded over the course of two games have been from set plays, it’s also clear that the three in midfield hasn’t worked in defensive phases as Newport and Gateshead respectively have exploited space. The thing I think we’re missing most though is passionate leadership, George Pilkington was an excellent choice of captain and comes with a wealth of experience, however I really think we’re missing the passion, drive, energy, work rate and desire of Adam Murray in the middle.
Yes he’s on the touchline as the gaffers right hand man but the same, watching him closely you’ll see he still has all those qualities and displays them in the technical area but not on the same scale as being over the white line in the midfield battle. I’m by no means knocking the appointment of Muz as assistant boss, anyone that knows me will known that Muz is one of my heroes, what I am saying is that his presence on the pitch is missed and that if he was match fit, he’d be back as the first name on the team sheet. It’s a huge shame in my opinion that he probably won’t feature, his boots on the pitch would be difficult to fill but I think we need too – again I reiterate that I’m not worried with just two games on, I am however a little comprehensive and nervous that we may fall into the wrong groove. Remember that old saying, Together Everyone Achieves More? Let’s be sure we don’t break that eh.
Moving onto last night’s match and Paul Cox made just the one change to the line up handing a debut to Junior Daniel (real name Colin but has asked to be referred too as Junior in the media and in person), he replaced Ross Dyer who awaits further news on his injury – striker Matt Rhead returned from holiday to take the vacant seat on the bench.
Line Up [4-3-3]: Alan Marriott – Lee Beevers – George Pilkington (C) – Luke Jones – Andy Owens – Gary Roberts – Jamie Tolley – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle – Matt Green – Junior Daniel
Substitutes: John Thompson, Jake Speight, Nick Wright, Chris Clements, Matt Rhead.
It was a lively start for both sides at the Gateshead international stadium last night on what was a warm evening. It was the visiting Stags that pressured first with a lovely flowing move on three minutes sparked by Gary Roberts. The creative midfielder drove his way forward central before playing the ball wide to the advancing Lee Beevers who then sent Meikle on his way down the right channel. Meikle held up well and drove at Paddy Boyle before seeing his cross float away for a goal kick.
Several crosses for both sides fizzled out before the game got interesting on the eight minute mark as a long throw from Gateshead Chris Bush caused danger. A snap shot from the edge of the box as Stags allowed Gateshead to pick up the second ball with flat footed defending saw Liam Hatch fire a shot towards goal. Luke Jones got in a strong block before Andy Owens slammed away for a throw. Chris Bush launched long and the Stags failed to track the run of Liam Hatch, Alan Marriott produced a fine save to palm away for a corner from which Jones was on hand to send Carl Magnay’s volley ballooning over the bar for a second corner. The Stags failed to learn their lessons and didn’t track the run of Liam Hatch who netted from the far post from Josh Gillies’ corner to put the hosts ahead.
Gateshead 1-0 Stags
The Stags then searched for a response with Howell, Tolley and Roberts playing some quick one touch football, the move came to a half as the linesman’s offside flag was raised against the run of Matt Green. A 15th minute cross from Andy Owens failed to test the water and two minutes later, Paul Cox decided enough was enough, withdrawing Jamie Tolley for Jake Speight as the Stags dropped the failing 4-3-3 in favour of a disciplined 4-4-2.
As Speight’s introduction had everyone questioning if it were a case of a poor Tolley showing (hardly relevant as he’d touched the ball no more than three times) or a change of tactics, the Stags won a free kick just over the half way line from which they levelled the game. George Pilkington delivered from deep, taking over set piece duty from Owens after a series of wayward balls, Luke Jones leapt highest at the far post to nod beyond Adam Bartlett in the Heed goal.
Gateshead 1-1 Stags
From the restart Stags looked refreshed and looked to grab the initiative with a free kick in exactly the same position, Pilkington again delivered towards Jones, who the host defence couldn’t handle from every set piece, his header this time blocked into the path of Speight. The early substitutes follow up effort deflected away for a corner from which the Stags failed to create anything.
On 21 minutes a fine move down the Stags left saw Junior Daniel impress with a series of flicks to Speight, it was the latter who drove central before a final reverse pass to Green saw the marksman flagged offside. Seven minutes later Speight was again in the mix, shooting narrowly wide following a long Lee Beevers right sided throw in.
Despite Mansfield’s fight following the goal and a much improved tightness in midfield, the hosts still pushed to retake the lead and had an ideal opportunity on the half hour mark. Luke Jones was the Stags saviour blocking a Phil Turnbull effort from 18 yards before getting to his feet to divert Chris Bush’s follow up cross behind for a corner. The Stags we’re again caught napping by Hatch who fired wide from the back stick. Three minutes later Gary Roberts was disposed in the middle of the Stags half and Gateshead looked to romp forward, Alan Marriott got low down to keep out Turnbull’s driven effort.
Lee Beevers picked up a yellow card for a clumsy challenged with twelve minutes to go before the break and moments later the Stags we’re cursing their luck as Anthony Howell flicked on Alan Marriott’s ball up park. Matt Green burst through and saw his heels clipped by Ben Clark – the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty however soon overturned the decision and gave Gateshead a free kick after spotting the linesman’s offside flag against Green. Gary Roberts then registered one final effort, drilling wide from the second of two corners with a minute to go before the break.
Half Time: Gateshead 1-1 Stags
Paul Cox demonstrated his unhappiness with the defence at the break withdrawing skipper George Pilkington for John Thompson, Luke Jones took the captaincy duties. Thompson was heavily involved early on, heading a Bush throw behind for a corner before again rising to head clear. At the other end Matt Green headed agonisingly wide from an Andy Owens throw before Green and Speight combined to earn a series of throws which again came to nothing.
Liam Hatch then headed wide from a Chris Bush deep free kick on 54 minutes before the hosts edged themselves in front again two minutes later. It all stemmed from another Bush throw which John Thompson headed clear, Lindon Meikle however was disposed by Nathan Fisher on the edge of the box, the Gateshead front man drove forward and drilled beyond Marriott who saw the ball squirm underneath his desperate grip.
Gateshead 2-1 Stags
Stags offered little in reply and we’re often on the back foot, Thompson and Jones preventing numerous counter attacks with strong challenges before the Heed did grab a deserved third on 71 minutes albeit in slightly bizarre fashion. The Stags gave away a needless free kick some 40 yards from goal on the right hand side, Chris Bush stepped up to deliver a cross but saw his hit bounce into the back of the net as Mansfield’s defence stood static and uninterested in attempting a clearance. The ball seemed to take a touch and deflect in however the PA awarded the goal to Bush who’s all round performance warranted a goal.
Matt Rhead replaced Andy Owens as Stags looked for more attacking options, however there night went from bad to worse as Lee Beevers followed in the footsteps of Adam Smith and Tom Naylor with seven minutes to go as he picked up a deserved second yellow card for a late sliding tackle on James Marwood.
The gap left by Beevers led to Gateshead’s fourth on 85 minutes. James Marwood got into an attacking position and squared a pass across the box, Nathan Fisher did the rest, belting home unmarked for his second of the night.
Gateshead 4-1 Stags
In the final minute Lindon Meikle showed flair as he stepped in off the left touch line to fire a shot at Bartlett however it was irrelative as Mansfield’s defensive performance and lack lustre interest level had already consigned them to defeat – the final whistle a relief to Paul Cox who accepts he needs to go back to the drawing board and have a rethink ahead of Saturday’s trip to Kidderminster Harriers.
Full Time: Gateshead 4-1 Stags
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece email email@example.com
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow night’s trip to Gateshead...
I must admit to a degree of difficulty in writing this article this afternoon ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Gateshead as I’m left with a multitude of different thoughts and feelings from Saturday’s 4-3 home defeat to Newport County.
The thing about the season’s opening show is that very few think about losing the game, as the season goes on you can see how things form and annoyingly become expectant on the results but on opening day things are equal to all, well until that whistle goes at least! People say ‘Start as you mean to go on’ but it very rarely happens it football, I think that’s what I’m feeling at the minute – in football, so long as the maths say yes, your destiny is your own. Hands up, who at Christmas last season would have predicted a 3rd placed comfortable finish? – The point still stands that you can finish where you want to finish despite set backs or bad results!
I appear to be painting a dark picture that it’s all over, I don’t know why or if it’s the vibe I’ve felt since the full time whistle Saturday as it was only game one! I wonder if it’s because we felt like we we’re carrying on the flame and baton from last season rather than start a fresh, if that is the case then we need to draw the line now and go back to the start line before we stumble over our own expectations – what’s done is done and what lies ahead is what we create.
Questions have been asked over the selection and the amount of game time our back four actually had together prior to the game, my records show no more than 60 minutes against Derby County – Should Paul Cox have made that gamble? For me personally I’m not that fussed, I trust Cox’s judgement and believe he knows his squad better than anyone – I have every faith things will be put right sooner rather than later and that winning feeling will arrive. I think that’s probably the most frustrating thing to be honest, not being able to get a winning start and inject that early confidence – I also think that when you look at everything on a whole we’ve learned a lesson which will stand us in good stead for the seasons path: never expect, always work earn and appreciate.
Moving onto tomorrow night’s lengthy trip to Gateshead and after defeat I know that it can be a fairly uninspiring one to look ahead too! Many miles watching flashing white lines zoom by, rain, cold and defeat spring to mind when thinking about the trip to face the Heed Army; however I’m sure we all hope that this year’s trip will not end in the same way as last terms, exactly a year ago!
This time around we face a slightly weaker Gateshead side as Ian Bogie’s men lost several key faces during the close season, full backs Eddie Odhiambo, Sam Rents and Chris Carruthers moved on along with goal keepers Paul Farman and Tim Deasy to leave what was a stable defence stretched. It was departures at the back which most dented the Heed though as there attack, the 8th best in the division last term, lost one of its key faces as Jon Shaw departed for Luton. Shaw bagged 35 goals for the Heed last term to become one of the hottest properties in non-league, he got off to a flyer for his new employers Luton on Saturday coming from the bench at the break to bag a goal and help bring the game back to 2-2.
Ian Bogie brought in James Brown from Hartlepool to try and fill the boots of Shaw, adding the hit man to a strike force which also includes ex Darlington man Liam Hatch and former Oxford man Yemi Odubade. The squad, completed with a few ex Darlington youngsters, still has quality but perhaps not as much experience and strength in depth to try and better last season’s 8th place finish, that said Cox’s side will still face a tough challenge against the Heed and will have to be switched on from the start to avoid another game like Saturday’s opener.
Last Time We Met:
Yet again the Stags head for Gateshead in game number two as they did last term, as mentioned above Paul Cox will be hoping for a much better result as the Stags crashed to a 3-0 defeat on their last visit to the Gateshead international stadium, ending the game with ten men after Tom Naylor’s dismissal. The reverse fixture at Field Mill as was saw the Stags attempt to get back on a good run of form; Ross Dyer’s goal wasn’t enough for the Stags as the game ended 1-1.
Tomorrow’s game will be the 20th meeting of the two sides away from Field Mill, a footballing relationship that first began in 1932 with a 2-1 win for Gateshead. Gateshead have enjoyed far better success against Stags on home soil racking up 9 wins to our 5 over the years, the Stags’ last victory at the International stadium coming in 2009.
In total Gateshead have recorded 15 wins against us with us managing 13 victories and collecting 10 draws, should we manage to net tomorrow night it will be the Stags 60th goal in all competitions against the Heed down the years, the hosts tomorrow have netted 66 in the games against us.
If you’re not heading for the Gateshead International Stadium then be sure to tune into 106.9FM or log onto our MM-LIVE Page from 7pm for full match commentary. I’m delighted to say that Scott Rogers will be back alongside me for the match for the first time on Mansfield Matters since the play-off semi-final first leg.
Build up as mentioned starts at 7pm and you can get involved by texting 07982 865 724 or tweeting @mtfcmatters throughout the night.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations
Craig Priest Reports....
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Newport County
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #1
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 11th August 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Chris Cavanagh (Ashton-Under-Lyne)
Attendance: 2924 (357)
After a prolonged pre-season with the games coming thick and fast it felt great to finally see the league action start at a sunny One Call Stadium yesterday, that was four about nine minutes until out of nowhere Newport grabbed the game’s initiative and the tide of the afternoon changed.
Reflecting on defeat is always hard especially in the manor we we’re beaten yesterday afternoon. Picking up the programme pre-match the glossy front cover read ‘On Your Marks’ – clearly our back four hadn’t heard the following ‘Get set... GO’ as they seemed trapped in the starting blocks for the majority of the first half. Maybe I’m being over critical of the boys especially when you consider there are 45 games, a very long way, to go! That said we needed to be solid from the off and stamp our authority on the game, something we failed to do and something which I’ve no doubt Paul Cox will be working on once the boys report in for training tomorrow morning, as he prepares for the long trip to Gateshead Tuesday night followed by a trip to Kidderminster net Saturday – two tough tests.
Paul Cox’s sides famously peak after Christmas and as such there’s no early worry from me, the first game tells us nothing about how the season will shape up, it if anything just highlights what areas need a tweak or two before our rhythm begins to set.
For weeks before the game I’d be talking to a lot of supporters and taking a keen interest how Justin Edinburgh was putting together the FA Trophy runners up. Every side he’s put together has always been strong on the attack and tough to break down at the back, you could see yesterday that that’d be the case from the off, out of all the opening fixtures we could have been handed, it was one of the toughest – if we’ve learned anything from yesterday it’s that any team can surprise you if you’re not fully prepared.
We’d be discussing the captaincy issue for a good few days, it was no surprise George Pilkington handed the armband after skippering the majority of pre-season. It was as a positive and refreshed One Call Stadium as he led the teams out onto a sun soaked pitch yesterday afternoon as the Stags prepared to chase another dream. Paul Cox handed debuts to five players in a side which saw a brand new back four from the one which ended the season last term, the only worrying thing was the fact the defensive quartet had only played in one pre-season match together, the 2-1 victory over Derby on July 25th.
Line Up [4-3-3]: Alan Marriott – Lee Beevers – Luke Jones – George Pilkington (C) – Andy Owens – Jamie Hand – Gary Roberts – Anthony Howell – Ross Dyer – Matt Green – Lindon Meikle
Substitutes: John Thompson – Jake Speight – Nick Wright – Chris Clements – Colin Daniel [#31]
It was the visiting South Wales outfit Newport that got the 2012-13 campaign underway at the One Call Stadium however it was the Stags who made the more lively start registering three efforts in the opening five minutes.
The first came from a Jamie Tolley free kick after Matt Green was fouled as he attempted to cut in from the flanks. It was Tolley himself who registered the effort, getting the ball back after his initial crossed set piece had broken down. The former Wrexham man picked up the ball from Ross Dyer’s lay-off on the edge of the area and shot narrowly wide of Lenny Pidgley’s left hand post.
Gary Roberts was then involved on four minutes as he intercepted play on the half way line to send Lindon Meikle cantering down the left. The lively wide man cut inside the challenge of former Notts County defender David Pipe before driving narrowly wide from the edge of the box. Seconds later there was an exact repeat of the play as Stags won a corner, Jamie Tolley delivering for Luke Jones, who headed wide of the target at the near post.
Despite the opening chances it was the Stags who soon found themselves behind on nine minutes as they gave away a needless free kick just over the half way line as Danny Crowe was tripped. Crowe himself took the free kick from deep with Newport’s Ismail Yakubu rising above the collective challenge of Jones and Pilkington to head dominantly past a stunned Marriott.
Stags 0-1 Newport
The Stags dropped further behind two minutes later as Newport made mistakes pay. After earning a corner, the visitors put in a woeful ball which caused no danger and should have been dealt with, however a scuffed clearance from Lee Beevers saw a second corner, for which the visitors doubled their lead. A short corner was played and Newport delivered towards the back post via a Jake Thompson cross, Aaron O’Connor’s header back into the mix was headed away by Howell but into the path of an unmarked Tony James of the edge of the box. He hit a stunning volley into the top corner past Marriott.
Five minutes later Marriott had to rescue his side as flat footed irresponsive defending saw Aaron O’Connor break the offside trap from a long David Pipe pass, Marriott slammed the ball away to safety. At the other end the Stags nearly got an element of luck as they came close to a leveller on twenty minutes, Andy Owens’ long throw from the right was headed onto the crossbar by Yakubu. Moments later Matt Green came close as he latched onto a hopeful ball from the back, the danger man sprinted forward and drilled narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
The Stags were then dealt a blow on 25 minutes as a beautiful flowing move saw Ross Dyer’s game come to a sad end. As he picked up the right hand side he drove his way past the full back but fell to ground clutching his knee with one hand whilst frantically signalling for medical assistance with the other. Play eventually stopped allowing Dyer treatment, he headed off the pitch with his shirt covering his face and possible tears of agony on a stretcher. Jake Speight came onto replace the injured Dyer in attack.
A number of wasted crosses from Beevers followed before Speight began to find his feet, causing a split opinion with five minutes of the first half remaining. Lee Beevers did well to regain possession for the Stags on the half way line and clipped a strong central pass for Matt Green. Dropping his shoulder, Green played a delightful ball to the onrushing Speight who went down just inside the box under the challenge of James. Mass calls for a penalty from the players, bench and home faithful fell on deaf ears with referee Chris Kavanagh awarding a free kick to Newport and booking Speight for simulation.
The deadly hit man who scored a first half hat trick during his last Stags outing in 2010 then looked to get on the score sheet seeing a bursting run halted by a strong Pipe challenge on 44 before missing a guilt edged chance on 45. Anthony Howell showed Ariel dominance to flick the ball into Speight’s path, free inside the box he opted for a first time tame clip which the keeper collected rather than a tight touch and slotted finish, wish he had time for.
Five minutes of time was added on for the injury to Dyer, however neither side troubled the other and headed into the dressing rooms with Newport ahead.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-2 Newport
Clearly words had been spoken during the half time interval as the Stags finally made the required start, drawing the game level in the opening five minutes of the second half. It took just 54 seconds from the referee’s whistle for the Stags to grab their first goal. Andy Owens clip down the left caused problems and as the visitors failed to clear their lines, Jamie Tolley drove towards goal with a left footed effort from just inside the box, Lenny Pidgley palmed the stinging shot straight into the path of Jake Speight who tucked in the rebound, grabbing the ball and taking it back to the middle whilst the former Chelsea shot stopper, who picked up a premier league and league cup winners medal during his time at Stamford Bridge, sprinted over to the linesman protesting furiously for offside.
Stags 1-2 Newport
Matt Green then looked lively from the restart sending Lindon Meikle down the right, combining with Howell the duo pressured Newport but over ran the ball for a goal kick. Seconds later a trademark Roberts pass from halfway was just too quick for Speight.
The Stags continued to push and soon drew level as the game hit the 50 minute mark. Lee Beevers read a Newport attack well and intercepted play on the half way line and immediately chipped a ball forward. Matt Green soon found himself one on one with the on rushing Pidgley, the latter beaten by a delicate Green lob which bounced once before landing in the back of the net delighting the home crowd.
Stags 2-2 Newport
Mansfield we’re now refuelled with confidence and having drawn level, looked to start again and gain the advantage, Lindon Meikle was causing havoc on 52 minutes as he drove down the right hand side and skipped the challenge of Andy Sandell. Having gained ground Meikle pulled the ball back across the box but agonisingly saw no Stags player connect with Newport still racing back.
The South Wales side we’re soon back ahead three minutes later, Lee Beevers and Danny Crowe collided and it looked like it would be Stags who we’re awarded a free kick, however the referee again threw the cat amongst the pigeons as he awarded Newport the set play and produced a yellow card for Beevers. Taking too long to focus the Stags we’re their own downfall as nobody tracked the run of O’Connor, he rose highest to head home against his former club.
Stags 2-3 Newport
A miscommunication between Jones and Marriott saw Stags concede another needless corner, however the visitors failed to take advantage as the Stags cleared well. At the other end Mansfield we’re wasteful with several crosses far too heavy and trickling away for Newport throws.
On 65 Minutes the Stags were back to square one as another former employee grabbed a goal. Slack marking and hesitant concentration saw Newport surge down the left, a drilled cross into the middle saw Jefferson Louis fire home through a crowd of bodies much to the delight of the 357 travelling fans.
Stags 2-4 Newport
Jamie Tolley departed for Nick Wright after the goal as Paul Cox bolstered his attacking options. It was Gary Roberts next to test the water though as on 71 minutes he received Matt Green’s pass following Alan Marriott’s directional ball. The creative midfielder let fly from the edge of the box and saw his effort palmed away for the first of two corners.
Nick Wright was heavily involved in the Stags next attempt to reduce the deficit, firing a left footed effort against a Newport leg after strong work between Owens and Roberts. The former Kidderminster man making his league debut in the Amber and Blue then battled to win the ball back on the left and did so successfully robbing David Pipe. Wright sent a pass into the path of Roberts who drilled wide.
A minute later Lindon Meikle was creating as he threaded Wright through into the box, Lenny Pidgley the hero for County as he blocked well with his legs, Meikle picked up the second ball but failed to create further damage as the visitors got back to clear.
Soaking up the pressure well, Newport then had another opportunity to grab another as Andy Sandell whipped in a corner. Luke Jones headed away dominantly but the Stags failed to battle for the second ball, Jake Thompson driving narrowly wide from 35 yards with a well hit swirling effort.
Mansfield we’re determined not to throw in the towel and set up a tense finish with two minutes remaining. Gary Roberts took hold of the game in the centre circle and found Meikle with an exquisite chip to the right for Meikle. The wing man fed Green into the box who held off the challenge of the crowded Newport defence before chipping to the back stick. Jake Speight timed his run well and headed powerfully into the net for his second of the match.
Stags 3-4 Newport
From then on in it was all Stags as Cox’s boys sensed a late and dramatic leveller in the season’s opening match. A trio of corner’s saw the visitors on the back foot and nearly concede, as the third corner picked out Luke Jones. The centre back made a delightful run but failed to get his dominant header on target.
Four minutes of added time were enough for the Stags to carry on attacking, the final chance coming when Lindon Meikle was tripped by Newport substitute Andrew Hughes just to the right of the box. The Stags sent everyone bar Marriott forward with only Meikle lurking on the edge of the box. Gary Roberts was set to deliver with Pilkington and Jones bouncing at the back stick – the defensive dup proved decoy as Roberts drilled perfectly low for Speight on the penalty spot. The hit man was denied a hat trick and hero status though as he fluffed his shot and allowed Newport to not only clear, but breathe again and run out winners by the skin of their teeth.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-4 Newport << Click here for Audio Highlights
A disappointing day at the office in the end but the fight shown in the second half was enough of a positive to out-way any negatives. With a squad which has a very strong depth, changes could happen as we head for Gateshead on Tuesday – would I like to see them? Maybe one or two for sure.
If you’re not heading for the Gateshead International Stadium on Tuesday, be sure to join myself and the returning Scott Rogers for full match commentary – build up gets underway at 7pm on Takeover Radio 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE Page. Get your comments in about the Newport result to @mtfcmaters on Twitter, we’ll read them out during Tuesday’s build up – This is the show for the fans, by the fans.
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