Calvin Andrew wrote himself into Mansfield Town folk law yesterday as he scored the only goal of the game as the Stags beat arch rivals Chesterfield for the first time in ten years. The ink on Andrew’s name won’t be as bold though as that of goalkeeper Alan Marriott, whose stunning display between the sticks played a huge part in the momentous victory over the league leaders.
Paul Cox’s men put in a brave-hearted display and despite being opened up on numerous occasions, gave there all to claim victory as they fought like troupers to bat away everything the hosts threw at them.
Over ten thousand supporters packed into the stadium to create a typical derby-day atmosphere, the vising support of 1,992 made the most noise as they aimed to back their side onto victory, Paul Cox stuck with the side which beat Northampton 3-0 at the One Call Stadium last weekend.
Hosts Chesterfield topped the division going into the match having won seven of their opening eight matches, they made the brighter start as James Jennings was forced to turn behind a low cross for a corner. Danger man Gary Roberts swung the ball in but failed to pick out any blue shirts as the sea of Amber rose dominantly to clear their lines.
Alan Marriott then kept Mansfield in the fixture on 12 minutes as a fluent move from the hosts saw Jimmy Ryan let fly from distance, the Stags custodian did superbly to palm the ball to safety. Moments later at the other end, the terrier like Jamie McGuire spurned Mansfield’s first effort of the match firing wide of the target – Sam Clucas also hit a half-effort wide on the spin from Hutchinson’s low pass.
There was soon danger for Stags as the conceded a free kick on the edge of the box on 23 minutes, Roberts stepped up to strike but saw his effort cannon off the wall – Anthony Howell headed away the resulting corner but the hosts kept on the pressure, the Stags hanging on to eventually see the ball flash behind for a goal-kick.
On the half hour mark Alan Marriott again came to Mansfield’s rescue as Eoin Doyle broke free to get one v one – the Stags shot-stopper palmed away the effort before Ryan Tafazolli swept the loose ball away.
Seven minutes later and Mansfield’s supporters were sent into sheer jubilation as they grabbed the lead. Ben Hutchinson swung in a pinpoint corner which Calvin Andrew bulleted home with his head, the striker sprinted the entire length of the pitch to celebrate with the Stags fans.
Soon after it should have been two as Clucas teed up Hutchinson, the front man rattled the post with a driven effort – at the other end as Chesterfield searched for a leveller, they also rattled the paintwork but failed to peg back the resilient Stags.
After the break the intensity remained, Gary Roberts wasted a free kick for the hosts just minutes into the first half whilst at the other end, Ryan Tafazolli came agonisingly close to netting in-front of the Stags support as he headed a free kick wide on 54 minutes.
Marriott was again down low three minutes later to keep out Roberts’ low cross, Ritchie Humphries had the chance to net with the follow up but wasted the opportunity as he blazed over at the far post to the jeers from the Stags faithful.
Chesterfield raced forwards in desperate search of the equaliser but in every clearance, Mansfield’s stern defence grew in confidence, smashing away attack after attack. Substitutes Lindon Meikle and Matt Rhead combined and came so close to sealing the points – livewire Meikle cut the hosts apart with his right sided run before picking out Rhead with a low pass – the big front man saw a powerful effort palmed away by home keeper Tommy Lee who was well positioned.
Six minutes of time was added on and Stags had to endure a barrage of attacks, however four minutes into the six – they were given breathing space as Gary Roberts was shown a straight red card for hacking down James Jennings in the Stags penalty box. The final minutes seemed like hours but when the referee blew the full time whistle, the away end erupted in noise as Mansfield Town ended Chesterfield’s unbeaten run to climb to third in the table – their first victory over Chesterfield since Liam Lawrence’s dramatic 90th minute header ten years ago.
The sides will meet again a week on Tuesday at the One Call Stadium in the JPT.
FULL TIME: Chesterfield 0-1 Mansfield
Attendance: 10,015 (1,992)
Referee: Robert Madley
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster ©, Ryan Taazolli, James Jennings, Jamie McGuire, Anthony Howell, Ben Hutchinson (Lindon Meikle 62), Sam Clucas (Matt Rhead 80), Calvin Andrew (Junior Daniel 76).
Unused Subs: Ollie Palmer, Lee Stevenson, Jake Speight, Keiran Murtagh
It’s like Christmas Eve for Stags fans today as tomorrow our beloved side lock horns with our arch rivals Chesterfield in a league fixture once again. Ever since Matt Green popped up in the 90th minute against Hereford and then again mid-way through the first half against Wrexham to seal promotion as Champions, we’ve been picturing the day the two old enemy’s meet again – watching over and over as an amber shirted hero pops up to recreate Liam Lawrence’s 2003 winner.
Games like this are really more than just a game, the sentence “well the performances we’re excellent” just won’t wash, nor will “that was a good point for us” – it’s all about winning and about personal pride.
The rivalry stretches back a long time, longer than we can all remember probably. Some will understand it some wont but whatever, the fact is winning is everything – we both hate the fact of the other “having one over on us” – the feeling that creates can be extremely strong, you can just me on that!
I’m sure you’ll all be aware of what happened with me in the summer and a certain radio station, I’ve said all I will say on the matter so believe me when I say, writing this preview is from the heart of a true Stags fan and all I want is a win for my team tomorrow afternoon.
No player from either side has played in this derby before however Paul Cox has dragged this club from the car crash it was post Wembley and turned it into a group of Champions. He knows the passion and pride of us in the stands, he knows how much winning this one game will mean and, as a competitive man himself, he’ll want to win and have his players fired up accordingly.
Chesterfield boss Paul Cook will argue the same and perhaps state that on paper, his side are statistically stronger. He’d be correct too, but not by much – the current league leaders are unbeaten with seven wins from their opening eight league matches and have the best defence and third best attack – our Stags, unbeaten in seven with three wins from the last four, have the second best defence and sixth best attack. I tell you what though; you can take your statistics and shove them into the abyss.
It’s not even about who has the most of the ball or most shots on goal, to an extent it’s not even about who scores the best goal – the winner will be the side that runs that extra step quicker, the defence that is sharp at the opponents heals, the midfield that stands firm to fight, the strike force that has the confidence to create and the players that stays focussed to pull the strings. Tomorrow see’s two in form teams go to battle, it also sees two old enemy’s go to war – let it happen on the pitch! Remember the feeling of winners at Lincoln, Luton and Hereford, remember the emotion of Wrexham and take all of that into the stands tomorrow, sing your heart out and guide Mansfield Town to victory.
LAST TIME WE MET
Paul Cox is without Martin Riley who serves the second of a three match suspension whilst Chris Clements is also out following his injury at York – other than that, the Stags boss who takes charge of his 101st game on the weekend of Chairman John Radford’s third year at the club, appears to have no fresh injury’s within his squad as the Stags go to war.
Written by Craig Priest
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
First half goals from Ben Hutchinson and Sam Clucas added to a second half blunder from Northampton’s Mathias Kouo-Doumbe saw Mansfield Town extend their unbeaten run to seven matches as they ran out 3-0 winners at the One Call Stadium.
Boss Paul Cox took charge of his 100th game as Stags manager and made two enforced changes from the side which came from behind to beat York City last weekend. With Martin Riley suspended, Ryan Tafazolli came into the heart of the defence and earned the man of the match plaudits – elsewhere Anthony Howell replaced the injured Chris Clements.
It was a frustrating opening to the match as Stags struggled to get players forward, the first Stags chance came on 15 minutes as Calvin Andrew headed Ben Hutchinson’s deep free kick into the hands of Cobblers glovesman Matt Duke.
Jamie McGuire and Sam Clucas both saw efforts blocked by the visitors whilst at the other end, Alan Marriott was quick off of his lane to deny Hackett as the Northampton man looked to counter.
On the half hour mark Mansfield made the breakthrough when Calvin Andrew was tripped just outside the cobblers penalty area. Ben Hutchinson stepped up with the resulting free kick and gave Duke no chance, curling the ball over the wall and into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, the Stags doubled their lead as Ryan Tafazolli showed great strength to hold up the ball on the edge of the box following a deep free kick, he slipped a crisp pass into the path of Sam Clucas who powered home right footed before peeling away in jubilation.
Alan Marriott produced a fine save to deny Darren Carter from reducing the deficit on the stroke of half time, palming away his well hit free kick.
After the break Northampton put on the pressure as they searched for a way back into the game, however Mansfield rode the storm clearing numerous crosses before Alan Marriott produced three fine saves in quick succession on the hour, again denying Carter from a free kick before keeping out the two follow up efforts.
Mansfield then went in search of the elusive third goal and had a helping hand from Mathias Kouo-Doumbe as he sliced a clearance from Tafazolli’s long ball forward over his bemused keeper and into the back of the net on 64 minutes.
The third goal effectively killed the match, however Mansfield didn’t have an easy finish but defended well as a unit to seal three points and a clean sheet ahead of next weekends crunch showdown with league leaders and local rivals, Chesterfield.
FULL TIME: Mansfield 3-0 Northampton
Referee: Steven Rushton
Attendance: 3,469 (460)
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, Ryan Tafazolli, John Dempster ©, James Jennings, Anthony Howell, Jamie McGuire, Calvin Andrew (Matt Rhead 62), Sam Clucas (Jake Speight 82), Ben Hutchinson (Lee Stevenson 54)
Unused Subs: Keiran Murtagh, Ollie Palmer, Lindon Meikle, Junior Daniel
May 7th 2011 was an emotional day, I remember vividly being slumped in my seat in the Wembley press box trying to block out the noise and pictures of Darlington lifting the FA Trophy after sealing the game in the final minute of extra-time.
If anyone would have asked me then if, in two years-time, Stags would be a football league club again with a stable structure and a successful manager at the helm, I’d have laughed in your face.
Alas just over two years later, here we are a football league club with a successful manager who tomorrow, approaches a mile stone taking charge of his 100th league fixture as Mansfield Town boss.
From the first minute I met Paul Cox, I sensed success would come as I wrote on the day in my blog. There was just something in his tone which suggested honesty in his answers rather than the usual managerial media speak given by his predecessors, the intention to inspire, achieve and create a real family club was a real positive and I think we can say now that the former Eastwood boss has certainly achieved his goal, well part of it anyway as with Paul Cox you always get the sense that for him at least, the job is never quiet done.
That determination to always achieve more is an admirable quality which I believe a lot of players have brought into – we speak often about what’s the key behind these post-Christmas surges, I believe that a fair percentage of it is the determination to go one step further. It’s a fair point to make that half of the success wouldn’t have happened without the players backing and hard work or the financial input from the board, however it takes a good leader to get the players together and a strong mind to earn the boards trust with finances, especially when one wrong move can complete ruin a football club in today’s world – so hats off to Paul for that.
As Jessie J once sang, nobody’s perfect. Paul Cox will be the first to hold his hands up to mistakes and it’s true that not every player has brought into Cox’s vision – just ask the likes of Matt Bell, Paul Bolland, Joe Kendrick and Marcus Kelly to name a few, however for every error or misjudgement, there’s been a cure. Ask Matt Green two years ago if he ever thought he’d ever be a 30 goal a season striker, Ask Lee Beevers if, under any other manager, he’d bother playing on after popping out his shoulder – what about asking Matt Rhead if he’d ever leave his job at JCB to become a full time footballer and fans favourite? That list too, is endless.
During his tenure of 99 matches in charge, Cox has achieved a win percentage of 59% - he’s surrounded himself with a good coaching team and has listened to ideas and implanted them. I remember Cox telling myself and a few others about his first day at the club, how he felt a sense of doubt at seeing what state the club was in – it’s a far cry from that now with a strong foundation in place from top to bottom, things are going well on that front too and in Cox’s own words, that’s exactly what success is built on – strong foundations. I have a strong feeling that in a few more years, 100 games will be a mere pebble in the ocean as to what Paul Cox will have here at Mansfield Town.
Tomorrow he’ll mark the occasion with a home match against Northampton Town, a team enduring a tough start winning just one match so far after achieving a 6th placed finish last term but loosing at Wembley to Bradford City in the play-off final. Managed by another Stags favourite in Aidy Boothroyd, another member of the Stags 100 club after playing 103 matches in the mid-90s, Boothroyd will know what it takes to win at the One Call Stadium and will have his players fired up for the occasion – I’m sure they’ll be no thought of celebration in Cox’s mind, all the focus will be on making it seven games unbeaten and moving into the play-off places ahead of next weekend’s derby showdown with Chesterfield.
Cox will have a big decision to make too with Chris Clements injured and Martin Riley suspended – doe’s he stick with that defensive five, or three depending on your preference, or does he go with a flat 4-4-2 which seemed to be the undoing of York last weekend and Dagenham in our last home match. Going for a four at the back makes the solution simple for me, Beevers and Jennings back to full back roles with Sutton inside to partner captain Dempster – this doesn’t disrupt what’s proving a solid defence ranked currently 3rd in the division overall. Clucas moves back to the left wing whilst either Briscoe or Meikle takes to the right allowing room for Rhead or Dyer back in upfront leaving one piece of the jigsaw, presumably Howell in for Clements.
Whatever Cox opts for, I’m sure the players will put in a spirited fighting display – let’s be sure to give the gaffer a huge reception as thanks for all his hard work and look forward to the next 100 matches with victory.
LAST TIME WE MET
It’s been a while since the Stags last locked horns with the Cobblers, having last met in March 2006 when Lord Ritchie Barker’s 64th minute strike proved the difference between the two sides. Earlier in the season, Northampton had grabbed the points at the Sixfields Stadium as a sweetly struck free kick undid Stags.
Stags fans will no doubt have fond memories of playing Northampton at The One Call, having won six of their last ten meetings against the Cobblers – losing just the once. These six wins doesn’t include the play-off semi-final penalty shootout victory back in 2004, one of the most nerve wracking and emotion churning nights in football. Stags had taken the first leg 2-0 and looked certain to progress to Cardiff for the final, however Northampton had other ideas and at half time had levelled the aggregate score leading 2-0. A minute into the second half, the visitors completed the turn-around and all of a sudden it was Stags chasing the leveller – Tom Curtis proved the unlikely hero as he drilled home to level and relieve the growing tension. Both teams battled through extra-time and to penalty’s it went, the Stags won the toss and opted for the kicks to be taken in front of the North Stand, the final time home fans were to be housed there. Every spot-kick was excellent, only the brilliance of Kevin Pilkington when the skipper kept out Eric Sabin’s spot kick gave Mansfield the advantage – Laurent D’Jaffo kept his nerve to put Stags ahead, however when Robbie Wilmott netted the Cobblers final penalty, it was down to Colin Larkin to send Mansfield through – the rest is history.
In total, the sides have locked horns 68 times with Stags leading the victories 35-23, they lead they goals 96-77. At the One Call, or Field Mill as was – Northampton have only ever managed three wins to our 22, Stags have netted 58 to the cobblers 21.
Paul Cox is without suspended defender Martin Riley, who serves the first of a three game ban following his straight red card at York City last weekend. John McCombe and Ryan Tafazolli will battle it out for a start if Cox sticks with the central defensive three whilst a full back, the Stags boss has an extra option in Paul Black who completed 90 minutes with the reserves mid-week after returning from an unsuccessful loan spell with Carlisle.
Elsewhere Cox is without injured midfielder Chris Clements who, after more scans, looks set for a shorter 8 week lay-off rather than the feared four months. Anthony Howell will no doubt be first choice however after an impressive display with the reserves, Lee Stevenson will be knocking of the managers door.
Striker Matt Rhead is also back in contention, having served his one match ban for picking up two yellow cards at Newport County two weeks ago – he’ll be joining Stevenson at the managers door, after netting one of the three Stags goals.
For the visitors, Boothroyd will be forced into one change with midfielder Gary Deegan suspended.
Written by Craig Priest
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Goals from Matt Rhead, Ryan Tafazolli and Jake Speight saw Mansfield Town reserves overturn Sam Collins’ 22nd minute goal to maintain their perfect start in the Central League East Division, beating Hartlepool United 3-1 at the One Call Stadium this evening.
Victories over Doncaster, Hull and Rortherham in recent weeks saw Stags top the division, that’s where Richard Coopers men will stay this evening after a commanding performance on a briskly cold night against a tough Hartlepool set up.
The Monkey Hangers second string were beaten 5-0 at the One Call Stadium last term but ensured the same wouldn’t happen again this year, after enduring a tough start to the match seeing a Matt Rhead goal ruled out for offside, they grabbed the lead through centre half Sam Collins on 22 minutes as he flicked home a pacey corner from Zak Boagey.
Mansfield responded five minutes later through Matt Rhead, the burley front man poached home from close range, following strong work down the flanks from the hardworking Stags. Seconds later, captain Lee Stevenson fired narrowly over with his left foot as Mansfield looked to grab the advantage.
Visiting keeper Andy Rafferty twice kept out Louis Briscoe on the stroke of half time, however the shot-stopper was picking the ball out of the net as defender Ryan Tafazolli swooped in to nod the Stags ahead, getting to the loose ball first.
Jake Speight made it 3-1 two minutes into the second half, hitting home on the half volley following a flick on from Ross Dyer – Speight’s excellent finish was typical of the player, who also frequently frustrated team mates as he took one too many touches loosing possession.
McCombe, Tafazolli and joint men of the match Junior Daniel and Lee Stevenson all made excellent challenges to keep the visitors at bay, goalkeeper Liam Mitchell also produced a fine save to deny former Stag Nialle Rodney – the ex-loanee also squandered numerous chances to reduce the deficit in a match Stags won comfortably in the end.
Richard Coopers men will next be in action on October 2nd as they travel to Scunthorpe United in search of a 5th straight win.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Hartlepool
Referee: Adam Burgess
STAGS: Liam Mitchell, Paul Black, John McCombe, Ryan Tafazolli, Junior Daniel, Louis Briscoe (Luke Darby 85), Lee Stevenson © (Godfrey Poku 70), Keiran Murtagh, Ross Dyer, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead (Kevin Hemagou 74)
UNUSED SUBS: Ian Deakin, Billy Simpson
Striker Ollie Palmer came from the bench this afternoon to seal Mansfield Town’s first victory over York City at Bootham Crescent since 2004, however the front man’s strike and the Stags’ win was somewhat overshadowed by a red card to defender Martin Riley after a violent clash with York substitute Richard Cresswell who was also dismissed.
Riley and Cresswell’s dismissals came just three minutes after Ollie Palmer had deflected Sam Clucas’ shot beyond Michael Ingham to put Mansfield ahead, the duo had come to physical blows in the Stags box with the former Leeds United striker appearing to have punched fans favourite Riley who subsequently retaliated as the two sides broke into a mini-brawl as the incident escalated.
Mansfield were made to grin and bare incidents from the off as tailing traffic saw the team coach arrive late to the stadium, a handful of players missed the majority of the warm up arriving at 2.30pm. Mid-way through the first half, influential midfielder Chris Clements was withdrawn with what seems to be serious knee injury – a major blow after striking up an impressive partnership with Jamie McGuire.
The Stags lateness spilled over to the game as they conceded the opener inside a minute, York’s Ryan Brobbel tapped into the Stags empty net after Lewis Montrose’s effort cannoned back of the crossbar after a quickly taken free kick.
Paul Cox had again stuck with the wing back system, he was forced into one change with Matt Rhead suspended – Calvin Andrew, who scored a late winner for the reserves midweek, was his replacement and was first too test Michael Ingham on seven minutes with a headed effort following excellent build up play between Beevers and McGuire.
Andrew’s header was the only bright moment the Stags had in the early parts of the game as the wing back system saw York pulling Stags all over the pitch, the tide would soon change however on 21 minutes when Lanre Oyebanjo tripped Lee Beevers in the area. Sam Clucas stepped up to take the resulting penalty and blasted beyond Ingham who stood no chance as the Stags got back on level terms.
Despite the level score line, Mansfield struggled to break down York who had lost their previous three games – Ben Hutchinson came the closest on 40 minutes as he headed into the hands of Ingham following Sam Clucas’ pinpoint cross, York offered little in terms of shots with Martin Riley, who appeared to be sporting a black eye, heading away the majority of attacking with captain Dempster, cutting out the rest.
Mansfield were then forced into a change in 42 minutes as Clements went down injured, Ben Hutchinson helped Clements off the pitch as the rest of the players rushed over in concern for their team mate. Replacement Anthony Howell put in some tough challenges as the Stags saw out the remainder of the first half.
Ollie Palmer and Lindon Meikle were then introduced at the break for Ben Hutchinson and James Jennings, Lee Beevers slotted in at left back as the Stags went 4-4-2. The formation switched opened up the match and Stags had numerous chances to take the lead, Michael Ingham proved to be the thorn in the master-plan however as he kept out numerous efforts from the impressive and lively Sam Clucas.
The Stags deserved a break through and it came on 76 minutes as Lindon Meikle picked out Sam Clucas on the edge of the box, his left footed drive was diverted beyond Ingham by the outstretched leg of Ollie Palmer who wheeled away to celebrate with the relieved travelling supporters.
Minutes later York substitute Richard Cresswell struck out at Martin Riley inside the Stags box as the hosts physically battled for a way back into the match – once the tempers had calmed, the referee had a long chat with his assistant before producing a straight red card for Martin Riley and, eventually, perpetrator Cresswell.
Both sides searched for a late goal, York attempted to level and Mansfield in search of breathing space. Mansfield defended resolutely with Calvin Andrew excelling playing out of position at left back for the remaining twelve minutes – challenges from Dempster and Sutton kept York at bay whilst Clucas, Meikle and Palmer all came close to adding that killer blow to York, who have now lost four on the spin putting them second bottom of the division – Cox’s Stags on the other hand continue to climb the table, making it six games unbeaten moving up to eighth.
FULL TIME: York City 1-2 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 3,513 (897)
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley, John Dempster ©, James Jennings (Lindon Meikle HT), Jamie McGuire, Chris Clements (Anthony Howell 42), Ben Hutchinson (Ollie Palmer HT), Sam Clucas, Calvin Andrew
Unused Subs: Liam Mitchell, Jake Speight, Lee Stevenson, Junior Daniel
In those gripping TV Drama’s, the fighting villain always swears revenge on their enemy by uttering those fait-fuelled words “we’ll meet again” – On Monday 7th May 2012, the rain began to pour as Stags players crashed to their knees, dejected after York City sealed their place at Wembley in the play-off final.
Hurt, angry and over emotional, after throwing my headset to the floor, I muttered the words “we’ll meet again” as York’s celebrating players hopped, skipped and jumped back to the dressing room.
Here we are, over a year later preparing to face each other again – do you know what, I don’t feel bitter towards York City any more – defeat in the play-offs was fate, we weren’t ready for league two then and after a few more kicks up the rear the following season, ala Liverpool, Kidderminster etc, we are ready and we are establishing ourselves well – sitting mid-table on a five game unbeaten run, heading to face a York side whose early form suggests another relegation fight.
For some of those players remaining from our play-off season, Sutton, Marriott, Dyer and Riley to name a few, tomorrow perhaps is an opportunity to kill some old haunting memories – however for the majority it’s a chance to keep the positive form going and take another three points following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Newport County.
In a way it’s strange at this stage of the season to be writing about an unbeaten run, Cox’s first season at the helm (the one which ended with the York defeat) saw a run of similar results at this stage, which included five consecutive wins in an eight game unbeaten run whilst at this stage last term, we looked far from title challenges, picking up the points at home but struggling on the road, in some cases, taking a thumping.
In some-ways I wonder if we’re half expecting a sticky patch sooner rather than later, however for Cox, his management team and his players, the focus is on maintaining the level of performance which has led to the positive start and then building on it. York on the other hand will be desperate not to slip to a fourth straight defeat and hit rock bottom of the table, on paper Stags should win as their defence, ranked second in the division, comes up against an attack which has managed only four goals so far this term and is ranked 22nd. Statistical facts such as this however do not win football matches, Cox’s players will be aware of York’s lack of goals and must stay strong to keep out City’s fight, tomorrow is the first real test of mind set and togetherness – a trait event last weekend at Newport following the dismissal of Matt Rhead and injury to Martin Riley, the later carrying on despite reportedly feeling dizzy.
I’ve often criticised the three, or five, at the back depending on what role you view the wing backs! Cox won’t want to change a formula which has led to five games unbeaten, however a few early goals will have York rattled and low on confidence, the best way to achieve this would be in a flat four and feeding the front man from the wings. For the reserves midweek, who played in a flat four, I felt Meikle looked lively and Briscoe, when he got the service, looked sharp – add into the mixing bowl Clucas and the excellent of Hutchinson when he’s been asked to play in a wide role and I think you’ve enough reason and options to make a flat four work and get a positive result.
There’s been a lot of talk about players on the fringe this week, the reserves maintained their 100% record in the week with Calvin Andrew netting in the final minute to defeat Rotherham United, whilst a mix of youth and experience breezed past Shepshed on Wednesday night 7-2 in a behind closed doors friendly, showing Cox that he options in attack to replace the suspended Rhead.
Tomorrow’s trip will bring back mixed memories, once again sing loud and hopefully the boys will do the business!
LAST TIME WE MET
As mentioned, the previous meeting between these two sides came in the end of season play-offs at the end of Cox’s first season at the helm 2011-12. Cox’s men had finished above the minstermen after a fine post-Christmas run and despite resting key players ahead of the first leg, had still managed to kill of sixth placed Kidderminster 3-0.
York had a more dramatic finish to the regular season beating Forest Green by a solitary goal to finish fourth. Earlier in the season the sides had played out two draws over the Christmas and New Year period, 1-1 at the One Call and 2-2 at Bootham Crescent – even statistically there was very little between the sides.
Stags fans packed into the away end and saw their side enjoy the better of the first half, getting off to a great start when Ross Dyer scored a fine header flicking a bullet Exodus Geohaghon throw over the outstretched Michael Ingham. Stags’ lead was cut on the stroke of half time however as Geohaghon turned a cross into his own goal as Mansfield struggled to cope with a defensive re-shuffle after Martin Riley had to be withdrawn through injury.
Things got worse in the second half as thirty goal striker Matt Green was stupidly dismissed for hand-ball whilst challenging Ingham, Green had been booked earlier for a high boot on the York keeper, who thwarted Mansfield’s attack throughout. The sending off proved to be a big wake-up call in the long run, Stags needed support for Green as without his goals, they offered very little. Despite having ten men, the sides went back to the One Call Stadium level at 1-1 after the first leg.
The second leg took place a year after the Stags defeat at Wembley Stadium in the FA Trophy final, the One Call Stadium was a sell out and over 7,000 supporters watched as neither side could find a goal in 90 minutes. Mansfield became predictable and in the absence of Green went with just one striker, using the long throw at every opportunity – Michael Ingham laughed as he plucked every single throw from the air. The match moved into extra time and a tired Stags were clinging on, the first 15 minutes passed and as the sides switched ends, there was a strong feeling the match could well need a penalty shootout. However York’s Matty Blair had other ideas and popped up to nod home the game’s opening goal on 110 minutes – from there it was over as moments later Ritchie Sutton was sent off for a second bookable offence whilst Marriott heroically kept it to just the one goal cushion, with no Green there was never any chance of a comeback.
York progressed to the final, scooping a Wembley double as they not only won the FA Trophy final against Newport before beating Luton Town in the play-off final.
The two sides have locked horns a total of 91 times which does include the FA Cup fourth qualifying round and Setanta Sheild third round tie during the 2008-09 season. There have been 282 goals between the pair with York trailing 139 to Stags 143, York have won 41 meetings to Stags’ 32.
At Bootham Crescent Stags have only achieved seven wins the last of which came in February 2004 thanks to goals from Liam Lawrence and Richard Pacquette.
Paul Cox is without striker Matt Rhead who was dismissed in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Newport, keeper Ian Deakin was back on the bench for the reserves midweek so he could be back in contention for a place on the first team bench whilst Keiran Murtagh completed 90 minutes for Cooper’s reserves and looked injury free – the former Macclesfield man of course is still waiting to make his Stags debut.
Written by Craig Priest
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Calvin Andrew staked his claim for a start against York City on Saturday by scoring a dramatic late winner tonight at the One Call Stadium against Rotherham United.
Richard Cooper’s men had won their opening two fixtures of the campaign to top the Central League East Division table, however when Francois Zoko cancelled out Jake Speight’s early opener midway through the first half, the game looked like it was ending level before Andrew fired home in the dying seconds from Keiran Murtagh’s corner.
It hardly had the same impact as Matt Green’s winner at Hereford last term, but Cooper’s men had fought desperately to maintain their 100% record and the players involved naturally eager to get the chance of first team football, mindful of Paul Cox watching from the Ian Greaves Upper Tier.
Liam Mitchell arguably won Mansfield the points with a stunning man of the match display between the sticks, the gloves-man, whose deal expires soon, pulled off several excellent saves to deny the likes of former Crawley striker Matt Tubbs and the lively Danny Hylton.
Mansfield made a bright start to the encounter with Lindon Meikle picking up the ball in midfield and chipping the ball to Jake Speight. The front man who looks set to exit turned well against former Stags trialist Pablo Mills but fired horribly wide of the target.
On three minutes however, Speight knew exactly where the back of the net was as he gave the Stags the lead. Advancing full back Junior Daniel made the goal with a pacey cross which flashed across the six yard box – Speight converting with a powerful finishing getting ahead of his marker.
Keiran Muratgh had the opportunity to create a Stags second on ten minutes with a left sided free kick, his delivery was plucked out of the air well by Adam Collin and a minute later, it was the visitors that had their first sight of goal as a low cross deflected off the back of John McCombe and into the path of Zoko, who fortunately fired into the empty Quarry Lane End.
Liam Mitchell then kept Stags ahead with two excellent stops in as many minutes, the first on 28 minutes as he palmed away a point blank effort from Tubbs before Salem Kerkar romped down the left hand side and into the box. Former Notts County man Mitchell pushed the ball away before Tubbs sent the follow up crashing against the cross bar, allowing the Stags keeper to collect the loose ball.
Lindon Meikle tested the water at the other end on the half hour mark with a low drive, the Stags were left to rue the missed opportunity eight minutes later as Kerkar’s left sided free kick was turned home by Zoko from close range – the Stags defence static to the pacey set play.
Both sides had efforts before the break to take the lead, Stags came close with Jake Speight and Calvin Andrew whilst it took the safe hands of Liam Mitchell to again deny Matt Tubbs on the stroke of half time as a slip from John McCombe allowed the dangerous front man a sniff of goal.
The second half lacked as much pace although it was Rotherham the brighter, Mitchell keeping out two free kicks and several free headers most notably a powerful flick from Mills on 62 minutes moments before youngster Liam Marsden went into the referee’s book.
Jake Speight spurned two excellent chances for Stags, the second of which saw Collin save well with his legs in a one verses one situation after Andrew had slotted through his strike partner.
Once again Liam Mitchell came to the Stags’ rescue on 74 minutes as a stray ball forward avaided Tafazolli and fell for Tubbs – the Crawley man reacted instinctively, as did Mitchell who palmed the ball away allowing Marsden to clear.
As the match went into the final minute of stoppage time, it looked as if the match would end level – however Mansfield kept pushing and grabbed the winner through Calvin Andrew as the front man stabbed home the loose ball following Murtagh’s low corner.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-1 Rotherham United
Referee: James Bell
Stags: Liam Mitchell, Liam Marsden, John McCombe, Ryan Tafazolli, Junior Daniel, Louis Briscoe ©, Keiran Murtagh, Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Jake Speight, Calvin Andrew
Unused Subs: Ian Deakin, Jack Hawkins, Ben Birch, Joe Flint, Jason Gregory, Jack Thomas, Godfrey Poku
Sam Clucas scored his second goal in as many games this afternoon to earn Mansfield Town a point and seemingly end their sequence of bad results against Newport in recent seasons. The point saw Mansfield extend their current unbeaten run to five games, however the result was over shadowed by a fiery encounter which saw both sides end the game with ten men.
Chris Zebroski had opened the scoring for Newport from close range on 29 minutes before Clucas nodded Stags level on 67, however several rash challenges saw referee David Phillips kept busy, dismissing Lee Minshull for the hosts on 74 minutes as the Newport man elbowed Martin Riley – Matt Rhead received his marching orders with ten minutes remaining, picking up his second yellow card of the match after being restored to the line-up at the expense of Ollie Palmer prior to the match.
The two sides promoted alongside each other last term began this league two fixture fighting it out for an early opener, Newport County had won their last three meetings with Stags and had the best early chances but wasted them, spurning two corners and firing way over Alan Marriott’s cross bar through a Robbie Willmott free kick.
Jamie McGuire picked up a yellow card on six minutes before Matt Rhead, restored to the starting line-up, made an excellent flick on five minutes later, teeing up Ben Hutchinson who fired wide of the target from 17 yards.
Newport sent in a series of dangerous crosses through Christian Jolley as they looked to breech the deadlock, however Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley and captain John Dempster were all clued up to keep out the advancing Ryan Jackson.
Mansfield then pressured the hosts on 20 minutes as Dempster sent Jennings on his way down the left hand side following a deep free kick, Dempster then swung in a teasing cross in support of Jennings, which saw Sam Clucas head harmlessly wide.
The intensity of the match saw Newport’s Christian Jolley into the book for a late challenge on Jamie McGuire, despite the cards there was no intention of either side calming down as both searched for the opener – former Stag Tom Naylor swung in a cross for the hosts which Alan Marriott plucked out of the air, seconds before McGuire sent through Sam Clucas, the former Hereford man was clean through but was denied by Pidgeley in the County goal who made a smart save to keep the Stags at bay on 25 minutes.
Newport then opened the scoring on 29 minutes as Adam Chapman swung in a corner which saw Stags undone. Chris Zebroski got the final touch as Mansfield failed to react to the powerful set play.
Matt Rhead then came close to a quick response three minutes later as Clucas made a fine challenge inside the Newport box before drilling into the feet of Rhead, the big front man firing agonisingly side as Stags looked to atone for their defensive error. Seconds later, Rhead was again in on the action, denied by Pidgely who pulled off a great save following Ben Hutchinson’s right sided cross.
Late on in the first half, Chapman again had the chance to tease with a set piece – however this time he fired over his free kick, seeing that County held just the one goal lead going in at the break.
It was a more sluggish start to the second half however a John Dempster handball on the edge of the box saw Newport given the chance to whip a free kick in on 51 minutes, Ritchie Sutton was on hand to clear Stags’ lines however the visitors failed to counter.
Ryan Jackson was booked seven minutes later for kicking the ball away, seconds later Matt Rhead was also booked for back chatting to the referee as both players began to feel the frustrations of the second half drop in tempo.
Paul Cox then switched formation on 64 minutes as Lee Beevers made way for Ollie Palmer, the former Havent & Waterlooville man went straight upfront to partner Rhead, with Clucas and Hutchinson taking their place out wide in a flat 4-4-2 formation.
The switch soon paid dividends as Sam Clucas levelled things on 67 minutes, the wide man converting from a Ben Hutchinson corner, reacting before the Newport defence to score his second in as many games with his head, the corner coming after sustained pressure down the left hand side.
Two minutes after Mansfield’s equalizer, Alan Marriott kept out opening goal scorer Chris Zebroski who managed to get goal side of the Stags back line, seconds later skipper Dempster went into the book as he fouled County sub Connor Washington. The resulting free kick saw Adam Chapman’s swinging ball bounce harmlessly wide of Marriott’s goal as the intensity of the game began to lift once more.
Ben Hutchinson was then replaced by Lindon Meikle as Cox injected some pace into the match on 74 minutes, seconds later Lee Minshull was shown a straight red card as he elbowed Martin Riley following a County free kick, Robbie Willmott was then immediately substituted for Michael Flynn as the hosts looked to best seal the numerical difference.
The numerical difference was soon rebalanced as the fiery nature of the fixture saw Stags reduced to ten men, striker Matt Rhead shown a second yellow card as he fouled the advancing County man Harry Worley on the edge of the Stags box with ten minutes to go.
Newport made their final throw of the dice on 85 as Chapman made way for Ryan Burge, neither side could go onto take all three points with Stags the closest late on, as Chris Clements’ dangerous corner was eventually cleared.
FULL TIME: Newport County 1-1 Mansfield Town
REFEREE: David Phillips
ATTENDANCE: 3,709 (212)
STAGS: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers (Ollie Palmer 64), Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster ©, Martin Riley, James Jennings, Jamie McGuire, Chris Clements, Ben Hutchinson (Lindon Meikle 74), Matt Rhead, Sam Clucas
UNUSED SUBS: Liam Mitchell, Lee Stevenson, Anthony Howell, Calvin Andrew, Junior Daniel.
As we begin the second month of the season, I’m looking forward to the outcome of tomorrow’s match as we’ll hopefully get an indication as to how far we’ve come since our promotion from the conference, as we lock horns with the side promoted along side us, Newport County.
Justin Edinburgh’s men fought their way through the play-offs at the end of last season, defeating Grimsby in the play-off semi-final before late goals against Wrexham at Wembley in the final, saw them join us in league two. Life in league two so far has been fairly positive, as County defeated Accrington Stanley on opening day to top the division, steady results since see the welsh club sat one place above us in eight.
As per for Stags, the negative start has passed and we now find ourselves on a mini-unbeaten run of four games with two draws and two victories, the latest of which coming last weekend against Dagenham and Redbridge at the One Call Stadium.
Since Edinburgh’s appointment at Newport, Mansfield (under Paul Cox) have failed to beat tomorrow’s opponents, being beaten 1-0, 4-3 and 2-0 in the three meetings with Edinburgh at County’s helm. Will Tomorrow be the day Cox’s conference Champions put an end to this sequence and continue their upturn in form? Only time will tell, however playing the side who were promoted alongside us, Cox should get an indication as to how much work there is left to do if we want to compete at a much higher level.
The transfer window slammed shut midweek and again there was no movement from the One Call Stadium. The loan window of course remains open to bring players in or ship them out, however I personally think we have enough strength now to go on and compete for a top 10 place – providing Cox gets the system right.
Newport are always tight at the back, a trait which helped them to promotion last term finishing with the 6th best defence in the division and the 2nd best attack – our defence was ranked 5th and our attack first. In order for Stags to break the Newport curse, they’ll need to play the ball on the floor and get play wide – playing Sam Clucas through the middle would be a waste tomorrow, get his creative spark wide and push a more instinctive finishing forward, step forward Calvin Andrew and Ollie Palmer – tomorrow could be the type of game we’re the duo could shine.
Waiting in the wings is Lee Stevenson, he scored a hat-trick against Notts County’s development side in a behind closed doors game during the week. 4-4-1-1 was our benchmark last term and again could be the key to undoing Newport, perhaps Stevenson behind Palmer/Andrew is the way forward tomorrow – I know they say never change a winning side but something’s have to be done for the greater good.
Whilst loosely on the subject of players not playing first team football and the transfer window, I wonder if Jake Speight will be loaned out in the next week or so after Cox said he could leave. Another already out on loan is George Pilkington at Forest Green Rovers, so far he’s played three times for Dave Hockaday’s men and has a month remaining with the Nailsworth based club, will his loan be extended during the window as realistically now, there’s no place for him in Cox’s league two side with Sutton, Riley and Dempster impressing and Tafazolli and McCombe in reserve.
Back to tomorrow’s game, it’ll be a stern test of team work and focus – fingers crossed for another three points ahead of a tough few weeks which accumulates in a tasty local derby!
LAST TIME WE MET
Promoted alongside each other last term, Stags and Newport have been frequent opponents in recent years, last term Justin Edinburgh’s men took maximum points from Paul Cox’s champions.
The first meeting came on opening day of last season at the One Call Stadium, a game full of entertainment, goals and sadly, defensive lapses. Ishmail Yakubu gave County a ninth minute lead with a header before Tony James doubled Newport’s lead a mere two minutes later with a stunning volley. After the break Jake Speight, who’d came from the bench to replace the injured Ross Dyer during the first half, tapped in to reduce the deficit, Matt Green then lobbed the visiting keeper to pull the match level on 50 minutes – as Stags fine start to the second half continued.
The hard work was soon undone five minutes later as Aaron O’Connor nodded Newport back in front, another former Stag in Jefferson Louis then made it 4-2 in Newport’s favour on 65 minutes. Jake Speight grabbed his second of the game as he headed home with two minute remaining setting up a tense finish but ultimately, Newport clung on.
The reserve fixture took place in early February amidst Mansfield’s first run of wins and good fortunate. Stags headed into the match seemingly unbeatable and with a killer formation, however Newport’s bog-like pitch made it impossible for Cox’s men to play their natural game, something County naturally capitalized on as second half goals from Andy Sandell (penalty) and Christian Jolley saw the South Wales outfit do the double on Mansfield.
In total there have been six meetings between the two sides, not counting the FA Trophy match in 2011 or the pre-season friendly the previous season. Newport have four victories, three under Justin Edinburgh against Paul Cox, whilst Stags have only beaten Newport the once – Cox’s men thrashed County 5-0 at the One Call Stadium in 2011 as County endured a poor start under former Tottenham Coach Anthony Hudson. There has been just the one draw, 3-3 at the One Call Stadium – the goals count stand at 11 apiece.
Paul Cox will have a big choice to make tomorrow, not only in terms of formation but whether or not to risk left back James Jennings and striker Ollie Palmer – both of course picked up knocks during the 3-0 victory over Dagenham. Left back Jennings was forced off injured after taking a knock to the ankle whilst Palmer was substituted with concussion – neither have trained since.
Elsewhere Ian Deakin remains side-lined but Keiran Murtagh could be available following his recent injury.
Written by Craig Priest
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