Craig Priest writes…
The two games in the previous week had seen poor performances, coupled with Notts County’s excellent form and it’s fair to say, there were fears that Mansfield Town would not be the Derby Day Victors – alas a brace from Danny Rose plus an own goal saw a solitary Magpie head back to Meadow Lane – One for Sorrow, as Stags ran out 3-1 winners.
It’s fair to say that the Stags were mismatched too with Paul Anderson at right back, Will Atkinson in the middle of the park and following an early injury to Alfie Potter, front man Omari Sterling-James out wide right – but there’s something about Derby Day that sparked Mansfield back into life and propelled them onto a good victory.
However it was more than just a game of football, with both sets of supporters uniting in applause in the 25th minute for the late Matt Salmon, the former Stags and Notts County phsyio who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year aged just 25.
When Notts County chairman Alan Hardy handed over the Matt Salmon Trophy after the full time whistle to John Radford, there wasn’t a hint of bitterness – all in all, it was a well contested derby, highlighted in the post-match comments of both managers and in particular Kevin Nolan, who was honest in his summary that the side who were the winners, deserved to be.
The midweek stumble at Cheltenham was below par and we now for my money can’t afford for anything similar to repeat itself, today we’ve beaten the best side in the league and kept one of the best talents quiet – if we want to be the best, we have to beat the best and we did that today.
Paul Anderson was superb at right back and added some leadership and experience to the back four, whilst I felt Johnny Hunt over at left back also had a strong game with Alex MacDonald in front of him also enjoying a good afternoon, showing that across the pitch we have quality and ability to get through and make a difference.
Once again Danny Rose was well, Danny Rose really! He is really flourishing under Steve Evans and you can see just how much he rates the front man from the embrace following his substitution.
Steve Evans made four changes from the side which were pathetically beaten in midweek, Calum Butcher, Will Atkinson, Alfie Potter and Kane Hemmings all came back into the starting XI.
The visitors, leading the way at the top of the league, began the brightest with an early corner – but the Stags stayed strong to clear their lines, the linesman’s offside flag also got an early outing at the other end on three minutes, when Mirfin was flagged offside from a deep MacDonald freekick.
Two minutes later, the Stags nearly grabbed the opener as Alex MacDonald again swung in a set play, Kane Hemmings provided the flick on and Danny Rose connected ahead of County keeper Adam Collin, but couldn’t swipe the ball towards goal as the ball fell rather unexpectedly to the fans favourite hit man.
The chances were coming thick and fast for both sides, Notts County had two chances inside a minute as Nottingham forest loanee Jorge Grant saw a shot deflected over before Will Atkinson did just enough to turn another Grant effort behind from the resulting corner. Conrad Logan then release Danny Rose early with a neat weighted ball on the counter attack, Matt Tootle spared the Magpies blushes with a good firm block.
On 17 minutes the visitors got a free kick in a really dangerous possession right on the edge of the area, fortunately Johnny Hunt was on hand to turn over Grants low effort.
Three minutes later the Stags had a free kick of their own only the Stags were far closer to making it county than what Notts county were at the other end, Alex MacDonald stepped up from 25 yards after Atkinson was tripped – Adam Collin palming the ball away as it headed towards the back of the net.
Two minutes later, a terrific ball from Calum Butcher saw Hemmings free in the visitors box – he opted for the first time volley which sailed over, he had time for a touch to set.
As applause bellowed across the One Call Stadium from all sides in memory of Matt Salmon, the Stags nearly made it bitter sweet, as from a Stags corner – skipper Pearce played the ball across the box, Hemmings once again turning the ball wide.
Danny Rose was caught offside on the half hour mark following a deep Anderson cross, before two minutes later – Alfie Potter, who had been tremendous across the pitch, was forced off injured – replaced somewhat surprisingly by Omari Sterling-James.
With four minutes to go before the half time whistle, Notts County had their golden chance – Grants’ initial effort was blocked by Atkinson, however the ball fell to the feet of Lewis Alessandra ten yards from goal – the Magpie’s effort flew over the bar.
Two minutes after the break the Stags, through a little bit of anticipation and luck – grabbed the breakthrough. The visitors tried to play the ball back to the keeper but Danny Rose was too kick for Tootle, beating him to the ball and knocking it beyond Collin to the jubilant cheers from the Stags faithful.
The visitors wouldn’t say die and came back at the Stags, Conrad Logan punched the ball away amidst a sea of bodies on 51 minutes, before David Mirfin threw himself at the ball two minutes later to clear the ball off of the line from Jonathan Fortes’ six yard effort – Conrad Logan clung onto the loose ball as the Stags breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Mansfield then grabbed their second on 59 minutes, Kane Hemmings may have some claim – as his header was pushed onto the post by Collin, Danny rose nipped in to put the ball firmly over the line as Mansfield made it two for joy.
Just four minutes later, it was three – Danny Rose was heavily involved once more with a solid run down the right hand side and a cross which, looking for a hungry Hemmings, was turned into the Magpies net by Richard Duffy, the visiting captain.
Notts County made a treble change on 67 minutes as they “tried a Luton” and threw bodies up top, the Stags stood firm and nearly added a fourth on 74 minutes as MacDonald swung in a free kick which skipper Pearce headed thunderously wide.
With eight minutes to go, Notts County saw appeals for a spot kick turned down before with two minutes to go, a chance at each end – first Adam Collin’s hopeful punt forward saw Logan spring out to claim, before at the other end, Danny Rose flicked in MacDonald who fired over from 14 yards.
Danny Rose was then replaced in the 89th minute to a standing ovation, before the Stags had a little blot on the canvas as Carl Dickinson curled in a free kick, not that there were many Notts County fans left to witness it!
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Notts County
Paul Anderson – Krystain Pearce © - David Mirfin – Johnny Hunt
Alfie Potter (Omari Sterling-James 32) – Calum Butcher – Will Atkinson – Alex MacDonald
Kane Hemmings (Jimmy Spencer 86) – Danny rose (Lee Angol 89)
Unused substitutes: Bobby Olejnik, Rhys Bennett, Jacob Mellis, CJ Hamilton
Attendance: 7,072 (1,644)
Referee: Darren Drysdake Assistants Wade Smith, David Benton Fourth Official Peter Gibbons
Mansfield Town’s performances over the past week has been nothing short of poor, at that’s putting it kindly – but tomorrow is Derby Day where as we know, the form book goes out of the window… Although that fact alone isn’t enough to get us through.
Not for a second can Mansfield sit back and think Derby Day emotion and adrenaline will carry them through, it may have been enough in the past – but this is a Notts County side who really, we should take our hats off too – they’re much improved, playing good football and riding a crest of a wave.
In a league fixture Notts County haven’t beaten the Stags since 2005 when the Stags threw away a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 with minutes to go. The Stags have enjoyed bragging rights for ages and with County reborn and rejuvenated – the Magpies will be looking to inflict one result of Sorrow on Mansfield Town.
Kevin Nolan has County fired up and in good form, showing the talent that he is as a manager, where as at the moment Steve Evans just has his players confused - we have to forget his nine promotions of football past, we have to forget the bookmakers favourite tag, we have to go back to basics.
Other than Luton at home, we’ve not played with the flare – and even then we we’re consistent as one simple move from the opposing management and it fell apart quicker than a knocked off game of jenga.
We are capable of playing with flare, and we are capable of staying tight at the back – let’s combine the two tomorrow and see the game through. County will of course come and try to wind up Steve Evans, they’ll come and rough the game up too – if ever there was a need for Jamie McGuire then this is it!
We can play our part too, by singing loud and not getting on our players back – we’ve been successful over county in previous seasons because right from the heart of the dressing room we’ve had players and staff who understood the rivalry, who understood what getting a win meant to the supporters.
Steve Evans is many things but he’s not a local, the players he’s assembled are many things, but they’re not long serving at Mansfield Town and as such, haven’t seen the change in mood and atmosphere on Derby Day at MTFC – of course they’ll have played in similar games at other clubs, but that’s not the same – we all know things are different here!
We have to start well and be consistent, if we do – we’ll win! Notts County will have a whiff of arrogance about them considering the run they’re on, if we can get under their skin we should be ok, but not for a second will it be easy.
We need passion, we need pride, we need bite – liverpudlian bite…. Sadly that’ll be in Forest Town at 3pm with Boston United against AFC Mansfield! Seriously though, we just need to go back to basics and do the simple things.
It’s going to be without doubt the most hard fought, hotly contested Mansfield Town V Notts County encounter in years – PLEASE boys, turn up, put a shift in, win and most importantly learn from Tuesday and PLAY TO THE ******* WHISTLE!
COME ON YOU STAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGSSSSSSSSSSSS
Craig Priest writes…
The only thing worth evening writing about after last night’s frankly pathetic display at Cheltenham is a huge Lorry Fire on the way to the game, a soggy cuppa at the ground, and then horrible diversions on the way home…
Yet that’s quite apt, as Mansfield’s excellent form was burned to ashes like the Lorry on the M5, the players had about as much resilience as the paper cup which leaked out half of my cuppa before I could drink it, and the result was a diversion of the Mansfield Town we hoped would be performing in League Two this season.
I could sit here and blast the referee and question a number of decisions, the second goal certainly was a talking point however, I don’t know if it’s the fumes from that burning lorry combined with the constant beam of light from the motorway’s at night – but for my money, it boils down to this – Mansfield Town were not up for the challenge, Cheltenham were and look who won.
For over 200 supporters to travel over two hours midweek to go and watch their team away from home not be bothered in the slightest is absolutely pathetic – and it’s not even a one-off, the performance was the same Saturday. Clearly Lady Luck got stuck in traffic.
Mansfield were left fuming by the second goal and rightly so, BUT (and I put that in capitals, bold and underlined for emphasis) you should ALWAYS PLAY TO THE BLOODY WHISTLE! Why on earth did Mansfield’s players just stop dead? Stopping dead doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want – Christ if it were that simple every time a pretty girl came close to me I’d stop dead. FACT it doesn’t work, and I’d expect a bunch of professional footballers to know better.
That cost us the game. Not the referee who, YES should have awarded the free-kick, but by us not obeying a basic rule of the game. Surround him later by all means, but until the ball is dead and out of harm’s way – don’t stop!
Tactically I thought we got it wrong last night too, Cheltenham have a tight pitch and have one style of play – smash it long and try and get in behind. I’d have gone three at the back and compacted the midfield with Mellis in a creative attacking role, pinning Cheltenham into their own half and just letting the back three mop up.
But hey, I’m no football manager.
I won’t sit here and lay into players either, I don’t think anybody in particular stood out – ironically I think Digby was our best player winning challenges, yet he’ll be the scapegoat for getting booked and getting hands on with his marker.
The thing is now, the game is done – with only the smouldering remains of once was to pick over, a bit like the poor M5 lorry driver – we sweep up, and move on QUICKLY because one thing that is fact, if we perform like we have done for the past two, maybe even three games – Notts County on Saturday will turn us over.
Steve Evans made a staggering five changes from the weekend’s 2-1 win over Cambridge with Rhys Bennett, Jacob Mellis, Will Atkinson, Lee Angol and Paul Anderson coming in – Pearce kept the armband despite Anderson, also vice-captain, getting his first start since the 1-1 draw at Carlisle.
Struggling Cheltenham knew a good result against the Stags could kick start their season and began brightly, Conrad Logan got his hands to an early free kick as Brian Graham sent a header into the box – moments later Mohamed Eisa swung in a cross but fortunately for a sleepy Mansfield, Carl Winchester’s touch was tame with the game barley five minutes old.
Lee Angol had the Stags first effort as his effort from the edge of the box deflected behind for Mansfield first corner – the hosts did well to clear as Mellis swung in the ball towards Paul Digby.
The hosts had a golden opening on six minutes as David Mirfin failed to clear his lines with a poor header, Graham span clear in the box and lifted the ball over the on rushing Logan – who watched on as the Robins’ front-man’s effort landed wide of the goal.
Jacob Mellis then created a key opening for Mansfield on 11 minutes with a nice touch and low delivery to split the hosts open, Lee Angol was the man who raced through but one on one with Scott Flinders, saw his effort palmed to safety by the former York City and Macclesfield shot stopper.
Angol then turned provider on 24 minutes as he chested the ball down into the path of Danny Rose, the hot hitter couldn’t make it three goals in as many games though, fizzing his effort wide of the post – Rose also put one wide following good work from Mellis on the right hand side three minutes later.
With ten minutes to go before the break Mansfield were enjoying their best spell, Lee Angol was again heavily involved as he drove towards the area and saw an effort blocked – Paul Anderson was first too it and swung the ball back into the mix, Mellis unleashing the final shot via a deflection – but again the Robins back line stood firm to clear the danger.
Three minutes later, Anderson almost got lucky as a misplaced clearance from Flinders saw him smash the ball back towards goal from 40 yards out on the half volley – his effort nestled onto the roof of the net, much to the relief of Flinders.
With two minutes to go before the half time break, Cheltenham found the breakthrough only to be denied by the off-side flag – Kevin Dawson sent a header crashing against the post, before Logan parried away a follow up into the path of the Cheltenham man – a back heel across the line promptly flagged offside.
After the break Mansfield struggled to get going and conceded a free-kick just two minutes into the half on the edge of the box. After taking an age to allow play to go on, the referee blew the whistle and from the resulting delivery, failed to track the run of Graham who turned home Dawson’s deft delivery from 10 yards.
Minutes later it should have been two for the hosts as Winchester was allowed space to get a shot away from the edge of the area, he dragged his effort wide of Logan’s goal as Mansfield completely deflated.
Logan then made a fine save on 63 as Mansfield, despite bringing on two pairs of fresh legs, failed to get going – loanee Joe Morrell denied by a one handed save from Logan, before Mirfin cleared the ball of the line to spare Mansfield’s blushes.
Two minutes later, it was the post which came to Mansfield’s aid as the long serving Harry Pell controlled well on the edge of the box and volleyed towards goal – the Stags scrambled clear the loose ball.
Omari Sterling-James replaced Angol on 68 but despite a chance up front for the Stags, it was the hosts who bagged their second on 70 minutes in controversial circumstances – the fresh Stags sub was fouled twenty-five yards out and Mansfield just stopped, expecting the whistle to be blown, it wasn’t and Morrell curled into the bottom corner beyond Logan who didn’t move.
Steve Evans was then sent to the stands on 75 minutes and disappeared down the tunnel, whilst on the pitch, it was as you were with Cheltenham very much on top and in control. Harry Pell one of many Robins players to nearly grab a third as time ticked on.
Danny Rose nearly halved the scores with five minutes to go – MacDonald played in Mellis who squared to Rose, his first time effort from 25 yards again fizzed wide in front of the 204 visiting supporters who desperately wondered what on earth they were watching unfolded.
That 204 would soon make for the exist as three minutes from time, Cheltenham skipped through the back line and grabbed their third, Daniel Wright the man applying the finish – drilling underneath Logan from just inside the box.
Late on into added on time, Logan denied the hosts a fourth palming Sellars’ effort around the post – but by then, the damage was done and I, along with 90% of the travelling fans – were half way back to the motorway.
FULL TIME: Cheltenham Town 3-0 Stags
Rhys Bennett – Krystain Pearce © - David Mirfin – Johnny Hunt
Paul Anderson (Alex MacDonald 58) – Paul Digby (Calum Butcher 58) – Jacob Mellis – Will Atkinson
Lee Angol (Omari Sterling-James 68) – Danny Rose
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Jimmy Spencer, Alfie Potter, Kane Hemmings
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 2,480 (204)
As Mansfield town prepare to head for Cheltenham Town FC, it’s the place barley just two miles from the ground which the Stags must draw their inspiration from – Cheltenham Racecourse, as the Stags must jump the hurdle, to keep on the winning track ahead of Saturday’s derby against Notts County, the current league leaders.
Notts County is of course one of the most anticipated games of the season, but before they go toe to toe, the Stags have the tough test of Cheltenham to face, a side who may not have had the best of starts, but are very capable of upsetting the odds.
Great race winners maintain their focus, their composure even when they start to tire, something the Stags must do if they’re able to continue their, thus far, unbeaten September.
Gary Johnson is an excellent manager and will have his side fired up to face Steve Evans men, who it’s fair to say, we’re very below par on Saturday at home to Cambridge. The Stags can’t afford a repeat performance on that front and as such, I feel changes may be a foot.
Having only just escaped the drop into the conference last season, the Robins will be looking to pull themselves away from the bottom and in the last two games have done that slightly with a win and a very credible draw at Accrington – we all know how hard a task that is!
It’s always a tough fixture against Cheltenham, if anything they’re a toughest test than Notts County – the latter will be hungry to build on momentum and will be riding on the crest of a wave, to them a positive result tomorrow in their long trip to second placed Exeter and Saturday is a foregone conclusion – where as Cheltenham are scrappy, they’ll know a good result against ourselves could really kick start their season.
This is where we must be ruthless, we must go to Cheltenham and play them at their own game – be scrappy and fight for everything, if we get a couple of goals we’ll start to deflate them and be able to exploit that weakness.
It’s going to be a horrible night most likely with rain – this is where you’ll start to see the characters in the dressing rooms come out. Who fancies a wet Tuesday night in Cheltenham, who fancies fighting the biting cold to bring home the points, who is going to stand up and be counted for those supporters who’ve made the trip – and those glued to their speakers and smart phones back home?
At this stage of the season, it’s as much about mindset as it is performance – seven years ago today, John Radford took over as the clubs Chairman and owner – the transformation in that time has been nothing short of breath-taking, simply because he didn’t chuck the towel in when we we’re facing midweek trips to Gateshead, when we we’re getting beaten by Hayes and Yeading or when off the pitch factors also started to rare their ugly head. The players need perhaps to be told that story tomorrow, because on the pitch we need that never say die attitude – to allow us in this marathon of a season, to be a winner at the races.
Craig Priest writes…
Danny Roses’ 87 minute winner completed a U-Turn for Mansfield Town at Cambridge United in what was a frustrating afternoon in a game which would have been more fitting being played on a chess board – but once the final whistle blew, three points were once more in the possession of Mansfield Town Football Club.
Realistically that’s all that matters too – yes the performance was horrible to watch and extremely frustrating, but if the difference between promotion and another season languishing in league two is three points, then who seriously cares how we won them?
You can’t play ‘sexy’ football week in week out, this is league two for a start! The objective in each game is three points, or bags of coal too use the Steve Evans reference – how you get them doesn’t matter, you don’t get bonus points for fancy touches or fluid passing, the sooner we remember that the better.
Shaun Derry was right in his post-match comments, they did dominate the majority of the game and as soon as Paul Digby went off – I knew they’d get a goal in a same way they have done for the majority of the season so far, cross from deep – the runners pull the centre backs apart and the big lad pops up and heads it home.
One of my biggest frustrations in football is when people watch the ball rather than the game, those who do the unseen work go unnoticed and criticised for not being involved, or in the case of Digby yesterday, when they are seen on the ball and make a passing error – get hounded, despite all the other work they’ve been doing.
I won’t back up Digby’s passing, even he’ll know it wasn’t on par with what was required – yet his job isn’t to ping forty yard passes or take on three players box to box – it’s to be the interceptor, plug the gaps and keep the back line solid.
Mirfin and Pearce, as well as they performed, we’re getting pulled apart by the Cambridge attack – as they tried for find space for Uche Ikpeazu and Jabo Ibehre to attack. Digby dropped in and stopped that from happening, when he was subbed on 55 minutes – I said Cambridge would score – they did, just three minutes later in exactly the way Digby’s presence had prevented.
There and then we deserved nothing bar a beating but football sometimes springs a surprise and has a flirtation with lady luck, Jacob Mellis’ penalty squirmed underneath the keeper to broaden Ms Lucks’ smile on us before Danny Rose did what Danny Rose does best with three minutes to go.
Did we deserve to win? No. Draw? At times I’d say no again but again it’s not how you earn the points, it’s the fact you have. Cheltenham on Tuesday will be a tough cookie to taste, and then Notts County on Saturday – well they’re in the best shape they’ve been for years and if we play just 0.5% like we did yesterday – it’ll be the Magpie inflicting one for sorrow on Mansfield on Derby Day.
Steve Evans rewarded Danny Rose for his heroics at Lincoln with a start in the place of Lee Angol, but otherwise it was as you were as the Stags welcomed Cambridge.
Rose started with the same hunger he’d brought to the Lincoln game a week ago and won a free kick within the first minute, Johnny Hunt’s delivery sat up well for Captain Pearce – penalised for a push on his marker and the first chance came and went.
Hayden White, who set Rose for the winner at Lincoln, offered a couple of chances for the Stags – six minutes in his cross aiming for Kane Hemmings, was plucked out of the air by Republic of Ireland glovesman David Forde, before three minutes later - another White cross deflected up for Hemmings to flick on for Rose, who despite having his back to goal – nearly pulled off an acrobatic overhead kick – Forde well place to keep Rose at bay.
At the other end Captain Pearce lost his balance on 14 minutes allowing the experienced former Carlisle man Ibehre to pounce, Pearce did well to recover and keep the front man at bay.
Frustration was starting to creep in as Mansfield were reluctant to close play down, and Cambridge were also offering little – it was very much a game of chess between too tactical managers. The Stags saw an opening on 24 minutes, but Potter saw his inviting through ball swept away by Brad Halliday, before a minute later at the other end, as the Stags allowed the ball to drop in the box to the feet of Jevani Brown – Conrad Logan expertly palmed away his goal bound half-volley.
After the break, Mansfield had a little more zip about them in terms of chasing the ball – but neither side we’re ready to make their killer move. After a few misplaced passes Paul Digby was replaced by the more attack minded Jacob Mellis, whilst Paul Anderson also replaced Alfie Potter on 55 minutes.
Three minutes later, Cambridge got the game’s opening goal – capitalising on the space left by Digby’s substitution, and it was a simple one too – Cambridge swung in a corner, nobody tracked the run of Leon Legge who rose highest to score a very easy header.
Past the hour and the Stags had the chance to level on 63 minutes, MacDonalds cross-come-shot saw Rose throw himself at the ball, denied again by Forde, who a minute later, would be cursing Lady Luck, as she smiled on Stags.
Hayden White went on another mazy run and was upended in the area, for the Stags sixth spot-kick of the season in all competitions. Lee Angol, who buried two out of two in the 4-1 win over Grimsby wasn’t on the pitch and so Jacob Mellis took responsibility. His effort was technically saved by Forde who guessed right, but somehow, spun back through the keepers hands and squirmed into the back of the net, for a very fortunate equaliser.
With Lady Luck flashing her best flirtatious smile on the Stags, they went in search of a U-Turn in fortunes, Alex MacDonald sent in a teasing cross which deflected away with 70 minutes played, a minute later he was slotted in by White but agonisingly drove an effort wide of Forde’s goal.
Danny Rose also had an effort saved by Forde, before a long stoppage in play saw former Stag and promotion winning left back Greg Taylor get bandaged up for a head wound – he’d carry on for a few more minutes before being replaced as the game stop-started.
However before the change, Rose, who had been the hero against Lincoln, would then spark another chorus of “Danny, Danny ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSEEE” with three minutes of normal time to go.
Mirfin started the movement with a deep free-kick, headed away to the path of MacDonald who swept the ball wide to Mellis – the Stags went backwards with the ball but only to White who smashed the ball long and down the middle, where Pearce – who’d stayed up from the free kick, nodded the ball into the feet of Rose, who stroked the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot.
Six minutes were added on and the Stags were penned in by Cambridge who did not want to go home empty handed, but very loud and clear instructions from Evans too “Kill the game” saw Stags somehow get across the line and record a very big victory.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-1 Cambridge United
Hayden White – Krystain Pearce © – David Mirfin – Johnny Hunt
Alfie Potter (Paul Anderson 55) – Paul Digby (Jacob Mellis 55) – Calum Butcher – alex MacDonald
Danny Rose – Kane Hemmings (Lee Angol 74)
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Rhys Bennett, Will Atkinson, Omari Sterling-James
Attendance: 3,814 (349)
Referee: Ben Toner Assistants Declan Ford, Abbas Khan Fourth Official Gary Hilton
As city famed for its top university, Cambridge often pop up on tough to tackle TV show University Challenge, but as United visit the One Call Stadium tomorrow – how’s this for a starter for ten, Can the Stags continue their solid September and give Cambridge a proper education.
With two wins and two draws from September thus far, The Stags have made up for their aggravating August, improving at the back massively having not conceded from open play for some 370 minutes, and resiliently grinding out positive results. For example, both they Wycombe and Lincoln games would have ended very differently (and not in a good way) played a few weeks earlier.
Shaun Derry is a first class coach and manager, naturally a lot tend to dislike him because he managed Notts County, but he’s assembled a good team and Cambridge will pose a tough challenge – they’ll come to the One Call wanting all three points and with two tall centre forwards are very good in the air, so Murfin and Pearce will again need to be on good form – as they have been recently forming a solid pairing.
Defensively Cambridge are a bit shaky, and as they’ll have to make changes with George Taft unable to play against his parent club, we need to keep hammering on the door – Danny Rose and Lee Angol has to be the pairing for me, whilst as Cambridge sit deep – Alfie Potter would be a wise choice.
Aside from their defeat at Barnet, it’s been a pretty tight game each time for Cambridge, so again I foresee a scrappy affair – anyone thinking we’re going to be a pretty side, should certainly think again – what matters is, as we have in September so far, rising to the occasion.
We have to start better for certain, but if we can do that and stay switched on – we’ll be ok. Having had minutes in the back for the reserves in midweek, there are plenty of players chomping at the bit – I don’t foresee wholesale changes but I do see Evans tweaking things when it comes to tomorrow and then the tricky midweek trip to Cheltenham, what we must maintain throughout is the fight and desire which has flipped our fortunes over the past few weeks.
Because of the emotion a little factor got over looked at Lincoln – we ended their near perfect home form which had seen them go a year without defeat at home, that in itself was difficult and proved we are a team capable of upsetting the odds. Time to do it again as Cambridge pose a challenge at the One Call Stadium
Mark Plumb writes....
Mansfield Town continued the league 2 campaign with their first away win of the season, courtesy of Danny Rose. Their was 3 changes made to the line up with Paul Digby, Hayden White and Alfie Potter coming into the side replacing Jacob Mellis, Rhys Bennett and Joel Byrom respectively.
The first half wasn't much to shout about from our perspective, with Lincoln having the lion share of possession and restricting us from playing. Throughout the half and the whole match the defence looked a solid unit, along with Logan who was impressive again.
Neither side looked likely to score, with both keepers having a relatively easy first half not being tested at it. The only stand out performers in the first half for me was Mirfin and Pearce continuing their impressive partnership in the centre of defence. First half whistle blew with the scoring being level at the break. For me it was disappointing, Lincoln were organised and make it difficult for us to get a foot hold in the game. It was way to flat in my opinion and changes needed to be made.
The second half started with the Stags attacking from the blocks straight away with over 1,459 Mansfield fans backing Steve Evans men throughout the game, chanting for DANNY DANNY ROSE. We got our wish on the hour mark when the fans favourite came on to replace Hemmings, who was ineffective throughout the game. Rose came on to nick a goal and he did just that when Hayden Whites run down the wing, crossed ball into the area fell nicely for Rose who jumped up well to meet the ball making it 1-0 Mansfield.
Two more changes were made to the Stags with Anderson and Atkinson coming on to protect the Stags lead for Angol and Macdonald. Lincoln made changes of their own with Josh Ginnely coming on almost making an impact with a turn to unleash a shot towards Logan's near post, that was well saved by the Stags number one, who was looking solid throughout.
Their was a number of good performances from the likes of Hunt, White, Rose, Mirfin, Logan and Digby to name a few for an impressive performance. As soon as we went in front Danny Cowleys side struggled to get back in the game with the Stags restricting them from going in front, despite them having majority of the possession. The full time whistle blew and it was 1-0 to the Stags a much deserved/ needed win in my opinion.
The positives was we came away with the 3 points, clean sheet and continuing our unbeaten run. Their is hardly any negatives that concerns me, as a lot of teams will find it tough to come to Sincil Bank, which many teams find it hard to get a result. On to the next one at home to Cambridge. UP THE STAGS !
Craig Priest writes…
Danny Roses’ goal within three minutes of coming off the bench yesterday at Sincil Bank sparked jubilant scenes, but it also demonstrated that Mansfield Town FC finally were capable of rising to the occasion – beating rivals Lincoln City for their first away win of the season, and ending the Imps impressive near year-long run at home without defeat.
The first half, let’s pull no punches here, was dreadful – although Lincoln won’t be saying the same, there is after all a reason that teams like that go on such a long run unbeaten at home, they play nitty gritty, they play ugly and they don’t let teams play, frustrating them long enough to become frustrated and make mistakes, which they then pounce on.
Had we played that fixture two, maybe three, weeks ago that WOULD have happened, but the Stags now are looking stronger and stronger as a unit, game by game and no longer fall into those traps. Steve Evans no doubt gave the boys a shake at the break – but they chipped and chipped away and finally got the reward.
After that, the resilient defending of every single player just highlighted the fact we are in this together. I’m a big fan of the Cowley brothers at Lincoln and believe they will be up there, it must have been brilliant being a Lincoln fan over the last year, but yesterday – they lost a battle, not just on the pitch – but tactically, not so much a smash and grab – but more a game of battleships really. Mansfield hid their ships well enough to avoid any hits, but we’re patient enough to get a hit in of their own – remember the titanic only nipped that iceburg… the damage, was done.
It was a huge team performance, but in every team you need one or two standout performers to lead and inspire the footmen, step forward Alex MacDonald. He ran his socks off yesterday and was tenacious cross park in closing down players, putting in biting challenges, playing sprayed passes to open up with imps, and in the latter stages of the second half before he was subbed to a standing ovation, battled through the pain barrier after throwing himself in front of shot after shot – and what looked like popping his shoulder out, Lee Beevers style.
Nothing was mentioned after the game so, if he did or not, I’ll never know, but he looked in some pain with his right shoulder.
Danny Rose rightfully takes the headlines with his impact goal, BUT aside from the header – he was tremendous all over the pitch, chasing things down, winning headers, winning tackles, throwing himself at everything. Heroic, a word you can use for Paul Digby too, who was unbeatable in midfield and played a, majorly unnoticed, but pivotal role in keeping the Mansfield of old at bay.
Conrad Logan once again was heroic, he’s really starting to come into his own now and prove his critics wrong – as with anytime I’ve questioned a player, I love nothing better than when they turn things around – two world class saves again yesterday and he marshalled his back line well, releasing the steam as the pressure cooker was ramped up to maximum, time after time.
David Mirfin was a rock alongside captain Pearce, Matt Rhead pretty much wore his shirt until he went off, whilst Matt Green got nowhere but offside – a little moan here about booing Rhead and Green, they practically won us the conference, they are HEROES, they are LEGENDS, they deserve nothing but praise, if you booed them, shame on you. Ollie Palmer, I get with his social media antics and interviews since, but Rhead and Green? They could kill the queen, burn down the One Call and score a million against us in the next game and they’d still be heroes for me.
Anyway, back to the here and now – we are now half way through our September fixtures and are unbeaten in five league matches with three draws and two wins. Within that, we haven’t conceded in two games, and if you look at us in open play – therefore excluding the penalty against Grimsby, haven’t conceded in 345 minutes of football in open play. If we can continue that throughout the remainder of the month, then our slow start will prove that football is a marathon and not a sprint after all.
Steve Evans made three changes to the side which drew with Wycombe in midweek, Rhys Bennett was missing through illness, Joel Byrom is also out for 2-3 weeks with a foot strain – they we’re replaced by Hayden White and Paul ‘The Interceptor’ Digby respectively, whilst Alfie Potter replaced Jacob Mellis, moving Calum Butcher into his preferred central role.
Early afternoon rain swept Sincil Bank, but that was drowned out by a tremendous following of Stags fans rammed in behind the goal – who watched a scrappy opening in which referee Rob Jones stopped and started play, awarding a number of free-kicks for both sides.
The Stags had their first glimpse of goal eight minutes in as Butcher looked to pick out Hemmings, the Oxford loan man, yet to get off the mark for the Stags – headed the ball up into the air killing the danger.
Naturally at the other end it was an ex-Stag who nearly created the Imps opener on 13 minutes as Matt Green beat the offside trap down the right hand side – Conrad Logan came racing out to try and clear as the Stags had left themselves too far forward – Green knocked the ball beyond Logan, drilled the ball into the middle for Billy Knott, whose effort was blocked by Murfin who threw himself at the goal bound ball.
Five minutes later, Green was again the provider – this time for Michael Bostwick whose drive from distance flew over the bar, whilst the offside flag also came to the Stags aid against Green, who in a nice little throwback, was chasing down every single Rhead flick on – all Lincoln needed was Marriott in goal pinging balls up to Rhead and in would have been Carbon Copy of the football which won us the league title.
The modern day Stags saw a sight of goal again on 26 minutes as Angol was felled thirty from goal, as he and MacDonald stood over the ball, he told the winger to drill the ball low, remembering the way the imps set-up from set-plays from his loan spell earlier in the year prior to joining the Stags. MacDonald took up the advice, but curled low the wrong side of the post as Farman, as guessed by Angol, was rooted to his line.
Just past the half hour, Knott tried to untie the Stags with a 22 yard volley, David Mirfin’s knee’s blocked the effort as the Imps continued to enjoy the better of the first half play – Mirfin once again blocked an effort, this time from Bostwick on the stroke of half time, moments after Logan had done well to hold onto Sean Raggett’s firm header.
Steve Evans made two changes in midweek against Wycombe as things weren’t going the Stags way – this time he left it as it was but did again see an improvement from his side – two minutes into the half, ex-imp Lee Angol latched onto the loose ball following an excellent tackle from Digby, trying to catch Farman out – Angol blazed over from distance, much to his own anguish.
Alfie Potter then provided for Hemmings, bring down a MacDonald pass beautifully with a neat touch, sadly for the rejuvenated Stage – Potters’ cross was just too heavy for Hemmings.
Steve Evans then played his Ace card on 58 minutes as he introduced Rose for Hemmings, Alfie Potter sent a volley over from 18 yards on the stroke of the hour, but just a minute later it was Rose who dealt the killer blow.
Hayden White showed great pace and tenacity to bomb forward down the right hand side and take the ball around Sam Haberham – he lofted the ball into the middle and Rose, anticipating what White was going to do, leaped above the defenders to thunder his header beyond Paul Farman to break the tense deadlock – three minutes after coming on. The celebration was something else!
Lincoln would now try every trick in the book to draw level and Stags knew they were in for a battle, Alfie Potter, Johnny Hunt and Alex MacDonald all threw themselves into fiery challenges to keep Lincoln at bay – Conrad Logan then produced another expert save on 68 minutes, Imps sub Josh Ginnelly twisted his way through and, after cutting inside from the left, fired at Logan, who at full stretch – palmed the ball away which through a sea of Amber and Red blurs, was thumped clear.
Billy Knott was next up to fire a missile goal wards, his 73rd minute 30 yard drive flew over the bar – whilst Pearce also had to thrash away a cross from Sean Long on 82 minutes – a minute later, Logan again beating away an effort from Knott, the Stags were under siege from Lincoln, but blatantly refused to be beaten.
Danny Rose with eight minutes to go showed his defenders credentials with two excellent headers inside the Stags box to clear the danger – at the other end with two minutes to go, he curled an effort wide from distance which was dipping.
The Stags battle through four additional minutes with the tactical switch of Atkinson for Angol putting five across the middle and not allowed Lincoln a sniff as the clock ran down and, at the sound of the whistle, Sincil Bank burst its banks with an outcry of Amber passion – Steve Evans sprinted over to the Stags support, as did the coachin staff, players and subs to celebrate winning one hell of a fight.
FULL TIME: Lincoln City 0-1 Stags
Hayden White – Krystain Pearce © - David Mirfin – Johnny Hunt
Alfie Potter – Calum Butcher – Paul Digby – Alex MacDonald (Paul Anderson 85)
Kane Hemmings (Danny Rose 58) – Lee Angol (Will Atkinson 90+1)
Unused substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Zander Diamond, Jacob Mellis, Omari Sterling-James
Attendance: 9,563 (1,459)
Referee: Rob Jones, Assistants Ken Haycock & Paul Thompson, Fourth Official James Wilson
Mansfield Town are all set for their second early kick-off on a Saturday in a row tomorrow as they make the short journey to Lincoln City, a game they need to stage an IMPortant performance and pick up three points.
I still feel that a point against resilient Wycombe is justified, but there are a fair few that disagree, and as such – we need to beat the current conference champions and show them what life in League Two is all about, oh and make up for that unacceptable collapse in the checkatrade trophy a few weeks ago!
I’m a big fan of the Imps management Duo, they have Lincoln well drilled and have a good attitude about them, it’s clear why they’ve been so successful in building a conference winning team, and a team which upset the odds in the FA Cup last season too.
They’ve started this season too on a high, and make no mistake about it – it has little to do with early season luck, the Cowley Brothers will have one eye on back to back promotions.
Against the Imps in the checkatrade, we played a completely different side yes, but with the strength we have – we should not have made those critical mistakes, from the off – Lincoln will remember those and try to enforce them once again.
This is a big reason why we must build on Tuesday and not see that result as a negative which many, sadly, do. It was a clean sheet against a resilient side who are tough to beat when they travel away from home – tomorrow we face another resilient side who have added to their team of champions, a side which haven’t lost at home, if my quick research is correct, since this time last year – a 2-1 loss to Barrow as Paul Cox’s men set their early pace.
The Imps set up to frustrate teams, they set up to tire teams out and to pounce when they’ve done do. They set-up to wind players up, they have an excellent wind up merchant in a certain Matt Rhead remember! We have to deal with that professionally and play with an intensity to match, from start to finish.
I’ve visited Lincoln many times, both as a fan and as a commentator, I’ve NEVER seen a dull game there, they’re always fuelled with fire and passion – have we got the players to do that in the right way? For me, yes, but Steve Evans has to get the selection right – that selection isn’t that of the previous two matches either, a game such as this will need a Paul Digby, an Anderson, a MacDonald – and just maybe a flair player such as Rose and Potter, the latter ran rings around Lincoln the last time around.
We are at a pivotal stage of the season now, where we don’t just need to beat our “rivals” – but we also need to send a message to League Two and gradually pick up some speed. Where better to start than tomorrow at Lincoln, as old – meets new. COYS!
Mark Plumb Writes...
Mansfield Town continued their league 2 campaign with a scrappy 0-0 draw at the hands of Wycombe Wanderes on a miserable wet night at Field Mill. The team was unchanged that beat Grimsby convincingly heading into the game, which for me was spot on.
The first half started with the Stags creating chances earlier on from Lee Angol whose first time shot was well saved by Scott Brown who did well to keep the effort out. In the first 15 minutes we played some good football in the early exchanges showing signs that we would be the most likely to score. Wycombe stood up well to the challenge making life hard for our front men to have much of an impact on the game, out muscling and being organised when called upon under pressure.
Dan Scarr must have thought he put his side in front when his header looked certain to end up in the back of the net only for Logan to pull out an impressive save from close range. That was only one of his saves to keep out the Chairboys. Wycombe kept on pressing us high up the pitch, with Mansfield struggling to get a foot hold in the game in my opinion, especially in the midfield area.
Once again Scarr found himself on the end of another header towards the stags goal, again being kept out with Logan heading away from goal to somehow keep it out. Even though the conditions did play a part throughout the match it was frustrating us not being able to play our usual game, as we have been doing a lot so far this season.
This time it was Marcus Bean who fancied his chance with a shot for outside the box, which Logan could only parry out to Makii Smith whose shot was well kept out from point blank range from the former Rochdale man. So far this season he has been criticised for his performances thus far, including myself in previous blogs but if it wasn't for his saves we could have easily have gone on to lose the game by 4-0 with the chances they created. Logan if your reading this hats off to you.
The half time whistle blew with the scores at 0-0 with the rain not letting up any time soon. Overall assessment for me in the first half was disappointing after the first 15 minutes of the game with Mansfield not doing enough on the ball and making the most out of the chances we had in the early periods of the match. The second half began with Atkinson and Anderson replacing Macdonald and Mellis respectively. Much of the second half was very scrappy with both teams getting into some crunching tackles and the ball being played to much in the air for me.
We had a good chance to break the deadlock when Hemmings crossed into the box was screaming for the ball to be put away, with Rhys Bennett being inches away from connecting with the ball. Alfie Potter was introduced coming on for Butcher, who put an average performance at best not having made much of an impact since his promising debut against Carlisle.
In the last 10 minutes Wycombe were mounting on the pressure, taking advantage of our sloppy play by giving the ball away inviting them to attack us. The rest of the half was nothing to shout about with the only other chance coming from the Stags was Hemmings who shot was miss timed completely giving Wycombe the chance to clear their lines. Full time whistle blew giving Mansfield 4 points in the space of 3 days.
The positives from the game was we kept a clean sheet, looking solid at the back and their were no injuries. On another day we could have easily have lost the game by at least 4 goals if not for Logan pulling the saves out of the bag. Their were standout performances from Logan, Hunt, Mirfin and Pearce to name a few that have done enough for me to keep their place in the team against Lincoln come Saturday. The negatives was not taking advantage of the chances we had and being dispossessed far to easily for me, not being able to get a foot hold in the match. On to Lincoln Saturday which will be a good test for the team. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!!!!
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