Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Dartford FC V Mansfield Town FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #16
Venue: Princess Park
Date & Time: Friday 26th October 2012 – 7.45pm (Live on Premier Sports TV)
Match Referee: Mike Bull
Attendance: 1713 (100 Approximately)
First of all let me appologise for the lateness of this post following Friday night's 2-0 defeat at Dartford. I've had a break with Em and as such haven't had chance to upload things. I sit typing at 12.30 on Sunday as Em drives us home up the A1(M), watching the white lines come flashing by gave me food for thought, isn't it funny how the outcome of something can change in the slimmest of margins?
For example on Friday night had we kept our concentration in the dying embers of the first half, I believe I'd be typing about a Stags win. Again I know there will be few that agree and have begun to stitch Paul Cox's face into their guy faulks doll for next weekends bonfire, however if you look back at the DVD (which I fully intend too as i'm bound to face a barrage of arguments about this) I think we we're the better side, just, and played some of the best football we have done all season.
The home keeper has kept out Rhead with a good save early on and we've got some quality passes into key areas, the downside is we didn't keep our focus and against a team like Dartford who have such a proud home record, it was bound to cost us and did - TWICE. A hopeless punt down the wing set Dartforfd's first, Tafazolli doing well to cover and put the ball out for a throw but unsure what to do from the second phase of play as he team mates failed to track back and be alert to the quick throw.
From the kick-off after the well hit goal, Gary Roberts plays a suicidal pass wide left to Daniel who was expecting a long punt forward from central, it get's intercepted with all credit to the Dartford man Hayes but again nobody goes back and we're left chasing shadows and picking up the wrong people - there's nothing you can do about the finish.
If we are insistent of playing the three at the back then we have to be consistent in knowing our passions, roles, who to pick up and how to deal with them. The three works against certain teams but as time goes on it’s becoming simple to play against – mainly because we are making it so. This is my only real critique of Cox and his coaching staff, they have told hold their hands up and take some responsibility because what may have been working on the training pitch hasn’t transpired on the pitch away from home – they’ve had time to figure out why but have done little to change this.
Onto personal performances I am pleased with a good 95% of those out there as there was a commitment and willingness to fight for the cause rather than take the blows, something we’ve fallen into far too easily on the road this term. The damage was done in that two minute gap we’re it went from 0-0 to 2-0 and once more we pick ourselves up and move on – the focus now surely has to be putting things right rather than blaming each other.
I don’t believe there is a rift in the dressing room but its clear the harmony of last term isn’t there – I beg of the players and management to do whatever is needed to fix it – we are not true to ourselves anymore.
Paul Cox made three changes to the line up which grabbed Mansfield’s first away win since August 18th last weekend at Workington in the FA Cup, Liam Mitchell returned between the sticks for Redmond whilst Jones and Sutton we’re both dropped in favour of Exodus Geohaghon and Ryan Tafazolli.
Line Up: Liam Mitchell, Exodus Geohaghon, John Dempster (C), Ryan Tafazolli, Andy Todd, Gary Roberts, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Matt Green, Matt Rhead
Substitutes: Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Chris Clements, Ben Hutchinson.
Both sides enjoyed early chances in front of the TV Camera’s at Princess Park, Liam Mitchell producing an excellent save on three minutes to deny Ryan Hayes from the edge of the box before Matt Rhead saw his header plucked out of the air by Marcus Bettinelli two minutes later following an Andy Todd right sided cross.
Junior Daniel and Matt Green were looking lively in the Dartford half and the latter was fouled on twelve minutes getting the Stags a free kick a step or so in from the corner flag. Gary Roberts delivered well into the mix with Dempster and Tafazolli both pressuring enough to allow defensive partner Geohaghon a free shot from twelve yards, the burley defender unable to keep his effort on target.
Dartford’s attempts to attack were snuffed out by a series of excellent Mitchell collections allowing Mansfield to focus on their attacking play, doing so in forceful fashion with twenty-eight on the clock. Jake Speight was heavily involved linking up with Rhead and Todd, the latter cutting in from the right hand side to fire into the side netting with his left boot.
A minute later the Darts had their best chance as a former Stag nearly haunted his former employees. A long ball from Bettinelli saw the impressive Hayes get the better of Daniel, his pass found Adam Birchall on the edge of the Mansfield box, the former Stag who departed in 2007 drilled narrowly wide of the target.
Bettinelli then produced the goods for the Darts as Stags nearly hit the bullseye, Matt Rhead drove forward after a cleaver move between Speight and Daniel, the former Corby hit man had a go from 20 yards and saw his goal bound effort tipped over for a corner however Roberts’ delivery failed to reach Geohaghon at the far post.
A minute later Dartford surged forward and nearly got a shot away, however John Dempster demonstrated his leadership qualities as he expertly tackled the on rushing Hayes inside the box. With three minutes remaining in the first half, Adam Birchall again came close, this time drawing another fine save from Mitchell.
A minute of time was then added, by far the worse minute of Mansfield’s season as the conceded twice. A hopeful ball down the right saw Tafazolli put the loose ball out for a throw to allow his team mates time to get back and defend, the thing is nobody did as Hayes took the quick throw finding Birchall on the edge of the box, he then teed up Darts skipper Elliott Bradbrook who drilled beyond Mitchell to open the scoring.
From the restart an atrocious piece of decision making from Roberts saw him try and play across the half way line to an un-focussed Daniel rather than play short to Howell and go long – Ryan Hayes intercepted and broke forward at lighting speed, cutting inside onto his left foot past Daniel before curling an unstoppable effort past Mitchell to double the darts lead in the space of 30 seconds.
Mansfield looked broken and a furious Paul Cox huffed off down the tunnel to lock the dressing room door as the half time whistle blew, his Stags side were a minute away from going in comfortably level at the break, instead lack of effort to see things out had seen them concede twice and pretty much lose the game.
Half Time: Dartford 2-0 Mansfield
Ritchie Sutton and Lindon Meikle were then introduced before the half kicked off, Tafazolli and Rhead withdrawn as 3-4-1-2 became a flat 4-4-2 with Sutton to right back, Daniel to left back, Todd right wing, Meikle left wing and Speight up top to partner Green.
Within seconds of the second half getting underway Richard Rose was a whisker away from being Dartford’s third, Mitchell again on hand to palm over the top of the bar for a corner, from which Birchall headed wide.
Dartford continued with there barrage of attacks, Liam Mitchell very much the Stags saviour as he denied Hayes a second of the evening blocking a driven effort on 54 minutes. Three minutes later the same player was again denied by the Notts County loanee who could only push the ball up into the air, Birchall rising highest to head towards the looming net, Mitchell rising like a phoenix from the ashes to claim the forceful header.
On the hour mark Louis Briscoe replaced Junior Daniel, Andy Todd moved to left back to slot Briscoe into his natural right sided role. Seconds after his intorudiction Jake Speight wsas prodded through the middle by Roberts, however he could only blaze over the bar from 10 yards out.
Two minutes later Louis Briscoe suffered the same fate as Gary Roberts played an drilled ball to the edge of the box following a corner. A half effort from Meikle five minutes later pretty much wrapped up Mansfield’s night in front of goal, only calm collections from Mitchell plus excellent defensive work from Dempster, Sutton and Geohaghon kept the score at 2-0, the full time whistle condemning Stags to their fourth away defeat in their last five away league outings – yet another evening which suited the weather, bitterly cold and bitter.
Full Time: Dartford 2-0 Stags
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – to submit a blog email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow night’s televised trip to Dartford...
After all the international hype this week following last night’s England match focus now turns back to league and club matters as Paul Cox’s Stags board the bus and head for Dartford. On the back of an FA Cup away win at Workington the Stags boss will be hoping his side have regained their focus and have put their away day woes behind them, especially considering Dartford’s Princes Park is one of the toughest places to visit.
Tony Burman’s Darts pride themselves on a solid home record, achieving promotion via the play-offs last term from the Blue Square South with only two home defeats to their name. Burman, now in his third spell at the helm of the Darts having been appointed a third time in January 2005, has overseen the clubs progression back to the top flight of non-league football winning the Ryman One North in 2007-08 and then the Ryman Premier in 2009-10 – each and every success built on strong foundations on home soil.
Paul Cox’s Stags as we know have won just the one away league fixture this term at Kidderminster, with the Workington win under their belt in the cup they’ll be hoping to build on that and punish Dartford further as midweek, they crashed to a 4-1 home defeat in an FA Cup replay with Forest Green Rovers. Mansfield will undoubtedly have to improve performance wise as e all know that on any other day we would have been held to a replay, a 4-4-2 formation with the introduction of Ben Hutchinson and the return of Adam Murray from suspension should do the trick.
First of all let me stress that football’s about results and that’s what Mansfield got last weekend and, regardless of the performance, is what I’ll be contempt with tomorrow – that said I feel with this squad there is more to come, it honestly is like that Rubik’s Cube analysis – when we click we show our colour. I mentioned Hutchinson, I’ve harped on about him for a while now and he proved why he deserves a chance when he was introduced last weekend, setting two chances in as many minutes since entering play, the second of which saw Speight score. Not many will agree with me now but Matt Green is nowhere near close to the standard he was last term, whether it’s because he doesn’t have Ross Dyer to bounce off or for another reason I don’t know, but with the spark going out of his eye and lighting up in Hutchinson’s maybe it’s time for the pair to switch? Against a team like Dartford, who as mentioned are notoriously difficult to beat at home, do you play a player whose looking sharp and hungry or do you carry on hoping for a dying fire to start burning again? I think you have to feed the hunger and in turn, help the other re-evaluate his form – nothing against Green here at all. Moving onto Murray, again it was clear for me at least; at Workington we missed his influence. The midfield often became over run and there was just nobody there to take hold of the reigns and manipulate play.
‘Manipulate’ is such a horrid term in general but I feel it’s what good teams do to succeed, last season for instance we manipulated teams into playing our game, giving Green space to thrive upon, into backing off our wide men and being scared to try and play round us. I’m not saying it all comes from Murray but it certainly stems from him, making tackles others are afraid to do, covering areas others don’t recognise and motivation the unit – doing what a captain does, with him back in the midfield tomorrow we can only be pushed on.
On a pleasing note at Workington we became more brave in our defensive play, yes there were a few shakes and stutters but people began to make challenges and fight for the prize – if we can just tweak that back three into a back four again and build on that, then I’m sure we can develop as we enter into a tough November, the only month last term we failed to win a game. Aside an FA Cup first round tie with Slough Town, one of the lowest ranked teams remaining in the competition, we face away trips to Nuneaton and Macclesfield with two tough home games with Southport and Luton sandwiched in the middle – these fixtures are ones we need to be winning if we’re serious about gaining success, manipulation could be the key.
LAST TIME WE MET
Tomorrow night’s game, screen live on Premier Sports, will be the first time the two sides have ever locked horns, with Dartford having spent their entire lives in the non-league circle. With this I think we have an advantage, not knowing what to expect we have nothing we can look at to say ‘we’re awful here’ or ‘we tend to concede at least two every time we play these’ – something I think dents us at times. What we do have is opportunity to manipulate and to dictate, this is how we’re going to play and this is the outcome.
We must not fall into the arrogance trap, we are in the same division for a reason, we have fallen whilst the darts have hit the bulls eye (SORRY!). At the moment they sit above us in 6th with a five point advantage, however we should note that despite good form of late, eight wins from their last 12 league games, they have only picked up seven points (two wins and a draw) from a possible 18 when playing against teams from the top ten.
Captain/Player- Assistant boss Adam Murray has completed his one game ban and is now available for selection once more. Paul Cox also has Ryan Tafazolli and John Thompson fit again after returning to training again this week – however lacking match practise next Saturday’s cup tie could be more realistic for the defensive duo with a Reserve team trip to Rotherham on Wednesday the perfect spring board for fitness.
Exodus Geohaghon was due for a fitness test this morning the results of which are unknown at the time of writing. Alan Marriott, Ross Dyer etc all still remain sidelined although Jamie Hand is now back in Mansfield ready to resume light training.
Forget the telly, log onto our MM-LIVE page from 7pm tomorrow night for build up followed by full match commentary of the Darts and the Stags’ first ever meeting. Maybe you don’t want to forget the telly, well press the mute button and have our commentary over the top!
Coverage is also broadcast on 106.9FM and if you have an iPhone or android market (Google-play) phone, you can download the ‘TuneIn Radio’ app free and search for ‘Takeover Radio 106.9’
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations, to submit a blog email email@example.com
As a club reporter I take a keen interest in the progression of youth team players hence one of my many roles as youth team correspondent. I watch and wonder where the footballing path will lead for Mansfield’s young starlets but often forget about those higher up the system and those getting the opportunity to make their mark on the international stage – last night was the prime opportunity as the One Call Stadium played host to England U18s V Italy U18s.
At international level the U18 category is a non-competitive one in terms of European championships and world cups, Noel Blake’s England Under 18s side then used as the breeding ground and preparation for championships from the age of 19 up to senior level. Despite the fact it was only a friendly and games are few and far between, plenty flocking into the One Call Stadium to take a look at the next generation of international stars, pleasing too for us that we we’re allowed to cover the match – the only station to do so.
Analysing the game at times was difficult as the fizz faded away and it took on that typical friendly style, keep the ball and maintain the shape, however there were certainly moments collectively and individually which were encouraging for the future, for example the way our young players tried to play football as rather than fall into the kick and rush nature you often see. Prior to Joe Hart coming onto the national stage you could say we had a lack of goalkeeping talent, the two on show last night in each half both put in solid displays and produced a number of excellent stops which you wouldn’t expect to see at that level of football, at least not technically anyway!
A handful of players were handed first caps including second half substitutes Jacob and Josh Murphy, twin widemen currently on the books at Norwich along with keeper Cameron Dawson and right back Liam Grimshaw – all those handed first caps can be proud and should be inspired to keep working as the signs were encouraging. Speaking from a club perspective, would I like to have a look at one or two players to aid Mansfield’s season? For sure.
Noel Barke’s England began lively and were nearly ahead in under a minute as a surging run from former Wycombe and now Liverpool man Jordan Ibe had the Italians chasing shadows down the left flank. A smart cut back across the box saw the ball fall for Everton hit man Christopher Long, Italy right back Lorenzo Venuti making a vital block on the six yard line.
Two minutes later a near identical move then put England ahead. Ibe was again the architect as he weaved his way down the left hand side, this time making a cleaver reverse pass to Isaac Hayden who dropped well to create a pocket of space. The Arsenal man, playing out of position in a midfield role, cut back across the middle for Long who this time thundered into the back of the net for his third international goal in seven appearances.
As the game crept towards the ten minute mark the Italians stepped up their efforts as they searched for a leveller, they should have had one two on eight minutes when left back Filippo Costa got forward down the left hand side. Cutting a square ball back across to the edge of the penalty area, England failed to pick up Diego Frugoli who curled a magnificent first time effort towards the top corner, Middlesbrough’s Luke Coddington pulling off an unbelievable save at full stretch to palm the ball away for a corner.
Coddington was tested thrice more from Frugoli who was primarily the Italians main attacking source, however the Borough keeper making his fourth international appearance ensured the young three lions stayed ahead with a series of comfortable saves.
With ten minutes to go before the break Coddington for once could do little as Italy broke with pace. Once more Frugoli was involved driving forward before slipping a pass through to Mattia Aramu as Leo Chambers stepped forward to close down. Aramu found himself free inside the box but had clearly left his shooting boots on the plane as he dragged horribly wide of the mark in what proved to be the visitors best chance of the half.
Two minutes later England then countered with intent after highly rated captain John Swift had broken up an Italian move, holding up against three players he threaded through Liverpool man Ibe who made ground before feeding Devante Cole through the middle, the Manchester City youngster being stopped at the last by the hastily backtracking Luca Iotti.
At the break Blake’s three lions held a 1-0 lead and made just one change for the second period, the impressive Luke Coddington withdrawn for debutant Cameron Dawson, the 17 year old Sheffield Wednesday man being drafted into the squad earlier in the week. The Owls youngster had little to do in the early stages of the second half as England looked to keep the ball and progress forward.
On 58 minutes the Owls youngster was in action as Sam Coulson was judged to have held back Leonardo Capezzi some thirty yards from goal whilst jumping for a header. The Italian midfielder stepped up to take the free kick and curled a hairs whisker wide of the target, however Dawson had it covered.
Ten minutes later England finally doubled their lead as Luke Woodland and Ibe both linked up with short sharp passes on the edge of the visitors box, the former found space and squared under pressure to Devante Cole, son of former Manchester United and Newcastle hit man Andy, who prodded in from close range.
Italy then spurned a golden chance to get back into the game with seven minutes remaining as Leo Chambers midjudged the flight of a long ball forward. Italy substitute Tiberio Velocci getting free inside the box but screwing horribly wide of the target from ten yards out.
Numerous changes for both sides then saw the game fizzle out, England twin substitutes Jacob and Josh Murphy both coming close to adding a third in the final five minutes however neither could bet Wladimiro Falcone in the visiting goal, the full time whistle sealing a 2-0 victory for Noel Blake’s youngsters.
Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Workington Reds AFC V Mansfield Town FC
Competition: The FA Cup, Sponsored by Budweiser, Fourth Qualifying Round
Venue: Borough Park
Date & Time: Saturday 20th October 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Seb Stocksbridge
Attendance: 721 (100 approximately)
Over the hills in a land far away lies a place called Workington. Scenic views on the way are matched by a gruff looking exterior and a ground and pitch which has stood the test of history, just about anyway. Over the bridge and near to the sea, I guess those writers, poets, artists etc could dress the place up to be something of a mystery, as it is Mansfield’s trip yesterday in the FA Cup consists of a story which involved grit, determination and work as our Staggies battled it out with Blue Square North outfit Workington for a place in round one of the FA Cup, a competition famed for its magical powers.
A seriously long trek, a tricky pitch and our opponent’s chance at a cup scalp could have all been contributing factors to a nightmare day for Stags, however they just managed to edge their way into Round One, where they will face a home tie with either Slough Town or Gosport Borough a week on Saturday.
Yesterday there could be some criticism over our performance, at times I think we welcomed the hosts onto us and were rather fortunate not to concede early on whilst collectively our 3-4-1-2 formation had more holes than a broken-siv, credit to Paul Cox for changing things into a flexible 4-3-3/4-4-2 which gave us some stability in key areas. The substitutions were spot on too, Ben Hutchinson the right player for the occasion and they way to unlock the hosts, Lindon Meikle and Chris Clements too both the correct choice. In all honesty Workington deserved a replay as we we’re shaky and the hosts creative, however football isn’t about nicety’s is about winning and that’s what we did – on a further positive note, we actually won away from home for the first time since August plus we managed to win in a 4-3-3 which was the formation used for a good 75% of our attacks. Let’s build from it now and let our season chug along fittingly rather than let it fade over the hill tops with the evening sun, a nice view at first but metaphorically a horrible feeling once its dark and cold.
Paul Cox made three enforced changes to his side yesterday, Liam Mitchell was replaced in goal by Shane Redmond due to Notts County not wanting him cup tied, skipper Adam Murray reverted back to his assistant boss duties as he served his one game ban, Anthony Howell his replacement in the line up whilst Luke Jones came in for the injured Exodus Geohaghon – John Dempster became the fourth person to were the skippers armband as he deputised for Murray.
LINE UP [3-4-1-2]: Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster (C), Luke Jones, Andy Todd, Gary Roberts, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Matt Green, Matt Rhead
SUBSTITUTES: Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright, Chris Clements, Lee Beevers, Ben Hutchinson, Lee Stevenson
The Stags started well with two corners inside the opening three minutes; however neither Luke Jones, Matt Rhead nor John Dempster could connect with Gary Roberts’ deliveries. Shane Redmond was then called into action on five minutes when Gareth Arnison took control of play on the left flank, cutting past Sutton well the Workington hit man curled an effort towards the top corner however it was comfortable for Redmond to collect in the air.
Roberts then tried to create for Speight however the long range pass was collected by the home keeper Aarron Taylor who, for the next five minutes or so could simply watch as his sided pressured the Stags, Redmond twice collecting headers from Arnison following two successive Niall Cowperthwaite crosses.
Taylor was finally called into action on 12 minutes when Speight connected with Roberts’ right sided cross, the lively hit mans shot palmed away expertly by Taylor before Cowperthwaite got back to prevent the corner. Seconds later it was Workington’s turn to threaten, Shane Redmond beaten all ends up by Johnny Wright whose effort clipped the bar on its way out for a goal kick.
Mansfield then spurned a fine chance to take the lead on 15 minutes after excellent controlled build up play. Gary Roberts’ let the ball run wide for Junior Daniel who crossed wonderfully for Green, his header down was cushioned into the path of Anthony Howell who screwed horribly wide of the goal with a left footed half volley from 10 yards out.
The hosts then enjoyed a ten minute spell of pressure which saw Redmond get down low to keep out efforts from Wright, Boyd and Arnison with John Dempster and Luke Jones both dominant in the air to keep out looping crosses from Workington’s attack minded full backs Cowperthwaite and Rowntree.
It was clear Mansfield weren’t comfortable with three at the back and so, rather loudly, Paul Cox told Junior Daniel and Ritchie Sutton to slot into left and right back roles respectively whilst Jake Speight alternated between the left wing and a left sided forward role as 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 alternated like a sloshing wave. On 32 minutes Mansfield finally broke the resistance after another pressured move from Workington which saw Luke Jones and Dempster collectively toe poke the ball to Andy Todd on the edge of the Stags boss. The player-coach whose reserve team smashed Bradford 7-0 midweek launched a directional ball over enemy lines, Matt Green winning a header in a Kyle May/James Bolton sandwich – the loose ball finding Speight who cut onto his left before slotting beyond Taylor to open the scoring.
On the stroke of half time Mansfield somehow survived a Workington bombardment from a deep free kick, Shane Redmond punching away twice before blocking a forceful effort from Will Vaulks, the same player seeing a driven effort cleared off the line by Junior Daniel.
HALF TIME: Workington 0-1 Stags
Again the early stages of the second half saw the hosts’ pressure, on 51 minutes Shane Redmond could only watch on as a flowing move saw Vaulks spray wide for Cowperthwaite, his cross a hairs width away from being turned in by the advancing Phil McLuckie at the far post.
On the hour mark Cox withdrew Andy Todd for Chris Clements, two minutes later Ben Hutchinson and Lindon Meikle replaced Matt Green and Matt Rhead respectively. Hutchinson made a difference straight away as he flicked inside for Speight who fired over. The duo combined again on 66 minutes, Hutchinson acutely touching a directional ball inside for Speight who made no mistake in firing in both his and the Stags second of the game.
On 73 minutes there was real danger for Mansfield as captain Dempster was judged to have fouled Arnison on the edge of the box, Gari Rowntree stepped up to squeeze the free kick through the wall however he was denied by the brilliance of Redmond who sprung down well to palm the spinning ball out for a corner.
Two minutes later Redmond again denied Workington, this time it was Will Vaulks who was denied from distance. The resulting ball forward nearly saw Speight grab his hat-trick as Hutchinson headed down into Speight’s path – the hit man hitting agonisingly high and wide on the half volley from twenty yards out.
Chris Clements then curled wide on 78 minutes following good work from Hutchinson, two minutes later Mansfield had Redmond to thank as he brilliantly denied Substitute Joe Mwasile who got goal side of Dempster and Jones following an expert pass from Vaulks.
With five minutes remaining Workington were handed a life line, a long ball over the top from Cowperthwaite saw Redmond rush out to close down Johnny Wright, the Irish gloves-man fouling him as the pair fought for the ball. The lively Gareth Arnison stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick, stetting a tenser finish than Stags would have hoped for.
Naturally chasing the game the final five minutes were all Workington and with two minutes to go could well have pulled level however Shane Redmond proved the hero. Wright clipped over a tired back line for Arnison who pulled the trigger, Redmond blocking with his body well before Mansfield scrambled clear, serving numerous crosses before the full time whistle eventually blew to put Mansfield into round one and end Workington’s cup dream for another season.
FULL TIME: Workington 1-2 Stags << Audio Highlights
The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s lengthy FA Cup trip...
Sometimes I love this time of the season as the FA Cup takes over. The magic of the FA Cup seems to fade away with the evening sun most seasons but every now and again there are glimpses and experiences of that magic – every dog does have its day.
For example I recall watching Alan Shearer make history for Newcastle against the Stags in January 2006, his 80th minute goal equalling Jackie Milburn’s 200 club goal record and breaking brave Stags hearts in the process. The memory of standing outside St James with friends and family is one I’ll treasure forever, the view from my seats one I’ll never forget either. A few seasons later, this time at Field Mill, Gareth Southgate’s Middlesbrough side ran out 2-0 winners despite a gutsy performance from a stags side who, went onto be relegated.
There will have been more cup memories down the years which each individual reader will remember, tomorrow probably won’t be one of them as we head to Blue Square North side Workington AFC, but still it could be the beginning of something – after all the FA Cup can often be the stuff of dreams, it’s been a while since we ventured into the round three draw and experienced the magic – win tomorrow and who knows what the draw will spring or indeed how far we could go.
It won’t be an easy game, in fact it will probably seem like a normal league match – Workington despite recent results are tough to beat, especially when you add in the fact that beating us would be a scalp – we on the other hand area mediocre away side at best having collected just one away win all term.
I guess then that tomorrow is the platform for us to address our away form and continue to turn our sluggish start on its head – Workington will be similar to a lot of the places we have to visit soon and the standard of football won’t be too different. We’ll have to fight the boggy pitch, we’ll have to counter the hosts’ desire for a giant killing and more importantly, be professional to the last. It’s a long journey and an uninspiring one, one the coast line it’ll be wet and windy, the historic element of Workington, an ex football league outfit, will be there for all to see and we must kill their dreams of reviving their name – we have to do all of this without being arrogant.
I know it’s a totally different competition, but in last year’s FA Trophy we lost to Droylsden but under estimating them, by not matching their fight and willingness, by arriving and thinking we had a divine right to win – we must avoid a repeat of this tomorrow, otherwise I think it’ll kill us – it took a good month or so to pick ourselves up from the Droylsden loss last term, personally I don’t think we have that now – we are so fragile in our development process, one knock could kill us all together. Without going over the top, tomorrow could be a case of Kill or be killed – what I mean by that is, let’s have the mentality of doing what’s required, win at all costs.
As mentioned above Workington are an ex football league outfit who lost their league status in 1977, they’ll be eager to show there long suffering fans they still have what it takes to beat those higher than them. Promotion from the Northern Premier in 2005 via the play-offs took the Reds into the Blue Square North we’re they’ve been ever since. Darren Edmondson has been at the helm since September 2007, also registered as a player the stalwart defender last term managed to avoid relegation in the final month of the season, two seasons previous he came exceeding close to promotion, losing out in the play-off semi-finals to Alferton following an excellent 11 game unbeaten run. There Borough Park ground is an old football stadia which history hasn’t been too kind too, prior to the Bradford City fire in 1985 the Reds home used to have a big all wooden upper tier main stand which was once packed out to see the Busby Babes of Manchester United in an FA Cup third round tie in the mid 50’s prior to the Munich Air Disaster. The aforementioned Bradford City fire saw Workington, along with numerous other clubs, tear down their main stand and reduce the grounds capacity, the club offices and dressing rooms now sit in the space of the old stand with the bright red roof still intact as a constant reminder of what once was – Workington is very much a place of history, the thing with history is, it can be created as well as remembered, hopefully not tomorrow though eh!
Edmondson has previously reached round one of the FA Cup, the world’s oldest football competition, back in his debut season as manager he took the Reds to a first round clash with Bury, a 4-1 defeat was one to forget especially for captain Dave Hewson who suffered a broken bone in his foot ten minutes into the match, as he approaches the back end of his career he’ll be eager for an FA Cup run remember for the right reasons.
Back to the Stags and Paul Cox certainly has food for thought tomorrow, he’ll be forced into two changes as Notts County don’t want Liam Mitchell cup tied whilst skipper Adam Murray serves a one game ban for picking up five yellow cards. The Reserve teams 7-0 battering of Bradford midweek however could be the platform for others such as Hutchinson, Clements and Wright to come in – I’ve every faith things will click.
LAST TIME WE MET
The Stags and Workington do have a history both in the cup and in the league, Workington having faced the Stags on a seasonally basis between 1951 and 1975 – the Stags racking up 14 league wins to Workington’s 9 – there have also been as many league draws down the years with a goal share in the league of 98, Mansfield lead 56-42.
The sides first met back in 1938 in the FA Cup first round which saw Stags travel to Workington. The hosts grabbed a 1-1 draw but were beaten 2-1 in the replay – it was the same outcome in 1956 however the 1-1 draw took place in Mansfield before Workington won the replay 2-1 at their place.
Incidentally Mansfield’s last trip to Workington was on October 12th 1974, the Stags running out 3-1 winners, this win their 6th at Workington where Mansfield have suffered five defeats and played out as many draws, in terms of goals Mansfield lead in all competitions at Workington 29-28.
As mentioned Paul Cox with be without loanee keeper Liam Mitchell whose kept two consecutive clean sheets, Shane Redmond who kept a clean sheet for the Reserves midweek will return to the line up. Cox will also be without his captain Adam Murray who will revert to his assistant manager role as he serves a one game ban. In defence it looks certain Luke Jones will start as George Pilkington (back), Exodus Geohaghon (Ankle), Ryan Tafazolli (Hamstring) and John Thompson (Lacking match fitness) look likely to miss out with injury. Paul Cox will also be waiting on the fitness of midweek hat-trick hero Nick Wright as he continues to comeback from an Ankle injury. Ross Dyer, Jamie Hand and Alan Marriott also remain out.
If you’re not making the trek to Cumbria tomorrow then be sure to join me for full match commentary on 106.9FM and via our popular MM-LIVE Page, build up starts at 2pm which will include a look back at last week’s first team and reserve team matches, a look at the two side plus your FA Cup memories and how far you think Stags can go in this year’s competition.
Away from the radio or your laptop? Good news, listeners with an iPhone or Android can download an app called TuneIn Radio - Takeovers stream is back up and running - simply search for 'Takeover Radio 106.9'
Please not that we have been advised facilities will be limited at Borough Park in terms of power etc tomorrow, this may mean the audio may decrease in quality a little however EVERYTHING is on charge and we WILL be bringing you full commentary as usual both online and on FM!
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email email@example.com
Take a look at an exclusive extended travel guide as we face Workington in the FA Cup fourth Qualifying Round tomorrow, match preview blog to follow later...
Workington’s Borough Park ground sits right on the bank of the nearby river which of course made the national headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2009 when heavy rainfall saw it flood the entire town. A local police man was also tragically killed when attempting to aid a motorcyclist who was stuck on the bridge near to the ground, current renovation work to restructure the bridge is currently underway and travelling fans should be aware that access by car is extremely difficult, travelling fans are advised to park in the car park of nearby Allerdale Borough Council, details how to get there can be found below – for SatNav use the post code to the Council grounds is CA14 3YJ.
Date: Saturday 20th October 2012
Opponent: Workington AFC
Kick Off Time: 3pm
Venue: Borough Park, Workington, Cumbria, CA14 2DT
Distance from the One Call Stadium:
Estimated Travelling Time:
Be prepared for a long time on the road as we head to Workington in this FA Cup fourth qualifying round encounter. From the One Call Stadium, head out towards Chesterfield and take the M1 Northbound. At Junction 32, exit to join the M18 staying on the Motorway for eight miles before joining the A1(M) At Junction 2. Follow the A1(M) for 74 miles to Scotch Corner service area, where you should branch left and take second exit of the roundabout to join the A66. Following the A66 for 87 miles will take you to the Ramsay Brow traffic signals, its here you turn right onto the A596 before taking first exit of the roundabout and taking the first left turn onto the A597. A mile down the road take fourth exit of the roundabout onto New Bridge Road, continue forward a quarter mile and you will see the ground on your right hand side.
To get to the Allerdale Borough Council grounds to park, at the final roundabout (New Bridge Road) take the first exit of the roundabout and then first left onto Griffin Street where you will see two fair sized car parks.
Stopping on the way?
With a lengthy journey up to face our Cumbria based counterparts, travellers may wish to stop – below is a list of service stations you are set to pass following the above directions.
Miles into Trip - Carriageway - Service Station Name
7 - M1 - Woodall Service Area (Welcome Break)
41 - A1 - Barnsdale Service Area
66 - A1(M) - Wetherby Service Area (Moto)
92 - A1 - Leeming Bar Service Area
103 - A1 - Scotch Corner Service Area (Moto)
Depart From - Time & Train - Destination
Mansfield - 6.22am - Nottingham
Nottingham - 7.45am East Midlands Trains - Manchester Piccadilly
Manchester Piccadilly - 10.16am Transpennine Express - Carlisle
Carlisle - 12.48pm Northern Rail - Workington Station
Workington station is ten minutes walk from the ground, head out of the car park and onto the A597, turn right onto Church Street to continue following the A597 and onto New Bridge Road. Go straight over the roundabout where the ground will become visible on your right.
Food & Drink:
The ground is literally a stone’s throw away from the sea and has little on offer in close proximity from the ground, the supporters bar ‘Shankly’s Bar’ named after former manager and club legend Bill Shankly, comes highly recommend and should be on offer to our fans as the game will be an un-segregated fixture. Those who fancy a walk can find the George VI Inn and the Steampacket Inn adjacent to the viaduct, a fifteen minute walk from the ground.
Across the road from the ground is a Tesco Extra which includes cafe, snacks etc can be brought inside the ground.
Where to sit & how much:
Borough Park has a capacity of 3,101 of which 500 are seats in the Grandstand. After the Bradford City fire in 1985, Workington, along with numerous other clubs, saw their wooden stand deemed unsafe and torn down. Remnants of the old upper tier can still be seen as the clubs offices and dressing rooms now sit in the space where the wooden stand once was, the huge brightly painted red roof is till standing.
As mentioned above the game will be un-segregated meaning travelling fans have a choice of where to go, a small terracing runs ¾’s along the side of the pitch which also goes around the corner flag covered, before leaving an open to the elements area behind the goal. On the ‘Popular Side’ there is a small seated stand with terracing to the front either side of the dugouts.
Prices: Adults £12 Concessions £7 Under 16s £5
As mentioned above to the Cambrian floods of 2009 the club has very little, if any at all, space for supporters – therefore visiting fans are asked to head for Allerdale Borough Council on Griffin Street which, when parked, is a five-ten minute walk from the Stadium.
Departing the One Call Stadium at 8.30am, the SSA again will be running a coach, prices are AMBER MEMBERS £12, BLUE MEMBERS £15 and NON-MEMBERS £18, call 07967 689 597 for more details
Should the game end level, the replay will take place at the One Call Stadium on Thursday 25th October, kicking off at 7.45pm – this is due to the England U18 match at the One Call on Wednesday. In the event of a replay, our trip to Dartford will revert to its original date of Saturday 27th October.
Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Forest Green Rovers
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #15
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 13th October 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Ross Joyce (Billingham)
Attendance: 2019 (60)
You know if you surveyed a hundred football fans asking them what the best thing about football is, family fortunes style, one of the top answers would be ‘last minute winners’ as if your team gets one, it’s a great feeling. Yesterday at the One Call Stadium that was the case as Matt Rhead headed in the winner from Exodus Geohaghons’ 89th minute throw – after such a grey spell, I guess the late winning feeling is even more sweeter.
Midweek it was all negativity and animosity with the goalless draw which proceeded the unacceptable spitting and personal abuse incident, today however its smiles as hopefully we are back on track. The politics midweek about the alleged owed money to Andy Perry can, in my opinion, be left withering away like an autumn leaf – we should concern ourselves with winning football matches and let the solicitors deal with such things, something we did yesterday thank goodness, after all it’s so easy to let stuff like that take centre stage when the form is not great on the pitch.
Onto yesterday, again I won’t over paint it, the game wasn’t great and there were clear mistakes that said football is a results based business and we got the right one for a change. Dave Hockaday and his staff will review the DVD and be rightfully angry at the amount of clear cut chances they wasted from our mistakes, Paul Cox will watch it and will no doubt be relieved that the Rovers were so wasteful. I feel I’ll get some stick for this, especially considering he got man of the match, but I thought that 3-4-1-2 with Geohaghon didn’t work. There were situations where Ex was going forward to trying to pick up the ball and not winning, exposing far too much space which, as the DVD will show, should have seen Forest Green score. Before you all bite my head off, when we dropped to a five, with Todd and Daniel wing backs, or four as we did late on – nothing could get past him, making it clear to me that 4-4-2 is needed to get the best out of everyone.
Jake Speight too in the 3-4-1-2 didn’t quite do it for me either; he’s a class act and can be like nitrous in front of goal on his day, but behind Green & Rhead doesn’t suit him for some reason and I think we have better options, namely Stevenson or Hutchinson, to play that role if that’s the system we’re going to employ. Again he was one which, when at 4-4-2 late on started to get into the game more – another suggestion maybe that as we head for Workington in the cup next weekend, a change of system could be for the best, more on that as the game gets closer though.
In football you have to win ugly sometimes and I know there have been a small section bemoaning the manor of our victory yesterday, as I said at the top of the piece it’s results that count, fingers crossed now that we don’t slip up at Workington and we can begin to bloom rather than continue to welter.
Paul Cox made just one change to the starting line up, Ryan Tafazolli was the man to miss out after failing a pre-match fitness text – Exodus Geohaghon the man to replace him ahead of George Pilkington.
Line Up [3-4-1-2]: Liam Mitchell, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster, Exodus Geohaghon, Andy Todd, Adam Murray (C), Gary Roberts, Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead, Matt Green
Substitutes: Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell, Lee Beevers, Lee Stevenson
Mansfield began the game will with Matt Green looking lively down the right channel to earn Stags a free kick with a minute played. Gary Roberts’ ball in was prodded down by John Dempster before Exodus Geohaghon stood his ground to win the firs corner of the afternoon. Mansfield failed to keep on the pressure and soon found themselves back tracking, Forest Green putting together a pacey counter attack through Matt Taylor – Andy Todd then made an excellent covering challenge before Yan Klukowski was flagged offside during the second phase of play.
Five minutes later another Roberts' deep free kick saw Todd and Dempster combine to earn the Stags a left sided throw, Geohaghon’s bullet falling for Speight who was eventually blocked at the back post after some cleaver foot work.
The game then took a turn on 14 minutes when both Roberts and Geohaghon were caught in possession in midfield leaving Mansfield exposed at the bar. Klukowski advanced forward before slotting Matt Taylor through on goal to the left of the box, his final effort landed in the Quarry Lane Stand after Liam Mitchell had raced out well to narrow the angle.
Four minutes later the Stags were again causing trouble from a set piece, earned by Speight after great visual awareness from Junior Daniel in the centre of the park. Roberts’ delivered from just outside the box with a delicate chip finding Exodus Geohaghon, the big centre half headed wide of the target from six yards.
The visitors then enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure as the half time whistle approached, on 35 minutes Kieron Forbes dragged a shot across the face of goal before linking up with Jared Hodgkiss a minute later, the latters cross headed wide at the back stick by Taylor. Forest Green broke with pace on 37minutes when Geohaghon slipped in the middle, Ritchie Sutton covering well but requiring treatment after clashing with the advancing Rovers man. As rovers restarted play with a left sided throw, they switched play well and Stags allowed Hodgkiss to get another cross into the box, Liam Mitchell fouled as Rovers bundled home at the back post, the goal disallowed.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Forest Green Rovers
After the break it took a while for both to find their feet, John Dempster’s header from a Geohaghon throw plucked out of the air by Sam Russell on 50 minutes before Mitchell punched away a deep free kick from Stephen Brogan two minutes later.
Adam Murray then took one for the team on 57 minutes after a rare Todd slip saw him give away possession on the right hand side, Murray tracking back to tackle the on rushing Brogan and picking up his fifth booking of the campaign in the process, meaning he’ll miss next Saturday’s long trip to Workington in the FA Cup.
Moments later Murray was involved again as he sprayed the ball to the left hand side for Junior Daniel, the former Macclesfield man burst down the left hand side before crossing into the box for Rhead who could only head wide.
Liam Mitchell was the hero on 62 minutes when the Rovers burst down the right hand side through Hodgkiss. His cross into the middle was inch perfect for the attacking Taylor who forced a top draw one handed save from Mansfield’s loanee shot stopper. Lindon Meikle then replaced Green in attack before Louis Briscoe entered the fray for Todd with 15 remaining.
In a 4-4-2 formation with Briscoe’s arrival, Mansfield were solid and more secure, that was until the 89th minute when a burst forward from Forest Green saw Liam Mitchell race out to clear. His clearance was a poor one and bounced back off the frame of Geohaghon before cannoning off of Sutton who’d sprinted into the middle to cover. The pinball like football saw Stags burst forward, Louis Briscoe getting a throw on the right from which the Stags hit the buzzers for maximum points.
Exodus Geohaghon naturally was the provider with his tenth attacking throw of the game, a looping delivering made it hard for the visiting defence to deal with, Matt Rhead on the other hand knew exactly what to do, nipping up between three markers to dominantly head past the rooted Sam Russell to give Mansfield the break they’d been looking for.
It should have been two very late on as Russell failed to clear his lines following a back pass, Jake Speight lively to take the ball from his toes but unable to convert as Rovers scrambled clear, the full time whistle soon followed with numerous punches to the air – Mansfield finally back to winning ways, whilst Forest Green suffered their third consecutive defeat.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-0 Forest Green Rovers << Audio Highlights
The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest writes....
Ah nearly game time again, the only difference between tomorrow’s match and a usual week is the amount of negativity which lingers in the air. Already a few have put the result down as a foregone conclusion considering our poor start to the season and Forest Green flying start, however I may to some seem over optimistic but I genuinely feel our bad patch is nearing its conclusion.
I’ve just watched the highlights back from Tuesday’s midweek draw at home to Lincoln and its triggered more memories of the game, we’ve got the ball on the floor, created space, used the width, got crosses into the area and worked the keeper – the only bugbear is the fact we didn’t score, the first game all season we’ve failed to register a goal. On another night Matt Green’s effort stands rather than gets ruled out for offside, the foul on Murray is given inside the box rather than on the line and the visiting keeper has a shocker rather than a storming game – that’s football, sometimes it doesn’t go your way, especially when you’re in a poor run of form.
The positives are we’ve kept a clean sheet and continued our unbeaten home record – the negative really is we’ve not beaten a poor away side and our rivals, I’ve been wondering all week what the reaction would have been had we found the net at some point and grabbed a 1-0 win. Forest Green Rovers, our visitors tomorrow, will be aware of the fact at full time the players and management were booed off and, by the small minority, abused – this play’s into their hands, if they can find away to aggravate us then they pretty much have the win before a ball is kicked. Rather than let a stranger come into our living room and re-arrange the furniture, we should remind Forest Green that in four league matches at Field Mill, Mansfield have been victorious every time – we, to their own admission, are there bogey side, let’s ensure that continues and get our season back on track at the same time.
Selection wise I thought Cox put out a solid side considering the number of injuries midweek, tomorrow is a difficult one with birthday boy John Thompson and giant Exodus Geohaghon both available after surviving injury scares, the same applies in midfield with training ground victims Howell and Clements both now fine. I know I will take some stick here again, personally tomorrow to try and maintain the consistency I’d be making only the one change, reverting to a 4-4-2 and dropping Jake Speight in favour of John Thompson, leaving Dempster, who despite one mistake was solid midweek, and Tafazolli as the centre backs moving Sutton across to left back. That leaves a midfield of Andy Todd who without a doubt should be the first name on the team sheet after an assured display, Murray, Roberts and Daniel. If you’re looking for fresh legs then Meikle or Briscoe for Daniel is the obvious choice. Rhead and Green together is a no brainer, I personally don’t think Speight and Rhead can play together to the affect Rhead and Green can, Speight’s partner without doubt is Nick Wright.
Another option to explore is Ben Hutchinson for Rhead, yes we’d lose the target man factor but gain a striker that drops deep to collect and create, effectively giving you one extra in the centre of the park to push Meikle and Todd further forward into the channels. As I said though it would be one change only for me as on Tuesday I thought as a unit we played some good stuff, hardly giving Lincoln a sniff – the first three minutes of the second half a prime example. I know people will scream that we haven’t score and have been held to a lacklustre draw, but I’d love to get hold of a copy of the game just to watch and pick out a couple of the spells of possession we had, how we moved on and off the ball, especially in the second phase of play when Lincoln have cleared the first cross. Speaking from a coaching perspective or an analytic view, during certain spells of the game watching it again, we didn’t look likely a crumbling, nervous team, we looked hungry and like a unit that we’re on the edge of clicking – I guess it’s like trying to crack an egg or squeeze juice from an orange, you apply the pressure and go about it the right way, but sometimes it doesn’t happen at the first attempt, the desire to keep going and crack the code is often more vital and pivotal than the application itself.
Some will say I’m being far too optimistic now, I’m really not, I won’t dress the performance up as something it wasn’t, if you re-read what I wrote above you’ll see the phrase “Sometimes” or “There were Spells” – not everything was perfect, but it wasn’t as bad as some made it out to be, it certainly didn’t warrant boo’s or the rumoured other actions which, frankly is a disgrace – remember the players are human beings, treat people how you wish to be treated. I won’t elaborate further on that, I’ll go back to my original point – not everything is what it looks.
For example if you put a dot on a blank piece of paper and stare at it a while, ask yourself is it a plain dot or is it a tiny circle with a flicker of light and life in the middle?
I went into Tuesday with Saturday’s woeful show still in my head; I came out of Tuesday pleased, encouraged but not delighted with the performance – something not everyone understood. Tomorrow I’ll go into the game with Tuesday’s game in my head, remembering how we kept the ball and worked with it – I’ll come out of the game and will judge on whether or not we’ve made progress. The fact is in football good, successful sides, progress from their mistakes whilst bad, unsuccessful sides, wallow on their failings – something we need to STOP doing because we HAVE done it. We have to buy into the ‘baby steps’ progress theory which saw us good last year, both as fans and as players! We got to where we were last season by progressing after the turn of New Year, we failed because we dwelled and panicked.
At the top of the piece I mentioned some have written tomorrow off because of the two teams form, Forest Green are smashing expectation so far whilst we aren’t reaching it so naturally there going to win? Oh please its defeatist! How about we spin the coin, they’ve lost their last two games and as mentioned, have NEVER beaten Mansfield at Field Mill in a league encounter, in short they’re about to enter their rough patch, how about we give them some hard, rough stones to land on rather than provide a spring board back into a positive spell of form? Remember, we have to be nasty at some stage – the time is now!
LAST TIME WE MET
The sides last met in January in the midst of our turning point, it was a crappy affair but one in which the Stags got the required result through Lindon Meikle who netted the game’s only goal at the One Call Stadium. The Reverse fixture took place just over a year ago on October 1st on what was a glorious day at the New Lawn. The sun burnt all in attendance whilst local wild stock escaped certain death when James Williamson got us lost, click the ‘Road Trips’ category for a reminder! On the pitch Ross Dyer netted the Stags quickest conference goal after some 15 seconds or so, however Anthony Howell was shown a red card and the hosts drew level for a 1-1 draw.
The sides first met in November 2008, the Stags were given a look at the scenic Rovers set up around beautiful Nailsworth but we’re given another taste of life in non-league football, as they were beaten 1-0. In total the sides have met ten times which includes an FA Cup first round tie in 2009 at the New Lawn, a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Scott Garner goal; Rovers won the replay 2-1, their only victory at the One Call Stadium.
Paul Cox could have more options to pick from tomorrow, John Thompson, Exodus Geohaghon, Anthony Howell and Chris Clements look like they have shaken off their respective injuries. Nobody new is definitely out however Ryan Tafazolli again pulled a hamstring late on so could miss out.
If you can’t make it to the One Call tomorrow, join me for regular updates throughout the afternoon on 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE page, build up starts at 2pm
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a blog, email email@example.com
Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Lincoln City
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #14
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 9th October – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Karl Evans
Attendance: 2325 (334)
Firstly let me apologise for the lateness of this post, some of you may have noticed some changes to this website over the last few days, namely the address, since Tuesday’s game I’ve been in countless meetings trying to secure various funding to push us onto the next level, mixing that in with watching and reporting on other games.
I’ll keep this brief as focus is now moving onto the Forest Green Match – After the game there was naturally a frustration as we failed to win and indeed score, the first time this season we’ve failed to find the target. Its clear changes were needed and the seven made may not have made an instant impression but, from the view point of watching the Cambridge match, there were improvements. Andy Todd especially on the right hand side deserved his man of the match award, running all night long, getting crosses into the box, marshalling the play – a small minority have suggested he was woeful, well let me say this – leave Todd in the side and you’ll see results improve, we are at a negative stage in the season and need experience, leadership and more than anything BALLS to get us out of the murky grey and into the smooth, happy green – Todd’s your man.
Criticism has come too to Ritchie Sutton, why? Yes he’s had a shake of late and will hold his hands up to this, but alongside John Dempster in a back three, dropping to a five when the visitors were in the final third, he was solid, calm and collected – getting forward into gaps, holding play and allowing players to move forward around him.
After the game there were rumours of “supporters” spitting at players and hurling personal abuse at certain individuals, this for me is laughable. Sorry, call me to until the moon goes red if you wish but, this behaviour is unacceptable, wrong and disgusting. Teams will be loving the thought of a trip to the One Call at the minute as if they grab just one chance, all hell and negativity breaks loose in the home end – we can’t let this happen. We’re in a bad spell, let’s stick together and get to where we want to be – there’s still time and we are more than capable.
TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.
Paul Cox made seven changes for the visit of David Holdsworth’s Lincoln City, Liam Mitchell debuted in goal replacing Shane Redmond, whilst John Dempster, Ryan Tafazolli, Andy Todd, Gary Roberts, Matt Rhead and Junior Daniel all returned to the line up at the expense of Thompson, Geohaghon, Pilkington, Howell, Tawio and Meikle respectively.
Line Up [3-4-1-2]: Liam Mitchell, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster, Ryan Tafazolli, Andy Todd, Adam Murray (C), Gary Roberts, Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead, Matt Green
Substitutes: George Pilkington, Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Lee Stevenson, Solomon Tawio.
Mansfield began well with two half chances inside the opening two minutes, a foul on Andy Todd on the right hand side saw fellow returnee Roberts deliver into the middle where Ryan Tafazolli rose about the visiting defence but failed to direct his header on target. Moments later Jake Speight’s path was blocked by Imps skipper Andrew Boyce after John Dempster’s delightful deep clip.
A third minute Dan Gray throw for the visitors caused Stags little trouble, Paul Cox’s side keeping the ball well and unlucky not to find an opener on 15 minutes. Ritchie Sutton’s right sided throw found Andy Todd who, on the goal line, showed great balance to turn Peter Gilbert and cross into the box, Matt Green storming in but heading wide of the target. Two minutes later Green and Todd were involved again, Todd heading Roberts’ corner back into the middle after Green had burst well down the left to win the set piece, Ryan Tafazolli ending the pressure when he rose but headed wide of Paul Farman’s goal.
Holdsworth named two ex-Stags in his line up and on 19 minutes the duo of Adam Smith and Super Colin Larkin were involved, Larkin being tripped by Todd on the edge of the box from a Smith pass, the latter stepping in to fire the set piece into the Quarry Lane End.
Two minutes later the Stags looked lively again with Andy Todd on the right hand side, a neat dummy to leave Gilbert stranded saw Roberts clip in the loose ball, Matt Rhead nodding down for strike partner Green who fired over from six yards.
It was yet another good demonstration of what Stags were capable of on 36 minutes as Stags finally broke free. After taking a free kick quickly, Roberts had put Todd in down the right hand side. The player-coach found his path blocked but turned in field well to allow Jake Speight to advance round the back, Todd drilled low into space finding Matt Green who drilled low into the bottom corner only to see a wonderful flowing move ruined by the presence of the linesman’s flag, Green marginally offside.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Lincoln
Mansfield began the second half in rampant fashion as it took the visiting imps around four minutes to even get a slight touch of the ball. On 48 minutes it was Skipper Adam Murray, making his 400th league appearance, who sparked a great chance by clipping in a deep free kick early. Matt Rhead showed great power to rise high and head towards goal from the edge of the box, Paul Farman producing an excellent stop conceding a corner.
Seven later Murray came agonisingly close to marking the milestone with another milestone, his 35th league goal, however his effort was blocked on the six yard line after Rhead and Green had linked up from Todd’s right sided cross to set the loveable player assistant boss / captain.
Adam Smith looked to punish his former club however was wasteful with many of his efforts, namely the 56th and 60th minute long range efforts, he came closer on 66 minutes however, Liam Mitchell saving expertly well down to his left hand side – the only time he was really tested by the Imps the entire game.
Two minutes later the Stags had a clear claim for a penalty as Adam Murray saw his shirt tugged by Tom Miller inside the box, however Holdsworth’s Imps breathed a sigh of relief when the referee awarded a free kick for the previous challenge, right on the edge of the box. Gary Roberts’ drive struck the wall and the second phase of play naturally broke down.
Roberts came closer with seven minutes remaining as he drilled narrowly over the bar from distance, Jake Speight also saw a shot blocked after encouraging play from Junior Daniel on 85 minutes – the clock eventually ran down and the full time whistle blown, sparking numerous boos and uncalled for abuse from the stands, however the full time whistle for me signalled a poor yet improved showing from Mansfield who played the ball on the floor, used the wide men well, got crosses into the box and were generally unlucky. Green’s goal on another day may have stood, the Murray penalty too could have been given whilst Farman in the Lincoln goal has pulled off three great stops. Sometimes things just won’t fall for you, that’s football – now we move onto Forest Green Rovers on Saturday before facing an uninspiring treble away trip!
FULL TIME: Stags 0-0 Lincoln
The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Dan Westwell
Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s night’s match as an old foe returns...
Football is often a game of many blessing and many annoyances, Saturday’s trip to Cambridge was certainly one of the latter as Paul Cox’s side slumped to yet another 4-1 defeat with an uninspiring display.
If there’s one thing I hate more than most after a defeat it’s the wait for the next game, days seem miserable and long with a reminder at every turn to how poor your team were – tomorrow then comes as a footballing blessing as we return home, welcoming old foe and several old faces as Lincoln City arrive at the One Call Stadium.
Again there are no excuses to make following Saturday, Adam Murray certainly pulled no punches in his blog this morning but did make one thing very clear – we can only go forward together. Tomorrow is a derby match of sorts, there always has been an atmosphere between the two sides and an extra bite to the games, tomorrow will be no different as the pressure from the terraces mounts on Paul Cox and his players to overturn the sluggish start – maybe we should think about cutting down that ‘Cox Out’ banner though and replacing it with one that represents togetherness, otherwise we haven’t really moved on since now Imps boss Holdsworth’s welcomed departure in November 2010.
Holdsworth had just under two years at the helm at Stags and failed to deliver on many a promise, not meeting expectation, panic buying players and crumbling from pressure on more than one occasion. John Radford had just purchased the club and despite initially backing the former Sheffield United centre half with money for loan signings, namely Adam Murray & Rhys Day, sacked the ex Ilkeston boss mid November after just one win in eight games. We all know the story that followed and last season saw a transformation off the pitch with a happier medium developing, fair enough the results on the road haven’t been encouraging and the football nothing to write home about, but at home we’re steady and secure – Holdsworth type history won’t repeat itself, hence why we should make lots of noise and back the players of NOW rather than show the players of THEN (Holdsworth with a handful of ex-staggies in his squad) that nothing’s changed.
I want ex-players to come back tomorrow night and go ‘wow, this place has a totally different feel to it’ as they’ll know a few early goals for the Imps could irate us and play into their hands, we become predictable to opposition. A major part of our success last term was the fact both on AND OFF the pitch teams couldn’t get their own way in terms of supporters anger or style of play – all we need is a game to kick that off again, take for example Newport or Fleetwood at either end of the season. We are on our own patch, opposition should NOT have the right to dictate what happens, that’s our job – put it this way would you let one of your work rivals come into your house, re-arrange the sitting room and take control of your Sky+ box?
Brush aside the defeat to Cambridge and focus on the next game, the next goal, the next set of three points – tomorrow won’t be easy despite Lincolns under-performance so far this term. Holdsworth’s Imps sit in 21st with only three wins so far this term all of them at home with an unsettled side again the route of the problem, since his appointment last October the former Stags boss has made 46 signings, including loans and non contract players – his joint total from Stags and Lincoln stands at 104.
After narrowly avoiding the drop last term, Holdsworth made 18 additions in the close season including his former Stags players Rob Duffy, Adam Smith and captain Gary Mills. An opening day win over Kidderminster was followed by a seven game winless run, scampered wins over Hyde and Nuneaton have also been followed with two defeats of late, rumours are the Imps are already tired of the revolving door.
Naturally Holdsworth will be itching to get victory over his old employers and will step up efforts tomorrow evening, with the Stags heading into the game after a beating at Cambridge you’d hope for a reaction. In my view obviously there have to be changes, 4-3-3 must vanish into the abyss never to be seen again whilst 4-4-2 should make a return. John Dempster looks a certainty to return to the line up after a month at Tamworth with Thompson definitely out and Geohaghon & Tafazolli majorly doubtful. Andy Todd should also be another addition to the starting line up, we need someone to control and marshal play, his influence shouldn’t be over looked – maybe slotting in at right back moving Dempster & Sutton to centre half and a straight choice of Daniel or Owens at left back. Dempster & Sutton are no strangers to each other at the heart of the Stags back line having played the majority of Dempsters loan last term there together, if we’re looking for partnerships, there’s one right there ready to be continued. Ben Hutchinson is another player I’ve harped on about in recent weeks, a player who drops deep to collect things and a player creates things – again something we need. Get support up to Green, play with a spring in our step and without anxiety and who know, on Wednesday we could be smiling again.
LAST TIME WE MET
Last season was the first time the two sides had met outside of the Football League, a rivalry first starting in 1934. In total there have been 68 meetings between the two clubs including ten cup encounters. Looking at purely league stats, 58 matches, things are close between the two; Stags’ 2-1 win at the One Call on a historic day for the club last term their 23rd over the imps who have 19 victories to their name.
As I mentioned above, last season’s match at the One Call was one the Stags were never going to lose, an afternoon of celebrating John Radford’s purchase of the Ground saw smiles and strikes from Ross Dyer and Gary Roberts. At Sincil Bank, Matt Green was on target to rescue a late draw, the 16th draw between the sides down the years.
There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of goals in all competitions, the Stags leading 105-102! In league competition 179 strikes have been netted, Stags leading 92-87. Narrowing things down to the One Call Stadium, tomorrow’s game will be the 30th meeting, Mansfield have been held to eight draws, defeated eight times but have been victorious on thirteen occasions.
The Stags look set to be without John Thompson, however the injury stricken defenders problems aren’t as bad as first feared as a suspected broken leg appears to be heavy bruising, that kids is why you should wear shin pads! Exodus Geohaghon also looks set to join Thompson, Dyer, Hand etc on the sidelines whilst Ryan Tafazolli, who felt his hamstring tweak at the end of the Cambridge game could be ok.
Stags will welcome back John Dempster after a successful loan spell at Tamworth playing six games scoring once helping Tamworth push forwards to a comfortable 7th place. Other than that there are no fresh injury concerns for Cox and his side – skipper Adam Murray looks set for his 400th career appearance too.
Anthony Howell and Chris Clements are both OUT of tomorrow's game after a clash of heads in training - Howell needed seven stitches whilst Clements revived a deep cut to the nose.
If you can’t make it to the One Call Stadium tomorrow evening, then join me for regular updates throughout the hotly contested evening. Build up starts at 7pm on 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE Page.
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