Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Cambridge United
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #35
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 16th February 2013 – 3pm
Match Referee: Seb Stockbridge
Attendance: 2,508 (208)
So Stags are back to winning ways and happiness has been restored, but does one game mean the promotion race is still on? In our opinion yes, however the game in question was Tuesday’s trip to Newport. This may seem a bit of a weird statement to make however defeat has probably refocused Paul Cox and his players on what they have to do to achieve success.
The performance during yesterday’s 3-1 victory over Cambridge certainly demonstrated that the players were more focused, for example the defence held a tighter line whilst in-front of goal the players had that eagerness to be a little bit sharper than midweek, especially after conceding the equaliser.
Three points’ sets us up nicely for three back to back away games, Hyde, Luton and Lincoln are all tough places to visit but all three are winnable matches for sure. The mixture of confidence following yesterday’s win along with the refocus from the midweek defeat will hopefully provide the basis for the remainder of the season.
Paul Cox made a brave choice in allowing his players a second chance, however for us it was the right choice and the players responded in the right manner – what a refreshing thing to say when months ago the players may have slumped rather than risen.
The Stags boss stuck with his guns and stuck with the same side as midweek.
LINE-UP[4-2-3-1]: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Luke Jones, John Dempster, James Jennings, Adam Murray (C), Anthony Howell, Louis Briscoe, Lee Stevenson, Junior Daniel, Matt Green
SUBSTITUES: Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Nick Wright, Chris Clements, Matt Rhead
Mansfield started strongly with a good counter-attacking move on two minutes which saw Lee Stevenson and Louis Briscoe combine, however the latter’s low cross after beating Kevin Roberts was stabbed away by Rory McAuley as Matt Green looked to connect. A minute later it was the visitors turn to attack, Jamie Reed selfishly driving wide from 30 yards despite having two players either side of him.
On six minutes Cambridge had keeper Jonathan Hedge to thank as he kept out a curling effort from Anthony Howell following fluent movement between Briscoe, Stevenson and Green. Two minutes later it was Alan Marriott’s turn to take the praise as he produced a splendid save to deny Liam Hughes’ thunderous header from a Ross Jarvis corner.
Former Cambridge man James Jennings was then key to the Stags opening goal on ten minutes as he launched in a number of deep crosses following an initial free kick, Matt Green and Anthony Howell both saw efforts blocked before the in-form Lee Stevenson tucked home for his sixth goal in as many games.
Seconds after the restart it could have been two however Junior Daniel failed to keep his long range effort on target, the visitors then enjoyed a break of their own as the pace of Michael Gash had Mansfield stretched, the advancing Kevin Roberts failed to connect with Gash’s driven low cross much to Mansfield’s relief.
Stags were relentless in their pursuit for a second, Louis Briscoe the closet to finding one on 25 minutes as he narrowly curled over following a James Jennings corner. Mansfield were soon to be pegged back five minutes later as poor defending allowed Gash to latched on to Tom Shaw’s splitting pass, the Cambridge front man denied by Marriott before Liam Hughes headed home from the resulting corner.
With ten minutes of the first half remaining James Jennings tested the water from distance, four minutes later he helped set Mansfield’s second goal by swinging in yet another corner. Luke Jones appeared to head home at the far post, attempt to clear the ball off the line appeared successful before Green tucked home the loose ball, however it was Jones taking the credit as the referee had already signalled Jones’ initial header to have crossed the line.
Louis Briscoe, Matt Green and Luke Jones all came close to adding a third for the Stags before the break, however neither could find the back of the net and at the break Stags went in ahead by a solitary goal.
HALF TIME: Stags 2-1 Cambridge
Stags came out the traps brightest as the second half began Matt Green’s teasing cross on 49 minutes headed away by Ross Jarvis – two minutes later Green again teased the defence as he played Junior Daniel clean through on goal, the wide man’s shot squirmed underneath Hedge before hitting the post and rolling the wrong side of the goal line allowing the visitors to clear the danger.
Louis Briscoe them embarked on a one man run on 54 minutes before Luke Jones made a splendid block at the heart of the Stags defence following a corner on the hour mark.
Five minutes later James Jennings saw a free-kick held by Hedge, the Cambridge keeper was helpless however on 71 minutes as Junior Daniel netted Mansfield’s third, Daniel’s goal capping a fluent move between Stevenson and Jennings after Howell had won the ball back in midfield.
Three minutes later Jennings could have made it four as he came close with another free-kick, Matt Green was also unfortunate not to seal the game on 75 minutes as Stevenson and Briscoe combined and tore down the right hand side.
There was little else to report on as the match entered its final ten minutes, Lindon Meikle got a late run out for Louis Briscoe but his introduction was brief as the referee soon blew his whistle for full time, sealing all three points for the Stags.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Cambridge
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