Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Alfreton Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier Game #24
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Wednesday 26th December – 3pm
Match Referee: Seb Stocksbridge (County Durham)
Attendance: 4,186 (350)
There’s nothing better than victory over a rival at Christmas time, on the flip side there’s nothing worse than losing either – yesterday’s Boxing Day fixture packed only the punch of frustration for Stags as rivals Alfreton grabbed their first ever competitive victory over Mansfield, a result which marred what had been a really good home record.
It was in a frustrating manor too as damp and cold conditions provided the backing for a drab affair, a performance in which the majority of the players looked disinterested and like they wanted to be sat around the table stuffing down the turkey – the energy and buzz from the Lincoln game, Stags’ last outing 14 days ago, had long gone.
I guess that’s always the danger, no game for ages and the excitement of Liverpool may have taken its toll, but that’s no excuse – certain players certainly let the side down and there needs to be a mass improvement if Stags wish to get anything from their match with Grimsby on Saturday – more on that tomorrow.
Paul Cox made just one change from the side which saw off Lincoln 14 days prior, Ritchie Sutton returned at the expense of John Thompson.
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster (C), Exodus Geohaghon, Lee Beevers, Louis Briscoe, Chris Clements, Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson, Matt Green
Substitutes: John Thompson, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead, Adam Murray, Lee Stevenson
It was a slow and sluggish start to this Boxing Day fixture, the Stags registering their first effort on five minutes as a series of long throws from both Lee Beevers and Exodus Geohaghon, the latter’s right sided cross from the second phase of play saw Anthony Howell rise at the near post and head narrowly wide.
Twelve minutes later Stags put on the pressure with Meikle trying to find Green however the visitors scrambled clear, on twenty minutes the Stags started to enjoy the pressure, Hutchinson, Briscoe and Sutton all combining before the former was mightily unlucky not to see his drilled pass find Green, it was just a tad too heavy.
Seconds later the Stags had their best chance of the game, Green’s dominant right sided cross found Clements on the edge of the area, his curling shot was expertly saved by Phil Barnes for a corner, however Mansfield failed to really make it pay.
Green had another chance on 26 this time down the left however the wet conditions flawed the plan, slipping as he bore down on goal allowed Alfreton to get back and clear.
Former Stags Nathan Arnold came close on 33 minutes as his shot was deflected over by Sutton, two minutes later it was Stags who were celebrating as John Dempster turned in as Hutchinson crossed from a Lee Beevers throw.
Stags lead lasted a mere two minutes as Josh Law’s deep free kick proved the assist for Paul Clayton, he rising with ease above Geohaghon to dominantly head home and level the match.
With six to go before the break Matt Green found space on the right but dragged wide of the target, before Louis Briscoe’s driven cross was scooped away – on the stroke of half time, Ritchie Sutton collected his 5th booking of the season and as such, misses out Saturday’s showdown with Grimsby.
HALF TIME Stags 1-1 Alfreton
The second half was another drab affair although Stags did start with some intensity, Meikle and Hutchinson combined fluently on the left before the later fired wide. Five minutes into the second half a run from Ben Tomlinson had Geohaghon beaten as he slipped inside the box and allowed the Reds hit man to drive beyond Marriott into the bottom corner and put Alfreton into a 2-1 lead a minute after Ben Hutchinson had been replaced in attack by Matt Rhead.
On 69 minutes Alfreton came forward again as Dan Bradley and Simon Russell played a one-two, a sublime sliding challenge from Beevers put an end to the beginning of what could have been a dominant surge from the visitors.
Six minutes later the annual Christmas fight broke out as Matt Green and Dan Bradley came to blows, both earned a booking before Green drilled wide of the target on 72 minutes.
Three minutes later another Green run saw him curl wide before joint leading scorer Jake Speight replaced Louis Briscoe. Mansfield then failed to register and chances worth noting, the introduction of Lee Stevenson for Clements with ten to go didn’t aid things either, in the end Stags were hanging on as Tomlinson and Clayton both looked to add to their goals tally in six additional minutes, the full time whistle sparking a deserved chorus of boos – Bah Hum Bug.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-2 Alfreton
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