Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: AFC Telford United V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #10
Venue: The New Bucks Head
Date & Time: Saturday 22nd September – 3pm
Match Referee: Brett Huxtable
No matter if you’re a fan, journalist, coach, physio or water boy – there’s always a good feeling of confidence inside when he opposing team get a player dismissed early in a game, well prior to 60minutes or so anyway. Yesterday the Stags played an hour with a man less but again we sit reflecting on a tale portrayed through gritted teeth as the final result ended all square at 2-2.
Firstly before I delve into the game itself from a Stags perspective, it should go on the record that credit is certainly due to AFC Telford who remained strong and powerful throughout, in fact up until half time and for the early stages of the second half, they were the better side – Alan Marriott the Stags saving grace. Kieron St.Aimie and Steve Jones especially were the pick of the bunch for the Bucks front line, their supporters and management can take pride from the Bucks’ determined attitude and application to, for them, a negative situation – if they continue at that level then they’ll be a stable mid table side rather than the relegation doomed outfit some have made them out to be.
Telford’s resilience and excellence should not however be used as an excuse, as Paul Cox said we weren’t brave enough and we played with an anxiety which keeps irritating us away from home, championship winning sides are not anxious their ruthless. Ruthless is what we should have been yesterday, we scored the penalty to level but failed to kick on, only towards the end of the second half did we see a desire, a willingness to go and win the game but it was by far too little and most defiantly too late. The formation of 3-4-1-2 failed us defensively in my opinion; we we’re either far too narrow as a three or caught too far forward – when we dropped back into the 4-4-2 it was then when we began to sharpen and control and make the most of the extra man.
Away from these minor irritations I guess the bigger picture says we’ve picked up our first point on the road since August 18th and with two away games in our next three outings, including a tough midweek trip to Macclesfield, it should provide the foundation to build upon. All we need is the burn of belief and crinkle of ruthlessness to squish the weight of anxiety from our shoulders, to come out and start all steams ahead. We can do this if we stand together, make some supportive noise and take the home comforts with us on the team bus.
I can picture some of you scratching your metaphorical beards now wondering why the positive spin, am I happy with a point against ten men? No, but it’s better than none and will, providing we get a midweek win, continue to push us forward unbeaten – we didn’t lose after all, so why does it have to feel like a loss all the time. Onwards.
Paul Cox opted for the same starting eleven as the previous weekend, a 2-0 home win over Braintree, also sticking with the same bench and same formation, a 3-4-1-2.
LINE UP [3-4-1-2]: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, Exodus Geohaghon, Ryan Tafazolli, Lee Beevers, Adam Murray (C), Chris Clements, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead.
SUBSTITUTES: John Thompson, Luke Jones, Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell.
The hosts began brightly troubling the Stags with two shots inside the opening minute, a rather sluggish back three took time to get going as they allowed Steve Jones to shoot wide from the edge of the box on 40 seconds before Steven Leslie curled one up and over 12 seconds later after the Stags failed to win the Ariel battle from the resulting goal kick.
Jake Speight registered half a chance on five minutes for Stags however it was the lively hosts that kept pressing, registering efforts from James Spray, Kieron St.Aimie and Steven Leslie prior to the ten minute mark.
It was clear that Stags needed a break, a little piece of luck to set them on their way and that’s exactly what they got on 11 minutes as Lee Beevers grabbed his first goal of the season. Matt Rhead was causing the back four havoc and won a free kick dead centre 25 yards from goal, Lee Stevenson saw no point in allowing Telford to get bodies back and after a quick glance to the referee, took the kick early spraying wide right for Beevers, whose cross dipped in-towards the back post, cushioning off the postage stamp to land in the back of the net and opening the scoring.
AFC Telford 0-1 Stags
Mansfield’s lead lasted a mere three minutes as Ritchie Sutton was made to pay for a defensive error, a long ball from Telford’s shot stopper Ryan Young was inviting for a volley back forwards however Sutton mistimed his kick and swung at air, allowing the lively Kieron St.Aimie to ghost in. Once gaining ground the big front man found himself in the box and let fly under pressure from Tafazolli who may have got the slightest of touches to put the ball beyond Marriott
AFC Telford 1-1 Stags
Jake Speight, Lee Beevers and Chris Clements all had half efforts for the Stags to regain the lead but once again AFC Telford looked the more lively, Alan Marriott plucking numerous crosses out of the air, watching two solo efforts from Steven Leslie fly narrowly wide and on the half hour mark, getting down low to deny Steve Jones after St.Aimie had made a mockery of Geohaghon to the right of the box, delivering a drilled low cross.
Three minutes later the inevitable happened as the hosts took the lead, again it was Mansfield’s disorganised back three that were perhaps at fault, moving too high up pitch and out of shape allowed a chipped pass from skipper Phil Trainer to find Kieron St.Aimie wide left onside. Telford’s leading marksman delivered low into the mix where Richard Davies stuck out a boot to divert beyond Marriott.
AFC Telford 2-1 Stags
Next it was the Stags turn to turn the tables as on 36 minutes a delightful long range pass from the Stags midfield saw Jake Speight onside to the right of the box. After getting goal side of Liam Chilvers he advanced forward before going down in the box following a clear push in the back from Chilvers. The linesman had a clearer view than the referee and put his flag across his chest for a spot kick, after deliberation it was awarded and, by the letter of the la, Chilvers shown a straight red card for being last man. Jake Speight became Mansfield’s third penalty taker of the season following kicks from Green and Briscoe, he maintained the 100% success rate, sending Young the wrong way from the spot to level the match.
AFC Telford 2-2 Stags
Surprisingly Telford didn’t dwell on the dismissal and got on with things whilst Mansfield grew more anxious in trying to force another goal. The Stags remained in the 3-4-1-2 and were still weak at the back, Alan Marriott was at his best on 43 minutes when he kept out a ferocious driven effort from Steven Leslie, parrying the ball into the path of the on rushing Steve Jones the danger still lingered – Marriott sprung like a coiled spring to keep out the follow up close range bullet – the half time whistle a welcome relief for Stags rather than the 10man hosts.
HALF TIME: AFC Telford 2-2 Stags
The hosts again came out the traps the brighter with Alan Marriott again on hand to keep Stags in the game, St.Aimie was twice denied before Steve Jones saw an effort palmed away by Marriott on 57 minutes, a minute after Lindon Meikle and Anthony Howell were introduced for Matt Rhead and Lee Stevenson respectively.
Now in a 4-4-2 Stags began to make better use of the extra man, Anthony Howell had a storming impact as a front man, curling a shot narrowly over the bar on the hour mark following a flowing spell of movement down the right with Sutton and Beevers combining.
Six minutes later Louis Briscoe entered the fray for Sutton with Beevers dropping back to right back as Stags looked for more wide options, Lindon Meikle struck into the side netting on 70 minutes. The Stags had further chances with Anthony Howell, Louis Briscoe, Jake Speight, Adam Murray and Lindon Meikle however the best chance fell in the final minute to Chris Clements, his drive through the crowd was collected by the keeper who clung onto run the clock down, the full time whistle soon arriving to leave the Stags ruing their missed chances and clear anxiety issues.
FULL TIME: AFC Telford 2-2 Stags << Audio Highlights
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