Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Ebbsfleet United
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier (Game #22)
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 8th December – 3pm
Match Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 1,845 (44)
All week prior to Saturday’s match the buzz word had been ‘Liverpool’ and for some around the stadium prior to the match there was still some talk about FA Cup dreams, I thank the stars that on the pitch we did what was asked, keeping our focus to beat Ebbsfleet United comfortably, the Stags running out 4-1 winners.
As I’ve mentioned over and over in the past few days is the fact that we have to beat Lincoln on Wednesday in what will be a tough enough fixture alone without the prize of Liverpool. Momentum and confidence were the two things I was looking for against Ebbsfleet to set us up for Wednesday, maybe they’ll be some complaints that we didn’t bury a few more chances but I think if you look at Saturday’s game as a progressive step it was certainly a positive one, a return for Alan Marriott and goals spread around the team on the pitch soon transpires to a positive attitude in the stands – the boys being clapped off at full time was good to see, there’s no doubting it was a small crowd that will be doubled at worst midweek – hopefully news and feelings from Saturday can carry over to Wednesday.
Paul Cox made two changes to the side which drew with Lincoln to set up Wednesday’s televised replay, Alan Marriott came in for Shane Redmond after completing another 90 minutes in the reserves on Tuesday, Anthony Howell came into midfield for Adam Murray who missed out with concussion, all the best for a recovery Muz!
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott, John Thompson, John Dempster (C), Exodus Geohaghon, Lee Beevers, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell, Chris Clements, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson, Matt Green.
Substitutes: Ritchie Sutton, Jake Speight, Nick Wright, Matt Rhead, Lee Stevenson.
Mansfield began in bright fashion as they searched for victory, Ben Hutchinson charge forward getting the Stags a free kick on the edge of the D after 29 seconds. The resulting free kick hit the solid Ebbsfleet wall but a determined Mansfield kept the ball and earned three consecutive corners, the pressure ended when Lindon Meikle was judged to have fouled his marker.
Alan Marriott was then called into action on four minutes when a surging Ebbsfleet break caused John Dempster to slip, a shot from Ashley Carew deflected up off the covering Geohaghon but caused little problem for Marriott who sprung to collect the loose ball.
Ten minutes later it was Mansfield’s turn for a flowing move, this one working to full affect as Ben Hutchinson broke the deadlock. The move began in midfield as Chris Clements picked up and sprayed forward for Louis Briscoe, a quick flick to Green then saw Clements back in possession, it was he who provided the assist as he cushioned the ball to Hutchinson who curled home a beautiful finish at the first attempt from the edge of the area.
A free kick for Ebbsfleet after a foul by Meikle on substitute Lanre Azeez on 18 minutes provided opportunity for a leveller, Mansfield’s wall were stronger than a week ago as it rose to block Matt Godden’s strike, Anthony Howell than blocked Ashley Carew’s follow up shot.
Matt Green then had two chances in three minutes to double Mansfield’s lead, his curling effort on 19 minutes following a splitting pass from Clements was saved by Preston Edwards, moments later Green fired over from the angle after Meikle had intercepted the ball.
The Stags were then left cursing their luck as from the resulting goal kick, Ebbsfleet tamely pulled level. Edwards’ route one ball being flicked on by Godden before Liam Ever-Marum netted Ebbsfleet’s first ever goal against Stags at the One Call Stadium, curling round a static Marriott.
Three minutes from the restart Mansfield should have re-taken the lead after Briscoe had won back the ball after Lee Beevers’ throw had broken down. The Stags wide man played a 1-2 give and go with Green but screwed horribly wide once inside the box.
Nine minutes later Briscoe atoned for his error as he fired Mansfield back into the lead. Ben Hutchinson dropped deep to collect in the centre of the park before spraying wide to the left for Lindon Meikle, it was he who did the rest driving forward skipping the challenge of Craig Stone and Joe Howe before crossing towards the back post, Louis Briscoe struck with venom on the volley and despite the shot taking a slight deflection, took the acclaim as Mansfield moved 2-1 ahead.
Two minutes later there was opportunity for a third as a ball down the right hand side found Matt Green, the front man drove forward before a crowd of body’s blocked Green’s effort and also stood firm to block Hutchinson’s follow up. With four to go before the break Green again latched onto a central pass this time for Hutchinson, Preston Edwards denied Green with a smart save before Hutchinson scooped the follow up wide.
HALF TIME: Stags 2-1 Ebbsfleet
The early parts of the second half were considerably tamer however there were chances, Ben Hutchinson fired well over on 49 minutes before Ebbsfleet were forced into a change between the sticks a minute later as Edwards picked up an injury and was replaced by Lucas Menz.
Five minutes later the replacement shot stopper was then called into action for the first time, Louis Briscoe’s driven cross capping a flowing move caused little trouble. Ebbsfleet then put on a little pressure as on 65 minutes Enver-Marum headed well wide before a corner nearly caught the Stags aghast.
The game then came to life on 69 minutes as Anthony Howell put Stags into a 3-1 lead, a solo run saw him drive in from the edge of the area, a truly excellent strike. Four minutes later Howell nearly grabbed his second of the game, however he headed wide from Clements’ deep free kick.
Mansfield did make it four on 76 minutes as Ben Hutchinson was felled in the box by Phil Walsh, Matt Green stepped up to convert beyond Menz for his eighth goal of the season. Nick Wright, Lee Stevenson and Jake Speight all made late substitute appearances, Wright coming close in the dying embers as he latched onto Clements’ pass, however his effort was blocked and the full time whistle soon followed, wrapping up a deserved 4-1 win for Stags.
FULL TIME: Stags 4-1 Ebbsfleet
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