Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write...
Fixture: Forest Green Rovers V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #40
Venue: The New Lawn
Date & Time: Friday 15th March 2013 – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Wayne Barratt (Worcestershire)
Attendance: 1,109 (166)
Oh it’s a great time to be a Stags fan at the moment, we always dream about our side taking the title and earning promotion but dreams have seldom had a chance to become reality, however following last night’s victory in Nailsworth and today’s set of Blue Square Bet Premier results, it looks like Paul Cox’s side have the Green Light on project promotion.
The final five minutes were a scare and saw Stags endure some nail biting moments, you’d better get used to that on the edge feeling because the way this season’s finale is shaping up, moments like that will be frequent – but do you know what, it all adds to the drama, the thrill of the chase.
Nine games to go and our destiny is in our hands, it’s ours to lose. Our only threats in our opinion are Kidderminster, the question is do they have the mentality to see this out – having said that, do we?! Only time will tell and no matter how much we write about whose got the tougher run in or whose beginning to stutter, only the football will reveal the real outcome.
Nine wins from as many matches, to take the crowd – we need to make this continue, performance will be a part of it soon, but now we’ve got the gap in points at the top, our task is simple – extend our lead over those chasing which we CAN do on Tuesday, and then just keep on running – The green light.... MEANS GO!
Paul Cox stuck with the same side with triumphed over Grimsby midweek.
LINE-UP [4-4-1-1]: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Luke Jones, John Dempster, James Jennings, Lindon Meikle, Adam Murray (C), Adam Chapman, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson, Matt Green
SUBSTITUTES: Ritchie Sutton, Nick Wright, Matt Rhead, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell
Fresh from their midweek win over Grimsby Stags started well as they looked for an early goal at The New Lawn for the second season in succession, Adam Chapman hurled in two early long throws however the home defence dealt with them adequately enough.
Two minutes later Chapman was involved again as his deep free-kick nearly caught Sam Russell aghast as it nestled on the top of the net, seconds later Matt Green was unlucky not to latch on to Adam Murray’s through ball following strong work in the centre of the park.
Forest Green then enjoyed their first chance on five minutes as full debutant and youngster Wes Burns tore down the left hand side leaving Lee Beevers and Lindon Meikle in his wake before blazing wide of Marriott’s goal.
Ten minutes later the Stags were stretched again as Kieron Forbes embarked on a box to box surge, however the Forest Green midfielder unleashed a somewhat disappointing finish which trickled into the hands of a well positioned Marriott.
Intricate work between Beevers, Stevenson and Meikle set-up Adam Chapman for an effort on 16 minutes however the impressive midfielder failed to continue his goal scoring streak with Sam Russell well positioned.
The game then changed on 26 minutes as Louis Briscoe replaced the below par Junior Daniel, it took just three minutes for Briscoe to set the opening goal as he weaved forward before poking the loose ball into the path of Lindon Meikle. The England C winger’s effort was tame but found its way into the back of the net as Eddie Oshodi converted the ball beyond his own keeper.
Four minutes later Luke Jones was solid in the air to head away a Forest Green free-kick before Alan Marriott was forced to push a dangerous effort from Burns around the post for a corner.
Louis Briscoe nearly doubled the Stags lead with five minutes of the first half remaining, his dangerous effort from Meikle’s assist was fumbled by Russell who wasn’t expecting as much pace and power on the effort. The half drew to a close with Stags on top as Jones saw a header from a Jennings free-kick cleared off the line.
HALF TIME: Forest Green Rovers 0-1 Stags
After the break Paul Cox’s side kicked on as they searched for a second goal, their determination paid off too as the much sought after goal came just three minutes after the whistle. It all stemmed from good work in the midfield from Matt Green, the strikers’ decision to stay in a deep role meant the Rovers defence stepped up and created a large pocket of space. With Green in position, Stevenson spotted the gap and went for it, the end result was clinical as he latched onto Green’s release and calmly slotted beyond the on rushing keeper to double Stags’ lead.
The hosts were desperate for a replay and came close on 59 minutes as substitute Matty Taylor thundered a 22 yard effort against the bar, two minutes later a dominant surge from Wes Burns had Stags scampering however a strong challenge from Jones soon brought an end to the youngsters run.
Anthony Howell then replaced Stevenson on 65 minutes as Paul Cox opted for five across midfield, this didn’t stop Forest Green from creating openings though and they came close again a minutes later as Burns dragged a shot wide.
Ten minutes later Matt Rhead was introduced for Green as Cox looked for some outlet; it didn’t come as the hosts remained in control but failed to make the most of a series of corner, Jones again impressing against his former club as he rose to head away every single set play Forest Green could muster.
The hosts then wasted a guilt edge chance on 83 minutes following a corner; centre half Aarran Racine dragging wide from close range with Stags not quick to close him down. Two minutes later the Nailsworth based outfit set up a tense finish as James Norwood slotted past Alan Marriott following a pacey counter attack.
At 2-1 Stags were holding on and seconds after the re-start Alan Marriott produced a fine stop to deny Norwood a second with a point blank range header, had the ball gone in however the goal wouldn’t have stood as the referee had already blown for a foul.
Adam Murray continued to throw himself into challenge after challenge and collected a yellow card for his efforts, not that he cared as the clock soon ran down and Stags collected their ninth straight win to move top of the blue square bet premier table.
FULL TIME: Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Stags
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