Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write...
Fixture: Mansfield Town FC Vs Stockport County FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #39
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 9th March 2013 – 3.00pm
Match Referee: Ross Joyce (County Durham)
Attendance: 2,628 (196)
It’s almost becoming like a routine writing about three points now, yesterday’s comfortable victory over Stockport County leaves Stags in third but joint top of the table following a surprise defeat for Wrexham at Dartford.
The Stags seventh consecutive victory equals a club record set in 1962 and equalled in 1991, whilst midfielder Adam Chapman became the first player since Keith Cassells in August 1985 to net a hat-trick on his home debut, despite these achievements it’s the performance which we are most pleased about ahead of crunch games with Grimsby, Forest Green Rovers, Wrexham and Macclesfield in the next two weeks.
Whilst Stags have been picking up results of late the performances have been worrying, for example the entire match at Lincoln and the first half at Woking midweek was cause for concern. With this in mind we were a little bit cautious of facing the ‘top sides’ that will prove a tougher test than the sides we have recently faced, no disrespect to any of them.
These next four matches will require a huge amount of determination, passion, hard work and togetherness – yesterday’s performance reaffirmed the belief that all those things are still within the dressing room and give us that extra bit of confidence heading in to Tuesday’s key game with Grimsby, who were beaten by second place Kidderminster yesterday – a result with actually did us a favour as it rocked the Mariners and gave us some breathing space. The fact that Dartford beat Wrexham too was also a positive result and shows that with the right approach Andy Morrell’s side can be beaten.
Paul Cox made two changes from the midweek victory at Woking as the fit-again John Dempster returned to partner Luke Jones at the heart of the defence at the expense of Exodus Geohaghon whilst Louis Briscoe missed out with a tight glut (bum cheek to the rest of us), Lindon Meikle taking his place on the right hand side of midfield.
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, Chris Clements, Matt Rhead, Exodus Geohaghon.
It was a sluggish start to the encounter at the One Call Stadium with Stockport looking to move away from the drop-zone and Stags looking to gain ground on Wrexham after their surprise defeat to Dartford, Stockport enjoyed an early chance as Junior Daniel slipped on the wet surface giving possession away – Luke Jones was then turned by Mark Cullen who interchanged with Danny Whitehead and the advancing Andy Halls, the latter’s cross blocked by Jennings for a corner which ultimately broke down.
A minute later Stags registered their first effort as Adam Chapman launched in a long throw from the right hand side which Jones flicked wide. Minutes later Adam Murray picked out Lindon Meikle with a fine cross park ball, the lively wing man drawing a smart save from Richard O’Donnell with a long range effort.
On thirteen minutes Stags grabbed the breakthrough in fine fashion as Lee Stevenson won the ball on the half way line. Combining with Meikle it was he who picked out Green with a splitting central pass, the front man’s effort saved one handed by O’Donnell before home debutant Adam Chapman tapped in the rebound from six yards out.
Stags came close again on 19 when Lee Beevers picked out Stevenson with a quick throw down the right channel, the lively attacking midfielder then squared the ball to Green whose effort cannoned off Sean Newton before the move broke down.
A minute later Chapman added his second of the match following a scramble in the box. It all stemmed from a deep Jennings free kick from the right hand side just over the half way line – Chapman, Jones and Stevenson all had efforts blocked before the ball ran back for Chapman who thundered through the crowd to double Stags lead.
With ten minutes of the first half remaining Matt Green was upended on the edge of the box, Jennings’ initial free kick was headed away before Meikle curled the loose ball behind for a goal kick as Stags searched for a third. Mansfield kept on the pressure as Lee Stevenson caught the ball under his standing foot when having a pop on 36 following Green’s tee-up, fluent football between the latter two and Lindon Meikle saw Junior Daniel in space inside the box two minute later, however the former Macclesfield man blazed over the bar as he looked to cross rather than shoot.
On the stroke of half time Daniel came closer to finding a goal as his point blank range effort was saved by O’Donnell follow Meikle’s assist – the Stags looking good for their 2-0 lead as the half time whistle blew.
HALF TIME: Stags 2-0 Stockport
Seven minutes of the second half and Stockport County gave Stags a rare scare as sluggish marking allowed Alex Kenyon to pick out Andy Halls on the far side, the full backs low cross dragged wide by Danny Whitehead who looked low on confidence in front of goal.
Matt Green then lifted stags four minutes later as he bagged his 18th goal of the season. Lindon Meikle was instrumental in creating the goal on the half way line, intercepting play before timing his pass to perfection, ensuring Green remained onside as the deadly front man broke free from three markers to clip beyond the on rushing O’Donnell.
Green should have had a second goal of the match on 63 minutes as O’Donnell tipped over a dangerous header following a Jennings free kick right on the edge of the box when the full back was tripped by Andy Halls.
Stockport then grabbed one back three minutes later through substitute Paul Marshall, his outstanding blindsided 30 yard effort dipped underneath a despairing Marriott and cannoned in off the bar as Stags had a momentary lapse of concentration and marking.
Lee Stevenson came close to restoring the Stags three goal cushion on 76 minutes as his low effort was saved by O’Donnell following Green’s right sided assist – a minute later the game was over effectively as Murray picked out Meikle on the left hand side. The live wire winger then cut inside to tee up Chapman who rolled the ball in front of himself before sealing his home debut hat-trick with a curling 20 yard effort.
Substitute Matt Rhead came close to adding a 5th with three minutes to go following Stevenson’s set up, however the big man drove wide of the target and the clock eventually ticked down to the sound of the full time whistle, Stags moving to joint top but remaining third on goal difference.
FULL TIME: Stags 4-1 Stockport
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