Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write....
Fixture: Ebbsfleet United vs Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #8
Venue: Stonebridge Road
Date & Time: Saturday 8th September – 3pm
Match Referee: Chris Knowles (Northampton)
Attendance: 828 (120)
You know sometimes at the full time whistle we sit and ponder on the events just gone, at the end of the match yesterday we were sat sighing heavily asking just one question – why? Before we move on to talk about the game the one thing we ask most is why do supporters allow themselves to drift from positive to negative as he wind changes.
At Mansfield Matters we always encourage the views of supporters and welcome them in turn, however a couple of tweets from yesterday show have us scratching our heads. The first came shortly after our goal on 40 minutes it read ‘as it stands in the league atm Stags are 7th, we are slowly going up, promotion this season’ the second from the same person came after Ebbsfleet’s third goal reading ‘I wonder what has happened to Stags excellent pre-season and favourites for promotion, now there looking like favourites for relegation’ – why have we gone from being so positive and supportive to being so negative and predicting the shape of our season on one result? I thought we’d gone past the positive/negative pendulum after two good home games with solid support, why can’t we all just decide if this is going to be our season or not – it’s true that as in life and football too those who achieve greatness and success are those who truly want it from within, being half hearted and going which way the wind takes you is the path to a nothingness and only disappointment.
There was also some talk about ‘promotion worthy teams’ going to Ebbsfleet and not losing, the same can surely be said about going to Alfreton where Luton lost 3-0 yesterday and going to Hyde where Hereford were thumped 5-2 yesterday – the point being football is a game of many twists and turns just because we lost to a side supposedly lower ranked than ourselves doesn’t mean we won’t achieve what we want to achieve come the end of the season.
Once again defeat has seen the minority call for Paul Cox to be withdrawn from the position of manager, those ding so may wish to take the time to watch and compare the games against Gateshead, Grimsby and Ebbsfleet as compared to the first two mentioned the latter had absolutely had nothing to do with the way we performed. Let us once again reiterate that whilst we have a love for Mansfield Town FC we try to write from a balanced and un- biased point of view – yesterday’s defeat saw a number of uncontrollable factors change and shape the course of the game.
The weather for a start was boiling hot which sure everyone watching shed at least a stone in weight in sweat, this means the pace of the game was never going to be fast and furious something which Paul Cox and his players have been criticized for. Next there was the frankly abysmal match officials who not only got suckered in to Ebbsfleet’s mind games but also got several decisions bum over head! Take for example the Ebbsfleet captain Paul Lorraine who played a leading role in the dismissal of Matt Green and also managed to draw blood from Luke Jones, hurl several flailing elbows into numerous players’ faces, rip the collar of Matt Rhead’s shirt and talk the referee into debatable set pieces in his sides favour – all without receiving a verbal warning or a yellow card – laughable really! How the referee got a 7 out of 10 rating from the non-league paper is beyond us.
Another thing before we move on to the match report is a tactical move Paul Cox made shortly after Ebbsfleet made it 2-1 – making a treble substitution was a brave and bold move one which nearly paid off on several occasions, personally we’re pleased Cox showed he intent and desire to try and rescue the game for us this shows we have manager who has the same wish of success as whose on the terraces – once again we urge those calling for his head to get behind him and recognise the project in progress. Unfortunately all this frustration can do nothing to alter yesterday’s outcome therefore we must look forward, let’s do it together.
Once again Paul Cox named an un-changed side after two consecutive victories on home turf.
LINE-UP: [4-4-2] Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, Luke Jones, Exodus Geohaghon, Colin Daniel, Louis Briscoe, Adam Murray (c), Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Matt Green, Matt Rhead
SUBS: Gary Roberts, Nick Wright, Jake Speight, Chris Clements, John Thompson
With the weather at a scorching temperature, the game naturally had a sluggish and slow start with very few chances of note in the opening exchanges, Matt Green was in the mix on three minutes but failed to test Preston Edwards, two minutes the later the Stags had to soak up the pressure after an Adam Murray free kick broke down.
On ten minutes a good following move saw the Stags grab the first corner of the afternoon, Adam Murray’s delivery was a strong one but failed to test the home defence who scampered clear, getting a prime opportunity for an opener themselves five minutes later when Exodus Geohaghon tripped Liam Enver-Marum on the edge of the box. The same player stepped up but failed to beat the wall, picking up the second ball but failed to cause any danger what so ever from the following cross.
On twenty minutes the Stags were left questioning the referee’s judgement as Matt Rhead picked up a yellow card. It all stemmed from a flowing move down the right in which Matt Green saw an attempted cross blocked by Ryan Blake, Adam Murray swung one in from deep towards Rhead who, to the left of the area was judge to have fouled Fleet captain Paul Lorraine who had been incensing Rhead from the off, getting to grips with his shirt by ripping the collar clean off.
Seven minutes later Junior Daniel was strong in the challenge to stop Joe Howe in his tracks, clipping a ball over the top for Green who was majorly unlucky to see the ball skim off his head into the wrong direction – three minutes later as the clock struck half hour played, Green’s luck got worse in a call which completely changed the course of the game.
Another directional ball from Daniel saw Green climb with Paul Lorraine, the referee blew for a free kick but awarded it to Ebbsfleet with Green judged to have fouled, the fourth official Oliver Jackson then slowly made his way over to the referee past the home bench who all called for Green to be dismissed – the official telling the referee to do so which he did, producing a straight red for the Stags talisman for an apparent elbow on Lorraine. The incident is certainly unclear on the highlights and will as such, provide no fight for Stags who will be without Green for three matches – however our view saw Green was the one fouled and the home bench pretty much talk the officials into the dismissal.
Down to ten men Stags boldly went into a 3-4-2 formation, Junior Daniel moving to the left wing, Meikle to the right and Briscoe up front to partner Rhead. Despite the man less the Stags shaded the remainder of the half and looked untroubled by the hosts who could only manage a series of easy crosses – with five to go before the break, the referee finally did spot something right as he awarded Mansfield a penalty for a foul on Lindon Meikle. Louis Briscoe stepped up in the absence of Green and thundered down the middle to open the scorer and release a bit of the angry tension felt by those involved with the Amber and Blue.
Ebbsfleet 0-1 Stags
Luke Jones then came close from an Geohaghon throw before Adam Murray tested the home defence with a deep thirty yard free kick on the stroke of half time.
HALF TIME: Ebbsfleet 0-1 Stags
As the second half got into its groove another pivotal moment in the game saw Matt Rhead clean through on goal after a solid Murray clip from midfield, the front man hit a looping shot which had Preston Edwards beaten, however the ball bounced the wrong side of the post an out for a goal kick with 50 minutes on the clock – had that gone in it may have stopped Ebbsfleet in their stride, alas no – as seven minutes later they levelled in fine fashion.
A neat flowing move saw Patrick Ada cross left footed from the right saw Nathan Elder steam in between a static Jones and Geohaghon and head beyond a helpless Marriott.
Ebbsfleet 1-1 Stags
On the hour mark the Stags we’re undone again as they we’re out numbered in the box from Jay Folkes corner, his right footed out swinger wasn’t cleared and Phil Walsh nipped in to smash home despite the best efforts of Jones on the line.
Ebbsfleet 2-1 Stags
Paul Cox then made a bold treble change to try and rescue the game, withdrawing Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe and Matt Rhead for Jake Speight, Nick Wright and Gary Roberts – the move a positive one for us, at least there was some desire to fight rather than crumble. The treble switch nearly paid off several times, none more so than on 75 minutes when Roberts’ pass through the middle was flicked wide by Wright – the former Kidderminster hit man flicked wide for Speight who weaved past three markers before drilling into the side netting.
Five minutes later it was game over as Ebbsfleet added a third, that said on review of the DVD the Stags have a clear case for complaint as Ritchie Sutton’s foul on the advancing Ryan Blake was nowhere near the inside of the box! The Stags full back, who became a father for the first time on Friday (congratulations sutts!) picked up a booking and watched on as Liam Enver-Marum easily beat Marriott from the spot to seal the points for the Fleet.
Ebbsfleet 3-1 Stags
Paul Cox disgusted with the officials had one too many choice words for the fourth officials liking as before play restarted he was sent off into the stands for the first time in his Stags tenure, he’ll now have to watch on from the Stand as we take on Braintree next Saturday with Richard Cooper and Andy Todd taking the management duty with assistant Murray likely to be playing.
With four minutes remaining Ebbsfleet thought further damage was added as Enver-Marum rocked in from the edge of the box, the Stags sparred another 4-1 defeat by the offside flag. Right at the death Jake Speight struck venomously on the half volley after an excellent lofted pass from Roberts, Preston Edwards at full stretch to keep out the effort.
FULL TIME: Ebbsfleet 3-1 Stags << Click here for audio highlights
Right that’s that done with, accept it and move onto the Braintree game – no matter how you look at it or compare it to last season nothing can change it, it’s all about going forward – It could be worse though, we could be Kidderminster!
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