Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write....
Fixture: Mansfield Town vs Tamworth FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #7
Venue: One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 4th September – 3pm
Match Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge (County Durham)
Attendance: 2,105 (122)
After the 3-1 victory over Woking on Saturday, we left the ground with the feeling that the old Mansfield were back – after last night’s win over Tamworth, that feeling was reaffirmed. From the off there seemed to be a genuine feeling of togetherness in the crowd, something which the players noticeably thrive upon. Everytime we were in the opponent’s half and began to look lively on the ball, eyes seemed to light up and the concentration and desire also lift.
Following the defeat to Grimsby on back holiday Monday the best place for Paul Cox’s Stags was home, now two consecutive wins makes for much better reading when you look at any stats sheet – four wins from our last five overshadows the poor stat of the early season defensive lapse when we shipped far too many goals for comfort. If you take away the Grimsby defeat and look at our victories we’ve re-found the form we enjoyed last season when we cantered towards our third place finish, this can only be described as an encouraging factor as the league as a hole begins to beat to a faster metronome.
Once again we admit that things haven’t been smooth but the important factor is that we are winning games and beginning to find some consistency and a happy medium. Last night we believe we faced a very similar side to ours in what was a tougher encounter then some reports may suggest. This is where additional credit is due to Paul Cox, his management team and his playing staff – it wasn’t controlled and comfortable because we made it so, it was controlled and comfortable because Tamworth came out and played some good attractive football – something which made us open our eyes and accept that if we wanted a positive result, we’d have to put in the required work.
We don’t wish to take anything away from the Stags victory we’re just highlighting the character of the side, put it this way Newport and Gateshead both started strongly and went on to win the game not necessarily because they played good football but because they showed the character to kick on and build – the difference from the opening two games and the latest two games is clear to see. The atmosphere was much improved with both a team performance and several individual performances such as Matt Rhead and Luke Jones impressing – long may that continue!
Moving on to the game itself Paul Cox kept with the same eleven making one alteration to the bench, Lee Stevenson missed out as Gary Roberts returned from suspension.
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
SUBSTITUTES: John Thompson, Jake Speight, Nick Wright, Chris Clements, Gary Roberts
The visitors began the brighter of the two sides last night, giving the Stags an early scare on two minutes as they countered following an Exodus Geohaghon throw, Ritchie Sutton misjudged the path of the ball on the edge of the box and allowed Sean Jeffers to nip in and shoot at Marriott, the Stags shot stopper blocked the effort before Sutton recovered to clear.
A Matt Green offside sandwiched in-between the early scare and the Lambs next chance on five minutes, Scott Barrow curled a free kick narrowly over the bar from the edge of the box after Murray was judged to have fouled George Baldock.
The Stags then came alive on eleven minutes when Matt Green dropped back to do his defensive duty a spark a fine flowing move, a cheeky back heel to Murray saw the player-assistant / captain clip delightfully wide for Briscoe who hunted his way forward past three challenges before seeing a deep cross plucked out of the air by Tony Breeden. Three minutes last the Stags again were lively down the left hand side, Anthony Howell linking up with Daniel and Meikle to force Mansfield’s first corner of the match – Adam Murray’s right footed delivery found its way to Anthony Howell who saw a snap shot deflect off a crowd of Tamworth bodies, the visitors regrouping to cope with heavy strain during the second phase of play.
After a quarter of an hour Junior Daniel slipped under pressure and allowed the dangerous Adam Cunnington to get a shot away, his effort was tame and collected by Marriott who then sparked another dominant move. Marriott played the ball out to Briscoe who made a neat turn before spraying cross park for Rhead who, to the left of the box, was fouled by Lloyd Kerry. Adam Murray stepped up with the resulting free kick but put too much curl on the ball, which drifted out for a goal kick.
Matt Green was then in trouble on 22 minutes as he slid on late on Tony Breeden and was booked, three minutes later however they were both in action as Anthony Howell found Briscoe wide right – the wide mans first time clipped ball saw Green rise and head narrowly over Breeden’s bar.
Mansfield showed no sign of taking their foot off the gas and registered a further two efforts on 27 minutes, first Matt Rhead volleyed into the ground after a Green cross from the left before the latter headed forcefully into the keepers hand during the second phase of play as Murray and Briscoe had combined.
Lindon Meikle then volleyed over on 34 minutes and with things looking like they’d be level at the interval, the Stags struck on the stroke of half time for the second successive game. Matt Rhead arguably played a key part in the goal, sending Matt Green on his way down the left with tight control and a crisp pass – Green weaved his way into the box before being tripped by Duane Courtney. Green dusted himself down to successively convert the spot kick and put the Stags ahead.
Stags 1-0 Tamworth
Again there was barley time for any more action, the half ending with Mansfield in a comfortable lead.
HALF TIME: Stags 1-0 Tamworth
As the second half got underway Tamworth’s Scott Barrow was causing early trouble on 48minutes with a lurking presence, Ritchie Sutton and Jones combining to clear. Matt Green again dropped deep to collect and provide for strike partner Rhead via an Adam Murray lofted pass – Rhead clipped over the head of his marker to burst into the box but failed to get his shot on target.
On 51 minutes another flowing move began with Murray in the midfield as the skipper / player-assistant boss sprayed right for Briscoe who then clipped to the left for Meikle. The England C wide man cut inside and forced a throw with a looping cross – Matt Rhead nodded wide from Geohaghon’s bullet.
Chances were then few and far between but the Stags maintained possession, the hour mark then struck as did Stags. Exodus Geohaghon’s long throw from the left was headed away but only back into the Big Ex’s path, the towering defender crossed in left footed for Luke Jones who rose unmarked and headed home in dominant fashion for his second goal of the season and Mansfield’s second of the game.
Stags 2-0 Tamworth
The Stags then forced two corners and also saw Green come close, however it was the fighting visitors that again scared the Stags picking up the scraps on 75 minutes, Ritchie Sutton unfortunate to lose out on the half way line to Lloyd Kerry who, after cantering forward, shot at Marriott who held on well.
Louis Briscoe, Matt Green and Lindon Meikle all then made late departures for Gary Roberts, Jake Speight and Chris Clements respectively – the final chance of the game belonging to the visitors with a minute left. Richard Tait made an unchallenged run from right back to drill across the Stags box, Scott Barrow getting the final shot well wrong, hitting well wide of the target – a move which was Mansfield’s only real lapse in concentration – the full time whistle signalling a well earned and deserved three points.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-0 Tamworth << Click here for audio highlights
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