Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Matlock Town V Mansfield Town
Competition: The FA Carlsberg Trophy, Round One Replay
Venue: Causeway Lane
Date & Time: Tuesday 27th November 2012 – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Darren Handley
Congratulations Matlock Town – your battling qualities and desire to cause an upset are traits you should be extremely proud of – Mansfield Town however, hand your heads in shame, a 2-1 defeat against lower league opposition in a competition a club of our stature should be winning is an absolute disgrace.
Massiah McDonald will undoubtedly take heroic status as his goal in the final minute saw Matlock progress through to round two, the Matlock Massiah played a key role in last game and ultimately made Mansfield look like the Muppets they we’re – only in the Stags World can a team be looking stable at 1-0 at the break and go onto lose the game. I’m astonished, annoyed and just plain fed up of this inconsistent nature of a team that are capable of so much more.
The second half won’t make for good viewing, we went from a straight, composed and solid back four to the remnants of a dot to dot puzzle, we had more holes than a broken siv and frankly looked like a team that didn’t care. Exodus Geohaghon was at fault for me, a centre half of his stature is supposed to be strong, solid and a beast rather than weak, positionally unaware and get turned on the edge of his own box. Where was the leadership, where was the desire and where was the fight?
Matlock deserve their place in round two and possibly beyond, I hope that Mansfield can learn something from the attitude and commitment of the Gladiators and stop another dip in form. Six changes I can understand with the FA Cup at the weekend and not for a second do I blame Paul Cox for doing so or want him removed as manager, the side we put out last night should have won the game, they we’re strong enough and capable enough – something just didn’t pay-off. The sending off of Gary Roberts didn’t help although prior to that Matlock had already levelled and the game had Extra-Time written all over it, whatever’s happening in that dressing room needs to be addressed by Cox – be brave and speak up about those causing problems, stop hiding being the ‘Politics’ line etc, either we have players to be successful or we don’t.
Another game to write off, another winnable competition is blown and yet more frustration coming to the top, the fan who verbally abused and very nearly physically abused the Stags bench last night by the way, is about as disgraceful as our defending – yes it’s frustrating that we’re losing to lower ranked opposition but acting like that, it’s no wonder players can’t be bothered. Lincoln City on Saturday in the FA Cup – only one option here on the back of last night, Win and do it well!
Paul Cox made six changes to the side last night, sticking with the same back five, keeper included, but withdrawing Briscoe, Murray, Clements, Meikle, Green and Hutchinson for Todd, Roberts, Howell, Daniel, Speight and Rhead.
Line Up: Shane Redmond, John Thompson, Exodus Geohaghon (C), Luke Jones, Ritchie Sutton, Andy Todd, Gary Roberts, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Matt Rhead, Jake Speight.
Substitutes: George Pilkington, Matt Green, Nick Wright, Adam Murray, Lee Stevenson.
After a 2-1 defeat it’s difficult to get your head around the fact that Mansfield actually started brightly, three corners in quick succession on 11 minutes put the hosts under the strain of pressure before two minutes later a flowing move saw Roberts find Daniel on the left hand side. A dominant drive from Daniel saw a pass to Player-Coach Todd follow, the Stags reserve team boss firing not far wide from just inside the box.
Almost immediately at the other end Shane Redmond got down low to deny Lewis McMahon as the Stags were caught out following a drilled pass from James Ashmore. Mansfield we’re looking lively though as soon grabbed the lead on 20 minutes when Matt Green was felled on the edge of the area, Junior Daniel stepping up to thunder in a beautiful free kick from twenty yards.
Matlock survived a further two Roberts corners before having keeper Jon Kennedy to thank on the half hour mark as he pulled off a great save to deny Jake Speight after tidy footwork first from Daniel and then Todd inside the box.
Five minutes later Kennedy again denied Speight before the hosts spurned a golden chance to level on 38 minutes, James Ashmore’s drilled central pass cutting Jones and Geohaghon apart like melting butter. Massiah McDonald found himself free inside the box but blazed spectacularly over with his left boot.
Luke Jones saw two tame headers kept out from Roberts’ corners as the Stags racked up ten corners before the break to a reply of just one, however despite Mansfield’s dominance it was Matlock headed into half time on top, McDonald somehow missing from four yards after Bradley Grayson’s free kick had caused havoc following a Gary Roberts foul, for which he collected his first booking of the game.
HALF TIME: Matlock 0-1 Stags
Matlock began the second half with an intensity the Stags failed to nip in the bud, Luke Jones came to Mansfield’s aid a minute in to head clear ahead of McDonald, however a Static and narrow Stags were punished four minutes later as Matlock pulled level. It all stemmed from the lively Massiah McDonald who surged down the left and despite pressure from Thompson and Todd, still managed to pull a pass across the six yard area. Lewis McMahon was first two it with a massive hole left to fill, he scooped home to pull Matlock level from close range.
A bewildered Mansfield we’re all over the place and on 57 minutes were extremely lucky to not have conceded a second penalty in as many games – Gary Roberts judged to have held back Ashmore on the edge of the box although, from my view, it looked inside the box. Ashmore stepped up for the resulting free kick and curled narrowly wide of Redmond’s post.
Two minutes later Mansfield’s dot to dot like defence was nearly undone once more as a long ball over the top saw McDonald turn on his heels and leave an uninspiring Geohaghon behind, fortunately for Mansfield’s stand in skipper; Shane Redmond was quick off his line to claim the loose ball.
Matt Green replaced Jake Speight on 63 minutes but didn’t see too much of the action, a driven cross on 72 minutes flicked up and found Daniel, however he failed to get his shot on target, scooping over from 12 yards.
Four minutes later Gary Roberts’ was headed for an early bath, as Matlock drove forward his unnecessary foul on James Ashmore saw the referee produce Roberts’ second yellow of the game. Moments later the Gladiator’s struck the bar from Micky Harcourt’s free kick.
With the game headed for extra-time Matlock struck the bar once more and then ultimately sealed the tie, Geohaghon’s outrageous error of allowed Massiah McDonald to turn and the progress unmarked – he then squirmed a shot beneath Redmond who maybe should have done better but let’s be fair, shouldn’t have even had to deal with a chance on goal. Pathetic effort all round in the second half.
Junior Daniel had an extremely late effort from distance which whisked over, the resulting goal kick saw scenes of jubilation for Matlock but left a bitter taste for Stags, who were dumped out in round one for a second consecutive seasons.
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