Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town FC Vs Macclesfield Town FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #41 [Re-Arranged]
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 9th April 2013 – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Declan Ford (Lincoln)
Attendance: 3,694 (60)
Last Thursday in Wrexham there was that gut wrenching feeling that Stags may have squandered their chance of automatic promotion, last night however in another pivotal game in hand, Stags showed no sign of nerves or weakness and comfortably brushed past Macclesfield by three goals to one, moving to top of the Conference table by two clear points. A win at Braintreee on Saturday and then a Kidderminster slip up (Draw or defeat) at Wrexham would see Stags confirmed as Champions, we defiantly are now on the edge of glory!
More records were equalled last night as Matt Green, Luke Jones and Lee Stevenson struck – the 28 wins collected equals a club record last set in the 1976-77 campaign whilst the points collected again reaches the highest ever total collected, set during our remarkable run last term.
It all boils down to ifs and buts now, a lot of people will, because of the high octane emotion involved, will get carried away – it’s refreshing to see that the players are keeping level heads and re-affirming the message and true fact: the job is not yet done.
Credit has to go to the players last night, it would have been so easy to let the pressure get to us and crumble, had it done so I honestly believe we’d have subconsciously condemned ourselves to another term in the conference. However it didn’t and we played so cooley from the off there was only going to be one winner, whilst Macclesfield played well in places we looked hungry – when we’re in that mood nothing’s going to stop us, we’re going to be in the same situation on Saturday at Braintree – fingers crossed we can keep our cool!
This may not be the end, nor is it the beginning – but just maybe, it’s the beginning of the end!
Paul Cox stuck with the same side to beat Barrow on Saturday, making just one change to the bench as Hutchinson returned for Andy Todd.
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Luke Jones, John Dempster, Greg Taylor, Louis Briscoe, Adam Murray (C), Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson, Matt Green.
Substitutes Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Matt Rhead, Ben Hutchinson, Adam Chapman
Stags began brightly knowing they needed all three points to top the table, Junior Daniel started well too up against his former club as he won the ball from Ryan Jackson but soon saw his attempted cross blocked.
Adam Murray, another former Silkmen, swung in a testing free kick with less than three minutes played which saw Jones nod into the path of Lee Stevenson, his drilled effort against the angle was blocked well by Rhys Taylor. Seconds later a slip form Jackson allowed Daniel to get a shot away, however he failed to open the scoring as he dragged his effort agonisingly wide of the mark from 18 yards.
Macclesfield then called Alan Marriott into action on 11 minutes as John Paul-Kissock let fly from thirty yards, Marriott untroubled by the former Luton man who watched on six minutes later as Stags grabbed the vital lead.
It all stemmed from a Stevenson break after some more poor Macclesfield defending, the lively attacking-midfielder hurled down by Jackson to the left of the box winning Stags a free kick. Adam Murray stepped up to deliver, Matt Green getting the final and clinical touch to guide the ball home for goal number 23 of his season – three games to get seven goals and hit 30 again, can the talisman do it?
With Stags a goal to the good the visitors went quiet but soaked up the Stags relentless attack as they searched for a second, launching in numerous long throws, a succession of corners and putting together some fluent moves which were stopped by fine challenges from Thierry Audel at the heart of the Macclesfield defence.
Stags did grab that second goal with four minutes of the half remaining, another free kick again swung in by Murray, this time from the right hand side, was headed dominantly home by Luke Jones.
On the stroke of the break Peter Winn registered an effort for the visitors but it was harmlessly way-ward, Stags taking in a comfortably deserved two-nil lead into the dressing room at half time.
HALF TIME: Stags 2-0 Macclesfield
After the break Stags survived an early Macclesfield shot from Keiran Murtagh before they kicked on in search of a third, Louis Briscoe fired a free kick against the wall seconds before Junior Daniel pulled the trigger to the left of the box on 49 minutes, his effort though trickled wide after a fluent move down the left hand side involving John Dempster and Lee Stevenson.
Two minutes later the latter added his tenth strike of the season to put Stags 3-0 up. Louis Briscoe provided a lofted assist on the edge of the area, the ball landing well for Stevenson who controlled under pressure before drilling underneath Rhys Taylor under pressure from Pablo Mills.
The former Crawley man, who spent time on trial with Stags in pre-season, then registered an off target header for the visitors on 55 minutes before Mansfield put the pressure on with another sequence of Murray corners and Lee Beevers throws.
Stags had another golden chance for a fourth on 68 minutes as Louis Briscoe’s deep cross was headed into Green’s path. On the edge of the box, the leading marksman let fly with a rasping right footed half-volley, which nestled agonizingly in the side netting.
Junior Daniel then felt the burn of frustration with nine minutes to go as substitute Lindon Meikle teed up the impressive Beevers for a cross. Daniel crept up at the far post and saw a forceful header palmed away by Taylor before Daniel again struck, this time with a well executed over head kick which Taylor cheekily plucked out of the air.
With a minute to go Daniel tripped the advancing Ryan Jackson on the edge of the Stags box which ultimately saw Stags surrender their clean sheet. Pablo Mills rising unmarked to head home Jackson’s well hit set piece.
A comeback was never on the cards for Macclesfield and in fairness, they were lucky not to concede again as Jones registered two late efforts from as many Murray’s corners, the last one landing wide as the referee concluded the match with the full time whistle, putting Stags top of the blue square premier.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Macclesfield
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