Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Forest Green Rovers
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #15
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 13th October 2012 – 3pm
Match Referee: Ross Joyce (Billingham)
Attendance: 2019 (60)
You know if you surveyed a hundred football fans asking them what the best thing about football is, family fortunes style, one of the top answers would be ‘last minute winners’ as if your team gets one, it’s a great feeling. Yesterday at the One Call Stadium that was the case as Matt Rhead headed in the winner from Exodus Geohaghons’ 89th minute throw – after such a grey spell, I guess the late winning feeling is even more sweeter.
Midweek it was all negativity and animosity with the goalless draw which proceeded the unacceptable spitting and personal abuse incident, today however its smiles as hopefully we are back on track. The politics midweek about the alleged owed money to Andy Perry can, in my opinion, be left withering away like an autumn leaf – we should concern ourselves with winning football matches and let the solicitors deal with such things, something we did yesterday thank goodness, after all it’s so easy to let stuff like that take centre stage when the form is not great on the pitch.
Onto yesterday, again I won’t over paint it, the game wasn’t great and there were clear mistakes that said football is a results based business and we got the right one for a change. Dave Hockaday and his staff will review the DVD and be rightfully angry at the amount of clear cut chances they wasted from our mistakes, Paul Cox will watch it and will no doubt be relieved that the Rovers were so wasteful. I feel I’ll get some stick for this, especially considering he got man of the match, but I thought that 3-4-1-2 with Geohaghon didn’t work. There were situations where Ex was going forward to trying to pick up the ball and not winning, exposing far too much space which, as the DVD will show, should have seen Forest Green score. Before you all bite my head off, when we dropped to a five, with Todd and Daniel wing backs, or four as we did late on – nothing could get past him, making it clear to me that 4-4-2 is needed to get the best out of everyone.
Jake Speight too in the 3-4-1-2 didn’t quite do it for me either; he’s a class act and can be like nitrous in front of goal on his day, but behind Green & Rhead doesn’t suit him for some reason and I think we have better options, namely Stevenson or Hutchinson, to play that role if that’s the system we’re going to employ. Again he was one which, when at 4-4-2 late on started to get into the game more – another suggestion maybe that as we head for Workington in the cup next weekend, a change of system could be for the best, more on that as the game gets closer though.
In football you have to win ugly sometimes and I know there have been a small section bemoaning the manor of our victory yesterday, as I said at the top of the piece it’s results that count, fingers crossed now that we don’t slip up at Workington and we can begin to bloom rather than continue to welter.
Paul Cox made just one change to the starting line up, Ryan Tafazolli was the man to miss out after failing a pre-match fitness text – Exodus Geohaghon the man to replace him ahead of George Pilkington.
Line Up [3-4-1-2]: Liam Mitchell, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster, Exodus Geohaghon, Andy Todd, Adam Murray (C), Gary Roberts, Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead, Matt Green
Substitutes: Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell, Lee Beevers, Lee Stevenson
Mansfield began the game will with Matt Green looking lively down the right channel to earn Stags a free kick with a minute played. Gary Roberts’ ball in was prodded down by John Dempster before Exodus Geohaghon stood his ground to win the firs corner of the afternoon. Mansfield failed to keep on the pressure and soon found themselves back tracking, Forest Green putting together a pacey counter attack through Matt Taylor – Andy Todd then made an excellent covering challenge before Yan Klukowski was flagged offside during the second phase of play.
Five minutes later another Roberts' deep free kick saw Todd and Dempster combine to earn the Stags a left sided throw, Geohaghon’s bullet falling for Speight who was eventually blocked at the back post after some cleaver foot work.
The game then took a turn on 14 minutes when both Roberts and Geohaghon were caught in possession in midfield leaving Mansfield exposed at the bar. Klukowski advanced forward before slotting Matt Taylor through on goal to the left of the box, his final effort landed in the Quarry Lane Stand after Liam Mitchell had raced out well to narrow the angle.
Four minutes later the Stags were again causing trouble from a set piece, earned by Speight after great visual awareness from Junior Daniel in the centre of the park. Roberts’ delivered from just outside the box with a delicate chip finding Exodus Geohaghon, the big centre half headed wide of the target from six yards.
The visitors then enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure as the half time whistle approached, on 35 minutes Kieron Forbes dragged a shot across the face of goal before linking up with Jared Hodgkiss a minute later, the latters cross headed wide at the back stick by Taylor. Forest Green broke with pace on 37minutes when Geohaghon slipped in the middle, Ritchie Sutton covering well but requiring treatment after clashing with the advancing Rovers man. As rovers restarted play with a left sided throw, they switched play well and Stags allowed Hodgkiss to get another cross into the box, Liam Mitchell fouled as Rovers bundled home at the back post, the goal disallowed.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Forest Green Rovers
After the break it took a while for both to find their feet, John Dempster’s header from a Geohaghon throw plucked out of the air by Sam Russell on 50 minutes before Mitchell punched away a deep free kick from Stephen Brogan two minutes later.
Adam Murray then took one for the team on 57 minutes after a rare Todd slip saw him give away possession on the right hand side, Murray tracking back to tackle the on rushing Brogan and picking up his fifth booking of the campaign in the process, meaning he’ll miss next Saturday’s long trip to Workington in the FA Cup.
Moments later Murray was involved again as he sprayed the ball to the left hand side for Junior Daniel, the former Macclesfield man burst down the left hand side before crossing into the box for Rhead who could only head wide.
Liam Mitchell was the hero on 62 minutes when the Rovers burst down the right hand side through Hodgkiss. His cross into the middle was inch perfect for the attacking Taylor who forced a top draw one handed save from Mansfield’s loanee shot stopper. Lindon Meikle then replaced Green in attack before Louis Briscoe entered the fray for Todd with 15 remaining.
In a 4-4-2 formation with Briscoe’s arrival, Mansfield were solid and more secure, that was until the 89th minute when a burst forward from Forest Green saw Liam Mitchell race out to clear. His clearance was a poor one and bounced back off the frame of Geohaghon before cannoning off of Sutton who’d sprinted into the middle to cover. The pinball like football saw Stags burst forward, Louis Briscoe getting a throw on the right from which the Stags hit the buzzers for maximum points.
Exodus Geohaghon naturally was the provider with his tenth attacking throw of the game, a looping delivering made it hard for the visiting defence to deal with, Matt Rhead on the other hand knew exactly what to do, nipping up between three markers to dominantly head past the rooted Sam Russell to give Mansfield the break they’d been looking for.
It should have been two very late on as Russell failed to clear his lines following a back pass, Jake Speight lively to take the ball from his toes but unable to convert as Rovers scrambled clear, the full time whistle soon followed with numerous punches to the air – Mansfield finally back to winning ways, whilst Forest Green suffered their third consecutive defeat.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-0 Forest Green Rovers << Audio Highlights
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