Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Alfreton Town V Mansfield Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier Game #26
Venue: The Impact Arena
Date & Time: Tuesday 1st January 2013 – 1pm
Match Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 1,537 (756)
After the disappointment of Boxing Day, I’ve nothing but delight following yesterday’s 3-0 victory, it was like we’d travelled back in time to pick up where we’d left off at the tail end of last season – bar a few half scares here and there I felt we we’re accomplished, organised, calm & composed, creative, hungry and most importantly, on target.
It’s strange to think that it’s only our third league away win all season, if we continue to perform at that level and maintain our home form, there’s no reason why we can’t begin to climb the table, currently sitting in 9th place with numerous games in hand can only be a positive for me.
Undoubtedly now the euphoria of Liverpool will begin and concentration will switch to other things but full credit must go to the players yesterday, they were professional and fully focussed on the job at hand, that’s the commitment and attitude which take you places. In terms of the formation, a 4-2-3-1 suited us with Murray back in the middle to give us that cover – Howell too got involved and made sure the two wide players were able to stay wide whilst Junior Daniel, back in the starting line up after a four game absence, was outstanding and gave us that balance of a natural left foot – personally he was my man of the match and I think suits playing in an attacking position.
Paul Cox made three changes to the side to be beaten by Alfreton on Boxing Day, Ritchie Sutton served a one game ban as John Thompson returned to the line up, Louis Briscoe missed out for Daniel whilst Ben Hutchinson was dropped to the bench in favour of skipper Adam Murray.
Line Up [4-2-3-1] Alan Marriott, John Thompson, Exodus Geohaghon, John Dempster, Lee Beevers, Adam Murray (C), Chris Clements, Lindon Meikle, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Matt Green
Substitutes: Luke Jones, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead, Ben Hutchinson, Lee Stevenson
Despite the eventual score line it was actually the hosts who began the brighter as they looked to build on their Boxing Day victory, former Stags winger Nathan Arnold drove wide on seven minutes before drawing an excellent save from Alan Marriott a minute later after turning past Exodus Geohaghon with pace.
John Thompson teed up Clements for Stags’ first effort on ten minutes but the ex Hednesford man fired well wide of Phil Barnes’ goal before seconds later, Arnold again troubled at the other end as he again turned Geohaghon only to see his effort pushed away by the alert Marriott.
Three minutes later lively work from Meikle teed up Clements for another effort from the edge of the box; however the shot was way off target and failed to trouble the hosts. Mansfield continued to pressure but were wasteful; Clements curling a free kick well over the bar after Matt Green was upended by Anton Brown before Adam Murray scooped a left footed effort over the bar on 18minutes after good pressure between Beevers, Daniel and Green on the left hand side.
John Thompson and Lindon Meikle then combined down the right hand side three minutes later but failed to find Daniel inside the area, on 23 minutes Daniel was found in the box via Clements’ deep free kick however the former Macclesfield man failed to keep his header on target.
The hosts registered a rare effort on 33 minutes as Paul Clayton held up well for Dan Bradley, his ambitious effort from 30 yards was never going to trouble Stags though, a poor connection saw the ball trickle well wide of the Mansfield goal. Ten minutes later Stags finally did break the deadlock after numerous attempts, Clements’ in-swinging corner was perfect for Dempster at the back post, he nodding forcefully back into the middle for central defensive partner Geohaghon to glance home from close range.
Straight from kick off Stags could have had a second as Matt Green saw an effort blocked by Josh Law, Law also turned behind a Daniel drive as the half filtered out – the Stags unfortunate not to go in at half time with more than one goal.
HALF TIME: Alfreton 0-1 Stags
Stags had a bright start to the second half, Junior Daniel twice coming close to doubling Stags’ lead following link ups with Meikle, however on 56 minutes the Stags could well have been in trouble when Ross Killock put Paul Clayton clean through on goal. The Alfreton hit man looked to round Marriott but went down under Marriott’s challenge, the Alfreton man collected a yellow card for diving rather than earning his side the chance to level from the spot.
Decisions certainly change games and the one not too award Alfreton a penalty was made to pay immediately as the resulting free kick set up Stags’ second of the match. Matt Green was first denied a goal by Barnes who could only parry into the path of Meikle, his cut back found Junior Daniel at the back stick who then tucked home in front of the travelling Stags fans.
On 61 minutes Phil Barnes proved the hero as he excellently palmed away John Dempster’s thunderous header from a Clements corner, the Reds then made a double change to try and get back in the game, the changes failed to phase Stags who continued to press.
Anthony Howell then somehow missed netting a belter as he flicked the ball over a defenders head and then, inside the area, thundered into the side netting on the volley, however on 76 Minutes Clements scuffed low free kick was turned in by John Dempster for effectively his third goal in as many games, the Stags now 3-0 up looked more than comfortable.
Ben Hutchinson then replaced Clements as play restarted before Howell and Green both saw efforts pushed away by Barnes. Alfreton went down to ten men late on as Darren Kempson limped off injured after the Reds had made all three permitted changes, the Stags failed to add a fourth despite heavy pressure – the full time whistle wrapping up an accomplished display.
FULL TIME: Alfreton 0-3 Stags
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