I feel for anyone making a highlights package from that as it really was a dull affair which had draw written all over it, usually my head is full of things to write about the game but today nothing, I guess the positive we’re all looking for is we picked up a point to stretch our unbeaten home form to five games.
Making six changes may have been perceived as drastic, obviously one was enforced with Marriott’s injury in the week, but there still is that anxious thought of an unsettled side. At this point of the season teams are playing with a consistent line up baring one or two changes for injury/ suspensions, we on the other hand have only named the same line up four times in our 11 games so far – how can we build momentum with change after change, or am I forgetting football’s a squad game? I personally think we are successful when we have a consistent line up, like last term.
I was pleased to see Redmond given his chance, I’ve watched him numerous times and can say he’s a capable keeper who deserves more minutes, the decision to give John Thompson a run for the first time this term was a sensible one too – a player of mass experience and quality shouldn’t be sat on the sidelines. Yesterday he came in and showed what we’ve been missing since Luke O’Neill’s departure, a full back who can read the game, defend strongly in numerous positions and get forward to support the wingers, Ritchie Sutton does this too but when we have only one full back in the line up that can play that role we don’t get the best out of the team unit, hence why yesterday it was good to see Thompson right and Sutton left – giving us an option to play either side of the pitch comfortably.
I was surprised to see Pilkington chosen over Jones as it meant another new centre half pair, that said I guess Cox was aiming for a little more seniority at experience in the back line. In midfield, Anthony Howell was dogged and dominant fighting for every scrap along with Murray, who took the skippers armband ahead of Pilkington. Nick Wright playing alongside Speight up front gave us a little more flare, the duo struck a good partnership in the latter stages of pre-season and continued it yesterday, playing off each other in the way Green, whose suspension is now over, did with Ross Dyer last term – we need that tandem up their as we look to kill games off.
The game itself as mentioned was a lack lustre affair, there were few chances to talk of but our time on the ball increased and, back in the 4-4-2, we used the ball better. Fair enough, we gave away a silly goal with a misplaced pass, something you shouldn’t do in that area but something we’ll sort. We failed to make the throws pay to an extent, we had 15 only one led to a goal, via two corners, so either we need to be more productive with them or drop them to a lower number and make our attacking game a little unpredictable. A points a point, let’s build on that now and not make too many changes, let’s get settled and progress up the table in the next month as we face Cambridge, Lincoln, Forest Green Rovers, Macclesfield and Dartford, not forgetting a break from league action in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round, drawn in the coming week I think.
Paul Cox made six changes going into yesterday’s game, the injured Alan Marriott replaced by Shane Redmond whilst there were starts for John Thompson, George Pilkington, Lindon Meikle, Anthony Howell and Nick Wright in place of Lee Beevers, Ryan Tafazolli, Chris Clements, Lee Stevenson and Matt Rhead respectively.
LINE UP [4-4-2]: Shane Redmond, John Thompson, George Pilkington, Exodus Geohaghon, Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Adam Murray (C), Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Nick Wright, Jake Speight
Substitutes: Louis Briscoe, Chris Clements, Matt Rhead, Lee Beevers, Lee Stevenson.
The Stags started brightly with three Exodus Throws and two Adam Murray corners in the opening three minutes, however neither could pressure the visitors who also saw a corner of their own go astray on four minutes.
A minute later following football between Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Lindon Meikle and Nick Wright saw the latter break forward before conceding a free kick for a push on Returning Stag Luke Graham, Wright was involved once more on six minutes as he block former Stag’s trialist Chris Carruthers’ clearance, crossing tamely into the keepers hands.
Anthony Howell registered the next half chance for Stags as he crept in at the front post to head a Geohaghon throw wide of the mark before Shane Redmond watched a helpful shot from Josh O’Keefe into his hands.
The Irish shot stopper could do nothing on 21 minutes however as the visitors took the lead. Ritchie Sutton played a suicidal cross pitch pass to Geohaghon on the half way line which saw Sam Clucas intercept and break free. Once inside the box he played the ball to the advancing Marlon Jackson who scuffed an effort underneath the on rushing Redmond to open the scoring.
Stags 0-1 Hereford
Three minutes later the Stags had a prime opportunity to respond with some excellent football on the floor. Jake Speight, Lindon Meikle and Adam Murray all combined before Anthony Howell made the final link up, sending Junior Daniel into the box with a crisp pass however the former Macclesfield and Crewe man couldn’t keep his effort down.
Daniel again had another effort on 26 minutes after Murray was fouled on the edge of the box, he curled a left footed free kick narrowly wide of the post before numerous Geohaghon throws were collected.
With a minute to go before the break, Geohaghon riffled in yet another throw forcing Andy Gallinagh to concede the first of two corners. The second, a right footed out swinger from Murray was clipped back into the box by Nick Wright, Exodus Geohaghon flicking a backwards headed beyond the routed James Bittner to level the game.
Stags 1-1 Hereford
Two minutes were added on in the first half, the visitors pressured to grab an instant response however the Stags survived and headed into the break level.
HALF TIME: Stags 1-1 Hereford
After the break it was Hereford that had the early chance with a corner on 46 minutes before Nick Wright came close on 49minutes. Ritchie Sutton launched down the left hand side following a throw in, Jake Speight flicking inside to Wright who drove into space before firing over from the edge of the box.
A left sided throw again saw Stags come close on 62 minutes with Junior Daniel linking up with Wright, once more the former Kidderminster man failed to find the target, firing over James Bittner’s cross bar from the edge of the box. Three minutes later George Pilkington cleared at the last second as a Marley Watkins corner caused danger.
Matt Rhead then replaced Nick Wright in attack on 70 minutes, making an instant impact as he sent Jake Speight clean through on goal, only a last ditch challenge from Luke Graham prevented Speight from firing home. Exodus Geohaghon again delivered the resulting throw from which Rhead raced in to head narrowly wide of the target.
Louis Briscoe was introduced for Meikle five minutes later however the chances were becoming few and far between, with seven minutes remaining John Thompson made a strong supporting run with Briscoe down the right, the defenders cross was hooked over inside the box by Junior Daniel.
In the four additional minutes the visitors searched for a late winner but rarely troubled Redmond, the game fizzling out into a disappointing draw.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-1 Hereford << Click here for audio highlights
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