Craig Priest & Emily Sykes write...
Fixture: Braintree Town FC Vs Mansfield Town FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #45
Venue: Amlin Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 13th April 2013 – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Brett Huxtable (Devon)
Attendance: 1,755 (1,200 approx.)
Yesterday morning the sun shone brightly as we headed out of Mansfield and towards Braintree, inside we had that warm hopeful feeling that our five year stay in the Conference would come to an end, however that early morning sun had turned to rain as the second half filtered to an end, Stag’ hope of a party drained away as Braintree ran out 2-1 winners.
Naturally the defeat was hard to take and in some aspects the defeat felt like that terrible night when Stags were relegated in the first place. All that hope, all that expectation just vanished in an instant and over 1,200 Stags fans exited the ground wondering if it would ever be. On the way home Kidderminster made it worse by narrowly beating Wrexham in the 5:15pm kick off – in our opinion what Kidderminster do is irrelevant, the ball is still in our court we just have less space to swing our racket and smash ourselves back into the promise land.
It’s simple really we have to win our remaining games – whilst it’s true we can also do it by getting four points (going up on goals scored) we need to be sure and go into Saturday’s game against Wrexham with some critical breathing space, we believe winning at Hereford will give us the push we need to be Champions however anything other than a win and it’s the heartbreaking lottery of the play-offs once again.
It’s difficult to sense why we didn’t do it yesterday, we can sit here and talk about bad defending, lack of bottle or lady luck not being on our side but what does it matter nothing can change what happened yesterday even if we wanted it too. The future however is a different ball game, we still have the power and the spirit to write our own happy ending – don’t be disheartened by this bitter blow just keep believing until the end.
Before we go on to the match report this week there’s just one point we’d like to clear up. After the match we had a tweet about Matt Rhead, the big front man was in our opinion wrongly criticised with the tweet basically saying that Rhead contributes nothing when coming off the bench. Yesterday if it hadn’t been for the brilliance of McDonald in the Braintree goal Matt Rhead would have turned the game round himself as he saw two goal bound headers expertly saved. The Front man is a menace to deal with and is not just the flick on man, he can ball the ball to feet and is more articulate then people give him credit for.
And so it’s on to Tuesday remember that there’s an easy way, a hard way and a Mansfield Town way – fingers crossed that ‘way’ is up!
Paul Cox stuck with the side which reached top of the table midweek by beating Macclesfield.
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, John Dempster, Luke Jones, Greg Taylor, Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howell, Adam Murray (C), Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson, Matt Green
Substitutes Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Matt Rhead, Ben Hutchinson, Adam Chapman
Needing three points to go five clear at the top of the table and put pressure on Kidderminster, Stags began well to the backing of at least 1,200 travelling supporters. It was a rampant start too as Lee Stevenson and Matt Green combined to pressure the hosts inside their own box, Stevenson’s left sided clip nearly fell for Daniel however Braintree nodded clear.
Six minutes later the relentless pressure led to a corner as Daniel’s cross was nodded behind by Matt Paine, Luke Jones then headed Adam Murray’s delivery wide of the mark as the Stags fans kept on singing.
They had literally seconds to wait before they could erupt in cheers as the Stags grabbed the opening goal. Lee Beevers made the assist which was perhaps the pass of his career from Murray’s knockdown, the ball had the right mix of weight, power and direction on. Predictably it was Green to latch onto it, staying onside before blasting beyond Nathan McDonald for his 24th goal of the season.
Four minutes later Stags were close again as Braintree withstood immense pressure, Adam Murray’s deep free kick sat up at the far post for the advanced Jones, who was denied by a well positioned McDonald, the Braintree shot stopper also holding onto another free-kick from Murray moments later.
Braintree were given a rare sighting of goal on 18 minutes as John Dempster fumbled a clearance in a very boggy penalty box, allowing Ben Wright to fire at goal – Alan Marriott was on hand to save the driven goal-bound effort.
Nine minutes later the game hit a pivotal moment as Stags romped forward, looking certain to score. Anthony Howell bustled his way through midfield, passed three challenges and then slotted Green clean through on goal – with the net drawing the Stags in, Green let fly but saw his effort cannon back off the post. Louis Briscoe hit the rebound but dragged wide, Junior Daniel kept the ball alive but Braintree withstood the pressure, somehow!
Louis Briscoe then tried an ambitious effort on the half hour mark from 40 yards which came close to dropping in before Greg Taylor whipped in a dangerous cross which was just too pacey for Green three minutes later.
The hosts put on a little bit of pressure as the half faded away, John Dempster and Lee Stevenson on hand to clear – Stags headed into the break one goal to the good, all the had to do was hold on.
HALF TIME: Braintree 0-1 Stags
Stags began the second half as they’d started the first but still couldn’t find that elusive second, Junior Daniel made up the ground within the opening minute before being felled by Matt Paine. Louis Briscoe stepped up to drive in the resulting free kick, denied only by the keeper who got his full body behind the well hit effort.
Despite more pressure from Stags, the hosts began to drive forward and fired a truly awful shot well wide of the mark on 57 minutes through Ben Wright. Three minutes later however the hosts stunned Stags as they pulled level through Matt Paine – The Iron right backs 25 yard effort was tame and trickled beyond Marriott whose defence failed to close down the ball on three occasions.
Stags had it to do and threw on Rhead for Stevenson, however the Stags front man could on watch on as a now confident Braintree surged forward and scored again, however Wrights effort was ruled out as he clearly shoved Dempster off the ball.
Lindon Meikle then came onto replace Briscoe but again, the fresh Stags face could only watch on as Braintree took the lead – this one legal and standing. Sam Habergham’s left sided cross not closed down or headed away by Dempster, who was beaten at the back post by Kaine Sheppard who nodded home.
Adam Chapman was then Cox’s final throw of the dice as the replaced Howell, seconds after his introduction he launched in a long throw which Rhead agonisingly headed over.
Rhead was then denied by two sublime saves by McDonald in the Iron goal as Stags thumped against the door as the clock ticked down at pace. Further efforts saw from Daniel, Green, Chapman and Murray all went astray as frustration grew and Mansfield realised they’d again squandered the opportunity to pressure rivals Kidderminster, the full time whistle almost felt like relegation again – a huge fight is needed now.
FULL TIME: Braintree 2-1 Stags
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