Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Nuneaton Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #30 [Re-Arranged]
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 26th March 2013 – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Michael Bull (Essex)
Attendance: 2,384 (82)
Come on then folks, complete the well known catchphrase... ‘What do point’s make?’.... That’s right PRIZES! Louis Briscoe’s second half free kick last night at the One Call Stadium kept Stags on course for the most desired prize of all, promotion back to the football league – the three vital points moving keeping Stags in second place and moving them to a single point behind leaders Kidderminster with three huge games in hand.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given is ‘Never walk forwards whilst looking over your shoulder’ – Kidderminster with time running out and only a slender lead are looking over their shoulder at what we’re doing all the time and at some stage will slip, exactly like they did last night as Woking held them to a two all draw. Our fate, is in OUR hands – no other club has that precious factor.
Naturally we can’t get carried away yet as this season will take another twist, another pivotal turn before it reaches it outcome, we just have to focus on the task ahead and not become compliant – Destiny can be taken away from you if you take your eye off the ball for just a split second!
If our tenure in the Conference has taught us anything, it’s the fact that success doesn’t come to those with a reputation, those with arrogance – just ask Luton. It comes from accepting and adapting too any situation you find yourself in. To be a winner, a success, you MUST be prepared to graft, to overcome any obstacles put in your way by your doubters, competitors and rivals. You have to rise from every fall and be prepared to go again – hold onto what makes you strong, rather than revealing what makes you weak.
If you can relate to that then you’ll hopefully understand my point, I’m not trying to be a kill-joy or trample over your dreams - humble folk succeed, arrogant folk falter. Last night was a prime example of grafting away, being determined and overcoming an obstacle – Nuneaton were never going to roll over and have their bellies tickled like the proverbial dog just because we’re Mansfield Town going for the title, they were fighting their own battle.
Chances came and went, sometimes being spurned by a lack of confidence or that killer instinct, things didn’t drop and often, Lee Burge the Nuneaton keeper found himself the villain of our piece by keeping us out. What we did was what we do well, kept on running, kept on battling and that’s why Briscoe’s drilled free kick found its way in – I’d take eight more games like that! Points matter, performances not so much.
The result was justified not only for our battling effort on the pitch but also for our community work ethic off the pitch – twenty odd supporters on Sunday, seventy odd on Monday, all turning up with shovels, wheelbarrows and brushes to get the game on. Well done to all involved, a big three points is down to YOU and a big V sign to the weather – an obstacle trying to banish our dream.
Paul Cox made no changes to the side which last played 11 days prior at Forest Green due to the adverse weather, skipper Adam Murray kept his place despite being ranked 50/50.
Line Up: [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Luke Jones, John Dempster, James Jennings, Lindon Meikle, Adam Murray (C), Adam Chapman, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson, Matt Green
Substitutes: Ritchie Sutton, Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright, Anthony Howell, Matt Rhead.
Stags began in rampant fashion as they looked to take the early lead, Lee Stevenson winning the ball from kick off after 13 seconds as he forced Neil Cartwright into an error. Slotting in Green, the front man was unable to get a shot away so again linked up with Stevenson who won the Stags a corner as he drilled in a second return in search of Green.
Adam Chapman swung in the delivery from the left hand side and saw the ball deflected behind for a second corner, this time taken by James Jennings who clipped set play saw Luke Jones thunder a header against the bar before the visitors scrambled clear.
Nuneaton put on some slight pressure on five minutes which saw Stags deal adequately with a corner and a long throw from Dave McNamee, a minute later it was Stags’ turn to come close as Stevenson glanced a free header wide from Chapman’s looping long throw.
Four minutes later Junior Daniel wasted a good chance to open the scoring as Matt Green looped in a cross, the former Macclesfield man miss-directed his header, almost as if he were attempting to return Green rather than go for goal himself.
Ex Stags loanee Louis Moult twice came close to haunting his old club for the visitors, curling a free kick over the bar on 16 minutes before hitting a tame shot at Marriott on 22, despite the opportunities for the visitors it was Stags knocking on the door with a vengeance. Three minutes later Green found space down the right hand side and again made a mockery of Nuneaton left back Stephen O’Halloran, Junior Daniel was again the man in the middle but once more failed to get his header on target. Stags won the second ball through Chapman and tried again, this time Meikle crossing for Daniel, only to see the same outcome.
Stags kept on the pressure and saw Meikle denied on the half hour before Green nodded wide four minutes later. On 36 Green broke the offside trap but was denied in a one verses one situation with Lee Burge, the Nuneaton shot stopper deflecting Green’s effort over the bar for a corner. The resulting deliver saw a Jones header cannon off the chest of Burge, before Green twice squandered the rebound, hitting the post before poking wide.
There were shouts for a penalty turned down by Referee Mike Bull with four minutes of the half remaining when Green was tugged down by Delroy Gordon, Lindon Meikle’s follow up to the second ball did earn Stags a corner which eventually broke down and the half filtered to its end.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Nuneaton
The second half saw a tamer start to the first however the Stags intention to grab a goal was still evident Lee Beevers and Stevenson combined but saw the keeper collect with two minutes of the half played.
Alan Marriott then had to lunge into a sliding challenge on 50 minutes as Moult slipped in a reverse pass to Jon Adams, four minutes later a cross from Cartwright earned the visitors a corner, cleared by Jennings who had to be subsequently replaced by Ritchie Sutton after pulling his hamstring.
Matt Rhead and Louis Briscoe then entered the fray on 62 minutes for Stevenson and Daniel respectively and with-in two minutes of the duos introduction, the Stags were given the chance to take the lead. It all stemmed from Briscoe’s long pass being flicked on by Rhead for Green and the keeper fluffing his clearance and giving Stags a corner – from which Rhead was fouled by Gavin Cowan and a spot kick awarded.
Matt Green stepped up to try and give Stags the lead, however his spot kick was saved well by Lee Burge who guessed correctly to keep the sides level.
Three minutes later however the breakthrough did arrive as Green was upended on the edge of the area, Louis Briscoe took on responsibility for the free kick and drilled it low, through the wall and into the bottom corner much to the delight and, somewhat relief, of the Stags fans on a below freezing night.
Matt Rhead and Matt Green then combined on 68 minutes but were both denied by the keeper was he again pulled off the heroics, with eight minutes remaining Stags were outraged when Ritchie Sutton’s deep cross saw Rhead set up Green, his cushioned effort chalked off for offside.
Adam Chapman also scuffed a late effort however Stags professionally ran the clock down and sealed a vital three points, heading home with that warm winning feeling for the tenth game in succession, equalling an all time club record set in 1915/16 and extending that post-war record to ten matches.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-0 Nuneaton
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