Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Nuneaton Town FC V Mansfield Town FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #17
Venue: Trinity Showers Community Arena (Liberty Way Ground)
Date & Time: Tuesday 6th November – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Wayne Barratt
Attendance: 838 (180)
Yet another game passes without Stags picking up three points, however I wouldn’t be too disheartened by this as last night was yet another encouraging step in the right direction, finding the net after a two game dry spell and picking up a point away from home after four defeats from our previous five away day league trips.
The football too was encouraging in parts, when you see the video highlights you’ll see that fact proven especially in our equalising goal. Lindon Meikle’s hit the cross bar whilst the keeper has kept out efforts from Hutchinson, Wright, Briscoe and Dempster – it was one of those games we’re we’ve done everything right only too come up against an in-form keeper. Defensively we’ve made one error which has led to a goal, if we didn’t make that error we’d have won the game but that’s what happens in spells like this, our luck doesn’t quite come off – Paul Cox and the players will know this and will keep working hard to get the full rewards, there’s a certain improvement from four or five games ago and that can only be described as a positive.
Cox said after he had to pick the players up a little bit in the dressing room as they felt a sense I guess of disappointment and annoyance that the rub of the green didn’t come, on Saturday we face Southport at home, a place we’re unbeaten bar the season’s opening day. Southport finished strongly like us last term but so far have failed to match that expectation like ourselves, last night they were beaten by Wrexham heavily and so I ask, can those doubters, those who want Cox’s head on a spike etc please just back the boys, back the gaffer and let OUR players bounce back rather than Southport’s – a little support goes a long way.
In transfer movement Liam Mitchell has returned to Notts County however Cox is trying to agree a new loan deal, midfielder Solomon Tawio has also departed following the expiry of his one month contract.
Paul Cox made just the one change to the side which failed to see off Slough on Saturday, out of form Matt Green was dropped to the bench in favour of Nick Wright, he partnered Ben Hutchinson up front after a string of fine performances together for the reserves in recent weeks.
Line Up [4-4-1-1]: Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, Exodus Geohaghon, John Dempster (C), Lee Beevers, Louis Briscoe, Chris Clements, Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson, Nick Wright
Substitutes: John Thompson, Matt Green, Matt Rhead, Adam Murray, Junior Daniel.
For the third game running Mansfield faced a side they’d never met before in a competitive fixture and began by picking up from Saturday, playing some good stuff to grab a fifth minute corner through Chris Clements. The former Hednesford mans delivery failed to sparkle though as a poor right footed out swinger was easily cleared on the edge of the area.
Two minutes later it was the hosts turn to put some pressure on over on the left hand side, drawing a foul from Ritchie Sutton the hosts were awarded a free kick. Connor Taylor’s delivery flashed across the six yard box before being cleared by Exodus Geohaghon.
Mansfield then upped the ante with four efforts in as many minutes starting with ten played as Clements forced a corner following a clever pass from Ben Hutchinson. The same player then combined with Wright who was charged down before skipper John Dempster held up play well for Lee Beevers. The former Walsall man, who could return to his former club in two weeks time depending on FA Cup results, proceeded forwards before teeing up Meikle who curled a sweat effort agonisingly into the side netting with 13 minutes played. Seconds later Stags were on the charge again as Hutchinson and Wright linked up, the latter spraying a pass into the feet of Briscoe who fired wide of the target from the right of the area.
Shane Redmond then demonstrated solid goalkeeping skills collecting a series of Nuneaton set plays before Stags enjoyed their best chance of the first half on 22 minutes. Lee Beevers read a clearance expertly to intercept play sending Wright on his way down the left hand side. In only his second first team start for Stags the ex Kidderminster front man drove forwards before sending an acute pass into Meikle’s path on the edge of the box, the England C star thundered an effort against the bar with Ben McNamara beaten all ends up in the Borough goal.
A minute later Anthony Howell crossed from the left hand side for the on rushing Briscoe and Wright, neither could connect however as the ball trickled away for a goal kick – Ben Hutchinson then swivelled well on the edge of the box firing down the keepers throat on 26 minutes after fancy footwork from Meikle on the left hand side.
The remainder of the half lacked any real clear cut chances, the sides heading into the half time break as they started.
HALF TIME: Nuneaton 0-0 Stags
The was a nervousness about the Stags start to the second half as a few passes were misplaced and clearances missed, this being the case on 49 minutes as Nuneaton grabbed a frankly undeserved opener. A long ball over the top should have been easy to deal with however Exodus Geohaghon made a meal of it somewhat, getting tangled with the Nuneaton man forcing Sutton to come across and cover, unfortunately for the Stags solid right back, he was beaten to the ball by Taylor who broke free. To the left off the area the Nuneaton hit man drilled beneath Redmond under immense pressure from Sutton who showed tremendous effort to track back as far as possible.
Nuneaton 1-0 Stags
Taylor again tried his luck two minutes later this time from 30 yards, Shane Redmond was well positioned to cover the shot and as such, Mansfield’s attempt to fight back began. With 55 minutes on the clock Geohaghon launched a trademark throw into the box from the left hand side which found Hutchinson in the air. The front man made a cushioned flick into the mix with the ball failing to Briscoe at the back post, however a left footed half volley spun away from the target and harmlessly out for a goal kick.
The Stags had only four more minutes to wait until the breakthrough, Nick Wright capping one of the best attacking moves I’ve seen this term from Cox’s side. It all began with Ritchie Sutton on the half way line, again stepping across a Nuneaton forward to intercept a clearance before clipping forwards for Briscoe. The lively winger left his marker for dead with an excellent on the spot spin before chasing the ball, controlling well Briscoe drilled across the six yard line finding Wright at the near post, the big front man converted with ease to grab his first senior Stags goal and send the 180 travelling fans into raptures behind the goal.
Nuneaton 1-1 Stags
Six minutes later Mansfield were a cats whisker away from taking the lead as Chris Clements’ corner found its way to Briscoe, in the same spot as the way ward left footed effort Briscoe hit the moving ball with his right boot, curling away from the top corner at the last moment.
A series of Stags corners pressured the hosts but again the barrier couldn’t be broken, the same could be said for Nuneaton as numerous set pieces failed to trouble Redmond in the Stags goal.
Louis Briscoe’s game then ended prematurely as he picked up a foot injury with six minutes remaining, his replacement Junior Daniel came oh so close to being a hero inside 30 seconds, charging down the left hand side his thunderous effort was pushed onto the bar by McNamara who without doubt, single handily won Nuneaton a point in those final five minutes.
Matt Green replaced goal scorer Wright with five to go and looked lively, earning Mansfield a throw in the final minute of three added on. Geohaghon again launched in finding John Dempster whose goal bound thunderbolt header was somehow kept out by McNamara, the full time whistle rounding off an agonising but positive draw for Stags who would have been left wondering how they didn’t win the game, Nuneaton on the other hand left delighted as they know they survived a Mansfield Town barrage – the storm is coming folks, the Stags are slowly but surely sailing back into the rough seas.
FULL TIME: Nuneaton 1-1 Stags << Audio Highlights
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