Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Lincoln City
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #14
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 9th October – 7.45pm
Match Referee: Karl Evans
Attendance: 2325 (334)
Firstly let me apologise for the lateness of this post, some of you may have noticed some changes to this website over the last few days, namely the address, since Tuesday’s game I’ve been in countless meetings trying to secure various funding to push us onto the next level, mixing that in with watching and reporting on other games.
I’ll keep this brief as focus is now moving onto the Forest Green Match – After the game there was naturally a frustration as we failed to win and indeed score, the first time this season we’ve failed to find the target. Its clear changes were needed and the seven made may not have made an instant impression but, from the view point of watching the Cambridge match, there were improvements. Andy Todd especially on the right hand side deserved his man of the match award, running all night long, getting crosses into the box, marshalling the play – a small minority have suggested he was woeful, well let me say this – leave Todd in the side and you’ll see results improve, we are at a negative stage in the season and need experience, leadership and more than anything BALLS to get us out of the murky grey and into the smooth, happy green – Todd’s your man.
Criticism has come too to Ritchie Sutton, why? Yes he’s had a shake of late and will hold his hands up to this, but alongside John Dempster in a back three, dropping to a five when the visitors were in the final third, he was solid, calm and collected – getting forward into gaps, holding play and allowing players to move forward around him.
After the game there were rumours of “supporters” spitting at players and hurling personal abuse at certain individuals, this for me is laughable. Sorry, call me to until the moon goes red if you wish but, this behaviour is unacceptable, wrong and disgusting. Teams will be loving the thought of a trip to the One Call at the minute as if they grab just one chance, all hell and negativity breaks loose in the home end – we can’t let this happen. We’re in a bad spell, let’s stick together and get to where we want to be – there’s still time and we are more than capable.
TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.
Paul Cox made seven changes for the visit of David Holdsworth’s Lincoln City, Liam Mitchell debuted in goal replacing Shane Redmond, whilst John Dempster, Ryan Tafazolli, Andy Todd, Gary Roberts, Matt Rhead and Junior Daniel all returned to the line up at the expense of Thompson, Geohaghon, Pilkington, Howell, Tawio and Meikle respectively.
Line Up [3-4-1-2]: Liam Mitchell, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster, Ryan Tafazolli, Andy Todd, Adam Murray (C), Gary Roberts, Junior Daniel, Jake Speight, Matt Rhead, Matt Green
Substitutes: George Pilkington, Lindon Meikle, Louis Briscoe, Lee Stevenson, Solomon Tawio.
Mansfield began well with two half chances inside the opening two minutes, a foul on Andy Todd on the right hand side saw fellow returnee Roberts deliver into the middle where Ryan Tafazolli rose about the visiting defence but failed to direct his header on target. Moments later Jake Speight’s path was blocked by Imps skipper Andrew Boyce after John Dempster’s delightful deep clip.
A third minute Dan Gray throw for the visitors caused Stags little trouble, Paul Cox’s side keeping the ball well and unlucky not to find an opener on 15 minutes. Ritchie Sutton’s right sided throw found Andy Todd who, on the goal line, showed great balance to turn Peter Gilbert and cross into the box, Matt Green storming in but heading wide of the target. Two minutes later Green and Todd were involved again, Todd heading Roberts’ corner back into the middle after Green had burst well down the left to win the set piece, Ryan Tafazolli ending the pressure when he rose but headed wide of Paul Farman’s goal.
Holdsworth named two ex-Stags in his line up and on 19 minutes the duo of Adam Smith and Super Colin Larkin were involved, Larkin being tripped by Todd on the edge of the box from a Smith pass, the latter stepping in to fire the set piece into the Quarry Lane End.
Two minutes later the Stags looked lively again with Andy Todd on the right hand side, a neat dummy to leave Gilbert stranded saw Roberts clip in the loose ball, Matt Rhead nodding down for strike partner Green who fired over from six yards.
It was yet another good demonstration of what Stags were capable of on 36 minutes as Stags finally broke free. After taking a free kick quickly, Roberts had put Todd in down the right hand side. The player-coach found his path blocked but turned in field well to allow Jake Speight to advance round the back, Todd drilled low into space finding Matt Green who drilled low into the bottom corner only to see a wonderful flowing move ruined by the presence of the linesman’s flag, Green marginally offside.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Lincoln
Mansfield began the second half in rampant fashion as it took the visiting imps around four minutes to even get a slight touch of the ball. On 48 minutes it was Skipper Adam Murray, making his 400th league appearance, who sparked a great chance by clipping in a deep free kick early. Matt Rhead showed great power to rise high and head towards goal from the edge of the box, Paul Farman producing an excellent stop conceding a corner.
Seven later Murray came agonisingly close to marking the milestone with another milestone, his 35th league goal, however his effort was blocked on the six yard line after Rhead and Green had linked up from Todd’s right sided cross to set the loveable player assistant boss / captain.
Adam Smith looked to punish his former club however was wasteful with many of his efforts, namely the 56th and 60th minute long range efforts, he came closer on 66 minutes however, Liam Mitchell saving expertly well down to his left hand side – the only time he was really tested by the Imps the entire game.
Two minutes later the Stags had a clear claim for a penalty as Adam Murray saw his shirt tugged by Tom Miller inside the box, however Holdsworth’s Imps breathed a sigh of relief when the referee awarded a free kick for the previous challenge, right on the edge of the box. Gary Roberts’ drive struck the wall and the second phase of play naturally broke down.
Roberts came closer with seven minutes remaining as he drilled narrowly over the bar from distance, Jake Speight also saw a shot blocked after encouraging play from Junior Daniel on 85 minutes – the clock eventually ran down and the full time whistle blown, sparking numerous boos and uncalled for abuse from the stands, however the full time whistle for me signalled a poor yet improved showing from Mansfield who played the ball on the floor, used the wide men well, got crosses into the box and were generally unlucky. Green’s goal on another day may have stood, the Murray penalty too could have been given whilst Farman in the Lincoln goal has pulled off three great stops. Sometimes things just won’t fall for you, that’s football – now we move onto Forest Green Rovers on Saturday before facing an uninspiring treble away trip!
FULL TIME: Stags 0-0 Lincoln
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Photos: Dan Westwell
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