Mansfield Town’s terrible down turn in form continued last night as they crashed out of the Johnston’s Paint Trophy in dismal fashion at the hands of League One rivals Notts County who ran out 2-0 winners at Meadow Lane.
It was a titanic like performance from Paul Cox’s men who left over 1,500 travelling supporters seething and calling for the manager’s head. Only the efforts of youngster Liam Marsden, defenders Ryan Tafazolli and Martin Riley and, for his second half passion, skipper Adam Murray deserve a place on the boat to safety, whilst the rest are left to swim in the icy sea listening to the fading sound of the sinking orchestra.
Titanic comparisons aside, Mansfield offered little in the first competitive meeting between the two Nottinghamshire rivals in years and gave Notts County an easy win. Cox’s men completely lost the ability to pass a football whilst the hosts made it look easy, weaving their way around the Stags and netting two easy goals which Forest loanee Dimitar Evtimov should have done better with.
Cox too angered supporters with his strange tactical decisions such as taking off the Stags’ only goal scoring threat Alex Fisher rather than Matt Rhead who tried, but was easily marked out of the game. The sale of Sam Clucas to Chesterfield has left Mansfield with no natural wingers and no plan B, supporters certainly made their opinions clear on an evening to forget.
Ronan Murray opening the scoring after 28 minutes for the hosts after Stags’ attempts to play direct were squashed out, Murray cut in from the left hand side of the area skipping a challenge from Stags captain Adam Murray before drilling beyond a bewildered Evtimov.
Stags had just the one chance to level, Simon Heslop drilled wide from a smart free kick but Mansfield’s chances disappeared quicker than the vanishing paint spray, key challenges from Tafazolli, Marsden and Riley plus two smart saves from Evtimov kept the score line respectable.
The second half saw a short burst of fire from Cox’s men with a series of set plays whilst Alex Fisher created three chances from nothing but saw Fabien Speiss well placed to keep the front man at bay, once he was replaced by Palmer, a minute after Jake Cassidy galloped down the right hand side to drill home Notts County’s second, it truly was over for Stags.
There was never any sense of comeback for Cox’s men at 2-0, ever attempt of a run made was sniffed out, sometimes by the Stags players themselves, tripping over the ball and making the game unwatchable for supporters.
Stags: Dimitar Evtimov, Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley, Ryan Tafazolli, Liam Marsden (Lee Beevers 87), Simon Heslop, Adam Murray ©, Rob Taylor, Chris Clements (Fergus Bell 73), Alex Fisher (Ollie Palmer 66), Matt Rhead
UNUSED SUBS: Sascha Studer, Jamie McGuire
Chesterfield tonight avenged the Stags win at the Proact Stadium ten days ago by grabbing a narrow 1-0 win to dump the Stags out of the JPT. Despite being beaten by their arch rivals through Gary McSheffery’s tap in, the concern was for defender Ritchie Sutton who, in the build up, collided with keeper Alan Marriott and was eventually stretchered off injured after a ten minute stoppage for treatment.
Paul Cox finally reverted to 4-4-2 ahead of the second derby show-down in ten days having lost 4-1 at home to Hartlepool on Saturday, the Stags stood solid during the first half and perhaps should have been ahead at the break as Lee Stevenson, one of four changes, twice poked wide whilst Sam Clucas and Calvin Andrew were denied by the equally resilient Chesterfield who were keen to avenge the result from ten days ago.
Alan Marriott, who was excellent in the fixture at the proact stadium, again played an important part during the first half as he punched away numerous set-plays. He also atoned for his error of judgement against Hartlepool by palming away a dangerous free kick from Jamie Devitt seconds before the half time whistle.
The visitors began the second half the brighter as they squandered two chances through Chris Porter following teasing crosses from O’Shea – Alan Marriott also had to respond well to deny Devitt from 18 yards after O’Shea had again weaved his way down the flanks prior to the hour mark.
Junior Daniel wasted Mansfield’s golden chance moments later as he was denied by Tommy Lee following an excellent pass from Stevenson, despite winning two resulting corners, the Stags failed to break the deadlock as a penalty shootout crept closer.
Jamie McGuire, who will miss Saturday’s game with Bristol Rovers through suspension after collecting his fifth yellow of the season, was replaced by Anthony Howell on 70 minutes through injury and only seconds later, Gary McSheffery tapped home the opening goal into an empty net following a long ball forward to give the visitors the lead, in the build up to it, Alan Marriott and Ritchie Sutton both collided with the latter requiring extensive treatment before the game could get back underway and was eventually replaced by James Jennings following the ten minute break.
Due to the injury there were 14 minutes of added time, in the first minute of it Anthony Howell saw a close range effort deflect behind for a second corner following Jennings’ quick delivery, the second disappointingly failed to test the visitors as Mansfield searched for, but ultimately failed to find a leveller as the visitors ran the clock down.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 0-1 Chesterfield
REFEREE: Michael Naylor
ATTENDANCE: 4,837 (1,307)
STAGS: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton (James Jennings 80), John Dempster ©, Martin Riley, Lee Beevers, Junior Daniel, Jamie McGuire (Anthony Howell 70), Keiran Murtagh, Sam Clucas, Lee Stevenson (Ollie Palmer 85), Calvin Andrew
UNUSED SUBS: Matt Rhead, Lindon Meikle
Following Saturdays unacceptable defeat to Hartlepool, Paul Coxs men must now pick themselves up and prepare for another battle with archrivals Chesterfield.
The competition is one which gains little interest on the calendar, however the fact we've been drawn against Chesterfield makes people's ears prick up and there eyes widen - each and every supporter wants to have the bragging rights in much the same way as ten days ago, a win Saturday would have been that extra confidence boost so to lose in the manor we did makes the next 24 hours or so nervy.
Cox's men showed so much courage a week last Saturday when Calvin Andrews solitary goahl grabbed Stags their first win over Chesterfield in ten years. The passion and desire to fight for the badge was evident throughout and so refreshing for us in the stands - move forward a week to the Hartlepool match and it was something totally different, something which can not happen again.We write that not just in relation to tomorrow night, but in general.
You have to fight for every point and stay focussed rather than slump like a mardy school child everytime something doesn't quite goto plan. People say that the JPT is a worthless competition but we disagree, now that the matches are settled on the night and without extra time it's not a huge interruption if you do happen to embark on a decent run.
With three or four wins, you can find yourself within a Wembley final and a chance to boost the club coffers, a trophy is a trophy and only Champions win them.So what are we, Champions or a side incapable of progression? Tomorrow night is the time for answering that question.
There's no doubt for us that Cox got it wrong on Saturday - but that's gone and can't be changed now, let's put it right with a victory over our rivals tomorrow, hopefully in a dominant, hungry and successful 4-4-2.
It will be a battle out there for sure, Paul Cooks men now not only have to avenge the defeat ten or so days ago but also have to win over the supporters, after letting a three goal lead slip to Morecambe at the weekend as they fell to back to back defeats
COYS! Time to be champions again...
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