Craig Priest writes…
The two games in the previous week had seen poor performances, coupled with Notts County’s excellent form and it’s fair to say, there were fears that Mansfield Town would not be the Derby Day Victors – alas a brace from Danny Rose plus an own goal saw a solitary Magpie head back to Meadow Lane – One for Sorrow, as Stags ran out 3-1 winners.
It’s fair to say that the Stags were mismatched too with Paul Anderson at right back, Will Atkinson in the middle of the park and following an early injury to Alfie Potter, front man Omari Sterling-James out wide right – but there’s something about Derby Day that sparked Mansfield back into life and propelled them onto a good victory.
However it was more than just a game of football, with both sets of supporters uniting in applause in the 25th minute for the late Matt Salmon, the former Stags and Notts County phsyio who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year aged just 25.
When Notts County chairman Alan Hardy handed over the Matt Salmon Trophy after the full time whistle to John Radford, there wasn’t a hint of bitterness – all in all, it was a well contested derby, highlighted in the post-match comments of both managers and in particular Kevin Nolan, who was honest in his summary that the side who were the winners, deserved to be.
The midweek stumble at Cheltenham was below par and we now for my money can’t afford for anything similar to repeat itself, today we’ve beaten the best side in the league and kept one of the best talents quiet – if we want to be the best, we have to beat the best and we did that today.
Paul Anderson was superb at right back and added some leadership and experience to the back four, whilst I felt Johnny Hunt over at left back also had a strong game with Alex MacDonald in front of him also enjoying a good afternoon, showing that across the pitch we have quality and ability to get through and make a difference.
Once again Danny Rose was well, Danny Rose really! He is really flourishing under Steve Evans and you can see just how much he rates the front man from the embrace following his substitution.
Steve Evans made four changes from the side which were pathetically beaten in midweek, Calum Butcher, Will Atkinson, Alfie Potter and Kane Hemmings all came back into the starting XI.
The visitors, leading the way at the top of the league, began the brightest with an early corner – but the Stags stayed strong to clear their lines, the linesman’s offside flag also got an early outing at the other end on three minutes, when Mirfin was flagged offside from a deep MacDonald freekick.
Two minutes later, the Stags nearly grabbed the opener as Alex MacDonald again swung in a set play, Kane Hemmings provided the flick on and Danny Rose connected ahead of County keeper Adam Collin, but couldn’t swipe the ball towards goal as the ball fell rather unexpectedly to the fans favourite hit man.
The chances were coming thick and fast for both sides, Notts County had two chances inside a minute as Nottingham forest loanee Jorge Grant saw a shot deflected over before Will Atkinson did just enough to turn another Grant effort behind from the resulting corner. Conrad Logan then release Danny Rose early with a neat weighted ball on the counter attack, Matt Tootle spared the Magpies blushes with a good firm block.
On 17 minutes the visitors got a free kick in a really dangerous possession right on the edge of the area, fortunately Johnny Hunt was on hand to turn over Grants low effort.
Three minutes later the Stags had a free kick of their own only the Stags were far closer to making it county than what Notts county were at the other end, Alex MacDonald stepped up from 25 yards after Atkinson was tripped – Adam Collin palming the ball away as it headed towards the back of the net.
Two minutes later, a terrific ball from Calum Butcher saw Hemmings free in the visitors box – he opted for the first time volley which sailed over, he had time for a touch to set.
As applause bellowed across the One Call Stadium from all sides in memory of Matt Salmon, the Stags nearly made it bitter sweet, as from a Stags corner – skipper Pearce played the ball across the box, Hemmings once again turning the ball wide.
Danny Rose was caught offside on the half hour mark following a deep Anderson cross, before two minutes later – Alfie Potter, who had been tremendous across the pitch, was forced off injured – replaced somewhat surprisingly by Omari Sterling-James.
With four minutes to go before the half time whistle, Notts County had their golden chance – Grants’ initial effort was blocked by Atkinson, however the ball fell to the feet of Lewis Alessandra ten yards from goal – the Magpie’s effort flew over the bar.
Two minutes after the break the Stags, through a little bit of anticipation and luck – grabbed the breakthrough. The visitors tried to play the ball back to the keeper but Danny Rose was too kick for Tootle, beating him to the ball and knocking it beyond Collin to the jubilant cheers from the Stags faithful.
The visitors wouldn’t say die and came back at the Stags, Conrad Logan punched the ball away amidst a sea of bodies on 51 minutes, before David Mirfin threw himself at the ball two minutes later to clear the ball off of the line from Jonathan Fortes’ six yard effort – Conrad Logan clung onto the loose ball as the Stags breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Mansfield then grabbed their second on 59 minutes, Kane Hemmings may have some claim – as his header was pushed onto the post by Collin, Danny rose nipped in to put the ball firmly over the line as Mansfield made it two for joy.
Just four minutes later, it was three – Danny Rose was heavily involved once more with a solid run down the right hand side and a cross which, looking for a hungry Hemmings, was turned into the Magpies net by Richard Duffy, the visiting captain.
Notts County made a treble change on 67 minutes as they “tried a Luton” and threw bodies up top, the Stags stood firm and nearly added a fourth on 74 minutes as MacDonald swung in a free kick which skipper Pearce headed thunderously wide.
With eight minutes to go, Notts County saw appeals for a spot kick turned down before with two minutes to go, a chance at each end – first Adam Collin’s hopeful punt forward saw Logan spring out to claim, before at the other end, Danny Rose flicked in MacDonald who fired over from 14 yards.
Danny Rose was then replaced in the 89th minute to a standing ovation, before the Stags had a little blot on the canvas as Carl Dickinson curled in a free kick, not that there were many Notts County fans left to witness it!
FULL TIME: Stags 3-1 Notts County
Paul Anderson – Krystain Pearce © - David Mirfin – Johnny Hunt
Alfie Potter (Omari Sterling-James 32) – Calum Butcher – Will Atkinson – Alex MacDonald
Kane Hemmings (Jimmy Spencer 86) – Danny rose (Lee Angol 89)
Unused substitutes: Bobby Olejnik, Rhys Bennett, Jacob Mellis, CJ Hamilton
Attendance: 7,072 (1,644)
Referee: Darren Drysdake Assistants Wade Smith, David Benton Fourth Official Peter Gibbons
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