Mansfield Town 7-0 Barrow – Saturday 17th March 2012
During our Conference journey our beloved side played a total of 232 league matches, some were forgettable, some were average and others were magical – the match we remember today certainly was the latter as Stags opened the floodgates and couldn’t stop scoring.
The match in question is from the 2011/12 season and Paul Cox’s first season at the helm. Before Christmas we were another average mid-table side however Santa had clearly delivered some inspiration to our players as post Boxing Day they had lost just once prior to the match we remember in this blog. Cox’s men had won five on the spin and fought back bravely to deny league leaders and Champions elect Fleetwood maximum points – statistically Stags were the inform team with one of the best defences and best back lines in the division.
Opponents Barrow were one of those sides that tendered to cause Stags a little bit of trouble, they often flirted with the relegation zone yet exceeded expectation against the so called tough sides – supposedly we were a tough side and so the question was asked, could we break to curse of Barrow.
Our form had certainly changed and the euphoria and buzz from the dramatic mid-week draw against Fleetwood was still strong yet on the pitch we seem to recall a rather nervy start with leading hit man Matt Green missing his sparkle and missing a penalty midway through the first half with the score only 1-0.
The togetherness of the players and their determination to climb the table towards the play-offs was evident in the way Cox’s men broke, you look at the score-line and think arrogance and in a sense p-taking, it was far from it, it was professional and on reflection epitomized why the side achieved what they did that season.
Those who remember the day will know that individually it belonged to Louis Briscoe who netted yet another hat-trick to his collection. Two of his three, especially the third, we’re sweet as sugar and technically outstanding, we don’t think they’ll ever be a goal as well taken as that. It wasn’t just his technically spot on goal scoring which saw Briscoe stand out, but his all round play that day showed what a quality player he is on his day – his special awareness, movement and creativity shone.
We both felt a feeling of sorrow for Barrow’s supporters, defeats are hard to take but battering’s stay with your forever, it wasn’t that Barrow were poor (except from the left back Paul Edwards who cost his team at least two goals and a spot kick) it’s just that Stags clicked and everything paid off that day. The result set up an exciting week but again, looking back, it left a thought of what we could achieve as a club if we continued to play that way – a year or so on, we know!!
The match began at a much slower tempo than Tuesday’s ferocious battle however Stags were still out of the traps the brighter and were unfortunate not to be ahead with just two minutes on the clock. Luke O’Neill started the move with a looping ball to the far side, Matt Green did enough to force a deflection from the light blue shirt of a Barrow defender, with Louis Briscoe doing well to hold off former team mate Paul Edwards to gift the Stags a throw. Exodus Geohaghon launched in the first of the afternoon with Ross Dyers connecting header cannoning back out of the post before the hosts scrambled away for a second throw.
Four minutes later it was a sharp ball through the middle from Murray that sent Stags into the final third after a sustained spell of pressure, however Lindon Meikle was flagged marginally offside.
Mansfield kept pushing and we’re soon rewarded on eight minutes. Adam Murray’s fine switch of play from a low Meikle ball inside stretched the game wide to O’Neill, it was his deep cross that caught the visitors in a tizz. Ross Dyer won his battle flicking the ball to the left of the box for Green who proceeded to round the keeper and drill across the face of goal with the angle against him. Louis Briscoe did the rest, charging through the crowd to fire into the roof of the net, bagging the 190th goal between the two sides in the 54th meeting between the pair.
Stags 1-0 Barrow
On thirteen minutes the Stags broke in numbers, Lindon Meikle picked up the ball in the centre circle and charged forward with Dyer and Green the two supporting runners. Paul Edwards got a block in but the loose ball ran from Green whose acute touch sent Meikle racing through, an awfully timed challenged from Edwards, who three weeks ago was in the Stags side which edged past Tamworth at Field Mill, saw Meikle go to ground and the referee point to the spot for Mansfield’s fifth spot kick of the campaign. Matt Green stepped up having scored his last three from the spot, Ben Hutchinson took the other, The Stags leading front man failed to maintain his 100% record, seeing his tame penalty saved by Shaun Pearson, who sprung down to his left.
Pearson was soon picking the ball out of his net a second time though, as three minutes later Green showed his confidence hadn’t been dented with a fine charge. Latching onto Ritchie Sutton’s direction ball via the head of Howell and Dyer, the Stags front man picked up the ball on the left and drove at Barrow full back Kevin Lomax, before spotting the opportunity to shoot central – a crowd of bodies made this difficult but did create space for Briscoe, who Green spotted and picked out with a crisp low pass. Briscoe took one touch to set himself; leaving Edwards cuddling the pitch as he cut inside, before firing a beautiful effort left footed into the top corner.
Stags 2-0 Barrow
Mansfield had three more chances in quick succession to further extend their lead, on twenty minutes Ross Dyer held up play well in the centre circle before setting O’Neill free on the right. The Stags full back drove forward, cut past Edwards and fired a shot towards goal – Matt Green was the one Barrow players thanked as he couldn’t get out of the way, deflecting O’Neill’s goal bound shot wide of the target. A Paul Edwards slip then saw Lindon Meikle fire over from 18 yards on the half volley before Louis Briscoe was denied a hat-trick by Pearson, who made a fine save to keep out the thunderous drive following more creative play in the final third.
The third goal soon arrived as Paul Edwards slammed another ball out of play for a throw in, clearly he didn’t learn from his time at Field Mill that giving Mansfield a throw is more dangerous than a corner! Exodus Geohaghon made him pay, his 23rd minute rocket throw in found Anthony Howell at the front post, who glanced his header into the back of the net for his first goal in Mansfield colours.
Stags 3-0 Barrow
Three minutes later Howell could have had a second in a carbon copy move, Paul Edwards was again at fault and started an argument with Barrow skipper Phil Bolland and fellow defender Danny Hone before being promptly substituted along with striker Adam Boyes in a shock double change, which saw the blue birds go to five at the back, a desperate attempt to stop the Stags fluent and ruthless attack.
The defensive addition failed to work and Stags were on the charge once more, Lindon Meikle’s run down the left saw him play a low ball into space for Matt Green to run onto. The Stags leading front man blazed forward and pulled the trigger, hitting his off balance shot into the crowd of travelling supporters.
Barrow’s club motto ‘spatiari ut progrediaris’ translates as ‘Strive to attain progress’ – the only progress they were making was back towards their own goal.
A foul on Matt Green gave the Stags a free kick 30 yards from goal, Luke O’Neill’s cross was cleared however the Stags kept putting on the pressure and eventually heaped more misery on the visiting keeper, who after colliding with Geohaghon and Dyer, had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken collar bone.
Stags fans and players alike gave Pearson a warm round of applause as he headed off the pitch and to Kings Mill.
No mercy was shown on Pearson’s replacement Stuart Dixon, Barrow’s third and final sub, who was picking the ball out of the net on 41 minutes, moments after denying Greens dominant run forward. Lindon Meikle was the one on the score-sheet collecting the ball after Ross Dyer, Anthony Howell, Adam Murray and Louis Briscoe had all moved play to the feet of Matt Green on the edge of the box – Green’s lay off to Meikle saw the wing man cut in and curl a looping shot beyond the 19 year old shot stopper, two minutes into his bluebirds debut.
Stags 4-0 Barrow
Five minutes of stoppage time followed but Mansfield failed to add a fifth, heading into the dressing room four goals to the good.
Half Time: Stags 4-0 Barrow
The intention to find a fifth was clear from the second half’s starting whistle, Geohaghon’s left sided throw was hurled into the box and found Ross Dyer who smashed a fine effort wide from 10 yards, the ball certainly took a deflection but at the speed of light, it was impossible to tell who from – the referee awarded a goal kick.
On 51 minutes a neat passage of play saw Mansfield a whisker away from a fifth, Ross Dyer’s low pass to O’Neill saw the Stags right back chip neatly to Briscoe on the right who burst past Alex-Ray Harvey and drill a fine ball across the face of goal – nobody could get a touch and Barrow survived, but it was only a matter of minutes until goal number five did arrive as the Stags struck once more.
Luke O’Neill was creator and Exodus Geohaghon the tormentor, the formers first corner replicated Tuesday night’s dramatic leveller, finding Geohaghon naturally towering above the rest. The Darlington loan mans bullet header was scrambled off the line for a second corner which O’Neill again took. This time it was Martin Riley who was the decoy taking with him four defenders, going from the front post to the back post where, despite the marking, he headed back into space – Matt Green completed the job, heading home his 24th goal of the season and making amends for his first half spot-kick woe.
Stags 5-0 Barrow
Geohaghon then headed over from another O’Neill corner before the visiting defences problems got worse with the addition of Matt Rhead for Matt Green, the former Corby man was on the pitch a matter of minutes before playing a key part in Mansfield 6th of the afternoon, coming on 67 minutes as Louis Briscoe sensationally completed his second Stags hat-trick.
Exodus Geohaghon’s 15th throw in Barrow territory created the goal, with the bullet throw launched towards Rhead. Rhead rose above three markers to cushion the ball to the chest of Louis Briscoe on the edge of the area. Given miles of space due to the tight marking on Rhead, Briscoe controlled with his chest, knee and then let the ball drop, smashing home on the volley into the top corner – grabbing his second five days shy of a year since his first at Histon and giving Mansfield a 6-0 score line for the first time since the 2003/04 season when a Neil MacKenzie treble helped dump Bishop’s Stortford out of the FA Cup.
Stags 6-0 Barrow
Barrow did have the ball in the net on 71 minutes when Andy Cook bundled home; however there was no point even celebrating as the flag was up for offside on the far side well before the ball trickled in.
The Stags then added a seventh as Barrow’s afternoon got worse. A charge through the middle saw Lindon Meikle with a sight of goal, the winger had acres of time and space on the ball and eventually played Matt Rhead into the area, who after controlling with a yawn, drilled underneath the teenage shot stopper to open his account for the Stags
Stags 7-0 Barrow
The bluebirds had given up and in all honesty, the Stags didn’t have to get out of second gear to create more chances, not contempt with seven as chants of ‘we want eight’ roared out from the stands. Luke O’Neill’s 81st minute corner saw Matt Rhead and then Exodus Geohaghon denied after Dixon had dropped the ball to the formers feet.
A half late scare followed as a low cross from Paul Rutherford awoke Alan Marriott who was more than happy to have a touch! Normality was restored late on as substitute Ben Hutchinson, on for Ross Dyer, earned numerous free kicks with nippy runs. O’Neill delivered on from deep with four minutes left, Anthony Howell’s header was well saved by Dixon. A minute later smart play between Briscoe and O’Neill saw the latter steaming down on goal, the full back failed to find an 8th to match Mansfield’s biggest ever win, firing into the side netting.
Debutant Danny Andrew, on at left back for Ritchie Sutton, then showed his dead ball quality in stoppage time, curing a beautiful effort into the keepers grateful hands after Matt Rhead was fouled.
The full time whistle soon blew to end Barrow’s afternoon of misery, the stags netting seven for the first time since Boxing Day 1994 (a 7-1 victory over Hereford at Field Mill) and their first 7-0 victory since beating Scunthorpe by the same score line at Field Mill on the 21st April 1975.
Full Time: Stags 7-0 Barrow
Below enjoy an additional look down memory lane with video, audio and photos from the day.
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