Hayes & Yeading Utd 4-0 Mansfield Town – Saturday 9th April 2011
So far with our journey into the unknown, we’ve brought you some of the real highs of the journey. Today I feel it’s time to focus on the other end of the scale as I recall one of the real low points in our conference journey, why? Not because I’m morbid or like pointing out our failings, but because looking back on the good times gives the impression the ride was smooth. Sometimes you have to remember those negative times to really appreciate how far we’ve come and in turn value the hard work that was put in.
They’ll no doubt be a question over why I’ve chosen this match over the 7-2 battering at the hands of Grimsby on New Years Day of the same year, that day we were poor and beaten by the better side, against Hayes & Yeading it was a different story – having achieved the feat of reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy, we should have been a side that fought to be winners. Instead we crumbled in the heat, felt uninspired by our surroundings and ultimately became the opposite of what we aspired to be. This game was chosen as a reminder of how low we sank and how far we had to climb.
It had been just under a month since the triumphant victory over Luton in the FA Trophy semi-final second leg and the big day at Wembley was fast approaching. Reaching the play-offs was a non-starter as was being relegated so already, with so many games remaining, it was a case of rubber stamping the fixture. With each game that passed each player became more and more cautious going into challenges, running that extra stride or in trying to influence the game – add to that the long journey and the mammoth challenge of four home games in the space of a week to follow, it’s not hard to see now why nobody cared about Hayes & Yeading Utd.
That’s not entirely true though as some people did care – the supporters. A full coach made the long trip to Hayes for the fixture hoping that some momentum could be found in the build up to Wembley, we knew we could do nothing in the league but we also knew that a good run, would put us in pole position to take home a trophy come May 7th.
Hayes & Yeading were, and still are, a small outfit with a small fan base following the merge of two clubs, Hayes FC and Yeading FC. The club had plans to move to a new ground and develop and were playing there final game at Church Road, the home of Hayes FC and the combined club since it’s 2007 merge. I always remember arriving at the ground and seeing the car park converted into a building site with several new homes already close to completion, in fact as we headed back to the coach at the end of the match, a delivery van had arrived with furniture!
The ground was old and reminiscent of Ebbsfleet, mainly terraced all the way around the facilities were basic and due to the forthcoming move, the stadium was uncared for as weeds and brambles began to creep through the cracks. There was a tiny stand which housed a tiny press box and a few supporters from both sides, it was here were I sat and witnessed the nightmare.
The performance was beyond poor, the tempo made snails seem like Usain Bolt and as for ability within the Stags side, quite simply there was none. I was reminded of the scene in Mike Bassett England Manager were our national side and held to a 0-0 draw by a nation of amateurs. Hayes & Yeading were part time and had one of the poorest budgets in the division yet managed to make Mansfield, a full time professional outfit, look like a laughing stock – Tyrone Thompson’s own goal was the tip of iceberg.
Played in un-bearable boiling summer sun, Hayes & Yeading to their credit where very quick to close Mansfield down, the home side gave Stags no space or time on the ball and that perhaps slightly explains Mansfield’s problem, unable to get hold of the ball it was the hosts who drew first blood with 12 on the clock, it came totally out of the blue as another dangerous attack should have been cleared by Mansfield, Lee Brown manoeuvred his way past Conor Higginson and into space which should have been occupied by Istead, Brown’s cross was headed home by the unmarked Bradley Pritchard from close range, how he wasn’t spotted running into the box or indeed picked up baffles me.
H&Y 1-0 Stags.
Mansfield should have levelled straight from the whistle, perhaps the only decent bit of ball play of the game from the Stags saw Paul Connor free in the centre, bursting into the home penalty area, his left footed shot was well wide of the target and his 10 games without a goal continued.
The home side again enjoyed time on the ball & looked like the mid table side with Mansfield looking like the relegation threatened side, Istead was beaten on the far side with twenty minutes gone by Crawley loanee Sam Rents, his cross was converted into a goal by Elliott Buchanan who headed home unmarked in space.
H&Y 2-0 Stags.
Five minutes later, Istead was again beaten on the far side, this time home captain Peter Holmes chipped in the ball, Elliott Buchanan doubled his tally volleying a shot towards goal unmarked, it clipped the post but unfortunately for lack lustre Mansfield, nestled in the back of the net.
H&Y 3-0 Stags.
Conor Higginson was then replaced by Kyle Nix as Mansfield desperately searched for some creativity, Nix picked up a loose ball in the centre and found Briscoe wide right, his shot from distance was easily held by the home keeper Shane McWeeney.
Things reverted to the afternoon’s norm as the hosts attacked well with Pritchard beating Sandwith who came in at left back, the home sides resulting corner was headed just over by Adam Bygrave who was unchallenged inside the area.
3-0 down away from home against a side struggling to stay in the league, what can we throw into make things worse? A red card! Paul Connor was judged to have elbowed Adam Bygrave whilst challenging for the ball in the air, the referee issued a straight red and Mansfield’s second top scorer headed off to the dressing room to watch the Grand National.
With a man less Mansfield opted to still play two up top, Briscoe moved forwards to partner Medley with Murray, Nix & Thompson pulling together to make a midfield three.
The home side where on top for the remainder of the half, the pick of the million chances to score fell to Steve Masterton, Pritchard’s perfectly timed ball through the middle saw the Hayes & Yeading man clean through, David Grof made himself big and did just enough to put off Masterton with his chipped strike landing wide.
HALF TIME: Hayes & Yeading 3-0 Stags.
With 53 on the clock, Steve Foster’s wayward clearance allowed hat-trick hunting Elliott Buchanan to pounce, luckily for Mansfield his effort was poor and landed harmlessly wide of the target.
Mansfield then threatened to score with half an hour left, Kyle Nix’s free kick from the left hand side was headed on by Briscoe, landing at the feet of Naylor at the far post who then smashed the ball into the side netting.
Adam Smith then came onto replace Luke Medley before Danny Mitchley replaced top scorer and a clearly shattered Louis Briscoe, the Stags opted for one upfront for the remainder of the game with Tyrone Thompson playing wide right & Smith wide left.
Naylor headed straight at McWeeney from another Nix free kick with 76minutes on the clock, but four minutes later it was Hayes & Yeading who grabbed a 4th, with a helping hand from Tyrone Thompson.
Powering down the left flank, it was Bradley Pritchard’s left wing cross that caused the trouble although for any other club it would be deemed poor and easy to deal with. Tyrone Thompson had acres of space and time to turn and clear the ball, yet decided to cushion the ball back to Grof, who expecting a turn & clear from Thompson had began to move away from his goal, Thompson cushion became a beautiful finish and a contender for Hayes & Yeading’s goal of the season, an instant YouTube hit.
H&Y 4-0 Stags.
Steve Foster wondered if McWeeney was still awake at the other end as he was so rarely tested he could have brought out a sun lounger for the second half and got himself a tan in the afternoon sun! In the last minute a rare Mansfield corner saw Foster free at the far post, his powerful shot was turned behind by McWeeney.
FULL TIME: Hayes & Yeading United 4-0 Mansfield Town.
Below enjoy an additional look down memory lane with video and photos from the day.
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