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Season 06/07 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Milton Keynes Dons  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Taylor 49.
 
 Arnold 90+1.
Attendance: 5070 (508 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 20 February 2007

NA NA SAVES THE DAY

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the National Hockey Stadium

Na Na Arnold popped up with a fabulous injury time equaliser from 20 yards to rescue a point from high flying MK Dons in a tight encounter this evening. The Stags had trailed to a deflected goal on 49 minutes, which was virtually the home side’s only real chance of the evening. The Stags had huffed and puffed and matched the Dons but had lacked the killer instinct and Arnold’s goal was as much a surprise as a delight to the travelling faithful who had resigned themselves to another defeat on the road.

The Stags were paying their first visit to the National Hockey Stadium, and it turned out to be a better ground than we were expecting. Stags fans were housed in an open stand down the side, so the view was excellent, and the seats comfortable, but we wouldn’t have liked to have been there in the rain. Also noticeable was that MK Dons surely have the strongest floodlights in the league.

Billy Dearden made one change from the side beaten by Grimsby, with Brown in for Hamshaw, who was absent for personal reasons. MK Dons were without leading scorer Izaal McLeod.

The Stags were first to show on 3 minutes when Michael Boulding escaped down the left and his fine cross was headed gently into the keeper’s arms just above his head by Gritton from 6 yards. It was a bad miss. Not much happened in the early stages as the Stags contained the home side in midfield and denied them any goalscoring opportunities. On 17 minutes there was a good Stags move and the ball fell to D’Laryea on 20 yards, whose side footed shot struck an MK Dons arm in the box, but penalty claims were waved away. You’ve seen them given!

On 23 minutes Jelleyman brought down a Dons player 22 yards from goal after the Stags midfielders had let him run too far. Jelleyman was rightly booked. McGovern, off a short run up, curled a right footed shot towards the bottom left corner of the net. The Dons fans behind the goal rose in anticipation, but White made an excellent save to turn the ball past the post. On 26 minutes, an excellent one-two between Boulding and Gritton on the halfway line, allowed Boulding clear to run down the left and from 20 yards he shot low towards the right corner of the net, but it lacked power and the keeper saved low down.

On 29 minutes, MK Dons were awarded a dubious free-kick on the touchline 25 yards from goal. They took it quickly and caught the Stags defence napping but Leon Knight couldn’t quite get on the end of it and White grabbed the ball. On 36 minutes, Diallo made a good run down the right and crossed for Knight who was unchallenged and headed over. Shortly afterwards, Gritton was fouled for the umpteenth time when a defender climbed all over him, but yet again the ref waved play on and Gritton looked frustrated with the official.

It was a decent first half performance from Mansfield, who restricted the MK Dons to two chances, whilst creating chances of their own. The home side passed the ball nicely without often getting near the Stags goal. The game was tight and as such not particularly exciting, but there were encouraging signs about the Stags defence.

Half time 0-0

All the good work of the first half was undone 4 minutes into the second half. Jelleyman was left for dead on the right wing and a low cross found its way via a deflection into the path of Scott Taylor, on the penalty spot, and his shot took a deflecting off a Stags defender past the helpless White into the roof of the net.

On 54 minutes, Gritton turned like an oil tanker on the edge of the box, but to his great credit, his excellent snap shot was goalbound and had to be well turned away by the keeper. It was a fine effort and gave the Stags fans hope that the game could be rescued. On 59 minutes, a Stags free-kick on the left eventually fell to D’Laryea 22 yards out, his well struck curling effort was just wide of the right post.

On 64 minutes, Dearden made a double substitution with Rory Boulding for Gritton, and Arnold for Michael Boulding. It was a surprising double change as Gritton had done better than Conlon, who was looking out of puff, and Michael Boulding was looking much sharper than the invisible Brown. Michael Boulding went straight down the tunnel, seemingly unhappy with the decision. Rory Boulding went up front, though later he switched back to midfield when Brown up front.

On 69 minutes, Buxton lost the ball when his clearance on the halfway line was charged down by Knight who got away, and looked as if he might get clear on goal, but just when it seemed that Buxton would haul the former Brighton and Swansea striker down for a certain red card, Baptiste came from nowhere to produce a magnificent tackle.

The home side brought on Jude Stirling, who is around 7 foot tall and possesses the longest throw in the league.

On 73 minutes, a fine free-kick from Brown from wide left was headed just wide by a Stags player. On 81 minutes, Mullins cut in from the right and his shot was deflected for a corner - the Stags only one of the entire game.

With time slipping away, and the game seemingly gone, on 89 minutes, a good ball by Conlon fed Arnold, who strode forward and from 25 yards struck a shot low and hard, but the keeper was able to save it to his left. This turned out to be just a sighter for young Nathan, who a minute later, from an almost identical position but slightly closer to goal, buried the ball just inside the right post, to send the Stags players and fans wild with delight.

Both sides pushed forward in the 2.5 minutes of injury time remaining as the Stags wasted a free kick and then with the last kick of the game, an MK Dons shot was just wide.

So the Stags deservedly rescued a point. MK Dons failed to create a single chance between their goal on 49 minutes and the third minute of injury time mostly due to the Stags tight defence. While Mansfield created a number of half chances. Overall a draw was a fair result. But the game was nearly lost until Na Na stepped up to send the Stags fans home in a good spirits feeling almost like a victory. The gap to the bottom two is back to 8 points. The Stags need to build on this good defensive display but need more imagination in the final third of the pitch as was shown late on by Arnold, whose time has surely come for a start.

Man of the match: Nathan Arnold


Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the National Hockey Stadium



Line Up:
White 7 Cracking save in the first save; looked comfortable throughout.
Mullins 7 Good game. Pushed forward well.
Baptiste 7 Looked good; one great challenge to rescue Buxton when Knight was away.
Buxton 7 Did very well apart from one howler. Distribution looking good.
Jelleyman 6 Too many crosses were allowed in from his side of the pitch.
Brown 5 Never got into the game. Looked out of sorts
D'Laryea 7 Did well, though faded towards the end.
Dawson 7 Chased everything but lacked a bit of poise with his final pass.
M.Boulding 7 Looked lively; surprisingly subbed.
Conlon 6 Won a few good headers, but things generally didn’t come off. Looked leggy.
Gritton 6 Slightly better than Conlon but was frustrated by constant fouls and getting nothing from the ref. Unlucky with good effort in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
R.Boulding (for Gritton, 64) 6 Lots of enthusiasm and chased hard, but things didn’t go his way.
Arnold (for M.Boulding, 64) 8 Had a sighter on 89 minutes when his fine shot tested the keeper. A minute later he gave the keeper no chance with a great shot. Looked lively. Give him a start, Billy!
Subs Not Used: Muggleton, Hjelde, Reet.
Opposition Line Up:
Baines, Diallo, Butler, O'Hanlon, McGovern, Mitchell, Andrews (Edds 89), Gary Smith (Stirling 71), Lewington, Taylor, Knight (Baldock 81). Subs Not Used: Hayes, Harper.
Referee:
Grant Hegley, Hertfordshire 5 Generally poor. Missed a lot of fouls on Gritton.


Season 06/07 Reports