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Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Ebbsfleet United
Green 82
Attendance: 2630 (55 from Ebbsfleet)
Date: 31 March 2012


Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

Mansfield Town ground out a crucial 1-0 win against stubborn Ebbsfleet United thanks to a late goal from Matt Green, whose clinical finish was worth its weight in gold. Ebbsfleet defended superbly and gave Mansfield no space at all with a packed defence which nullified even the long throws of Exodus Geohaghon. The Stags should have had a penalty in the first half when Geohaghon was clearly fouled in the box by Paul Lorraine as he went for a Luke O’Neill corner, and Martin Riley headed against the post from a Briscoe cross. Ebbsfleet had a double chance in the second half when two efforts were cleared off the line by the Stags, but the key moment came on 82 minutes when Adam Murray superbly won the ball 40 yards from goal, found Matt Green just outside the box, and Green was able to make a yard of space for himself and place a low shot just inside the left post. With Southport and Luton losing this weekend, the Stags are well-placed to finish in the play-offs, but still need two, or possibly three, wins from the remaining 5 games.

The Stags made two changes from the side that lost at Fleetwood, with Briscoe and Smith coming in for Howell and Meikle. The Field Mill pitch was in surprisingly poor condition and there were a number of bobbles that we noticed, one of which nearly caught out Marriott who adjusted well from a backpass.

The Stags had the ball in the net on 7 minutes as Green was penalised for high feet from Geohaghon’s long throw. The ball came to Smith who put the ball in the net but the whistle had already gone. A half-chance for Ebbsfleet on 11 minutes as Barrett’s header was held by Marriott under his bar, though the header lacked pace.

The opening 20 minutes saw Ebbsfleet parking the bus with a bank of four in midfield just in front of the back four, giving the Stags no space at all.

On 20 minutes, Green was through from a lovely Murray ball and his cross-come-shot was saved, thus eluding Dyer who was well-placed on his left. On 24 minutes, a deft cross from Briscoe from the right was headed against the left post by Riley.

On 35 minutes, Geohaghon’s long throw from the right was headed on by Dyer, to Smith who was positioned wide of the left post, and Smith surprisingly chested the ball past the post, when he needed to hook a boot on it to pull it back to the right.

On 40 minutes, the Stags should have had a penalty when Geohaghon was clearly fouled in the box by Paul Lorraine as he went for a Luke O’Neill corner. A great ball from Roberts on 45+1 minutes to find O’Neill, but O’Neill’s cross was blocked.

Half time 0-0

On 49 minutes, O’Neill’s corner from the right was headed past the right post by Sutton from a difficult angle.

Paul Cox made a change on 54 bringing on Danny Andrew for Sutton at left back. Since Sutton had not defended poorly, this was presumably to improve the set piece and attacking options.

A good tackle by Riley on 56 minutes as Pinney would have been through on goal. Then from the resulting corner from the left, the Stags had to clear off the line twice and had an incredible escape. It was a combination of Marriott and the defence that cleared from Ebbsfleet captain Paul Lorraine who headed goalwards twice.

Rhead replaced Smith on 59 minutes, and Meikle replaced Briscoe on 64, as Dyer moved to the right wing.

Mansfield had shouts for a penalty when Rhead claimed his shirt had been tugged in the box by Lorraine, but the referee waved play on.

On 66 minutes, a free kick from Danny Andrew was headed into the side netting by Dyer. Then on 68, a Geohaghon long throw resulted in pinball and the ball ended up going wide for a corner.

Frustration was mounting, while Ebbsfleet seemed to be sensing that they might have a chance to sneak a win themselves.

The crucial goal came on 82 minutes. Adam Murray superbly won the ball 40 yards from goal, found Matt Green just outside the box, and Green was able to make a yard of space for himself and place a low shot just inside the left post. It was a similar chance to one he had just had a few seconds earlier, when the Ebbsfleet defence blocked him off, as they did most of the afternoon. It was Green’s 27th goal of a fantastic season. He is just 3 goals away from the 30 goal mark that hasn’t been reached since Ray Clarke in 1974-75.

The Stags wound the clock down well with Rhead and O’Neill holding the ball well by the corner flag as we entered the last couple of minutes. Two minutes into stoppage time, Green got down the left, and squared the ball just in front of Meikle. Then a minute later, O’Neill played a good one-two with Rhead, but shot wildly wide. The final whistle went a few seconds early to the relief of Mansfield players and fans alike.

Man of the match: Adam Murray

Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

Line Up:
Marriott 6 Quiet afternoon. One bizarre moment when he picked up a clear backpass, and the referee waved play on.
O'Neill 5.5 Set pieces, and crosses from open play, were mostly poor. Defended ok.
Riley 7 Good game, and several times dealt very well with Ebbsfleet breaks that could have been dangerous. Unlucky to hit the Ebbsfleet post.
Geohaghon 7 Defended well, mopping up really well.
Sutton 6 Defended ok.
Briscoe 6 Closed down by the defence. One fine cross for Riley.
Murray 7 Kicked all over the park, but battled on, and won the ball superbly before finding Green for the winning goal.
Roberts 6 Put in one or two trademark fantastic passes, but didn’t have his usual influence on the game.
Smith 5 Wasn’t at the races. Kept getting blocked off whenever he ran at the defence.
Dyer 6 Did ok, but didn’t win most of his headers unusually for him. Said after the game he was surprised to get the (sponsors’) man of the match award.
Green 7 Clinical finish to win us the game.
Sub Line Up:
Andrew (for Sutton, 54) 7 Looked good, defended well. Probably worth a starting position now.
Rhead (for Smith, 59) 7 Put himself about and won all his headers.
Meikle (for Briscoe, 64) - Never got into the game.
Subs Not Used: Redmond, Howell.
Opposition Line Up:
Cronin, Stone, Smith, Lorraine, Howe, West, Marwa (Willock 85), Barrett, Shakes, Enver-Marum (Ugwu 80), Pinney (Bellamy 57). Subs not used: McNeil, Phipp.
Tony Harrington (Hartlepool) 5 Made some terrible decisions, including missing a blatant penalty, and with his assistants made a string of incorrect decisions for throw-ins

Season 11/12 Reports