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Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Kettering Town  
0 - 3
 Mansfield Town
 Meikle 14, Green 63, Rhead 85
Attendance: 1818 (877 from Mansfield)
Date: 7 April 2012


Martin Shaw at Nene Park

Mansfield Town were comfortable 3-0 winners in a very one-sided encounter at Nene Park against Kettering Town this afternoon. Mansfield should have had the game sewn up by half time, but only had Lindon Meikle’s header from close range from Gary Roberts’ magnificent cross to show for it. After Green hit the post early in the second half, finally the Stags opened up a crucial two-goal cushion when Green scored with a superb clinical finish on 63 minutes. After that, it was just a question of how many, and more chances went begging until sub Matt Rhead headed home from 12 yards from an O’Neill corner. Kettering caretaker player-manager Ashley Westwood was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow. It would have been 4-0 in the final minute of stoppage time, if the referee hadn’t blown the final whistle seconds before sub Ben Hutchinson fired into the net. The Stags day couldn’t have gone any better, with York, Southport and Luton all losing. Following the Christmas holiday games, the Stags have now won 12, drawn 2 and lost 2. An incredible run. If the Stags can keep this going then anything is possible. Kettering, with the exception of former Stag loanee Marcus Kelly, were frankly hopeless and their relegation was confirmed by this result and Stockport winning.

It is actually possible for Mansfield to confirm their place in the play-offs on Monday with a win over Stockport, together with defeats for Kidderminster, Southport and Gateshead.

Miscellaneous fact: in the 1991/92 promotion season, the Stags played 42 games and picked up 77 points. The Stags equalled that record today.

Mansfield were roared on by a terrific following of 877, in a crowd of 1818; very nearly half the crowd. In terms of atmosphere created, the noisy Stags following created 99% of that, and many were involved in a conga towards the end of the game. Light rain for an hour or two before the game made the surface greasy and with it being bobbly too, it made it difficult to play football on the deck.

Paul Cox made two changes to the side that beat Ebbsfleet. Adam Murray, just one game away from a suspension, was rested with the manager explaining that yellow cards are wiped after tomorrow so he will no longer be in danger of suspension. Adam Smith was dropped and in came Anthony Howell and Lindon Meikle. Kettering included Marcus Kelly who was on loan at Field Mill earlier in the season but only made one substitute appearance and was probably keen to prove a point to Paul Cox. But Aman Verma, who was also on loan and who made much more of an impression at Field Mill, including a terrific goal in the draw at York, missed out through injury. Kettering who already had a threadbare squad were also missing several other players through injury.

Mansfield were kicking away from their huge following in the first half. The first chance fell to Gary Roberts on 6 minutes who shanked a shot miles over the bar and indeed over the stand from 19 yards. A great ball forward from Briscoe on 12 minutes put Green through on the right and Green should have scored but his shot was pushed wide by keeper Jack.

The Stags were ahead on 14 minutes. Gary Roberts did incredibly well to get a cross in from near the corner flag on the right hand side. His cross floated over the keeper and Lindon Meikle was able to head in from one yard at the far post. If there has been a better cross this season, I can’t remember it.

Green headed wide from O’Neill’s cross on 16 minutes, and on 18 minutes, Green would have been through on goal but for an offside flag. After the game, Green told us he was sure he was onside and Stags director Darren Shaw who was more in line with the incident than I was, also confirmed he thought Green was onside.

The first half-chance for Kettering came on 19 minutes when O’Neill had to be alert to head a cross past his own post.

On 20 minutes, a fine ball from Briscoe put Dyer through on goal on the left hand side but Dyer fired into the side netting from a great position. Kettering’s back line was affording Mansfield a lot of space at the back.

On 25 minutes, a Geohaghon long throw was headed back backwards by Kettering player-manager Westwood and was clawed away by keeper Jack. On 28 minutes, a fine ball forward from Roberts was chested down by Geohaghon into the path of Green and Green thumped a shot against the crossbar but again the linesman’s flag was up for offside. On 32 minutes, Meikle set up Briscoe and Briscoe’s shot was deflected wide for a corner. The Stags missed a sitter on 36 minutes when Meikle cut inside and his shot was blocked as far as Dyer who looked as though he couldn’t miss from six yards but his shot was deflected off the keeper and over the bar.

A warning from Kettering on 40 minutes as Joyce fired into the side netting and then on 45 minutes, Marcus Kelly broke through on goal but O’Neill put in a terrific tackle just as he was about to shoot. Outstanding from O’Neill. Kelly appealed for a penalty and continued arguing with the referee at half time but it was clearly a perfect tackle. In stoppage time, half chances for Mansfield as the ball bobbled around in the box and then a minute later, Briscoe had a shot straight at the keeper.

The Stags should have won the game by half time and were clearly a class above Kettering but a succession of missed chances meant that the one goal lead was a slender one.

Half time 0-1

On 48 minutes, a long throw from Geohaghon was flicked on by Dyer and keeper Jack made a good save low down. Then on 51 minutes Green did well to get into a shooting position after good play by Meikle, and Green fired against the post. The ball rebounded to Briscoe whose shot was tipped over though it may have been going over anyway. A long range cross-come-shot from Geohaghon on 54 minutes ended up going just wide, and on 59 minutes, Meikle shot straight at the keeper.

Matt Rhead replaced Briscoe on 60 minutes.

Finally on 63 minutes, the Stags made the game safe. Green outpaced the defence, skipped inside a defender and fired home from inside the box. A typical terrific finish from Green and his 28th of the season. After the game, I gave him a DVD with all his goals on it and asked him if he was aware that no Mansfield player had scored 30 since the mid 1970s and he said he was.

Kettering’s first chance of the second half came on 65 minutes when Marcus Kelly’s free kick was tipped over by Marriott. A fine run by Meikle on 69 minutes and he played the ball inside for Roberts who cut inside and fired wide. A free kick from O’Neill on 72 minutes was superbly headed down by Dyer into the path of Rhead whose shot was blocked. Good play by Green on 74 minutes to set up Dyer for a shooting chance but he fired wide.

Green and Roberts were then replaced by Hutchinson and Worthington to save their legs for Monday. A superb mazy run by Meikle on 78 minutes as he got to the byeline but it was put behind for a corner. Meikle found Rhead with a good ball on 83 minutes but Rhead’s cross was behind for a corner. Then O’Neill’s half volley was deflected wide from 25 yards.

From the resulting corner on 85 minutes, taken by O’Neill from the right, Rhead rose to head superbly into the bottom left hand corner from 12 yards, to make it 3-0.

Home caretaker player-manager Westwood was sent off on 90 minutes for a second yellow as he fouled Hutchinson. A minute into stoppage time, Rhead headed down a free kick in the box and Geohaghon couldn’t quite get a shot away.

In the final minute of stoppage time, it should’ve been 4-0. Rhead headed on to Hutchison who was through on goal but the referee blew for full time seconds before Hutchison put the ball in the net.

Another terrific result for Mansfield, though Stockport who have put together some good results recently will provide a much sterner test on Easter Monday.

Man of the match: Lindon Meikle (tight call, ahead of Riley, O’Neill and Roberts)

Report by: Martin Shaw at Nene Park

Line Up:
Marriott 6 Had absolutely nothing to do until he tipped a Marcus Kelly free kick over the bar midway through the second half.
O'Neill 8 Defended well, including one of the tackles of the season to deny Marcus Kelly as he was through on goal; also got forward very well.
Riley 8 Very good game, dominant and missed nothing.
Geohaghon 7.5 Very solid and created much danger in the Kettering penalty box.
Sutton 6.5 Quiet afternoon, but played capably. Showed he can’t cross with his left foot when he got forward on one occasion in the first half
Briscoe 6.5 Didn’t see too much of the ball. Had an effort tipped over in the second half.
Howell 6.5 Did ok though lack of pace caught him out in a first half break.
Roberts 8 Some great tackling and even better passing. His cross for Meikle’s goal was probably the cross of the season.
Meikle 8 Mesmerised the hapless Poppies defence.
Dyer 7 Played well. Missed three glorious chances.
Green 7.5 Led the line well. His goal was crucial in giving us a two goal cushion.
Sub Line Up:
Rhead (for Briscoe, 61) 8 Won every header, including a peach for his goal.
Hutchinson (for Green, 75) 7 Looked sharp. Would have notched his first goal from open play if the ref hadn’t blown for full time.
Worthington (for Roberts, 78) -
Opposition Line Up:
Jack; York, Westwood, Bridges, Ralph; Sangare, (sub Gray, 46), Kelly, Noubissie; Joyce, Wyke (sub van Engel, 77 mins), Mills. Subs not used: Ford, Petranuyk.
John Hopkins (Essex) 6.5 One or two eccentric decisions and his linesmen may have got several offside decisions wrong, but otherwise handled the game well

Season 11/12 Reports