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Season 12/13 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 2
 Alfreton Town
Dempster 36.
 Clayton 37, Tomlinson 56.
Attendance: 4186 (350 from Alfreton)
Date: 26 December 2012


Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium

Mansfield Town slumped to a dreadful Boxing Day defeat to near neighbours Alfreton Town, in front of easily the biggest league gate of the season at the One Call Stadium. The Stags were the better side in the opening half an hour and deservedly took the lead on 36 minutes when Dempster poked home from close range after good work from Hutchinson and Beevers. But a minute later, the Stags were caught by a sucker punch as Clayton outjumped Beevers to head home from close range from a free kick. It was a terrific header from the Alfreton striker, who would be a good acquisition in the transfer window if Paul Cox was looking for another front man. Alfreton then took the lead on 56 minutes when Geohaghon was bundled over by Tomlinson who moved forward and fired past Marriott. It looked a clear foul from my position in the press box, but from the match DVD footage taken from the Bishop Street stand gantry it looked like a 50:50 challenge and a fair shoulder barge. Mansfield were dreadful in the second half and didn’t trouble Alfreton keeper Barnes until three minutes from time when sub Speight fired in a powerful shot from an acute angle which the keeper saved well. Green had two chances in stoppage time acrobatically firing over and then clipping another shot over. But Alfreton held on for their victory, celebrated wildly by their small but vocal band of fans. The Stags were poor, albeit in difficult conditions as the pitch cut up in driving rain, but you couldn’t help feeling that some of the players’ minds were not completely focussed on the game at hand, and were thinking ahead to the Liverpool game; a feeling also referred to by Paul Cox in his post-match interview. With heavy rain forecast for the next 48 hours, the chances of the Grimsby game being postponed seem quite high at the moment, and that may not be such a bad thing.

The weather forecast predicting heavy rain from 3pm was spot on, as it started raining at 2.50 and didn’t stop. The pitch was in good condition at the start, a credit to groundsman Mez and his team, but started to cut up as the game wore on and was in a poor condition by the end.

Boss Paul Cox played the expected eleven, the same side that started the second half against Lincoln. Alfreton included former Stag Nathan Arnold. The crowd was boosted by fans who had purchased tickets to give them a priority for tickets for the Liverpool game.

Early pressure from Mansfield, with a succession of long throws (in fact, ten in the first 20 minutes). Howell headed wide from one of the throws taken by Geohaghon on 6 minutes.

A rare break from Alfreton on 17 minutes as Arnold broke down the left and tried to find Clayton with a crossfield ball which was vitally intercepted by Meikle, who had done well to get back.

On 20 minutes, Hutchinson showed good vision to try to find Green, but the ball was just out of Green’s reach. A great effort by Clements a minute later as his shot from 22 yards was tipped around the post by keeper Barnes. Then Green was through on 25 minutes on the left, but he didn’t pull the trigger early enough, tried to turn inside his defender and slipped over - the chance was gone

The Stags were nearly in front on 27 minutes as the ball was nearly scrambled over the line in a goalmouth melee from a corner. Straight to the other end and a great tackle by Beevers as Bradley broke forward. Nathan Arnold had a shot deflected over on 33 minutes and moments later an Alfreton corner hit Beevers on the line and was cleared away.

Mansfield were in front on 36 minutes. Good play by Hutchinson on the left touchline, and Beevers crossed into the middle. Howell challenged for the ball doing enough to keep the ball alive and it dropped for Dempster who poked the ball in from close range.

But Alfreton were level straight away. Josh Law floated a free kick into the box from the right, and Clayton rose above Beevers to thump a terrific header into the top corner giving Marriott no chance.

On 39 minutes Green broke down the right but smashed a shot wide of the right post.

Half time 1-1

A minute into the second half, Hutchinson had a shot deflected wide.

Rhead was introduced as early as the 54th minute, in place of Hutchinson.

Alfreton then took the lead on 56 minutes when Geohaghon was bundled over by Tomlinson who moved forward and fired past Marriott. It looked a clear foul from my position in the press box, but from the match DVD footage taken from the Bishop Street stand gantry it looked like a 50:50 challenge and a fair shoulder barge.

The Stags failed to create anything as the game wore on. Green was hacked down twice in succession on 72 minutes, and reacted badly earning himself the same punishment as the player who fouled him, Franks. Green shot wide on 73 minutes, though the flag was already up for offside. Three minutes later Green shot wide again having cut inside from the left. The home crowd’s frustration was matched only by the players’ desperation.

Speight replaced Briscoe and Stevenson replaced Clements. The Stags were lacking a real leader, someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, like a Liam Lawrence or an Adam Murray in his pomp.

On 87 minutes, Speight brought a fine save from keeper Barnes with a powerful shot. From the resulting corner taken by Stevenson, a header was cleared away. Then dreadful play from Meikle as his pass got stuck in the mud, gifting the ball to Tomlinson who was through on goal but missed the target. Then Clayton was wide from a tight angle with another good chance as the Stags left big gaps at the back.

Six minutes of stoppage time was added, though it wasn’t all played even though Alfreton wasted some time within stoppage time. After two of those minutes, an Alfreton cross was deflected away.

The Stags had claims for a handball in the penalty area waved away on 90+4 . A minute later Green acrobatically fired over from a good head down by Geohaghon, and then in the final minute of stoppage time, Green clipped another shot over the bar to cap a frustrating afternoon.

The Stags players left the field to a chorus of boos and some particularly abusive language aimed at Lindon Meikle from the West Stand.

Man of the match: John Dempster/Lee Beevers

Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium

Line Up:
Marriott 6 No chance with the goals and had little else to do.
Sutton 6 Defended ok. Poor distribution.
Dempster 6 Took his goal well.
Geohaghon 5 Poor game after being so good against Lincoln. Throw-ins were poor as he couldn’t grip the ball in the wet.
Beevers 6 Easily outjumped by Clayton for Alfreton’s first goal. Otherwise defended quite well.
Briscoe 5 Huffed and puffed by created very little.
Howell 5 Poor.
Clements 5 One good shot midway through the first half, but looked out of sorts in the heavy conditions in his worst game since he broke into the team.
Meikle 5 Never in the game. Looked like a boy against men today. Spatial awareness was awful. A shadow of the player that broke into the England C side. Surprisingly not substituted.
Hutchinson 6 One or two decent pieces of play.
Green 5.5 Not his day but he kept going and had two efforts in stoppage time. Frustrated, and reacted badly to a poor challenge that saw him booked. Needs to be careful not to react in these situations, including in the game on New Years Day when he will probably be targeted.
Sub Line Up:
Rhead (for Hutchinson, 54) 5 Brought on a little early perhaps.
Speight (for Briscoe, 76) - Looked sharp and went close with a powerful shot.
Stevenson (for Clements, 80) -
Subs not used: Thompson, Murray.
Opposition Line Up:
Barnes, Law, Quinn, Brown, Killock, Bradley, Franks, Russell, Arnold (Wilson 90+5), Tomlinson (Emerton 90), Clayton. Subs not used: Taylor, Meadows, Harriott.
Seb Stocksbridge (County Durham) 5 Awful game.

Season 12/13 Reports