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Season 12/13 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Nuneaton Town
Briscoe 67.
Attendance: 2384 (82 from Nuneaton)
Date: 26 March 2013


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium

And so, despite an enforced 11 day break just when we didn’t need it, Mansfield Town continued the incredible run of victories: it’s now an ten wins on the trot (extending the club record of victories since joining the football league in 1931), and it’s fourteen wins from the last fifteen games. It had looked like it was going to be “one of those nights”. The Stags hit the woodwork twice, Matt Green had two one-on-ones that you’d put your house on him to score but he didn’t, Stevenson had two headers just off target, and all this in the first half. Then in the second half, the Nuneaton keeper fluffed a clearance from a backpass and the ball just rolled past his own post; and then Matt Green had a penalty saved. It had all the hallmarks of a frustrating evening. But then a stroke of luck, as Louis Briscoe’s free kick, which was heading straight towards the keeper, took a slight deflection off the wall and into the net. It was undoubtedly a stroke of luck, but richly deserved. After that, the Stags held on for victory, and the news got even better as Kidderminster were held at home by mid-table Woking. It wasn’t a vintage performance from Mansfield by any means. The Stags were strong defensively, with Dempster and Jones impressive. Murray was captain fantastic again, leading the team superbly even when things weren’t going well. Up front, it just wasn’t Matt Green’s night but he kept going, never gave up and constantly kept three defenders busy. His selection as man of the match by the sponsors though was puzzling. Nuneaton had rested five players ahead of their winnable games against Woking on Thursday, and Telford on Saturday. This probably helped Mansfield, but Nuneaton kept going throughout and could have nicked a point.

Make no mistake, this was a huge win in terms of importance for the Stags. The Stags move on to Tamworth on Saturday followed by games on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and the roller-coaster in to the end of the season will move fast now. The Stags will need to hold their nerve. Come on Mansfield!

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that had beaten Forest Green 11 days earlier, as captain Adam Murray came through a late fitness test. Nuneaton on the other hand rested no fewer than 5 players, prioritising fixtures against Woking and Telford in the next 4 days as more likely games to pick up points in. Former Stags youngster Danny Sleath was in the centre of midfield. While the strike force was Louis Moult who was on loan at Mansfield two years ago and had his finest hour scoring two and winning a penalty as the Stags drew 3-3 with Newport in a televised game. Alongside Moult was James Dance, a former Stags target when he was at Kettering. The match had survived two pitch inspections earlier in the day after groundsman Mez, his groundstaff, and volunteers, had cleared 5 inches of snow off the pitch over the previous two days. Great credit to Mez - the pitch was in reasonable condition. It was a windy night at Field Mill but the wind was swirling rather than in one direction and didn’t seem to have much effect on the game.

Mansfield were quick out of the traps and had rattled the woodwork in less than 120 seconds. From a Jennings corner from the right, Jones rose highest and smacked a header against the crossbar. On 6 minutes, another free header for Mansfield as Stevenson headed over from a Chapman long throw. The pattern continued as, on 10 minutes, Daniel sent a free header well wide of the right post after a great run down the right by Green and he had got to the byeline and put a superb cross on a plate for Daniel.

Nuneaton’s first sniff came on 16 minutes when Louis Moult sent a free kick a yard over the bar from 28 yards. On 21 minutes, Cartwright beat 3 Stags defenders but his low shot was comfortably saved by Marriott.

Daniel headed wide again on 25 minutes. The ball didn’t go out of play, Meikle did well to circulate it back into the middle and Daniel had another header that again was going wide before it was blocked.

Mansfield were desperately close to going ahead on 26 minutes. From a Jennings corner, Jones headed the ball forward and despite a couple of stabs from Green, one of which hit the post, and the other which went wide, both from a yard, somehow the ball stayed out. Chapman played a great cross field ball on 31 minutes into the path of Meikle who got there just before the keeper but Meikle’s shot was blocked by the keeper. On 33 minutes, a great cross from Beevers from the right and Stevenson sent glancing header just wide.

On 36 minutes, Green made a great run down the left and in a one on one situation with the keeper, his low shot hit the keeper and looped agonisingly on to the roof of the net. On 41 minutes, another Green one on one against the keeper but Green dallied too long this time and he was tackled from behind. Video evidence showed that it was a perfect tackle, not a foul. The ball stayed in play and Meikle’s cross-come-shot just evaded Green and trickled wide of the left post. On 45 minutes, a defensive error let Green in again but he was chopped down outside the area. He was running slightly away from goal which probably saved the defender from a red card. Chapman curled the resulting free kick over the bar from 23 yards.

Half time 0-0

The second half got off to a scrappy start. On 49 minutes, Marriott made a comfortable save, and on 54 minutes, a shot from Cartwright was deflected over the bar. On 56 minutes, following a Nuneaton corner, the ball bounced up and hit Jennings on the arm. Astonishingly, there were no appeals for a penalty but, as Jennings came away with the ball, he went down having sustained a hamstring injury which it was subsequently discovered will put him out for the rest of the season.

Sutton was brought on to replace Jennings at right back with Beevers shifting to left back. On 62 minutes, Jones headed wide from a Chapman long throw. Moments later, a double substitution for the Stags as Briscoe replaced Daniel, and Rhead replaced Stevenson.

The game hotted up on 64 minutes. A Nuneaton back pass took a wicked bobble and keeper Burge was lucky that his airshot saw the ball miss the post by a yard. From the resulting corner, Rhead was blatantly pushed in the back and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Green took the kick and sent it to the keeper’s right but it was at a decent height for a keeper who duly saved it. Green put his head in his hands.

However, the Stags were ahead within 2 minutes. Green was brought down outside the area. Briscoe’s low, hard free kick was heading straight towards the keeper but took a slight deflection off the wall to send it into the net.

On 69 minutes, a rare chance for Nuneaton with a shot straight at Marriott following a long throw. A minute later Green had a shot blocked at the other end. Green found Rhead in the area on 82 minutes and Rhead stabbed wide of the right post. Then a brilliant ball forward from Murray on 83 minutes and Rhead sent a flying header goalwards which was saved but he’d already been flagged offside.

The Stags had the ball in the net on 85 minutes as Chapman’s long throw was headed on by Rhead, and Green flicked a header into the net. But video replays confirmed that Green was a yard offside.

It was a tense final few minutes as the Stags held on, but hold on they did, comfortably, for a hugely important victory.

Man of the match: Adam Murray

Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium

Line Up:
Marriott 7 Very quiet game. No mistakes.
Beevers 7 Very solid at right back, then switching to left back after the injury to Jennings.
Dempster 8 Very good. Solid as a rock.
Jones 8 Very good, alongside Dempster. Unlucky with header against the bar early on.
Jennings 7 Good game, with some good corners. Went off with a hamstring injury and we will miss him in the next few games.
Meikle 6.5 Too quite generally but had a good spell in the second half of the first half.
Murray 8 Captain fantastic showed his importance to the team. Very good game.
Chapman 5 Disappointing, though did play a couple of decent balls.
Daniel 5 Poor, for the fourth game on the trot. Had three chances with headers in the first half, and got progressively further away from the goal. I would start with Briscoe and Meikle at Tamworth.
Stevenson 6 Unlucky with one super glancing header in the first half. Would have liked to see him closer to Green to give him more support.
Green 6 Worked hard and constantly had the attention of three, or even four, defenders. Finishing unusually deserted him tonight, and was hesitant especially in a one-on-one in the first half. I’d still back him to score on Saturday though.
Sub Line Up:
Sutton (for Jennings, 58) 7 Slotted in well at right back.
Briscoe (for Daniel, 62) 7 The man for an important goal did it again. A bit of luck, but if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the lottery.
Rhead (for Stevenson, 62) 8 Won a penalty within two minutes of coming on. A good substitution by manager Cox, who gave Green more support and held the ball up well.
Subs not used: Howell, Wright.
Opposition Line Up:
Burge; McNamee, Cowan, Gordon, O’Halloran; Cartwright, Sleath, Adams (York 85), Walker; Moult (Brown 85), Dance. Substitutes not used: Phillips, Dean, Armson
Michael Bull (Essex) 8 Fine game. Correctly awarded a penalty for a push on Rhead, and correctly decided that the tackle on Green in the box was fair.

Season 12/13 Reports