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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Pre-Season Friendly
Chester FC  
0 - 1
 Mansfield Town
 Arnold 75
Attendance: 802 (approx 20 from Mansfield)
Date: 16 July 2013


Martin Shaw at the Deva Stadium (now known as Exacta Stadium)

Mansfield Town put in a dominant performance at Conference new boys Chester FC tonight to come away with a 1-0 win and it would have been more clearcut if Mansfield had put away their chances. The Stags were well on top throughout the game, with several encouraging performances, including from trialists Nathan Arnold and Amari Morgan-Smith, going forward, plus forgotten man George Pilkington at the back. Keiran Murtagh was my man of the match in the centre of the park, alongside Chris Clements. Chester barely had a look-in all game. The only goal of the game came when Murtagh made an excellent surging run down the right to the byline and pulled the ball back for Nathan Arnold who fired into the bottom left corner of the net from 18 yards, for a fine goal. Sadly the game was not filmed, so we won’t be able to bring you footage of the goal on StagsPlayer.

The Stags were managed to Richard Cooper and Adam Murray, as Paul Cox did not travel to the game (best wishes to Paul and Natasha as they await the birth of their child). The team bus was held up by an accident near Derby and the kick off was put back from 7.30 to 7.45 as a result. In addition, Ryan Tafazolli, who was due to play, felt ill, possibly from the result of the coach journey, and hence didn’t play.

There were two new trialists on show who had not played at Worksop last week: Amari Morgan-Smith and Julian Kelly. Morgan-Smith we know all about having seen him in action over the last couple of years for Macclesfield and Luton. Kelly was an unknown to me, especially when Adam Murray had told MTFC secretary Keith Burnand that it was Gary Kelly as a joke, and the joke had pervaded through to the official team sheet! Gary Kelly, the former Leeds full back, it surely was not! I went down to collar Muzza before the game, and he borrowed my pen to cross out Gary and replace it with Julian on my teamsheet! Julian Kelly is a former Notts County right back, who played 54 times over the past two seasons before being released a few weeks ago.

Both teams were in their away kit, Chester in yellow, and the Stags in the blue kit with amber trimmings, which I think looks very nice.

The Stags were out of the traps quickly, and Nathan Arnold was into the box inside the first minute, sending a left shot just over the bar. On 9 minutes, Arnold got a shot on target from the left, but it was straight at the keeper. A scare for Mansfield at the other end on 13 minutes as keeper Ian Deakin was out of his goal, clattering into Titchiner. A foul said the ref but no yellow card, which their surely would have been in a league game.

The Stags deserved to be in front, dominating the game, and nearly were on 28 minutes. A great cross from Meikle on the right, and Morgan-Smith volleyed crisply towards goal, it took a deflection and went just over. Kelly nearly put the Stags in trouble as he tried to dribble past two Chester players when there was only one Stags player behind him. He lost the ball and breathed a sigh of relief as he got a fortunate free kick.

On 32 minutes, Morgan-Smith played in Arnold on the left, Arnold just got to the ball before the keeper, took it past the keeper and to the byline, cut back inside and fired goalwards but the keeper had got back into position and blocked the shot. A minute later, Sutton headed a Clements corner well wide. On 36 minutes, Meikle sent a looping header straight at the keeper from a Paul Black cross.

Chester had their first, and only, chance of the half on 42 minutes as a cross from the right skimmed off the top of the head of Linwood and nearly hit the corner flag.

Half time 0-0

All the Stags were missing was a goal.

On 54 minutes, a good run from Murtagh, who then turned onto his left foot, and his shot was palmed away. Then Morgan-Smith had a shot deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner, taken by Clements, Murtagh headed wide. Then Meikle crossed from the right and it sat up beautifully for Black who blazed a shot over the bar. Four chances in two minutes for the Stags. The Stags were all over Chester.

On 57 minutes, George Horan crossed from the right and sub Ben Mills rose without challenge from trialist Kelly but headed wide.

Hutchinson replaced the anonymous trialist Robertson on the hour. On 63 minutes, Clements drove a shot wide from the edge of the box.

The only goal of the game came on 76 minutes when Murtagh made an excellent surging run down the right, to the byline and pulled the ball back for Nathan Arnold who fired into the bottom left corner of the net from 18 yards, for a fine goal. Sadly the game was not filmed, so we won’t be able to bring you footage of the goal on StagsPlayer.

Young full back Liam Marsden replaced Kelly on 81 minutes.

On 86 minutes, Brees headed well over the bar. Young Jack Thomas, who impressed in training in Malta, replaced Morgan-Smith on 87 minutes.

Cooper, Murray, and the watching Stags scout Paul Ogden, had to be happy with most of what they had seen. However the lack of a goalscorer is still painfully obvious.

Chester were playing their first proper friendly of pre-season, so I was told by the local media. This possibly explains their low key performance.

Man of the match: Keiran Murtagh

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Deva Stadium (now known as Exacta Stadium)

Line Up:
Deakin 6 Very quiet night. Handling was decent. Lucky to get away without a yellow card after he clattered a forward outside his penalty area.
Julian Kelly (trialist) 4 Terrible, no other way to describe his performance. Beaten to headers, poor defensively, and once gave the ball away trying to beat two men with only one teammate behind him (albeit he was awarded a generous free kick). I wouldn’t expect him to get another game on trial. Having said that, 54 games for Notts County over the past two seasons gives him reasonable pedigree.
Sutton 7 Captain for the night. Good game.
Pilkington 7.5 Didn’t put a foot wrong. A late replacement for the unwell Tafazolli, he looked calm and assured.
Black 6.5 Decent game. Missed one good chance.
Meikle 7 Some good wing play including a couple of fine crosses.
Clements 7.5 Very fine first half, getting stuck in and really committed. A little quieter in the second half.
Murtagh 8 Very impressive. Great run and cross for the goal. Unlucky himself not to score with a fine run and shot earlier in the second half.
Nathan Arnold (trialist) 7.5 Excellent first half, including several attempts on goal, and some good runs. A little quieter in the second half but deserved his goal.
Amari Morgan-Smith (trialist) 7.5 Powerful and quick. Unlucky with one volley deflected over the bar. Probably worth another look in another friendly.
Jordan Robertson (trialist) 5 Anonymous. I wouldn’t expect him to get another game on trial.
Sub Line Up:
Hutchinson (for Robertson, 60) -
Liam Marsden (for Kelly, 81) -
Jack Thomas (for Morgan-Smith, 87) -
Subs not used: Poku, Chris Spencer, Jason Gregory, Tafazolli (unwell).
Opposition Line Up:
Danby (Fearon 80), Kay, Horan, Linwood (Spittle 71), McIntyre, Harrison (Heath 71), Jarrett (A Williams 63), Mahon (Brees 59), M Williams, Titchiner (Lindfield 59), Seddon (Mills 24).
Rob Jones (The Wirrall) 6 Appeared to have left his yellow card at home. Several challenges clearly warranted yellow cards.

Season 13/14 Reports