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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
2 - 2
Hutchinson 33, Meikle 72.
 Barcham 39, Connolly 43.
Attendance: 4577 (1005 from Portsmouth)
Date: 24 August 2013


Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

In a pulsating game at the One Call Stadium, Mansfield Town came from behind to earn a thoroughly deserved point against a classy looking Portsmouth side. Portsmouth were the better side early on, but it Mansfield who took the lead with a wonder-strike by Ben Hutchinson from 25 yards on 33 minutes. Portsmouth scored twice in the last six minutes of the half with fine goals, albeit with not the best defending from the Stags, to take just about a deserved lead at the break. Mansfield dominated the second half and deservedly drew level on 72 minutes when Lindon Meikle fired home from close range after a defensive mix-up. The Stags were overwhelmingly the better side in the second half but couldn’t force a winner as Portsmouth ran the clock down. It was great to have a fantastic atmosphere at the ground, with both sets of supporters creating a real din. Only 3500 Stags fans turned up for one of the most glamorous league games for many years, and this was a disappointment, and appears to reflect some dissatisfaction around the town with this season’s ticketing policy. Overall a good performance and a decent result against a side that are likely to be in the top 5 at the end of the season.

Listen to StagsPlayer audio commentary of Ben Hutchinson goal here and Lindon Meikle goal here.

Stags manager Paul Cox named an unchanged starting XI from the side against Wycombe last week, the only change was on the bench with Murray in for the injured Howell. Portsmouth included star strikers David Connolly and Patrick Agyemang, neither of whom should be playing at this level.

Portsmouth created the first chance when, following a corner, Wallace’s shot was deflected a yard wide of the right post. On 5 minutes, Barcham was nearly through into a 1-on-1 with Marriott but Riley did well to tackle him. A superb ball from Hutchinson moments later came to nothing.

Mansfield’s first chance was on 7 minutes. Good play from Hutchinson as he found Andrew on the edge of the area on the right, and Andrew got the ball onto his left foot, and his shot was deflected just over the bar.

On 18 minutes, calls for a penalty for the Stags for a possible handball, were waved away; the ball fell to Jennings who got no power on his shot, and it was straight through to the keeper. On 21 minutes, a half chance for Clucas, but his shot was blocked. At the other end, Connolly’s shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly blocked by Sutton, and moments later, Connolly somehow got in a shot from a tight angle which smashed off the post. Pompey were the better wide.

But the Stags took the lead on 33 minutes. McGuire’s ball forward was cleared by a defender, as far as Hutchinson, 25 yards out, who chested the ball down, and fired a fabulous volley which dipped over the keeper into the net.

The Stags then had a good spell without creating a chance, but were rocked back on 39 minutes as Portsmouth equalised. Agyemang played a neat ball forward down the right to Wallace, who crossed into the middle and Barcham fired a first time shot past Marriott into the roof of the net from 12 yards. A good goal. Not great defending.

Four minutes later, Portsmouth were in front. Barcham got past Beevers on the halfway line and broke into the Stags box on the left. His cross was saved by Marriott’s legs, but only came out to Connolly who swept the ball left-footed into the net from 8 yards. Poor defending again from the Stags, though a good break from Portsmouth.

On the stroke of half, Jennings’ shot from the edge of the area was deflected just wide.

Half time 1-2

On 47 minutes, Jennings headed the ball forward, and Hutchinson flicked the ball over the bar, before being clattered by the keeper. The referee waved away appeals for a penalty. It should have been a penalty in our opinion.

On 50 minutes, the superb Connolly blotted his copybook by sending a free kick from the edge of the D well over the bar.

Palmer replaced Clucas on 52 minutes.

On 55 minutes the Stags were nearly level. A free kick from Jennings was cleared to McGuire, whose powerful volley from the edge of the box with outside of his right boot was straight into the keeper’s midriff. A yard either side and would have been in.

On 60 minutes, Andrew claimed a penalty but it didn’t look like a foul to us. Andrew was replaced by Rhead on 63 minutes. Shortly afterwards, Beevers went in for a crunching tackle on the halfway line right in front of the West Stand and was hurt. It turned out he had put his shoulder out again. Sutton moved to right back, Jennings to left back in a flat back four, and a minute later Meikle came on as sub, on the left side of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation.

On 72 minutes, Meikle made an immediate impression with the equaliser. Palmer did well to keep the ball in play with an overhead kick on the byeline from the right as the Portsmouth defenders stopped, thinking it was going out of play. As the ball floated back into the middle, the keeper, surrounded by two of his own defenders, made a mess of it, dropping it. Meikle got a touch onto it, finding Rhead to his left, Rhead swept the ball back in, and Meikle applied the finishing touch from 3 yards. Field Mill erupted. This was two weeks in a row that one of Cox’s substitutes had scored.

A minute leader, Rhead played the ball forward for Palmer, who got into the area on the right and shot well wide of the left post.

The atmosphere was like an old-fashioned cup tie as the Stags pushed forward.

On 80 minutes, Hutchinson found Clements on the edge of the box. Clements did well to buy himself a yard, but shot well over the bar. On 82 minutes, Rhead chested down, Meikle tricked his way past a defender but his shot was deflected softly to the keeper. Straight to the other end and Wallace sent a poor effort past the right post.

On 85 minutes, Dempster headed over from a Clements corner from the left. He never looked like getting over it to head it down. I’ve lost count of the chances that Dempster has had this season and pre-season with his head.

As Portsmouth were content to wind the clock down, Mansfield couldn’t create any more chances despite 5 minutes of stoppage time. The Stags were given a rapturous reception at the end.

FOOTNOTE on the penalty claims:
I've included all the penalty shouts on the extended highlights for StagsPlayer subscribers.
If I was the ref:
I would have given the foul on Hutchinson (47 mins).
I probably wouldn't have given the others :
1. the one where Jennings later shot (18 mins), didn't actually hit a hand despite the shouts from the crowd (at least doesn't look that way from the camera angle, looks like it hit his face instead). The ref is out of shot
2. Andrew goes down after a coming together with Painter (60 mins), just a coming together and Andrew goes down too easily
3. Rhead shirt pull - there was a tug on the shirt of Rhead by Devera, but Devera was always going to win the header anyway and Rhead doesn't even appeal.

Man of the match: Ben Hutchinson/Martin Riley

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

Line Up:
Marriott 7 No chance with either goal; handling good throughout.
Sutton 7.5 Good game as part of three man central defence, and then moved to right back for the last 25 minutes. Brilliant block from Connolly shot in the first half.
Dempster 7.5 Looked assured.
Riley 8 Very good game. Started well with a tackle on Barcham, and maintained high level of performance.
Beevers 6 Did ok. Was at the fault for the second goal. Shoulder popped out in the second half after he put in a crunching challenge and he couldn’t continue.
Jennings 5.5 Not his best game. Struggled in the first half against pace of Pompey. Improved in the second half.
McGuire 7.5 Got better and better as the game went on, as he did at Wycombe.
Clements 6 Did ok but didn’t stamp any authority on the midfield, which was disappointing after his MOM performance last week.
Hutchinson 8 Wonder-goal, and very good all-round performance.
Clucas 7 Tried to make things happen, but was often isolated with several defenders on him.
Andrew 6 Went close with an early shot deflected over the bar. Didn’t look like scoring after that.
Sub Line Up:
Palmer (for Clucas, 52) 7 His persistence to keep the ball in play led to the equaliser. Looked lively.
Rhead (for Andrew, 63) 7.5 Did what he was asked to do; won every header, and distributed the ball well.
Meikle (for Beevers, 66) 7 Scored the all-important equaliser and caused the defence problems.
Subs not used: Mitchell, Tafazolli, Murray, Stevenson.
Opposition Line Up:
Smith; Devera, Ngala, Bradley, Painter (Moutaouakil 73mins); Barcham, Padovani (Ertl 67 mins), Ferry, Wallace; Agyemang (Bird 80 mins), Connolly. Subs not used: Sullivan, East, Holmes, Butler.
Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) 6 Appeared to miss a penalty for a foul on Hutchinson.

Season 13/14 Reports