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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Bristol Rovers
Stevenson 22.
 Santos 84.
Attendance: 3275 (432 from Bristol Rovers)
Date: 12 October 2013


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were held to a 1-1 draw by Bristol Rovers at Field Mill this afternoon. The Stags led from the 22nd minute until 84 minutes, yet Bristol Rovers fully deserved their point, having put Mansfield under considerable pressure for most of the second half and some of the first. The Stags had kept them at bay through a superb goalkeeping display from Alan Marriott and some last ditch defending including lots of good blocks from the defenders. Lee Stevenson scored his first Football League goal to put Mansfield in front, a fine header arriving late to meet a superb Calvin Andrew cross. Marriott made a couple of fine first half saves including a great block from a close range effort. Marriott continued to keep Rovers at bay in the second half. Mansfield were close to a decisive second goal when Clucas’s superb corner was met by sub Matt Rhead with a bullet header at the far post and it thundered into the chest of keeper Steve Mildenhall, who knew nothing about it but was in the right place at the right time. Bristol Rovers had lots of shots at goal and in the end it took a lucky deflection to beat the superb Marriott, on 84 minutes. From a short corner, sub Alefe Santos shot goalwards. It would have been a comfortable low save for Marriott, but Murtagh stretched out a leg to try to block the shot and only succeeded in deflecting it into the net. As a sidenote, some outlets are referencing this as an own goal, but the rules on such things are clear: only if an effort is off target and is deflected in by a defender is it an own goal. This was certainly on target, albeit it would have been saved. After that, Mansfield pushed for a winner, and sub Ollie Palmer was fouled a yard outside the box, but the resulting free kick from Murtagh was cleared. It was the last action of the game and Murtagh finished it with his head in his hands, but it wasn’t his fault, just a bit of bad luck. Overall a draw was a fair result, and this was a good game in difficult conditions with rain having poured down all night, all morning, and throughout the game. Actually it’s only right to pay great credit to Mez Merriman and his team of groundstaff for producing a pitch that played so well considering the horrendous conditions.

Time to quickly take stock after 3 games in 7 days at Field Mill in which two were lost and one was drawn. With a quarter of the season gone (11 games out of 46), the Stags are two points clear of the teams outside the play-offs. I don’t think there would be many fans who wouldn’t have bitten your hand off before the season started for a position like that, I know I would. In order for the Stags to be genuine promotion contenders, I remain convinced that we need to bring in a quality goalscorer to replace Matt Green. Two away games coming up in the next ten days against teams in the bottom four. We have very quickly learned, if we didn’t already know it, that there are simply no bad teams in this league though. The Stags will need to be better than they were today to pick up the points but after a week’s rest and regrouping, should go to Plainmoor in confident mood. Come on Mansfield!

Meanwhile this was Paul Cox’s 103rd league game in charge of the club. His record now stands at 60 wins and he has reached a milestone of 200 points, and a remarkable average of 1.94 points per game. Congratulations to the manager!

Cox made just one change from the side that played so well against Chesterfield in the JPT on Tuesday, and that was an enforced one with McGuire suspended for 5 yellow cards, replaced by Howell. Great news was that Ritchie Sutton, injured on Tuesday leading to a 10 minute delay in the game, was back on the pitch already. Clucas was on the right of midfield, probably not an ideal position for him. Godfrey Poku was on the bench, and remarkably, having joined the Stags at the start of last season, this was the first time he has ever got as far as the subs bench in a first team competitive game. No Adam Murray in the Stags dugout today, after he had been there on Tuesday. It was very unfortunate that SkySports.com chose the morning of a game to publish a rebuttal by Adam Murray’s agent of newspaper quotes attributed to Paul Cox. Not appropriate timing on the morning of a game when the focus should be 100% on the match come what may; something I have always believed is there should be nothing to distract the players on the morning of a game. As I commented on BBC Radio Nottingham before the game, it is terribly disappointing that relations have broken down like this, but Murray’s status will always remain legendary for what he achieved as captain last season, and his previous efforts with the club. UPDATE: Adam Murray messaged me on Sunday morning to say that the article should not have been published on Saturday morning and the timing became out of his control due to the reporter.

It’s not very often that a game contains two goalkeepers who have both scored goals with huge punts at the same ground. But it happened today: Alan Marriott for Mansfield against Wrexham of course, and Steve Mildenhall when he was playing for Notts County in a League Cup game at Field Mill a few years back.

Rovers were managed by John Ward and assisted by popular former Stags midfielder Darrell Clarke, who left his role as Salisbury manager in the summer having just guided them into the Conference.

After 5 minutes, Lee Brown showed good pace down the left, Clucas tracked back and pressurised Brown whose shot from a tight angle was saved by Marriott. On 6 minutes, Stevenson’s ball across the face of goal was in front of Andrew. Back at the other end on 8 minutes, Brunt was given too much room outside the box and curled a left footed shot wide of the right post.

It was an even start and the Stags had the next chance on 9 minutes as Clucas played the ball to Andrew on the left, got the ball back, and his shot was always going away from goal. Nevertheless it was a good move. On 14 minutes, Andrew tried to clear the ball inside his own box but could only swing at it and miss and a Rovers player belted a good chance wide. On 16 minutes, Daniel found Stevenson 25 yards out and his low skimmer was wide of the left post. The rain was now torrential for a short period. On 17 minutes, Andrew on the left had a shot deflected wide of the left post. From the resulting corner, the ball was bizarrely pumped into the air by a defender, and Andrew rose highest and got his head on it but couldn’t direct it goalwards. On 19 minutes, a good challenge by Howell and he fed Clucas who made a great run into the box on the right past two defenders. Clucas’s shot was blocked, it came back and hit him and went wide.

The Stags were deservedly in front on 22 minutes. A great left footed cross from Andrew from the right was perfect for Stevenson coming in late to head past the keeper. It was described by co-commentator Steve Hartshorn as “a la Frank Lampard”.

On 28 minutes, Dempster sent a header wide from a corner from the left by Clucas.

The Stags were in control.

On 30 minutes, a soft shot from Bond from the edge of the box was straight at Marriott. A minute later, there was a good block from Riley from a shot from the edge of the box. Then on 32 minutes, Marriott was down low to his left to make a good save from a low shot. Rovers were having a good spell and on 39 minutes, Marriott made another great save from a shot from the edge of the box through a crowd of players.

Clucas headed well over the bar from a Murtagh free kick from the right on 42 minutes.

Marriott made another terrific save on 43 minutes as the Stags were carved open at the back: Michael Smith should have scored from close range following a one two but Marriott was out quickly to block. On 45+1, substitute Keary headed wide of the left post from a corner from the left.

Mansfield had controlled the opening half hour and deserved to be in front but Rovers had come back strongly and Marriott had kept the Stags ahead with some great saves.

Half time 1-0

On 47 minutes, Rovers missed a good chance to equalise. Bond crossed from the right and Ollie Clarke shot wide from near the penalty spot. On 48 minutes, Rovers keeper Mildenhall came well out of his goal to make a clearance which fell to Murtagh who squared to Sutton and, with the keeper still out of his net, Sutton tried his luck from 45 yards but was well wide. On 50 minutes, a good tip away by Marriott from a Smith cross and Clucas completed the clearance.

In an open game, the Stags were under a little bit of pressure.

On 58 minutes, Rhead replaced Andrew.

On 60 minutes, a low shot from O’Toole was straight at Marriott. Two minutes later, too much room was afforded to Ollie Clarke on the edge of the box and he fired just wide of the right post. Then on 64 minutes, sub Eliot Richards walked through the Stags defence and shot straight at Marriott from the edge of the box.

The Stags were fortunate to still be ahead.

But at the other end, Mansfield nearly got the crucial second goal on 65 minutes. Clucas’s superb corner was met by sub Matt Rhead with a bullet header at the far post and it thundered into the chest of keeper Steve Mildenhall, who knew nothing about it but was in the right place at the right time.

On 68 minutes, two magnificent blocks by Riley as Rovers kept up the pressure.

Meikle replaced Stevenson on 70 minutes. Meikle went to right midfield and Clucas moved up front.

The Stags had claims for a penalty on 75 minutes as Clucas was through on goal in the area and went over as he was about to shoot but it appeared to be a fair shoulder barge.

Rovers got a deserved equaliser on 84 minutes but it was a lucky goal. Murtagh did well to get back and block a cross for a corner. However it appeared in the build-up that Rovers had been offside. The resulting corner was taken short to Santos who shot goalwards. It would have been a comfortable low save for Marriott, but Murtagh stretched out a leg to try to block the shot and only succeeded in deflecting it into the net.

On 86 minutes, Ollie Palmer replaced Daniel, and Clucas moved to left midfield.

On 87 minutes, Dempster blocked an O’Toole shot. Straight to the other end and Murtagh’s on-target shot hit his own player, Palmer.

In the 4th and final minute of stoppage time, Palmer made a good run down the left. Just as he was about to get into the box on the left he was tripped for a clear foul. A shame it wasn’t a yard further. Murtagh’s free kick was cleared and the referee blew the final whistle, Murtagh ending the game with his head in his hands.

Man of the match: Alan Marriott

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

Line Up:
Marriott 9 Brilliant performance with several fine saves, and great handling when the ball must have been as slippery as a bar of soap. So unlucky to be beaten by the deflection for the goal, when the DVD clearly shows he would have saved the shot.
Sutton 7.5 Defended very well and great to see him back on the pitch. Distribution wasn’t great on occasion, including some throws that went straight out for goal kicks off the zippy surface.
Dempster 7 Solid.
Riley 8 At least three excellent blocks. Assured in defence again.
Beevers 7 Good game.
Clucas 6.5 Superb corner for Rhead’s header. Great run into the box in the first half when his shot was blocked. But otherwise was not as effective as he has usually been in what has been a tremendous season so far for him.
Howell 6 Didn’t really take control of the game.
Murtagh 7 Decent game and so unlucky with his part on the goal as trying to block the shot was the correct thing to do.
Daniel 6 Disappointingly quiet.
Stevenson 6.5 Great to see him score his first Football League goal, hopefully the first of many as we know he knows where the net is.
Andrew 6.5 Outstanding assist for Stevenson’s goal. Did well to rise above the defence for a first half header that he put wide.
Sub Line Up:
Rhead (for Andrew, 58) 6 Very close to scoring with a bullet header that thundered into the chest of the keeper, but otherwise not really in the game.
Meikle (for Stevenson, 70) -
Palmer (for Daniel, 86) - Should have come on earlier for Daniel. Good pace for a couple of runs and was brought down just a yard away from a penalty.
Subs not used: Mitchell, Jennings, Poku, Hutchinson.
Opposition Line Up:
Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Tom Lockyer, Lee Brown (Pat Keary, 23) Ollie Norburn (Eliot Richards, 57), John-Joe O’Toole, Ollie Clarke, Andy Bond (Alefe Santos, 72), David Clarkson, Ryan Brunt. Substitutes not used: Matt Gill, Conor Gough, Jordan Goddard, Josh Southway.
Scott Duncan 7 Handled the game well, no bookings and correctly waved away penalty appeals when Clucas was barged off the ball in the area.

Season 13/14 Reports