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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Torquay United  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 2473 (347 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 October 2013


Martin Shaw at Plainmoor

Mansfield Town ground out a deserved point at Plainmoor this afternoon which in the end perhaps should have been three. The Stags had marginally the better of the opening 20 minutes and should have taken the lead when Riley headed wide. But for the rest of the first half, Torquay were on top and had several great chances to take the lead, notably when Billy Bodin struck the inside of the post. Marriott produced a brilliant save in the first minute of the second half with a one handed save from Ade Azeez. The game entered a quiet spell until Torquay were reduced to ten men on 68 minutes when Krystian Pearce was sent off for a second bookable offence when he brought down Clucas who was running at goal. The Stags had a quarter of the game to make the one man advantage count, and dominated the rest of the game but were unable to score, coming closest with a couple of Ben Hutchinson efforts. There was a bit of controversy in stoppage time when Lee Beevers claimed that Elliot Benyon had bitten his arm following a free kick. The DVD proves inconclusive as there is not enough clarity. Overall this was a fair result and a good point for the Stags, who are three points behind top spot, only out of the play-off places on goals scored, and 11 points above the relegation zone. At the risk of repeating myself, I maintain that in order for the Stags to be genuine promotion contenders, we need to bring in a quality goalscorer to replace Matt Green. On to Bury on Tuesday night and another chance to pick up points against a team towards the bottom of the table and who are currently managerless. Hopefully Bury won’t appoint a new manager before Tuesday as there tends to be a “new manager effect” even if short-lived. Come on Mansfield!

The Stags were roared on by a tremendous following of 347, many of whom were staying down on the English Riviera for a night or two. The team themselves also stayed over on Friday night to ensure the correct preparation. Unfortunately the blue away kit didn’t travel down with the team, due to a mistake by kitman Mez Merriman. I didn’t see Mez but I gather he was embarrassed about his mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and it was just one of those things. Last week, Mez was lauded in the Stagsnet report for a tremendous pitch in atrocious conditions. Fortunately the mistake was realised just early enough that the away kit could be driven down (I think by a relative of Paul Broughton according to Andy Johnson; driver later confirmed as Dave Land) and arrived in time for the team to play in it. There was some ridicule from Torquay folk, but they had a short memory as I pointed out to them as they had to play in a purple Stags kit a few years ago when they turned up with a kit too similar to our own.

Boss Paul Cox made three changes from the side that drew with Bristol Rovers: Jennings for Daniel, McGuire back from suspension in for Howell, and Rhead for Andrew. Rhead got his reward for a good performance and a goal in the reserves at a strong Hull side in the week. Cox reverted to three central defenders, with Beevers and Jennings as wing-backs, and Stevenson playing behind the front two of Clucas and Rhead. New loan signing midfielder Jack Blake, signed from Nottingham Forest, was on the bench.

The Stags made a positive start and were on the front foot from the outset. On 2 minutes, Rhead won a header which he had no right to win, but Stevenson mis-controlled in the box. Rhead again headed across goal on 11 minutes from a Jennings free kick but the ball was cleared. Jennings was in action at the other end on 14 minutes putting in a good block to deflect a shot by Bodin for a corner after Hawley had knocked down.

On 15 minutes, a great ball forward by Rhead for Stevenson who earned a corner. As Rhead put the ball through, he was clattered by Pearce who was booked for the challenge.

From the resulting corner, the Stags went very close as Riley sent a clean header wide. It sparked a debate in the press box at half time as to who had the header; everyone else said it was Dempster but I stuck to my guns that it was Riley and the DVD showed it was Riley. Just a minute later, Pearce could easily have received a second yellow card when he handballed, seemingly deliberately. The referee gave a foul but Pearce was very lucky to get away without getting a second yellow card.

The Stags had been the better side in the opening 20 minutes but then it was Torquay who were unlucky not to take the lead. Great play by Bodin just outside the penalty area and his left footed shot hit the inside of the right post, rolled along the line just missing the left post and span out for a goal kick. This was a huge slice of luck for the Stags. Two minutes later, there was another good chance for Torquay as Hawley flicked a shot over the bar from close range from a Chapell cross. On 25 minutes, McGuire gave away a silly foul on the edge of the box and McCourt put his free kick over the bar and over the stand.

On 27 minutes, a good header away by Riley but there was still a chance for Torquay as Bodin’s volley was deflected for a corner. Unlucky for Torquay, but good last ditch defending by the Stags.

There was good play by Murtagh on 29 minutes to repel a Torquay break. On 37 minutes, Azeez’s shot was deflected through to Marriott. On 40 minutes, a free kick from Jennings to the far post reached Riley but he couldn’t get over it and headed well wide. On 41 minutes, there was a good cross from Nicholson and Riley did well to clear it.

Not the best game you would see but far from the worst either. The Stags had been the better side for the opening 20 minutes but after that Torquay took over and had some good chances.

Half time 0-0

Torquay began the second half as they ended the first and were again close to taking the lead. The Stags defence was still asleep from the half time break as Azeez’s left footed shot seemed destined for the net until a brilliant one handed save from Marriott diving low to his left.

On 47 minutes, the home fans appealed for a penalty for a foul by Riley but there was no appeal from the players.

The Stags came close to scoring when, on 49 minutes, McGuire crossed from the right and Rhead’s glancing header was saved by the keeper on his line, diving to his left. A good header across goal by Rhead on 50 minutes came to nothing from a long free kick by Jennings. The home fans again appealed for a penalty on 53 minutes as Hawley was shoulder barged by Dempster. The referee correctly said no to a penalty. A similar incident to when Clucas was shoulder barged by a Bristol Rovers defender last week.

Hutchinson replaced Stevenson on 56 minutes. Stevenson hadn’t influenced the game enough.

Torquay were still marginally on top and Murtagh had to put in a good block on 57 minutes from a shot from the edge of the box. Straight to the other end and Marriott’s kick was all the way through to Clucas who mis-kicked his shot towards goal.

On 63 minutes, Jennings’ corner went straight through everyone and somehow was not turned in.

Andrew replaced Rhead on 64 minutes.

On 66 minutes, Azeez cut inside Riley and shot wide of the right post. This was a rare mistake in an otherwise fine Riley performance.

Moments later, there was good play from Andrew on the right and Hutchinson’s shot was blocked. I was right in line with the shot and I fancy it might have gone in.

Sutton was booked a minute later for a foul on the advancing Bodin. Sutton took one for the team as he had little option. From the resulting free kick, a brilliant effort from Nicholson as his shot was just over the bar from 30 yards.

Torquay were down to 10 men on 68 minutes as Pearce pulled back Clucas as he ran through on goal. It was a clear yellow card and hence a red for Pearce and there were no complaints.

Hutchinson took the resulting free kick to a completely unmarked McGuire on the right. McGuire side-footed his first time shot over the bar from a great position. The Torquay goalkeeper flapped at a cross on 72 minutes and there was a goal line scramble but somehow the Stags couldn’t turn the ball in.

With Torquay now playing a 4-3-2 formation, the Stags switched to 4-4-2 on 72 minutes as Palmer came on for Sutton. Clucas moved to left midfield and Hutchinson to right midfield.

Hutchinson nearly broke the deadlock a minute later. The keeper had come out of his goal to clear the ball and had just got back as the ball was squared to Hutchinson and he saved well from Hutchinson’s shot from 25 yards. On 77 minutes, a cross from Beevers to the far post flicked off the defender for a corner. From the corner taken by Hutchinson, Dempster just got something on it but could only head wide.

It was one way traffic.

Moments later, Hutchinson’s cross found Clucas who headed wide. It was just a little too high for Clucas. A rare attack from Torquay on 81 minutes and they won a corner despite a clear foul on Riley. Marriott made a great catch from the corner. A promising attack from the Stags on 86 minutes involved Andrew and Palmer but the ball was cleared. On 88 minutes, Dempster headed wide from a tight angle from a Jennings corner to the back post. Three minutes of stoppage time were added and with just a minute of those left, Beevers claimed that Elliot Benyon had bitten his arm following a free kick. The DVD proves inconclusive as there is not enough clarity.

A fair result in the end but there was just a feeling that perhaps the Stags should have won it against 10 men for the last quarter of the game.

Man of the match: Martin Riley

Report by: Martin Shaw at Plainmoor

Line Up:
Marriott 7.5 Outstanding save from Azeez, one handed, low down. Outstanding handling throughout including a great take from a cross.
Sutton 7.5 Very solid game. Sacrificed after Torquay were down to ten men.
Dempster 7.5 Very good.
Riley 7.5 Won almost everything. Headed wide from a great position in the first half and should have scored.
Beevers 7 Decent game as wing-back.
Jennings 7 A few decent set pieces.
McGuire 7 Good game.
Murtagh 7 Did well. One great tackle tracking back.
Stevenson 5 Didn’t influence the game much. Had a couple of half chances that didn’t go his way.
Clucas 6.5 Was through on goal when he was felled as Torquay were reduced to 10 men. But otherwise he was quieter than he’d have liked.
Rhead 6.5 A couple of good headers across goal.
Sub Line Up:
Hutchinson (for Stevenson, 56) - Had a couple of decent efforts.
Andrew (for Rhead, 64) -
Palmer (for Sutton, 72) -
Subs not used: Daniel, Howell, Meikle, Blake.
Opposition Line Up:
Rice; Tongue, Pearce, Mansell, Nicholson; O’Connor , Bodin (Cruise 70), Chapell (Craig 63), McCourt; Hawley (Benyon 81), Azeez. Subs not used: Lathrope, Cameron, Sullivan, Lavercombe.
Mick Russell 7 Got the key incidents right but otherwise a few strange decisions.

Season 13/14 Reports