{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
 Newport County
Tafazolli 28, Howell 90.
 Howe 50.
Attendance: 2756 (224 from Newport)
Date: 8 March 2014


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town picked up a vital three points with a last minute header from Anthony Howell against Newport County this afternoon. It was a sweet way for Mansfield to win and the first time the Stags have claimed any points with a last minute or injury time goal this season, compared to the seven points that have been lost to injury time goals (against Plymouth home and away; Accrington home, and Fleetwood away). Mansfield took the lead in the first half with a first ever goal for Ryan Tafazolli as he headed home from a Ben Hutchinson cross, though keeper Elliott Parish should have saved it. Nevertheless a great moment for Tafazolli. Newport equalised on 50 minutes and it was a goalkeeping error this time from Alan Marriott as he spilled a free kick allowing Rene Howe to fire into the empty net. It looked that would be it until Howell popped up as a cross from Sam Clucas was headed down by Matt Rhead and Howell headed in at the right post to send Field Mill into raptures. In truth it was probably a game that the Stags didn’t deserve to win, but there have been countless games this season that the Stags did deserve to win and haven’t. The Stags are now 8 points above the drop zone, albeit having played a game more, and 8 points below the play-off zone. The table is incredibly tight but there is still much work to be done to avoid relegation, starting with a vital game against York on Tuesday. What is critical is that the Stags don’t fold as they did against Bury two weeks ago just a few days after the great win against Fleetwood.

Manager Paul Cox made two changes to the side that drew at Dagenham & Redbridge with a welcome return for Adam Murray, back as captain to bring much needed experience, in place of McGuire, and Ben Hutchinson in place of Lee Stevenson. Newport included former Stags Adam Chapman and Tom Naylor. Newport matched up to Mansfield’s three at the back with two wing-backs.

The Stags started positively but it was Newport who created the first chance on 6 minutes as Adam Chapman moved forward to the edge of the box and the Stags defence parted like the Red Sea allowing Chapman a free shot which deflected off Dempster and behind for a corner. It was poor defending from Mansfield who preferred to go with the runners either side of Chapman rather than stop his run and they should have known what he was capable of after his goals for the Stags last season.

On 14 minutes, good defending from Tafazolli to clear the ball. Then on 15 minutes, a good move from Newport as Chapman played a one-two with Zebroski but when he had a chance to shoot, Chapman elected to “showboat” rather than get power into his shot and his extraordinary effort was easy for Marriott. Chapman was undeniably guilty of trying to get himself on to Sky’s Soccer AM rather than score!

On 19 minutes, Hutchinson found Clucas who took the ball with a great first touch and managed to get in a shot despite being surrounded by several defenders but his effort was over the bar.

On 25 minutes, there was great defending from Tafazolli against Howe. On 27 minutes, Zebroski was held off by Sutton and, as a result, off balance as he fired well over the bar.

The Stags were in front on 28 minutes. Hutchinson took a free kick 35 yards from goal on the left touchline. His kick was headed away by Minshull straight back to Hutchinson whose second cross was perfect, right on to the head of Tafazolli who headed goalwards. It should have been an easy save for keeper Parish but he somehow bundled it into his own net. A great moment for Tafazolli with his first ever league goal and a reward for getting his header on target.

On 30 minutes, Zebroski’s cross was knocked away by Sutton.

On 35 minutes, Clucas went down in the area. It wasn’t a penalty as he fell over but the hapless referee Andy Davies booked Clucas for diving. My fellow commentator Nigel Pinnick, a referee at local level, insisted that since Clucas did not appeal for a penalty, he should not have been booked. The referee was actually having a nightmare having failed to book Zebroski for a bad foul on Marriott earlier and then, moments after the Clucas incident, completely missed a blatant foul on Murray. On 39 minutes, Zebroski was finally booked for a foul on Tafazolli. On 41 minutes, Howell was booked for a silly foul.

On 45+1, Westlake had the ball in the net for Mansfield but had already been penalised for a foul on Hughes.

A 1-0 lead for Mansfield at the break. There was not much in it between the two sides but the goalkeeping error had the Stags in front.

Half time 1-0

On 48 minutes, a free kick from Willmott from 32 yards was deflected for a corner. Following the resulting corner, Willmott fired into the side netting. On 49 minutes, the referee played on after a foul on Clucas and Westlake crossed but it was too high for Rhead. Daniel retrieved the ball on the byline but slipped and the ball ran into touch.

It was 1-1 on 50 minutes and the second goalkeeping mistake of the game as Alan Marriott came out to collect a free kick, dropped it and Rene Howe fired into the empty net. Marriott immediately put his hand up to say sorry to his teammates.

On 63 minutes, a snapshot from Rhead from 25 yards was blocked by Chapman. On 65 minutes, Murray was booked for a foul. Newport were now on top without creating clear chances.

Palmer replaced Hutchinson on 68 minutes. Moments later, there was a great tackle by Dempster as Burge ran to the edge of the box. On 70 minutes, a great effort from Chapman was just wide of the left post. On 71 minutes, there was great play from Palmer who ran half the length of the pitch and then from Daniel to earn a corner.

On 76 minutes, Minshull was given space to shoot from 25 yards and it was just over.

A minute later, Daniel crossed from the left, Westlake headed back across the goal, Rhead nodded forward and Howell headed over from close range. It was the closest Mansfield had come in the second half.

On 78 minutes, Clucas found Westlake on the right but Westlake shot well wide. On 81 minutes, Clucas ran forward from the halfway line but lost his footing at the vital moment inside the area.

Meikle replaced Sutton on 86 minutes, Sutton having gone down injured. The Stags switched to a flat back four with Westlake and Daniel as full backs.

On 87 minutes, Westlake did well to intercept a cross back to Marriott, and moments later, Palmer showed great determination to chase back and win the ball. Stags broke forward and Murray fired well over from 25 yards.

The Stags made it 2-1 on the stroke of 90 minutes. A free kick from Westlake from 35 yards, was cleared to Meikle, who found Clucas on the right, who crossed to Rhead who headed down to Howell who headed in at the right post to send Field Mill into raptures.

The Stags held on as Newport couldn’t get close to the Stags penalty area in four minutes of stoppage time which became five minutes.

Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli

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

Line Up:
Marriott 5 Mistake for the Newport goal. Otherwise his handling was good and had no other saves to make.
Sutton 7 Some good work defensively. Went off injured near the end with a tweaked hamstring.
Dempster 7 Had a very good second half.
Tafazolli 7.5 Man of the match performance and netted his first goal. A great day for him.
Westlake 6 Did ok.
Daniel 6.5 Worked hard, made one or two good runs.
Howell 7 Solid game, without errors. Wonderful moment for him to score the winning goal in the final minute.
Murray 7 Did well against his old friend Adam Chapman, more or less keeping him quiet. Showed great determination to keep going to the end and showed leadership on the pitch.
Hutchinson 6 Not his best game by any means but provided a moment of quality for the cross for Tafazolli’s goal.
Rhead 7 His header across goal set up the winner for Howell. He also provided a similar header for a chance that Howell missed.
Clucas 7 Good cross in the build-up to the winner. Had some moments of quality on the ball.
Sub Line Up:
Palmer (for Hutchinson, 68) - Showed great determination and pace to win a couple of balls.
Meikle (for Sutton, 86) - Good ball to Clucas in the build-up to the winner.
Subs not used: Beevers, McGuire, Briscoe, Stevenson, Cain.
Opposition Line Up:
Parish; Naylor, Anthony, Hughes; Jackson, Willmott; Chapman (Flynn 86), Minshull, Burge; Zebrowski (Jolley 90+2), Howe (Jeffers 90+2). Subs not used: Pipe, Crow, Worley, Holloway.
Andy Davies 4 Had a shocker, missing so much, and hugely inconsistent with bookings.

Season 13/14 Reports