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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
0 - 0
Attendance: 5931 (1497 from Chesterfield)
Date: 22 March 2014


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town picked up a hard-earned point against high-flying Chesterfield on Saturday lunchtime but finished the game the stronger of the two sides and ended up rueing missing some late chances. The first half was a pretty even affair with not too many chances created for either side in a fiery contest. The best chance of the half fell to Chesterfield’s Marc Richards who picked up a poor back header from Ryan Tafazolli, rounded Alan Marriott and fired goalwards only for Tafazolli to have got back superbly to clear off the line and spare his own blushes. The second half continued to be quite even. Paul Cox made a positive change on 63 minutes bringing on Clucas and Meikle and switching to a 4-4-2 formation and really going for the victory. The Stags had the better of the closing stages creating several chances for Clucas, and then in the 93rd minute the Stags should have won it as Clucas headed a Murray ball into the path of Ollie Palmer who had a free shot at goal with his left foot from 12 yards but slid his effort inches past the right post. Palmer was totally gutted not to have won the game when I spoke to him afterwards. Plenty of good performances from Stags players, and actually no-one had a bad game in my opinion. Results from the later 3.00 kick-offs were mixed for the Stags with a surprise win for Exeter, but the bottom two failing to win, so the gap to the bottom two is still 5 points. I think the Stags need to get 8 or 9 points from the final 8 games to ensure staying up. And so on to another huge game on Tuesday, away to Hartlepool. Come on Mansfield!

Mansfield boss Paul Cox made two changes from the side which drew at Northampton. Beevers came in for the unluckily suspended Westlake, and McGuire came in for Stevenson. Clucas was on the bench having lost weight during the week following his illness last weekend. Speight was also on the bench following his goal for the reserves in midweek and finally being fit enough to put in some minutes on the pitch.

It was a windy Field Mill yet again, when is it not?

Chesterfield were nearly in front inside the first two minutes. A terrible back header from Tafazolli was never going to get anywhere near Marriott. Richards picked up on it, went round Marriott and shot on target. Tafazolli did superbly to get back and deflect the shot over the bar and spare his own blushes.

In the early stages, the Spireites settled the better of the two sides and put the Stags under some gentle pressure without creating further chances.

On 14 minutes, a good move from the Stags came as Jennings put in a good cross and Lee Beevers sent a left-footed shot just over the bar. It was a rare goal-scoring chance for Beevers and a pretty good effort.

The Stags were defending well, keeping Chesterfield at bay.

On 20 minutes, following a Jennings free-kick from 35 yards, Dempster went down in the area but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.

On 22 minutes, there was a good move from the Stags which ended with McGuire firing over the bar from 35 yards.

It was now an even game.

On 26 minutes, Howell headed on to give Rhead a half chance but he couldn’t get a shot on target. At the other end on 27 minutes, Kearns had a shot from a tight angle deflected for a corner. From that corner, Richards ballooned a shot over the bar.

The first yellow card came on 31 minutes as Dempster took one for the team, bringing down Richards. The resulting free kick from 24 yards by Roberts was saved by Marriott who was well positioned. On 34 minutes, a low shot from Murray bounced in front of keeper Tommy Lee but was easily saved. Moments later, Richards was late with a challenge on McGuire which McGuire claimed was dangerous but the referee waved play on.

No more chances came in the first half, which was very even. Not too much created in terms of chances for either side in a fiery contest. The Stags were showing great effort and great endeavour.

Half time 0-0

In the first half, the Stags had to play against the wind and were hoping to make use of it in the second half. But the sun came out for the second half and the wind almost completely dropped!

The Spireites brought on youngster Mason Bennett, on loan from Derby, at half time. Bennett is a lad from Langwith and it must have pained him to play against his home town club for the team from the dark side!

Bennett was straight into the action, turning neatly in the box and firing over the bar. On 51 minutes, a poor clearance from Dempster presented Darikwa with a chance and he sent his left footed chance over the bar. Straight to the other end and McGuire played a ball over the top for Palmer to run on to. Palmer got there first but couldn’t get in a shot, which it seemed just for a second that he might be able to do, and the ball went out for a corner. On 61 minutes, Howell teed up McGuire for a shot from the edge of the area but his effort was well wide.

Moments later, Murray picked up a yellow card for tripping Bennett.

Cox made a very positive double substitution on 63 minutes, bringing on Clucas for Dempster, and Meikle for McGuire, going to a 4-4-2 formation, with Clucas and Meikle on either wing. It seemed to me that Cox had set up initially with a formation of trying to blunt the Spireites and, having done so, now really wanted to push for a victory.

Meikle was straight into the action with a chance of a shot from the edge of the box but he completely mis-kicked. Clucas was also straight in to the action on 65 minutes as Murray put a great ball into the box and Clucas was just unable to turn the ball in from close range at the far post. Straight to the other end and there was a great tackle from Jennings as the Spireites broke forward. On 69 minutes, Bennett shot from the left hand side, it deflected off Tafazolli, and brought a fine save from Marriott diving low to his right to put it behind for a corner.

On 73 minutes, a double chance for the Stags. Clucas did well to win the ball in his own half, and make a good run to the edge of the box, where he found Palmer, who crossed into the middle where Meikle couldn’t get on the end of it, but the ball then dropped to Palmer whose shot was blocked. The Stags recycled the ball onto the right and as Meikle crossed, Stags claimed for a handball but it seemed to hit a chest. The Stags kept hold of the ball and created another good chance for Clucas as he met Meikle’s fine cross with a diving header but the ball went wide.

Extraordinarily inept refereeing on 75 minutes as a ball hit Rhead square in the face, flooring him, and the referee unbelievably gave hand ball.

On 76 minutes, Roberts found space 20 yards from goal and put in a good shot which brought at fine save from Marriott who parried it away.

There was another glorious chance for the Stags to win it on 80 minutes. A Jennings corner from the left was headed forward by Rhead, it dropped to Clucas who had two goes at stabbing it into the net but both were blocked. Clucas claimed one of them was blocked by a hand. Ollie Palmer said to me after the game that he wished those chances had fallen to him!

The Stags fans were continuing to create a tremendous atmosphere with the Spireites fans becalmed.

On 85 minutes, Palmer chased a ball over the top and was able to go round the onrushing keeper Tommy Lee but could only go wide with the ball and no chance ensued.

Tafazolli was booked for a foul on Darikwa. Then Gnanduillet sent in a free kick from 35 yards which Marriott saved and dived on at the second attempt. On 88 minutes, Bennett shot straight at Marriott from the edge of the box.

It was an exciting end to the game.

On 90 minutes, Roberts’ corner from the right was headed goalwards and Marriott saved low down to his right.

The moment when the Stags should have won it came on 90+3 minutes. Murray clipped a lovely ball into the box, Clucas brilliantly cushioned a header into the path of Palmer, who had a clear sight of goal from 12 yards but sent his left-footed shot inches past the right post.

At the final whistle, some Stags players put their heads in their hands knowing that a chance of glory had slipped away. A tremendous ovation at full time from the 4,400 Stags fans, who created a great atmosphere throughout. The Stags had definitely been the better side in the final half hour and finished the game on top. And overall the Stags had more than matched the high flying Spireites. A pleasing performance from Mansfield and one which needs to be built upon against Hartlepool on Tuesday.

Adam Murray was the sponsors’ man of the match but handed his bottle of champagne to Ollie Palmer afterwards, insisting that Palmer deserved the award. Tafazolli was tremendous at the back, recovering from a terrible start to the game with that back header. Everybody in the Stags team was at least ok. I thought Cox got the substitutions spot on in hindsight - probably his best substitutions of the season.

Man of the match: Murray/Tafazolli

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

Line Up:
Marriott 7.5 Fine game with several good saves.
Riley 7 Good game, very solid.
Dempster 6.5 Good first half, but had a bad start to the second half, and was then subbed.
Tafazolli 7.5 Tremendous at the back, recovering from a terrible start to the game with that back header which he rescued himself with a superb block.
Beevers 7 Did well defensively and going forward at right wing-back, and came close to his first ever Stags goal.
Jennings 7 Some good defending including one fine challenge.
Howell 7 Good game, composed, not wasting possession.
Murray 7.5 Captain fantastic getting back to his best. Some good balls into the box.
McGuire 6.5 Steady, and had a few pot-shots none of which went particularly close.
Palmer 7 Good game overall and made some good runs. Was gutted not to win in it stoppage time (a feeling shared by all of us!)
Rhead 7 As usual won most in the air.
Sub Line Up:
Clucas (for Dempster, 63) 6.5 Heavily involved and some fine play but also had some great chances which he couldn’t bury. Great header to set up Palmer chance.
Meikle (for McGuire, 63) 6.5 Great cross for Clucas’s diving header.
Subs not used: Sutton, Stevenson, Clements, Daniel, Speight.
Opposition Line Up:
Lee; Darikwa, Evatt, Cooper, Humphreys; Banks (Bennett HT), Hird, Morsy, Roberts; Richards (Doyle 70), Kearns (Gnanduillet 70). Subs not used: Dunbavin, Smith, O’Shea, Ryan, Bennett.
Darren Bond 6 Didn’t have any major decisions, but made some odd ones nevertheless.

Season 13/14 Reports