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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 AFC Wimbledon
Murray 7
Attendance: 3292 (318 from Wimbledon)
Date: 29 March 2014


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town dug in for another crucial win on Saturday afternoon, the first ever victory against the reformed AFC Wimbledon after the travesty that became Milton Keynes Dons. It was a far from pretty game, with neither side demonstrating much quality and very few chances for either side. So poor a game was it that it was fitting that it was won by a bit of a fluke, as Adam Murray’s free-kick to the far post went straight in. But you only get a bit of luck with that sort of free-kick if you get it on target in the first place and then anything can happen, as James Jennings showed at Hartlepool. It was Murray’s first goal of the season and he couldn’t have picked a better time to do it. This was a battling performance from the Stags, with Jamie McGuire putting in his best performance in a Mansfield shirt in my opinion, and sponsor’s man of the match Adam Murray also putting in a fine display. The Stags defended well after some kamikaze messing around at the back in the first half nearly gifted AFC Wimbledon some chances, with Ritchie Sutton my pick of the defenders. And a mention for the crowd, who were the 12th man cheering the team over the line despite a less than exciting game. This was important through to the final whistle as remarkably AFC Wimbledon had scored goals in the 96th, 97th and 98th minutes in their previous 3 games to earn points.

So after a fabulous week, taking seven points from 3 games (and it could so easily have been nine points), and recording back-to-back wins for the first time since September, Mansfield are in to the top half of table for the first time since early November. Another 2 or 3 points are needed from the final 6 games to be sure of safety in my estimation. Meanwhile the Stags are closer to the play-off places than the relegation places now, just 9 points short to be precise. After the game I said to John Radford that it would be nice to see Jack Thomas and Liam Marsden getting a game soon once we are fully safe (and I wasn’t saying that just because I sponsor Jack Thomas :-) ). He replied with a huge grin: not while we’re still in with a chance of the play-offs!!

Congratulations to Alan Marriott, who clocked up 200 league (Conference and Football League) appearances for Mansfield, against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
Marriott has made 217 appearances in all competitions for Mansfield.

And congratulations to Paul Cox, who completed 150 games in charge of Mansfield in all competitions, against AFC Wimbledon.
Under Paul Cox, Mansfield have won 70 games, drawn 40 and lost 40, with a goals per game ratio of 1.63. A tremendous record, that included reaching the play-offs and then winning the Conference, and now reaching the top half of League Two.

Cox made 2 changes from the side that won at Hartlepool on Tuesday, as Tafazolli replaced the rested Dempster, and Daniel replaced the suspended Jennings. Clucas, Speight and Westlake remained on the bench.

Meanwhile at half time, Ben Hutchinson told me that his injury is not as bad as was first feared. He is going to have it re-scanned and he may be back in 2 weeks.

It was a sunny day, the warmest of the year so far on the last official day of winter.

Inside the first minute, McGuire sent in a snapshot which was well wide. On 4 minutes, a good run by Howell to get to the byline on the right and a good challenge from Antwi to concede a corner. From the resulting corner from the right, taken by Murray, Tafazolli got his head on it but couldn’t direct it goalwards.

The Stags were ahead on 7 minutes from a free kick wide on the left. Murray took it and curled it towards the far post where it went straight in with keeper Worner managing to get a hand on it but not keep it out, possibly put off by Palmer who tried to get a touch on it but it seemed just missed it. Murray celebrated his first goal of the season with some gusto.

On 12 minutes, Howell received a yellow card for high kicking and Darren Jones was eventually carried off on a stretcher. It seemed clear that the referee initially was not going to book Howell and only did so after the severity of the injury became clear and under considerable pressue from the Wimbledon players. It later transpired that he had a cut on his head which was not serious. Very poor refereeing. Jones was replaced by Wimbledon’s new loan signing Kwesi Appiah who had scored 10 goals in 17 games for Cambridge earlier in the season.

The Stags had made a good start prior to the Howell challenge but then lost their way as the game became very scrappy.

On 22 minutes, a good block from Murray from a Wyke shot. Then a minute later, a cross from the left from Richards, and Wyke got between Riley and Tafazolli and headed wide.

Wimbledon were putting the Stags under a little bit of pressure.

On 27 minutes, a good tackle from Sutton. Then on 31 minutes, Riley faffed around at the back and played a back-pass to Marriott which Marriott only just got to ahead of the advancing Appiah. Nearly a gift and the Stags were momentarily all over the place.

On 36 minutes, there was great play from Sutton as he put in 2 tackles in quick succession. On 42 minutes, a good cross from Francomb and Appiah swivelled to send a first time shot goalwards but it lacked power and was easily saved by Marriott in front of his face. Straight to the other end and McGuire tried an ambitious shot from 45 yards which was well wide.

On 43 minutes, Palmer did well to earn a corner after a trademark run down the wing. From the resulting corner from the left, Worner had to tip it over his own bar. And from the next corner, taken from the right, Sutton headed wide. A dangerous free kick from Wimbledon on 45+2 was cleared by Sutton. A minute later, good play from Murray as he found Rhead on the edge of the box who turned and sent in a good shot but it was straight at the keeper.

On 45+5, another free kick from Murray from a tight angle was straight at Worner.

A poor half of football in truth but the Stags were very glad to be ahead having not played well.

Half time 1-0

On 48 minutes, the referee somehow missed a clear foul on McGuire. A minute later, a rare mistake by Sutton as he lost the ball by his own corner flag allowing Appiah to cross from the left and Francomb volleyed over from close range. On 53 minutes, Francomb shot wide from a tight angle.

With Mansfield mis-firing going forward, Paul Cox made a double change on 54 minutes bringing on Clucas for Daniel, and Meikle for Howell who was booed by the Wimbledon fans for his foul in the first half. Sutton moved to left back, and Clucas and Meikle to the right and left side of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation.

On 55 minutes, Morriss turned 30 yards out and shot well over. On 56 minutes, Palmer got in a shot which was clearly deflected wide yet neither the referee nor his assistant saw the deflection and gave a goal kick. On 61 minutes, good play from Meikle down the left and he fed the ball towards Palmer who appeared to be fouled by Bennett as he approached the box but the referee waved away appeals.

Cox made his final change on 64 minutes as Speight replaced Palmer. Both players got a good reception from the home fans.

On 67 minutes, good tracking back by Clucas to win a ball in his own half and earn a free kick. On 70 minutes, Speight played a one-two with Rhead and sent in a tame shot goalwards that was easily saved.

Rhead picked up a yellow card on 72 minutes for an accumulation of fouls. On 75 minutes, a run from Speight towards goal and he went down on the edge of the area but it looked like he went down too easily and the referee correctly waved away appeals for a free kick. On 75 minutes, a good run from the lively substitute Saint-Luce to the edge of the area where he went down under a challenge from Beevers which didn’t look like a free kick but the referee gave one and the Stags fans chanted “cheat”. Francomb sent the resulting free kick from a central position 20 yards out, straight into the wall.

On 79 minutes, following 3 corners in a row for Wimbledon, McGuire headed off the line at the far post from a header by Bennett, and Morris slotted a low follow-up just wide. A minute later, Appiah shot straight at Marriott. Wimbledon were putting the Stags under some pressure.

On 84 minutes, Murray’s free kick from the halfway line reached Meikle on the edge of the box who fired over the bar, not having had room to get the right body shape to keep the ball low.

On 87 minutes, Murray and Morris were booked for squaring up.

On 89 minutes, McGuire broke into the box and managed to get in a shot which was blocked.

The Stags were inches away from making it 2-0 on 90 minutes. Another Murray free kick, again from a tight angle on the left, was heading just wide of the right post when it was put behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Rhead flicked a shot goalwards that was headed up in the air by a defender, and then Clucas headed the loose ball into the keeper’s arms.

Four minutes of stoppage time was added on. In the first of those minutes, Rhead sent a poor shot straight at the keeper.

The Stags held on to the ball expertly and Wimbledon were not able to get into Mansfield’s final third during stoppage time and the final whistle brought a great reception from the home fans. A gritty performance from the Stags players who had had a gruelling week with the three tough games, and will definitely be glad of no midweek game this week. On to Morecambe next Saturday. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Jamie McGuire

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

Line Up:
Marriott 7 A quiet afternoon. Had to react quickly to a short back-pass from Riley, and made a few comfortable saves. Very solid.
Sutton 8 The pick of the defence with several good tackles and clearances. One mistake near his own corner flag allowed a chance for Wimbledon.
Riley 7.5 Very solid second half after a couple of aberrations in the first half including a back-pass that was nearly disastrous. In terrific form since returning to the side.
Tafazolli 7.5 Returned to the side in place of Dempster and did very well.
Beevers 6.5 Solid. Didn’t get forward too much.
Daniel 6 Quiet game but no mistakes in left wing-back role.
Howell 7 Harshly booked. Made sure he didn’t a second yellow but still got stuck in.
Murray 7.5 Good game. Several good set pieces and delighted to get the winner with one of them. The inspirational captain has made a big difference since returning to the side.
McGuire 8.5 Tremendous performance. Did everything right, including a crucial clearance off the line. Won numerous free kicks.
Palmer 5.5 Not up to his recent standard, though his hard running was appreciated by the fans when he was subbed. Had a part in the goal, as his presence put the keeper off.
Rhead 6 Not able to create much but the defenders knew they’d been in a game.
Sub Line Up:
Clucas (for Daniel, 54) 6.5 Great tracking back on one occasion.
Meikle (for Howell, 54) 6.5 Some good running.
Speight (for Palmer, 64) 6.5 Lively but not at full pace.
Subs not used: Westlake, Dempster, Stevenson, Clements.
Opposition Line Up:
Ross Worner; Barry Fuller, Alan Bennett, Will Antwi, Tom Richards (Chris Arthur, 52); George Francomb, Sammy Moore, Aaron Morris, Darren Jones (Kwesi Appiah, 15), Michael Collins; Charlie Wyke (Kevin Sainte-Luce, 62).
Rob Lewis 5 Poor. Though probably did not influence the result of the game.

Season 13/14 Reports