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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League Trophy - Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Northern Area, Round 1
Notts County  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Ronan Murray 28, Cassidy 65
Attendance: 3701 (1386 from Mansfield)
Date: 2 September 2014


Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane

Mansfield Town were dumped out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the first stage by Notts County at Meadow Lane last night. County were better than the Stags in every department and deserved their victory. Stags keeper Evtimov made two good saves from Ronan Murray in the first 25 minutes, while Simon Heslop hit the post for the Stags with an excellent free-kick, before Ronan Murray put County in front on 28 minutes with a well-worked goal. County could have been further ahead when Brown headed wide from a good cross and they were deservedly ahead at the break. Mansfield had a good spell of 15 minutes early in the second half, as Fisher forced a good save from the keeper and then went close with a header, and Rhead twice headed wide. But just when the Stags were on top, a sucker punch as County scored a second goal, a soft one as Riley allowed Cassidy to muscle past him and fire under Evtimov on 65 minutes. After that there was only one winner, though the Stags should have had a consolation when Adam Murray side-footed wide from a great position in stoppage time after Mansfield's best move of the game, involving Fergus Bell and Rhead. A disappointing night for the Stags. There were also calls for manager Paul Cox to go from a section of the crowd.

Mansfield made four changes from the side beaten by Burton, as Marsden replaced Beevers, Heslop came in for McGuire, Clements replaced the departed Clucas, and Fisher came in for Palmer. Personally I would have liked to have seen Jack Thomas given a game to get him some more experience. New signing Rakish Bingham was not eligible to play, having not signed in time on Monday. The departure of Clucas on Monday, with Bingham coming in using up part of those wages, means that the squad has been reduced to an unacceptably small size in my opinion, and Paul Cox said after the game that he has now been given permission to bring in a couple of loan players when the loan window opens. Notts County included Shaun Harrad on the bench, who played on trial for the Stags in pre-season and didn’t impress.

On a mild evening, in front of a big travelling support from the Stags for a JPT game including my dad who sat next to the recalled Liam Marsden’s dad, the game started quietly.

An early passing move from the Stags brought cheers from a section of the Stags fans, and then a long ball from the back brought some chants of hoof, and boos, in an apparently pre-planned chant. I was disappointed that boos and chanting of hoof were aimed at Marsden on one occasion, a young player whose confidence could easily be affected by such action. There were also some occasions where defenders had to clear quickly from the back to avoid trouble and there was no good alternative, and they were also booed, which was ill-judged in my opinion and could have led to a defender dilly-dallying on the ball instead of launching it.

On 12 minutes, a good tackle by Marsden on Noble just inside the Stags area. A minute later, Evtimov made a good save down low to his left from Ronan Murray. On 19 minutes, Riley did well to block shots from Ronan Murray not once but twice on the edge of his own box.

On 21 minutes, Edwards was booked for felling Rhead, who might have been through on goal. The resulting free kick from 32 yards, with the “experimental” paint sprayed by the ref on the edge of the D, was rolled to his right by Clements for Heslop to fire a low shot against the outside of the right post. A great effort from Heslop and the Stags unlucky.

On 23 minutes, Evtimov made a great save from a Ronan Murray piledriver from the right. Evtimov punched away the resulting corner.

On 27 minutes, a long throw from the left for the Stags fell to Adam Murray and for a split second he had a sight of goal but couldn’t pull the trigger.

Notts County broke to the far end and took the lead with a fine move. Adam Murray had done well to get back into his own box but he couldn’t hold off Ronan Murray who fired past Evtimov.

On 32 minutes, a great tackle by Tafazolli on the edge of his own box. A minute later, Cassidy weaved past Tafazolli one way then the other and slid a shot past the right post.

County went close on 34 minutes as Thompson dinked a cross into the middle form the right, and Brown left above Heslop and headed just wide. A good move from County.

A quiet period followed. Then on 45+1 minutes, Taylor whipped a good ball in from the left but it was cleared without a Stags forward getting on the end of it.

County deserved to be ahead at the break, after Heslop hit the post, while Evtimov made two good saves and Brown headed wide in addition to County’s goal.

Half time 1-0

On 46 minutes, a deflected shot rolled through to Evtimov. On 49 minutes, Edwards headed well wide from a cross. Then a quick County free kick and Ronan Murray shot straight at Evtimov from a tight angle.

On 52 minutes, Marsden did well to win a corner. Taylor took it from the right, deep to the far post, where Rhead headed wide.

On 54 minutes, Fisher collected an Evtimov long kick, did superbly to control it,hold off his marker, and get in a shot, which Spiess saved diving to his left. Great play from Fisher, who had been quiet in the game before that.

On 56 minutes, a Stags corner was cleared back to Taylor who long range shot was blocked. Then Adam Murray crossed from the right, and Fisher headed just wide. It was close.

On 63 minutes, Clements floated a free kick forward from about 45 yards from a central position and Rhead flicked a header wide, though the offside flag was up. It was similar to Rhead’s goal against Burton and another header in the same game.

But just as the Stags were in the ascendancy and creating chances, a sucker punch as Notts doubled their lead on 65 minutes. A quick free kick, and Cassidy got past Riley inside the box on the right and slid his shot under Evtimov. A soft goal to concede, made worse in that the Stags were on top, and Riley was at fault. From my position and from the TV camera angle, I could not tell if Evtimov should have done better but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Palmer replaced Fisher before play restarted. As Fisher came off he was waving his arms about giving the impression of being unhappy at coming off, but apparently it was just over one particular move that had broken down and not a show of dissent.

A chant of “We want Cox out” started from a small section of Stags fans.

Adam Murray was booked for a lunging foul on 69 minutes. On 71 minutes, Murray did well in a good move to get to the byline and his cross was cleared. Then a minute later, he was in the action again, doing superbly to win the ball in the Notts half, but the ball ricocheted off Palmer and at that moment Adam Murray was offside. A bit unlucky.

Fergus Bell replaced Clements on 73 minutes. Clements looked frustrated as he came off.

On 74 minutes, Tafazolli crossed to the right, Rhead nodded back across goal, and a Palmer header was saved on the line by keeper Spiess.

Shaun Harrad, on trial at Field Mill in pre-season, came on for Notts on 75 minutes, replacing Cassidy. On 78 minutes, a shot by Cranston was deflected by Tafazolli over the bar. From the resulting corner, a cross from the right led to a free shot for Mullins who sent a free shot over the bar.

A good run by Palmer on 79 minutes, but he lost the ball. Then at the other end, a good tackle by Tafazolli.

On 82 minutes, Palmer played a good ball to Bell, who made a good run to the edge of the box, but he was blocked before he could get in a shot.

A chant of “Stand up if you want Cox out” started up from a larger group than before.

On 87 minutes, Beevers replaced Marsden, who had taken a knock.

The Stags should have had a consolation when Adam Murray side-footed wide from a great position on 90+3 minutes after Mansfield's best move of the game, as Fergus Bell found Rhead who slid the ball in to Murray.

A poor performance from the Stags.

With regard to the chants for Cox to go, everyone’s entitled to share their opinion. When the chant of “Stand up if you want Cox out” rang out, John Lomas of the CHAD and I estimated from our vantage point directly opposite, that it was from somewhere under 30% of the Stags fans, probably around 20%, that chanted and stood up. A significant number. It’s clear many fans want to see Cox gone because they don’t like the style of football. But the style of football really hasn’t changed in 3 and a half years so it seems to me what has changed is people’s patience. There are other clubs who play more long ball than the Stags, Burton being a case in point, and it can be successful. Personally I’d prefer it if chants of hoof and boos and chants for the manager to go were kept to the end of the game, rather than during the game and even from the start of the game on this occasion, as that can affect the players and influence the result. Personally I’m more bothered about results than the style of football but I realise that not everyone feels the same. My own opinion, is that Cox’s record of 3rd, 1st, 11th, and currently 16th should afford him the opportunity to show what he can do with a very small budget this season. I think he can safely take us to a mid-table position at worst, which would be a significant achievement given the budget. A change of manager, which would still be accompanied by a small budget we assume, would put our football league position at huge risk in my opinion. Not many managers anywhere have better records than Paul Cox, and would be available without paying another club compensation. One name that often crops up is Richie Barker, a true Stags hero when here as a player. He was sacked as manager twice last season, latterly by Portsmouth after 2 months, according to their chairman for failing to motivate the players. So let’s be careful what we wish for.

Man of the match: Adam Murray/Liam Marsden

Report by: Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane

Line Up:
Evtimov 6.5 Made two good saves in the first half. I could not tell if he should have done better with the second goal.
Sutton 6 Did ok.
Riley 5 At fault for the second goal. Two good blocks in the first half.
Tafazolli 6.5 The pick of the back three, with some good tackles.
Marsden 7 Fine game all round.
Taylor 6 A couple of good crosses/corners.
Heslop 5.5 Great shot against the post. Otherwise, did not get involved enough.
Murray 7 Involved in most of the good things the Stags did. Should have scored right at the end.
Clements 5 One good floated free kick to create a chance for Rhead. But was not involved anywhere near enough.
Fisher 6 Poor first half, but improved after the break and had two good efforts.
Rhead 5.5 Frustrating first half. Had a couple of opportunities after the break.
Sub Line Up:
Palmer (for Fisher, 66) - Had a header saved on the line.
Fergus Bell (for Clements, 73) - Involved in the Stags’ best move of the game. Probably worth a start at Exeter in my opinion.
Beevers (for Marsden, 87) -
Sub not used: Studer, McGuire. (only 5 subs in JPT matches)
Opposition Line Up:
Spiess, Thompson, Edwards, Hollis, Cranston, Mullins, Noble (Wroe 83), Jones, Thompson, Cassidy (Harrad 75), Murray. Subs not used: Andrews, Keane, Whitehouse.
Mark Haywood 7 Hardly noticed, so must have been alright.

Season 14/15 Reports