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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Hartlepool United  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Walker pen 47
Attendance: 4,166 (317 from Mansfield)
Date: 21 March 2015


Martin Shaw at Victoria Park

Mansfield Town brought defeat on themselves in a frustrating afternoon at Hartlepool. In a very tight game, Hartlepool rarely looked like scoring but were gifted a penalty on 47 minutes that was to prove the only goal of the game. It was a personal disaster for Lee Beevers, goalscorer and my man of the match on Tuesday, who went from hero to zero. It started with a poor clearance from Beevers straight into Nicky Feathersone, Featherstone broke forward and got goalside of Beevers in the box on the left, and Beevers unnecessarily brought him down for what looked a clear penalty to me despite protests from the Stags players. Brad Walker sent Pidgeley the wrong way from the spot. 12 minutes later a very high kick from Junior Brown, with his studs going into the face Brad Walker, gave the referee no choice but to issue a red card. It was a bad mistake from Brown in my opinion, even though he didn’t mean to injure the player. Even down to 10 men, it was the Stags who came closest to scoring with Kee’s low free kick from 20 yards well saved by Scott Flinders on 74 minutes, and then Clements bringing an ever better save from the keeper with a terrific shot from the edge of the box that Flinders beat away. Stags boss Adam Murray had thrown 4 men up front, leaving just 3 at the back and 2 in midfield but the Stags couldn’t force the equaliser and Hartlepool hung on for a massive win that moves them within a point of safety (goal difference aside). The Stags remain 8 points above the relegation zone with 8 games left: 8 points above Cheltenham and Tranmere, 7 above York, and 9 above Hartlepool. Very frustrating but no panic for the Stags, who have taken 17 points from 11 games, and have a point more than the corresponding stage last season. But it goes without saying that next Saturday’s game at home to York is a big one. Come on Mansfield!

Hartlepool came into the game with huge momentum. They have been bottom and well adrift all season but two away wins on the trot had given them fresh hope and the reduction of ticket prices in order to generate an atmosphere was a master stroke, and it worked with a vociferous crowd of 4,166. Meanwhile Adam Murray has talked frequently about the “one per cents” and “marginal gains” that contribute to making the difference in this league, most recently talking about players washing their hands properly. In my opinion, the correct preparation for this important game would have been travelling up the night before, but Murray was not allowed to do that. The journey took 3.5 hours this morning and that cannot be right for players who we need playing at the top of their game.

Murray made three changes from the critical win over AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday. In came Terry Hawkridge for his debut. Hawkridge signed on loan from Scunthorpe yesterday for the rest of the season. Also in came Michael Raynes and Simon Heslop. Out went Oliver, Tafazolli and Lambe. I asked Murray after the game whether Tafazolli was rested and Murray confirmed he was. He said that the decisions had been taken based on the number of games played recently and also things like who would deal best with the long travelling on the morning of the game. It was a 4-1-4-1 formation with Raynes alongside Riley in central defence. McGuire sat in front of the back four. Hawkridge and Brown were either side of Clements and Heslop who were given free rein to get forward and help out Billy Kee up front. Rakish Bingham, who played on loan at Hartlepool this season and scored one goal, was on the bench for the Stags. As an aside, the loan window closes soon, and Murray confirmed after the game that he would not be bringing any more loan players after Hawkridge as he can only play 5 in a matchday squad, and he doesn’t want another player sat in the stands.

It was a windy afternoon on the North-East coast. The Stags had the wind behind them in the first half.

The Stags had the first chance on 2 minutes as Brown headed wide from a Beevers cross.

On 6 minutes, a Pidgeley free kick well into the Hartlepool half and Dan Jones tried to head it back to his keeper, Flinders had come out of his goal but was able to get back and claim it. A minute later, Ryan Bird got past Martin Riley on the right and put in a low cross that Beevers put behind for a corner. On 8 minutes, a mistake by Junior Brown allowed Brad Walker a run at goal but Riley did well to hold him off.

Moments later, a Hartlepool cross from the right was headed up and Pidgeley claimed it. The strength of the wind was confirmed as Pidgeley’s kick from his hands was massive and after it bounced just about on the penalty spot, it landed on the roof of the net.

On 19 minutes, a quick free kick from Clements and after a good one two with Hawkridge and then another with Heslop, he got into the box but it was put out for a corner.

From the corner from the right taken by Clements, Raynes got in a good header which flashed just wide. It was close. I think it was the closest a Mansfield central defender has come to a goal for some while.

On 29 minutes, poor play from Beevers trying to run the ball out of play and then, when he lost it, he gave away a free kick near the corner flag. It was poor from Beevers and he was to fail to learn his lesson early in the second half. Pidgeley easily collected the resulting free kick.

On 34 minutes, a Stags free kick from the half way line from Clements and eventually Hawkridge knocked the ball goalwards but after the keeper fumbled it, it was just cleared. A minute later at the other end, a Hartlepool cross from the right and a good header away by McGuire.

Clements was booked for a late tackle on 38 minutes.

On 41 minutes, Hawkridge played a ball over the top for Kee whose shot was blocked for a corner. From that corner, the ball eventually came back for Clements who miscued a soft shot goalwards. On 45 minutes, great tracking back from Hawkridge to stop an attack. A minute later, Tshibola fired well wide from 25 yards. A minute after that, good defending from Beevers who did well to block Jordan Jones attempting to cut inside and shoot. On 45+4 minutes, a great block from McGuire as Featherstone was about to shoot from the edge of the box.

It was an even first half. The Stags went closest to opening the scoring with the header from Raynes.

Half time 0-0

The Stags were behind just two minutes after the break and it was such an unnecessary goal to concede. Elder took a Mansfield throw near the corner flag as the Stags attacked. The ball was quickly cleared into the Mansfield half where Beevers headed the ball away, to Clements. Beevers got the ball straight back from Clements and tried to clear down field but only hit the ball straight into Featherstone who broke forward, got into the box and goalside of Beevers on the left and Beevers bundled him over from behind. It looked a clear penalty to me despite the Stags protests. Poor defending. Brad Walker took the penalty kick and sent Pidgeley the wrong way burying the ball into the right corner of the net.

Murray made his first change on 50 minutes bringing on Oliver for Heslop and reverting to 4-4-2 with the Stags now chasing the game.

On 52 minutes, Austin got into the box on the left, cut inside Clements and curled a shot well over the bar.

On 53 minutes, Murray made his second change bringing on Lambe for Hawkridge in a straight swap. Hawkridge hadn’t been given the ball enough to make an impression.

On 56 minutes, a good header away from Raynes and then a good clearance away by McGuire. On 59 minutes, the wind played a part with a big kick from Flinders and Bird nearly got a touch on it as it went through Pidgeley.

The Stags were down to 10 men on 59 minutes. Junior Brown was sent off for very high kick, with his studs going into the face Brad Walker. The Stags were unhappy with the decision but from looking at the DVD, I don’t think there can be any complaints. It was a bad mistake from Brown in my opinion, even though he didn’t mean to injure the player. Brown will now miss 3 games and his fellow winger Lambe will also of course miss one of those games next week against York, on international duty, making it even more costly.

On 62 minutes, a low cross from Franks and Bird miscued a shot that deflected off Raynes over the bar.

On 63 minutes, Kee was booked for protesting a decision, and, in the aftermath, with McGuire trying to calm him down, Kee pushed McGuire out of the way. Whilst it looked like an incident you don’t want to see, I don’t think there is any issue between the players and was purely borne from frustration from Kee.

On 66 minutes, a good break forward by Lambe, who played the ball to Kee but Kee misplaced his pass back to Lambe.

On 68 minutes, Raynes was booked for a high challenge on the touchline. It was nowhere near as bad as Brown’s challenge and yellow was the right decision. On 71 minutes, a good move between Oliver and Kee but Oliver strayed offside.

On 71 minutes, Bingham replaced Beevers. A mixtures of boos and applause for Bingham from the home fans. The Stags went to a 3-3-3 formation with Bingham, Oliver and Kee up front, Lambe, Clements and McGuire in midfield, and just three defenders.

The Stags were so close to getting an elusive penalty on 74 minutes with a clear hand ball just two yards outside the Hartlepool box. Kee took the resulting free kick in a central position 20 yards out and his low shot was well saved low down to his right by Flinders. It was a good effort from Kee.

A minute later, a clear foul on Bingham was not given, Hartlepool broke but a cross went over everybody.

The Stags were now looking open at the back through the necessity of striving for an equaliser.

On 77 minutes, there was a good move from the Stags around the edge of the box, and Kee’s shot was blocked, and then Lambe’s shot was saved low on his line by keeper Flinders. A minute later, at the other end, a good tackle by Clements on the edge of his own box.

The Stags were so close to equalising on 79 minutes with a double chance. Elder’s long throw into the box fell to Bingham 12 yards out. His left footed shot was blocked and it came straight out to Clements who fired in a blockbuster from 23 yards which was heading for the top left hand corner before it was brilliantly beaten away by the keeper. It was a terrific effort from Clements.

Straight to the other end and a tame shot from Jordan Jones was easily saved.

McGuire was booked for a late tackle on 86 minutes.

On 87 minutes, a good run from Lambe who squared to Kee but Kee’s first touch was poor and the chance was gone. No more chances for either side despite five minutes of stoppage time.

Scenes of joy at the final whistle from the home fans who now believe their side can avoid the drop. So much frustration for Mansfield, and two moments of madness, by Beevers and by Brown, were very costly indeed. The Stags will look to bounce back in a key game against York next week.

Man of the match: Jamie McGuire

Report by: Martin Shaw at Victoria Park

Line Up:
Pidgeley 6 Didn’t have a save to make apart from the penalty.
Beevers 4 Badly at fault for the only goal of the game. Gave away an unnecessary free-kick in the first half too.
Riley 6 Did ok. Allowed Ryan Bird to get past him early on, but after that some good defending.
Raynes 7 Some good blocks and clearances. Came close to scoring.
Elder 5 Difficult afternoon against Jonathan Franks. Slipped over several times.
McGuire 7 Several good blocks and clearances. Protected the defence well.
Hawkridge 6 Did ok, no mistakes, on his debut, but wasn’t give the ball enough to make an impression.
Heslop 5 Didn’t make things happen.
Clements 6.5 Came so close with a great shot late on. Fine corner for Raynes’ header. Tried to make things happen.
Brown 4 Bad mistake for the sending off. Wasn’t having a good game anyway, but his absence will cause a problem with Lambe absent next week as well.
Kee 5.5 Frustrating game. Good effort from the free-kick, but other efforts blocked and poor touch on occasion.
Sub Line Up:
Oliver (for Heslop, 50) 5 Involved in one good move but strayed offside. Otherwise didn’t get involved enough.
Lambe (for Hawkridge, 53) 7 Some good breaks, and one shot saved on the line.
Bingham (for Beevers, 71) - Lively. One shot blocked.
Subs not used: Studer, Sutton, Ravenhill, Rhead.
Opposition Line Up:
(3-5-2): Flinders; Austin, Harrison (J Jones 33), Mirfin, D Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Walker (Hawkins 90+3), Tshibola; Franks, Bird. Subs not used: Maxted, Harewood, Nelson-Addy, Richards, Smith.
Darren Handley 7 Got the major decisions right with the penalty and the sending-off of Brown. A few odd less major decisions.

Season 14/15 Reports