Leyton Orient 1 Mansfield 3
By Martin Shaw at Brisbane Road
Mansfield made 2 changes from the team beaten at home by Darlington as John Andrews came in for Andy Roscoe at left back and Michael Boulding started in place of the injured Lormor in attack. New loan signing Andy Evans from Barnsley was not even on the team coach, let alone in the squad.
Stags made the best possible start and took the lead after only 2 minutes. Darrell Clarke received the ball on the corner of the 6 yard box from a Lee Williams throw-in, and flicked the ball up before hitting it on the turn and it bobbled past the Orient keeper into the corner of the net. A wonderful start and it could have been better within minutes. Boulding broke down the left and his teasing cross just eluded Greenacre as it looked as though Stags would immediately go two ahead. Another cross from Boulding flashed across the face of the goal with no Stags player there to turn it in. Orient had their first dangerous spell as a free kick from 20 yards eluded everybody and just went past the post. During the early stages, Orient substitute, and former Stags striker, Iyseden Christie was warming up in front of the Stags fans for some time and spent much time talking to Stags substitute David Kerr.
Boulding was dispossessed on the edge of the Orient box but as the Orient defender tried to play the ball back to his keeper, he under-hit his back pass and Boulding nipped in but shot straight at the keeper from six yards when he should have scored. Then Williams had a fine shot from 18 yards that was tipped round the post by the keeper though amazingly a goal kick was given by the ref.
After 25 minutes, Christie was in the action when he replaced the injured Martin for Orient. Only minutes after coming on, he used his pace to force his way past Asher but from the edge of the box and with just Thompson to beat, he screwed his shot well wide to howls of laughter from the Stags fans. Then with another burst of pace he broke past the defenders and chipped the ball past the advancing Thompson, but the ball rolled inches wide. Then, after Thompson attempted to catch a cross but was impeded by his own defender Linighan, the ball dropped to an Orient attacker whose shot from 10 yards was well saved by the Stags keeper. Next Christie shot powerfully from an acute angle but straight at Thompson who palmed the ball away for a corner. So at half time, Stags went in ahead 1-0 and had looked very dangerous numerous times on the break. Boulding’s pace caused problems over and over again for the home defence though it was noticeable that his lack of strength meant he lost the ball on a few occasions. Blake and Sisson had fought like terriers in the middle with Blake particularly outstanding and seemingly winning every loose ball. Asher, Fortune and Andrews had also played well at the back.
Stags went further ahead 6 minutes into the second half. Lee Williams put in a great cross from the right which was headed on by Greenacre and Orient midfielder Wim Walschaerts headed the ball firmly past his own keeper Barrett into the bottom of the net. The cheeky Greenacre was soon seen signalling to everyone that it was his goal, but in truth it could only go down as an own goal. Soon afterwards, Michael Boulding found himself with a free shot from 6 yards but he could only shoot down into the ground and it bounced up into the grateful hands of the Orient keeper.
From that moment on, Stags found themselves under almost constant pressure from the home side and there was a succession of chances with 2 more falling to the lively Christie. First his blockbuster from 15 yards on the run was brilliantly tipped round the post by Thompson. Then, his chip from a tight angle was tipped over the bar by the Stags keeper. On 73 minutes, Stags’ luck ran out when from a corner, Orient captain Dean Smith headed powerfully home from close range. Christie was continuing to be dangerous but Fortune was man-marking him and doing a good job trying to minimise the impact. Two further headers over the bar including one from the dangerous Ampadu when Stags’ defenders were beaten followed and there was a shot into the side netting that initially looked like it had gone in. The Stags just could not get hold of the ball for any period longer than about 15 seconds and the tension was rising to almost unbelievable heights.
But suddenly in what seemed like the first attack for 35 minutes, and right as my watch showed full-time, the Stags broke with a 2 on 1 situation. Clarke took the ball to the edge of the box and passed to Greenacre 5 yards to his left. The Stags’ striker composed himself, beat the defender, and shot low under Orient keeper Barrett from 16 yards. Greenacre had the goal he yearned for and he looked suitably delighted and relieved as were the 100 Stags fans who knew victory was secure. Seconds later, the board indicated two minutes of injury time but by now we could all relax.
So a much needed 3 points for the Stags, mainly thanks to an attacking first half display and a fortunate own goal. The first half performance of young Micky Boulding was very encouraging but the way Mansfield lost a grip of the game in the second half will be of concern to manager Billy Dearden as the midfield simply disintegrated and Mansfield were literally unable to hold on to the ball for more than 15 seconds at any time. Iyseden Christie was a lively customer for the Stags’ defence after he came on as an early substitute and he created numerous chances for himself. Having said that, on-loan defender Jon Fortune generally did well to stop the former Stags’ striker running riot. The 35 minutes of pressure that Stags were put under in the second half was as nerve-wracking as any I can remember and at one point, I noticed manager Billy Dearden looking around at his bench and pointing to the few grey hairs on his head as if to signal his worry at the pressure his team was under.
This victory puts Mansfield back to parity for the season with as many wins as defeats and sets them back up for a push for the play-offs again after the disappointment of 3 straight defeats. It was a game I had not expected the Stags to win, against an Orient side who had put together a great run since Christmas. Also considering the fact that Mansfield had not won at Brisbane Road since a Kevin Kent winner in 1986.
And so on to Lincoln where the Stags will have to re-create the form of the first half at Orient and hopefully not that of the second half.
Man of the Match: Jon Fortune – steady throughout against the dangerous Christie
Thompson 6 One great save but did not dominate his box in the second half
Williams 6 Good cross for the second goal but generally quiet
Andrews 6 Played at left back and did okay
Asher 6 Good in the first half but looked nervous in the second and failed to dominate the Orient attackers
Fortune 7 Dealt well with the threat of the lively Christie
Linighan 6 Solid
Sisson 7 Fine performance in first half in midfield but surprisingly withdrawn in second half
Blake 7 Won every ball in the midfield until the last 35 minutes when lost control of the game
Clarke 6 Scored early goal and had a good first half but anonymous in the second until he set up the second goal
Boulding 7 Excellent first half when caused trouble continually for the home defence but completely went missing after he missed the chance to make it 3-0 and later replaced
Greenacre 6 Reasonable first half but not able to keep hold of the ball in the second half. Hopefully his goal will now increase his confidence
Kerr 5 (for Sisson, 68 minutes) Failed to make any impression in midfield
Roscoe 6 (for Boulding, 85 minutes)
Subs not used:
Williamson, Cowling, Tye