STAGS BEATEN AT ALFRETON
A mixed Stags side were defeated 2-1 at neighbours Alfreton this evening. Stags target Ryan France was on the scoresheet for the home side, whilst the Stags goal was score by youth team striker Craig Mitchell. Alfreton grabbed a winner in the 89th minute.
Late goal sinks Stags
Grant Brown's 89th minute heade from Chris Dolby's corner snatched UniBond League Premier Division new boys Alfreton Town a deserved 2-1 success over Mansfield Town at North Street tonight.
By this stage only goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington was left on the field from the starting 11 and the side comprised mostly youth and reserve team players.
Stags had been given a tough training session earlier in the day and played the game fitted with heart monitors, the results of which will be given to manager Keith Curle tomorrow.
Trialists on show for Stags were Dave Artell (ex-Rotherham), Sheikh Kamara (ex-Fulham) and Chris Howard (ex-Leicester).
Most Mansfield first team regulars got 45 minutes under their belt.
Liam Lawrence and Chris Beardsley had half-chances for Stags in the first 45 minutes.
But Alfreton looked more creative and Pilkington had to get down to save well from Hemmings on 13 minutes.
The Reds were creating most of the chances and went ahead on 35 minutes when highly-rated winger Ryan France, who Stags were having a good look at, headed home Chris Bettney's cross after Lawrence had initially lost possession for the Stags.
Mansfield made six half-time changes and were finally level on 73 when Brown brought down Craig Mitchell and Mitchell dusted himself down to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot.
But that last minute set piece Achille's heel of last season -albeit with a very inexperienced side out - struck again as Brown made amends for his conceded penalty with a well placed free header at the death.
Pre-season friendly No. 2
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003
Alfreton Town 2, Mansfield Town 1
Report by Gordon Foster (Mansfield CHAD)
THEY say that results are the least important aspect of pre-season
friendlies - but try telling that to Alfreton fans after Tuesday night's
prestige victory over Division Three neighbours Mansfield.
Three days earlier the Stags had been feted for a famous victory over Kevin
Keegan's Premiership giants Manchester City.
But the boot at North Street was well and truly on the other foot as far as
Keith Curle's men were concerned, and there was no doubt that the result
properly reflected the play.
The Stags had fielded a recognisable first team for the opening half, but
they were not alone in ringing the changes after the break, and Reds boss
Dave Lloyd was full of praise afterwards for all 17 players used.
"Every one of the lads did well," insisted the enthusiastic Scot. "Like
Mansfield, we made a lot of changes in the second half, and we made one
mistake and were punished for it - I suppose when you are playing a League
club you expect that.
"We were without players like Lee Butler, Ian Robinson and Mick Godber, but
all the new lads and trialists fitted in well, and we had a few chances to
have scored more.
"It was good to see young Lee McNally coming on - he's only just turned 17,
but was not fazed at all by the experience and showed a lot of skill on the
ball. He's one who will get his chance if he maintains his progress."
In defence of his side, Stags boss Curle pointed out that they had undergone
a hard training session during the day, and were playing the game with heart
monitors attached, but it should also be said that many of the Reds side had
done a day's 'proper' work too.
Ryan France headed Alfreton into a thoroughly deserved 35th-minute lead, but
Craig Mitchell levelled from the penalty spot on 73, before Grant Brown, who
had conceded the spot kick, atoned by heading the last minute winner.
The result aside, the most pleasing aspect of the evening from Alfreton's
point of view must have been the solidity of the back four.
That department, much maligned last season, had only Carl Bradshaw
But he, together with newcomers Neil Grayston and Grant Brown plus trialist
James Cotterill from Scunthorpe, ensured that the Stags hardly ever looked
Cotterill in particular was composed and faultless, and just about Reds' man
of the match.
In midfield Emeka Nwadike also put in an all-action performance which, if he
maintains through the season, will certainly endear him to the Reds fans.
In the opening half, when both sides played their strongest sides, a
stranger would have been hard put to identify which was the League club.
Stags had a ghost of a chance in the fifth minute when Wayne Corden took
advantage of a misplaced pass by John Knapper and made ground into the area,
but the winger over-hit the ball and Stuart Ford was able to collect.
Liam Lawrence volleyed wide at the end of a fluent crossfield move, but as
Alfreton began to take a grip they might have grabbed a 13th-minute lead.
Grayston's pinpoint cross from the left was headed down by Knapper for Tony
Hemmings, whose close range volley was smothered on the line by Kevin
Ford put his defence under pressure when he spilled the ball after saving
from Lawrence, but then intelligently cut the angle to give Chris Beardsley
nothing to shoot at, both occasions after good work by the bustling Andy
Lee Williamson was reduced to a foul challenge to halt Hemmings' surging run
forward on the half-hour, but Bradshaw curled his 25-yard shot from a tapped
free kick just over the angle.
That was on the half-hour, but five minutes later the Reds took a deserved
lead. The lively Chris Bettney capitalised as Lawrence gave the ball away
too cheaply. The winger, on the right of the box, made himself space for the
cross, and France, who had drifted inside, arrived at the back post to put
away a crisp close range header.
France, obviously having the rule run over him by Curle, showed his paces
two minutes before half time, bursting through the middle from half way, and
it took a crude challenge by Welsh international Rhys Day to stop him.
On the night, though, the sought-after winger did not do quite enough of
that to convince the Stags boss that he was significantly better than what
was already in place at Field Mill, although Curle added afterwards: "He is
someone we will keep our eye on."
Stags made six changes at half time, bringing on mostly younger players,
including the highly-rated Alex John-Baptiste and the more experienced
And, as the half progressed, both sides made further substitutions, so that
keeper Pilkington remained the only Stags player to do the full 90 minutes.
Brown glanced a downward header wide from a Bradshaw free kick, and after
Cotterill had dealt competently with a dangerous-looking Mendes cross, Chris
Dolby - who had replaced France - should have done better than to fire wide
from close range after persistent work by fellow-sub Ian Askey had opened up
Andy Davies did just enough to take the ball off Mick Goddard's toe when a
goal appeared certain as he was about to put away Grayston's through ball.
But on 73 minutes Mansfield were level. Mitchell, showing an electric burst
of pace, went down under Brown's mistimed challenge as he angled into the
area from the left. The referee's whistle and his linesman's flag across his
chest were simultaneous, and Mitchell himself got up to beat Ford with a
hard, low spot kick.
However, just when it seemed that it would end with honours even, Alfreton
won a corner on the right, taken by Bettney, whose accurate flag kick was
thumped into the net by the head of Brown, to seal the victory.
ALFRETON TOWN: Ford (Saxby 80), Bradshaw, Grayston, Cotterill (McNally 80),
Brown, Knapper (Carrington 59), France (Dolby 52), Hemmings (Askey 57),
Goddard, Nwadike (Circuit 64), Bettney.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Pilkington, Clarke (Davies h/t), Williamson (Jones 67),
MacKenzie (John-Baptiste h/t), Day (Mendes h/t), Artell (Howard 77),
Lawrence (Mulligan 67), Disley (Sheikhkamara h/t), Beardsley (T. Curle h/t),
White (Mitchell 57), Corden (Hurst h/t).
REFEREE: Darren Drysdale of Lincoln.
SCORERS: Alfreton - France 35; Brown 89. Mansfield - Mitchell 73 (pen).
Latest | July 2003