STOCKPORT 2 STAGS 2
Stockport County 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
Easter 48, 66. Dawson 22, Birchall 31.
Att 4970 (1100 from Mansfield)
06 August 2005
Easter double frustrates Stags
JERMAINE Easter spoiled new-look Mansfield Town's afternoon with two second half goals to grab a point for Stockport County in the season opener at Edgeley Park this afternoon.
Stags had led 2-0 at the break through Stephen Dawson (22) and Adam Birchall (31) with Kevin Pressman only having one real save to make in the first half.
But the second half belonged largely to Stockport and debutant Easter pulled one back just three minutes into the second half before hauling them level on 66.
However, Stags still deserved their point and finished the game the stronger.
Much had been made of Carlton Palmer's return to his old club and he gave an assured display as Stags dominated a first half short on goalmouth incident.
Stags had seven of the starting XI making debuts with only Rhys Day from the 16 that played the first game of last season.
Naming himself in the side, Palmer sprang three surprises, leaving out Uhlenbeek, Buxton and Rundle from the pre-season friendlies, bringing in Hjelde, McLachlan and Tipton.
The game saw a relatively quiet first 15 minutes with just a shot off target by Tipton on seven minutes the nearest to a goal.
Barker also beat keeper Spencer to a through ball but, from a tight angle, finished well off target.
When Boshell blazed over from Stockport's first corner of the game on 21 minutes it summed up the game so far.
But Stags swept ahead straight after that. From Tipton's square ball, Dawson stroked home a sweet low shot from 20 yards which went just inside Spencer's left hand post.
Stockport almost levelled within two minutes as Briggs latched onto McLachlan's loose ball and drilled in a low shot which Pressman got down well to save.
At the other end Day headed wide of the far post from Jelleyman's free kick.
But Birchall made it 2-0 on 31 minutes. He took control of the ball just outside the box, looked up and beat Spencer on his near post with a fierce low finish.
Briggs was just over the angle with a curling 20-yard effort in reply two minutes later.
Stags solidly defended two home corners to go into the interval with their 2-0 advantage.
But Easter put the home side back in the hunt within three minutes of the restart.
He turned in the box, eight yards from goal and got in a shot which, although not struck truly, still managed to creep inside the post with Pressman rooted.
Palmer was replaced by Coke on 56 minutes, the away fans giving him a standing ovation as the home fans booed.
Raynes was booked for a foul on Barker on 64 minutes but Barker sent the free kick straight into the wall.
Hamshaw replaced Singh on 65 minutes and within a minute had created the equaliser.
His free kick was headed towards his own goal by Jelleyman and Easter was on hand to finish from almost on the line with Pressman helpless.
Stags sent on Rundle in place of Birchall before the game restarted.
Tipton was just too high as he whipped in a vicious first time blast from the right of the box on 70 minutes.
Stags had a let-off on 80 minutes when Easter arrived just too late to head home Briggs' superb cross with Pressman wide open.
Then Tipton rifled just over at the other end with another powerful shot from the right.
Stags won a corner on 87 minutes which saw Stockport break quickly and neat passing gave Bramble sight of goal, only Jelleyman's last ditch challenge making sure his finish span out for a corner.
Stags finished the game strongly and piled on the late pressure, though Easter did head wide with a brief chance for Stockport from Hamshaw's cross.
The visitors forced two late corners and almost snatched it in the second minute of stoppage time as Tipton put the corner across and Day planted a firm header inches wide of the post.
Stockport County Official Site:
There is always something special about the start of a new season. Fans optimism, combined with a host of new signings make for great excitement on and off the pitch.
Chris Turner had a strong squad to choose from with only Danny Griffin and Mark Robertson missing, that meant that he was able to include all of his summer signings in a new look squad. Matt Duke and Michael Malcolm who only signed yesterday were on the bench.
Carlton Palmer included himself in the Mansfield line up, alongside former County player Fraser McLachlan. There was also a start for summer signings Kevin Pressman, Matthew Tipton and Adam Birchill.
This was a high tempo game from the outset with both teams wanting to impress. Indeed with so many new players in both camps the bookies couldn't split them.
It was predictably an ill-tempered affair, with all the pre-season niceties over with; tackles came thick and fast. Bramble was the first player to be spoken to, when he clattered into the Mansfield defence.
County and Mansfield created good chances in the opening few minutes but it wasn't until the 12th minute that a real noteable chance came along. Some good build up play allowed Singh to cross to Tes Bramble, who could only head wide.
Bramble had an opportunity moments later to put the Hatters in front when he won the ball and ran at the Mansfield defence, he could see Jermaine Easter in plenty of space but decided to shoot straight at Pressman.
Robert Clare was next to create a good chance when he shot just wide from a County throw-in.
It was Mansfield who got the breakthrough though; when Adam Birchill shot from outside the 18 yard box underneath a sea of County bodies, Spencer should have done better.
County were nearly back on level terms when Keith Briggs was set free in the Mansfield area but his shot was well saved by the former Sheffield Wednesday man.
Mansfield extended their lead on the half hour mark when Birchill scored a similiar goal to his first. His powerful shot from the edge of the area, following some good play by Mansfield tricked the County defence and the usually bouyant crowd were put into stunned silence.
Harpal Singh was busy down the left wing all afternoon and everytime he ran at the Mansfield he sent the away team into a panic, unfortunately for County his dangerous crosses never came to fruition.
County finally got back into the game when Jermaine Easter was able to shoot through a sea of players following good work from fellow debutant Danny Boshell.
A deep cross by Mark Robinson found Tes Bramble in the area, but the former Southend man was unable to bring County on level terms as the ball bounced awkwardly allowing Pressman to gather with ease.
County were back on level terms seconds after introducing Matt Hamshaw, however the referee nearly disallowed after it looked like some infringement in the area. Jermaine Easter shot through a crowd of players to raise a smile around Edgeley Park.
The Edgeley Park faithful were nearly put into stunned silence minutes later however when Matthew Tipton shot just over the County crossbar.
County nearly took the lead when Matt Hamshaw produced a beautiful pass to find Keith Briggs in plenty of space. Briggs cross found Bramblke at the far post but he could not get a touch on the ball and it floated just wide.
Tes Bramble was again as he shot high and wide over the County bar, having been set up by Man of the Match Jermaine Easter who delivered a good cross into the box.
Easter himself, missed a good opportunity merely seconds later when he headed well wide from a good Hamshaw cross.
In the end though the spoils were shared in this exciting season opener.
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