PROMISING STAGS LET DOWN BY DEFENDING
Shrewsbury Town 2-2 Mansfield Town
Drummond 21, Edwards 30. Hamshaw 17, Brown 42
Att: 5066 (842 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at Gay Meadow
Mansfield Town made a very promising start to the new season with a hard fought 2-2 draw in their last ever visit to Gay Meadow this afternoon, but it could have been a victory if the defending from set pieces had been better. The Stags always looked lively going forward with Boulding, Hamshaw and Brown all impressive, but at the back there was real concern as the home side looked like scoring every time they pumped balls into the Stags box.
Man of the match: Michael Boulding
Stagsnet report now in the Match Centre.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn.
STAGS SHARE SPOILS WITH SHREWS
Shrewsbury Town (2) 2 Mansfield Town (2) 2
Drummond 21, Edwards 30. Hamshaw 17, Brown 42.
Attendance – 5066 (842 Staggies)
The Stags got their season underway with an entertaining if not frustrating 2-2 draw at one of League 2's promotion favourites, Shrewsbury Town. In a typical season opener of short sleeves and sun it was the home side who were feeling 'hot under the collar' when Stags, slightly against the run of play, took a 17th minute lead. Within a further 13 minutes though The Shrews had surged into a 2-1 lead before Stags hotshot, Simon Brown drew the sides level just before the break.
Stags boss, Peter Shirtliff, beginning his first full season in charge at the Field Mill Club started with a straight 4-4-2 formation with new signings, Mullins and Hamshaw making their Mansfield Town League debuts.
In a bright start both teams created but it was the home side that looked the more threatening with Edwards and Davies causing concern in the opening 10 minutes. Boulding though did link up well with Barker on two minutes but fired into the side netting from a tight angle.
The Shrews playing their last season at their traditional home of Gay Meadow were beginning to find their passes and being a big and physical side were utilizing their abilities by pumping high and dangerous balls at the Stags defence.
However on 17 minutes Stags broke away to score a season opener of real style. Brown picked the ball up and fed Boulding on the left. Boulding made a decisive run to the byeline before delivering a perfect cross across the goalmouth for the incoming Matt Hamshaw to score from close range.
Stags came close to making it 2-0 moments later but after good work on the right, Brown saw his effort blocked.
The home side though drew level on 21 minutes through Drummond. A corner from former Chester City man, Davies was met by Drummond who rose above the Stags defence to head the ball down and up into the top corner of the net. Last seasons problems of defending set pieces had once more come to the fore and proved The Stags undoing.
It was 2-1 to the home side on the half hour mark. A series of corners in which Davies and Sorvel linked up well to deliver saw Edwards beat Hjelde to the cross to head Shrewsbury into the lead.
At this point of the game it looked as if the home side were going to score each time they threw the ball into the Stags area.
Stags almost drew level on 33 minutes but Hamshaw's header landed on the roof of the net.
Shrewsbury almost added a 3rd on 35 minutes but the agility of Muggleton denied Edwards.
On 42 minutes Stags drew themselves level and it was once again a goal of quality. Coke picked the ball up in midfield and although tackled well managed to feed the ball to D'Laryea who in turn fed Barker on the left hand side of the area. Barker forged forward and delivered a perfect cross onto the head of his striking partner, Simon Brown.
Brown had a chance of making the half time cuppa taste even better but from a good shooting position, missed the ball completely and from the loose ball, Coke saw his shot blocked.
The Stags had a great chance of going ahead five minutes into the 2nd half but after good work Brown chose to shoot from a tight angle when a ball across the six yard box to the waiting Boulding would have been the better option.
A mis-placed back header from Hjelde caused concern and Muggleton had to be alert to come racing out of his area to clear the ball. However his clearance landed at the feet of Davies who with Muggleton out of position shot towards goal but Baptiste was on hand the clear the danger.
Both sides were going full out for the winner and chances came thick and fast. Dawson replaced Coke in midfield and almost made a dream start. A Stags corner was headed back and Dawson unleashed a powerful shot that the Shrews keeper spectacularly saved.
Stags were in search of another goal and Mullins was unfortunate to see his glanced header from a Jelleyman cross go inches wide of the goal with the keeper flat-footed.
The new Stags right back was forced into action at the other end moments later when he brilliantly denied Edwards with a great blocking tackle.
Former Stags front man, Derek Asamoah came on for the home side on 71 minutes and although still full of dangerous close skills and speed, failed to turn the game for his new team.
Muggleton failed to take a hotshot but the Stags were alive to the trouble and cleared with ease.
Stags made changes late on when Birchall came on for Brown. Birchall moved onto the left hand side and Barker and Boulding were paired up front.
The last five minutes of the game saw both sides seem to settle for a share of the spoils.
It had been an entertaining start to the new season but one that Stags Boss Peter Shirtliff was less than pleased with commenting after the game that his side had failed to convert their chances when in command of the game.
One point gained or two thrown away? The debate will go on long but the game proved two things, Stags going forward look a class act, but that old worry over set-pieces still needs working on.
Observer Man of the match – Michael Boulding. (The returning former tennis player looked eager for the ball throughout and will prove a great addition to the Stags squad.)
Esson, Hall, Ashton, Drummond, Hope, Sorvel, Langmead (Symes 79), Herd (Asamoah 71), Davies, Edwards (Williams 90), Burton.
Subs not used – Cowan, Mackenzie.
Booked – Herd 26, Hall 38.
Goals – Drummond 21, Edwards 30.
Attempts on goal 11.
Muggleton, Mullins, Jelleyman, D'Laryea, Hjelde, Baptiste, Hamshaw, Barker, Brown (Birchall 73), Boulding, Coke (Dawson 60).
Subs not used – White, Buxton, Beardsley.
Booked – Brown 36, Mullins 58, Barker 61.
Goals – Hamshaw 17, Brown 42.
Attempts on goal 8
Stags kick-off with a draw
STAGS began the new season with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Shrewsbury Town at Gay Meadow on Saturday.
After a cagey start buoyant Shrewsbury settled well and nearly opened the scoring when the
dangerous Dave Edwards went close with a header on 7mins and tricky winger Ben Davies fired wide from 20 yards two minutes later.
Yet against the run of play Mansfield took the lead when Matt Hamshaw fired home from close range after 16 minutes following a slick passing move, involving Brown and the prolific Barker down the left wing.
But the lead proved shortlived as a determined Shrewsbury, who are playing their last season at
Gay Meadow, turned up the heat and pushed forward in search of the equaliser.
And the bumper home crowd didn't have long to wait when an inswinging corner from the impressive Ben Davies picked out the towering Stewart Drummond, who powered a header home from four-yards on 21mins.
The equaliser seemed to give Shrewsbury a new lease of life as the Shropshire side grew in confidence as tricky Davies and beanpole stikers Edwards and Langmead cause the Stags defence big problems.
And Shrewsbury's pressure finally paid off when another fierce inswinging corner from energetic
Davies left Stags' defence flat-footed and allowed unmarked Edwards to fire home from short range on 30 mins.
Rampant Shrewsbury threated to extend their lead as their tough-tackling midfielders and fluid
passive moves forced Stags on the back foot.
Pacey Edwards nearly added a third when he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the Stags box following shakey defending and fired over Muggleton's bar on 36mins.
But again Stags scored against the run of play to grab an undeserved equaliser just before the
break after a slick three-man move.
A defence-splitting pass by the industrious Coke put hitman Barker clean through on goal, who fired across the goal allowing gleeful Simon Brown to tap home into an empty net.
Stags had Alex Baptiste to thank for keeping them in the game as Shrewsbury continued to put
the struggling Stags' defence under severe pressure in the second half.
Under-pressure Baptiste cleared a fierce flick on from towering Edwards off the line at the
backpost following a long throw in on 56mins.
And moments later Baptiste again cleared off the line when Davies attempted to lob a stranded
Muggleton, who had rushed to the edge of the box to smartly deny the alert Davies.
Stags weathered the storm and began to enjoy a good spell of pressure.
Winger Boulding nearly gave Stags the lead when his piledriver was blocked for a corner on 62 mins,and substitute Stephen Dawson also went close when his 16-yard shot was flicked over the bar by Esson.
Stags continued to push for the winner and forced a series of corners on 75min, which saw Barker go close when his shot was blocked in a crowded goalmouth.
And with early-season tiredness and tension creeping in the game began to fizzle out as both sides happily settled for an opening-day draw.