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Archived News from February 2007

5th February 2007 14:44

Evening Post, 05 February 2007

Billy Dearden today declared himself happy with his first month since returning to the Mansfield manager's job.

The Stags boss felt his side had dropped two points in Saturday's 1-1 draw with ten-man Shrewsbury on Saturday.

But the result saw Mansfield make it four games unbeaten and Dearden believes that kind of consistency will help the club be where he wants them to be come the end of the season.

"We are getting away from the bottom of the table gradually and my aim when I came in was to get us in the top half," said Dearden.

"I think we are going forward in trying to do that, but it takes time and it is not going to happen overnight.

"When you have two of your main players out (Barry Conlon and Jake Buxton) it makes a big difference at this level, as we saw against Shrewsbury.

"But I was pleased with the lads who came in, even if I was disappointed we did not get the win."

Dearden believed his side did enough to seal the game in the closing stages.

But he was again not entirely convinced by the football his side played after having previously pointed to areas of improvement after the win against Torquay.

Dearden said: "The lads did not let themselves down but they have not played as well as they can.

"We were poor in the first half and I told them that at half time. It is not always easy playing against ten men but we had chances in the second half to win the game, without playing that well.

"Martin Gritton was disappointed he didn't score with his header, as was Mickey Boulding with his, and we had the goal that was given offside, that I thought was marginal."

Dearden was pleased with the way Alex John-Baptiste played after being switched to right-back from the centre.

"I thought Bap could get down their right-hand side because we had four on two at the back for us at times in the first half," he said.

"I told him to support Hamy (Matt Hamshaw) and he did that and, as a consequence, there were some good balls into the box which should have brought more goals.''
Jellyman on Captaincy:
Stags left back Gareth Jellyman was shocked to be named stand in captain for the draw with Shrewsbury.

"Billy did not tell me until just before the game as I was warming up. It was a bit of a shock really, but I was happy he chose me," he told the Nottingham Evening Post on Monday. "It's a bit difficult trying to gee everyone up and get them going and concentrating on your own game but I gave it a good go and I enjoyed it.

"It's a shame we couldn't get a win because confidence is a lot higher now than it was a couple of months ago.

Jake Buxton however is expected to return to the side for the trip to Stockport, and that would mean Jellyman handing over the armband "I'll be glad to hand it back to Bucko because he has done a really good job and thrived on it since taking it on.

"He's not done it before, but you wouldn't know. Being a local lad there is a lot of pride there and I think that is reflected by how he goes about things on the pitch. He helps get us organised at the back, which you need and also talks to all the players."

Evening Post, 05 February 2007

It was ironic that on the first occasion Mansfield have missed Richard Barker since he left, he should be in the stands watching them.

Out suspended for Hartlepool's match with Hereford, the former crowd favourite was back at Field Mill to see the Stags go for their third consecutive home victory.

What he saw was the Stags fail in that bid because they failed to take advantage of the kind of chances he thrived on in north Nottinghamshire.

Of course, there is no certainty that Barker would have bagged those opportunities. Every striker has moments in front of goal that they will want to forget.

But what is without doubt is that the likes of Martin Gritton and Michael Boulding will have been disappointed not to net the winning goal that would have seen them emerge from Barker's shadow that little bit more.

Mansfield's current strike duo managed four goals between then as they dismantled Torquay 5-0 in their previous match. Come the full-time whistle on Saturday, how they wished they could have saved one of those to make sure of the points against the Shrews.

Only last week, Mansfield were reduced to ten - albeit for a greater length of time - when Barry Conlon saw red at Chester.

This time the boot was on the other foot as Shrewsbury's top scorer Michael Symes was dismissed after clashing with Alex John-Baptiste three minutes before the break. The Stags would have hoped they could have gone one better than City had against them at the Deva Stadium by going on to win the game.

But they encountered the same problem as Chester had - a team prepared to put men behind the ball and make it difficult to break them down.

The sending off looked a little harsh. Symes caught John-Baptiste in the face, who reacted angrily, and then the pair began pushing and shoving each other.

But referee Mike Russell deemed the Shrewsbury striker's challenge serious enough to send him for an early bath, while John-Baptsite escaped with a caution.

By then, the Stags had already given themselves the task of coming back from a goal down after a lethargic start.

There was a hope among the fans that the goal feast against the Gulls might galvanise Mansfield into action from the opening whistle, but it didn't happen that way.

As the Stags struggled to get their passing going on a pitch that was not at its best, Shrewsbury pounced to go in front from their first serious shot on goal.

Once again, former Stag Derek Asamoah came back to haunt them - just as he did in scoring the winner for Chester at Mansfield last season.

He got on the wrong side of the home defenders to race on to a precise through-ball from Dave Edwards, advance as far as the edge of the box and drill a shot beyond Jason White.

At that point, and for much of the rest of the first half that followed, Gary Peters' men must have been reasonably confident of ending a run of more than 30 years without a win at Field Mill.

They looked relatively comfortable, limiting Mansfield to just a couple chances, one which saw a Johhny Mullins header cleared off the line by Mark Tierney. But all that changed after the dismissal.

The two sides' intentions became clear at the start of the second period as Shrewsbury changed to a more defensive formation and the Stags a more attacking one.

John-Baptiste was moved to right-back and encouraged to link up with Matt Hamshaw going forward. It was a tactic that worked well as the hitherto anonymous Hamshaw came more and more into the game and began to provide the kind of crosses that any team thrives on.

And it was from one of those from the right byline on the hour that gave Simon Brown the simplest of headers to square things up.

With the momentum in their favour, it seemed that the victory was there for the taking as Shrewsbury were pegged further and further back.

The visitors did have their moments - White pulling of a decent save to deny Tierney - but by and large they found it harder and harder to get forward.

Soon after Brown's strike, Gritton headed wide a Dawson centre and then Michael Boulding headed wide from his co-striker's ball in.

Gritton did find the net in the 65th minute but his header was ruled out for offside while Boulding wasted another good opening by shooting straight at Mackenzie.

Even when the Stags did force the Shrews keeper into action, he was equal to the task, saving well from Brown's cheeky lob and D'Laryea's long-range thunderbolt.

One of the positives to draw from the game is it stretched Mansfield's unbeaten run to four matches.

But a trip to Stockport is up next and that is as tough as they come at the moment. The Hatters have won all of their last five without conceding a goal.

Poor finishing was responsible for failing to tame the Shrews and if the same thing happens next week, then there is going to be no Stag party at Edgeley Park.
The League Paper

Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
Mansfield Town 1 Shrewsbury Town 1
Brown 60 Asamoah 13 (Symes sent off 42)

Att – 3250 (387 Shrewsbury).

Billy Dearden's Mansfield Town stretched their unbeaten run to four games after coming from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Shrewsbury Town at Field Mill.

However Stags can look towards an opportunity missed of grabbing all three points after Shrews striker, Michael Symes was sent off just before the break following a clash with Alex john-Baptiste.

Both sides came into the game desperate for all three points which would have taken either team into the top half of the table. Stags were eager to carry on the good work following the 5-0 demolition of Torquay United in midweek; the visitors though had other ideas.

Dearden was forced into a change to his starting line up with Captain, Jake Buxton suspended for one game. Baptiste slotting into a centre half position and Mullins coming into the side on the right. Jelleyman was named Captain for the day.

Stags started brightly and Simon Brown tested Mackenzie with an optimistic drive from 25 yards, but the keeper was well behind it.

Dawson then released Brown whose low cross was just grabbed by Mackenzie as Gritton came sliding in. Next to threaten for The Stags early on was Boulding, but after beating Tierney he shot just over the angle.

A minute later the visitors were in front with what was their first meaningful attempt on the Mansfield goal. A defence splitting pass from Edwards sent former Stags striker, Derek Asamoah racing towards goal. The speedy front man out-paced the Stags defence then neatly slotted the ball into the right hand corner of the net, giving White no chance. It was a smart finish but a little worrying how easy the visitors had dissected the heart of the Stags back line.

Stags tried to respond and when Boulding pulled the ball back from the left towards midweek goal hero, Gritton, everyone expected a strike on goal, however Gritton completely missed the ball.

The Shrews were not causing too much of a threat, although the game on the whole lacked any real exhilarating football for the fans to enjoy.

On 26 minutes, Mullins rose unchallenged to meet a Hamshaw free kick, however Tierney was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

The visitors then had a brief spell, Symes causing concern when he turned Hjelde but thankfully fired over.

On 42 minutes the game sparked into controversy. A foul by Baptiste on Symes saw a reaction from the Shrews front man who was then promptly shown the red card. Baptiste also received a yellow for the original foul. It meant that the Shrews would have to play out the remaining 48 minutes of the game with just 10 men.

The visitors made a couple of changes at the start of the 2nd period, Stags also shuffled things around moving Mullins to centre back and giving licence for Baptiste to boom up and down the right hand side to support Hamshaw.

Dawson received a deserved booking when Shrewsbury broke through Asamoah. The pace of Asamoah was taking him away from Dawson, who had little option but to tug him back.

On the hour mark, The Stags equalised and again the assist came from wing-man, Mattie Hamshaw who's perfect right sided cross was met by the head of Simon Brown.

Stags now fancied the chance of gaining all three points as Shrewsbury tired to hold onto what they had got. Gritton went close when he got on the end of a Dawson cross but headed narrowly wide.

Gritton then almost became provider when his right wing cross was met by the head of Boulding but the effort glanced off Boulding's head and wide of the mark.

Jelleyman went on a run, which ended with an attempt on goal, but his shot took a deflection and became an easy save for Mackenzie.

On 74 minutes, Stags thought they had taken the lead when a half cleared corner was sent back into the box by Dawson. Gritton headed over the Shrews keeper only to find the assistant Referee stood firmly with his flag aloft – offside.

Tierney threatened for the visitors but a fine challenge by Baptiste saw the effort go out for a corner.

Brown then gambled well and got on the end of a poor back-header from Burton but after being forced wide he was unable to pick out a teammate for what would have been a simple finish.

Both Boulding and Brown had late chances to grab the glory for The Stags as the home side went for broke to gain all three points. D'Laryea then had the last chance of the game on 86 minutes but his vicious shot from 20 yards was well saved by Mackenzie.

This weekend Mansfield make the journey to one of the in-form sides of the Division in Stockport County. The Hatters recorded a fine 2-0 win away at Hereford last weekend to put the side into 6th position in League 2.



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