STAGS BEATEN AT STOCKPORT
Stockport County 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Elding 16. White saved pen.
Attendance: 5656 (324 from Mansfield)
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
DEFEAT HARSH FOR BATTLING STAGS
Stockport County 1 Mansfield Town 0
Att – 5656.
A battling display from Mansfield Town proved not enough as Stockport County continued their best run of results for 16 years with their 6th straight win without conceding. The Stags asked a few questions of the Hatters defence but ultimately fell to a 17th minute strike from in-form Anthony Elding.
Captain, Jake Buxton came back from a one game suspension, Hjelde making way as Stags looked to stretch their 4 game unbeaten run.
The home side started the game with the confidence expected of a team in such a rich vain of form but the first real goalscoring opportunity fell to The Stags. Martin Gritton chested down a pass from Simon Brown, but his on target effort was well turned away by Hennessey in the Stockport goal.
On 17 minutes the Hatters took the lead. A right-sided corner came over into the six-yard box, where White was unable to reach the ball and Elding reacted first to powerfully hammer the ball into the top corner of the net.
Stags responded well and Gritton let loose from distance but his effort went too high. Mullins then crossed the ball across the County 6 yard box but unfortunately there was no Stags player there to take advantage.
Stags continued to press and Boulding saw his shot deflect wide for a corner. D'Laryea then passed to Dawson, who's back-heel set up Brown but again Hennessey was equal.
On 37 minutes Stags conceded a penalty, somewhat harshly, Baptiste was adjudged to have pushed Pilkington and although there was minimal contact the award of the kick was a little contentious. Thankfully justice was done when Proudlock aimed his kick straight down the middle and Jason White was able to make a save.
Hennessey was proving a rock for the home team and again came to the rescue on 41 minutes. Simon Brown put the ball into the path of Michael Boulding but the Stags strikers finish left a lot to be desired as Hennessey saved his low shot with his legs.
The 2nd half saw Stockport make a change when Griffin replaced Proudlock and Pilkington was pushed up front. After just two minutes of the new half, County should have been two nil in front. A corner was not cleared with purpose and when the ball broke to Owen with just White to beat, The Stags keeper stood tall and saved the effort with his face!
Mullins then went close to pulling Mansfield back in the game but his 20 yard effort flew just inches wide with Hennessey at full stretch.
On 61 minutes Stags made a change bringing on young Rory Boulding in place of Simon Brown, but a couple of minutes later County almost scored a second. Griffin with his back to goal lofted the ball over his head and saw the ball cannon off the top of the Mansfield crossbar.
On 66 minutes it was almost the Boulding double act as Rory set up brother Michael for an effort on goal. Unfortunately for Mansfield, Michael's run and shot hammered against the angle of post and crossbar with Hennessey well beaten.
With less than 10 minutes to go, The Stags were grateful for a goal-line clearance from Jelleyman to deny Elding his and Stockport's 2nd of the game, which would have been harsh on the visitors.
Dawson saw an effort fly high after good work from Hamshaw as Stags pushed harder and harder for an equaliser.
Dearden then introduced Arnold for D'Laryea for the last five minutes as Mansfield went three up front, but despite Arnold getting in a late effort that made Hennessey dive at his near post County hung on.
This weekend The Stags face Grimsby Town at Field Mill. The Mariners won a ding-dong battle with Bristol Rovers last time out and will be eager to gain more points to pull away from the relegation dogfight. The Stags though will be looking to put the harsh result at Stockport behind them and continue their climb up the League 2 table.
A STAG STRUGGLE
Stockport Scramble Home After Battle Royale
Mansfield Town belied their league position with a nice mix of flowing football and dogged defending, but were guilty of missing a hat-ful of chances as County moved closer to sealing a play off spot with Anthony Elding's first half strike.
The Stags can travel to Nottinghamshire fresh in the knowledge that they outfought a decent League Two outfit for long periods and even had the lion's share of possession, but Jim Gannon will be mightily relieved his side have got through this almighty task unscathed after Mansfield threatened to spoil the County party.
Gannon made two changes to the team that won at Hereford United last time out; Adam Griffin was dropped to the bench in place of Anthony Pilkington, and after news that Edgar Street goalscorer Tes Bramble became victim of a groin strain, fans favourite Adam Proudlock was given the nod to partner man of the moment Anthony Elding up front.
County's attempts to go all gung-ho in the opening minutes back fired a little as Mansfield, inspired by former Hatter Matthew Hamshaw - who was booed with every touch - and the man mountain that was Martin Gritton, and the former and the latter often linked up well in the opening few moments, but County had on loan keeper Wayne Hennessey to thank for a world class save to deny Gritton - who had scored twice at Edgeley Park whilst he was at Torquay United a few seasons back - after his strength got the better of Gareth Owen and drilled a shot at goal, but Hennessey anticipated well and denied the striker, and was congratulated by the Stags man and the Cheadle End masses behind the goal.
Gritton was becoming a bit of a challenge for the County defencive duo of Ashley Williams and Gareth Owen, he again won vital headers and knock-ons and looked a decent striker, but luck wasn't on his side when his snap shot from the edge of the area sailed high and wide as County were in unknown territory with their backs against the wall at home. Hamshaw's running and cunning crosses made Hennessey work harder than he has done in his previous five County games, and then slightly against the run of play, County struck.
Elding took advantage after some questionable Stags defending following Michael Rose's corner kick, and rifled home a glorious scissor kick from six yards out and County were up and away.
Those inside the ground who were thinking the home side would go on and chalk up another decent home win were to be proven wrong, as Mansfield climbed back after their minor setback and proved they were a tough cookie to crack as Hamshaw again teased Rob Clare, nipped inside and produced a lovely cross that was just inches away from the lunge of Boulding. Hennessey had to be alert again after palming Boulding's curling effort wide after Mansfield turned the screw.
County were given the perfect opportunity to give themselves a comfortable two-goal cushion when Anthony Pilkington's creative run was halted by Alex Baptiste's clumsy challenge inside the box, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. With most of the 5,600 inside the ground expecting Adam Proudlock to end his scoring drought, Stags keeper Jason White saved well to his left and the chance went begging.
Then a massive let off for County; Baptiste's superb run ended in Brown's superb low cross that somehow evaded everyone and County survived until half time with their proud unblemished home record in tact.
Gannon surprised everyone by replacing a determined Proudlock for Adam Griffin at half time, with the clear instruction for Anthony Pilkington to partner Elding up front, and Griffin's introduction sparked County into action, his driving run into the corner produced a lovely ball to the far post and only the intervention of the impressive Gareth Jelleyman prevented further misery on Mansfield.
Town sprung again, and this time is was Jonathan D'Laryra who was guilty of wasting his opportunity as his pace got the better of Clare, but as Hennessey narrowed the angle his shot spooned off the outside of his foot and went out for a throw-in.
At the other end Adam Griffin nearly scored one of the most spectacular goals of the season as, with his back to goal, nonchalantly attempted to chip the stranded White and clipped the top of the cross bar, after Elding's swipe from Griffin's through ball was saved by the busy Stags keeper.
County had a clear opening when an untimely slip allowed Gareth Owen through on goal, and with the goal at his mercy, his shot was well saved by White, who looked like he saved it with his face and Mansfield survived. With holes appearing in the Mansfield back line, debutante Dominic Blizzard, who had been pretty quiet in the middle, produced a sublime pass over the Mansfield defence, Griffin took the ball in his stride and saw the white's of the keeper's eyes but his low shot was just wide.
The visitors were ruing their luck late on after an all out assault to scramble a point ended in the cross bar coming to County's rescue but on the whole, given Mansfield lowly league position and County's superb form of late, it was a home banker, but those who witnessed it, realised that if County are to mainatin their deserved place in the play offs, they'll have to up their game as Mansfield were possibly one of the best teams to come to Edgeley Park this season.
County - Hennessey, Clare, Rose, Owen, Williams, Taylor, Blizzard, Poole, Pilkington, Elding (Dickinson), Proudlock (Griffin). Subs Not Used - Spencer, Dinning, Malcolm.
Mansfield - White, Mullins, Baptiste, Buxton, Jelleyman, Hamshaw, D'Laryea (Arnold), Dawson, Brown (R Boulding), M Boulding, Gritton. Subs Not Used - Muggleton, Hjelde, Charlton.
Att - 5,656
Brave Stags can't halt Stockport run
Stockport County 1 Mansfield Town 0
UNLUCKY Mansfield failed to get the point their display deserved at high-flying Stockport County this afternoon.
Anthony Elding's 17th minute strike proved decisive as County continued their best run in 16 years with a sixth straight win without conceding.
But they had keeper Wayne Hennessey to thank for three first half saves while Michael Boulding hit the crossbar after the break as the visitors penned County in their own half on a dreadful sandy surface.
Hennessey had already saved superbly from Martin Gritton when White was unable to reach a corner that Elding thundered home.
White did produce a 37th minute penalty save from Adam Proudlock after Alex John-Baptiste's challenge on Anthony Pilkington was deemed to be a spot kick.
Otherwise the first half belonged largely to the Stags with Michael Boulding foiled by Hennessey when clear one on one.
Stockport began the second half strongly and substitute Adam Griffin clipped the top of the bar.
But Mansfield, themselves four games unbeaten, soon took a grip and, though always vulnerable on the break, they pinned Stockport in their own half and battered away without being unable to find the piece of luck necessary to end this amazing Stockport run, Boulding firing against the bar.
But the Stags will take much heart from yet another fine away display.
Mansfield made just the one change with Buxton back from a one-game ban. Hjelde made way for him in the centre of defence.
Conlon again missed out as he completed his three-game suspension.
Stockport started menacingly and White did well to watch and hold a dangerous high early cross from Pilkington from the left which almost threatened to creep under the bar.
Mullins blocked an Elding shot before Stags won the afternoon's first corner which was easily cleared.
But Gritton almost gave the visitors the lead on 14 minutes as he superbly chested down a Brown cross eight yards from goal and got away an on-target finish which Hennessey did well to turn aside.
The corner was cleared to Jelleyman who allowed Rose to rob him and Buxton had to make the tackle and spare him any embarrassment.
But on 17 minutes Stockport took the lead from a right wing corner. White's way was blocked as he tried to come off his line and the ball dropped in the six yard box where Elding blasted home.
Boulding set up Gritton 20 yards from goal soon after but his first time finish was too high. Then a neat Stags move saw Mullins make the overlap to the right by-line but no one was there to profit as he crossed low in front of goal.
Proudlock was booked for his trip on former County winger Hamshaw on 25 minutes.
Stags continued to improve and Boulding had a low shot deflect wide for their fourth corner in the first 31 minutes.
Another good Stags move saw D'Laryea send Dawson into the ox. His backheel was for Brown who cut inside and then tried to find the top right hand corner, Hennessey there to make the save.
Stags had a big let-off on 37 minutes as White produced a save from a penalty kick.
John-Baptiste did make minimal contact with Pilkington as he raced into the box and the referee gave the kick.
But Proudlock's kick was not the best and White was there to block and Mullins completed the clearance. John-Baptiste was then booked for something he said to the official.
Home keeper Hennessey pulled off another vital save on 41 minutes.
Brown hoisted the ball forward into the path of Boulding's run and he took it on but saw the keeper keep out his low finish with his legs when he should have scored.
Stags survived two home corners in the first half stoppage time.
And they could feel hard done by to be behind at the break.
Griffin replaced Proudlock at the break with Pilkington pushed up front.
Stockport almost went further ahead within two minutes of the restart.
Stags laboured to clear a corner and survived an appeal for handball. But the ball broke for Owen who, with only White to beat, saw the keeper stand up to beat away his finish.
The visitors then had a good spell and Hamsham put in a dangerous low cross from the left in front of goal .
White was down bravely at the feet of Elding as he tried to latch onto a through ball.
But when Stockport failed to properly clear a free kick, Mullins was inches wide with a left foot effort from 20 yards.
A deep Pilkington cross picked out Griffin at the far post but the angle was far too acute and his header ended up in the side netting.
Stockport followed that with three successive corners, but Mansfield hung on.
Stags made a swap on 61 with Rory Boulding joining the action in place of Brown.
Two minutes later Griffin almost conjured up a second for Stockport. Stags tried to clear a long throw and the ball ran to Griffin who, with back to goal, hooked the ball over his head, high over White's fingertips and onto the top of the Mansfield crossbar.
The Boulding brothers then almost produced an equaliser on 66 minutes. Rory turned neatly to slip a through ball to Michael just inside the County half. And he showed great pace to race away and get in a shot that came back off the crossbar.
Stags were almost caught out by a counter attack on 71 minutes as Griffin found himself in acres of space on the left and ran on before rifling a low shot across the face of goal with White beaten.
Rory Boulding again released brother Michael but this time he was hauled down as he cut inside Williams who was booked. Hamshaw had a great angle for the free kick but, against his old club, could only curl it into the wall.
Nine minutes from time Pilkington kept the ball in play on the right when it seemed it would go for a throw. His cross saw Elding hook it goal wards as White went for it but Jelleyman was there to kick off the line.
Mansfield continued to press and Dawson was too high from 20 yards from Hamshaw's pass.
Dearden's last throw of the dice came on 84 minutes as Stags went to three up front with Arnold on for D'Laryea.
Gritton was well wide with a header from a Mullins cross.
In stoppage time Arnold poked a shot on target which Hennessey saved at his near post as the visitors threw everything forward to no avail.
report from stockportcounty.premiumtv.co.uk
County extended their ru to 630 minutes without conceding a goal as the Edgeley Park outfit's promotion push stepped up a gear.
Jim Gannon included new signing Dominic Blizzard in his starting eleven. Blizzard, who signed midweek from Watford came into replace the departed Stephen Gleeson.
Anthony Pilkington replaced Adam Griffin on the left flank, whilst Adam Proudlock started in the place of the injured Tes Bramble.
Matthew Hamshaw was included in the Mansfield side, just under a year after departing County.
The first chance of the game fell to Anthony Pilkington who made a brilliant run down the left flank and put in a cross at the far post that Jason White did well to save.
County continued to pile on the pressure, carving out some good opportunities. However, The Stags, with a new lease of life under Billy Dearden were not going without a fight and certainly didn't shirk any tackles as they tried to stop County playing football.
It was nearly Mansfield who took the lead when an unmarked Martin Gritton broke free in the box, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Hennessey.
At the other end David Poole broke free from a Mansfield attack and with Prouldock free, the former Yeovil man wasted a good opportunity with a poor ball.
GOAL! The Hatters were ahead moments later when Anthony Elding smashed the ball home from just a few yards out when he got on the end of a Rose's cross.
Mansfield were lucky not to be on level terms moments later when they failed to clear their ranks, allowing Gritton to cross in front of goal, no Mansfield players could get to the ball and the danger was averted.
The Stags started to turn the screw as they created a number of good opportunities, Simon Brown and former favourite, Hamshaw were particularly impressive.
Against the run of play, County were awarded a penalty when Pilkington was brought down in the area by Baptiste. Adam Proudlock took, but Jason White guessed the right way and saved a poor penalty.
County then had Wayne Hennessey to thank for a wonderful save when he used his foot to deny Michael Boulding a golden opportunity to score from inside the box.
Within moments of the restart County were very nearly two up when Pilkington won the ball in the area and shot at Jason White, who pulled off a wonderful save.
The Stags went marginally close to bringing the game back on level terms when Michael Boulding volleyed from just a few yards out, it tricked Hennessey but bounced awkwardly and went out for a goal kick.
At the other end, County went close when Adam Griffin got a head in at the far post following a Pilkington cross. However his effort went just wide.
On the 63rd minute County nearly made it two when Adam Griffin hooked the ball over his head from inside the area and his effort hit the crossbar and went out of play. The vociferous County support made their feelings clear, however, as they applauded the effort.
The away team had a chance of their own when Michael Boulding burst into the box and with only Hennessey to beat, he crashed his shot against the crossbar.
Some great build up play from County allowed David Poole to have an effort on goal, having been released on the left flank, but his effort went marginally wide of the far post.
Anthony Elding went close in the last ten minutes as County desperately tried to kill the game off, following some sustained Mansfield pressure.
In the end County held on to keep their magnificent run going. With results going our way elsewhere, the promotion push is certainly up and running.
Man of the Match: Jason Taylor. Jaybo never shirked a tackle all afternoon and often kept County in this contest.
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