STAGS THROW AWAY 2 GOAL LEAD AGAINST BARNET
Mansfield Town 2 - 2 Barnet
Boulding 14, Hamshaw 55. Thomas 69, Birchall 77.
Att 2463 (141 from Barnet)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Mansfield Town threw away a two-goal lead against mid-table Barnet at Field Mill to end with only a point, when a win would have given a much needed sequence of successive victories for the first time this season. The Stags were excellent for the opening 25 minutes taking the lead through Michael Boulding's 22nd goal of the season on 14 minutes, and going close several times including a great effort by Johnny Mullins that missed by a whisker. Barnet improved a little bit later in the first half but had only one chance in the entire half, while Matt Hamshaw came closest to adding another goal for the Stags on the stroke of half time with a deft shot onto the top of the net. The Stags started the second half with yet more chances and Hamshaw was on target on 55 minutes to make it 2-0. The Stags had chances to make it 3-0 notably when Louis headed wide when well placed and a minute later Louis headed against the post. Two minutes after those two chances Barnet manager Fairclough made three changes on 67 minutes and what an impact they had. Sub Anthony Thomas scored from 20 yards on 69 minutes to make it 2-1, and 8 minutes later another sub, Jason Puncheon, deadly from set pieces as anyone who watches the goals on TV every week knows, fired a free kick against the post and the third sub, Adam Birchall was quickest to react, turning the ball into the net from close range against his former club to give heartbreak to the Stags. It was notable that the free kick was another example of one needlessly given away, this time by Dawson, that has cost the Stags dear. Simon Brown had the Stags only chance after that to win it whereas Barnet had a succession of corners which came to nothing. The game ended with the Stags fans still stunned and most trailing out of the ground in silence, totally gutted at what they had witnessed.
Stagsnet report now in the Match Centre.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
STAGS LET TWO GOAL LEAD SLIP
Mansfield Town 2 Barnet 2
If the Stags season goes on to end in disappointment with relegation from League 2, many will point to the fact that at home to Barnet, Paul Holland's men threw away at fine two-goal lead and ultimately two precious points.
Stags had taken the lead on 14 minutes with Micky Boulding's 22nd goal of the season, and then went a further goal ahead on 55 with an excellently well-taken effort by Matt Hamshaw. But Barnet, themselves well clear of trouble and seemingly with nothing to play for made three dramatic substitutions that turned the game on it's head, Thomas pulling one goal back on 69 and then former Stag, Adam Birchall hitting a hammer blow equaliser on 77.
In the end it was tough luck on Mansfield who had dominated large parts of the game, but their inability to finish teams off pointed to the reason why the Club are in dire straits at the wrong end of the table and face the task of fighting for their Football League survival.
Stags started much the brighter with the visitors plying just one man up front and looking disinterested it seemed just a matter of time before Stags took the lead.
Mansfield, aiming to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time this season were playing with confidence and passing the ball well. The best of the early chances falling for Louis who failed to react to a delightful ball in by Hamshaw.
On 14 minutes Stags took a deserved lead and a goal of real quality it was. Louis and Boulding combining well for Boulding to fire the ball home for his 22nd goal of the season.
Stags were on fire and Mullins, goal scoring hero from mid-week, almost added to his tally when he smartly controlled the ball to unleash a fine left footed effort that flashed just inches away from the right hand post.
Barnet's best real effort of the half came when the tricky Adomah attempted to curl the ball home, but his effort flew wide of the mark.
As half time approached Hamshaw deftly lobbed the ball from just outside the box but saw it land on the roof of the net.
Stags were in control but it was a case of how each side would handle the weather conditions in the 2nd half.
The visitors made a tactical change for the start of the 2nd period, going to a 4-4-2 formation but it was Mansfield who again went close when Hamshaw's shot was turned away for a corner by Harrison in the Barnet goal. Boulding also went close as Mansfield went in search of what they hoped would be a game killing 2nd goal.
Buxton loudly claimed for a penalty when from a Hamshaw corner, he went down dramatically in the area, but the Referee was having none of it.
On 55 minutes though, Stags did grab a deserved two-goal lead. Hamshaw got on the end of a long ball out of defence to expertly go onto lob the ball over Harrison in the net. Two goals up and with Barney offering little if not nothing going forward, the majority of the crowd inside Field Mill would have been forgiven for thinking that the game was won. How wrong they were.
Stags though had two further great chances of grabbing a third. First Arnold crossed in for Louis who badly misdirected his header wide when it looked easier to score, then the Stags big centre forward looked up into the sky's in anguish when he saw his header from a Boulding cross thump against the post.
On the hour mark, Barnet boss Fairclough rang the changes bringing on three substitutes in Birchall, Thomas and Puncheon. They were to turn the game on its head. First within a minute, slack defending by Mansfield allowed Thomas to let fly from 20 yards, his effort giving Muggleton no chance. Arnold did have a chance to make it 3-1 but shot tamely at Harrison, but mainly the game was now all Barnet.
On 77 minutes, disaster struck. Dawson was guilty of giving away a free kick some 25 yards out. Puncheon lined up the ball and fired low against the foot of the post, with the Stags defenders left flat-footed it was former Stag Adam Birchall who reacted the quicker to slot the ball into the back of the net.
It was all Barnet at this point. Stags, who for so long in the game looked the only winner, now looked in danger of throwing it all away.
On 79 minutes, Simon Brown came on for Louis and in the closing minutes had a great chance of winning the game for the Stags; Hamshaw, again did well to line up the effort but sadly Brown's shot lacking direction, took a deflection went wide.
The final whistle was greeted by almost stunned silence as many fans walked away thinking of what should have been.
This week Stags face the tricky trip to in form Stockport County before facing another six-pointer with a trip to Macclesfield Town. One things for sure, if Mansfield are to avoid the drop, they are sure not making it easy.
Latest | April 2008