LEE GOAL EARNS FIRST WIN
Mansfield Town 1– 0 Histon
Attendance: 2,703 (64 from Histon)
Martin Shaw and Luke Mawbey at Field Mill
Mansfield Town gained their first win in the Blue Square Premier thanks to an early Jason Lee finish against Histon at Field Mill this evening. The Stags started very brightly, and fully deserved the lead on 15 minutes with Lee's goal coming from a corner. However Histon came back strongly, and had the majority of possession in the second half, as young keeper Paddy Gamble made a couple of excellent saves and some fine last ditch defending kept the “shutes” at bay as the Stags clung on in a nervy last fifteen minutes.
It was the Stags' first league game in the post-Haslam era, and an encouraging 2,700 Stags fans turned up to cheer the team to an important victory with a terrific atmosphere. Manager Billy McEwan made just one change from Saturday's starting line-up. Jason Lee replacing Aaron O'Connor up front as expected. Histon arrived at Field Mill as a club who just ten years ago were playing in the Eastern Counties League, and whose village population is less than the capacity of Field Mill. The Stags unveiled their new home kit, and very nice it was too. A nice shade of amber with blue on the sleeves matching the shorts and socks.
Stagsnet report now in the Match Centre
Mansfield Town 1 Histon 0, Tuesday 12th August 2008
JASON Lee was the hero as Mansfield Town began a new era at Field Mill with victory.
But part-timers Histon turned in a gutsy second half display to push them all the way and cause much nail-chewing among the excellent 2,703 crowd.
With former owner Keith Haslam gone it was almost appropriate that the game kicked off under the new regime with a rainbow hanging over the Bishop Street Stand.
And resplendent in their smart new home kit at a spruced-up Field Mill, Stags played some neat football in the first half with Lee grabbing the all-important goal after just 15 minutes.
But no side with John Beck involved behind the scenes will roll over and die and the Stutes, cheered on by just 64 away fans, caused many anxious moments, culminating in a crucial save by home keeper Paddy Gamble on 75 minutes.
It was nervy, it was edgy but it means Stags have four points from the first six and can expect a good crowd for the visit of Kidderminster on Saturday.
With strikers Lee and O'Connor overcoming injury worries to be fit, the one change saw Lee was brought into the starting line-up in place of O'Connor, Stags having nine home BSP debutants.
The evening began with thunder and lightning but the storm clouds thankfully skirted round the town without the expected downpour.
Murray got down to easily gather a low Murray cross as the Stutes mounted the first serious attack on two minutes.
Stags then probed down the Histon left and Mitchel-King had to concede a corner in preventing Blackwood from crossing from the by-line.
But the visitors defended two successive corners and blocked a D'Laryea shot.
Mitchel-King showed his prowess with the long throw, almost on the penalty spot where Lee headed clear.
On seven minutes Blackwood sent over Stags' third flag kick which reached Jeannin who volleyed wildly over.
Five minutes later a clearance was fired goalwards from 20 yards by D'Laryea but without any real power to trouble Naisbett.
Home corner number four arrived on 15 minutes - and produced the opening goal.
Arnold curled it in from the left and found Lee who saw his finish fly up and hit the underside of the bar and had clearly crossed the line before it was hacked clear.
Stags had to defend a well-worked Histon free kick, Moses getting in a crucial header away and Somner a good block.
Knight-Percival got a head onto Kennedy's 29th minute corner which dropped over the far angle.
But Stags worked Naisbett as he left his box to clear ahead of Stallard, dived forward to punch away a Blackwood cross and then watched anxiously as Arnold curled a dipping just over from 18 yards all in quick succession.
An Arnold free kick from wide on the left was enticing for Lee at the far post but he was just able to get his header inside the post.
Histon threatened again and a Kennedy free kick went through everyone in the six yard box. Mitchel-King flicked it back into the mix and Gamble showed good command to leap and hold onto it.
Six minutes from the break a long O'Hare cross was met with a rasping far post volley by Arnold into the side netting.
Stallard went down in the box under Pope's sliding challenge but the referee felt he had won the ball.
The home fans were growing angrier with few refereeing decisions going their way and the players were incensed when Stallard was sandwiched and felled just outside the box and play was waved on.
Midson bundled an early shot wide after the break after Lee had headed away another long Mitchel-King throw.
Then Gamble superbly gathered a Kennedy corner.
He made his first crucial save of the match on 54 minutes as Knight-Percival's flicked near post header from another Mitchel-King throw threatened to drop in and the young keeper tipped it onto the roof of the net,
Jeannin swapped passes with Stallard before almost catching Naisbett napping with a dipping ball in which he turned over the top. And from Arnold's corner, O'Hare came up with a flicked near post header which flew across the goal and wide.
A great left wing cross from Blackwood was then headed over by Lee and Stallard was wide on the turn as the home fans began to warm noisily to their side's performance.
But Histon were not out of the contest at 1-0 and Knight-Percival wasn't far over with a firm header from Midson's long cross.
Somner saw the first yellow card of the night for his tackle on Knight-Percival on 64 minutes.
The Stutes made two changes and came as close as they had done all night on 70 minutes as Kennedy's corner found Knight-Percival with a firm downward header that bounced narrowly wide of the post.
Jeannin was lucky Midson gamely tried to continue his run onto sub Oyebanjo's pass instead of going down in the box as the full back had clearly barged into him and a penalty looked almost certain if he fell.
The pressure grew on nervous Mansfield as Silk hooked away at the far post amid a scramble.
Gamble produced a superb save on 75 minutes as Midson's cross to the far post saw Knight-Percival out jump Silk and get in a tremendous goal bound header that the keeper acrobatically turned away.
Soon after Stags had some brief relief as they broke quickly down the centre through Arnold and the move ended with Stallard cutting inside and, with Naisbett off his line, curled inches over the gaping net.
Gamble was also safely behind a low Midson drive on 83 minutes.
O'Connor replaced Stallard and was just too high with a lobbed effort from his first touch.
In stoppage time D'Laryea produced a great sliding tackle in the box to halt another Histon threat and Langston, in frustration, slid in to end the night with a booking.
STAGS: Gamble, Silk, D'Laryea, Moses, O'Hare, Arnold, Somner, Stallard (O'Connor 83), Lee, Blackwood, Jeannin. Subs not used: Herriott, Shaw, Hurren, Robinson.
HISTON: Naisbitt, Pope (Oyebanjo 71), Okay, Mitchel-King, Langston, Kennedy (Andrews 71), Reeves, Murray, Midson, Knight-Percival, Wright. Subs not used: Barker, Nightingale, Ada.
REFEREE: Gary Sutton of Lincoln.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jason Lee.
Evening Post report:
Mansfield Town 1 Histon 0
Over the summer break, a giant sign has appeared on the outside of the West Stand at Field Mill that reads 'Mansfield Town: Proud to be members of the Blue Square League'.
Everyone connected with the Stags knows that statement is not strictly true - they would have much rather kicked off the 2008-2009 still in the Football League.
But what does at least offer some consolation is that Billy McEwan's men are adjusting to life at their new level almost as quickly as that advertising board went up.
By no means did Mansfield rip apart Histon last night, nor Ebbsfleet in their season opener on Saturday.
Because of the haste in which the side has been assembled, there has been only sporadic glimpses of the quality the Stags possesses.
But what will have pleased both manager and supporters in an opening week that has seen an encouraging four points from six is the team have showed a fighting spirit so sadly lacking last season.
In Kent, that was evident in a 2-0 deficit being clawed back to earn a 2-2 draw. This time, Mansfield showed their character with an all-hands-to-the pump defensive effort when required.
It is doubtful if either of those types of games would have ended on a positive note last season, when the team seemed to buckle all too easily.
There was an air of optimism around the ground prior to kick-off heralded by the new-broom feel following Keith Haslam's departure from the Mansfield boardroom.
That sparked the Stags players in the early stages as they played some excellent passing football leading up to what proved to be the only goal.
Considering last season's ineffectiveness from attacking set-pieces, the source of the goal - a corner - was somewhat surprising.
But it was not a shock in the context of the match itself because some of the Stags' best chances came from set-plays.
That turnaround has not transpired merely by good fortune; it is without doubt something McEwan has thought about.
For a start, corners on both sides are now taken as inswingers, Nathan Arnold taking them from the left and Michael Blackwood from the right.
And it was from one such flag kick, delivered by Arnold in the 15th minute, that Jason Lee stole in to volley over the line from close range, via the underside of the crossbar.
Unfortunately for the home supporters, and McEwan, it was not a goal that inspired more incisive attacking play.
But that is not to say they did not have other opportunities. Arnold was only a whisker away from adding to his assist with a goal of his own, only to be just too high with a 20-yard curler.
After the break, Alan O'Hare should have scored in heading wide from another corner before Mark Stallard, who showed his class with some neat turns and hold-up play, was just too high after a slick counter-attack.
For the most part, though, the second period saw Mansfield pushed further and further back.
During the latter stages, the game was reminiscent of Mansfield's match with Bury last season. But, unlike on that cold night in March, there was no equaliser as the Stags players threw their bodies on the line.
To go unbeaten in their first two games is certainly a huge fillip for Mansfield. But no-one in north Nottinghamshire is getting carried away just yet.
Even so, if the Stags can show the same battling qualities in all their matches over the next nine months, it could be that the new Blue Square sign is a temporary feature.
Latest | August 2008