STAGS PEGGED BACK BY TORQUAY IN ENCOURAGINGDISPLAY
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Torquay United
Duffy 35 Sturrock 63
Attendance: 2437 (241 from Torquay)
Date: 28 March 2009
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill
Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with promotion chasing Torquay United this afternoon at Field Mill. The Stags were dominant in an impressive first half with Duffy's goal on 35 minutes giving the home side a deserved lead. But with the wind against Mansfield in the second half, Torquay came right back into it and equalised through Sturrock on 63 minutes and in the end it could have gone either way. Ultimately Mansfield were disappointed not to win the game and it says a lot about how far we've come under David Holdsworth that we are disappointed not to beat one of the best teams in the division. Overall it was an encouraging display from an ever improving team that is showing real promise for next season.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
STAGS TEST PROMOTION HUNTERS
Mansfield Town 1 Torquay United 1
Rob Duffy's 6th goal of the season was cancelled out by a Sturrock equaliser, the first goal conceded at home since David Holdsworth became manager as Stags and Torquay United drew 1-1 at a very blustery Field Mill.
Mansfield eager to bounce back to winning ways following the defeat away at Grays Athletic came up against a promotion hunting United side who lay 3rd in the league and who previously had been unbeaten in eight matches.
The windy conditions were clearly going to play a part in the afternoon's proceedings and it was Mansfield who started the game with it in their advantage.
The opening 10 minutes promised much for the Stags as they went in search for an early goal, pinning their promotion hunting opponents in their own half. The home side earning three corners and both MacKenzie and Mayo pulling the trigger but shooting well wide of the mark.
In the 11th minute it looked for the world that Briscoe, starting the game as one of a front two, had finally scored his first goal in a Mansfield shirt, but his flicked header from a Williams cross flew narrowly wide with the visiting keeper rooted to the spot.
Stags were clearly in a dominant mood and MacKenzie had another effort before the away side created their first bit of pressure on the Stags goal, and that came after 15 minutes.
Marriott had to receive a bit of treatment when he bravely dived at the feet of Sills as finally the away team came to life.
On the 20th minute mark, Stags centre half, Scott Garner was booked for a late tackle on Blair Sturrock.
Briscoe, obviously eager to impress in his front running role resisted the temptation to pass and fired over the bar when a simpler pass may have been the better option.
In the 31st minute, Marriott was forced into his first real save of the game, although it went unnoticed by the Referee. Sturrock unleashing a swerving shot that Marriott touched onto the crossbar. The whole ground expected a corner, the Referee pointed for a goal kick.
Midfielder, Ryan Williams, revelling in a new lease of Field Mill life then crossed for Arnold who headed wide and then he got on the end of a nice lay-back from Briscoe to fire narrowly wide as Stags went in search of the first goal of the game.
That goal came in the 36th minute. MacKenzie's low shot was saved by Bevan who then got his legs in the way of Briscoe's follow up before the ball ran for Rob Duffy to slot home his 6th goal of the season in a Mansfield shirt.
Just minutes later and it could have been 2-0 but Bevan produced a fine save to deny Moses who had drifted in to get on the end of a Williams free kick.
Two minutes before the break, United created a chance for an equaliser. Nicholson's free kick found centre back, Todd, unmarked in the stags area but presented with a golden chance, Todd headed the ball straight into the grateful arms of Marriott.
It was expected that United would be more adventurous after the break with the wind at their backs and so it proved. Sturrock, who had just joined the club on loan from Swindon Town, was having a large influence, curling one shot wide after 58 minutes. Nicholson also sent an effort towards the Stags goal but the ball flew well wide.
On 63 minutes, David Holdsworth decided to change his line up by bringing on Clare for Arnold and putting Briscoe out wide. However just seconds later, United found the equaliser. Hargreaves planted the ball through for Sturrock to chase and as Marriott raced to the edge of his area, Sturrock got there just before him to lob the ball into the empty net. It was the first goal conceded at home since Holdsworth had took up the hot seat at Field Mill.
Both side were clearly intent of going for the winner in what was turning out to be excellent entertainment for the viewing public. Clare forced Bevan into action and Sturrock also went close.
Stallard replaced Duffy as Holdsworth went for a new look attacking two but it was Briscoe who had the chance of putting the Stags ahead once again when he got his head on the end of a corner. A scramble ensued only for the same player to see a goal-bound shot well saved by the visiting keeper.
Dsane forced Marriott into a saved and Williams cut in from the left to see his shot get deflected and sail wide.
With ten minutes to go Sills was provided with an opportunity of winning the game for Torquay but his headed effort on goal was well saved by Marriott.
In the 82nd minute D'Laryea knocked the ball to Clare who cleverly backheeled the ball into the path of Williams but unfortunately his effort flew over the bar.
The last chance of the game came from a corner from Nicholson but although Marriott was beaten to it by the head of Robertson, the ball went narrowly wide.
It would have been harsh on either side if there had been a winner as a share of the spoils seemed the right conclusion to a game where both sides turned on a good performance.
Stags next weekend travel to Wrexham. The Welsh club sit eight points shy of the last play off spot but with Holdsworth's men on a high and knowing they are more than a match for any side in the BSP they will be eager to get one over their former league rivals.
Observer Man of the match – Has to be, Ryan Williams once again. A threat and buzz provider each time he had the ball at his feet.
Mansfield 1-1 Torquay United: Sturrock strikes to stretch Gulls run
Monday, March 30, 2009, 09:47Comment on this story
DEBUTANT Blair Sturrock lit up a windswept afternoon with a quality finish to earn Torquay United a deserved draw and stretch their unbeaten run to nine games at Field Mill on Saturday.
Striker Sturrock, on loan from Swindon Town, worked hard in trying conditions, and his second-half equaliser was due reward for a determined display which augurs well for United's run-in.
The same result at home to Grays Athletic in midweek may have been two points dropped, but this was definitely one gained in the Gulls' pursuit of promotion.
Mansfield Town have been improving steadily under new manager David Holdsworth, and Sturrock's goal was the first they have conceded at home since BSP leaders Burton Albion won there just after Christmas.
Winter hasn't quite eased its grip on the north of England as yet and, just as at Northwich in Cheshire seven days before, the old Nottinghamshire coalfield was swept by an icy blast which blew straight from the Arctic and down the Field Mill pitch.
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3Ca%20href%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3Dfffffffcfffffffcfffffffc/AAMSZ%3D452x118/POS%3D/SITE%3DTHISISSDEV/AREA%3DSPORT/SUBAREA%3DHOME/ARTICLE%3D854452/acc_random%3D5222355022/pageid%3D/RS%3D10340.10281.10307.10319.10428.10429.10464.10486.10508.%22%20target%3D_top%3E%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/anmdefaultad.gif%22%20alt%3D%22%22%20border%3D0%20%3E%3C/a%3E%3C/div%3EThe wind, behind the Stags for the first 45 minutes and with the Gulls in the second, defined the match.
Both goalkeepers in turn did well to kick the ball out of their own halves, and the concentration and technique of all the outfield players was tested to the limit.
There were times when it seemed as if the ball would never come down.
With veteran winger Ryan Williams trying the patience and determination of Chris Robertson – United's right-back stuck to his guns well – and the lanky Rob Duffy a threat up front, Mansfield knew they had to make the most of the conditions from the first whistle.
They adopted a shoot-on-sight policy, none more literally than midfielder Neil MacKenzie.
But their aim wasn't the best and, although United were pinned in their own territory for long periods, Mansfield's two nearest misses in the first half-hour came from glancing headers by Louis Briscoe and Nathan Arnold.
United – their only change was Sturrock for Elliot Benyon up front – defended stoutly. They could hardly do anything else.
But around the 30th minute they started to break out with a little more optimism.
Then, Nicky Wroe set Sturrock away down the left, he cut back past Scott Garner, let fly from 25 yards and Alan Marriott tipped the ball onto his bar and over.
It was blatantly obvious to everyone in the ground, except referee Paul Tierney and his linesman. They gave a goal kick.
So it was doubly disappointing that, just when they seemed to have survived the worst that Mansfield could throw at them, United fell behind.
In the 36th minute MacKenzie got one on target at last, Bevan dived to his left to push the ball away from goal, but United seemed to be badly outnumbered at the back, because Briscoe had time and space on the rebound to pick out the unmarked Duffy in front of goal. He could hardly miss…1-0.
Three minutes later Chris Todd fouled Duffy some 30 yards out, United's marking at Williams' free-kick was lax, Stags defender Adie Moses thumped in a goalbound header and Bevan did well to tip it over.
Two-down at that stage might have been serious.
But Todd nearly snatched an equaliser just before half-time, heading a Kevin Nicholson free-kick at Marriott when a foot either side must have scored, and most of the locals feared that 1-0 at half-time might not be enough.
Sure enough, United were soon laying siege to Marriott's goal.
Todd and Carlisle went close with headers before Sturrock, who had never stopped looking for a telling break, finally got one.
Chris Hargreaves set up Carlisle to hit a ball over the top of the Town defence, to United's right.
Sturrock was on to it and, as Marriott came out to narrow the angle, he coolly beat him with a lob-volley from just inside the area…1-1.
Sturrock made it look easy. It wasn't.
Mansfield had only just sent on non-league goal ace Daryl Clare for winger Arnold, and in the 67th minute they took off the tiring Duffy and introduced veteran striker Mark Stallard.
There aren't many clubs at this level with two forwards of such pedigree on the bench.
Clare, still on his way back from injury, and Stallard produced one or two moments of danger for the Gulls' defence.
In the 70th minute Bevan had to pull out a fine low save to deny Briscoe after his teammates had failed to clear a corner.
But most of the traffic was sweeping in the other direction, and United had the chances to have won the match.
Neither Sills or Roscoe Dsane could make the most of a drilled low cross by Carlisle which was asking to be finished.
In one of United's best moves Sills, Sturrock and Carlisle set up Dsane for a half-volley which Marriott touched away.
And in the 79th minute Sturrock, still running hard, broke down the right, put his cross on the money and Sills' header was on its way into the top right-hand corner before Marriott tipped it over – the save of the match.
In the last ten minutes United sent on Danny Stevens for left-winger Dsane, who had just been booked for a clumsy challenge similar, but not as close to the touchline, to the one which had got him sent off at Oxford a month ago.
Stevens eagerly gave the right side of Mansfield's defence some problems in the closing stages.
But the Gulls' best and final chance came when Robertson was not marked on a Nicholson free-kick. His header flew over the bar, but he knew he should have hit the target.
Both sets of players had done well to produce an entertaining and sporting match in the conditions.
Mansfield look capable of taking points off almost anybody in this division.
It's a shame that they don't have many of United's rivals left to play, but they do go to Histon tomorrow night and Wrexham on Saturday.
And Stevenage shouldn't count on anything at Field Mill on the last day of the season.
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