STAGS BULLIED AND HAMMERED AT HISTON
Histon 3 - 0 Mansfield Town
Duffy 35 Sturrock 63
Attendance: 914 (156 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw, Jeff Barnes and Simon Chamberlain at the Glassworld Stadium
Mansfield Town were outfought, outplayed in every department and bullied by Histon on Tuesday night as the home side wracked up a comfortable 3-0 win, which could have been greater. The Stags were poor throughout the side with only Ryan Williams, Gary Silk and keeper Marriott coming out with much credit. After the game Histon boss Steve Fallon said it was Histon's best performance of the season. The Stags meanwhile put in easily their worst display under David Holdsworth and showed disappointing ability to deal with Histon's fast, accurate, and direct style. Histon were clever in playing for throw-ins in the Mansfield half and full back Gwilliam probably launched about 25 well directed throw-ins into the Stags box. It was not pretty to watch but it was pretty effective and we wouldn't bet against Histon winning the play-offs. From a Mansfield viewpoint, it was thoroughly horrible to watch.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Nat shows hunger as Stags make meal of it
Histon 3 Mansfield 0 - Blue Square Premier
NATHANIEL Knight-Percival scored twice and Josh Simpson was back to his best as Histon made light work of conquering mid-table Mansfield.
Antonio Murray was also on the scoresheet to help the Stutes claim another vital three points as their promotion push shows no signs of stopping.
Histon boss Steve Fallon was able to name an unchanged line-up as Jamie Barker was passed fit.
But there were a few other changes at the Glass World Stadium, both in terms of playing personnel and the ground itself.
The Stutes signed promising midfielder Matt Daniels from Ipswich before the game and the teenager was in the stands watching his new colleagues.
And Histon fans were able to view proceedings from the new covered terracing at the home end, as well as from the new uncovered terracing close to the away end.
On the pitch, Mansfield began the game brightly and looked dangerous approaching the penalty area as wingers Nathan Arnold and Ryan Williams made early inroads.
But the visitors were unable to carve out any real goalscoring opportunities and it was Histon who should have gone in front when Jack Midson headed over from six yards out.
The Stags continued to play some nice stuff in the centre of the park without really threatening and Histon's more direct approach was far more effective.
Mansfield made a mess of clearing a long ball into their box and Murray's left-footed drive was spilled by Alan Marriott and Alan O'Hare gratefully hacked clear the loose ball.
David Holdsworth's team were looking decidedly shaky at the back and were especially vulnerable to deep crosses.
One such high ball into the danger area had the Stags' back four at sixes and sevens and Knight-Percival wasted a good chance by blazing over with his weaker right foot.
Histon were keeping their foot on the gas and began to assert their dominance in midfield as Mat Mitchel-King and Simpson upped their game.
And, after Simpson's fine jinking run almost ended with an attempt at goal, Gareth Gwillim drew a diving save from Marriott with a well-struck free-kick.
Gwillim then turned provider when he launched a long throw into the box and the ball fell to Murray, whose low shot was blocked by a clutch of bodies.
It seemed only a matter of time before Histon made the breakthrough, but Marriott was earning his corn and he made another decent stop to thwart Murray from 10 yards.
The Stutes were well on top, but they were breathing a huge sigh of relief when Williams' pass dissected Matt Langston and Patrick Ada, and Nathan Arnold wasted the chance by shooting straight at Danny Naisbitt.
And, moments later, Murray showed Arnold how it is done by racing clear, holding off his marker and slotting the ball past Marriott.
The chances were coming thick and fast at either end as half time approached and the Stags' Robert Duffy screwed a shot horribly wide from a promising position.
And, in stoppage time, Murray pounced on Aaron O'Connor's mistake and fed Simpson, who crossed for Knight-Percival to guide the ball into the corner of the net with a fine glancing header.
The Stutes' confidence was sky high following that late flurry at the end of the first half and they showed no signs of resting on their laurels after the interval.
Simpson, who has been below par in recent weeks, was excelling and showing all the enthusiasm and desire which made him so effective earlier in the campaign.
And the midfielder's intelligent forward runs and eye for a pass was helping keep Histon firmly on the front foot.
Mansfield boss Holdsworth attempted to freshen things up by replacing his two strikers and Ada had to be alert to hack clear the danger as substitutes Daryl Clare and Louis Briscoe lurked with intent inside the area.
The hosts' defence was looking rock solid and full-back Gwillim was spending more time in Mansfield's half than his own as they pinned the visitors back.
With the away side lacking a cutting edge, it was Histon who looked more likely to score and Knight-Percival fired over from the edge of the box.
Then Marriott flapped at Gwillim's long throw and Murray went close, before the goalkeeper redeemed himself by keeping out Knight-Percival's rasping effort with his fingertips.
The Stutes were superior all over the park and, with three minutes remaining, they put the icing on the cake when Knight-Percival rose to head Midson's cross past Marriott from close range.
Histon: Naisbitt, Oyebanjo, Ada, Langston, Gwillim, Barker, Simpson (Andrews 89), Mitchel-King, Knight-Percival, Midson (Roache 89), Murray. Substitutes not used: Pope, Bygrave, Welch. Booked: Knight-Percival.
Mansfield: Marriott, Silk, Moses, Garner, O'Hare, Arnold, D'Laryea, Mackenzie, Williams, Duffy (Clare 54), O'Connor (Briscoe 54). Substitutes not used: Woodhouse, Havern, White.
Referee: S Rushton (Staffordshire).
Histon 3 Mansfield Town 0, Tuesday 31st March
By Stephen Thirkill
LACKLUSTRE Stags were trounced 3-0 by high-flying Histon on Tuesday following an uncharacteristically poor defensive display.
The game was lost for out-classed Mansfield in the final five minutes of the first half when they badly lost concentration and allowed the impressive Cambridgeshire outfit to take a 2-0 lead at the break.
Antonio Murray put Histon ahead on 41 minutes after he caught the Stags rearguard napping, before firing past Marriott with a neat finish.
Knight-Percival then doubled their lead when he drifted away from his marker to nod home a Josh Simpson cross.
And it was again a tale of terrible marking as the lively Knight-Percival again lost his marker to power a bullet header home and wrap up the points.
In truth woeful Stags never looked like getting anything as on-song Histon bossed the entire game with their route one game and the effective set-piece routines of Gareth Gwillim.
As an attacking unit Mansfield were never in the game, with Clare, Arnold, O'Connor, Duffy and Briscoe all failing to shine as Naisbitt enjoyed an easy night in the Histon goal.
Stags had made two changes to the starting line up after their excellent point against Torquay just two days earlier at Field Mill.
Transfer-listed Alan O'Hare stepped in to replace the dropped Mayo in defence, while O'Connor replaced Louis Briscoe, struggling with a hamstring injury, up front.
Creative midfielder Neil MacKenzie retained his place in the starting after impressing against the Gulls.
Ill striker Mark Stallard did not travel.
It was a surreal atmosphere for the small band of loyal Stags fan who made the trip down to Cambridgeshire and a stark reminder of life in the Blue Square Premier Division.
Histon's tiny ground was more like somewhere Rainworth would play rather than a team such as Mansfield Town.
Stags started well with Williams testing Naisbitt in the Histon goal within the first minute as Mansfield enjoyed some good early possession.
Histon began to settle as they looked to put the Stags defence under pressure with their route one brand of football.
And they should have taken the lead on seven minutes when Jack Midson headed over the bar from just yards out when it seemed easier to score after Stags had struggled to clear a dangerous Gareth Gwillim free-kick.
Histon continued to turn up the heat with a succession of long balls and balls into the channels keeping Stags penned back in their own half.
Murray went close on 17 minutes when his shot from distance was spilled by a diving Marriott, with D'Laryea on hand to clear the danger as the Histon strikers closed in for an easy tap-in.
But despite the possession of the home side the Stags' defence stood up to the challenge well, with Moses in particular dominating in the air.
The lively Gwillem then tested Marriott on the half hour mark after he drilled a controversial free-kick straight down his throat from 25 yards.
A Gwillem long throw-in then caused major trouble as Murray pounced onto a failed Stags clearance.
He then drilled in a fierce shot which was well blocked by a Stags defender in the crowded six yard box as the net seemed certain to bulge.
The relentless pressure continued on the under-seige Stags back-line and Antonio Murray was once again brought Marriott into action.
He turned in the box to fire a volley straight at the relieved stopper on 35 minutes when a goal would have been certain had it gone either side of Marriott.
Stags should have taken the lead against the run of play just before half time when Arnold found himself clean through on goal after a fantastic crossfield pass from Williams.
But as Arnold out-paced the Histon defence he failed to connect properly with his shot and fired it straight at Naisbitt.
Histon then delivered a sucker-punch to make Stags pay for their miss with a similar move.
Murray, who had caused bother all half, broke the Stags offside trap on 41 minutes and outpaced Moses following a good ball over the top.
He then drilled his shot neatly in the bottom left hand corner of Marriott's goal to give Histon a deserved lead.
And it got much worse deep into injury time when Histon doubled their lead to take a firm grip on the game.
Simpson was found in acres of space on the left side of box and he picked out an unmarked Knight-Percival with a sweet cross, who guided his header past Marriott into the roof of the net.
Boss David Holdsworth will have demanded a positive start to the second half following Stags lack of concentration at the back.
But Holdsworth didn't get it and he quickly made a double substitution, replacing Duffy and O'Connor with Briscoe and Clare, on 54 minutes as Mansfield looked for a route back into the game.
Stags began to have more possession as promotion-chasing Histon looked to sit back and protect their two goal cushion.
High-flying Histon always looked lively on the break with the crosses and penetrating long-throws of Gareth Gwillim a constant threat.
Mis-firing Stags continued to struggle and only created their first glimpse of goal in the second half on 65 minutes when Briscoe's cut-back from the by-line was comfortably cleared.
Stags survived a huge scare when Silk was forced to clear off the line after Marriott surprisingly dropped a Gwillim long throw on 71 minutes.
But Marriott redeemed himself just a minute later when he flung himself full stretch to tip a thunderbolt from Knight-Percival round his right post.
From the resulting corner Langston's bullet header was then blocked by a scrambling defence as it looked to be nestling into the back of the net.
And any doubts for the home fans were well gone on 86 minutes when poor marking once again left Knight-Percival unmarked.
He rose like a salmon to power a bullet header in off the bar as Marriott stuck out an arm in vain to seal the points.
Williams had a chance right on time to bag a consolation goal, but he blazed miles over to sum up Mansfield's horror night.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott, Silk, Williams, D'Laryea, Moses, O'Hare, Arnold, Garner, Duffy (Briscoe 54mins), MacKenzie, O'Connor (Clare 54mins). Subs: Woodhouse, Harvern, White.
HISTON: Naisbitt, Mictchel-King, Langston, Murray, Barker, Midson, Knight-Percival, Oyebanjo, Simpson, Gwillim, Ada. Subs: Pope, Bygrave, Andrews, Roache, Welch.
Evening Post report:
Histon 3 Stags 0
FOR supporters of the big clubs, flicking through their morning paper with only a vague interest in the lower divisions, this result will read as something of a surprise.
Mansfield, with all their years in the Football League, losing comprehensively to Histon, a team who most people could not find on a road atlas?
Indeed, to most Stags fans it would have been an unthinkable prospect even five years ago when the Stutes were still well down the pyramid.
But for anyone who has followed the Blue Square Premier this season, the Cambridgeshire side's victory comes as anything but a shock. Those who were at the Glass World Stadium last night, will also know it is no more than the home team deserved.
Ask the likes of Forest, Leeds and Manchester City and they can testify from recent spells in the third tier of the English game that reputations count for absolutely nothing.
%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%3DTHISISNOTT/AREA%3DFOOTBALL/SUBAREA%3D/ARTICLE%3D863524/acc_random%3D7828284260/pageid%3D/RS%3D10340.10281.10307.10428.10429.10464.10508.%22%20target%3D%22_new%22%3E%3CIMG%20SRC%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/anmdefaultad.gif%22%20ALT%3D%22%22%20border%3D0%20style%3D%22margin-bottom%3A%200px%3B%22%3E%3C/A%3E%3C/div%3EWhat really matters, as Histon continue to prove, is the contribution of the players on the pitch. Their long ball method may be unfashionable and frowned upon by the game's purists, but there is simply no denying its effectiveness.
Just as at Wimbledon and Cambridge before them in the 1980s and 1990s, the Stutes have a system that gets the best out of their squad. With the help of their tight, bobbly pitch, they are particularly successful on home turf, losing once in front of their own fans all season.
And they were more than a match for the Stags, with many visiting fans having started the journey back up the A1 well before the final whistle that signalled their third consecutive away defeat.
Mansfield boss David Holdsworth believed it was two individual errors for Histon's first two goals, within four minutes of each other just before the break, that were costly after his side had been holding their own. He felt his charges had played some decent stuff at times.
Former skipper Adie Moses was another not too disappointed with the overall performance, feeling that the Stags had stood up well to the bombardment from Histon. But there are those, this writer included, who felt that Mansfield were totally outplayed and unable to cope with the physical presence of their opponents.
Time after time the Stags were at panic stations in the box from Gareth Gwillim's long throws and equally ill at ease from corners and free-kicks.
Even if those two first-half goals could have been eradicated with better defending, there were plenty more occasions when the Stutes could have made the breakthrough.
Mansfield, aside from a few promising flashes on the counter-attack, struggled to pass the ball with any fluency as Histon hustled and harried as if their lives depended on it.
Their dominance was particular evident in the second half when Mansfield failed to muster an effort on target. Perhaps the only real surprise was that it took until four minutes from time for the Stutes to make the game safe with a third goal.
Where there is no room for argument was that the game could have mapped out entirely differently had Nathan Arnold not spurned a golden chance with the game goalless.
He made a superb run and was found by an even better diagonal ball from Ryan Williams to race clear one-on-one with Danny Naisbitt. But he shot too close to the keeper, who pulled off a relatively simple save.
Less than a minute later Adie Moses got caught the wrong side of Antonio Murray, giving the Stutes striker a similar chance – one he gobbled up by beating Marriott.
If that was a setback to Mansfield then a stoppage-time second goal was a hammer blow. With the Stags protesting for a foul, Josh Simpson played on and curled in a pinpoint centre that was glanced in by Nat Knight-Percival.
Holdsworth, quite rightly, attempted to change things early in the second period by throwing on Daryl Clare and Louis Briscoe.
But it did not have the desired effect as Histon went on to prove their game is not all brawn, showing they have more ability, especially in Murray, than people give them credit for.
And it was Knight-Percival who wrapped things up with a powerful header off the underside of the bar from another Simpson cross.
Holdsworth has stressed there is still plenty to do for Mansfield to make the step up from mid-table to play-offs next season.
This match only served to underline that view.
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