STAGS FRUSTRATED IN DRAW AT GRAYS
Grays Athletic 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Slabber 35. Speight 11.
Attendance: 732 (approx 250 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at Bridge Road
Mansfield Town were left hugely frustrated after a dominating performance at Grays Athletic, and had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw. The Stags took an early lead through Jake Speight but a sloppy goal gifted Grays an equaliser, and the Stags could only score once despite around 20 chances created. Kyle Perry hit the bar, and Grays on-loan keeper made two unbelievable saves in the last minutes from Garner and Speight.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre
Home point for Grays Athletic in 1-1 draw
A superb display by on-loan Spurs' keeper Lee Butcher saw Grays collect a home point against high-flying Stags, who stand second in the table.
Apart from a spell late in the first-half, the hosts were under pressure but Butcher pulled off two world-class saves to ensure a share of the spoils.
Manager Gary Phillips was delighted with his side's resolute backs-to-the-wall performance — and his young stopper in particular.
“We're still playing catch-up and in the last 20 minutes had to dig in and get the flack jackets on!” he said.
“But we defended resolutely and the keeper made two magnificent saves.
“That's the third game on the trot we've gone behind and it would be nice to go in front for once.
“They are a good bunch of kids here, honest, and having a real go. If we show today's heart and passion and get match fitness to the level we want then they will be fine.”
Jake Speight's 12th-minute far post header had given Mansfield the lead, but Jamie Slabber capitalised on a lack of concentration in the visiting defence to level on 36 minutes.
Grays, who saw chief executive Mick Woodward stand down in midweek, used another three new players here to make the total of players fielded 25 in just seven games.
Grays could have taken the lead at the start of the second-half when ex-Football League man Glenn Poole, who had been thwarted by Stags' keeper Alan Marriott in the first-half, saw the stopper dive to tip away his 50th-minute effort.
But it was one-way traffic from thereon in. Kyle Perry headed against the bar, Kenny Davis cleared a Luke Jones header off the line and Jones missed the target with a close range free header.
Butcher then made a stunning save to keep out Speight's close range header and thwarted the same player again before ensuring a point for Grays with a sensational stop from Scott Garner late on. Grays now visit Salisbury City on Tuesday 8 September.
Report from yourthurrock.com
Blues hold out for valuable point
Posted by Mike Jones On September - 6 - 2009
Grays Athletic 1 Mansfield Town 1
Blue Square Premier
Bill Robinson reports from The New Rec……
Grays managed to hold onto a point thanks to keeper Lee Butcher, he made numerous saves throughout the game but two fantastic saves in the last 15 minutes that kept Grays in the match.
The first half was quite uneventful with only half chances being created by both sides. It was from Mansfields second corner of the game that saw them take the lead, in the 12th minute, the corner was long and found the head of Luke Jones who sent the ball back to the near post for Jake Speight to sneak in by the post to head home.
Both teams defences managed to keep there opposition at arms length and the strikers had to rely on long range efforts, on two occasions Glenn Poole had an opportunity to score first time the keeper made a good save his second effort was sliced well wide.
The game was going from end to end but both defences remained in charge, Grays equaliser came in the 35th minute when the Mansfield defence appeared to fall asleep, a long ball out of defence by Gavin Hoyte found Obersteller on the left he pulled it back for Graham who crossed the ball and Jamie Slabber was unmarked around the penalty spot and he directed his header into the bottom right hand corner of the net with Keeper Marrott stranded on his line.
Half Time 1-1
Immense pressure from Mansfield straight from the restart saw two great chances for the visitor to regain the lead first Luke James header cleared of the line before keeper Butcher gathered it amongst a crowd of legs. Second chance saw the ball hit squarely against the bar from a corner after the ball was headed back by James for Perry to head against the bar.
Grays had to absorb even more pressure as Mansfield push forward with more urgency looking to get back in front. Mansfield in their quest again hit the bar and in the last few minutes of the game saw keeper Lee Butcher pull off two brilliant saves the best after Williams run down the left, he crossed and Spieght watch his goal bound header saved by Butchers outstretched right hand.
Grays Athletic: Lee Butcher, Daniel Charge, Sam Cutler, Kenny Davs, Richard Graham, Gavin Hoyte, Glen Poole, Jack Obersteller, Jamie Slabber, Anwar Uddin, Paolo Venazza.
Subs: Preston Edwards, George Beavan, Sam Gaughran, Tom Harvey, Charge, Charlie Taylor,
Mike Casey is on Holiday
Grays 1 Mansfield 1
Evening Post report
IT was easy to understand why it took David Holdsworth a full five seconds to answer exactly how Mansfield had failed to beat Grays Athletic.
It was the first, obvious press conference question for the flabbergasted, flummoxed and frustrated Stags boss, who is normally so adept in his post-match patter but, for once, he was momentarily lost for words.
Of course, to those in attendance at the Recreation Ground, the answer the Stags boss was searching for was plain to see.
In short, his side's failure to run out victors when they were far superior to their opponents in the second half in every department, was down to a combination of some woeful finishing and inspired goalkeeping.
In terms of their contribution to the game, the visitors deserved to come away with all three points yet, got only one.
And it was that bottom line, that failure to make it a third victory on the bounce away from Field Mill, which left Holdsworth so tongue-tied.
In the second 45 minutes, Mansfield hit the side-netting, the bar, had an attempt cleared off the line, blasted wide and over, missed a sitter and had three goalbound effort magnificently saved by keeper Lee Butcher, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.
The Stags had enough chances to triumph in three or four games, let alone one.
The Mansfield manager would also have loved to have called on just one of the strikes from the Stags' multi-goal demolitions of Crawley, Barrow and Ebbsfleet.
Instead, he was left to ponder a second successive draw and a feeling of what might have been.
It is not the first time Holdsworth has cut a disconsolate figure at the Essex club – in fact it was the same story back in March.
Then, he was equally bemused by the outcome as Mansfield lost 2-1 when conceding twice in the closing stages after going ahead thanks to Daryl Clare's first goal for the club.
Still, at least on this occasion he had the consolation of the trip back up the M1 that his troops are still second in the table.
Oxford have, however, stretched their lead at the top as they ran out 2-0 winners at Ebbsfleet.
Mansfield went into the game with four changes to the starting line-up that drew with Kettering.
Out went the injured Craig Armstrong, together with Ryan Williams, Kyle Nix and Louis Briscoe.
They were replaced by Luke Graham – as opposed to youngster Jonathan Ventrella after a late change of mind from Holdsworth – Gary Mills, Jake Speight and Daryl Clare.
It was skipper Mills' first game back since damaging a hamstring on the opening day of the season against Crawley, while for Clare it was his first start of the campaign after previously figuring exclusively from the bench.
But it was Speight who had the visiting supporters singing as he made a 12th minute break-through for his fourth goal of the season.
Mills' corner from the left was headed back across goal by Luke Jones and the Sheffielder was able to steer a header just underneath the bar, despite Butcher getting the faintest of touches.
It looked as if the Stags would take a grip of the game, especially as they seemed capable of scoring from almost every set-piece close to the Grays' goal.
Yet the longer the first half went on, the more Athletic came into it.
Glenn Poole twice went close, the first of his two efforts bringing a decent save out of Alan Marriott.
Crucially, the lively Speight screwed an angled shot wide of the post, rather than in, after battling hard for the ball in the 35th minute.
Seconds later, Grays were up the other end of the field and registering an equaliser.
Richard Graham delivered the ball in from the left and the Stags were caught ball-watching as Jamie Slabber – the man who scored in this fixture last season – nipped in to head into the right-hand corner beyond a helpless Marriott.
After a half-time rollicking from their manager for letting their opponents get back into the game, the Stags responded determinedly and threw everything at Grays.
Marriott did make one excellent stop from Poole, tipping a thunderous drive over the top at full stretch.
Otherwise, though, he was a virtual spectator as the shots rained in – 20 from Mansfield in total throughout the match – on Butcher's goal.
Perhaps the best chance of the lot fell to Jones. Arguably the best in the air at the club, he was unmarked six yards from goal when substitute Williams' pinpoint cross found him, only for the central defender to direct the ball over.
In the closing stages, first Speight and Garner thought they had won it for the visitors with well-placed headers.
But they reckoned without the heroics of Butcher, who made saves any goalkeeper in the world would have been proud of.
No doubt some Mansfield followers back home in north Notts were a little disgruntled a struggling side like Grays were not dispatched.
Gary Mills and Luke Graham countered post-match by saying winning their home games and drawing away is a recipe for success.
If the definition of success is reaching the play-offs, then those players are right – that kind of form is good enough.
But if the aim is to mount a sustained automatic promotion challenge, as now seems to be the hope, the Stags realistically have to win such games.
That aside, the fact remains Mansfield will win matches comfortably this season with half the number of goalscoring opportunities they created at the Recreation Ground.
It won't always be a hard luck story – and Holdsworth won't always be rendered temporarily speechless.
Grays Ath 1 Mansfield Town 1, Saturday 5th September
By John Lomas
Despite relentless pressure and a wealth of chances, one mistake at the back saw unlucky Stags have to settle for a point in a pulsating 1-1 draw at struggling Grays Athletic this afternoon.
Jake Speight's fourth goal of the season had put Stags in the driving seat after only 12 minutes and from there on the home side's goal led a charmed life.
But Jamie Slabber, who scored the winner in this fixture last season, was giftwrapped a close range free header to give Grays an unexpected equaliser on 36 minutes.
Alan Marriott did have to make a fine save to deny Glenn Poole after the break.
But otherwise it was all Mansfield with Kyle Perry heading against the crossbar and Luke Jones seeing an effort cleared off the line and planting a free header wide.
It was almost one-way traffic as Grays somehow clung on and Tottenham loanee keeper Lee Butcher made three saves, two of them outstanding, to deny Jake Speight, twice, and Scott Garner.
In the biggest reshuffle so far this season, the Stags saw four changes to the side that drew 0-0 at home with Kettering.
With both Craig Armstrong and Paul Heckingbottom injured, boss David Holdsworth resisted the temptation to put youngster Jon Ventrella at left back and opted instead for Luke Graham, who filled in there on Monday after Armstrong limped off.
Ryan Williams, Kyle Nix and Louis Briscoe were all left out with Daryl Clare, skipper Gary Mills and Jake Speight brought in.
Duffy shrugged off an injury to team up with Clare, making his first start of the season, up front. Perry and Speight looked to have been given wide roles outside them.
Mills was back after limping out of the first game of the season after only nine minutes. But this week's new signing, Blair Sturrock, could only manage a place on the bench.
With the inclusion of new signings Lee Butcher, Anwar Uddin and Paolo Vernazza, struggling Grays have already used 25 players this season.
Silk headed away a dangerous Cutler ball into the Mansfield box , then Speight had a shot half blocked at the other end before Mills fired a good volley at the keeper from 18 yards from a Silk cross.
Speight won a ninth minute corner but the pressure eased for a high boot by Garner.
Then Mills tried to send Perry into the box and his shot produced a corner which led to the opening goal.
Mills put the corner to the far post from the left where Jones headed back across goal and Speight rose to head the ball under the near angle from a tight position, his fourth goal of the season.
Mills almost made it 2-0 on 17 minutes as he let fly from 30 yards and debut keeper Butcher got behind it but could only hold it at the second attempt as it initially jumped out his grasp and threatened to spin behind him.
Stags laboured to clear following a free kick which ended with Uddin flicking the ball across goal and wide with no one there to turn it home for Grays.
Marriott finally has some work to do on 25 minutes as Slabber sent a 20 yard volley straight at him.
But two minutes later he had to produced an excellent parry to keep out a Poole rocket from 25 yards.
Clare wasn't too far over with a free kick from just outside the box on the left on the half-hour.
But seconds later Graham's touch set up Poole for a better chance as he flashed a powerful 18 shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Play again swung to the other end and Speight was only just over with a hurried shot from a half-clearance and, soon after, Somner sliced wide from a short free kick rolled to him.
Duffy sent Speight into the box on 34 minutes and he somehow held off three defenders, lost his balance, kept the ball and somehow still got in a low finish that bobbled wide of the far post.
But it was the home side who hauled themselves level on 36 minutes. Graham hoisted a cross in from the left touchline and Marriott was helpless as Slabber was left all alone to stoop down and guide a free header home from six yards.
Clare almost restored Mansfield's lead within seconds with a tremendous turn in the box followed by a lightning shot that flew narrowly wide.
Slabber was again on target with a 41st minute header from Obersteller's cross but this time Marriott was easily able to grab.
In the first attack of the second half, Mills and Perry headed on to Clare in the box who controlled and shielded the ball but was at too tight an angle and could only find the sidenetting.
Good work from Perry earned a corner which Jones met with a firm header that Davis blocked on the line and the keeper was in the way of Speight's follow-up.
Poole then twice came close for Grays. He lashed a half-clearance over from 18 yards and a minute later from 25 yards he really got hold of his shot and Marriott had to dive full to his left to tip it away for the save of the match.
Clare was again too high with a 20 yard free kick. Then Perry rattled the home bar was a close range header after Jones had nodded a Mills corner towards the far post.
More excellent Stags interplay ended with Graham lifting the ball into the box where Clare's header sailed wide.
On 63 minutes the visitors made a double switch with Perry and Clare replaced by Sturrock and Williams.
Immediately a Williams cross caused havoc and both Mills and Duffy had shots blocked.
A Duffy flick almost put Sturrock in on goal but he couldn't quite control first time and the moment was gone.
Marriott was easily down to gather a low Charge shot and soon after bravely gathered a low Cutler cross from the left as Grays tried to ease the pressure on them and create a chance of their own.
Jones really should have netted for the visitors on 74 minutes but somehow planted a free header over the bar from a perfect central position six yards out after being picked out by Williams from the left.
Home keeper Butcher then pulled off a stunning save on 83 minutes to somehow keep out a Speight header from seven yards from Williams' cross.
In the last two minutes Butcher twice save his side again.
First he dived to his left to turn away a header from garner and seconds later got to his other post to block a Speight shot.
It was everything but the kitchen sink at the Grays goal now, Duffy having a shot blocked but somehow the home side survived for an unlikely point as Stags were left to reflect on what might have been.
GRAYS: Butcher; David, Hoyte, Uddin, Obersteller; Graham (Taylor 71), Cutler, Vernazza, Poole (Beavan 86); Charge, Slabber. Subs: Edwards, Gaughran, Harvey.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Jones, Garner, Graham; Perry (Sturrock 63), Somner (Nix 80), Mills, Speight; Duffy, Clare (Williams 63). Subs: Sandercombe, Istead.
REFEREE: Brendan Malone of Wiltshire.
Grays Athletic 1 Mansfield Town 1
MANSFIELD were left ruing a succession of missed chances as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Grays Athletic at the Recreation Ground this afternoon.
The Stags dominated the match for long spells, especially in the second half, but could not find that elusive winner.
They wasted a plethora of opportunities but were also denied by two brilliant saves from Grays keeper Lee Butcher, who is on loan from Spurs.
Jake Speight had given the Stags a 12th-minute lead but some lax defending had allowed the home side to level with 36 minutes on the watch through Jamie Slabber.
In the game's early stages, Speight played a neat one-two with Gary Silk but his snapshot was deflected away from goal by a Grays defender.
Gavin Hoyte then denied Speight as he threatened to latch onto a Kyle Perry flick.
But the Stags were in front when Mills' far-post corner from the left was headed back across goal by Luke Jones and Speight headed the ball under the left-hand angle, despite Butcher's desperate touch.
A sweeping move from Mansfield involving Speight, Daryl Clare, Rob Duffy and Kyle Perry ended with a hasty Grays clearance finding the feet of Mills, whose drilled effort from 30 yards was claimed at the second attempt by a relieved Butcher.
Grays responded midway through the half with a first-time shot from Slabber that flew straight into the arms of Alan Marriott.
The home side went even closer when Glenn Poole hammered in a shot from distance that Marriott did well to push out before Slabber was adjudged offside from the follow up.
Richard Graham teed up Poole, who this time snatched his shot well wide when better placed than when he had struck his previous effort.
Another set piece saw more problems for Athletic as they could only head clear as far as Speight, who slapped a shot over the top.
In the 35th minute, Luke Graham's long ball forward was flicked on by Duffy into the path of Speight. He battled hard for possession and eventually earned the chance to work in a left-foot shot that he screwed wide of the right-hand post.
But Grays were back level a minute later, after some sloppy defending by Mansfield.
Slabber was allowed a free header from Graham's left-wing cross and he nodded the ball beyond Marriott into the right-hand corner from six yards.
The tall striker had another chance moments later but this time failed to test Marriott from slightly further out in the final significant action of the half.
Clare almost gave Mansfield the perfect start to the second period, but he hammered into side-netting from close range.
Straight after, Jones' goalbound header was cleared off the line by Kenny Davis before Butcher clutched Speight's header from the rebound.
Grays responded well as Poole blazed over on the volley before bringing a top drawer save out of Alan Marriott, who tipped over his rising shot from the edge of the box at full stretch.
As the game flowed from end-to-end, Clare had another try from a 25-yard free-kick but this time his effort flew well over.
Perry was unlucky not to put the Stags back in front from another corner, heading against the bar after Jones had again won the first ball.
Clare then glanced wide of the target after a pinpoint ball in from the left flank by Graham.
Mansfield made a double substitution in the 63rd minute as Blair Sturrock and Ryan Williams replaced Kyle Perry and Daryl Clare.
And the visitors almost broke through immediately, only for shots from Mills and Duffy to be well blocked.
As Mansfield continued to do all the pressing, Duffy's flick looked to have released Sturrock on goal but he mis-controlled at the vital moment.
Jones missed a golden chance to put his side back in the ascendancy as he somehow headed over when unmarked from six yards out after a precise ball in from the left by Williams.
Butcher produced a miracle stop to keep out Speight's header with seven minutes to go as Williams again supplied the ammunition.
And his reactions were just as good in the dying seconds as he palmed away a goalbound header from Scott Garner and then also turned away another effort from Speight.
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