SPEIGHT RESCUES POINT
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Altrincham
Speight 90+4. Young 70
Attendance: 2364 (65 from Altrincham)
Date: 23 March 2010
Stags 1 Altrincham 1, Tuesday 23rd March
CHAD.co.uk, 23 March 2010, By John Lomas
JAKE Speight was the last gasp hero with a spectacular equaliser four minutes into stoppage time to earn Mansfield Town a deserved point against a frustrating Altrincham at rain-swept Field Mill last night.
Although Stags did play some neat football in the first half it looked like it was going to be a real 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' when they failed to trouble keeper Stuart Coburn against an visiting side who had drawn five of their previous six unbeaten games and had clearly come to Mansfield looking for another stalemate.
Even worse was to some when the unambitious visitors grabbed an unlikely lead on 70 minutes when Greg Young headed home the game's first on-target effort at either end.
Nothing would really fell for the home side against a side they had already beaten twice this season and another home defeat looked on the cards until sub Speight, on for the last 16 minutes, did the trick.
Non-stop rain left puddles on the pitch before kick-off as the players warmed up.
Fresh lines were still being painted on the sodden surface as the players came out for kick-off.
Stags began the game where they left off on Saturday with some neat passing that brought immediate approval from the stands.
The visitors then made hard work out of clearing Stags' first corner, then on seven minutes Mills put the ball down the right to Challinor who whipped a shot across goal from 25 yards.
Hesitation from Garner allowed Carden to stride int the box unchecked, but the defender made amends by sliding in to block his attempted cross for the first of two Altrincham corners.
A long cutrling ball down the left touchline by Nicholas seemed it may set Sturrock away until a throw was signalled to the crowd and players' dismay.
On 20 minutes Sturrock and Perry played a superb one-two just outside the box to set Sturrock free and again the officials intervened, this time with an offside flag, to draw more groans from the stands.
On 25 minutes Burgess played a great through ball down the centre which Perry reached and then curled an excellent effort over the far angle which had the keeper beaten but wouldn't come down in the wind.
A further spell of pressure ended with Garner nodding over from Challinor's right wing cross.
Still the home side dominated with neither keeper having a meaningful save.
Challinor robbed Brown and had a shot charged down. The ball ran wide to Briscoe who beat his man and pulled it back for Sturrock who chose not to shoot first time, but was then quickly crowded out before he could strike.
Sturrock won the ball wide on the right and gave it to Briscoe who bustled his way into the box and somehow managed to cushion the ball off his heel towards Silk who blazed disappointingly over from 15 yards.
Briscoe also had a shot blocked as the half ended scoreless but with the home side heartily applauded as they left the field with the rain still lashing down.
In the opening minute of the second half Garner headed away a ball into the box as far as Denham who scuffed a volley wide of the near post to give Marriott his first moment of worry of the night.
And on 50 minutes Alty came even closer as Senior flicked on a right wing free kick and Williams headed just over from six yards from a good position.
Stags were struggling to pick up the momentum again after the half-time break.
But eventually Sturrock did well to reach a flick on the right and feed Briscoe who crossed into the centre of goal where Densmore just managed to head away in between Perry and Burgess.
Densmore then clashed angrily with Brough after the Stags man had dived into a tackle on him but the referee saw no foul.
The home fans' frustrations grew as the visitors took their time with free-kicks and throws with their obvious target of a draw now just 25 minutes away.
Sturrock almost slipped Briscoe clean through down the middle but the ball got momentarily caught up in the mud and between Briscoe's feet and that was all the time Densmore needed to halt him before he got his shot away.
However, the visitors stunned the home crowd by grabbing a 70th minute lead with the game's only on-target attempt so far.
A left wing corner was knocked back across to the near post by Williams and Young got a head to it and sent the ball under the angle.
Stags quickly sent on Shaw for Perry before play restarted. Soon after Speight took over from Challinor to huge roars.
Garner got a head to Burgess' 75th minute corner but once again the ball would not go on target.
Speight then turned well 18 yards from goal but sent in a tame shot for Coburn to gather.
Carden was not far over with a great dipping effort from 20 yards after spotting Marriott slightly off his line.
Speight had another hopeful effort sail well over before Nix came on for the last five minutes in place of Briscoe.
Nix quickly took responsibility for a corner which reached Burgess at the far post and he drilled in a low angled shot from the same position he scored from at the weekend but this time the keeper gathered.
Altrincham had everyone back as Stags banged their heads against the wall, Speight seeing another shot blocked and Nix drilling well over.
Mills was booked on 88 minutes for a late sliding tackle on Brown.
But, just as all looked lost in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Speight produced a superb finish to grab a deserved point.
Altrincham were creaking under the pressure and Nicholas crashed in a low shot from a tight angle on the left which deflected towards hero Speight who dispatched it superbly into the back of the neck with a bicycle kick five yards from goal.
STAGS: Marriott, Silk, Garner, Brough, Nicholas, Burgess, Mills, Challinor, Briscoe, Sturrock, Perry. Subs: Collett, Somner, Shaw, Speight, Nix.
ALTRINCHAM: Coburn, Young, Densmore, Lawton, Denham, Williams, McAliskey, Senior, Doran, Carden, Brown. Subs: Smith, Little, Saunders, Welch, Bennett.
REFEREE: Andrew Halliday of Ripon.
Match report: Stags 1 Altrincham 1
Evening Post report
WASN'T this just typical Mansfield Town? Long-standing pilgrims to Field Mill will certainly think so.
The big question after the five-star show at Histon on Saturday was whether such a performance could be repeated three days later in front of the home crowd.
Unfortunately – and predictably considering the Stags' past history on such occasions – the answer was no.
It must be pointed out, it was not for a lack of trying. There was no doubt that Mansfield once again brought a passing game to the table rather than taking the direct route. They were patient rather than panicky.
And such a method ensured it was largely applause and encouragement that rang out from the terraces rather than boos and heckling.
The trouble was that opponents Altrincham did not prove as easy to crack as Histon had – meaning all those backing the Stags were ultimately left frustrated by a lack of an end product on the whole.
Graham Heathcote's side rarely showed any ambition to win the game.
They were well-organised and effective at blunting Mansfield's threat – and took their opportunity to strike when it came, which saw them claim a point.
Hopes of a late play-off surged understandably lingered after the resurgent success at the Glass World Stadium.
But this draw has surely ended those once and for all. The gap to the top five, it would now appear, is too great with only seven games left to play.
The Stags had not had back-to-back wins since October, if you take the expunged 4-0 home victory over Chester followed by a win at Forest Green Rovers out of the equation.
And they were once again unable to find the level of consistency they were looking for on a rain-soaked surface, even if their endeavour was never in doubt.
Not surprisingly, the Stags fielded an unchanged side as Gary Mills (thigh) and Louis Briscoe (hamstring) recovered from knocks.
Mansfield made an encouraging start and a flowing move was enthusiastically applauded by the home fans, even when it broke down.
Soon after, Mills lobbed the ball forward for Jon Challinor, whose shot on the run from a difficult angle flashed wide of the left-hand post.
A moment of doubt from Scott Garner almost let in Adam Carden, but the defender recovered well to block the attempted cross.
Blair Sturrock thought he was away down the left flank from Andy Nicholas' long ball forward, but the ball was adjudged to have curled out for a throw-in.
A Mills ball towards the edge of the box was neatly flicked on by Kyle Perry, only to drop just out of the reach of the on-rushing Challinor.
Sturrock was almost in on goal as he played a neat one-two with Perry until the Scot was ruled marginally offside.
Andy Burgess showed his class in possession when his slide-rule pass put Perry into space, whose early shot flew high over the bar.
The Stags had a sustained spell of pressure midway through the half which ended when Garner headed well over from Challinor's pinpoint right-wing centre.
Sturrock could not get the ball out of his feet after Briscoe had looked to tee him up with a cut-back from the right byline.
More enterprising work from Briscoe opened up an even better chance for Gary Silk but the Stags skipper fired high over the top from just inside the box.
Neither side threatened in the lead up to the break but the home players left the field to a round of applause from their followers.
Altrincham started the second period brightly and Chris Denham fired wide on the volley from Garner's unconvincing headed clearance.
A short free-kick from the Robins in the 50th minute saw Senior hook the ball in for Robbie Williams, who headed over the top under pressure from six yards.
Shaun Densmore and Michael Brough squared up to each other after the Mansfield player had slid in from some distance away, but play was waved on by the referee.
With Altrincham systematically trying to run down the clock when the ball went out of play, the home supporters were becoming increasingly annoyed.
A golden opportunity went begging in the 66th minute when Sturrock under-hit his pass to Briscoe when the former Port Vale man would have been in the clear.
It was a real bolt from the blue when Altrincham went in front with what was the first shot on target from either side.
Williams played the ball back in from the right following a half-cleared corner and giant stopper Greg Young rose highest to head just inside the right-hand post.
Almost immediately, Alty made their intentions clear when they pulled off former Stag John McAliskey and put on another defender in Michael Welch.
The Stags also made their own changes with Jon Shaw and Jake Speight replacing Perry and Challinor.
Garner was not too far away when he headed wide from a left-wing Burgess corner while Speight shot straight at Stuart Coburn on the spin.
But Mansfield were huffing and puffing and Carden was not too far away with a 25-yard curler that drifted just over with Alan Marriott scrambling.
With time running out, Burgess' angled shot, following substitute Kyle Nix's right-wing corner, was well smothered by Coburn.
Four minutes of stoppage time was allowed by the officials and it saw the Stags grab an equaliser in the last of those, one they deserved
Burgess found Nicholas in space on the left of the box and his deflected drive was hooked over his head and into goal by Speight from five yards.
It was a dramatic finale, but too little, too late as far as Mansfield's play-off bid is concerned.
Well deserved point for under-strength Alty
Wednesday 24th March 2010
Mansfield Town 1 Altrincham 1
ALTRINCHAM fielded a much weakened side on Tuesday as Anthony Danylyk and Nicky Clee joined Matt Doughty, Dale Johnson and Tom Kearney on the injured list.
These absences gave a chance to midfielder John Bennett to come back into the squad from the youth team.
Adam Carden and Chris Denham were restored to the starting line-up in a 4-4-2 formation. Mansfield were unchanged from Saturday's 5-0 win at Histon.
In swirling heavy drizzle on a pitch that was cutting up, the first half was a tight affair with neither keeper seriously troubled.
Mansfield showed more attacking intent, but to little effect, and the first 45 minutes ended goalless.
Alty were the better side for the opening of the second half, with Robbie Williams heading narrowly over following a freekick.
Recent signings Carden, Doran and Brown all impressed before Greg Young headed Alty ahead from Chris Senior's feed after the Stags had failed to clear a Doran corner in the 70th minute.
Mansfield applied some late pressure but did not test Coburn until the final 10 minutes.
After Welch and Little had come on as substitutes, Mansfield's own substitute, Speight levelled in the fourth added minute after a teammate's shot deflected to him. This sixth draw in their last seven games for Alty was well deserved and consolidates their 10th position in the table.
ALTRINCHAM Coburn; Densmore, Williams, Young, Brown; Denham, Lawton, Doran, Carden; Senior, McAliskey. Subs: Saunders, Welch, Little, Bennett, Smith.
MANSFIELD TOWN (0) 1 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Blue Square Premier match
played on Tuesday, 23 March 2010, at 7.45pm
Altrincham, without Nicky Clee and Anthony Danylyk who joined the injured list last Saturday, were only deprived of a win by an equalizer from sub Jake Speight in the fourth added minute. In wet conditions on a pitch that cut up, Alty went ahead after 70 minutes when Greg Young scored with a header after Mansfield failed to clear a Doran corner. The Stags equalized with a scrappy goal but on this showing they look unlikely to reach their play-off target. Alty's excellent performance with a much weakened team (nine of the 16-man squad had started a dozen or fewer league game for the club this season), extends their unbeaten run to seven games - six of them draws!
70 mins: Greg YOUNG (Mansfield Town 0 Altrincham 1)
90+4 mins: Jake SPEIGHT (Mansfield Town 1 Altrincham 1)
REFEREE: Mr Andy Halliday
ATTENDANCE: 2,364 (65 in away end)
Altrincham were much weakened, with Danylyk and Clee's absences meaning that John Bennett came into the squad from the Youth team. Carden and Denham were restored to the starting line-up in a 4-4-2 formation. Mansfield were unchanged from Saturday's 5-0 win at Histon. James Smith retruned on the bench, after injury.
The previous two games between these sides this season, at Moss Lane in the BSP and at Field Mill in the FA Cup, had left Altrincham with four red cards, including the infamous "Trial by You Tube" when James Smith got retrospectively "sent off" on the basis of a video clip sent to the footballing authorities by Mansfield Town. Thankfully, this game was not preceded by the press-orchestrated hype that had marred the FA Cup encounter.
This game was played in horrible conditions, with swirling steady rain falling for much of the game. Mansfield started in eighth place, with Alty lying tenth with a game in hand.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 5. Greg YOUNG, 27. Ryan BROWN, 10. Chris DENHAM, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 21. Peter DORAN, 24. Adam CARDEN, 19. Chris SENIOR, 17. John McALISKEY. Subs: 18. Michael WELCH, 9. Colin LITTLE, 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 20. John BENNETT, 2. James SMITH.
MANSFIELD TOWN (Yellow and blue): 1. Alan Marriott, 18. Andrew Nicholas, 16. Gary Silk, 6. Scott Garner, 37. Andrew Burgess, 25. Jon Challinor, 4. Gary Mills, 36. Michael Brough, 32. Blair Sturrock, 7. Louis Briscoe, 19. Kyle Perry, Subs: 33. Neil Collett, 8. Matthew Somner, 26. Kyle Nix, 10. Jon Shaw, 17. Jake Speight
As Mansfield got the game under way, with Altrincham playing into the gusty wind, the rain temporarily eased off. Mills soon gave referee Halliday a dirty look after he had played the ball against the referee's shins, rather than finding a team mate. After Densmore had made a good tackle, Mansfield escaped with a foul throw, (the throwers' feet were over the touchline), which yielded a corner for them (5 mins). A Mansfield cross into the Alty box soon followed, as the home side went forward. However, Alty won themselves a corner in the 13th minute when Doran fed Brown who got to the by-line, left of goal.
Doran's flag kick immediately produced a second corner as the rain intensified once more. Next, Challinor was caught offside before Sturrock also strayed offside (20 mins). The home side were showing more attacking intent but were not threatening any serious breach of the Alty defence with their neat but unincisive approach play. From a clearance by Marriott, Sturrock fired well over the Alty bar (25 mins) and then Young had to hack clear for Alty after a misheader from his otherwise reliable centre-back partner, Williams. Defending was not easy in the wind and rain and on a very greasy surface which was soon cutting up.
Mansfield put together four successive crosses inside a minute into the Alty box but the defence held firm (27 mins). When Mansfield did get a sight of goal they were profligate as typified by Garner's header which cleared the bar by a big margin.
Alty then wasted a promising breakaway when Denham went forward but played a poor final ball (30 mins). Mansfield won another corner in the 34th minute as the rain continued to sweep down the pitch. Mr Halliday was allowing a significant number of off the ball nudges, holds and pushes to go unpunished as Silk now lifted a shot very high over the target for Mansfield (38 mins). Play drifted on fairly uneventfully before Mr Halliday decided to blow for half-time just after McAliskey had been fouled on the half-way line, so avoiding the need to award a freekick (45 mins).
Mansfield had had the better of the first period but without testing Coburn once, thanks to a mixture of disciplined defending and woeful finishing.
Half-Time: MANSFIELD TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 0
Altrincham started the second half the more positive of the two sides and Denham got in an early volley which went wide (46 mins). This was followed by Carden's surge forward up the left and then by an Alty freekick. Next, Williams got in a decent header which went over the Mansfield bar (50 mins). The rain now had eased once more before another promising breakaway from Denham was again undone by a poor lay off at the end of the wing man's run (54 mins).
Denham nearly made amends moments later when he timed a run very well to get on the end of a Densmore throw. But unfortunately Denham was unable to connect with the ball at the by-line to get it back into the box. Next, Carden again broke away but had no support and the move faltered. So the hour mark arrived with Altrincham looking pretty comfortable.
Afterr this, when Densmore tackled Silk, both players ended on the floor and from a seated position the Mansfield man waved his arm at the Alty midfielder, an incident which would no doubt have featured in a You Tube clip had it been the other way round (61 mins). But Altrincham were proving incapable of keeping the ball upfield for any length of time. Another surge forward, this time by Lawton, foundered on lack of support from his team mates whose discipline was ensuring that they remained tight in midfield and defence but were not able to get forward quickly enough in sufficient numbers on the break.
Shaun Densmore then executed the tackle of the game when he stopped Briscoe after he had got behind Young up the middle (66 mins). A seemingly insignificant but nonetheless smart piece of thinking from Carden then led to Altrincham scoring a goal. Carden cleverly back heeled a ball against a Mansfield player to win a throw on the left, 20 yards out. Brown's throw, in turn, led to a corner off Briscoe on the Alty left. With referee Halliday seemingly blind to blatant holding on Williams, whose attempted shot was hampered by his marker having a handful of his shirt for several seconds, the ball came out to Senior. He played it back into the goalmouth where Young headed it firmly into the net to give Alty the lead (70 mins).
Immediately, Mansfield brought on Shaw for Perry (70 mins), followed by Welch coming on for McAliskey for the visitors (71 mins). Next, Mansfield won a corner at which point Challinor was replaced by Speight for the Stags (74 mins). Soon Speight scuffed a weak shot to Coburn (78 mins) before Carden, at the other end, got in a good shot which just cleared the bar (79 mins). Speight was wasteful again soon afterwards with a shot which hit row Z of the stand behind the goal (81 mins).
After 84 minutes Mansfield made a final change with Briscoe withdrawn and replaced by Nix. Brown then caused Marriott to back -pedal to catch a lob from half way as Alty looked reasonably comfortable with their lead. But when Mansfield won a corner, Coburn had to make his first serious save of the night, from Burgess, at the near post (86 mins).
Mills was lucky only to see a yellow card when he lunged late at Brown on half way, as the Alty man advanced up the wing. Brown was fortunate to escape without serious injury (88 mins). Four minutes of added time were announced and, in the first of these, Lawton was booked for a foul on Nicholas on half way. Alty then made a change as Denham was replaced by Little (90+3 mins).
With the game in its final minute Mansfield got their equalizer. Speight was the scorer after a Mansfield shot had initially been blocked (90+4 mins). In last Saturday's game Alty had gained a draw in the fourth added minute against Rushden so they could not be too upset at this late blow. Despite this late disappointment for Altrincham, after such a disciplined display by a team ravaged by injuries, the draw was a far more positive outcome for the visitors, who have now gone seven games unbeaten (five of those games being against top 8 sides), than for Mansfield whose play-off credentials were not enhanced by their showing in this game.
Full-Time: MANSFIELD TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 1
Compiled by John Laidlar
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