SUPER STAGS UNLUCKY TO BE PEGGED BACK
Blue Square Premier
Kettering Town 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
Marna pen 2, Ebigbo 86. Challinor 9, Sturrock 32.
Attendance: 1188 (339 from Mansfield)
Date: 27 March 2010
Martin Shaw at Rockingham Road
Mansfield Town put in a super performance at Rockingham Road this afternoon but were unable to turn their superiority into three points and left gutted to have been pegged back by an 86th minute equaliser for Kettering. This was an outstanding game, and a wonderful advert for the Blue Square Premier. The home side took the lead in the second minute when Luke Foster was penalised for bringing down Dance in the box, but it didn't look like their was any contact, and Stags fellow defender Brough confirmed this after the game. JP Marna's penalty kick was brilliantly saved by Marriott, but Marna was fortunate to be able to knock in the rebound. The Stags equalised on 9 minutes, when Perry's cross was knocked in by Challinor. The Stags deservedly took the lead on 32 minutes when Sturrock blasted home from inside the box after Perry's flick-on. The Stags should have added to the lead before the break as Briscoe and Sturrock fired over when they should have worked the keeper. In the 55th minute, Briscoe went down in the box - it looked a clear penalty to us in the press box and Stags manager Holdsworth thought so too after the game, but credit to Briscoe who admitted after the game that he fell over and that had immediately told the ref. The Stags should have buried Kettering after that with chances going begging, and paid the ultimate price in 86 minutes when Ebigbo fired home from the right. Stags were deflated at the end of the game, and with York being held at home by Tamworth, it was a real opportunity to make up ground that was missed. I reckon we now need snookers to make the play-offs this season, but if we continue to play like this, there will be real hope that we will be a major force next season.
podcast of Radio Nottm commentary of Kettering game:
Thank you to hibbmtfc for the recording.
Stags still searching for consistency
Monday, March 29, 2010
AT the end of it all, David Holdsworth was like a proud parent. He knew his Mansfield Town players had not quite got it right, but he couldn't help giving them a pat on the back for how hard they had tried.
Trudging up to the back of the main stand at Rockingham Road, the Stags boss was the picture of disappointment you'd expect from a man who has never been content with anything less than three points come 5pm on a Saturday afternoon.
Yet, at the same time, you could also sense a degree of contentment at the vast majority of what he had witnessed in the Spring sunshine.
Mansfield showed their undoubted abilities against Kettering. They can pass the ball well, they can compete, they have a strong desire.
But, equally, they demonstrated they are still to be moulded into the finished article. They still commit too many individual errors, they sometimes lose their shape, they are prone to lapses in concentration.
In many respects, Holdsworth is close to finding that winning formula – and he knows it.
Laying your hands on the final couple of ingredients, though, is often the hardest part.
The best teams in the Blue Square Premier – or for any league for that matter – are the ones who are consistent.
Manchester United ground out the victories in between their spectacular successes, just as Stevenage Borough do.
But, as this match encapsulated, Mansfield are still searching for that enviable quality.
Had they been more clinical in front of goal then the trip back up the M1 would have been one of celebration. So too if the team had shown the wherewithal to hold on to a lead in the closing stages.
However, a lack of what Holdsworth dubbed 'ruthlessness' at both ends of the pitch was telling, allowing the Poppies to escape with a draw they will feel their determination and never-say-die attitude merited.
No team has won more away matches than Kettering's 12 this season – and they underlined their ability on the road at Field Mill last August, claiming a creditable 0-0 draw.
But they have not been so crash hot at in front of their own fans, quite the opposite in fact.
Their 2-0 home defeat to Forest Green Rovers the week previous was their seventh of the campaign, giving Mansfield hope of repeating their 3-1 victory in Northamptonshire last season.
But with a rocket from boss Lee Harper ringing in their ears, the Kettering players were never likely to cave in so easily on this occasion.
Clearly, they had something to prove and it rapidly became apparent they would fight tooth and nail against the Stags.
With both teams languishing just outside the play-offs, neither could afford to settle for a draw at any point throughout the contest.
That made for an intriguing and engrossing game, in stark contrast to Mansfield's clash with defensively-minded Altrincham in midweek.
The visitors made just one change to their line-up, bringing back Luke Foster, after he had served his two-game suspension, for Scott Garner.
It could hardly have been a more disastrous start for them as, with some supporters still taking their seats, they fell behind.
Alan Marriott came out of the left-hand side of his box to clear a long ball forward, but scuffed his attempt.
Jordan Hadfield tried to lob the ball back into goal, only for Gary Silk to head partially clear.
The danger still had not passed and as the ball was recycled by Danny Thomas and played into James Dance, he was adjudged to have been brought down by Foster.
Just like he did against York, Marriott kept out Jean-Paul Marna's penalty kick, but the ball bounced kindly back to the striker who lashed home with the Mansfield keeper still grounded.
Mansfield's reply was swift as they were level within seven minutes.
Kyle Perry used his strength to bustle into the right-hand side of the box and square low for Jon Challinor, who turned past the wrong-footed Nathan Abbey from eight yards.
As the Stags grew in confidence and began to zip the ball around, so too increased the frequency of their chances.
And when Blair Sturrock raced onto Perry's flick from a Marriott free-kick, outpacing Ian Roper, he made no mistake, thrashing the ball into the roof of the net on the volley.
But if the Stags' finishing was initially top-notch, it deserted them either side of the break when they were on top, both in terms of possession and territory.
Sturrock and Louis Briscoe fired over from good positions, while Gary Silk was denied by the knees of Abbey.
Briscoe then missed his kick after rounding Abbey and looking set to score before Jake Speight, shortly after coming on, should have done better after a misplaced pass by Greg Taylor.
Such wastefulness left Mansfield vulnerable, although it looked like they might get away with it when Marriott made a brilliant save at close quarters from Dance and Silk completed the job by heading off the line.
However, an equaliser did arrive with three minutes to go – and it was a poor goal to give away.
Thomas got away down the left, but his cross seemed tame until it evaded Michael Brough's attempted clearance at the near post and a couple of other retreating Stags players too.
On the end of it was substitute Pascal Ebigbo, who slammed home from close range to send three quarters of the ground wild.
Of course, a stalemate did nothing for either club's outside hopes of sneaking into the top five.
What might normally be classed as a decent point for both parties is not enough with games fast running out.
Still, there were plenty of positives for Mansfield to draw on, even if more work is needed before Holdsworth can hand out winners' medals rather than simple words of encouragement.
Kettering 2 Mansfield Town 2
Evening Post report, Saturday, March 27, 2010
MANSFIELD Town were denied their 10th away victory of the season by a late Kettering Town leveler at Rockingham Road this afternoon.
In an entertaining game that flowed from end to end, the visitors got off to a disastrous start as they conceded a third-minute opener from Jean-Paul Marna.
The Stags then fought back strongly before half-time to go in front with goals from Jon Challinor and Blair Sturrock.
But after Mansfield wasted chances to take the three points, the Poppies came back strongly and squared the match in the closing stages through substitute Pascal Ebigbo.
Mansfield were a goal down almost immediately when Alan Marriott's poor attempted clearance was intercepted by Jordan Hadfield, who tried to chip the ball back into goal.
Gary Silk cleared from the goalmouth but only as far as Danny Thomas and when he played the ball in low to James Dance, Luke Foster brought him down.
Marna stepped up to take the resulting penalty and though his kick was saved by Marriott, diving to his left, the striker rammed home the rebound as it bounced kindly for him.
But Mansfield were soon back on level terms in the 10th minute after good play from Kyle Perry.
He used his strength to turn on the right-hand side of the box and fired in a low cross that was turned home from just outside the six-yard box by Challinor, wrong-footing Nathan Abbey.
The Stags might have gone in front soon after as Perry flicked Silk's diagonal free-kick into the path of Sturrock, who spooned his effort over the top on the run.
James Jennings was booked for a foul on Briscoe, his second on the Stags man on a matter of minutes.
Briscoe was twice denied by close range blocks midway through the half, first from John Dempster then from Patrick Noubissie.
Kettering hit back strongly and Dempster was not too far away with a header from a right-wing corner.
Next to try his luck was Andre Boucaud, but his 30-yarder flew wide of the right-hand upright.
The home fans thought their side had gone back in front when Ian Roper got in a thunderous header from a corner that Marriott instinctively pushed away before the Mansfield defence scrambled the ball clear.
The Stags went ahead in the 32nd minute with a route-one goal.
Marriott launched a long free-kick forward, Perry got a flick-on and Sturrock burst past Roper to power a volley past the stranded Abbey from 12 yards.
A miscued clearance by Jennings gave Briscoe the chance to get a Mansfield third, but he blasted high over the top.
Another opportunity went begging for the visitors before half-time when Sturrock was too high from a Gary Mills pull-back.
Kettering were clearly determined to get back into the game after the restart and began strongly, Marriott saving well from Noubissie's long range drive.
At the other end, Briscoe's measured cross was importantly headed away by Dempster with Perry waiting to pounce.
A slick move from the Stags ended with Sturrock back-heeling the ball for Silk, whose low, angled shot was blocked by the legs of Abbey.
The referee waved away Mansfield penalty claims when Briscoe burst into the box from a Sturrock pass and went down as he tried to go round Abbey.
From the resulting corner, Brough worked space for a shot but lifted it over the bar.
After a period of inactivity, Kettering sprung into life with a series of corners.
First, Roper's header had to be hacked clear of the six-yard box by Brough.
Then, from the flag kick that followed, Marriott pulled off a top-drawer save, diving at the feet of Dance, before Silk completed the job by heading off the line as the ball spun back.
Mansfield responded with efforts from Briscoe that flew wide and Perry that flew over.
The Stags might have wrapped up the points when Greg Taylor played a poor ball across the face of his own box but Speight could not get the power in his shot to beat Abbey and accept the gift.
With the Poppies throwing caution to the wind, gaps were appearing at the back and substitute Kyle Nix forced Abbey into a save, his defence clearing the ball as the keeper failed to hold on.
But the hosts were back level in the 87th minute after defensive errors from Mansfield.
They failed to clear a low Thomas ball into the box and, as the ball made its way through to Ebigbo, who slammed just inside the right-hand post from close range.
Four minutes of added time saw both sides go for a winner but no clear cut chances created.
Kettering Town 2, Stags 2 , Saturday, 27th March 2010
CHAD, co.uk, 27 March 2010, By John Lomas
Pascal Ebigbo struck another blow to Stags' fast-fading play-off hopes with a late equaliser for Kettering Town in a fine game at Rockingham Road this afternoon.
Stags had recovered from the blow of going behind to a third minute Jean-Paul Marna goal to deservedly lead at the break through replies by Jon Challinor and Blair Sturrock in an open, entertaining half of football.
Fading Kettering's opener was oADVERTISEMENTnly their fifth home goal since 3rd November.
Stags had plenty of chances to seal the win after the break though Kettering more than played their part with chances of the own and keeper Alan Marriott surpassing his first half save from Ian Roper with a superb stop to deny James Dance.
Stags might also have had a penalty when Louis Briscoe went down under the challenge of Ian Roper.
But, just when it seemed Stags had done enough to chalk up away win number 10 of the season, sub Ebigbo pounced on a moment's hesitation in the visitors' defence and a lucky bobble to give them a share of the points.
Luke Foster returned to the Mansfield Town side after his two-game ban in the only change to the starting line-up. Jon Shaw missed out on a place on the bench through injury.
The referee for the game was not high on Stags' Christmas card list, Darren Drysdale having upset the club with decisions made in the past, most recently in ther home defeat by Stevenage Borough in September.
Boucaud fired well over the angle in the first minute.
But the Poppies did grab a third minute lead after skipper Foster conceded a penalty.
The trouble started with a poor kick from Marriot which only reached Hadfield who had a shy at the empty net with Marriott off his line but couldn't hit the target.
But the pressure stayed on as Dance steered the ball wide of Foster to make space for a shot and Foster slid in and brought him down, though the defender was furious with the decision.
Marna took responsibility for the penalty and saw Marriott make a good save to his left but the keeper was then helpless as Marna followed up to blast the ball to his right and net at the second attempt.
Kettering survived Mansfield's first corner and Abbey also grabbed a dangerous Challinor cross.
But Stags kept the pressure on and were level on 10 minutes.
Perry put the ball across the six yard box low and hard from the right and Challinor, although not making the best of contacts, managed to steer it wide of the keeper inside the right hand post.
Two minutes later Perry headed on a Silk free kick and Sturrock lifted the ball over from a promising position with a first time finish to the left of goal.
On 22 minutes the referee reached for his cards for the first time to book Jennings after his second foul on Briscoe in as many minutes.
Briscoe did well to work his way into the box on the right and saw first Dempster and then Noubissie block successive low shots toward's Abbey's near post.
Kettering won a free kick just outside the Mansfield box which Jennings saw deflect for a corner from which Dempster headed harmlessly wide.
Boucaud was too high with a hopeful effort from 30 yards as both sides continued to play good football.
Marriott produced a great save on 31 minutes to keep out a powerful Roper header from a left wing Thomas corner, getting across to block and Silk clearing up the loose ball.
Kettering conceded a free kick in the Stags box from another corner on 32 minutes. And that led to Mansfield going ahead.
Marriott kicked upfield, Perry headed on and that put Sturrock clean through down the centre, the Scot making no mistake with a confident blast from 12 yards that zipped into the top right hand corner.
A poor Jennings clearance struck Briscoe who took the ball on to his right and blazed a dipping shot just over the bar as Stags threatened again.
Sturrock was also too high after Briscoe had robbed Jennings and played a pass to Mills to his right whose cross found the goalscorer lurking on the left of the box.
But Stags went in a goal ahead at the end of an entertaining and thoroughly absorbing 45 minutes of football.
The Poppies began the second half on the offensive and won an immediate corner which Roper met with a header that hung high in the airt before dropping into Marriott's safe hands.
Noubissie then tested Mariott with a swerving, stinging shot from 30 yards which the keeper gathered well.
Stags finally broke down the right with sme great running from Briscoe who also put over a great cross that Dempster just managed to head away before Perry could reach it.
Soon after Challinor sent a tame header over the top, then Silk forced a smart save from Abbey after being set up by a clever Sturrock backheel.
More powerful running from Briscoe saw him swap passes with Sturrock to get into the box but then stumble under the challenge of Roper. It looked a certain penalty but Briscoe got up and shook Roper's hand, suggesting otherwise.
Another Stags corner saw the ball reach Brough 18 yards ot and he shwed good skill to turn two defenders before blasting over.
Briscoe scuffed another 20 yard effort wide and the visitors continued to hunt for a crucial third.
The fast, open game of the first half had begin to run out of steam so both sides began to ring the changes.
And it was Kettering who managed to raise their game a gear first.
Brough had to block a Roper header six yards from goal from the first of three home corners.
And on 68 minutes Marriott made another brilliant stop as Dance blasted what looked a certain goal from eight yards which the keeper did superbly well to block and Silk then came up with a braver diving header amid the flying feet to clear the loose ball from almost on the line.
Dance hooked another shot over his shoulder straight to Marriott while Stags relieved the pressure with a low Briscoe shot wide of the right hand post and a scuffed effort over the top by Perry.
Speight replaced Sturrock and was quickly presented wit a chance as
Taylor's poor pass gave him sight of goal with the keeper out of position but the shot lacked enough venom to beat Abbey as he got back across to save.
Appiah was just wide with a shot on the turn before Marriott.
Abbey was lucky when he failed to hold a low Nix shot, is defender clearing before any Stags player could pounce.
However, three minutes from time, the home side snatched an equaliser through sub Ebigbo.
Thomas carved out the opportunity with a run down the left and hard low cross that the defence failed to cut out as it took a wicked bobble, leaving it to roll invitingly for Ebigbo at the far post where he made no mistake with a crisp low finish.
Duffy replaced the hard-working Perry for a late gamble on 89 minutes.
In the last of the four added minutes Mils whistled a 25 yard effort over the angle.
KETTERING: Abbey, Jennings, Roper, Dempster, Hadfield, Marna, Taylor, Dance, Noubissie, Boucaud, Thomas. Subs: Thelwell, Wrack, Appiah, Charles, Ebigbo.
STAGS: Marriott, Silk, Foster, Brough, Nicholas, Briscoe, Mill, Challinor, Burgess, Sturrock, Perry. Subs: Collett, Speight, Duffy, Nix, Garner.
REFEREE: Darren Drysdale of Lincoln.
Entertaining Draw at the Elgoods
KETTERING TOWN 2 MANSFIELD TOWN 2
Kettering started the game in 6th position in the Blue Square Premier League and visitors Mansfield were in 8th. It was always going to be a tight game and so it proved as the teams fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw. The Poppies took the lead in only the third minute through Jean-Paul Marna only to see the visitors go in at half time in the lead, courtesy of goals from Jon Challinor (10 minutes) and Blair Sturrock (32 minutes).The final goal came from substitute Pascal Ebigbo on 87 minutes.
Kettering were able to include James Jennings, but Marcus Kelly was out injured. Patrick Noubissie was in the starting line up and Darren Wrack was back amongst the substitutes. Mansfield included former Poppies Gary Mills and Rob Duffy who was a substitute.
In the first minute, Andre Boucaud fired wide for Kettering from 23 yards. Kettering had started well and as visiting keeper, Alan Marriott made a hash of a clearance, the ball was played in to James Dance and he was brought down in the area in front of the Referee, who pointed to the spot. Jean-Paul Marna's shot was well saved by Marriott, but Marna followed in to rap home a left foot shot to put the Poppies in front.
Mansfield countered and James Jennings got back well to head an Andy Burgess cross away for a corner. The equaliser soon followed. On 10 minutes an uncharacteristic error by John Dempster saw Kyle Perry away on the right and his low cross was stabbed past Nathan Abbey by Jon Challinor. Two minutes later a free kick into the Kettering area was well won by Perry and Blair Sturrock fluffed his shot wide when very well placed to score.
The next action on 23 minutes saw the impressive Louis Briscoe have two shots from 10 yards both blocked. In the next minute, Jennings' free kick was deflected wide for a corner and from the restart Danny Thomas' corner was glanced wide by John Dempster. Andre Boucaud then sent a 30 yard shot narrowly wide of the right post.
On 31 minutes Thomas won a corner for Kettering and his cross was headed firmly at goal by Ian Roper only for Marriott to save on the line. In the next minute, Mansfield went ahead. Dempster fell under pressure in midfield, and the ball was played through to Sturrock who smashed the ball home. A few minutes later a poor clearance was pounced on by Sturrock- but he blazed over from 20 yards. Sturrock had another chance gifted to him as Jennings lost the ball, and this time he again fired over the bar.
Kettering Town 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
The Poppies came out to attack in the second half and Thomas' corner in the first minute of the half saw Dempster's header loop to Marriott. Patrick Noubissie's shot on 48 minutes from fully 35 yards was straight at the keeper. Mansfield immediately countered and it could have been 3-1. Kettering were exposed on their left and Nathan Abbey did well to save Gary Silk's low shot from the right.
On 55 minutes Mansfield threatened again as Briscoe went clear after another Dempster mistake. Briscoe rounded Abbey and fell to see the ball scrambled away and half hearted claims for a penalty were denied. From the corner, Michael Brough lifted his shot high over the bar.
Kettering tried to get back into the game and the otherwise quiet Jordan Hadfield saw his shot easily claimed by Marriott. On 68 minutes a Thomas corner was headed on by Greg Taylor and cleared away from under the bar. The resultant corner saw James Dance's effort scrambled off the line and then his overhead kick loop up to Marriott.
On 71 minutes, Briscoe's shot was wide of the right post, and three minutes later a bad mistake by Taylor, gifted substitute Jake Speight with a shot at an empty net but Abbey got back well to smother the shot. Kettering substitute Kwesi Appiah then got in a neat turn and shot which went just wide. After 77 minutes, a shot from Mansfield substitute, Kyle Nix was fumbled by Abbey and Taylor got back to clear.
With a few minutes left, a dangerous cross from Briscoe on the left just fell wide of the far post and was cleared. On 87 minutes Danny Thomas did well on the left and got past his man to cross to the far post and substitute Pascal Ebigbo did well to drill a low right foot shot past Marriott and in at the right post.
The Poppies went for a winner and Appiah's run and shot was saved by Marriott and finally Dance flicked the ball over after Roper had won his header from a free kick.
Kettering Town 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
Match Sponsors, TLA Electrical Distributors Ltd Poppies Man of the Match: James Dance
Attendance: 1188 (Away fans 339)
Unlikely hero Ebigbo earns a point
Poppies 2 Mansfield 2
26 March 2010
By Jon Dunham
Pascal Ebigbo was the unlikely hero for Kettering Town as his late equaliser denied Mansfield Town.
The Nigerian fired home in the 87th minute to seal a deserved draw for the Poppies, although the stalemate did little for their's or Mansfield's play-off hopes.
After a shocking display against Forest Green Rovers last weekend, the Poppies looked ADVERTISEMENT a different side and couldn't have asked for a better start.
James Jennings fed the ball into James Dance and he turned Luke Foster who made a rash challenge to bring the striker down.
Jean-Paul Marna stepped up to take it, Alan Marriott saved but it fell back to Marna who cracked the rebound home.
It took just seven minutes for Mansfield to respond. Kyle Perry got away down the right side of the penalty area and squared the ball for Jon Challinor to knock home past a wrong-footed Nathan Abbey.
Kettering went close when Andre Boucaud fired over from 30 yards before Ian Roper saw a header saved by Marriott.
But within a minute of that second chance, the Stags were 2-1 up as Sturrock raced onto Perry's flick-on as Roper fell asleep and the forward gave Abbey no chance with a thumping finish.
Mansfield started the second half well and Gary Silk forced Abbey into a save after a lovely flowing move.
And Kettering were fortunate five minutes later when Louis Briscoe got round Abbey but lost his footing at the crucial moment as he was about to shoot.
The hosts kept going, however, and they were unlucky not to level as the ball fell for Dance after a corner and his first shot was saved by Marriott before Silk bravely cleared off the line.
Mansfield looked comfortable but the Poppies levelled with three minutes to go when Ebigbo fired home after Danny Thomas' low cross had caused havoc in the penalty area.
That was the way it stayed and it was hard to argue with it.
Poppies: Abbey; Taylor, Dempster, Roper, Jennings (sub Ebigbo, 76 mins); Hadfield (sub Wrack, 63 mins), Boucaud, Noubissie; Marna (sub Appiah, 67 mins), Dance, Thomas. Subs not used: Thelwell, Charles,.
Mansfield: Marriott; Silk, Briscoe, Brough, Nicholas; Mills, Challinor, Burgess (sub Nix, 66 mins); Briscoe, Perry (sub Duffy, 89 mins), Sturrock (sub Speight, 70 mins). Subs not used: Collett, Garner.
Referee: D Drysdale
Goals: Marna (3 mins, 1-0), Challinor (10 mins, 1-1), Sturrock (32 mins, 1-2), Ebigbo (87 mins, 2-2).
Booking: Jennings (foul).
Attendance: 1,188 (away fans 339)
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