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SUPER STAGS OFF TO A FLIER
18/August/2010 21:48:13

Blue Square Bet Premier

Mansfield Town 3 - 1 Forest Green Rovers
Connor 47, 72, Mills 57. Caines 52.

Attendance: 2474 (48 from Forest Green)

Date: 14 August 2010

Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Mansfield Town opened the new season with an excellent 3-1 win over Forest Green Rovers at Field Mill. Paul Connor scored twice, the second a cool finish in a one-on-one, and also hit the inside of the post. Gary Mills also scored with a deft left footed chip over Forest Green keeper James Bittner after a goalkeeping mistake. Forest Green had equalised to make it 1-1 through a header from Caines, who was unmarked in the box from a free kick. But in the end, the Stags overpowered the visitors, and could have won by more, including when sub Luke Medley had a shot cleared off the line.

Full Stagsnet report in the Match Centre

Man of the Match: Paul Connor

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Mansfield Town 3 Forest Green 1 - full time
The Citizen Gloucestershire

A debut goal from Gavin Caines was not enough for Forest Green at promotion hopefuls Mansfield.

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/football/Mansfield-Town-Forest-Green-time/article-2525316-detail/article.html?

All the scoring came in the second half at Field Mill, with a double for Caines' former Cheltenham Town team-mate Paul Connor and a Gary Mills strike sinking Dave Hockaday's men.

Injuries to Jared Hodgkiss and Scott Bartlett meant an unfamiliar Rovers back four, with Caines and Jamie Grimes thrown in at centre-half and left-back respectively less than 24 hours after signing for the club.

Teenager Grimes has joined on a month's loan from Swansea City while Caines, who played more than 100 times in the Football League for Cheltenham, has arrived on a free transfer from Kidderminster Harriers.

Connor should have put the Stags ahead in the first period, heading wide from eight yards after getting on the end of Louis Briscoe's cross.

James Bittner made two low saves to keep out Adam Smith's effort and the follow-up from Briscoe.

The opening goal came within two minutes of the restart, Gary Silk surging past Grimes and cutting the ball back for Connor to bundle home.

If Rovers had been caught cold then Mansfield were guilty of the same offence four minutes, as Caines wandered free from Lee Fowler's free-kick and headed into the top corner.

The home side's lead was restored in the 57th minute, much to Bittner's annoyance. He felt he had been fouled by Connor when he dashed out to meet Silk's cross, but his weak punch fell for Mills to lift into the unguarded net.

It could have been 3-1 within seconds, with Caines forced to clear off the line from Keigan Parker, while at the other end the big defender saw a snap-shot saved after Mansfield had failed to clear a free-kick.

Forest Green had periods of pressure in the final quarter, but their hopes were killed on 72 minutes when Connor latched onto Tyrone Thompson's defence-splitting pass and slotted past Bittner.

Forest Green: J. Bittner; C. Armstrong (O. Cleaver 86), L. Jones, G. Caines, J. Grimes; L. Fowler, J. Baldwin (M. Fowler 68); L. Smith, Y. Klukowski, J. Norwood; R. Styche (J. Else 68); Subs not used: I. Herring, Z. Jones.

See Monday's Citizen for Peter Orchard's match overview and match reaction.

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Full-time: Mansfield Town 3 Forest Green Rovers 1
Evening Post
TWO goals from Paul Connor on his Blue Square Bet Premier debut helped Mansfield Town to a comfortable opening day victory over Forest Green Rovers at Field Mill this afternoon.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/football/time-Mansfield-Town-3-Forest-Green-Rovers-1/article-2528603-detail/article.html?

The summer signing was in red-hot form in pre-season, bagging five goals in four matches since he joined the club in July.

The former Rochdale and Lincoln man netted twice in the second half - either side of a well-taken strike by Gary Mills.

The only disappointment for the hosts was their failure to keep a clean sheet. They conceded from a set piece. Gavin Caines scored for Forest Green, which briefly saw the visitors draw back level at 1-1.

A minute's silence was held before the game in the memory of former Mansfield chairman John Almond, former Stags voluntary worker Colin Alais and Exeter City player Adam Stansfield, who all passed away in the lead-up to the new season.

As the game got underway, Paul Stonehouse was fortunate to escape a booking against his former team-mates after a late tackle on Craig Armstrong.

Adam Smith then had space to shoot soon after, but Armstrong got back well to make an important block.

Keigan Parker released Gary Silk down the right flank, but Connor was beaten to Silk's cross by keeper James Bittner.

A good cross from Adam Smith saw Parker try a shot on the turn in the 12th minute, but his effort was high and wide.

Louis Briscoe then went on a strong run and picked out a pass to Adam Smith at the far post, but his low drive was deflected over the top.

The hosts should have been in front midway through the half when Briscoe's pinpoint cross found Connor in space six yards out, only for the striker to head wide of the left-hand post.

Parker mis-controlled at the vital moment when he would have been in on goal from Tyrone Thompson's early ball into the box.

In a purple patch for the Stags, James Bittner pulled off a smart double save to deny Adam Smith's 20 yard drive and Briscoe's follow-up.

Forest Green hit back on the half hour and James Norwood was not too far away with a looping header that dropped just over the bar.

Paul Stonehouse was next to try his luck for the Stags but, though Bittner struggled to collect the greasy ball at the first attempt, he claimed it second time around.

Mansfield should have put themselves in front in the 39th minute when Luke Jones missed his kick, setting Parker clear.

But the striker was unable to beat Bittner, who stood tall to block an attempted low finish.

Two minutes from the break, Forest Green's Lee Smith had a sight of goal but shot well off target under pressure from Stonehouse.

Within two minutes of the restart Mansfield were in front after an excellent move down the right flank.

Parker played an incisive ball inside the full-back for Gary Silk, who raced to the byline before he picked out Connor who bundled home from close range.

But the visitors quickly levelled with a goal Mansfield would have been disappointed to concede.

Lee Fowler swung in a free-kick from deep and Gavin Caines got up above his marker to head into the right corner beyond a helpless Alan Marriott.

Mansfield twice wasted opportunities to go back in front as first Gary Mills tried to pick out a team-mate when he was well placed to shoot and then Parker blazed over after racing into the box.

However, David Holdsworh's men did regain the lead in the 57th minute.

Silk's high cross was not cleanly punched away by Bittner under pressure from Connor and Mills lobbed a precise finish into an unguarded goal from the edge of the box.

It was almost 3-1 when first Briscoe's deft chip was pushed away by Bittner and then Connor was thwarted from close range by Caines' goal-line clearance.

Mansfield were in trouble again from another set piece in the 64th minute as Caines found space to power in a shot that Marriott did well to push away and Norwood was too high from the rebound.

But the Stags secured the two goal cushion they had been looking for with 18 minutes to go as Tyrone Thompson threaded a pass through the middle for Connor, who ran on before drilling past the advancing Bittner.

As the game moved into the last ten minutes, Mansfield went in search of more goals and substitute Luke Medley – on for Parker – had an angled shot cleared off the line by Caines after he chased a Mills through pass.

The shots kept on coming in the closing stages but Bittner did well to keep out first Thompson then Silk.

Replacement Steven Istead also might have done better in the closing stages when he was brilliantly set up by Medley's low right-wing cross, but failed to make contact.

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Stags 3 Forest Green Rovers 1 - 14th August 2010
CHAD report,14 August 2010, By Stephen Thirkill
STAGS turned in a super display of attacking football to see off Forest Green Rovers 3-1 at Field Mill and get their Blue Square Bet Premier campaign off to the perfect start.

http://www.chad.co.uk/stags/Stags-3-Forest-Green-Rovers.6475652.jp
A second half double from Paul Connor and a further goal from Gary Mills capped an excellent team performance and brought back beautiful memories of last season's opening day drubbing of Crawley Town.

The lively Connor turned in an assured performance as he opened the scoring on 47 minutes from close range to cap an excellent flowing move.

Forest Green briefly gave themselves hope five minutes later when Gavin Caines nodded home from a set-piece after Stags had switched off at the back.

But in truth there was only ever going to be one winner as Mansfield's flowing football and pace up front and in wide areas proved far too much to handle.

The energetic Gary Mills went someway to answering his critics with a neatly lobbed finish from the edge of the box after Bittner flapped helplessly at a Silk cross while under pressure from Connor.

And the win was finally secured on 72 minutes when Thompson played in the perfect defence-splitting pass to man-of-the-match Connor.

Connor then burst past the last defender before clinically firing past Bittner into the bottom left corner to cap a fine team and individual performance.

Stags will now hope to show the same threat in front of goal and determination when they travel to newly-promoted Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night.

Stags gave full league debuts to ex Forest Green player Paul Stonehouse as well as Tyrone Thompson and the striking duo of Paul Connor and Keigan Parker.

Forest Green, who were relegated last season before being reprieved after Salisbury City were thrown out of the league, fielded former Mansfield players Luke Jones and Craig Armstrong.

There were also starts for Gavin Caines and Jamie Grimes, who were signed on Friday following the recent takeover of local businessman Dale Vince.

After a tentative start Stags began to look threatening down the right side as an overlapping Silk combined well with Parker on seven minutes.
But his fizzed cross was well cut out by a scrambling Forest Green rearguard.

Adam Smith came close to firing Stags ahead on 19 minutes when he neatly controlled a Silk cross on his chest before he unleashed a deflected shot over the bar for a corner.

New signing Paul Connor missed a glorious chance to open his Stags when he failed to properly connect with a Louis Briscoe cross on 22 minutes.

Had the former Rochdale hitman made any sort of contact with his header close range header Stags would have gained the deserved reward for their growing pressure.

A mazy run from the lively Adam Smith nearly opened the scoring on 26 minutes as he cut inside with lightning pace before unleashing a thunderous shot from 25 yards, which brought a sprawling save from Bittner in the visiting goal.

The alert goalkeeper then had to get straight back up to cling on to Louis Briscoe's follow up from a tight angle as the home side turned up the heat.

The mis-firing visitors registered their first effort on the half hour mark when James Norwood sent a rather tame header over the bar after he found space from a corner.

A minute later Norwood had another sight at goal as he skidded a weak shot straight into Marriott's grasp from 30 yards.

As the half-time interval neared former Forest Green player Paul Stonehouse nearly showed his side what they were missing when he drilled a testing shot into the chest of Bittner from distance.

Moments later Keigan Parker should have fired Stags ahead as he broke into the box after Luke Jones failed to cut out a searching long ball.

But the former Huddersfield striker was thwarted as Bittner spread himself well to divert the ball away from danger.

In added time winger Adam Smith again proved to be the Stags danger man as he once against burst in off the left flank before smashing a shot well wide.

And the pressure finally told right at the start of the second half as Stags cut the visitors wide open with some superb free-flowing football.

The ever-alert Gary Silk burst beautifully down the right flank with a trademark run, following a sweat through-ball by Paker, to outpace his marker and play in Connor.

The former Lincoln frontman then had the simplest of tap-ins to open his league account and give Mansfield a deserved lead on 47 minutes.

But that lead didn't last long as Forest Green pulled level five minutes later when new-boy Gavin Caines nodded home into the top right corner after the Stags backline switched off at a Lee Fowler free-kick.

Parker found space in the box after being picked out by Gary Mills, but he failed to trouble Bittner as he fired high and wide on 57 minutes.

Stags showed superb fighting quality and Gary Mills went some way to silencing his critics with a neatly lobbed finish from the edge of the box after Bittner flapped helplessly at a Silk cross while under pressure from Connor.

Conner was once again causing havoc a moment later as the lively Stags piled forward in search of their third of the day.

The energetic Briscoe broke powerfully into the box and picked out Connor, who then cracked a shot against the post before Gavin Caines scrambled the ball off the line with the visiting defence in disarray.

In response Forest Green threatened when Caines fired in a testing shot at Marriott wide on the right which was parried well by the Stags shot-stopper.

James Norwood should have done much better with his follow up as he scuffed his shot into the crowd.

On-song Stags then put the contest beyond any doubt on 72 minutes when Thompson played in the perfect defence-splitting pass to Connor.

Connor then burst past the last defender before clinically firing past Bittner into the bottom left corner to cap a fine team and individual performance.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott, Silk, Stonehouse, Foster, C. Smith, Briscoe, A. Smith, G. Mills, Thompson, Connor, Parker. Subs: Collett, Medley, Istead, Sandwith, Cain.

FOREST GREEN: Bittner, Jones, Armstrong, Smith, Styche, Baldwin, L. Fowler, Norwood, Kulowski, Caines, Grimes. Subs: Herring, M. Fowler, Cleaver, Else Jones.

REFEREE: Steve Smith.

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Connor can become a cult hero at Stags
Evening Post
PLENTY of strikers have been cult heroes at Field Mill down the years – and Paul Connor, in time, may just be another addition to that select bunch.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/mansfieldtown/Connor-cult-hero-Stags/article-2528854-detail/article.html?

With Mansfield Town intent of getting their new campaign off to a winning start against last season's strugglers Forest Green, the pressure was on the former Lincoln man to deliver goals.

And he did not disappoint with a brace of strikes on his home and league debut that had the Stags fans purring with pleasure.

Composed, calm and confident, Connor did not let what was, by his standards, a disappointing miss from a first-half six-yard header get him down.

Instead, the 31-year-old told himself more opportunities would materialise. They did – and he grabbed them both.

That inner belief is a hugely valuable quality, one that Mansfield's followers also saw in the likes of Chris Greenacre, Richie Barker, Steve Whitehall, Phil Stant and Steve Wilkinson and, going back further, Ray Clarke and Ken Wagstaff.

It was Connor who opened the scoring when he got in front of his man to steer home Gary Silk's low cut-back from the right byline.

Then, after Gavin Caines had pulled Forest Green level and Gary Mills put Mansfield back in front, the No.23 raced onto Tyrone Thompson's through-ball to fire home emphatically and seal the points.

Connor's work must have given manager David Holdsworth a warm sense of satisfaction, having worked so long and hard in the summer to bring in a front man with both ability and experience.

And if he is fortunate enough to stay fit for the whole season, there is no reason why he can't finish as one of the top scorers in the Blue Square Premier, something Mansfield will need in order to challenge at the top end of the table.

Just as impressive as Connor's sharpshooting, though, was his hold up play.

When the ball was played up to him, more often than not it stuck, allowing Mansfield to build up their attacks.

The north-easterner also linked well with fellow new boy Keigan Parker in what has the makings of a very handy front two.

While it was Connor's day, the same could not be said of the former Blackpool man, despite an encouraging performance that had flashes of brilliance.

One of those saw him cut open the Forest Green defence with an inch-perfect pass that enabled put Silk away for Connor's opener.

But in terms of finding the net it did not go to plan, first having his one-on-one attempt saved by James Bittner and then firing over from a good position after streaking onto Gary Mills' pass through the inside-right channel.

Still, Parker's time will surely come sooner rather than later.

The front pair were two of six players making their competitive bows, while Steve Foster was playing his first match back since leaving the club as a teenager.

It was a good day for all of them, with perhaps the pick central midfielder Tyrone Thompson.

He caught the eye with his box-to-box running that saw him constantly breaking up Forest Green's attacks and setting the Stags going forward again.

The former Torquay player looks to be another astute signing in an area where Mansfield often struggled last season.

As the hosts employed a 4-4-2 formation, the game itself took a little while to get going and, with Connor and Parker spurning Mansfield's best chances, was still goalless at the break.

Within, 90 seconds of the restart, though, the home fans were on their feet as Connor struck and that seemed likely to pave the way for a comfortable victory.

That was not the case, however, as Caines equalised in the 51st minute with a well-placed header from Lee Fowler's free-kick. From Mansfield's point of view, it was a disappointing and simple goal to concede.

Yet the response to that setback was excellent and it wasn't long before Mills, superbly, made it 2-1 to the Stags.

As Bittner failed to get enough on his punch from a Silk centre, the midfielder lobbed the ball over the players in the goalmouth to find the net with an assured left-foot finish.

After Connor had netted his second, Mansfield could have added more in the closing stages as Thompson, Silk and substitute Steven Istead all went close.

The victory was no more than Mansfield deserved, having much the better of the possession and territory.

There will, no doubt, be much tougher questions asked of David Holdsworth's men as the season unfolds.

In fact, a stern test of their credentials is likely at newly-promoted Fleetwood Town tomorrow night.

But you cannot ask for more than to begin the campaign with three goals and three points.

The eye-catching Connor should be pretty content with the part he played too.

Stags stats
Mansfield: Marriott, Silk, Foster, C. Smith, Stonehouse, Briscoe, Mills, Thompson, A. Smith (Cain 80), Parker (Medley 70), Connor (Istead 86). Subs not used: Collett, Sandwith.

Forest Green: Bittner, L. Jones, Gaines, Grimes, Armstrong (Cleaver 86), L. Smith, Baldwin (Else 67, Klukowski, Fowler, Styche (M. Fowler 67), Norwood. Subs not used: Herring, Z. Jones.

Referee: Steve Smith (County Durham).

Attendance: 2,474 (48 visitors).


Goals: Mansfield: Connor (47, 72), Mills (57). Forest Green: Caines (51).

Shots on target: Mansfield Forest 12 Green 3.

Shots off target: Mansfield 4 Forest Green 3.

Fouls: Mansfield 8 Forest Green 13.

Corners: Mansfield 6 Forest Green 5.

Offsides: Mansfield 5 Forest Green 4.

Bookings: Mansfield 2 (A. Smith 78, unsporting behaviour; Silk, 85, foul) Forest Green 2 (Norwood, 78, unsporting behaviour; L. Fowler, 85, foul).

Sendings off: Mansfield 0 Forest Green 0.

Double delight: Paul Connor is the second Stags striker in as many seasons to score two goals on his Blue Square Bet Premier debut for the Stags on the opening day of the campaign. Kyle Perry did it last year in the 4-0 demolition of Crawley.

Mansfield's man of the match: Tyrone Thompson. Never stopped running in the heart of the Mansfield midfield, often stopping Forest Green before they had really got started. Also laid on Paul Connor's second and Mansfield's third goal with a pinpoint pass.

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Connor strikes at the double to sink Rovers
MANSFIELD TOWN 3 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1
The Citizen

ONE of the more unforgiving grounds in the Blue Square Bet Premier, Field Mill is not the place to be when meticulous plans have been scuppered.

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/sport/Connor-strikes-double-sink-Rovers/article-2529191-detail/article.html?

Mansfield proved too good not to cash in on unfamiliarity in the Forest Green ranks, despite a debut goal from Gavin Caines.

All the scoring came in the second half, with a double for Caines' former Cheltenham Town team-mate Paul Connor and a Gary Mills strike sinking Dave Hockaday's men.

Injuries to Jared Hodgkiss and Scott Bartlett meant an unfamiliar back four, with Caines and Jamie Grimes thrown in at centre-half and left-back respectively less than 24 hours after signing for the club.

Teenager Grimes has joined on a month's loan from Swansea City while Caines, who played more than 100 times in the Football League for Cheltenham, has arrived on a free transfer from Kidderminster Harriers.

Rovers lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lee Smith and new Exeter City loanee James Norwood supporting striker Reece Styche from the flanks.

Mansfield fielded only one of their Forest Green old boys in left-back Paul Stonehouse, with a calf problem ruling out Mark Preece.

James Bittner was left helpless in the 19th minute when Adam Smith's shot from inside the area cannoned off Craig Armstrong, but fortunately for the prone keeper the ball looped over the bar.

Three minutes later Connor should have put the Stags ahead, heading wide from eight yards after getting on the end of Louis Briscoe's cross.

Pressure on the visitors was intensifying, and Bittner made two low saves to keep out Adam Smith's effort and the follow-up from Briscoe.

Rovers mustered their first effort of note in the 32nd minute, Norwood heading over at the back post after Lee Fowler's corner had been flicked on.

A minute later Norwood produced a low shot from the edge of the area which was comfortably held by Alan Marriott.

There was a reminder of Stonehouse's shooting prowess when he let fly with his right foot from 20 yards, forcing Bittner to juggle before saving.

And Forest Green's keeper came to the rescue again when Keigan Parker was put in the clear and saw his prodded attempt blocked.

The opening goal came within two minutes of the restart, Silk surging past Grimes and cutting the ball back for Connor to bundle home.

If Rovers had been caught cold then Mansfield were guilty of the same offence four minutes, as Caines wandered free from Fowler's free-kick and headed into the top corner.

The home side's lead was restored in the 57th minute, much to Bittner's annoyance.

He felt he had been fouled by Connor when he dashed out to meet Silk's cross, but his weak punch fell for Mills to lift into the unguarded net.

It could have been 3-1 within seconds, with Caines forced to clear off the line from Parker, while at the other end the big defender saw a snap-shot saved after Mansfield had failed to clear a free-kick.

Forest Green had periods of pressure in the final quarter, but their hopes were killed on 72 minutes when Connor latched on to Tyrone Thompson's defence-splitting pass and slotted past Bittner.

Another goal-line clearance by Caines from substitute Luke Medley, plus a fine Bittner save from Silk, prevented a heavier defeat.

Mansfield Town: A. Marriott; G. Silk, S. Foster, C. Smith, P. Stonehouse; L. Briscoe, G. Mills, T. Thompson, A. Smith (A. Cain 80); K. Parker (L. Medley 70), P. Connor (S. Istead 85) ; Subs not used: K. Sandwith, N. Collett.

Forest Green: J. Bittner; C. Armstrong (O. Cleaver 86), L. Jones, G. Caines, J. Grimes; L. Fowler, J. Baldwin (M. Fowler 68); L. Smith, Y. Klukowski, J. Norwood; R. Styche (J. Else 68); Subs not used: I. Herring, Z. Jones.

Referee: S. Smith (Chesterfield)

Attendance: 2,474

Star man: Gavin Caines – His goal apart, some vital interventions ensured Rovers' defeat was not more punishing.

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Connor double sees off Rovers
mansfield town 3 forest green rovers 1

Former Cheltenham Town striker Paul Connor struck twice to condemn Forest Green Rovers to defeat at Field Mill.

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/football/Connor-double-sees-Rovers/article-2530025-detail/article.html?

Injuries to Jared Hodgkiss and Scott Bartlett meant an unfamiliar back four, with Gavin Caines and Jamie Grimes thrown in at centre-half and left-back respectively.

Teenager Grimes has joined on a month's loan from Swansea City, while Caines has arrived on a free transfer from Kidderminster Harriers.

Rovers lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lee Smith and James Norwood supporting striker Reece Styche from the flanks.

James Bittner was left helpless in the 19th minute when Adam Smith's shot from inside the area cannoned off Craig Armstrong, but fortunately for the prone keeper the ball looped over the bar.

Connor should have put the Stags ahead three minutes later, heading wide from eight yards after getting on the end of Briscoe's cross.

Pressure on the visitors was intensifying, and Bittner made two low saves to keep out Adam Smith's effort and the follow-up from Briscoe.

Rovers mustered their first effort of note in the 32nd minute, Norwood heading over at the back post after Lee Fowler's corner had been flicked on.

A minute later, Norwood produced a low shot from the edge of the area which was comfortably held by Alan Marriott.

There was a reminder of Stonehouse's shooting prowess when he let fly with his right foot from 20 yards, forcing Bittner to juggle before saving.

He came to the rescue again when Keigan Parker was put clear and saw his prodded attempt blocked.

The opening goal came within two minutes of the restart, Silk surging past Grimes and cutting the ball back for Connor to bundle home.

Mansfield were also caught cold, four minutes later, as Caines wandered free from Fowler's free-kick and headed into the top corner.

The home side's lead was restored in the 57th minute, much to Bittner's annoyance. He felt he had been fouled by Connor when he dashed out to meet Silk's cross, but his weak punch fell for Mills to lift into the unguarded net.

It could have been 3-1 within seconds, with Caines forced to clear off the line from Parker, before the defender saw a snap-shot saved after Mansfield had failed to clear a free-kick.

Forest Green's hopes were ended on 72 minutes when Connor latched onto Tyrone Thompson's defence-splitting pass and slotted past Bittner.

Another goal-line clearance by Caines, from substitute Luke Medley, and a fine Bittner save from Silk, prevented a heavier defeat.

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