TERRIBLE STAGS BEATEN AT LOWLY FGR
Forest Green Rovers 2 - 1 Mansfield Town
Klukowski 9 pen, Styche 49. Mitchley 74. Foster sent off 62.
Att: 767 (158 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at the New Lawn
Mansfield Town were woeful for 74 minutes at the New Lawn this afternoon, with as bad a performance as any under David Holdsworth. Danny Mitchley's first goal gave renewed hope of a comeback, despite being down to 10 men after Steve Foster's indiscipline led to a red card, but a couple of late chances to grab an underserved point could not disguise the ineptitude of this display.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre.
Forest Green Rovers 2 Mansfield Town 1, Saturday 13th November
A MISTAKE by Kevin Pilkington and a second red card of the season for Mansfield Town skipper Steve Foster for violent conduct sent Stags spiralling to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at struggling Forest Green Rovers this afternoon.
Rovers had won just once in 14 BSBP matches before this one but were gifted a ninth minute penalty when Pilkington's hesitation allowed in Reece Styche, the keeper bringing him down and Yan Klukowski burying the spot kick.
The first half belonged to Rovers and Stags could have been three down at the break, Curtis McDonald hitting the post and Klukowski thwarted by Pilkington in a one-on-one.
Foster's indiscipline for the second time this season then aw him dismissed for 'afters', clashing with Styche on 63 minutes.
It was also a fifth red card of the season for the Stags by only the second week in November, despite boss David Holdsworth's pledge to tighten up on discipline.
However, new signing Danny Mitchley came on as sub and pulled one back against the odds on 74 minutes after a rare mistake from home keeper James Bittner.
And, although Liam Enver-Marum had a goal disallowed, Stags could have left with a point as Louis Briscoe failed to put away a one-on-one and Bittner also saving well from Simon Grand.
It was a bitterly disappointing display just five days after Stags had ended their poor run of six BSBP games without a win with that 2-0 midweek win at Kettering and dropped Mansfield down to 10th place.
Mansfield were unchanged from Kettering which meant former Forest Green defender Stonehouse had to be content with a place on the bench but didn't get on in the end.
Rovers included former Stags pair Craig Armstrong and Luke Jones in their defence.
The afternoon began with a minute's silence for Remembrance Day with Stags player wearing poppies.
Fowler's drive just cleared the Mansfield bar as he beat Parker to a headed clearance from a right wing free kick on three minutes.
Cook and Briscoe both tried to slip Parker clear for Mansfield but both passes were overhit.
But Stags were behind after only nine minutes after a moment's misjudgement by Pilkington gifted the home side a penalty kick.
Pilkington left his box to clear a through ball but tried to let it bounce back into the box to grab it only to delay a split second too late and invite Styche to poke it away from him and get sight of goal.
Pilkington brought him down and the referee immediately booked him and gave the spot kick.
Rovers have missed five penalties this season but Klukowski made no mistake with a well-struck kick under the keeper's dive – the fourth time in four visits that Stags have gone behind at the New Lawn.
McDonald almost doubled the advantage on 23 minutes. Hodgkiss played a good one-two wide on the right to get to the by-line and pull back an inviting cross for McDonald who got up to crash a powerful header against the upright with Pilkington rooted.
A minute later Stags tested Bittner for the first time as he got down to keep out Vincenti's on-target header from a Briscoe cross.
After 25 scrappy minutes Mansfield finally began to get the ball under control and warm to their task.
But Forest Green stood their ground and then won two corners on the trot, Jones heading wide at the far post from the second.
Another flag kick on 34 minutes saw Quinn head back across the Mansfield goal and this time Jones tried an acrobatic overhead kick but was too high.
Pilkington went some way to making amends for his penalty error on 39 minutes when his defenders allowed Dyer straight through the centre of them from a Klukowski through ball and the keeper did well to get his body in the way of Dyer's finish when he looked certain to score.
Parker's reverse pass set up Cook for a far post cross which passed inches over the head of the leaping Vincenti as Mansfield desperately sought a way back into the contest.
But Rovers were good value for their narrow interval lead.
Grand needed treatment early in the second half after landing awkwardly trying to get a head on a free kick.
But Rovers quickly established a two-goal lead.
McDonald went past Cook on the left and, with Pilkington coming out towards him he stabbed the ball past him and Styche made sure as he turned it inside the upright at the far post.
Holdsworth immediately sent on top scorer Connor on in place of Vincenti.
Styche then blotted his copybook as he got involved in some scuffling in the corner and was booked on 54 minutes.
Murray was added to the book three minutes later for his foul on Dyer.
Holdsworth made a second change up front on 59 minutes, sending Mitchley on for Parker and almost immediately Mitchley sidestepped a tackle and sent a superb through ball only inches out of the reach of Connor in the box.
Stags suffered another major blow on 63 minutes as skipper Foster was sent off for the second time this season for retaliation.
As Foster cleared the ball he was caught fractionally late by a stiff Styche challenge and the two ended up in a bundle behind the by-line.
The pair clashed on the floor and the referee ran across to his assistant to ask what he had seen and then turned to Foster and produced the red card, deeming Foster's response to Styche's challenge to be violent conduct.
Styche was then wisely withdrawn by the home side while Stags sent on Istead in place of Smith, Istead going to right back and Cook to centre half to fill the gap vacated by Foster.
It looked a hopeless cause for the visitors but a mistake by home keeper Bittner paved the way for Stags to half the deficit on 74 minutes.
Jones played the ball back to his keeper but Bittner's clearance was mis-hit and straight to Connor 35 yards from goal.
He ran the ball into the box on the right and then crossed hard and low for the incoming Mitchley at the far post to tuck it away and celebrate his first goal for the club.
Enver-Marum did have the ball in the Stags net on 79 minutes from a right wing corner but the referee had already blown for a foul on Pilkington by Quinn.
Briscoe should have levelled five minutes from time on a counter-attack with a superb burst down the right, racing into the box but unable to slot the ball past the body of Bittner who was booked soon after for dissent.
Pilkington gathered a powerful right wing cross by Hodgkiss in front of goal in the last minute of the 90 as six extra minutes were shown on the board.
In the first of those Grand made a powerful run forward and forced Bittner into another good save to block his 18 yard blast.
Bittner then clung finally and grimly to the ball as it bounced in the six yard box from a long Cook throw.
The game ended with Pilkington blocking a low, poked Enver-Marum effort to deny the home side a third goal as time ran out on what had eventually been a decent fightback in adversity by the visitors.
But, with Pilkington's error, a needless red card and a one-on-one missed, Mansfield had only themselves to blame on the day for the mountain they gave themselves to climb.
FOREST GREEN: Bittner, Hodgkiss, Jones, Armstrong, Fowler (Caines 89), Styche (Enver-Marum 67), Dyer, Klukowski, McDonald (Else 82), Turk, Quinn. Subs: Bartlett, Head.
STAGS: Pilkington; Cook, Foster, Grand, Sandwith; Briscoe, Thompson, Murray, A. Smith (Istead 66); Parker (Mitchley 59), Vincenti (Connor 52). Subs not used: Stonehouse, Collett.
REFEREE: Warren Atkin of Sussex.
ATTENDANCE: 767 (158 away).
Forest Green 2-1 Mansfield Town
Evening Post report
TEN-MAN Mansfield Town were disappointingly defeated at struggling Forest Green this afternoon, despite a late rally.
Going into the game, Rovers had won just one of their previous 14 and were second from bottom in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
The Stags, on the other hand, were looking to build on their 2-0 victory at Kettering in midweek.
But it was Forest Green who made the running for the vast majority of proceedings and were worthy winners thanks to goals from Yan Klukowski and Reece Styche.
Mansfield's cause was not helped when skipper Steve Foster saw red for the second time this season midway through the second period.
It was only in the closing stages that Mansfield showed any kind of fight, after being desperately poor for long spells, when they were gifted a goal scored by Danny Mitchley, his first for the club.
They pressed in the closing stages, but Louis Briscoe missed a clear-cut chance to level, while Simon Grand was brilliantly thwarted by Bittner.
The result ups the pressure on boss David Holdsworth, who again came under fire from that travelling support.
A minute's silence ahead of tomorrow's Remembrance Sunday was impeccably observed by all concerned before kick-off.
Mansfield started the game slowly as Grand gave away a dangerous free-kick on the right flank.
The ball was poorly cleared by the visiting defence from Curtis McDonald's low delivery so were relieved that Mike Fowler blasted over from the edge of the box.
In the eighth minute, disaster struck for Mansfield after an error from Pilkington allowed the home side to go in front.
He looked to shepherd a long ball over the top into his box but Reece got there quickly to touch the ball past him.
Pilkington tried to recover but, in doing so, brought down the Rovers striker for a clear-cut penalty.
The referee booked the keeper who then dived the wrong way as Klukowski slotted home comfortably from the spot.
As Mansfield struggled to respond, Steve Cook let fly with a speculative drive that cleared the stand behind the goal.
With Forest Green pressing again, Grand had to throw himself in front of Styche's drive after the forward had been given too much space.
Forest Green were desperately unlucky not to double their advantage in the 21st minute.
Jared Hodgkiss played a neat one-two with Ross Dyer before crossing from the right flank for Curtis McDonald to head against the right-hand post with Pilkington beaten.
At the other end, Louis Briscoe crossed for Peter Vincenti, who steered a header towards the left-hand corner, but Bittner got down quickly to smother.
Grand had to be alert to head away a dangerous free-kick swung in from the right intended for Adam Quinn.
On the half hour, McDonald's right-wing corner found the head of Luke Jones at the far post but he headed wide of the left-hand upright.
Forest Green continued to have the upper hand and from their fourth corner, Quinn headed back across goal for Jones to overhead kick over the top.
More hesitation from Mansfield saw Dyer latch onto Klukowski's through ball and go clear, only to be denied by the legs of Pilkington, who partially atoned for his earlier clanger.
As half-time approached, a neat ball from Keigan Parker allowed Cook to cross for Vincenti, who only got the slightest touch on his attempted header.
Mansfield were sent out early for the second half by boss David Holdsworth, quite probably having received a rollicking.
They won an early free-kick on the right, but Vincenti was unable to climb high enough to win the resulting ball in.
Forest Green scored a well-deserved second five minutes after the restart to further dent Mansfield's hopes.
McDonald cut in from the left past Cook and as Pilkington came out, he squared to Styche who had the simple task of slamming into an empty net.
Mansfield then opted to field a new-look strike force as Paul Connor replaced Vincenti before, shortly after, Danny Mitchley came on for Parker.
Almost immediately, Mitchley was inches away from putting Connor in the clear.
But Mansfield's afternoon went from bad to worse when they were reduced to ten men.
Styche looked to have caught Foster late, but the Stags captain seemed to react petulantly.
The referee consulted his assistant and promptly showed Foster the red card – his second of the season after a similar dismissal at Luton.
As a result, Steven Istead came on to play at right-back while Cook moved into the centre, Smith making way.
Mansfield were back in the game out of nothing in the 74th minute after another goalkeeper error – this time from Bittner.
He fluffed his clearance straight to Connor, whose deflected low cross was swept home at close quarters by Mitchley.
Forest Green had the ball in the net again with 12 minutes to go as Liam Enver-Marum fired in, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Pilkington.
As much as they had failed to impress, Mansfield could have levelled with five minutes to go.
Louis Briscoe tricked his way past his marker down the right and cut in to bear down on goal but had his shot blocked by Bittner when he should have scored.
And in the six minutes of stoppage time that was added on, Grand played a one-two before thundering in a shot that Bittner did well to stop, diving to his left.
Mansfield suffer a knockout at hands of Forest Green
Evening Post considered report
AUDLEY Harrison was not the only heavyweight dealt a knock-out blow on Saturday evening. It was a fate also befalling Mansfield Town.
The Stags have long since been billed as one of the Blue Square Bet Premier big boys because of their long-time occupation of the Football League.
The fact they are now backed by a multi-millionaire in John Radford only served to make them that much more of a scalp among the division's less fancied clubs.
So while David Haye hardly broke sweat in living up to his world champion status in defeating his former friend in Manchester, Mansfield found it altogether more difficult living up to their favourites tag in Gloucestershire.
Having won just once in their previous 14 league matches, Forest Green were undoubted underdogs, especially as the Stags had won 2-0 at Kettering five days previously to apparently re-ignite their faltering season.
There really should have been only one winner on paper. The tale of the tape showed Mansfield had the bigger squad, the greater experience, the higher league standing and the confidence from a 3-1 victory over Rovers on the opening day.
Yet, unlike in the Haye-Harrison did showdown, things did not go to script; far from it.
Forest Green paid little attention to reputations. They cared little that Mansfield crave a play-off push while they would be content to stave off relegation.
And their reward was a deserved win that sunk Mansfield to tenth in the table – as low as they have been all season – and simultaneously gave them a significant lift in their battle to avoid the drop.
In a dramatic twist in the closing 20 minutes or so, Mansfield could, perhaps should, have taken a share of the spoils.
After Danny Mitchley had scored his first goal in amber to halve a 2-0 deficit, the visitors twice went close to squaring the match.
First Louis Briscoe nicked the ball away from ex-teammate Craig Armstrong to bear down on goal, only to see his low finish saved by James Bittner.
And in the six minutes of stoppage time added on, Simon Grand played a neat one-two to burst into the penalty area only to have his goalbound shot again well saved.
In truth, though, a draw would have been rough justice on the home side, who dominated the first three-quarters of the encounter and could already have been out of sight.
There is no disguising that, during that period, Mansfield were desperately poor, defending shoddily and lacking creativity going forward.
In fact, it was as poor as the team have produced all season and, not entirely unpredictably, had the visiting fans again calling for manager David Holdsworth's head.
It is a sign of how much the Stags are in transition that not one of the players who started the game at the weekend figured in a 4-1 victory at the New Lawn back in January.
It was, however, the same team that had triumphed at Rockingham Road in their last outing.
The tone for what was to come was set when Mansfield went behind in the eighth minute after a blunder by keeper Kevin Pilkington.
He came out to clear a through ball then decided to allow the ball back into his penalty area to pick it up.
But he reckoned without Reece Styche who nicked the ball past him and then went down as Pilkington bundled into him for an inevitable penalty. Yan Klukowski converted with the minimum of fuss.
With Mansfield unable to retain possession, nor make it stick up front, Forest Green continued to push strongly.
They almost doubled their advantage when a Curtis McDonald header crashed against the right-hand post following Jared Hodgkiss' measured, right-wing cross.
Mansfield hoped to come out fighting at the start of the second period, but Forest Green instead found the second goal their play had merited.
McDonald jinked past Steve Cook and as he cut in from the left, drew Pilkington and slipped the ball sideways for Styche to slam home.
Things seemed to be going from bad to worse when Steve Foster was sent off for violent conduct for the second time this season.
Having slid into a tackle with Styche, he was shown the red card after apparently then stamping on the striker. Many did not see it, but the referee's assistant was in no doubt. It left Foster to contemplate what, considering the comments of his boss post-match, looks a bleak future at Field Mill.
That looked to be the knock-out blow for Mansfield.
But the introduction of first Paul Connor and then Danny Mitchley suddenly sparked the visitors into life.
After an awful clearance kick by Bittner, the two combined for Mitchley to sweep home from close range and give Holdsworth's men hope of an unlikely comeback.
Yet there were no late heroics.
Of course, the most important thing now is how Mansfield pick themselves up off the canvas.
As any boxer who has just suffered a defeat will tell you, they can ill-afford another setback next time out.
Match facts: Forest Green Rovers v Mansfield Town
Forest Green: Bittner, Hodgkiss, Jones, Quinn, Armstrong, Klukowski, Turk, Fowler (Caines 89), McDonald (Else 82), Dyer, Styche (Enver-Marum 68). Subs not used: Bartlett, Head.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Cook, Foster, Grand, Sandwith, Briscoe, Murray, Thompson, Smith (Istead 66), Vincenti (Connor 52), Parker (Mitchley 59). Subs not used: Collett, Stonehouse.
Referee: Warren Atkin (Sussex).
Attendance: 767 (158 visitors).
Goals: Forest Green (Klukowski, 9, pen), Styche (50). Mansfield: Mitchley (74).
Shots on target: Forest Green 4 Mansfield 4.
Shots off target: Forest Green 5 Mansfield 1.
Fouls: Forest Green 13 Mansfield 16.
Corners: Forest Green 4 Mansfield 2.
Offsides: Forest Green 0 Mansfield 5.
Bookings: Forest Green 3 (Styche, 54, foul; Quinn, 86, foul; Bittner, 86, dissent) Mansfield 2 (Pilkington, 8, foul; Murray, 57, foul).
Sendings off: Forest Green 0 Mansfield 1 (Foster, 63, violent conduct).
Mansfield's man of the match: Danny Mitchley. Made a real difference after he came on with half an hour left with an industrious display that saw him open his Mansfield Town account and offer a real threat alongside fellow substitute Paul Connor.
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