STAGS APPALLING AGAIN AND BEATEN BY BOTTOM CLUB
Mansfield Town 0 – 1 Altrincham
Attendance: 2229 (93 from Altrincham)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Following the appalling performance to lose 7-2 at Grimsby on Saturday, the Stags put in another terrible performance just 48 hours later and lost at home to rock bottom Altrincham, who hadn't even scored for about 9 hours coming into this game. I expected the Stags to come out firing on all cylinders determined to put right what happened on Saturday. But it didn't happen. The Stags started slowly and never got going. There was no imagination, and little creativity.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre.
Man of the Match: Paul Connor
Stags beaten at home by bottom club: Mansfield Town 0 Altrincham 1
CHAD report, by John Lomas
Mansfield Town's miserable start to the New Year worsened today with a dreadful and unexpected 1-0 home defeat by bottom side Altrincham at freezing Field Mill, reports John Lomas.
On top of the 7-2 New Year's massacre, it was all too much for many of the home fans to take as they booed their side off the park.
After 2010 had ended so well with the 5-1 win at Cambridge and just three points off the play-offs, suddenly within a few days a six point gap has opened up and ninth-placed Stags are looking well short of a side destined for success.
Defending was again shaky at times and the midfield non-existent, leaving new boss Duncan Russell scratching his head where the side that won so impressively at Cambridge have disappeared to.
Bottom of the table, without a win in six league games and without even a goal in five league games, the visitors were forced into seven changes.
But they still produced the only moment that mattered when Damien Reeves headed home on 59 minutes – their first goal in 552 minutes of football to delight their freezing 93 travelling fans.
Stags huffed and puffed, Day sending a free header over in the first half, Steve Cook forcing Stuart Coburn into a good save after the break and Pau Connor heading against the crossbar.
But the visitors had the better moments of the first half, Louis Briscoe having to clear off the line from Marc Joseph and Nicky Clee just wide after a slip from Steve Cook.
The Stags side showed two changes from the Grimsby embarrassment.
Simon Grand was unable to play with his loan having ended and negotiations ongoing with his agent and Fleetwood over a permanent deal so Cook moved across to centre half and Silk returned at right back.
Up front top scorer Connor took the place of Parker who was dropped to the bench.
Connor almost marked his return with a sixth minute goal but guided his header just over the angle from Smith's left wing cross, delivered off the outside of his right boot.
Then Duffy helped a long Silk free kick towards Connor who stretched to poke the ball tamely at Coburn in the Alty goal.
The home wall did its job to deny Clee's free kick and, from Baynes' corner after the ball span out, Joseph was allowed to get in a powerful header that was just prevented from crossing the line by Briscoe, on the right hand post, on 10 minutes.
Stags were clearly suffering a hangover from the Grimsby game, struggling to get anything going and nervy passes going astray.
Indeed, it was the lowly visitors who again came close. On 17 minutes a long Clee throw from the left found Williams who brought a good save from Pilkington, quickly getting down low to his right to turn the ball away.
Connor wanted a penalty after going down under Williams' challenge just inside the box but the officials saw nothing wrong.
Two minutes later he had a better case as Milnes seemed to be all over Connor at the far post as he was only able to send a tame header at the keeper, but once more nothing was given.
Connor continued to state his case to the referee while Duffy was getting treatment for a knock.
Clee made space 20 yards out to fizz in a low shot straight to Pilkington.
But on 29 minutes the visitors were almost gifted the lead when Cook slipped and allowed Reeves possession in the box on the right, how low pass being swept wide from a good position by Clee.
Mansfield broke well from an Altincham free-kick, Istead flicking the ball wide to Smith who carried it downfield before coming inside to fire well over the far angle.
Then on 35 minutes Connor turned well 20 yards form goal but Coburn was always behind his finish.
Williams did get a glancing header onto a free kick a minute later but it was well wide of the far post as the wintry sunshine burst through for the first time.
In first half stoppage time Day should have broken the deadlock when offered a free header from the Stags' first corner of the game by Smith on the right, but his header sailed over.
Inevitably there was some booing from sections of the home fans as the players left the field at the end of a disappointing half.
Smith was too high with the first shot in anger of the second half, then Duffy headed straight to the keeper from a Smith cross.
Briscoe did well to get round Joseph on the right but blasted the ball hard across the face of goal with no one near to get a telling touch.
Cook came the closest Stags had come all afternoon on 51 minutes as Sandwith launched the ball in from a right wing free kick and Cook forced Coburn to tip over his goalbound header
At the other end Clee headed wide, then Pilkington was down to gather before Brown's low cross reached the unmarked Reeves at the far post.
But Stags were still not showing any signs of taking a grip of proceedings and were made to pay when the visitors grabbed a 59th minute lead.
Brown crossed long from the left, Joseph headed back across goal from the far post and Reeves stole in with a header from five yards that gave Pilkington little chance.
Immediately Stags withdrew Duffy and threw on Medley who came close with his first touch as he helped a low Silk cross on target, the ball deflecting wide for a corner.
On 65 minutes Briscoe was replaced by Briscoe, but the home side continued to toil, Day heading wide from Smith's corner.
Russell made his final change on 70 minutes, pressing Mills into action in place of Istead in the heart of a midfield that simply wasn't clicking for the second successive game.
And, like Medley, Mills almost scored with his first touch, curling just wide from 18 yards after Connor and Parker had been held up by good defending.
Stags' luck was out again on 77 minutes as Connor headed a Sandwith free kick against the bar and, seconds later, Medley was screaming for a penalty, complaining he had been hauled down in the box.
Medley did well to win the ball in the box to the right of goal but sliced a shot into the sidenetting to the groans of the home fans with much better options to his left.
This took place while Mansfield were down to 10 men, with Cook, getting treatment behind the goal. He eventually returned but was clearly in pain.
Holsgrove was booked for time wasting four minutes from time as Altrincham clung on to what they had. Densmore followed two minutes later for fouling Smith.
In the five minutes of stoppage time Connor nodded the ball down for Parker who, to the right of goal, spun and poked a finish across the face of goal to sum up Mansfield's day.
Deeper into stoppage time never-say-die Connor failed to get properly hold of the ball as he poked a tame effort to Coburn but soon after tried again and this time forced a save from 16 yards before the boos rang round the ground as the final whistle rang.
STAGS: Pilkington; Silk, Day, Cook, Sandwith; Briscoe (Parker 65), Murray, Istead (Mills 70), Briscoe; Duffy (Medley 60), Connor. Subs not used: Collett, Naylor.
ALTRINCHAM: Coburn, Joseph, Williams, Densmore, Lawton, Reeves, Clee (Holsgrove 70), Brown, Baynes (Beesley 87), Hewston (Danylyk 79), Milne. Subs not used: Coates, Welch.
REFEREE: Paul Hodgkinson.
ATTENDANCE: 2,229 (93 away).
GOAL: Altrincham – Reeves 59mins.
CAUTIONS: Stags - Parker 78mins. Altrincham – Holsgrove 86mins, Densmore 88mins.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Paul Connor
Evening Post Match report: Mansfield Town 0 Altrincham 1
by Matt Halfpenny
IT'S not only the coalition government which needs to make some tough decisions in early 2011. So, too, does Mansfield Town manager Duncan Russell.
Already, as of midnight last night, VAT has been upped from 17½ per cent to 20 per cent and other measures are expected to be put in place to further reduce the national debt, all of which are likely to hit the public hard in the pocket.
If the Stags are to revive already flagging promotion hopes, then their manager may have to take the same hard-line approach after this morale-sapping, embarrassing defeat.
Those policies are not going to prove universally popular, but if it is to the benefit of the club in general, they must be taken now.
Russell and chairman John Radford felt when the former was appointed permanently there was already a squad in place that needed little tinkering to launch an assault on the top five.
Aside from the remarkable victory at Cambridge, though, the current squad appear to be doing their damnedest to prove otherwise.
Being hit for seven at Grimsby on New Year's Day was a disaster but most home fans were willing to put that down as a one-off.
What they were not willing to tolerate, however, was a thoroughly poor showing against the Blue Square Bet Premier's bottom side that brought a cacophony of boos at full-time.
There is little room to argue against the view that Mansfield, right now, lack the spark to lift them from inconsistent mid-table also-rans to genuine contenders.
The Robins had not won for six games prior to their trip to north Nottinghamshire and their winning goal, scored by Damien Reeves, was their first in 552 minutes of play.
But it was no more than the Robins deserved and shows just how off the pace Mansfield were.
The Stags showed two changes to the side thumped at Blundell Park. Paul Connor came in for Keigan Parker up front and Gary Silk replaced Simon Grand at the back, with Steve Cook moving into the middle.
Mansfield first threatened when Gary Silk's free-kick was flicked on dangerously by Rob Duffy for Connor, whose stab goalwards was well held by Stuart Coburn.
Altrincham almost went in front when Wes Baynes centred for Marc Joseph, whose header was scrambled off the line by Louis Briscoe.
The visitors went close again in the 17th minute when Robbie Williams headed a long throw towards the left-hand corner and Kevin Pilkington had to push the ball away.
Connor had a strong case for a penalty when he appeared to be tugged back by Andrew Milne in the box but again the officials were unmoved.
Nicky Clee then twice had attempts on goal, the first straight at Pilkington and the second firing wide when he might have done better when found by Damien Reeves following Steve Cook's slip.
As the game past the half hour mark, Connor tried his luck on the turn but could not beat Coburn down by his right-hand post.
Altrincham continued to look a threat from set pieces and Williams was a whisker away from glancing home another piercing free-kick.
After failing to truly stretch the Robins for much of the first 45 minutes, Rhys Day headed over unmarked from Smith's outswinger.
Not long after the restart, Smith had a go with a snapshot from the edge of the box but it was always rising over the top.
Moments later, Briscoe beat his man to reach to the right byline, only to blaze across the six-yard box when he should have picked out Smith.
In the 51st minute, Coburn kept his side on level terms when he tipped over Cook's goalbound header from Sandwith's free-kick.
But Altrincham drew first blood just before the hour mark. Ryan Brown dug out a decent cross from the left, Joseph headed the ball back into the danger zone at the far post and Damien Reeves pounced to nod past Pilkington from close range.
As a result of that strike, Luke Medley was immediately introduced for Duffy and he instantly saw his flick from Silk's low ball deflect just over.
Gary Mills joined the action and was not too far off target with a drilled strike from long range.
And even when Mansfield had looked to get it right, Connor connecting well with Sandwith's free-kick, the crossbar came to the Robins' rescue.
Medley felt he was hauled down in the box as time began to run out before thrashing into the side-netting from a tight ankle.
Mansfield applied some pressure in the closing stages but, substitute Parker's shot past the left upright apart, rarely looked like salvaging a late point.
After this performance, and with the transfer window now open, fans will not just be yearning for changes, they will be demanding them.
Stags v Altrincham match stats
Mansfield: Pilkington, Silk, Cook, Day, Sandwith, Briscoe (Parker 65), Murray, Istead (Mills 70), Smith, Duffy (Medley 59), Connor. Subs not used: Collett, Naylor.
Altrincham: Coburn, Milne, Joseph, Williams, Brown, Densmore, Lawton, Hewston (Danylyk 79), Clee (Holsgrove 70), Reeves, Baynes (Beesley 87). Subs not used: Coates, Welch.
Referee: Paul Hodkinson.
Attendance: 2,229 (93 visitors).
Altrincham 1: Reeves (59).
Shots on target: Mansfield 6 Altrincham 4
Shots off target: Mansfield 10 Altrincham 2.
Fouls: Mansfield 10 Altrincham 13.
Corners: Mansfield 9 Altrincham 3.
Offsides: Mansfield 2 Altrincham 5.
Mansfield 1: (Parker, 78, foul on Holsgrove)
Altrincham 2: (Holsgrove, 86, unsporting behaviour; Densmore, 89, foul on Smith).
Sendings off: Mansfield 0 Altrincham 0.
Mansfield's man of the match: Paul Connor. Restored to the side after a calf injury, the striker was a constant menace despite Mansfield's inability to find the net and went closest when his header struck the bar.
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