CLINICAL STAGS ONE STEP NEARER TO WEMBLEY
FA Trophy Round 2
Mansfield Town 4 - 2 Newport County
Connor 12, 22, Parker 38, Briscoe 84. Silk OG 58, Matthews 80.
Attendance: 1137 (121 from Newport)
Date: 15 January 2011
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill
Mansfield Town progressed to Round 3 of the FA Trophy and one step nearer to Wembley with a 4-2 win over Conference high flyers Newport County at Field Mill. The Stags led 3-0 at the break and were clinical in front of goal converting three of the four chances created with two goals from Connor and one from Parker. Newport clawed their way back into the game with a lucky deflection off Gary Silk and then a goal from a corner from Robbie Matthews on 80 minutes to set the nerves jangling, but Louis Briscoe scored another cracker with a superb low strike to seal the tie on 84 minutes. Stags fans will be eagerly awaiting the cup draw on Monday morning. The Stags league and cup games have now produced over 100 goals this season.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre.
Stags' Trophy best - Mansfield Town 4 Newport County 2, FA Trophy Round 2, Saturday 15th January
AT last Mansfield Town gave their suffering home fans something to cheer today as they scored four times to see off Newport County and book a place in the FA Trophy Round Three at windswept Field Mill on Satuurday, reports John Lomas.
Tuesday night's 5-2 home hammering by Fleetwood and a recent record of one win and one draw in seven home games resulted in only just over a thousand home fans turning out on a cold, windy afternoon.
But those that did must have been pinching them at half-time as Mansfield looked to have all but won the tie already with Paul Connor taking his season's total to 12 with goals on 12 and 22 minutes before he set up Keigan Parker for the third on 38 minutes.
The Exiles were struggling to find a way back in until Gary Silk, in trying to head out for a corner, found his own net on 59 minutes.
Mansfield lost their way for a while as Newport pressed and the gap was reduced to a single goal when Robbie Matthews headed home at the far post 10 minutes from time.
Thankfully Louis Briscoe calmed home nerves with a match-clinching fourth on 84 minutes as, for once, Stags left the Field Mill pitch to applause and smiling faces.
The Mansfield side saw five changes from the midweek humiliation against Fleetwood.
The first change was in goal where Neil Collet was given his second chance of the season as Luton Town did not want on-loan Kevin Pilkington cup-tied.
Tom Naylor (hamstring) and Rob Duffy (suspended) were also automatically ruled out while Ryan Williams and Kyle Nix were dropped to the bench.
Paul Stonehouse came in at left back to allow Kevin Sandwith to move across to partner Steve Foster in the centre. Briscoe took over from Williams on the wing, Thompson from Nix in the centre and top scorer Connor up front in place of Duffy.
Stags signed goalkeeping coach Chris Adamson on as cover for the bench today but illness confined him to home, leaving Mansfield without cover between the posts.
Visiting Newport, who has Tim Harris in charge as caretaker manager after Dean Holdsworth's midweek departure, and had Gary Warren and Jamie Collins suspended.
Before kick-off a minute's silence was observed for the late Richard Butcher, the former Notts County and Macclesfield striker whose untimely death provided such a shock last week.
The game began in high, blustery wind and it soon played its part in some messy defending by Mansfield which ended in a corner from which Connor kicked away Fowler's header from in front of goal.
Soon after Foley tumbled in the Mansfield box but won only a corner.
But the Stags were ahead on 12 minutes, turning defence into attack after Sandwith cut out a low Reid cross.
Stags broke down the middle and Murray's pass sent Parker on his way. The keeper got a hand to his low finish which turned it onto the post, but Connor was there to stab home the rebound.
Collett made his first major contribution when he confidently punched away a free kick.
Connor almost doubled his tally but just failed to get his head on an excellent Cain cross.
The young winger put another good ball in which Murray controlled and fired goalwards and Connor helped it on, but the wrong wide of the post.
But Connor did find the net again on 22 minutes. Briscoe switched play to the right towards Parker who cross low in front of goal and Connor was on hand to poke past Thompson from close range.
Collett was down to his right to turn aside Rose's 20 yard free kick on 26 minutes. And soon after he made a superb point blank range save to deny Matthews though an offside flag was raised after Rose had initially drilled the ball across.
The visitors won another corner which sparked an almighty scramble in front of goal and ended with Fowler lifting the ball over for a goalkick as he screamed for a corner.
Stags went direct for goal number three on 38 minutes. Connor helped on Collett's long kick to send Parker clear and he dispatched a powerful low finish from 15 yards.
Murray was booked for persistent fouling and soon after he was brought down by Todd after turning him with a near bit of skill to even up the cautions.
The rattled Exiles made two changes at the break, sending on Hughes and Rogers for McDonald and Odhiambo.
Parker might have made it 4-0 in the first minute of the second half but, after racing away onto Connor's through ball, the ball bobbled as he tried to chip Thompson and his finish sailed over the bar.
County might have pulled one back from a 51st minute Rose corner but Todd headed over from 10 yards after no one picked him up.
Morgan was late with his challenge on Cain on 55 minutes to earn himself a booking.
But Morgan was instrumental in opening Newport's account on 59 minutes. A partially cleared corner came out to Morgan 25 yards out who shot powerfully at goal and saw Silk get a head on it but only able to divert it high into his own net with Collett unable to adjust.
Collett seemed to be charged by an opponent after catching a free kick shortly afterwards and dropped the ball, sparking momentary panic, Connor blocking one effort before it was finally hooked clear.
Clearly encouraged, the visitors came close again as Foley fired a first time 18 yard effort over from a headed clearance.
Then Collett was down again to his left to block Morgan's low effort from outside the box.
A similar chance presented itself to sub Rogers but he sliced the ball well over goal to the jeers of the home fans.
Morgan limped off injured 11 minutes from the end which brought summer Stags transfer target Knights into the action for Newport.
A minute later the Welsh side were right back in the tie.
Rose sent his corner long from the right, Reid played it right back across the face of goal from beyond the far post and Matthews was there to head in on the other post.
Collett as quickly and bravely down at the feet of Reid after a stumble by Silk almost let the visitors in again.
Anxiety levels were fast rising among the home fans as Stags hung on in a game that looked so comfortably won at half-time
However, Connor almost wrapped things up as he powered a close range header at goal from Cain's curling right wing cross only to see Thompson pull off a superb save.
Instead the final nail in the Exiles' coffin came on 84 minutes came from Briscoe, who had had a quiet afternoon.
The winger cut in from the left and from 20 yards drilled in an unstoppable low finish beyond Thompson's grasping fingers.
Nix was booked for his foul on Rose in the four minutes of added time.
And soon after Collett crowned a decent afternoon with a great reaction save to turn over a Todd header at the far post from a right wing free kick.
There was still time for Rose to curl a free kick over the home wall and wide.
STAGS: Collett; Silk, Foster, Sandwith, Stonehouse; Cain, Murray, T. Thompson, Briscoe; Connor (Nix 85), Parker. Subs not used: Williams, Medley, Smith, Mitchley.
NEWPORT: G. Thompson; Bignot, Fowler, Todd, McDonald (Hughes HT); Morgan Knights 79), Rose, Odhiambo (Rogers HT), Morgan, Foley; Reid, Matthews. Subs not used: Garner, Leary.
REFEREE: Andrew Madley of West Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 1,137 (121 away).
CAUTIONS: Stags – Murray 39mins, Nix 90(+2)mins. Newport – Odhiamo 42mins, Morgan 55mins.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Paul Connor.
Evening Post report by Matt Halfpenny: FA Trophy - Mansfield 4 v Newport 2
MANSFIELD Town bounced back to form in style to book their place in the FA Trophy third round with a deserved victory over high-flying Newport County at Field Mill.
The success of the visitors in their first campaign at Blue Square Premier Bet level had seen manager Dean Holdsworth depart for Aldershot in midweek.
But the hosts were more bothered about addressing their own poor trot that had seen them triumph just once in front of their own fans in seven attempts.
And they did just that – largely thanks to a first half display that saw them cruise into a 3-0 half-time lead with two goals for the returning Paul Connor, taking his seasonal tally to 12, and one from Keigan Parker.
County came back well after the restart and had Mansfield wobbling when Gary Silk put through his own goal and then Robbie Matthews netted from close range.
But Louis Briscoe sealed Mansfield's passage five minutes from time, earning the Stags an ovation as they left the field.
A minute's silence was held prior to kick-off in memory of former Notts County player Richard Butcher, who died suddenly at the start of the week.
Newport won the game's first corner and, from it, Michael Fowler's header was cleared from a crowded goalmouth by Connor.
The home side were living dangerously when Craig Reid got away down the left and tried to pull the ball back for Matthews, only for Kevin Sandwith to make a vital interception.
But the Stags went straight up the other end to claim a 12th minute lead.
Adam Murray played a through ball for Parker, who beat the offside trap to race clear.
His shot was pushed onto the right-hand post by the advancing Glyn Thompson but Connor followed up to tap home from close range.
Keeper Neil Collett past his first test when he got a good punch to an inswinging left-wing free-kick amid a clutch of bodies.
Ashley Cain made two impressive contributions within the space of a minute that could have seen the Stags intend his lead.
First he cut back onto his left foot to deliver a pinpoint cross that Connor somehow missed with his head when well placed.
And then another dangerous centre from the winger was cleared only as far as Murray, whose shot was diverted by Connor inches wide of the target.
But the hosts did double their advantage midway through the half as Connor grabbed his second.
Louis Briscoe released the lively Parker through the inside right channel and the Scot played over an inviting low cross that Connor slid home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Collett made a fine save soon after as Newport looked to get back in the game, clawing away Danny Rose's free-kick strike bound for the left corner.
Rose then drilled another shot goalwards that deflected to Matthews, who was denied by superb reflexes at close quarters by Collett, although the flag had already been raised for offside.
As the visitors continued to pressure, an almighty scramble in the Mansfield box saw Fowler eventually poke over from close range.
Mansfield went 3-0 in front seven minutes before the break with the simplest of route one goals.
Collett's long kick was flicked on expertly by Connor for Parker, who burst away through the middle to slam an emphatic finish past Thompson from just inside the box.
As half-time approached, both Mansfield's Murray and Newport's Chris Todd were booked.
Newport made a double switch at the break with Scott Rogers and Andrew Hughes replacing Eddie Odhiambo and Curtis McDonald.
Nevertheless, Mansfield might have added to their tally almost straight after the restart when Connor set Parker clear again, but the ball bobbled as he tried to lift his finish over Thompson and the ball dropped wide.
At the other end, County might have got back in the game when Todd headed over a good chance from Rose's right-wing corner.
But the goal the Welshman had been searching for arrived in the 59th minute, although it came from a Mansfield player.
Kerry Morgan blasted a volley golawards following a half-cleared corner and in trying to head the ball clear, Silk turned the ball into his own top left-hand corner.
Collett had a nervy moment when he failed to gather a free-kick under pressure and was thankful for Connor getting in an important block from Sam Foley's close range effort.
Another chance came and went for the Exiles when Sandwith could only head away as far as Foley, who blasted far too high.
There was some respite for Mansfield when Briscoe broke to feed Parker on the left and then ran on to almost take the return in his stride before the ball struck his hand to end the move.
Morgan tried his luck again the 67th minute, but Collett got down well to field the shot, diving to his right.
However, Newport did make it 3-2 in ten minutes from time from their eighth corner.
Craig Reid's drilled effort at the back post was nodded home from point blank range by Matthews.
Collett then did well to dive at the feet of Reid as County sniffed an equaliser.
Mansfield almost killed the game off as Connor headed powerfully for goal from an excellent Cain cross, only for Thompson to pull off a fine stop with his legs.
But an important Mansfield fourth did come seconds later as Briscoe cut in from the left and unleashed a right-foot drive from the edge of the box that found the bottom right-hand corner.
Even then there was one last scare for Mansfield as Todd stole in at the far post only to have his shot well tipped over by Collett.
Mansfield: Collett, Silk, Foster, Sandwith, Stonehouse, Cain, Thompson, Murray, Briscoe, Parker, Connor. Subs: Nix, Smith, Williams, Medley, Mitchley.
Newport: Thompson, Bignot, Todd, McDonald, Odhiambo, Morgan, Rose, Fowler, Foley, Reid, Matthews. Subs: Garner, Rogers, Hughes, Knights, Leary.
Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire).
Evening Post considered report: Hot and cold Stags serve up a Welsh treat in FA Trophy
FORREST Gump was quoting his mum when he said: "life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you're gonna get," but the character, played by Tom Hanks in the 1994 film, could just as easily have been talking about Mansfield Town.
Since Duncan Russell took charge of the team just before the turn of the year it has been a true roller-coaster of a ride.
It has certainly been impossible to predict what has been coming next, only that it will frequently involve plenty of goals.
The Stags started off their new manager's tenure with the massive lift of a 5-1 victory at Cambridge but followed that with the desolation of a 7-2 hammering at Grimsby.
Next came more heartache and a 1-0 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Altrincham, but just when confidence had taken a knock, Mansfield responded with a 3-1 success at Eastbourne Borough.
Fans hoped that would be the catalyst for a decent run, but such ambitions were devastated by a 5-2 defeat at home to Fleetwood Town last midweek.
A good number of supporters registered their anger and frustration at the lack of consistency by choosing not to attend on Saturday, fearing another hiding in an FA Trophy second round tie against high-flying Newport.
But, once again, Mansfield demonstrated their propensity to produce the unexpected. It was like chalk and cheese compared to against the Cod Army.
While the visitors could point to the loss of their manager Dean Holdsworth to Aldershot and the absence of the influential Gary Warren and Jamie Collins through suspension, Mansfield had their own problems too.
At the back, Tom Naylor (hamstring) and Rhys Day (knee) were both injured, leaving the Stags with a makeshift central defender in Kevin Sandwith.
They were also without Kevin Pilkington (unavailable at Luton's request to avoid him getting cup tied), meaning a big day for youngster Neil Collett as the club's only recognised senior goalkeeper.
But both men, along with other players returning in the shape of Paul Connor, Paul Stonehouse, Louis Briscoe and Tyrone Thompson responded with determined performances.
Connor, in particular, showed why he makes such a difference to Mansfield when he starts.
As well as scoring on a regular basis – his two goals taking his tally for the season to 12 – he also gives a focal point to the attack.
Keigan Parker clearly enjoyed playing alongside the former Lincoln frontman, complementing his co-striker's ability to win the ball in the air and hold it up with dangerous running in behind the Newport defence.
Mansfield did most of the damage in the first half, producing the type of clinical finishing that sees them continue to be among the Blue Square Bet Premier's top scorers.
It took them until only the 12th minute to make the breakthrough when Adam Murray set Parker racing away and though the Scot's attempted finish was partially blocked by advancing keeper Glyn Thompson, Connor was in the right place to tap home the rebound as the ball came back off the right-hand post.
A second came midway through the half as Briscoe set Parker free for a second time and his perfect low cross was slid home by Connor from the edge of the six-yard box.
Mansfield moved into a three-goal lead as half-time approached when Connor returned the favour to his partner, flicking on Collett's long kick for Parker to run on and hammer in.
Yet Newport showed enough in the first half to convince they were still not out of it, particularly when Collett made a fine save to deny a goalbound free-kick effort from Danny Rose.
And with a half-time roasting from caretaker manager Tim Harris ringing in their ears, the Exiles set about eating into Mansfield's advantage as the game restarted.
Their first goal was fortuitous, as Kerry Morgan's thumping volley was diverted into his own net by the head of an unfortunate Gary Silk.
The tension for the home side was further increased with ten minutes to go as Robbie Matthews headed in from point blank range.
But those nerves were alleviated as Briscoe scored a killer fourth Stags goal, cutting in from the left to pick out the right-hand corner.
The cheers at full-time reflected a sense of relief that Mansfield had not only proved they can beat one of the top clubs in their division but that they can win on home soil after five defeats in their previous seven at Field Mill.
What is still of concern to Russell, however, is that Mansfield continue to leak goals in what was a sixth game running without a clean sheet.
For the moment, though, the Stags can look forward to today's third round draw knowing a trip to Wembley is far from the realms of fantasy.
With Crawley, York and Rushden already having previously been knocked out, Saturday accounted for AFC Wimbledon, Wrexham and Grimsby in addition, of course, to Newport.
It is an opportunity that will surely not have escaped the attention of Mansfield's players and fans.
Match facts: Mansfield Town v Newport County
Mansfield: Collett, Silk, Foster, Sandwith, Stonehouse, Cain, Thompson, Murray, Briscoe, Parker (Medley 90+4), Connor (Nix 85). Subs not used: Smith, Williams, Mitchley.
Newport: Thompson, Bignot, Todd, Fowler, McDonald (Hughes 46), Morgan (Knights 79), Rose, Odhiambo (Rogers 46), Foley, Reid, Matthews. Subs not used: Garner, Leary.
Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire).
Attendance: 1,137 (121 visitors).
Goals: Mansfield: Connor (12 and 22), Parker (38), Briscoe (84). Newport: Silk og (59), Matthews (80).
Shots on target: Mansfield 6 Newport 6.
Shots off target: Mansfield 2 Newport 5.
Fouls: Mansfield 7 Newport 18.
Corners: Mansfield 2 Newport 8.
Offsides: Mansfield 4 Newport 4.
Bookings: Mansfield 2 (Murray, 39, persistent fouling; Nix, 90+2, foul on Rose) Newport 2 (Todd, 42, foul on Murray; Morgan, 55, foul on Cain).
Sendings off: Mansfield 0 Newport 0.
Mansfield's man of the match: Paul Connor. Adam Murray, Ashley Cain, Keigan Parker and Steve Foster all put in excellent performances, but the talismanic front man, restored to the starting line-up was outstanding, not just for his two goals, but his all-round play.
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