LATE SMITH GOALS AS STAGS FIGHT BACK AGAIN
Blue Square Bet Premier
Barrow AFC 2 - 2 Mansfield Town
Rutherford 30, Connor og 54. Smith 73, 86.
Attendance: 1130 (85 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 February 2011
Martin Shaw at Holker Street
For the second week running, Mansfield Town battled back from seemingly the dead to earn a point. The Stags were 2-0 down at Barrow thanks to a bad defensive display, when substitute Adam Smith rescued the game with two great goals in the final 17 minutes. Smith will surely have done enough to earn a starting place for the crucial FA Trophy tie at Chasetown next Saturday, especially with Ashley Cain so totally out of sorts. The Stags are 11 points outside the play-off zone, and with just ten days anyway to secure a ten year lease on Field Mill that is required to enable the Stags to be allowed to enter the play-offs. So the FA Trophy really has to be the focus now. Today's result, along with the fightback against Newport and the two games against Alfreton, are encouraging in that it shows the Stags are never out of a game, should they go behind for example at Chasetown.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre.
Barrow 2-2 Mansfield Town
Evening Post report by Matt Halfpenny
FIT-AGAIN Adam Smith came off the bench to net two goals in 13 minutes as Mansfield Town came from 2-0 down to snatch at Barrow this afternoon.
The Stags looked down and out after a strike from Paul Rutherford and an own goal by Paul Connor put the hosts in firm control.
But Mansfield always looked a threat going forward and when Smith was introduced midway through the second half he provided the cutting edge Duncan Russell's men were looking for with two crisp finishes.
It was the perfect return for the former York man, who has spent almost six weeks out of the picture with a groin injury.
The hosts went close to opening the scoring early on as Louis Almond picked up the ball from Nick Chadwick and cut in from the right to unleash an angled drive from the edge of the box that sped just wide of the left-hand post.
The lively Almond then brought the first save from David Grof as the keeper gathered a long-range shot diving to his left.
At the other end, a defensive mistake saw Louis Moult briefly have a sight of goal but his attempted finish was smartly blocked by the advancing Clark Masters.
But Mansfield should have gone in front soon after when Briscoe picked out Moult on the left.
His pinpoint ball through the middle put Connor in the clear, but the Stags' top scorer somehow dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post when you would have banked on him finding the target.
The Stags went close again in the 22nd minute after Ashley Cain played a slick one-two with Moult and powered goalwards, only for Masters to push around his left-hand post.
From the last of three successive corners, Kevin Sandwith went down in the box but the referee waved away the visitors' claims for a penalty.
Just past the midway point of the half, Adam Murray sprayed the ball out to Connor on the left, whose cross was just too heavy for strike partner Moult.
But, from nowhere, Barrow went in front on the half hour against the run of play.
Richie Baker's long-range shot was beaten away by Grof but fell for the midfielder again and his second shot struck the left-hand post.
It could have rebounded anywhere but, fortunately for the Bluebirds, dropped kindly for Rutherford, who tapped into an empty net.
The luck was with the home side again in the 36th minute when Adam Murray was within inches of netting a spectacular equaliser.
As Masters came out of his area to head away from the chasing Moult, Murray tried to chip the keeper from 40 yards and saw his effort slam against the face of the bar.
Louis Briscoe was first on the scene from the rebound but curled wide of the right-hand post.
Barrow responded with a swift break that saw Grof save from Rutherford when the winger would have been better advised trying to find unmarked team-mate Simon Spender.
Mansfield started the second half positively and from a left-wing corner by Cain, Briscoe headed just over at the near post.
But, again, Barrow struck just when Mansfield looked to be in the ascendency to double their lead.
Tyrone Thompson fouled Rutherford 30 yards out on the left hand side and as Baker curled in the free-kick right-footed, the ball glanced off the head of Connor and past a stranded Grof.
Mansfield should have had a penalty when Naylor was pushed in the back by Chadwick from Cain's cross, but the officials were unmoved.
The Stags then introduced Adam Smith for Cain, with Briscoe switching flanks before Moult was withdrawn for Craig Mitchley.
But it was Barrow who almost made it 3-0 when Almond flashed just over as Mansfield again failed to clear a free-kick.
However, the Stags did finally get on the scoresheet in the 73rd minute when Silk's cross skimmed of a Mansfield head to the far post where Smith cut back onto his right foot and slammed a shot in off the underside of the bar from 12 yards.
The Stags stepped up the pressure but it was nearly all over when substitute Andy Cook's shot deflected off Tom Naylor and flew just over the bar with Grof stranded.
But the Stags kept going and got their reward as Smith struck again with a spectacular strike, this time with his left boot.
Mitcheley's superb pass set the winger scampering away down the left and he turned his marker inside out before thundering a shot into the top left-hand corner from 15 yards.
But it was down to Grof to preserve a point as poor defending allowed Chadwick a clear shot and the keeper managed to partially block the ball before Kevin Sandwith headed over his own bar to complete the clearance.
From it, Cook was only inches too high with his header and, in the dying seconds, Rutherford's cross was just too high for two team-mates at the far post as Mansfield held on desperately.
It was a fair result in the end in what was an entertaining game from start to finish.
Evening Post considered Match report: Barrow 2 Mansfield Town 2
THERE could hardly have been a more emphatic way to stake a claim for a starting berth in Mansfield Town's season-defining game this weekend.
Only those who believe in miracles still reckon the Stags can reach the Blue Square play-offs, especially as the club are unlikely to have secured the required ten-year lease to go into the Football League should they get that far.
As a consequence, the FA Trophy quarter-final tie at Chasetown is, quite simply, huge – and one no player will want to miss.
Until 4.15pm on Saturday, that seemed to be the unfortunate fate befalling winger Adam Smith.
Sidelined by a groin injury for almost six weeks, the winger had seen rivals Louis Briscoe and Ashley Cain largely impress in his absence.
Indeed, the former York man had admitted he would most likely have to play the waiting game for inclusion because of the good form of his team-mates.
However, in less than 30 minutes up in Cumbria, all that suddenly changed, so much so that Smith must surely now be a certainty for a start at Scholars Way.
There were question marks over whether the 26-year-old would be fit enough to make an impact, having only had a short run-out in a midweek friendly with Notts County under his belt.
Yet he answered any doubts, and how, by providing Mansfield with what they had been lacking all afternoon against Barrow – a cutting edge.
While strike duo Paul Connor and Louis Moult had looked a dangerous combination, both were uncharacteristically profligate with decent chances. Adam Murray had also been desperately unlucky not to net.
And with Mansfield, seemingly as ever, creaking at the back to concede two more sloppy goals – the second from another set piece – the Stags looked down and out at 2-0 and destined for a third Holker Street defeat in a row.
But manager Duncan Russell was not to suffer the same fate as predecessors David Holdsworth and Billy McEwan as the introduction of Smith proved both inspirational and pivotal.
Replacing the largely ineffective Cain, with Briscoe switching to the right, Smith showed his intent right from the start.
And the travelling Stags fans did not have to wait long before he produced two wonderful strikes in the space of 13 minutes – one with his right foot, the other with his left – to salvage a point for the visitors.
Anyone who has watched Smith regularly will know that he doesn't do tap-ins.
So it was no surprise that he pulled a goal back by side-stepping his marker and thumping a shot that crashed in off the underside of the bar.
If that was clinical, then his second was sensational, taking his tally of league goals to the season for six.
Fellow substitute Danny Mitchley played an excellent ball out to the left to send Smith galloping away.
His marker clearly thought he had learned a lesson from the previous goal as Smith cut in onto his right foot and seemed poised to try his luck.
But this time the Mansfield man jinked back onto his left before thrashing an unstoppable drive into the top left-hand corner.
That really was just reward for the Stags, a draw being the fairest result from an entertaining game in which both sides created opportunities throughout.
It was Mansfield who played the majority of the football and looked technically superior.
But Barrow, scrapping for their lives at the bottom end of the table, never stopped working and in Louis Almond boasted a potent threat.
The visitors made two changes in personnel with David Grof debuting in goal because of a knee injury to Neil Collett and Paul Stonehouse returning at left-back after a thigh problem.
That saw Kevin Sandwith move across to play in the centre alongside teenager Tom Naylor – the 11th different central defensive pairing of the campaign – and Rhys Day dropped out of the squad altogether.
After a sluggish start by Mansfield, Louis Moult was denied by Masters before playing a superb ball through for strike partner Connor, who really should have hit the target only to scuff his shot wide.
Just when it appeared only a matter of time before the Stags forged ahead, Barrow took the lead against the run of play.
Richie Baker was allowed too much room to shoot from distance. Grof made the parry, but the ball rebounded to the midfielder whose second shot struck the left-hand post before falling to Paul Rutherford and he slotted home.
Adam Murray was left holding his head when keeper Clark Masters raced off his line to head clear of Moult and the midfielder's audacious 40-yard chip struck the bar.
Mansfield began the second half on the front foot but were again stopped dead in their tracks by a Bluebirds second, Connor enduring a day to forget as the ball flicked off his head from Baker's free-kick to fly in.
Yet as the Stags showed in pulling three goals back against Newport, they never give up and, after Smith's brilliant cameo, they just about held on for their point in a tense finish.
After the match, manager Duncan Russell joked the team coach would not get home until 2am by the time Smith had finishing waxing lyrical about his double.
But if the talented wide man can repeat the trick at Chasetown, and take Mansfield one round from Wembley, the Stags boss would happily stay up all night
Barrow v Stags match facts
Barrow: Masters, M. Pearson, Jones, Bolland, Spender, Rutherford, Sheridan (Goodfellow 59), Baker, Edwards, Chadwick, Almond (Cook 76). Subs not used: S. Pearson, Blundell, Nicholas.
Mansfield: Grof, Silk, Naylor, Sandwith, Stonehouse (Nix 83), Cain (Smith 64), Murray, Thompson, Briscoe, Connor, Moult (Mitchley 66). Subs not used: Istead, Foster.
Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire).
Attendance: 1,130 (85 visitors).
Barrow 2: Rutherford (30), Connor og (54).
Mansfield 2: (Smith 73 and 86)
Shots on target: Barrow 6 Mansfield 4.
Shots off target: Barrow 6 Mansfield 5.
Fouls: Barrow 11 Mansfield 16.
Corners: Barrow 4 Mansfield 9.
Offsides: Barrow 0 Mansfield 3.
Bookings: Barrow 3 (Edwards, 83, foul on Briscoe; Spender, 85, foul on Smith; Chadwick, 90+2, foul on Sandwith)
Mansfield 1 (Thompson, 53, foul on Rutherford).
Sendings off: Barrow 0 Mansfield 0.
Mansfield's man of the match: Adam Murray. Although Adam Smith will steal all the headlines with his two goals, it was central midfielder Murray who enjoyed one of his best games since his Mansfield return with some slick passing. Was also denied a goal of the season contender by the woodwork
AFC Barrow 2 v Mansfield Town 2, Saturday 19th February
CHAD report by John Lomas
STAGS substitute Adam Smith was the hero as he bagged a spectacular late brace to earn Mansfield a well-deserved point in a lively clash with battling Barrow at Holker Street on Saturday, reports John Lomas.
Mansfield, with Adam Murray pulling the strings and hitting the bar from 40 yards, dominated the first half against the struggling Bluebirds but found themselves a goal down against the run of play to Paul Rutherford's 30th minute finish.
The visitors then found themselves with an even bigger mountain to climb when Paul Connor headed into his own goal nine minutes after the break.
Barrow, who had only won once in 11 games prior to that, were firmly in the driving seat at this stage.
But, to their credit, the Stags did not give up and Smith, who replaced Ashley Cain on 64 minutes, pulled one back on 73 minutes before conjuring up an equaliser with a second stunning finish four minutes from the end of an absorbing game with plenty of chances at both ends.
Thankfully the snow that had struck elsewhere in the Lake District overnight did not reach Barrow and a damp pitch held up remarkably well.
With Neil Collett injuring a knee in training, on-loan Notts County keeper Grof came in for his debut and left Stags with no goalkeeping cover on the bench.
Stags had their 11th different central defensive partnership of the campaign with Sandwith moving across from left back to replace the dropped Rhys Day, Stonehouse returning to the side at left back.
Thankfully loanee striker Moult shook off a back injury in time to keep his place after his two-goal show last weekend, particularly as his likely replacement, Keigan Parker, had been allowed out on loan to Fleetwood the day before.
Barrow suffered a pre-match blow when Robin Hulbert pulled a hamstring in the warm-up, joint Barrow boss Sheridan replacing him.
The home side made a strong start and Stags had to defend a free-kick just outside their box in the first 30 seconds and a minute later Almond whipped a fearsome shot just wide of the far post from the right hand corner of the box.
Grof was down to his left to make his first save in a Mansfield shirt on seven minutes as Almond was allowed too space and got away a low, skidding shot from 20 yards.
But the ball was cleared upfield and bounced through a sleeping home defence and suddenly Moult had sight of goal. However, Masters was quickly off his line to make himself big and the finish hit his legs.
On nine minutes Connor missed the best chance of the game so far. Moult looked up and sent a fantastic pass into his path and all Stags' top scorer had to do was finish with the goal at his mercy.
But, from eight yards, he failed to make the best of contacts and bundled a low finish wide of the far post.
On 22 minutes Cain fed Moult who returned the ball to the winger with a lovely backheel as he ran past him, setting him up or a low shot which Masters parried for the first of three successive corners.
After the early Barrow pressure, the visitors were now largely in control, though unable to find the opening goal.
Another Stags break was engineered by Murray's forward pass to Connor who tried to hang the ball up at the far post for Moult but struck it just too high and hard.
However, the home side grabbed the lead against the run of play on the half-hour.
Initially Baker tested Grof with a devilish swerving shot from 18 yards which the keeper fisted back towards him. Baker's follow-up clipped the far post and Rutherford reacted first to sweep it into the net.
It was a body blow for the visitors who almost levelled three minutes later when Murray crashed a half-volley into the sidenetting from 18 yards.
A poor clearance from home keeper Masters left the keeper stranded at the edge of his box as Connor controlled and laid the ball to Murray whose shy at the open goal from 40 yards unluckily came back off the crossbar and Briscoe was narrowly wide of the far post with the follow-up.
Rutherford was again afforded too much room to go on a run which ended with a curling shot that brought a good diving save from Grof.
Two minutes from the break Briscoe was too high with a 20 yard free kick after Bolland had held Connor which left Stags heading in for the half-time interval wondering how they could be behind.
There was a delay in starting the second half after an assistant referee suffered a first half injury.
Mansfield began the half in positive fashion and within two minutes Briscoe had headed just over from a Cain corner at the near post.
Thompson saw the first yellow card of the game for hauling down Rutherford.
But when the subsequent free kick was taken on 54 minutes, a Connor own goal doubled the Bluebirds' lead.
Taken by Baker, the ball was curled towards goal from 20 yards out and Connor unfortunately got his head on it and could only watch as the ball sailed out of reach of Grof, who would probably have had it covered, and inside the post.
A promising Stags break was spoiled by a poor touch in the box by Cain which gave Edwards time to slide in and tackle.
Then Chadwick's shove on Naylor in the box went unnoticed.
Stags switched it around the wings on 64 minutes, Smith replacing Cain and Briscoe swapping to the right.
Baker curled a 20 yard free kick just wide of the near post before Stags made another swap on 66 minutes, this time up front as Mitchley came on for Moult.
Grof's goal came under threat once more as Almond turned and rifled a rising shot over from a tight angle on the right.
But Stags were back in the hunt on 74 minutes through sub Smith.
Silk crossed from the right and Smith, at the far post, chose to change direction, come inside three attendant defenders and lash a powerful finish in off the underside of the bar.
Cook almost made it 3-1 when his shot struck Naylor en route and left Grof wrong-footed but relieved to see the ball fly over the bar for a corner.
While Edwards was booked for his foul on Briscoe, Stags sent on Nix for Stonehouse for their last roll of the dice.
Spender was added to the book for a high boot that caught Smith in the face five minutes from the end.
But the visitors were finally celebrating an equaliser on 86 minutes.
Mitchley's pass picked out the run of Smith on the left and he cut inside the defender before going back outside him and burying a superb left-footed finish high into the net from not the best of angles.
Chadwick almost stole a winner a minute from the end as he reached a bouncing ball first in the box to poke at goal, Grof spreading himself to block and Sandwith there first to head over for a corner as the loose ball sailed dangerously near the open goal.
From that corner Cook wasn't far wide with his header.
Four minutes were added on with the game wide open for the taking. In the second of those Chadwick saw a yellow card for jumping late into Sandwith.
Stags survived a very late scare when Rutherford chipped the ball in from the left into the danger zone. But no home heads were able to meet it and Stags at last left with a hard-earned point after two defeats at Holker Street in the previous two seasons since relegation.
BARROW: Masters, Pearson, Edwards, Jones, Bolland, Spender, Sheridan (Goodfellow 59), Baker, Chadwick, Almond (Cook 76), Rutherford. Subs: Pearson, Blundell, Nicholas.
STAGS: Grof; Silk, Naylor, Sandwith, Stonehouse (Nix 83); Cain (Smith 64), Murray, Thompson, Briscoe; Connor, Moult (Mitchley 66). Subs: Istead, Foster.
REFEREE: Darren Handley of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 1,130 (85 away).
Barrow AFC throw away two-goal lead to draw against Mansfield
Saturday, 19 February 2011
BLUE SQUARE BET PREMIER: Barrow AFC 2 Mansfield Town 2
Goals: Barrow: Paul Rutherford (30), Paul Connor (own goal 54).
Mansfield: Adam Smith (73, 87)
Attendance: 1,130 (85 Mansfield fans)
BARROW AFC threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Mansfield Town at Holker Street today (Saturday).
It means the Bluebirds, who have failed to win any of their last six games, have fallen into the Blue Square Bet Premier relegation zone and are now two points from safety.
Both sides had chances in an exciting first-half before the Bluebirds took the lead on the half-hour mark when after two shots from Richie Baker - the first saved, the second hitting the foot of the post - winger Paul Rutherford scored from a tight angle. The Stags looked to respond and went close when Adam Murray hit the crossbar on 36 minutes.
The start of the second-half was delayed following an injury to one of the assistant referees. When it eventually got started, Barrow doubled their lead on 54 minutes with an excellent in-swinging Baker free-kick, which glanced off the head of Mansfield's Paul Connor before finding the far corner.
The visitors pulled one back on 73 minutes through a cracking shot from substitute Adam Smith which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Then, with just three minutes to go, Smith equalised when he broke down the left, beat a couple of Barrow players, and fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Nick Chadwick almost won all three points for the hosts, but saw his late shot saved. Substitute Andy Cook also missed a late opportunity.
Barrow made two changes to the side which drew 1-1 at Kettering Town seven days ago, with new signing Baker making his debut in midfield in place of Christian Smith, who has returned to parent club Wrexham. Robin Hulbert was named in the starting XI, but pulled his hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced by Darren Sheridan. Simon Spender started on the right wing.
Mansfield handed a debut to Hungarian goalkeeper David Grof, on loan from Notts County, while striker Louis Moult passed a fitness test on an injured back. Ex-Bluebird Kevin Sandwith started in defence.
Barrow: Clark Masters, Mike Pearson, Paul Edwards, Paul Jones, Phil Bolland, Simon Spender, Darren Sheridan (Marc Goodfellow 59), Richie Baker, Nick Chadwick, Louis Almond (Andy Cook 76), Paul Rutherford. Subs not used: Shaun Pearson, Gregg Blundell, Andy Nicholas.
Booked: Edwards (83), Spender (85), Jones (87), Chadwick (90+2).
Mansfield: David Grof, Gary Silk, Paul Stonehouse (Kyle Nix 83), Tom Naylor, Kevin Sandwith, Ashley Cain (Adam Smith 64), Adam Murray, Tyrone Thompson, Louis Briscoe, Paul Connor, Louis Moult (Dan Mitchley 66). Subs not used: Steven Istead, Steven Foster.
Booked: Thompson (53).
Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire).
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