MAGNIFICENT MURRAY INSPIRES REMARKABLE COMEBACK
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 3 - 2 Gateshead
Murray 75, 89, Briscoe 90+4. Mulligan 19, 40
Attendance: 1749 (87 from Gateshead)
Date: 25 April 2011
The Stags came back from two goals gifted to Gateshead, to win 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes thanks to the brilliance of Adam Murray and the 19th goal of the season from Louis Briscoe. It was the Stags' first Easter home win since 1999.
Audio highlights from the final 15 minutes of the StagsPlayer/mansfieldtown.net commentary by Mark Stevenson and Conor Higginson here.
Audio wrap-up from Radio Nottm including commentary by David Jackson here.
Mansfield Town 3 Gateshead 2, Monday 25th April
A SENSATIONAL comeback saw Mansfield Town overturn a 2-0 half-time deficit to grab three goals in the final 15 minutes, the unlikely winner coming in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
It was a result few in the small Bank Holiday crowd could see coming after a flat, fired performance from the injury-ravaged home side who now do not have a fit striker in the club with Wembley less than two weeks away.
They had gifted Gary Mulligan two first half goals through defensive mistakes and rarely looked capable of testing Paul Farman as they looked to be slumping to their eighth home defeat of the season.
But Gateshead reckoned without the tireless Adam Murray who was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch.
He tucked away two calm finishes on 75 and 89 minutes to cap an inspirational skipper's display before setting up Louis Briscoe for the late winner with his 19th goal of the season.
Injury-hit Stags made four changes with Conor Higginson, Luke Medley and Paul Connor joining the injured list at AFC Wimbledon on Friday.
But there was the welcome sight of Alan Marriot back in goal after his broken finger, replacing Neil Collett, while defender Tom Naylor also made the bench after his recent hamstring injury.
Also into the team came Steven Istead into central midfield while youngster Niall O'Rafferty came in to play a lone striker role with Murray playing just behind him.
Before the game Briscoe made a clean sweep of all the available player of the year awards from the SSA, Ollerton Stags and Chad.
Smith and Spence caused the visitors early problems as they carried the game to Gateshead down the left.
Smith sent in a tame low shot on 11 minutes but it was never going to trouble Farman.
But they came much closer on 15 minutes when Murray juggled the ball before spreading it wide on the right where Briscoe raced in and fired a low shot just wide of the far post from 20 yards.
Gatshead responded with their first threat a minute later as Silk's mistake almost let in Ferrell. The full back recovered the situation with a sliding tackle though the ball ran loose to Nelthorpe whose on-target blast brought the first save of the day for Marriott.
More trickery from Smith on the left saw him mesmerise Curtis before cutting in to blast across goal.
However, Stags found themselves trailing on 19 minutes from a defensive mix-up.
Heckingbottom hurled in a long throw from the left and Preece and Marriott got in each other's way as the ball squirmed away from the keeper's fingers and dropped for a grateful Mulligan to turn home from close range.
Fisher flicked a header well over the bar from a Ferrell free kick as the home side struggled to find a way back into the contest.
Instead they found themselves two goals behind on 40 minutes.
Brittain sent the first corner of the afternoon long to the far post where Mulligan was allowed to put away a free header.
Incredibly by this point O'Rafferty was limping and finally had to go off on 43 minutes which meant Stags were without a fit striker in the whole club!
Cain came on to play wide and Briscoe was pushed up front.
Briscoe at least tested Farman with a blistering low 25 yard free kick but the Head keeper gathered safely as the home side heard those familiar boos ringing from the stands at the break after another disappointing home first half.
There were also chants once more of 'Russell out', just two weeks before the FA Trophy final at Wembley.
Gateshead began the second half in confident mood as Nelthorpe dipped a shot over from 25 yards. Then the home wall kept out a Britain free kick.
Former Stags Heckingbottom was unlucky to be booked after Istead appeared to play for the free kick as he ran down the right and realised the defender would get there first.
Stags were lucky when a tangle between Murray and Nelthorpe saw the Stags man catch Nelthorpe with a wild, frustrated swing of the leg, the referee having a word with both players but not producing cards of any colour.
With 19 minutes left assistant manager Hall replaced Smith and was booed as he ran onto the field as the home fans vented their frustration at their team's failings.
The frustration of the players was also summed up by Briscoe firing well over from 35 yards.
Fisher threatened at the other end but shot straight at Marriott while seconds later Hall dipped a decent effort over at the other end.
But Stags gave themselves a lifeline 15 minutes from time.
Briscoe dinked a superb little pass behind the defence for Murray to dart between the defenders onto and he kept his cool to slot a finish wide of Farman's fingers.
Thompson thundered a rising 20 yard shot over soon after as the home fans began to get behind their side's renewed efforts.
Another good Murray run saw him lay the ball to Briscoe on his right and his low first time finish found the sidenetting.
Man of the match Murray was saving the best until last and a minute from time he played the ball to Hall whose head back down to him was perfect.
Murray looked set to finish first time with his right foot but calmly cut inside onto his left and curled a great finish inside the far post which sparked a wild pitch invasion of celebrating home fans.
But two minutes into stoppage time Nelthorpe almost stole a winner for Gateshead only to see Marriott turn his powerful shot round his near post.
Incredibly Stags snatched victory in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Briscoe swapped passes with Murray in the box and then burst through and rounded the keeper to tuck the ball away and spark another pitch invasion before the inevitable full invasion on the whistle.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Foster, Preece, Spence; Briscoe, Istead, Thompson, Smith (Hall 71); Murray; O'Rafferty (Cain 43). Subs not used: Collett, Nix, Naylor.
GATESHEAD: Farman, Baxter, Heckingbottom, Curtis, Clark (Jones 54), Brittain, Turnbull, Nelthorpe, Ferriell, Fisher (Gillies 85), Mulligan (Offiong 83). Subs not used: Deasy, Rundle.
REFEREE: Richard Wigglesworth of South Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 1,749 (87 away).
GOALS: Stags – Murray 75mins, 89mins, Briscoe 90 (+4)mins. Gateshead – Mulligan 19mins, 39mins.
CAUTION: Gateshead – Heckingbottom 65mins (foul).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Murray
Evening Post Match report: Mansfield Town 3 Gateshead 2
OWNER John Radford believes it will take £2 million to make Mansfield Town a competitive force in the Blue Square Bet Premier next season.
This performance underlined all too obviously why that massive cash injection is needed – despite the Stags claiming an Adam Murray-inspired, last-gasp win.
It turned out to be an enjoyable afternoon for the majority in Field Mill as the hosts bounced back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 3-2.
But it should not gloss over the fact that big changes are needed in the summer if Mansfield are to challenge for a place in the Football League.
Put simply, the current Stags squad is not good enough to serve the lofty ambitions of the club and their chairman.
They are not a play-off attaining squad, as has been emphatically proved by their mid-table finish, nor never will be.
In fact, they are an absolute country mile off that level, a yawning chasm away.
Yesterday, Mansfield could point to the absence of several unavailable players that disadvantaged them from the start.
But, the visitors were also shorn of key men, and it was still a distinctly lacklustre final home showing of the campaign, disguised somewhat by a sensational, one-man mission from Murray in the closing stages.
You would have thought those picked to face Gateshead would have been champing at the bit to impress, given that many of them are out of contract in the summer.
But very few of them can expect to stay, given that they have failed to sparkle for much of the campaign.
For much of the game, a ninth home defeat – and a sixth since Russell took charge in November – looked on the cards.
But in a dramatic final twist, Murray netted twice and then set up the winner for newly-crowned player of the year Louis Briscoe in the final minute of stoppage time.
It was a welcome victory for Mansfield as they look to build some kind of momentum and confidence ahead of their Wembley trip in less than two weeks' time.
But questions about their defending, particularly from set pieces, remain a big concern for that big day – and for 2011-12 as well.
They gifted Ian Bogie's men two of the softest goals you will ever see. They are not isolated incidents. They are the type of soft strikes that have been endemic over the past nine months.
With four strikers – Paul Connor (calf), Conor Higginson (hamstring), Danny Mitchley (ankle) and Luke Medley (hamstring) – unavailable and, in some cases, resting up ahead of Wembley, Mansfield were unable to field a twin strike force.
Instead, youngster Niall O'Rafferty played as a long front man, with Murray playing in the hole just behind him.
There was welcome news in goal, though, where Alan Marriott returned from a broken finger as he bids to prove his fitness ahead of the club's FA Trophy final against Darlington on May 7.
The two other changes to the side that started Friday's 2-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon saw Steven Istead come into central midfield, while Briscoe was back on the right flank.
Mansfield had the better of the opening exchanges but Adam Smith shot tamely at Paul Farman when well placed.
A superb pass from Murray that demonstrated excellent vision set Briscoe away down the right and he advanced into the box before whistling a 15-yard short just past the left-hand upright.
At the other end, Gateshead had a man over when Gary Silk tackled Andy Ferrell, only for Marriott to push away Craig Nelthorpe's first-time drive.
Mansfield's response saw Smith scythe his way into the box past James Curtis but then blaze wide from a tight angle.
However, disaster struck for the Stags in the 19th minute when they gifted the visitors the lead.
Marriott came to claim a long throw from former Stag Paul Heckingbottom but dropped the ball as he crashed into his own man Mark Preece, allowing Gary Mulligan to poke home from close range.
Steve Foster brought shouts of encouragement from the crowd when he made a long, surging run only for his lay-off to find O'Rafferty in an offside position.
Five minutes from the interval, Gateshead doubled their advantage with a goal that was almost a carbon copy of the one scored by Grimsby last Tuesday.
A corner by Martin Brittain from the left saw Mulligan left totally unmarked at the back post and he nodded gleefully home.
Buoyed by their two-goal lead, Gateshead enjoyed the better of things in the second half, Nathan Fisher shooting straight at Marriott when well placed.
But the tireless Murray never stopped trying to pull Mansfield back into it and he did so with a slick finish after being set free through the middle by Briscoe's smart pass.
And he struck again with a minute to go, taking a pass from 39-year-old substitute Paul Hall to switch feet and curl the ball into the left-hand corner.
Just when the game seemed destined for a draw, Briscoe played a one-two with Murray and rounded Farman to tap home his 19th goal of the campaign.
It put the smiles back on Mansfield faces, something that Radford hopes will become much more commonplace next season
Match facts: Mansfield Town v Gateshead
Mansfield: Marriott, Silk, Foster, Preece, Spence, Briscoe, Istead, Thompson, Smith (Hall 71), Murray, O'Rafferty (Cain 43). Subs not used: Collett, Nix, Naylor.
Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Curtis, Clark (Jones 54), Heckingbottom, Brittain, Turnbull, Ferrell, Nelthorpe, Fisher (Gillies 85), Mulligan (Offiong 83). Subs not used: Deasy, Rundle.
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire).
Attendance: 1,749 (87 visitors).
Mansfield 3: Murray (75, 89), Briscoe (90+4).
Gateshead 2: Mulligan (19 and 40)
Shots on target: Mansfield 4 Gateshead 5.
Shots off target: Mansfiel 6 Gateshead 2.
Fouls: Mansfield 10 Gateshead 7.
Corners: Mansfield 0 Gateshead 4
Offsides: Mansfield 5 Gateshead 2.
Gateshead 1 (Heckingbottom, 65, foul on Istead).
Sendings off: Mansfield 0 Gateshead 0.
Mansfield's man of the match: Adam Murray: Was the one outstanding performer in a struggling side with his terrific work-rate, clever passing and expertly taken brace of goals, as well as an assist for Louis Briscoe's winner
Mansfield Town vs Gateshead 3 - 2
Date: 25/04/2011 Venue: Field Mill Attendance: 1,749 Referee: Richard Wigglesworth
Paul Stephen reports from Field Mill
Stags closed their season's account at Field Mill with a dramatic victory over midtable Gateshead.
With only an away trip to Bath to come this weekend, the result hands Stags a ninth home win of the season whilst also ending a three game winless run.
Unbelievably, the home side had been trailing by two goals to nil with just over 15 minutes to go before two late goals from Adam Murray and a 19th goal of the season for Louis Briscoe deep into stoppage time ensured that all three points would remain in Nottinghamshire.
All the damage had been inflicted in the first half with two headed goals from Gary Mulligan before Adam Murray capped off his man of the match performance by grabbing what looked like a late consolation.
It sparked a late collapse by Gateshead who looked to have secured the win and prompted three separate pitch invasions as delirious supporters celebrated Stags' sudden reversal in fortune.
There was a welcome return for Alan Marriott to the starting line up after a lengthy lay off with a finger injury encouragingly coming less than two weeks before our FA Trophy Final appearance at Wembley on May 7th.
Elsewhere, Louis Briscoe replaced Ashley Cain on the flank after being rested for our Good Friday defeat at AFC Wimbledon whilst Steven Istead and Niall O'Rafferty were handed recalls in place of the injury strike duo Luke Medley (hamstring) and Paul Connor (calf).
Stags won a throw in by the corner flag within less than 20 seconds of the kick off which slowly made its way back to taker Dan Spence who curled an inviting cross into the six yard box to test the awareness of the visitors' back four.
The opening stages of the game were developing at a slow pace as the players toiled in the hot sun which was only briefly interrupted on 11 minutes by Adam Smith's weak near post shot from distance which never troubled Paul Farman in the visitors' goal.
The first real chance of the game fell to the hosts on the quarter hour mark as Louis Briscoe flashed a shot just wide of the post. Stags' top scorer and the SSA, OSSA and Chad readers' player of the season had been picked out in acres of space by Adam Murray's pinpoint pass before running in behind the Gateshead defence and pulling the trigger from just inside the box.
Despite Stags looking in control of proceedings, the opening goal came against the run of play and fell to Gateshead in the 19th minute following an uncharacteristic error by Alan Marriott. The small away following were given something to cheer when former Stag Paul Heckingbottom launched a long throw from the left hand side which looked to be an easy collect for Marriott. The ex-Lincoln man failed to collect it and let the ball fly through his hands for Gary Mulligan to stoop down low and convert an easy header from two yards out.
The goal seemed to have an unsettling effect on Stags' defence and Nathan Fisher was twice given room to head goalwards first from Martin Brittain's right wing cross and then Andy Ferrell's free kick.
Steve Foster was then forced to concede a corner on 39 following more Gateshead pressure. The set piece from the left hand side looked fairly innocuous as it floated over the heads of everyone inside the six yard box but Gary Mulligan was on hand again to ghost in unmarked at the back post and score his second header of the game.
Duncan Russell responded to the increase of the deficit by rapidly making his first substitution of the afternoon. Niall O'Rafferty was the one to be withdrawn for Ashley Cain and in a tactical switch moved to the right wing to allow Briscoe to play in a more attacking role.
Briscoe fired a free kick straight at Farman as the two minutes of added time were being played before the home side trudged into the break following a half where their stranglehold on possession had not been made to show for anything.
Unfortunately for home fans, it was the visitors who emerged from the break with more purpose and Craig Nelthorpe found room to get a shot off from 30 yards on 47 which went over before Mansfield were handed a chance to pull a goal back 15 minutes later.
It came in the form of a free kick following Heckingbottom's late foul on Istead for which the left back earned himself a yellow card. Cain floated in the set piece from the right of the area but Mark Preece was out jumped at the back post and it was headed away to safety.
For the final quarter of the game, Paul Hall was introduced the fray taking a forward position at the expense of Adam Smith as the home side continued to chase the game.
Under little pressure, the visitors were content to sit back and hit the home side on the break with Nelthorpe getting a shot away on 71.
Skipper Adam Murray handed his side a lifeline in the 74th minute and in no-nonsense style as a sudden burst of energy took him beyond both centre halves James Curtis and substitute Carl Jones. He went through one-on-one with Farman and calmly waited for the visiting 'keeper to advance towards him before firing low to his left and into the bottom right corner.
The goal buoyed the home side and instilled some belief that a share of the points could be had from the game. The increasingly lively Briscoe found the side netting on 77 as Gateshead were made to sit much deeper for the last 10 minutes.
Stags could not have left it any later to clinch a point when Adam Murray's leveller finally came in the 89th minute. Assistant Manager Paul Hall played a pivotal role when his return pass got the better of marker James Curtis to give Adam Murray the room to curl the ball past Farman with a left footed shot from near the penalty spot.
The equaliser prompted a mini pitch invasion with supporters already hugging the touchline in preparation for the final whistle and their annual encroachment into the playing area to mark the end of the season.
Once they had returned to the stands, play could continue and almost four minutes added time had elapsed before Louis Briscoe snatched a dramatic winner with 93 minutes on the clock.
Murray released Stags' topscorer with a beautifully-weighted pass into the box where Gateshead's tiring defence were nowhere to be seen and could only look on as Briscoe rounded the 'keeper and rolled the ball over the line for his 19th strike of the season.
Yet again, another pitch invasion had to pass before the final whistle could be blown to bring the curtain down on the 23 home league fixtures of 2010/11.
Attendance: 1,749 (87 away)
Sponsors' man of the match: Adam Murray
2010/11 final home record: W9 D6 L
Victory hopes thrown away
GATESHEAD'S disappointing end to the season continued as they contrived to turn victory into defeat at FA Trophy finalists Mansfield Town, writes JEFF BOWRON.
The Stags, toothless for 75 minutes, scored three late goals after Gary Mulligan's double had given Gateshead a two-goal interval lead.
Adam Murray, however, gave Mansfield hope in the 75th minute, the midfielder then levelling two minutes from time with Louis Briscoe scoring the winner four minutes into injury time.
After a quiet opening, the game burst into life on the quarter-hour.
Stags' top scorer Briscoe ran at the Gateshead defence to shoot just wide on the far post. Craig Nelthorpe's angled drive was parried by Alan Marriott at the other end, while Adam Smith was inches past the post for Town.
Gateshead were then gifted a 19th- minute lead when Marriott dropped Paul Heckingbottom's long throw after colliding with team-mate Niall O'Rafferty.
Mulligan gratefully accepted the Stags' generosity and the Tynesider's added a second five minutes from the interval. Mansfield's defence was again culpable as Martin Brittain's deep free-kick saw Mulligan head home at the back post unchallenged.
Nelthorpe shot over the bar early in the second half, but there was little further incident until the game turned sensationally late on.
After Nathan Fisher turned and twisted only to fire straight at Marriott Murray, set up by Briscoe, finished clinically.
The midfielder then curled a beauty into the far top corner after Heckingbottom's headed clearance looped into the air.
The Tynesiders were now rocking but Nelthorpe almost regained the lead, Marriott saving at his near post.
The momentum however, was with Mansfield, and Murray rounded Paul Farman to clinch a dramatic winner four minutes into injury time.
That sparked a second pitch invasion as a stunned Gateshead trooped off.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott; Silk, Foster, Preece, Spence, Smith (Hall 71), Thompson, Murray, Istead, Briscoe, O'Rafferty (Cain 43). Subs (not used): Collett, Nix, Naylor.
Goals: Murray 75, 89, Briscoe 90.
GATESHEAD: Farman; Baxter, Curtis (Jones 54), Clark, Heckingbottom, Brittain, Turnbull, Ferrell, Nelthorpe, Fisher (Gillies 85), Mulligan (Offiong 83). Subs (not used): Deasy, Rundle.
Goals: Mulligan 19, 40.
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire).
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