AWFUL STAGS SURRENDER AFTER ISTEAD SENDING-OFF
Blue Square Bet Premier
Bath City 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Watkins 52, Scott Murray 75. Istead sent off 15
Attendance: 1051 (162 from Mansfield)
Date: 30 April 2011
Martin Shaw at Twerton Park
Mansfield Town ended the league season with an awful performance, albeit for most of the game with ten men, to lose 2-0 at Bath City and thus drop below Bath in the final league table. With focus fully on Wembley and the FA Trophy final just 7 days away, Mansfield were without Paul Connor, Adam Murray and Tom Naylor, carrying injuries, and the rested Louis Briscoe. Without these 4 key players, the Stags were unable to create anything at all going forward during the game. And when Bath put the Stags under pressure in the second half, the Stags defence parted like the red sea allowing Marley Watkins and former Bristol City midfielder Scott Murray to net goals and earn a deserved victory for the home side.
After the game, boss Duncan Russell was very unhappy with the Stags performance and told the press that some of his players hadn't worked hard enough. He added that Connor, Murray and Naylor should all be ok for Wembley, which was very good news indeed. Stevie Istead was sent off after 15 minutes, for what appeared to be simply a yellow card offence, and he will therefore be suspended for Wembley. This is a problem, even if only for potentially filling the subs bench, given that the Stags only have 17 players eligible to play at Wembley (excluding long term absentees Day and Sandwith, but including the injured players noted above). Disappointingly, Bath City had a DVD recorder failure and so were unable to provide us with match DVDs after the game. However we persuaded them to transfer the Istead sending-off incident from the tape innside the video camera which they will do at some point over the next 24 hours and make available to Mansfield electronically via the internet or email. This should enable to club to still potentially appeal the second-off.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre.
Man of the match: Alan Marriott
Bath City 2 Mansfield Town 0
Evening Post report by Matt Halfpenny
MANSFIELD Town's last league game of the season and final match before their trip to Wembley next weekend ended in disappointed as they were soundly beaten 2-0 at Bath City.
The Stags were not helped by the early dismissal of Steven Istead, which left them to play the majority of the game a man down.
But they showed precious little ahead of their FA Trophy final meeting with Darlington and will have to up their game under the arch if they are to emerge triumphant.
After being all square at the interval, the hosts stepped things up in the second half to seal the points through Marley Watkins and Scott Murray.
It saw the Romans leapfrog the Stags in the table, with Duncan Russell's men finishing in an uninspiring 13th place.
Mansfield got in the first shot on target in the third minute, but Adam Smith's effort from outside the box was easily fielded by Ryan Robinson.
City hit back with an attack down the right that culminated in a volley from Marley Watkins that Alan Marriott was able to hold.
Adam Connolly was not too far away when his dipping strike from the edge of the box just cleared the bar.
A neat flick from Niall O' Rafferty saw Luke Medley burst into the box but his pass, intended for Smith, was cut out when he night have been better advised trying a shot.
Bath were soon back on the attack, but Lee Phillips dragged past the left-hand post after cleverly making room to let fly.
The Stags suffered a severe blow in the 15th minute when Istead was shown a straight red card after clashing with Joe Burnell.
It was unclear what the dismissal was for, although there was a suggestion he kicked out at the Bath player off the ball.
The home side began to boss possession as the game moved past the half hour mark and Murray was not too far away with an acrobatic volley.
Soon after, Phillips broke away down the left to tee up Marc Canham, who tried to shoot first time and blazed wide.
Steve Foster then had to be alert to deny Phillips in the box before Marriott got down well to save a Murray drive after a neat one-two with Connolly.
As half-time approached, Sido Jombati crossed from the left touchline for Watkins, whose header was well saved by Marriott.
Jombati then went for goal himself but his attempted curler never threatened the goal.
Mansfield were cut wide open in the early stages of the second period when Burnell picked out Connolly, who raced away before firing wide of the left-hand post.
But Bath made no mistake moments later, going ahead in the 52nd minute.
Phillips flicked the ball through for Watkins and he drew Marriott, went around the Stags keeper and slotted into an empty net.
Murray then got away down the right and Marriott did well to cut out the danger with Jombati lurking.
Mansfield threw on Tyrone Thompson for O'Rafferty with the hour mark approaching in a bid to turn the tide.
The Stags finally got forward when Smith ran through the middle to let fly from 20 yards but shot straight at Robinson.
Ashley Cain then picked out Medley just inside the box, but the striker took too long as his strike was blocked by Jombati.
But Bath went 2-0 up in the 75th minute after some poor defending from Mansfield.
Murray was allowed to stroll through the middle of the defence before nudging the ball to the right of Marriott and into goal.
It might have been 3-0 to the Romans soon after when Lewis Hogg beat the visiting offside trap only to sky his drive well over.
Marriott then raced off his line to intercept as Watkins looked to break free once again.
The Stags keeper was again alert when he managed to gather a measured chip from the influential Murray.
As the game moved into the closing stages, Smith tried his luck from a tight angle, but Robinson tipped his effort around the post.
Marriott denied Watkins and Phillips in quick succession late on as City threatened to win by an even bigger margin
Evening Post considered Match report: Bath City 2 Mansfield Town 0
AS much as the result did not matter, this was hardly the ideal pre-Wembley preparation Duncan Russell and his Mansfield Town players were looking for.
The Stags began their final game of the season as also-rans in the Blue Square Bet Premier, way off the pace of the play-offs and out of sight of the relegation battle. That was not going to change, win lose or draw.
But after their storming comeback from 2-0 down to beat Gateshead 3-2 on Easter Monday in their final home game, it would have been ideal to build on that with an impressive showing in the West Country.
Back-to-back successes ahead of the trip to the capital for the FA Trophy final would not only have been a massive boost to morale, it would also have provided a welcome injection of confidence.
Yet it soon became apparent that such an outcome was never likely against a side Mansfield had beaten comfortably in north Notts just over two weeks previously.
The Stags put in a poor performance which came as a major disappointment to Russell and the travelling support.
In fact, a number of individually tepid displays from the players smacked of having their minds elsewhere and not wanting to get injured.
It was clear to see that some had their focus on the Wembley date with Darlington.
Of course, it did not help one iota that Mansfield had to play all but the first 15 minutes of the match, played in balmy evening sunshine, with ten men.
Steven Istead was shown a straight red card for what was deemed serious foul play by West London referee Marvin Thompson, although it must be said, that looked harsh.
Istead certainly fouled Joe Burnell and caught him late, but there seemed nothing in that incident to merit a sending-off.
However, whether the former Ilkeston man then committed a further transgression when the ball had gone was unclear.
Russell certainly aims to take a look at the DVD and if he sees fit he will appeal against the decision. After all, he does not want to lose another face for Wembley when the likes of Rhys Day, Kevin Sandwith, Conor Higginson and David Grof are already unavailable and others have question marks hanging over them because of injuries.
And that brings things on nicely to another major contributing factor to Mansfield's demise – the key players they had missing.
None of Paul Connor, Louis Briscoe, Tom Naylor, Adam Murray and Gary Silk played a single minute of the game – and they are undoubtedly a quintet who are among the club's best and most consistent players.
Connor is expected to return to training this week after a calf injury while Murray was rested to avoid aggravating a back problem and Naylor was given extra time to nurse himself back from his hamstring strain.
Neither Briscoe nor Silk were risked, despite being fit and well – and who can blame Russell for that when one of the club's biggest matches for years is on the horizon?
The trouble was, the absentees, together with their numerical disadvantage, really knocked the stuffing out of Mansfield.
And, it has to be said, you sensed what was coming, even though the Stags battled successfully to retain parity at the break.
Having not won any of the previous six games where they had gone down to ten over the past nine months, it hardly boded well that anything would be different on this occasion.
Mansfield were almost non-existent as an attacking force, with only three efforts from Adam Smith to show for their efforts, all easily dealt with by keeper Ryan Robinson, who could have started his summer holiday early for how redundant he largely was.
Too often, the visitors' passing lacked the incisiveness to cause the Romans any alarm, something that will have to change this coming weekend against a Darlington side well-known for being well-organised and thrifty at the back.
Another concern was the lack of pace at the back in the Steve Foster-Mark Preece central defensive partnership.
Marley Watkins' 52nd minute opener owed much to his ability to race away from the Mansfield defence and onto Lee Phillips' flick to round Alan Marriott and slot into an empty goal.
Bath's game-sealing second also came far too easily, as veteran former Bristol City winger Scott Murray waltzed through a static rearguard before sliding home.
Thankfully, Naylor should ease those worries with the pace he has to burn and his excellent positional sense if, as expected, he is recalled. It makes for a nervy week for both Foster and Preece.
The game was not completely without positives for Mansfield, though, because it did see a return to form for Alan Marriott.
If he was to blame for one, possibly two, of the goals in his comeback game against Gateshead, on this occasion he was outstanding and saved the Stags from an even bigger hiding.
As it happened, Bath's victory over the Stags lifted them three places – above Mansfield and also Rushden, who lost at Darlington and Grimsby, who went down at AFC Wimbledon.
But the Stags will be happy to have passed up their own chance of pushing for a top ten finish with victory at Twerton Park if it means they triumph at the world's most famous stadium in five days' time.
It really is all about Wembley
Bath v Stags match stats
Bath City: Robinson, Simpson (Rollo 38), Jones (Hogg 58), Webb, Jombati, Murray, Burnell, Canham, Connolly (Harris 74), Phillips, Watkins. Subs not used: Mackie, Henry.
Mansfield: Marriott, Spence, Foster, Preece, Stonehouse, Cain, Istead, Nix, Smith, O' Rafferty (Thompson 58), Medley (Hall 68). Subs not used: Collett, Briscoe, Silk.
Referee: Marvin Thompson (Northolt).
Attendance: 1,051 (162 visitors).
Bath City 2: Watkins (52), Murray (75).
Shots on target: Bath City 9 Mansfield 2.
Shots off target: Bath City 6 Mansfield 1.
Fouls: Bath City 4 Mansfield 6.
Corners: Bath City 1 Mansfield 4.
Offsides: Bath City 11 Mansfield 0.
Bookings: Bath City 0 Mansfield 0.
Sendings off: Bath City 0 Mansfield 1 (Istead 15).
Mansfield's man of the match: Alan Marriott. The Mansfield keeper was blameless for the two goals but made a string of excellent saves in the second half to prevent the margin of defeat for the Stags being even worse
Bath City 2 Mansfield Town 0, Saturday 30th April
CHAD report by John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town's dreadful league season ended in miserable fashion with a 2-0 defeat and yet another red card at Bath City's Twerton Park this afternoon.
Just a week from the FA Trophy final, the last thing injury-hit Stags needed was to see Steven Istead sent off just 15 minutes into the game for kicking Joe Burnell.
For Bath it was delight as they leapfrogged Mansfield in the table to finish in their highest position for 16 years.
For Stags it was a seventh red card of the campaign and another body unavailable for Wembley, where Mansfield can just about fill the bench, and a 12th place finish in the BSBP.
In a dour game, Stags mustered one decent shot at goal in each half from Adam Smith.
But Alan Marriott, cementing his place for Wembley, was by far the busier keeper and made some good saves before he was finally beaten when Marley Watkins went clean through on 52 minutes.
The keeper's display was the only positive to come out of an afternoon to otherwise forget.
When veteran Scott Murray made it 2-0 on 75 minutes the final whistle could not come quickly enough for Stags and their faithful 162 away fans who will be hoping for a better day out, and a few more players back from injury, next weekend at Wembley.
The Stags side showed four changes with the injured Adam Murray missing out with his back problem and Tyrone Thompson, Louis Brisoe and Gary Silk 'rested' to the bench.
Marriott kept the goalkeeper's jersey, Paul Stonehouse came into the back four, Kyle Nix and Ashley Cain into midfield and Luke Medley was back from injury to partner Niall O'Rafferty up front, despite neither of them being fully fit.
Marriott safely held onto a Burnell ball into the box in the opening seconds.
Stags were attacking down the famous Twerton slope and Smith cut in for a tame shot at Robinson on three minutes after a good pass from Medley.
Burnell then needed treatment after catching Smith's elbow in the mouth but it wasn't deliberate and both players shook hands afterwards.
Watkins tested Mariott with a dipping half-volley but it was always going straight to the keeper.
Connolly was next to try his luck with a powerful shot from 25 yards but it was too high to seriously trouble Marriott.
In reply Medley raced into the box but was quickly crowded out and then unable to find Smith free to his left and had to settle for a corner.
The nearest we had come to a goal was on 14 minutes when Phillips, faced with three defenders, did so well to evade them all and make space for a shot that, having done the hard work, he dragged wide.
But Stags were down to 10 men a minute later as Istead tackled Burnell late after the Bath man had made his pass and then was alleged to have caught him again with a boot with Burnell on the floor, the referee quickly pulling out a red card.
Few saw what happened and, to be fair, to Bath, there was no crowding the referee or rolling around on the floor, so it came as a shock when Istead was dismissed.
Doubtless Stags will be looking hard at the match DVD to see if the card was deserved or not.
Nevertheless, it left injury-hit Stags toiling for 75 minutes in the warm sunshine on the sloping pitch a week from a Wembley final.
Home keeper Robinson lost his concentration to concede a needless corner but Bath easily cleared their lines when it came over.
There followed a lengthy spell of little happening until a 34th minute scare.
Marriott had to hurriedly kick away a Spence backpass but didn't get much distance on it, the ball quickly put back into the box where Murray, with back to goal, sent an acrobatic overhead kick just over the bar.
A swift Bath break a minute later saw Phillips go down the left and square for Canham whose first time effort whistled over the near angle.
Foster then timed his tackle well on Phillips as he got into the left hand side of the six yard box and looked set to shoot.
Rollo, on as a sub for Simpson on 38 minutes, immediately miscued a cross which briefly threatened to dip over Marriott but the keeper saw it safely onto the roof of his net.
Two minutes from the break Bath forced Marriott into a save as he got down to keeper out a low 20 yard shot from Murray after a one-two on the edge of the box with Connolly.
A minute later Jombati got the better of Spence on the left and crossed towards Watkins who provided more work for Marriott with his stooping header.
Another good run from Jombati in stoppage time saw him spoon his finish well over the bar the finish not matching the approach work.
So the 10 men at least went in on level terms.
Six minutes after the break another probing through ball from playmaker Burnell put Connelly away only to send his finish bobbling across Marriott and wide of the far post.
It was a warning Stags didn't heed as a minute later as Phillips' flick-on saw Watkins burst clear down the centre and calmly go past Marriott to roll the ball into the empty net.
Marriott dealt well with a dangerous low Murray cross as Bath began to take a grip.
Thompson came on for O'Rafferty on 58 minutes as Russell looked for a spark.
Smith let fly with a decent effort from 25 yards on 62 minutes but Robinson was able to get both hands behind it block and then grab.
Cain's square ball offered Medley a shooting chance but his split second delay was all Jombati needed to get a leg across to block.
Medley's legs were rested for Wembley on 68 minutes as assistant boss Hall came on for another cameo appearance.
But it was the home side who grabbed a killer second as 37-year-old Murray rolled back the years to race between the visiting defenders before guiding a low finish past Marriott.
Hogg should have made it 3-0 soon after as the Stags defence disintegrated in front of him and he lashed his hurried finish well over.
Marriott had to leave his box to clear ahead of Watkins and there was a big shout for handball against the keeper the referee thankfully signalling it was Marriott's chest.
Marriott did well to reach up and keep out an attempted chip by Murray as the home side ran the visitors ragged.
Marriott blocked Watkins' close range flick with just over two minutes to go and in stoppage time he also got is body in the way of a close range Phillips shot.
BATH CITY: Robinson, Simpson (Rollo 38), Burnell, Jones (Hogg 58), Webb, Jombati, Murray, Connolly (Harris 74), Canham, Phillips, Watkins. Subs not used: Mackie, Henry.
STAGS: Marriott; Spence, Foster, Preece, Stonehouse; Cain, Nix, Istead, Smith; Medley (Hall 68), O'Rafferty (Thompson 58). Subs not used: Collett, Briscoe, Silk.
REFEREE: Marvin Thompson of Northolt.
ATTENDANCE: 1,051 (162).
GOALS: Bath – Watkins 52mins, Murray 75mins.
DISMISSAL: Stags – Istead 15mins (serious play play).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alan Marriott
City see off ten-man Mansfield to claim a top-ten finish
report from thisisbath.co.uk, By neil rose
MATCH REPORT: Bath City 2 (Watkins 52, Murray 75) Mansfield Town 0
Wing-men Marley Watkins and Scott Murray got the second-half goals which ensured that Bath City finished a memorable season on a suitably high note.
Watkins' cool finish and a wonderful solo effort from Murray killed off a Mansfield Town team who played for 75 minutes with ten men after Steven Istead saw red for allegedly kicking out at Joe Burnell.
The win means City have taken points off all but two teams - champions Crawley Town and play-off contenders Wrexham - in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season.
And with both Grimsby Town and Rushden & Diamonds losing, the three points ensured City bagged an outstanding top-ten finish in their first season in non-league's top flight for 13 years.
After resting several players in Monday's 2-0 defeat at Eastbourne Borough, City boss Adie Britton named a full-strength team for the final fixture.
The game was fairly even in the opening exchanges, with Watkins and Adam Connolly both firing in long-range shots which never looked like troubling visiting keeper Alan Marriott while Niall O'Rafferty tried to pass at the other end when he had the chance to shoot.
The best opening came in the 14th minute when Lee Phillips brilliantly worked some space for himself inside the box by stepping inside two defenders but he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
However, the game swung firmly in City's favour a minute later when referee Marvin Thompson showed a straight red card to Istead - a decision which came completely out of the blue.
A foul was awarded to City following a challenge on Burnell by Istead, who then appeared to catch the home midfielder a second time after the whistle had gone. Referee Thompson clearly construed Istead's actions as retaliation and produced an immediate red card.
Istead - who will now miss next week's FA Trophy final at Wembley against Darlington - looked stunned by the decision, as did most of the supporters in Twerton Park.
City went on to dominate possession after that but struggled to create chances in a rather low-key first half. Murray tried his luck with two acrobatic efforts, both of which went over, and Marc Canham narrowly missed the target with a stinging shot from 25 yards.
The hosts were forced to make a change in the 37th minute, with Sekani Simpson limping off to be replaced by club captain Jim Rollo.
His first involvement was to put in an over-hit cross which had Stags keeper Marriott backpedalling as it dropped onto the roof of the net.
Marriott also had to make good saves from Murray, after an incisive one-two with Connolly, and Watkins, whose near-post header had to be scrambled away, but the half finished goalless.
The opener should have arrived seven minutes into the second half when Burnell's pass found Connolly in acres of space on the edge of the box but the midfielder dragged his shot wide of the far post.
But Watkins showed him how it should have been done when he finally broke the deadlock just 40 seconds later. This time it was a flicked header by Phillips which released the City winger, who showed wonderful composure to knock the ball around Marriott before coolly slotting into the net.
It now looked like being a long afternoon for Mansfield, who made their first change in the 58th minute when Tyrone Thompson replaced the ineffective O'Rafferty.
Britton also took the chance to make his second switch, with Lewis Hogg coming on for the apparently injured Gethin Jones. Rollo moved across to fill the gap at centre-half with Hogg playing at right-back.
Adam Smith tried to cash in during the defensive reshuffle by charging at a hesitant back-line but his 25-yard shot went straight at City keeper Ryan Robinson.
Mansfield were enjoying their best spell since the red card but manager Duncan Russell showed that his main focus was on Wembley by taking off Ashley Cain for a rest and sending on veteran forward Paul Hall.
Britton made his final change of the day, and the season, when Adie Harris came on for Connolly with 16 minutes remaining.
And the Welshman played a role in City's second goal of the game just moments later. His forward run helped to create a gap for Murray, who had surged in from the right and burst past three defenders into the box before delightfully rolling a left-foot shot past Marriott and into the net.
Marriott had a lucky escape moments later when he charged out of his box to close down Watkins, whose shot hit the keeper on the chest and not the arm as some of the City fans were appealing for.
The keeper did stick out an arm to good effect in the 82nd minute to prevent Murray's lofted shot dropping into the net and Marriott also did well to thwart Watkins after a clever flick by Sido Jombati.
But two goals were enough to wrap up a memorable campaign and the home supporters showed their appreciation as City's players - plus outgoing chairman Geoff Todd - embarked on a well-deserved lap-of-honour at the final whistle.
BATH CITY: Robinson, Simpson (Rollo 37), Jombati, Webb, Jones (Hogg 58), Burnell, Canham, Connolly (Harris 74), Murray, Watkins, Phillips. Subs not used: Henry, Mackie.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott, Spence, Stonehouse, Foster, Preece, Istead, Nix, Smith, Cain, Medley (Hall 68), O'Rafferty (Thompson 58). Subs not used: Collett, Briscoe, Silk.
REFEREE: Marvin Thompson (Northolt).
ATTENDANCE: 1,051 (162 away fans).
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