WOEFUL STAGS LOSE THIRD GAME OF THE SEASON
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 1 - 3 Southport
Akrigg OG 76. Todd OG 25, O'Neill OG 37, Gray 48.
Attendance: 2406 (114 from Southport)
Date: 15 October 2011
by Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Mansfield Town succumbed to their third defeat of the season at Field Mill this afternoon as visitors Southport picked up a remarkable fifth away win on the trot. The Stags were simply woeful and deserved nothing from a game that had very few plus points for the home side. Southport took the lead as Tom Naylor was being helped to the changing room with a hamstring injury on 25 minutes, and a long throw went in off Andy Todd. Southport increased their lead on 37 minutes as Shaun Whalley's cross-shot was going 3 yards wide of the left post, but deflected off Luke O'Neill leaving Alan Marriott stranded. A fluke. Southport made it 3-0 on 48 minutes as a long goal-kick flicked off Futcher's head into the path of Tony Gray, who was 3 yards goalside of the defenders, but not offside as the ball had flicked off Futcher. Gray slotted the ball past Marriott and the goal correctly stood. The Stags were not at the races, but got a goal back on 76 minutes as Luke O'Neill's corner came off defender Akrigg and although it hit the hand of a defender, it was already just over the line and the linesman correctly indicated the goal. The Stags briefly had a sniff of a recovery but a couple of half-chances went begging and the game was soon over. A truly awful performance from Mansfield with no-one putting in a performance that merited a rating of better than average, and most being poor.
Mansfield Town 1-3 Southport, Saturday 15th October
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
DESPITE a late fightback, a third successive poor first half at home saw Mansfield Town crash 3-1 to form side Southport this afternoon.
After the home hammering by Kidderminster, Stags' came back from a poor first half and 1-0 interval deficit to beat Grimsby last week.
Manager Paul Cox urged his side to come out of the traps quicker today, but it didn't happen as the Sandgrounders led 2-0 at the break on their way to an impressive fifth away win on the trot.
It is true Stags went behind as they tied to reorganise their defence following an injury to Tom Naylor. And luck was against them as Andy Todd put through his own goal on 25 minutes before Shaun Whalley's 38th minute shot took a massive deflection past Alan Marriott off Martin Riley.
But the visitors deserved to be in the driving seat and, after Tony Gray broke clear to add a third three minutes into the second half, it wrecked whatever half-time rallying call Cox may have given.
It even took Mansfield over an hour to test visiting keeper Tony McMillan.
Mansfield grabbed a lifeline with 15 minutes left as Steve Akrigg put through his own goal from close range from an O'Neill corner, but were unable to find their way through the visitors' defence again as the game petered out.
Green looked dangerous in the early stages with two runs on the right, the second seeing him overhit a cross with the outside of his right boot.
At the other end Marriott had to kick into the stand from a weak backpass from Sutton. The Mansfield eventually cleared the Sandgrounders' first corner.
On nine minutes we had the first goal attempt as Briscoe hurried a low 20 yard effort wide from O'Neil's left wing cross.
On 14 minutes Naylor put the ball down the right where Green controlled and then cut back inside Akrigg from the by-line to make space for a shot which didn't match his brilliant approach play as lifted it high over the bar from seven yards.
Two minutes later Southport should have scored the opener. Gray's 25 yard free kick was straight at Marriot, but he failed to hold on and the ball rolled invitingly to Mukendi who looked like he had to score but blasted wildly against the bar and over from five yards.
On 20 minutes Briscoe came close as he rampaged down the right, played a one-two with Dyer and then thundered a low shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Two minutes later Mukendi pulled back Ledsham's far post cross and Lee's powerful volley only just cleared the angle.
But Stags' afternoon took a turn for the worst on 24 minutes when Naylor pulled up running for the ball and limped off.
Riley came on with Sutton moving to full back. But, before Stags could properly reorganise, Owens sent in a long throw from the left into the centre of goal where little reaction from the disorganised home defence saw the ball find the net off helpless home player-coach Todd from close range in the 25th minute.
Moogan was just wide from 20 yards soon afterwards, then Owens warmed Marriott's hands from a similar distance.
Home frustration manifested itself in a booking for Worthington for bringing down Gray on the half-hour with home fans now starting to become impatient.
Southport then doubled their lead on 38 minutes after Whalley played a one-tow on the right and fired in a low shot on target which Marriott seemed to have covered until it took a nasty deflection off Riley to nestle in the net.
Dyer's lay-off saw Murray well off target with his first time effort from 18 yards.
On 42 minutes a lovely dummy from Gray let a ball in from the left run on to Whalley who sliced his first time finish wide. As the ball ran out of play, Todd was booked for a foul earlier in the move.
Stags swapped things around for the second half with Todd and Briscoe withdrawn, Meikle coming on to play left wing and Dyer dropping back to right wing to allow Connor to link up with Green up front.
But within three minutes the home side were three down.
A goalkick from McMillan sailed down the centre and Gray had crept clear of the home defence to confidently tuck away with fans screaming for offside.
An O'Neill clearance came back off Mukendi, Gray quickly flashing the loose ball over the top.
Mukendi might have made it 4-0 on the hour when he was allowed to lope onto a long punt forward but blazed over from 20 yards.
In fact it took 63 minutes for the home side to finally get an effort on target as Dyer got a glancing header onto an O'Neill free kick which forced a save from McMillan to his right.
Gray's great pass behind O'Neill put Whalley into the right of the box but, with players in support to his left, chipped the ball tamely into the hands of Marriott.
On 66 minutes Gray was booked for a foul 25 yards from goal which saw O'Neill get his free kick on target but unable to beat the keeper, who was down quickly to block.
Then Southport failed to clear a long Sutton throw which saw the ball ounce for Murray who whipped a shot over the far angle from seven yards.
Moogan had Marriott backpeddling from 40 yards to tip his hopeful punt over the bar as the visitors continued to enjoy their afternoon in the sunshine.
But on 75 minutes Stags grabbed scrappy goal back. O'Neill whipped in a corner from the left and it deflected off Akrigg towards goal where Moogan seemed to handle on the line and clear.
However, with fans screaming for a penalty, the referee consulted his assistant and deemed it had crossed the line anyway and Stags suddenly had a chink of light to chase.
Green had a shot charged down from a long O'Neill throw as the home side turned up the pressure.
Green's pass set Meikle on a promising run but, just when he needed to steady himself for a finish, the winger let the ball run away from him and the keeper was able to safely gather.
STAGS: Marriott; Naylor (Riley 25), Futcher, Sutton, O'Neill; Briscoe (Meikle HT), Murray, Worthington, Todd (Connor HT); Dyer, Green. Subs not used: Redmond, Bolland.
SOUTHPORT: McMillan; Lee, Akrigg, Grand, Owens; Whalley, Moogan, Poku, Ledsham; Gray (Walker 70), Mukendi. Subs not used: Nemes, Lever, Brown, Carden.
REFEREE: Stephen Smith of Darlington.
ATTENDANCE: 2,406 (114 away).
Southport hand out a lesson as Stags take eye off the ball
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden
TALK regarding Mansfield Town in the week prior to this match had been dictated by off-the-field matters.
Confusion reigned as to where the Stags would play their football should they be promoted to League Two in time for next season.
The rules state they must have a ten-year lease in place on a ground by March 1, to be in a position to go up into the Football League.
Given their on-going court case with landlord Keith Haslam, at present that is not the case at Field Mill.
So owner and chairman John Radford came out before kick off against Southport to point out that Plan B could see them play their matches at Rainworth Miners Welfare's Kirklington Road ground, once some changes had been put in place.
In effect, should they go up, they Stags will not be held back by red tape.
They will have a home ground to play at, no matter what.
That was off the field. However, from the 90 minutes on show on Saturday, there is more than a little work to be done on the pitch before Mansfield can start to contemplate life back in the top 92 teams in the country.
There is no denying, under Paul Cox, the Stags have made a bright start to the new campaign.
At times, a new-found resolve has been there, one that has instilled real belief in the fans that this season could be the one where they make the play-offs.
But on Saturday, in the 3-1 defeat to Southport, the manager summed it up. In his head, this had been coming, the cracks had been appearing.
And while it is going well, if a promotion campaign is to be mounted, they must cement the cracks, not just paper over them, after this disjointed display.
It would have been easy for Cox to come out and gloss over this defeat but his honesty from the heart shone through after the final whistle.
But it could have been a different story had one of three chances gone in early on in the match.
Two of those fell to Louis Briscoe, returning from a three-match ban in place of Lindon Meikle, who dropped to the bench.
That was the only change from the team that had gone in 1-0 down a week earlier to Grimsby, only to come back to win 2-1 in a match Cox admitted his side had got out of jail.
The best of those came from a move he started, bursting down the right on the counter-attack. After cutting it inside to Ross Dyer, the return ball was perfect to carve open the Southport defence.
But after racing clear into the box and lining up his effort, he dragged it wide of the far post. That came after Matt Green had fired narrowly over from close range.
Those chances, however, were countered by efforts at the other end as Vinny Mukendi fired at the bar and over when Alan Marriott spilled a free kick before Kevin Lee volleyed narrowly over.
Those were let-offs but it all started to go wrong on 25 minutes when Tom Naylor pulled up with a hamstring injury and the reshuffle saw Ritchie Sutton switch to right-back and Martin Riley come into the centre of defence.
That was still no excuse for the way they dealt with the resulting Andrew Owens' long throw from the left, as it found its way into the danger area and as Marriott got a hand to it on the line, it struck Andy Todd and went into his own net.
A scrappy, messy goal and from there, in truth, Mansfield never looked like getting a foothold back in the game.
Marriott saved from Owens before Shaun Whalley too easily found a yard of space from his marker Luke O'Neill, drilled a shot and a wicked deflection off Riley took it beyond the helpless Marriott.
Cox introduced his final two changes at the break with Meikle on for Andy Todd and striker Paul Connor for Briscoe, with Dyer dropping to the wing.
But his plans come unstuck as Tony Gray made it 3-0 within three minutes of the second half, pouncing on a long goal kick and after offside protests were waved away, he raced through but, unlike Mansfield's Briscoe in the first half, kept his cool to slot home.
The fact Mansfield failed to force Tony McMillan into a save until the 63rd minute said it all, as Luke O'Neill's free kick from the right was met by Dyer's glancing header to the far post but the goalkeeper got across to palm away. The only threat came from his set-pieces.
Stags pulled a scrappy goal back of their own on 75 minutes when O'Neill's corner from the left was directed towards goal, only for Alan Moogan to handle on the line.
The referee said it had crossed the line but confusion regarding who had got the last touch lasted until well after the game, with the strike finally being attributed to a Steve Akrigg own goal.
It has been a good start to the season but too many performances like this and Mansfield will slip down, rather than move up. Cox has acknowledged that.
Now the immediate target is for the manager, and his players, to ensure there is no repeat performance at Lincoln tomorrow night
official Southport website http://www.southportfc.net/news/details.php?news_id=4543
MANSFIELD TOWN 1 - 3 SOUTHPORT - REPORT
The more away matches they play this season, the better Southport seem to perform.
In the space of six months the Sandgrounders have been transformed from a team who struggled for points on their travels to one that just cannot stop winning at present.
Although they were assisted in their latest victory by a couple of own goals, there was nothing fortuitous about Southport's success at Mansfield Town on Saturday, as they turned in a highly dominant performance to register the latest in a series of eye-catching results.
Mansfield began the day having lost only one of their previous 12 matches and looking to make further inroads at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier table. For Southport to have won in such convincing fashion, therefore, is further evidence of the improvement they are continuing to show.
By the end of play, Liam Watson's side had overtaken their opponents in the league standings, with the 114 travelling fans almost needing to pinch themselves at the prospect of a fifth consecutive away win.
Once again, it was a complete performance from the Sandgrounders, with Simon Grand outstanding at the back and Godfrey Poku the vital force in midfield. Going forward, there was much to admire about the craft provided by Shaun Whalley and Tony Gray, whose own form typifies the mood of change within the Southport team.
The Sandgrounders' opener came on 25 minutes and followed a good spell from Watson's side. It was Mansfield who had started the livelier, with Louis Briscoe and Matt Green looking sharp in attack, but having absorbed the early pressure, the visitors struck at an important time.
Once again, a long throw from Andy Owens did the damage, with Andy Todd sending the ball trickling into his own goal after Grand had managed a touch as it passed through a crowd of players.
Southport should really have taken an earlier lead. Vinny Mukendi sent a shot against the crossbar from a matter of yards after Gray's fierce free-kick had been parried by goalkeeper Alan Marriott, while a well-struck volley from Kevin Lee flew narrowly over at the end of a good move involving Owens and Mukendi.
The Sandgrounders' second arrived seven minutes before the interval, as Gray switched the play out wide to Whalley, who cut inside before producing a low shot that was sent skidding into the net by the outstretched leg of Martin Riley.
And when Gray extended lead further after the interval, springing the off-side trip and applying a slick finish after Kevin Lee's high ball had been helped on by Mukendi, Southport were in total control.
Whalley should have made more of a later chance from inside the area, while Alan Moogan's ambitious effort from distance had Marriot frantically back-peddling.
The air of authority shown by Watson's side lasted for much of the second half, although they did spend the closing stages on the back foot as Mansfield tried to perform a late rally.
A corner from Luke O'Neill was forced home by Paul Connors 15 minutes from time, and while a few nervous moments followed for the visitors, it takes something special to get the better of Southport these days.
Southport: Tony McMillan, Kevin Lee, Steve Akrigg, Simon Grand, Andy Owens, Shaun Whalley, Alan Moogan, Godfrey Poku, Karl Ledsham, Tony Gray (Dan Walker 46), Vinny Mukendi.
Subs not used: Matt Nemes, Chris Lever, Jonathan Brown, Adam Carden.
Mansfield Town: Alan Marriott, Tom Naylor (Martin Riley 25), Ben Futcher, Ritchie Sutton, Luke O'Neill, Louis Briscoe (Paul Connor 46), Jon Worthington, Adam Murray, Andy Todd (Lindon Meikle 46), Ross Dyer, Matt Green.
Subsnot used: Shane Redmond, Paul Bolland.
Referee: Stephen Smith
Report by Alan Jones
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