STAGS GRAB LATE DRAW BUT IT`S TWO POINTS DROPPED
Blue Square Bet Premier
Lincoln City 1 – 1 Mansfield Town
McCallum 76. Green 87.
Attendance: 2944 (981 from Mansfield)
Date: 18 October 2011
by Martin Shaw and Neil Shaw at Sincil Bank
Despite a late equaliser from Matt Green, Mansfield Town were disappointed to leave Sincil Bank with just a point on Tuesday night against a Lincoln side that was low on confidence and quality. Lincoln were gifted the lead thanks to dreadful defending from Martin Riley on 76 minutes, though the chance was finished very well by Gavin McCallum. The Stags equalised on 87 minutes when Connor's brilliant cross was converted by Green. But the Stags had enough chances to win despite not playing well, with Meikle very unluckily hitting the inside of the post, Green heading an easy chance straight at the keeper, and Connor getting into good positions several times but unable to finish. Lincoln keeper Joe Anyon was the clear man of the match for some outstanding saves, including one which was reminiscent of Gordon Banks as he tipped Sutton's header away down low at his right post and Sutton slid the rebound just past the post. An improved performance from Mansfield after the terrible showing against Southport, but still room to get a lot better, and a good performance tonight would undoubtedly have seen the points returning to Nottinghamshire.
Mansfield made 5 changes, with Kendrick returning for the injured Naylor, and Riley in for the injured Futcher in defence; Bolland replacing Worthington in the middle for his first start, and Meikle for Todd, and Connor for Briscoe
Man of the Match: Paul Connor
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Lincoln City v Stags match report
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden
AFTER three games without a goal, Matt Green rediscovered his predatory instincts as he popped up with four minutes to go to salvage a point for Mansfield Town last night.
The on-loan Oxford striker slid in to meet Paul Connor's cross just ten minutes after Gavin McCallum had given Lincoln the lead with a powerful strike at Sincil Bank in an entertaining 1-1 draw last night.
Stags boss Paul Cox had made five changes to the side that lost 3-1 to Southport in a lacklustre display at the weekend as he looked for a positive response.
Ben Futcher failed to recover from a knock and Tom Naylor also missed out with a hamstring strain while midfielders Louis Briscoe, Jon Worthington and Andy Todd all dropped to the bench.
It saw a reshuffle at the back with Luke O'Neill switching to right-back and Joe Kendrick coming in at left-back while Riley replaced Futcher in the centre of defence.
Connor came in to start up front against his former club while Ross Dyer moved to the right wing with Briscoe making way. Meikle and Paul Bolland were also recalled to the starting line-up.
It was Stags who threatened first, as O'Neill's long throw into the box was knocked away only as far as Adam Murray on the edge of the box, but the skipper's half-volley rose just over the bar.
O'Neill was caught in possession deep in his own half and it led to managerless Lincoln, under the caretaker charge of Grant Brown, winning the first corner of the match which luckily for the Stags, they wasted.
On 12 minutes, Murray pounced on another half-cleared ball and found the target from almost 30 yards, but it was straight at Lincoln goalkeeper Joe Anyon.
His opposite number, Alan Marriott, spent nine years at Sincil Bank and on his first return since leaving in 2008, made a hash of a straightforward down-field clearance but got away with it, as Nicky Nicolau's eventual cross from the left was too deep for Sam Smith, who failed to turn his header towards goal.
Tony Sinclair went on a superb forward run midway through the first half, making light work of a couple of half-hearted challenges from the visitors before Riley finally dived in to make the vital tackle six yards out, just as Sinclair looked to get his shot away.
And from the resulting corner, Marriott came to the rescue as Ali Fuseini whipped the ball into the six-yard box for Gavin McCallum to meet with a point-blank header but the Stags keeper got down superbly to his left to save.
Minutes later, Lincoln could have taken the lead as Nicolau's pinpoint cross from the left hung perfectly for Karl Cunningham, but six yards out he failed to get over the ball and directed a poor header over the bar.
It was then the turn of Meikle to try to inspire Mansfield with a run of his own from the left into the penalty area but off balance and from an acute angle, all he could do was miss-hit an effort wide.
The winger then set-up another attack with a darting run through the middle, ten minutes before half time, eventually laying it off to Connor wide on the left. And he found his strike partner Green with an in-swinging ball into the centre but his downward header was straight at Anyon, when either side would have resulted in a goal.
Meikle almost broke the deadlock on 38 minutes when he robbed Fuseini of the ball on the corner of the Imps' 18-yard box, on the left. He left Anyon stranded with a curling effort only to watch it thunder back off the inside of the far post.
At the start of the second half, Lincoln's Fuseini pulled a left-footed shot wide before at the other end Meikle got to the byline on the left and whipped in a dangerous ball to the near post, where Anyon just got to the ball before Connor.
It was a lively opening to the second period and after Fuseini appeared to handle to bring the ball down, he teed up Cunningham who unleashed a low 20-yard drive that went just wide.
Smith did the hard part on the right of the Stags box, twisting his way to gain space to shoot only to hit a weak effort straight at Marriott.
The end-to-end action continued as Mansfield's O'Neill slotted a free kick into the danger zone and Connor this time beat the goalkeeper to it, but his close-range brave first-time strike found its way onto the roof of the net.
Anyon denied Ritchie Sutton with a wonder save on 68 minutes. O'Neill's free kick was met by the Stags defender and looked in all the way until, at full stretch to his left, Anyon got down to pluck the ball to safety.
On 76 minutes, Lincoln went ahead. Riley failed to deal with a ball over the top with a tentative header, allowing McCallum to pounce and the striker fired a vicious half-volley beyond Marriott.
Kendrick sent across a stunning cross from the left but the slightest of touches from Anyon took it out the path of Meikle and out for a corner as Stags pushed for a late equaliser.
And it came on 86 minutes when Connor sent a low ball across the face of goal and Green dived in to poke home.
In added time, the impressive Meikle limped off injured to be replaced by Andy Todd.
Lincoln: Anyon, Sinclair, Watts, Nelson, Nutter, Power, Fuseini (Christophe, 53), Cunningham (Thomas, 86), Nicolau, Smith (Perry, 83), McCallum. Subs: Hone, Draper
Stags: Marriott, O'Neill, Kendrick, Sutton, Riley, Dyer (Briscoe, 78), Bolland, Murray, Meikle (Todd, 90+2), Connor, Green. Subs: Worthington, Day, Redmond.
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)
Attendance: 2,944 (981 away fans)
A tale of two poor sides sharing points
By Nathan Jackson, theimps.ka
Lincoln City conceded a late goal to be denied a win against Mansfield. Gavin McCallum had given City the lead before Matt Green equalised with time running down, but other than that chances were at a premium as two poor sides ended up sharing the points on Tuesday evening. City kicked off the game but it was the visitors who had the game's first chance when Murray hit a volley over Anyon's bar. A Mansfield free kick was cleared by Sinclair in the 12th minute of a slow first half that was virtually devoid of quality. A poor Marriott clearance left Smith with an open goal from 25 yards but he failed to have a shot on goal, that despite Marriott being nowhere near the net.
Sinclair skipped past a few challenges for the Imps but he couldn't get a shot on before the ball was cleared for a corner. From the resulting corner Fuseini played the poor delivery back into the box and McCallum headed straight at Marriott from six yards out. Cunningham headed over from close range.
The best chance of the first half came with five minutes of it left. Fuseini's constant messing about on the ball left Lindon Meikle with a free run on goal when Fuseini misplayed it again, his curling shot hit the inside of the post and went across goal and out the other side. It took a few seconds for the celebrating Mansfield fans to realise it hadn't gone in.
That was about it for the first half in which goalscoring opportunities were few and far between.
The second half wasn't much different although McCallum and Cunningham both his efforts wide early on. Fuseini was replaced by Christophe for City.
Ex-Imp Connor hit over from six yards before slicing wide from a few yards on the hour mark......some things never change. Sutton was booked for dissent in the 72nd minute. The slow second half seemed to be heading for a goalless draw before a long aimless punt forward from Anyon wasn't dealt with by the defence and Gavin McCallum was there to hit a volley into the net to give City the lead.
Briscoe replaced Dyer for Mansfield before ex-Stag Kyle Perry came on for Smith. Perry was quickly in the action as he raced past two Mansfield players before giving away a foul when grounded. Thomas made a debut for the Imps when he came on as a late substitution.
With a few minutes left Paul Connor ran down the left and played in a ball that wasn't dealt with effectively by City's defence (how many times have I said that in recent years) and Green prodded in. Meikle curled over from distance in the last chance of the game.
Mansfield performance shows Imps have capacity to challenge the division
Since being handed the keys to football's equivalent of a car competing in a demolition derby, it is a testament to Grant Brown that he has avoided incurring further damage to Lincoln City's bodywork.
There is still much work to do before the arena of self-destruction is left behind of course, but at least he is making considerable progress.
?Gavin McCallum fires the Imps ahead in the second half
?Lincoln's Ali Fuseini closes down Mansfield's Adam Murray
?Matt Green equalises late on for Mansfield to earn them a share of the spoils on Tuesday night
Tuesday night's draw against Mansfield proved self-belief is slowly returning to these parts and proved it has not been shattered by the shambles of the last 11 months.
Only a late goal from Matt Green denied Lincoln a crucial three points, although on the balance of play it was certainly a fair outcome from a pulsating derby at Sincil Bank.
But it was impossible not to notice that Lincoln are slowly finding their swagger which, as Joe Anyon testified, was a result of Brown's quality on the training pitch.
"It's a lot more professional," was the goalkeeper's assessment of the caretaker manager's day to day activities.
"We were in yesterday for a proper cool down and everything is being done properly which, hopefully, will put points on the board.
"It is not going to happen overnight, but if we stick at it and work hard, then it should not be too long before we start climbing the table.
"He has us in earlier, we are training longer and I am certainly not going to grumble about it. We need to be doing these things to get fitter and stronger.
"Once that happens, you concentrate longer which, in turn, helps you to see out games. Okay it did not happen here, but I'm sure it will come."
Having gone into the game on the back of Friday night's 3-1 defeat against Fleetwood, Lincoln fans knew this clash would have provided more of a level playing field.
Fleetwood's spending power has created a massive gulf between most sides in this league and a blank chequebook brings better players and better results.
But in spite of that, Lincoln still gave the promotion-chasers a fright by taking the lead through Josh O'Keefe's goal before being punished by some ruthless finishing.
Mansfield were a different proposition altogether and there was great expectancy about this derby which was the first since January 2008.
But if the fans had expected an explosive start to this game given how much time has elapsed since they last faced each other, then they were left bitterly disappointed.
The opening stages were mired with midfielder skirmishes with Alan Power and Adam Murray patrolling the centre of the park with plenty of scowls and fierce challenges.
The only moment of note from an intensely droll opening was a shot from Adam Murray which dropped over the bar.
Lincoln were being manacled by a lack of invention, a problem that was borne from an inability to keep hold of the ball in the final third.
Sam Smith was being comfortably beaten in the air by Richie Sutton and with possession being given up so easily, it was inevitable that pressure would begin to mount.
Mansfield's best route to goal though was not through conventional build-up play but through long throws that have often unhinged Lincoln's back four.
When another missile was launched into their area, Paul Connor, with his back to goal, was dispossessed but what took place was a game of hot potato inside Lincoln's box.
It took an eternity for the ball to be cleared which merely raised the anxiety levels.
It was now a crucial time for Lincoln. Their character has come under intense criticism, especially as they have buckled this season when being penned back inside their half.
They needed some inspiration and it came from an unlikely source when a powerful run from right-back Tony Sinclair took him past several challenges and into the box.
His raid won a corner and slowly the pendulum began to swing in Lincoln's favour and from their next attack they should have taken the lead.
Karl Cunningham's striding run was ended with a magnificent pass out to the left-hand side to Nicky Nicolau, whose cross was sent towards the back post.
Rising unchallenged was Cunningham who put a free header over the bar much to the amazement of everyone inside Sincil Bank.
That stirred a response from Mansfield who saw Matt Green squander a similar chance when he headed straight at the grateful Joe Anyon.
But with eight minutes to go before the break, a mistake by Ali Fuseini was seized upon by Lindon Meikle and he rattled the upright with a terrific drive which eventually went out for a goal-kick.
Lincoln came out for the second half hoping to regain some momentum and they did just that through the vibrancy of 17-year-old Cunningham, whose driving run ended with another terrific shot that crept inches past the upright.
Smith then shot at Marriott, while at the other end Paul Connor volleyed over the bar, while Paul Bolland followed suit.
Lincoln's belligerence had to be admired and with Jean Christophe on for the appalling Ali Fuseini, the midfield finally beefed up its armoury.
Again, Mansfield's best way to goal was through set-pieces and in the 68th minute, they conjured up another chance.
A free-kick was whipped in with incredible pace which Martin Riley met with a terrific header.
It looked a certain goal until Anyon stuck out a right hand and somehow clawed it away.
The Lincoln goalkeeper's next action was equally as decisive when a long punt up field was chested down by McCallum who then volleyed into the bottom corner.
It was a terrific goal, but you sensed Mansfield would launch a fierce riposte but it was not until three minutes from time when they found a breakthrough.
With Tony Sinclair out of position, the ball was worked to Connor whose cross to the far post was stabbed in by Green.
But any fears of a spectacular late collapse were quickly eroded as Lincoln chugged along to the final whistle without incident with Brown firmly behind the wheel.
LINCOLN CITY: 1 Anyon, 13 Sinclair, 4 Watts, 16 Nelson, 3 Nutter, 8 Power, 10 Fuseini (27 Christophe, 53), 25 Cunningham (29 Thomas, 86), 17 Nicolau, 14 Smith (9 Perry, 83), 30 McCallum.
Subs not used: 6 Hone, 21 Draper.
Goal: McCallum (76)
Bookings: Power (41), Nelson (57).
MANSFIELD TOWN: 1 Marriott, 16 O'Neill, 17 Sutton, 6 Riley, 3 Kendrick, 14 Bolland, 11 Murray, 15 Dyer (7 Briscoe, 77), 24 Meikle (20 Todd, 90+2), 9 Connor, 10 Green.
Subs not used: 4 Worthington, 22 Day, 23 Redmond.
Goal: Green (86)
Booking: Sutton (72)
REFEREE: Peter Bankes
ATTENDANCE: 2,944 (981 visitors)
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