STAGS HANG ON FOR LUCKY POINT AT ROCK-BOTTOM BATH
Blue Square Bet Premier
Bath City 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Watkins 18 Meikle 23
Attendance: 816 (146 from Mansfield)
Date: 26 November 2011
Martin Shaw at Twerton Park
Mansfield Town were left hanging on for a point as Bath threw everything at the Stags in the last 15 minutes and did everything but score. Bath had taken the lead on 18 minutes, but were pegged back by a fluke from Lindon Meikle whose cross sailed over the keeper and in off the far post. In the second half, Green had a glorious chance to put the Stags ahead in a 1-on-1 but fired just wide, before Bath were unlucky not to re-take the lead on 84 minutes, when Scott Murray fired the ball across the goal and Lee Phillips turned the ball in at the left post, but was flagged offside. From a review of the DVD, the correct decision by the linesman, but a close call for the Stags. Bath had more chances to win in it in the closing stages but the Stags held on.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Stags hang on for a point at bottom club Bath
CHAD report by John Lomas
BATH CITY 1 STAGS 1
MANSFIELD Town endured an uncomfortable afternoon at bottom club Bath City this afternoon where the Romans were unlucky not to take all three points..
But, in the end, the Stags were lucky to come away with anything, having gifted Bath the opening goal, wasted four good chances of their own, including two one-on-ones with the keeper for Matt Green and Anthony Howell, and survived a late offside goal that would have won it for Bath.
There was only one side that looked like winning it late on as evergreen winger Scott Murray came on to inspire the Romans to a powerful finish.
It was a fifth game without victory for Paul Cox's men who need to get back on track quickly.
At least Alan Marriott was in tip-top form and new boy Arman Verma gave a cultured first half display, though faded in the second half.
Stags gave just one debut to their four new signings at bottom club Bath City today.
Verma came into the midfield in place of the suspended Adam Murray to partner Paul Bolland with midfielder Anthony Howell pushed up front with Matt Green for the first time.
Marcus Kelly missed out on a debut after picking up a knock in his first training session yesterday while other new boys John Dempster and Nialle Rodney had to be content with a place on the bench.
Ex-Stags defender Paul Stonehouse was among the subs for Bath in a game officiated by female referee Amy Fearn.
Centre half John Thompson was handed the Mansfield captain's armband with Murray missing.
Bath were immediately on the attack with Hog running powerfully down the centre before scuffing a tame finish towards Marriott.
Mansfield, playing down the pronounced Twerton Park slope, responded with Green making a nuisance of himself around the box before rolling the ball back for Bolland to drive well over from 25 yards.
On nine minutes Stags were given a real scare as Watkins left Verma in his wake in the middle to slot a through ball forward for home debutant Bryan whose shot clipped the outside of the near post.
An offside flag halted Green when he thought he was through one-on-one three minutes later.
Verma showed his class on 17 minutes when he swapped passes with skipper for the day Thompson and then ghosted past a defender before seeing his powerful 20 yard shot deflect just wide.
But Stags fell behind on 19 minutes when Verma overhit a pass to Bolland, the ball bouncing off the midfielder's shin towards Marley.
He ran on and squared to Sean Canham for a shot that Marriott beat away only to see Watkins run in to drill home the follow-up from 16 yards.
But Stags were level – with a spot of fortune – within four minutes.
Verma fed Meikle on the left and the winger curled a cross to the far post which debut-making keeper Matthews misjudged and saw it float over him and end up just inside the far angle and in the net.
However, Bath should have restored their lead on 27 minutes. Jones headed a long free kick from the far post straight in front of goal where Clough stole in but, with the goal gaping three yards away, he somehow managed to lift it over.
It was poor defending from the visitors and a huge let-off.
Both sides had a shout for handball in the box ignored as Stags continued to have the edge in a scrappy affair.
Two minutes from the break, as Bath players made their penalty appeal, Dyer broke away from his own half with a splendid burst forward.
His final ball to Howell was perfect and the makeshift striker saw Matthews block his finish.
Soon after Howell poked a tame effort inches wide, though Matthews seemed to have it covered all the way as the sides went in deadlocked.
Meikle almost repeated his first half fluke early in the second half with a low left wing cross that bounced across goal and just wide of the far post.
Marc Canham was booked for taking a free-kick before she was ready for him to do so.
Green's persistence then won Stags their fifth corner of the afternoon which saw Clough get in the way of Thompson's header, O'Neill swinging the ball back in there and this time Green sending a header over from 10 yards.
Bath won their first corner which sparked a scramble that saw Marriott smother a far post Clough effort.
That gave a second corner which Marriott punched out to the edge of the box to Bryan, who launched a shot well over.
Green wasted a great chance on 55 minutes. O'Neill picked him out at the far post with a pinpoint cross and, although he got a head on it, Green could manage no power or direction and a grateful Matthews grabbed the ball as it bounced.
Jones could only manage a glancing header on a dangerous Bath free-kick a minute later.
Then Marc Canham was wide from 15 yards after a poor clearing header from Thompson bounced to him.
Marriott made two significant contributions, punching away a free-kick and superbly taking a long cross as the home side enjoyed a decent spell.
Both sides made changes with 25 minutes to go, veteran Murray on for Bryan and Briscoe replacing Bolland.
Jones got a head on another long home free-kick which saw the ball bounce onto the roof of the net, then Watkins scooped a low shot narrowly wide as Bath continued to look the more likely to find a winner.
Hogg clearly hauled back Dyer as he tried to burst clear, Clough booked for challenging the referee's decision.
A Watkins backheel in the box set up Simpson for a rising shot over the top as Stags struggled to make an impression.
However, Green wasted a gilt-edged chance on 74 minutes as Meikle lofted a through ball over the defence which Green reached but, with only to the keeper to beat, prodded a finish wide of the far post.
It was Green's final chance as a minute later he made way for the debut of Bradford loanee Rodney.
Another Stags attack saw Bath counter quickly with sub Amadi-Packington feeding Murray who fired ambitiously over the top from wide on the right.
Freeman put his side under pressure when he allowed Murray to rob him but recovered to block his cross.
Then Amadi-Packington controlled another Murray cross to set up Hogg for a vicious shot straight at Marriott.
Mansfield had another huge let-off five minutes from the end. Murrat, who was having a storming cameo on the right, drilled in a low cross which Philips turned home almost on the line and looked up to see an offside flag against him.
Watkins, under pressure, was too high from a Watkins chest-down as the minute ticked away.
Dempster made his Stags debut two minutes from the end in place of Freeman.
Marriott was just down quickly enough to beat Murray to a Hogg through ball.
Briscoe was booked for a foul on the halfway line as we entered two minutes of stoppage time, the kick reaching Murray who shot straight at Marriott.
Then Amadi-Packington rifled an absolute belter of a shot from 15 yards from a half-clearance which sailed wide of a rooted Marriott's feet with almost the last kick of the game.
BATH CITY: Matthews, Simpson, Hogg, Clough, Jones, Gallinagh, Connolly, M. Canham (Phillips 75), Watkins, Bryan (Murray 64), S. Canham (Amadi-Packington75). Subs not used: Phillips, Stonehouse, Russell.
STAGS: Marriott; O'Neill, Sutton, Thompson, Freeman (Dempster 88); Dyer, Bolland (Briscoe 65), Verma, Meikle; Green (Rodney 65), Howell. Subs not used: Stevenson, Redmond.
REFEREE: Amy Fearn of Packington.
ATTENDANCE: 816 (146 away).
CAUTIONS: Bath – M. Canham 43, Clough 69. Stags – Briscoe 90+1.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alan Marriott.
Full-time: Bath City 1 Mansfield Town 1
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
MANSFIELD Town were disappointed to claim just a draw at lowly Bath City this afternoon - but it could have been even worse for Paul Cox's men.
The Romans had just one match won and collected just eight points ahead of this Twerton Park clash.
Yet they will feel they should have won the match in the second half after wasting a string of chances.
Matt Green spurned a hat-trick of openings for Mansfield, but it was a performance form the Stags that was once again less than impressive.
Both goals came in the first half, with Lindon Meikle equalising Marley Watkins' opener.
Bath made a bright start but Lewis Hogg's shot on the stretch was straight at Alan Marriott.
The Stags responded with a drive from Paul Bolland that flew well over the bar following Green's lay-off.
A swift break from Bath almost caught Mansfield out when Watkins slipped a pass through for Joe Bryan, whose shot clipped the outside of the left-hand post.
The home side were relieved to see an offside flag as Green latched onto a headed flick by Howell, which would otherwise have seen him go clear.
The Stags failed to make the most of a smart turn by Meikle as Green delayed his shot before passing to Howell, who was crowded out.
In the 17th minute, John Thompson shaped to shoot and then picked out Verma whose deflected shot from the edge of the box whistled inches past the left-hand upright.
But it was the hosts who went in front a minute later as the Stags were found lacking in numbers at the back.
After Paul Bolland gave the ball away, Watkins threaded in Bryan. His angled drive was well saved by the diving Marriott, but Watkins followed up to thread a low shot past the recovering Mansfield defenders on the line.
But Mansfield were back on level terms just five minutes later, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
Verma won possession in the middle of the park and spread play to Meikle on the left.
He found space to whip in a cross, which was mis-hit, and could not believe his luck when it looped over home keeper Jason Matthews and nestled in the right-hand corner.
Bath should have gone back in front soon after when Marc Canham's free-kick was headed across goal by Gethin Jones, only for Charlie Clough to somehow stab over from point blank range.
Ross Dyer turned down the opportunity to let fly as the game moved past the half hour and his centre, aimed at Howell, was over-hit.
As half-time approached, a terrific run half the length of the field from Dyer allowed him to put Howell one on one with Matthews, but the striker's low finish was blocked by the advancing keeper's knees.
Early in the second period, a half-cleared free-kick from Luke O'Neill was crossed back in by Meikle, evading everyone and skimming just wide of the far upright.
Green could have put Mansfield in front when he headed over the top after O'Neill's early centre had found him in space eight yards out.
At the other end, Clough was denied at close quarters by Marriott before Bryan blazed over following the resulting corner.
With the action switching from end to end, Green had another headed opportunity from an O'Neill cross, this one even more clear cut, but found the hands of Matthews, while Bath's Jones headed just past the left-hand post following a free-kick.
With 65 minutes gone, Louis Briscoe came on for Paul Bolland, moments after Scott Murray had replaced Bryan for the hosts.
Watkins was not too far away when he spun off his marker to send a low drive wide of the left-hand post.
Bath were beginning to get on top and Sekani Simpson should have done better in drilling too high.
But Green should have put the Stags in front in the 75th minute when he was played in by Meikle's ball over the top only to shoot wide with just Matthews to beat.
City went close when Watkins had a free shot from near to the penalty area but Marriott got down well to make a fine save.
Phillips was denied what might have been a winner when his close-range tap-in was ruled out for offside.
With time running out, Marriott had to dive at the feet of substitute Scott Murray to prevent him from winning the game at the death.
In stoppage time, Aaron Amadi-Holloway tried his luck with a snapshot from the edge of the box, but the ball flew inches wide, with Marriott rooted.
Bath: Matthews, Simpson, Hogg, Clough, Jones, Gallinagh, Connolly, M. Canham (Phillips 75), Watkins, Bryan (Murray 64), S. Canham (Amadi-Holloway). Subs not used: Stonehouse, Russell.
Mansfield: Marriott, O'Neill, Sutton, Thompson, Freeman (Dempster 88), Dyer, Verma, Bolland (Briscoe 65), Meikle, Green (Rodney 75), Howell. Subs not used: Stevenson, Redmond.
Referee: Amy Fearn (Loughborough).
Attendance: 816 (146 visitors).
Mansfield Town lose their way at struggling Bath
Nottingham Post considered report by Matt Halfpenny
FIRST along the city roads and then inside the confines of Twerton Park, Mansfield Town spent the entirety of their visit to Bath losing their way.
With the team coach unable to negotiate a low bridge just around the corner from the ground, manager and Paul Cox and his players were left kicking their heels as the driver tried several times to find an alternative path.
The disruption caused their arrival to be postponed for more than 30 minutes and the Stags' team sheet was only handed in seconds before the 2pm cut-off.
But the anxiety and frustration did not end there – and in fact was magnified once the visitors took to the pitch.
Expected to beat the league's bottom side, who had only won once all season, Mansfield hit another impasse in the shape of a spirited Romans side.
Not only were Bath good value for their draw, but they could well have clinched a rare victory with better finishing in a game that could easily have gone either way.
As at Telford, the Stags were a shadow of the side that looked so impressive in early season.
Too often the ball was given away cheaply. Too often they chose not to cross into the box early from good wide positions and allowed their opponents to recover. Too often they overplayed at the back and only good fortune prevented them conceding as a result.
Yet, despite that, the fact was they did create some gilt-edged opportunities that, had they been taken, could have seen them run out victorious.
A hat-trick of those fell to Matt Green, giving him the ideal chance to shoot down his hometown club with family watching on.
But the normally clinical top scorer failed to hit the target on any of those three occasions, the last of them a sitter by his own, high standards.
Anthony Howell was the other culprit, missing a one-on-one opening following a brilliant run by Ross Dyer.
And with Bath pushing on strongly as the Stags lost their way in the final 15 minutes, only some excellent goalkeeping from Alan Marriott prevented the team slumping to an embarrassing defeat.
There was no doubting the effort from those in amber and blue; they worked hard for the cause. It was just that the quality was sadly lacking.
Last Thursday's deadline saw Cox attempt to address that issue with four new loan signings being drafted in.
But only one of those, Aman Verma, made his bow against Adie Britton's men, with Nialle Rodney and John Dempster named on the bench and Marcus Kelly unavailable because of a calf injury.
Verma came in for suspended skipper Adam Murray, whose armband was taken by John Thompson, as the same back four that had kept a clean sheet at the New Bucks Head was preserved. Paul Bolland was chosen alongside the former Kettering man in the only other change in personnel – Nick Hegarty dropping out – as Howell was asked to make the most of his physical strength in partnering Green.
Mansfield had much of the early possession, Verma having a shot deflected inches wide which would have got him off to a flying start.
But Bath almost caught Mansfield on the break when Marley Watkins fed Joe Bryan and he shot against the outside of the left-hand post.
The Stags did not heed that warning and when Paul Bolland mis-controlled in midfield the same Bath combination saw Marriott make a smart stop only for Watkins to follow up and give his side an 18th minute lead.
It did not last long as Mansfield were quickly level thanks to a stroke of good fortune that gave Lindon Meikle his third goal of the season.
Taking a pass from Verma, he advanced down the left and crossed towards the far post, only to see the ball loop over home keeper Jason Matthews and find the net.
His sheepish celebration told you everything you needed to know about whether the goal was intentional.
As the half wore on, the Stags pressed and when Dyer ran half the length of the pitch to set up Howell a second goal seemed certain, only for the frontman's finish to be blocked by Matthews.
The visitors were largely on the back foot after the restart, but Green was twice culpable in producing tame headers when left free from inviting Luke O'Neill centres.
And he was even more down in the dumps when he was put clear in the 75th minute to shoot beyond Matthews – but also beyond the post.
At the other end, Marriott denied Watkins, Charlie Clough and Scott Murray, while Watkins, Gethin Jones and substitute Aaron Amadi-Holloway were all narrowly off target. In the end, Mansfield were relieved to hear the final whistle.
A phlegmatic Cox was of the opinion that his players felt the pressure of being overwhelming favourites to take the three points – and from the expectation of their followers that they should be winning more often than not.
It could be argued, though, they have brought some of that pressure on themselves after a poor run of only one win in six league matches in the shape of an unconvincing 3-2 success over Alfreton.
Like it or not, Mansfield really are facing a crunch eight days in their season with consecutive games against Gateshead and Grimsby sandwiching a Saturday clash with Braintree.
If Mansfield can rediscover the winning formula of early season, then the five-point gap to the play-offs that has opened up can be bridged.
Should current results continue, however, then clinching a place in the top five could look a tall order even before 2011 is out
Stags fan view – Stacey Webb, of Mansfield
WHILE we were all hoping Mansfield would win at struggling Bath, a point away from home is never a disaster in my eyes.
Having been to Telford for our disappointing previous game, I thought there was a marked improvement in the performance.
This time at least we created a few chances – it was just that we didn't take them. Anthony Howell and Matt Green should both have scored to put Mansfield in front and if that had happened, the team could well have gone on to win.
But overall, a draw was probably a fair result, even though it could have gone either way, with Bath having just as many chances.
Some people may question the team selection, but I will always back anyone who puts on the amber and blue shirt.
However, I would like to see Lee Stevenson given a go because he can score goals and has not really had the opportunity to show what he can do.
As for the debutant, Aman Verma, I was reasonably impressed. He certainly got stuck in and looked in control when he got on the ball.
I thought it was a close run thing between Alan Marriott and John Thompson for the Stags' man of the match. Both played really well during the spells that Bath got on top.
We may not be in the best of form and we can't afford to let other teams get too far ahead, but I think we can still make the play-offs.
Every team goes through a rough period and I believe Mansfield can come back strongly. There are plenty of games left and all is still to play for
Freak goal denies dominant Bath City in draw with Mansfield
MATCH REPORT: Bath City 1 (Watkins 19) Mansfield Town 1 (Meikle 24)
By Harry Abbott, Bath Chronicle
Bath City were left to wonder how they failed to collect their second league victory of the season after dominating much of their clash with Mansfield Town, with a freak Lindon Meikle goal denying them victory.
The home side put their midweek FA Cup heartbreak firmly behind them with an impressive attacking display at Twerton Park but their wastefulness in front of goal saw them fail to add to their solitary Blue Square Bet Premier win of the campaign.
Marley Watkins gave Adie Britton's side the lead when he finished off an impressive counter-attack which he had started himself on the halfway line. However, the Stags drew level when Meikle's innocuous cross caught Jason Matthews unsighted and floated in at the back post.
Try as they might, City could not quite force a winning goal in the second half and their misery was compounded as they fell further adrift at the foot of the table following Alfreton Town's dramatic 3-2 win at home to Hayes & Yeading.
Following Wednesday's agonising cup loss at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge, the home side got off to an impressive start. Debutant Joe Bryan, who alongside second-half substitute Aaron Amadi-Holloway joined on loan from Bristol City on Thursday, lashed against the post after being threaded in by Watkins.
Matt Green then looked likely to put the visitors ahead when he beat the home defence to round Matthews and City were relieved to see an offside flag deny the Stags striker.
An incisive home breakaway saw them go ahead when Watkins won possession on the halfway line. The winger burst up field before releasing Bryan and when his shot was only parried by Alan Marriott, Watkins drilled the ball home.
The lead lasted just five minutes, however, as Mansfield levelled the scores in fortuitous fashion. Meikle set off down the left flank before firing a mishit cross into the box.
Green and Anthony Howell were well marshalled by the City defence but the ball eluded Matthews, who had replaced Glyn Garner between the sticks, before nestling in at the back post.
The home side did not let the setback dampen their spirits and should have regained the lead before the break. A Marc Canham free-kick was met by the head of skipper Gethin Jones and drifted to Charlie Clough at the back post but he failed to convert from two yards out and the scores were level at the break.
Mansfield had the better of the start of the second half but Green failed to convert two glorious chances from Ross Dyer crosses in the opening exchanges but from then on in, it was all City.
The Canham-Jones set-piece combination went close again as the skipper rose to meet a free-kick but his header went just wide, while Watkins missed out on adding a second when his drive from the edge of the box flashed the wrong side of the post.
The home side did survive one major scare as the game wore on, though, with Howell easily beating the offside trap to race in at Matthews but he failed to convert a one-on-one chance with the keeper.
Scott Murray fired wide before Watkins was denied by Marriott and when Lee Phillips finally did get the ball in the net, he was adjudged to have strayed offside from Murray's powerful low cross.
With the game deep into stoppage time, there was still time for Bath to waste one further chance with the final kick of the game, as Amadi-Holloway volleyed over Lewis Hogg's pass when well placed.
The result summed up what has been a frustrating season so far for City but with a performance as good as this they can head to Cambridge United on Tuesday night high on confidence as they look to add to their solitary league win at home to Darlington in October.
BATH CITY (4-5-1): Matthews, Simpson, Jones, Clough, Gallinagh, Watkins, M Canham (Amadi-Holloway 75), Hogg, Connolly, Bryan (Murray 64), S Canham (Phillips 76). Subs not used: Stonehouse, Russell.
MANSFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): Marriott, O'Neill, Sutton, Thompson, Freeman (Dempster 88), Dyer, Verma, Bolland Briscoe (65), Meikle, Green (Rodney 75), Howell. Subs not used: Redmond, Stevenson.
REFEREE: Amy Fearn (Packlington).
ATTENDANCE: 816 (146 away).
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