IMPRESSIVE STAGS SO UNLUCKY TO LOSE AT SOUTHPORT
Blue Square Bet Premier
Southport 3 - 1 Mansfield Town
Lever 50, pen 90, Brown 90+3. Dempster 48.
Attendance: 1006 (98 from Mansfield)
Date: 17 December 2011
Martin Shaw at Haig Avenue
Mansfield Town were very unlucky not to come away from Southport with a point, if not all three, on a bitterly cold afternoon on the North-West coast. The Stags dominated the opening 35 minutes and had 6 decent chances including Luke O'Neill striking the bar from a free kick but couldn't break the deadlock. Southport had a good spell of 10 minutes before the break without troubling Alan Marriott but were very much second best in the half. After the break Matt Green nearly put the Stags in front from a super run, but from the resulting corner on 48 minutes John Dempster headed home a much deserved goal. Just two minutes later a Southport free kick ricocheted off the Stags wall and fell kindly for full back Lever to sweep the ball home from 10 yards. I described it as a lucky goal on the radio commentary which earned me a look from a member of the Southport press - he looked daggers at me. Having looked again at the goal in the match DVD, it was a lucky goal as the ricochet fell fortunately for Southport. On 62 minutes, Ross Dyer was through on goal but missed a golden chance, then Green was nearly through but the keeper got there first. Moments later Richie Sutton picked up a second yellow card, for a slight tug at the shirt of Whalley in the middle of the park. Even with ten men, the Stags continued to be the better side and were nearly in front when O'Neill's terrific cross just missed everyone. But disaster struck on the stroke of 90 minutes as Alan Marriott, who had had almost nothing to do, inexplicably pushed away a Lever cross rather than try to catch it, the ball went straight to Whalley, who took one touch to push the ball past Marcus Kelly (on as a sub only 3 minutes earlier), and Kelly stuck out a leg and clearly brought his man down. No question it was a penalty and probably due to the fact that Kelly had not yet picked up the pace of the game. Full back Lever dispatched the penalty for his second goal. The Stags tried to push forward even more and Southport created probably their only good chance of the game from open play on 93 minutes and scored to give the scoreline a ludicrous feel. Hard lines on the Stags who played well throughout, and heartbreaking at the end, but you have to take your chances and the Stags need to get in another goalscorer to compliment Matt Green in my opinion or else we won't be going anywhere this season.
Stagsnet player ratings now in the Match Centre
The Stags were playing for the first time in a new third kit of sky blue shirts, with navy shorts and navy socks. Certainly a nice looking shirt. Photo by James Williamson, from mansfieldtown.net:
Full-time: Southport 2 Mansfield Town 1
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
TEN-MAN Mansfield Town were undeservedly condemned to their first league defeat on the road since August at Southport this afternoon.
For much of the game the visitors were the better side and took the lead with John Dempster's second goal since joining on loan from Crawley.
But after Southport levelled through Chris Lever, they were given a helping hand by referee Seb Stockbridge, who sent off the Stags' Ritchie Sutton for two bookings, both which looked unmerited.
And as the hosts pressed late on, they stole in front from Lever's second, a penalty, before sealing victory through substitute Jonathan Brown.
It was rough justice on Mansfield, but means they fall further off the play-off pace going into the Christmas period.
Mansfield almost went in front in the opening exchanges when a long Kieron Freeman throw was not properly cleared by the hosts and as the ball broke for Dempster on the edge of the box, his drive was deflected just inches wide.
From the resulting Luke O'Neill corner, Ross Dyer got their first but his flicked header was well over the top.
O'Neill was desperately unlucky not to put Mansfield in front in the seventh minute after Lindon Meikle had been fouled 20 yards out.
The right-back curled a shot over the wall, only to see it thud off the crossbar with Tony McMillan beaten.
The Stags continued to press and from a second corner, Louis Briscoe steered and attempted volley over the top while off balance.
Another Freeman long throw caused Port more problems and this time Adam Murray was only narrowly wide with a first time shot that flew just past the right-hand upright.
A sweeping move from Mansfield just past the half hour opened up Southport as Murray played a neat one-two before releasing O'Neill whose low cross found Green, but his effort lacked the power to trouble McMillan.
With half-time approaching, Southport's Shaun Whalley turned Sutton superbly to make room for a shot, only to blast well over.
The same player tried his luck again with a long-range drive but was even further away in dragging wide of the left-hand post.
A slip by Murray sent Godfrey Poku marauding through the middle of the field, only to fail to test Alan Marriott.
After the restart, Mansfield started brightly and it needed a fine save from McMillan, who tipped the ball around his left-hand post, to keep out Matt Green as he beat two men and let fly from just inside the box.
However, the Stags were in front from the resulting corner. O'Neill whipped in the ball from the right and Dempster was left unmarked to head into goal from 10 yards, his effort finding the target even though it was straight down the middle of the goal.
But the lead last just two minutes as Mansfield failed to clear an Alan Moogan free-kick and Lever reacted quickly to lash home from 12 yards.
Good combination play between Meikle and Green saw the latter pull the trigger in the box but see his shot well blocked by the Sandgrounders' defence.
Mansfield should have gone back in front just after the hour when Dyer used his strength to power clear onto Freeman's through pass, only to see his shot pushed away by the advancing McMillan.
But Mansfield's day took a turn for the worse when Sutton was shown a second yellow card for pulling back Moogan, a decision that looked a little harsh.
The Stags immediately sacrificed Meikle to put on another defender in the shape of John Thompson.
As Southport began to pen Mansfield in, a rare break saw Green cut in from the left only to screw wide at full stretch.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Stags pressed forward whenever they could and Briscoe was oh-so close to getting on the end of a superb O'Neill cross that was just begging to be netted.
Mansfield were forced to make a change when Kieron Freeman went off injured and was replaced by Marcus Kelly.
And it was the replacement who brought down Whalley in the box, following a mistake by Marriott, to give Southport a late penalty that was dispatched emphatically by Lever.
Salt was rubbed into the wounds four minutes into stoppage time when Brown thumped home from just inside the box.
Southport: McMillan, Smith, Lever, Akrigg (Davis 20), Grand, Moogan, Poku, Carden (Guthrie 70), Whalley, Owens, Ledsham (Brown 87). Subs not used: Nemes, Parry.
Mansfield: Marriott, O'Neill, Sutton, Dempster, F|reeman (Kelly 87), Briscoe, Howell, Murray, Meikle (Thompson 66), Green.Dyer. Subs not used: Verma, Stevenson, Redmond.
Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Gateshead).
Attendance: 1,006 (98 visitors).
Referee not on Stags' Christmas list as they are hit by late sucker punches
Nottingham Post considered report by Matt Halfpenny
IT'S fair to say that Seb Stockbridge won't be on the Christmas card list of Mansfield Town's Paul Cox.
The Gateshead referee was not responsible for the Stags' second 3-1 demise in just over two months to Liam Watson's high-flying surprise package of the 2010-11 season. The players, of course, have the final say in determining any game.
But the manager clearly felt the official's decisions had a considerable influence on the final outcome of Mansfield's last competitive game before Christmas.
And, it has to be said, there was some justification to Cox's gripes as he contemplated a first away defeat in the league on the road since the club's first trip of the season back in August, at Gateshead.
For the first two thirds of this game, Mansfield were undoubtedly the better side and looked more likely to go on and secure victory.
Though Chris Lever had levelled John Dempster's early second-half opener within 120 seconds, it was the Stags who were looking the more threatening going forward, with keeper Alan Marriott left largely unemployed.
Everything changed, however, in the 65th minute when Ritchie Sutton was shown the second of two yellow cards, and thus a red, leaving Mansfield to play out the final portion of the game a man down.
Many observers felt both individual bookings were harsh, especially considering only one other player, Mansfield skipper Adam Murray, was cautioned during the game.
That was Cox's biggest complaint – that there was no consistency from the man in black, which he insisted ruined the match as a spectacle.
While admitting his side were no angels, the Stags boss was angry that other transgressions from Southport players went unpunished.
Of course, the three points are gone now, nothing is going to change that.
But when those Mansfield fans who did not travel to Haig Avenue saw the result, they would have envisaged a thrashing and another poor showing when, in fact, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Having been dumped out of the FA Trophy by Droylsden in their previous outing, Cox had demanded a positive response as his troops returned to the north west – and he certainly got one.
Reverting back to 4-4-2 from 4-3-3, he rang the changes, with John Thompson, Marcus Kelly, Aman Verma and Lee Stevenson dropping to the bench to be replaced by Luke O'Neill, Kieron Freeman, Anthony Howell and Louis Briscoe.
Although the latter of that quartet was kept quiet by the Sandgrounders, the other three players were key to a much-improved display.
Mansfield looked altogether more solid at the back in their fresh formation and Matt Green, who had looked a little isolated at the Butchers Arms, revelled in having another striker alongside him, in the shape of Ross Dyer, to share the workload.
The visitors could have been a goal up inside the first two minutes when a half-cleared long throw was powered goalwards by Dempster on the edge of the box, only to deflect inches wide.
And they went even closer to breaking the deadlock when O'Neill rattled the crossbar with Port keeper Tony McMillan beaten direct from a free-kick.
Another near miss saw Murray's first-time shot drift inches wide of the right-hand upright with McMillan again rooted.
Just past the half hour, Mansfield prised open the home defence with a flowing move instigated by Murray that culminated in O'Neill's right-wing centre being steered goalwards from close range by Green, but without the requisite power to find the net.
It was only in the latter stages of the first period when Southport had a couple of half-chances but on both occasions the dangerous Shaun Whalley fired off target.
Mansfield began the second period in the ascendency and only McMillan prevented Green collecting his 15th goal of the season after the loanee's mazy run.
But the frustration did not last long as, from the corner that followed, delivered by O'Neill from the right flank, Dempster got their first and headed home from ten yards.
Mansfield would have hoped to consolidate that advantage but were unable to do so. Alan Moogan's free-kick into the box deflected kindly to Lever and he gleefully hammered home to restore the parity.
Back came the Stags and Dyer should have restored their lead when bursting clear onto Freeman's ball over the top, only to see his shot repelled by McMillan.
It was then that Sutton, having been booked in the first half attempting to head clear, saw red for tugging on the shirt of Whalley. Cox immediately withdrew Lindon Meikle and brought on Thompson.
Yet Mansfield still pressed and had Briscoe been inches closer to O'Neill's brilliant curling cross, he would have had a far post tap-in.
It looked as if the Stags had done enough to earn a point, but then Marriott could only help on a tricky left-wing centre and Marcus Kelly brought Whalley crashing to the ground for a stonewall penalty that was clinically converted by Lever.
And the icing was added to the Southport cake when substitute Jonathan Brown fired home precisely from 12 yards deep into time added on.
That left the Stags shattered, having put in so much effort for no reward.
Yet a similar level of performance in the upcoming double header against York and the Stags' Christmas might not turn out too badly after all
Late heartbreak for Stags at Southport
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
TWO stoppage time goals ended 10-men Mansfield Town's hopes of a deserved point at high-flying Southport this afternoon.
Richie Sutton was controversially sent off for a second yellow card offence on 64 minutes, but Stags had continued to make all the running and still looked the more likely winners.
However, it wasn't to be as sub Marcus Kelly conceded a penalty three minutes after coming on, put away by Chris Lever, and then Jonathan Brown made sure of the win with a third deep into time added on.
The result in no way paints a true picture on an afternoon when Stags dominated for long spells away to a side fourth in the table and also took the lead through John Dempster on 48 minutes.
Lever did haul the Sandgrounders level two minutes later, but Mansfield were the better side, even without Sutton and will head home tonight scratching their heads how they let this one slip away.
The Sutton red card was a huge talking point as the second card seemed a harsh one, although clearly a foul.
It was Mansfield's first away league defeat since the opening away loss at Gateshead back in August.
At least after last weekend's FA Trophy misery at Droylsden, boss Paul Cox got his reaction and a much-improved performance.
He made wholesale changes to his side and formation today. Out went John Thompson, Marcus Kelly, Lee Stevenson, and Aman Verma from the 4-3-3 shape last weekend.
Playing 4-4-2, Keiron Freeman returned from injury at left back, Luke O'Neill was restored to right back with Ritchie Sutton moving across to the centre of defence.
Anthony Howell returned to partner Adam Murray in the centre of midfield and there was the welcome sight of Louis Briscoe starting on the right wing after his lengthy injury problems.
That allowed Ross Dyer to push back alongside Matt Green up front.
Mansfield began well, Southport having to defend a long Freeman throw.
Murray helped it back in and, when it reached Dempster on the edge of the box, he lashed in a powerful shot which looked a goal all the way until it took a deflection for a corner.
From that Dyer glanced a header over the bar from the near post.
Howell's tackle on Whalley in the box ended a threat after Smith had won a tackle with Sutton that the defender should have dealt with.
On eight minutes Stags won a free kick 20 yards from goal on the left. From that O'Neill curled a superb free kick over the wall and against the crossbar.
Mansfield comfortably cleared Southport's two corners while Marriott and Dyer were first to long throws by Owens from the left.
On 12 minutes O'Neill sent in Stags' second corner from the right, finding Briscoe at the near post who hooked the ball up and over.
Five minutes later Freeman's long throw was cleared to Murray, 18 yards from goal, and he hurried a low effort just wide.
Davis replaced Akrigg as the home defence had to reshuffle on 20 minutes.
Then a neatly threaded pass by O'Neill saw Dyer turn well in the box but his shot struck a home defender.
Although Murray had done his best with a running argument with the referee, it was Sutton who saw the first yellow card of the day for jumping into the back of Whalley on 25 minutes.
McMillan was down quickly to grab the ball as Howell tried to capitalise on a Meikle pass as Stags continued to dominate.
A neat move down the centre ended with O'Neill's low cross turned back towards his own goal by Poku, forcing his own keeper to get down and grab.
Southport were finally enjoying some pressure of their own and their best moment of the half came on 40 minutes with a run from Whalley that saw him turn Sutton and come inside to lift a 25 yard shot over the Stags crossbar.
Green had a firm shot blocked while Whalley dragged one well wide from 25 yards and Poku fired low at Marriott from distance as we reached the halfway point without a goal.
Mansfield came back out strongly and won an early corner.
Then Green went on a silky run, beating two opponents before seeing McMillan turn his low finish round the post.
But from the resulting 48th minute corner the visitors were finally in front as Dempster rose to head O'Neill's kick firmly home straight down the middle.
However, Southport were only behind for two minutes as they bagged their first goal in three league matches.
Moogan fired in a free kick which was blocked, but Lever was first to reach the loose ball and dispatch a rising shot past Marriott from 12 yards.
Thankfully Stags took that on the chin and continued to dominate rather than letting it alter the balance of power and the home defence endured a uncomfortable spell of pressure by Mansfield.
On the hour a long ball forward by Freeman saw Dyer managed to get himself goalside of Grand only to see McMillan make a good save to keep out his finish.
However, there was high controversy on 64 minutes as a second yellow card for Sutton left Stags with 10 men.
Sutton was certainly guilty of a foul as he pulled back Moogan 40 yards from goal.
But it was a harsh decision to book him, especially as the referee knew he had already booked him.
Meikle was sacrificed to bring on Thompson in defence. Soon after Murray's persistent dissent saw him yellow-carded too.
Howell sent a high, looping pass forward for Green to chase on the left. Keeping it in play, he came back inside but, unable to shake off the defenders around him, was off target with his eventual finish.
There was a let-off for Stags on 74 minutes as sub Guthrie chested down a Whalley free kick for Grand to turn home from close range only to see an offside flag raised.
Green was felled from behind by a fierce Poku challenge near the corner flag but the referee's card stayed in his pocked, though it seemed a far worse challenge to Sutton's.
A mistake by Ledsham allowed Howell to find Green. O'Neill overlapped him well and curled in a fabulous cross in front of goal where Briscoe arrived a fraction late to curl home.
With four minutes to go, an injury to Freeman allowed Stags to get their breath and have a drink ahead of the final push. Freeman eventually limped off to be replaced by Kelly.
But, just as a superb point loomed on the horizon, Stags were stung by a penalty in the first minute of four added on.
Lever sent in a cross from the left which Marriott looked certain to catch. Instead he palmed the ball straight to Whalley who was caught by the outstretched leg of sub Kelly.
Lever, who hadn't scored all season before today, was given the chance to double his tally from the sport and made no mistake with a well-taken penalty high to Marriott's right.
Just to rub salt in the wounds, Southport then added a third for good measure on 93 minutes as Owens tricked his way across the box from left to right before setting up Brown for a sidefooted finish.
SOUTHPORT: McMillan, Smith, Lever, Akrigg (Davis 20), Grand, Moogan, Poku, Carden (Guthrie 70), Whalley, Owens, Ledsham (Brown 87). Subs: Nemes, Parry.
STAGS: Marriott; O'Neill, Dempster, Sutton, Freeman (Kelly 88); Briscoe, Howell, Murray, Meikle (Thompson 66); Green, Dyer. Subs: Redmond, Vera, Stevenson.
REFEREE: Seb Stocksbridge of Gateshead.
ATTENDANCE: 1,006 (98 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Luke O'Neill
Southport 3-1 Mansfield: Chris Lever pulls port back in the right direction
HAVING started 2011 in the relegation zone, Southport will end the year in one of the play-off places.
The Sandgrounders have produced some dramatic finishes in recent home matches, and they left it late once again on Saturday to sign off for the year at Haig Avenue on a high.
Another last-gasp victory sees Southport reclaim third position in the Blue Square Bet Premier, extending their advantage to seven points over the chasing pack in the race for a play-off spot, thanks to a gutsy display against Mansfield Town.
The ability to come from behind has served the Sandgrounders well in several matches of late. For the fifth home game running Liam Watson's side conceded the first goal, but they finished with a flourish to churn out three hard-earned points.
Having drawn the home side level with his first goal of the season, Chris Lever scored again with a 91st-minute penalty after Mansfield had been reduced to ten men, before Jonathan Brown set the seal on a grandstand finish.
As the first in a run of five matches against teams from the upper reaches of the table, it was a meaningful result for the Sandgrounders, whose festive double-header against second-placed Fleetwood Town could not be better set.
For the most part Southport's performance had lacked any real rhythm, as they struggled to find their way forward and posed little threat to the visiting defence. It was a victory born more of persistence than style, but in the end their patience paid off.
On the back of three defeats in four matches, manager Liam Watson reckoned this win owed much to Southport's “back-to-basics” approach, after admitting recent performances had lacked many of the virtues which saw them climb the table. It was also achieved by reverting to the 4-4-2 formation used during many of their best results to date.
Mansfield offered more as an attacking force for over an hour and their purposeful start resulted in Luke O'Neill's 20-yard free-kick clipping the top of the bar.
Southport struggled to build any momentum and it took 40 minutes to register their first attempt, with Shaun Whalley shooting over after a strong run.
The visitors went ahead early in the second half. Goalkeeper Tony McMillan produced a reflex save to deny Matt Green and, from the resulting corner, O'Neill's delivery was headed in by John Dempster.
Yet the Sandgrounders were behind for just two minutes. A driven free-kick from Alan Moogan was deflected into the path of Lever, who swept in the loose ball from inside the area
Mansfield were reduced to ten men when Ritchie Sutton was shown a second yellow card for pulling back Whalley as the Southport striker broke forward.
The visitors had two golden chances to restore their lead, Ross Dyer being denied by a superb save from McMillan when one-on-one with the Southport keeper, before Louis Briscoe failed to connect with O'Neill's wonderful cross from an unmarked position.
Instead it was Southport who seized the moment, as Lever converted a nerveless penalty in added time after Whalley's legs were taken from under him by Marcus Kelly.
And substitute Brown added another in the 93rd minute, sliding the ball home following good work from Andy Owens to complete another memorable finish.
Southport: Tony McMillan, James Smith, Steve Akrigg (Earl Davis 20), Simon Grand, Chris Lever, Adam Carden (Kurtis Guthrie 70), Alan Moogan, Godfrey Poku, Karl Ledsham (Jonathan Brown 87), Shaun Whalley, Andy Owens. Subs not used: Matt Nemes, Andy Parry.
Mansfield Town: Alan Marriott, Luke O'Neill, John Dempster, Ritchie Sutton, Kieron Freeman (Marcus Kelly 88), Louis Briscoe, Anthony Howells, Adam Murray, Lindon Meikle (John Thompson 66); Matt Green, Ross Dyer. Subs not used: Shane Redmond, Lee Stevenson, Aman Verma.
Referee: Seb Stockbridge
Latest | December 2011