DREADFUL STAGS GET WHAT THEY DESERVE AT NEWPORT
Blue Square Bet Premier
Newport County 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Att: 1285 (89 from Mansfield)
Date: 18 February 2012
Martin Shaw at Spytty Park
Mansfield Town put in a poor performance at Newport this afternoon and were deservedly beaten by a rejuvenated home side whose win stretched their unbeaten run to 7 games. The Stags had not played for 3 weeks whereas Newport had played twice in the last week and the Stags looked terribly rusty throughout the game while Newport seemed to be faster to the ball. The Stags created almost no chances from open play during the entire game while Newport had a host of chances and Foley could have had 4 goals but had to settle for the only goal of the game on 33 minutes. However for all their poor play, the Stags were denied a point they wouldn't have deserved by two refereeing decisions as the Stags were not given two clear penalties. The second of these was in the 92nd minute as O'Neill's corner to the nearpost was headed goalwards by Riley, Green chested it down and then backheeled it, putting Dempster in space in the box. Newport centre back Andrew Hughes went to ground and as Dempster pushed the ball past him Dempster went over Hughes and to ground. As Hughes had gone to ground it was a clear penalty but the referee waved away Mansfield's vociferous appeals. The Stags should have had a penalty in the first half as well when O'Neill's corner from the right was nicely flighted for Riley at the far post. As Riley rose, Gary Warren was behind him and had his arms all over Riley. Riley went down, and the DVD showed it was another clear penalty. Nevertheless the Stags performance didn't warrant a point and we will need to bounce back with home games against Darlington, Tamworth and Lincoln, all of which I would suggest need to be won in order to mount a challenge on the play-off zone.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Newport 1 Mansfield Town 0, Saturday 18th February
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town's much-anticipated return to action from a three-week lay-off sadly proved to be a lacklustre one as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat after a dire display at struggling Newport today.
It brought an abrupt end to the recent impressive six-game unbeaten run as an out-of-sorts Stags turned in a display as poor as their last one at Ebbsfleet was impressive.
On a wet, uneven surface, time and time again Mansfield sent the ball long and, despite angry boss Paul Cox making three half-time changes, his side failed to rally enough to get back into the contest as they tamely succumbed to league defeat number six.
Debutant sub Paul Edwards aside, few of the visiting players came out of this one with any credit at all with man of the match ironically going to the industrious Adam Chapman, who recently joined Newport after a spell on trial with the Stags.
That is now seven matches unbeaten for the Exiles who should have had this one sealed well before the nervous finish with the chances they had earlier created.
Stags did have two good penalty shouts ignored, Matt Green saw the only on-target shot saved and Adam Smith headed into the sidenetting. But they didn't really deserve anything over the 90 minutes.
The home side managed to play some football on the difficult surface and there was little for the away fans to cheer, despite the Stags Supporters' Club paying for their side to stay overnight in preparation.
It was a far cry from the 5-0 thrashing Stags gave Newport earlier in the season and left Cox with much work to do to get rid of the damaging winter rust that quickly seems to have accrued over three weather-hit weeks before Darlington visit Field Mill on Tuesday.
With heavy lunchtime rain falling on a pitch that has struggled with drainage this season, there were worries the game would not go ahead at all.
Thankfully the rain stopped and ground staff were able to fork in the standing water.
Cox went with an unchanged side though new signing, striker Matt Rhead, replaced Louis Briscoe on the bench.
After all that had gone before, the game actually kicked off in bright sunshine with Mansfield in a change kit of sky blue shirts and white shorts.
Newport produced the first threat as Chapman's long throw from the right was cleared out to Foley who crashed a first time shot over the bar from 20 yards.
Green took a tumble in the box in Stags' first raid but never looked likely to win a penalty.
Riley looked to have a better claim when he appeared to be manhandled as he tried to get a head onto O'Neill's first corner, but play went on.
On eight minutes Newport wasted a great chance from a break down the right as Jarvis cut inside Dempster and saw his shot deflected into the path of Foley who, from six yards, somehow bundled his finish wide to the relief of Marriott.
With both sides getting caught offside and passes going astray on the poor surface, fans had little to get too excited about.
Marriott did cause a momentary stir when he came for and then spilled another long Chapman throw but, he was fouled in the scramble.
A first time shot by Buchanan was straight at Marriott on 26 minutes as he got on the end of a left wing cross by Jarvis.
Three minutes later Stags finally threatened the home goal as Roberts' far post cross from the right picked out Smith whose diving header only found the sidenetting.
But a minute later Chapman's cutting through ball offered Foley time and space on the edge of the box only to see him pull his low finish across goal and wide.
However, Foley finally made it count on 33 minutes as the deadlock was broken.
Jarvis provided the through ball and Foley this time controlled before crashing home a fine finish from 12 yards past an exposed Marriott.
County threatened again on 40 minutes as Riley's poor attempted clearance fell to Buchanan who should have at least hit the target from 12 yards but sent the loose ball wide.
Riley joined fellow centre half Dempster in the book for his late tackle on Minshull in stoppage time at the end of a dour first half for the visitors.
Changes were inevitable for the lacklustre Stags and when the side reappeared there were three of them, Edwards, Howell and Rhead coming on for Smith, Dyer and Hutchinson, underlining what a furious Cox thought of his side's first half efforts.
Edwards went to left back, Sutton to right back, O'Neill to right midfield and Howell left midfield with Rhead joining Green up front in a 4-4-2.
Three minutes in, Chapman spotted Marriott off his line and tried to chip him from just inside the Stags half, the ball flying over the top.
Jarvis then fired straight at Marriott on the turn from 18 yards as he pounced on a poor headed clearance from Riley.
Roberts was too high with an ambitious free kick from 30 yards soon after.
But Stags were looking much hungrier at this point and almost levelled on 54 minutes as Rhead laid off a long thrown by O'Neill for a stretching Murray to stab wide of the far post.
Foley was well wide with a low shot as Newport went immediately back on the attack.
Green then might have found the equaliser as O'Neill's throw from the left reached him, Rhead's presence helping it get there, but Green, trying to hit a high-bouncing ball on the turn, didn't catch it as well as he would have hoped and instead sent the ball to the keeper.
But still it was Newport who looked the more likely to score and home sub Reid wasn't far wide with a diving header from Buchanan's left wing cross. Then Minshull was inches over with a 20 yard volley after Stags only half-cleared a left wing cross.
On 75 minutes Murray's under-pressure backpass to Marriott bobbled as the keeper tried to clear, playing the ball straight to Jarvis who fired it straight back across the keeper, only to see Marriott reach out his right hand and superbly turn it away for a corner.
Four minutes from time Green had half a chance to level as he burst onto the ball inside the right of the box but, instead of shooting, tried to flick it square to Howell and gave it instead to a defender.
Dempster won a free kick 20 yards from goal as we entered four minutes of stoppage time which O'Neill saw clip the wall for a corner.
From that Stags created a scramble in front of goal as Green's backheel almost set up Dempster, who did seem to be fouled before the Exiles managed to hack clear.
But again no penalty was given and Stags slumped to defeat number six in disappointing fashion as they sit six points off the play-offs with that game in hand.
NEWPORT: Thompson, Baker, Warren (Rodgers ht), Foley, Jarvis, Hughes, Pipe, Charles (Reid 53), Buchanan, Minshull, Chapman. Subs: Potter, Harris, Rose.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Riley, Dempster, O'Neill; Dyer (Rhead ht), Murray, Roberts, Smith (Edwards ht); Hutchinson (Howell ht), Green. Subs not used: Redmond, Meikle.
REFEREE: Tim Robinson of Bognor Regis.
ATTENDANCE: 1,285 (89 away).
GOAL: Newport – Foley 33mins.
CAUTIONS: Newport – Minshall 60, Jarvis 62. Stags – Dempster 27, Riley 45+1, Edwards 90+1
Newport 1 Mansfield 0
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
MANSFIELD Town's six-match unbeaten run was deservedly ended by plucky Newport as the Stags suffered their first defeat of the calendar year in South Wales this afternoon.
It was a single, first-half strike from Sam Foley that consigned the visitors to what was only a sixth league defeat of the season.
But County were good value for their win and would have won by a bigger margin with better finishing.
It was the worst Mansfield have played for some time and means they will be desperate to bounce back when they host Darlington on Tuesday night.
Newport began the stronger in the early exchanges, only for Foley to blaze over from the edge of the box after Luke O'Neill had only half-cleared a long Adam Chapman throw.
The home side were fortunate when Martin Riley looked set to meet a right-wing corner form O'Neill only to seemingly be impeded, but the referee waved play on.
But Mansfield were breathing a sigh of relief themselves in the eighth minute when Foley missed an absolute sitter.
Nat Jarvis' shot deflected straight into his path six yards out and, with the whole of the goal to aim at, he somehow shanked wide of the left-hand post.
Mansfield goalkeeper Alan Marriott was relieved to hear the referee's whistle for a foul after he dropped a long throw with both sides struggling to make any impression.
Just past the midway point of the half, Foley and Jarvis utilised a good advantage to tee up Elliott Buchanan, who volleyed weakly at Marriott.
The Stags had a decent opening when Gary Roberts found space on the right and sent over an inviting far post cross that Adam Smith headed wide when he should have done better.
On the half hour, ex-Mansfield trialist Chapman fed Foley through the inside right channel only for him to drag his shot wide of the target.
But Foley made no mistake with his third clear opportunity of the afternoon in the 33rd minute to give the Exiles the lead.
Lee Minshull slipped the ball into the box for the striker, who had made a late, untracked run into the box and he drilled past the advancing Marriott from 12 yards.
It should have been 2-0 five minutes from the break when Martin Riley mis-kicked in attempting to clear Foley's centre straight to Buchanan, who scuffed past the right-hand post with Marriott rooted.
After an insipid first half performance from Mansfield it was no surprise to see changes for the start of the second period.
But manager Paul Cox used all three substitutes, with Paul Edwards, Anthony Howell and Matt Rhead replacing Adam Smith, Ben Hutchinson and Ross Dyer.
It saw the Stags switch to 4-4-2 as Luke O'Neill pushed forward to right midfield and Rhead linking up with Green in attack.
But Newport continued to look the more threatening as Chapman lobbed over from distance while Jarvis brought Marriott to his knees with a low drive.
The Stags responded by winning a free-kick 30 yards out but Roberts' blast at goal was high, wide and not so handsome.
Adam Murray might have drawn Mansfield level when Rhead battled for O'Neill's long throw and the ball dropped for the midfielder, who prodded over the top from 12 yards.
Another O'Neill throw caused problems but Green's shot on the turn did not have the power to trouble Glyn Thompson.
More poor defending from the visitors enabled Foley to head across goal to an unmarked Jarvis, who nodded into Marriott's arms when a yard either side would have been a goal.
Still County pushed forward and Foley's determined run paved the way for a cannonball strike from Minshull that was just inches too high.
A bobble as Marriott tried to clear presented Jarvis with a chance to let fly and the Stags keeper responded spectacularly to tip around the right-hand post.
Despite their disappointing showing, Mansfield might have drawn level with four minutes to go.
As a Newport defender stumbled, Green was clear through the inside right channel but inexplicably tried to pick out Howell when he should have gone for goal and his cross was blocked.
In stoppage time, O'Neill's strike from a free-kick struck the wall and went for a corner that saw a goalmouth scramble and the Stags have appeals for a penalty for a 'foul' on Dempster waved away.
Newport: Thompson, Pipe, Warren (Rodgers 46), Hughes, Baker, Minshull, Chapman, Foley, Charles (Reid 53), Buchanan, Jarvis. Subs not used: Potter, Harris, Rose.
Mansfield: Marriott, Sutton, Riley, Dempster, O'Neill, Murray, Roberts, Murray, Hutchinson (Howell 46), Dyer (Rhead 46), Green, Smith (Edwards 46). Subs not used: Redmond, Meikle.
Referee: Tim Robinson (Bognor Regis).
Attendance: 1,285 (89 visitors).
Lacklustre Stags made to pay the price at Newport
Nottingham Post considered report by Matt Halfpenny
IT was three weeks since Mansfield Town had kicked a ball in anger because of wintry weather, but it looked more like three months. All the talk in the lead up to this trip to South Wales was of the Stags carrying their momentum through from before the cold snap hit.
There was supposedly a strong determination among the squad to continue the six-game unbeaten run that was so impressively extended in the team's previous outing, a 3-0 success at Ebbsfleet.
Yet, on the day, Paul Cox's side were lethargic, listless and lacklustre; as poor as they have been for quite some time and quite the opposite of what their manager demands.
It has been a difficult period for the players because their first opportunity to get out on grass did not come until the thaw finally arrived at the start of last week.
Instead, it has been the inside of sports halls or, at best, the outdoor surface at Sutton Coldfield that has been their lot.
However, they could certainly not complain about their pre-match preparations after the Stags Supporters' Association had seen to it that they stayed overnight with a donation to the tune of £1,300.
Those fans would have been rightly disappointed with what they got for their money as Mansfield rarely threatened to record the win that would have put them within three points of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-offs with two games in hand.
It was never going to be an easy afternoon, considering former FA Cup winner Justin Edinburgh had led a resurgence of his own side.
The Exiles had the added advantage of having got back into action the previous Tuesday with a 1-0 success over bottom club Bath City, so were not coming into it quite so cold.
Nevertheless, the lack of cohesion among the Stags players was still something of a surprise, with the January poise having vanished along with the ice and snow.
A feature of Mansfield's play since the turn of the year had been the way they have utilised the creativity of midfield three Ben Hutchinson, Gary Roberts and Adam Murray.
But they were rendered virtually redundant in terms of providing a spark as the ball constantly whizzed over their heads, leaving them to chase around aimlessly.
The result for the Mansfield forwards, both starters and substitutes, was that they had little quality ball to work with and were left fighting for scraps.
At the back, the Stags looked far from assured and surely now it is time to move Luke O'Neill back to his natural role at right-back and give Paul Edwards or, when fit again, Sam Craven, licence to prove their worth down the left.
Newport had no such problems, meanwhile, as former Stags trialist Adam Chapman took the game by the scruff of the neck in the middle of the park.
Cox decided not to bring in the Oxford United player on loan because he did not want to risk him getting back to fitness during an important string of matches.
But the playmaker, from Retford, showed few problems in getting about the pitch and was an influential figure throughout, along with goalscorer Sam Foley.
Unchanged Mansfield were immediately put on the back foot by County, who should have gone in front with just eight minutes gone, only for Foley to somehow shoot wide from six yards after Nat Jarvis' initial shot was deflected into his path.
The same Newport player again should have done better when he was released through the inside-right channel by Chapman, only to drag his finish wide of the left-hand upright.
But after Adam Smith had headed off target from a pinpoint Roberts cross – one of Mansfield's few bright moments – it was third time lucky for Foley as he thrashed home from 12-yards in the 33rd minute after running onto a square ball from Jarvis.
Newport could have doubled their advantage before the break when Martin Riley miscued a clearance and diverted the ball straight into the path of Elliot Buchanan, who drilled narrowly past the right-hand upright.
The Stags rang the changes at half-time as Edwards, Anthony Howell and Matt Rhead replaced Smith, Hutchinson and Ross Dyer.
It seemed that might do the trick as Mansfield looked a little livelier, skipper Adam Murray prodding just over the top from close range.
It proved to be a false dawn, however, as Newport were more likely to add to their lead, Marriott producing two saves to deny Jarvis and Lee Minshull volleying inches over.
Yet for all their struggles, Mansfield might have twice snatched a leveller late on. First Matt Green was in the clear after a defensive mistake but chose to cross to Howell when he should have shot, allowing Newport to scramble the ball clear. And then, in stoppage time, John Dempster went down in the box as he shaped to shoot amid a scramble, but the referee waved play on.
Realistically, though, that would have been rough justice on the home side who were good value for their victory.
For Mansfield, their frustration continues. Each time they look capable of mounting a serious challenge they hit the buffers.
If they want to stay in the promotion race that trend must change – and quickly
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