ERRORS AND INJURIES AS STAGS COLLAPSE
Blue Square Bet Premier
Cambridge United 4 - 1 Mansfield Town
Gash 9, Berry 49, Elliott 51, Jarvis 58. Speight 71.
Att: 2545 (209 from Mansfield)
Date: 6 October 2012
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the Abbey Stadium
A disastrous afternoon for Mansfield Town who suffered bad injuries to key defenders John Thompson and Exodus Geohaghon in the first half, Thompson with a suspected broken leg and Geohaghon with ligament damage. It was terrible news for Thompson who had finally fought his way back from the awful injury at the start of last season with a good performance last Saturday and looking very good in this game. Similarly Geohaghon had been imperious in defence in this game as he had in most others. And at the end of the game, Ryan Tafozolli, the replacement in central defence, tweaked his hamstring. None of which can excuse the errors and poor defending that led to Cambridge's four goals. The first error came from Shane Redmond who hesitated allowing Michael Gash to steal in and score from an acute angle. The defence had looked very solid in the first half, as it had against Hereford last week, but the enforced changes with Colin Daniel replacing Thompson and moving to left back with Sutton to right back, and Tafozolli replacing Geohaghon, saw the Stags with a second half defensive horror show. And Daniel must take much of the blame. Twice in two minutes, on 49 and 51 minutes, he was out of position allowing Tom Elliott all the time in the world for two free shots at goal from the right side of the penalty area. For the first shot, Redmond parried into the path of Luke Berry who fired in, and for the second, Elliott fired straight into the left corner of the net giving Redmond no chance. Cambridge scored their fourth on 58 minutes when a long throw was not cleared and Ross Jarvis half-volleyed home from inside the box. The Stags pulled one back on 71 minutes when Jake Speight, just outside the six-yard box, turned in Howell's shot. Dempster returns from his loan spell at Tamworth and is likely to go straight back into the side on Tuesday against Lincoln, and the Stags are desperate for a left back who will defend properly and not spend all his time trying to push forward. No doubt about it the Stags were unlucky today with injuries to key players at a time when the defence was looking solid and team had every chance of getting something from the game, but the defensive collapse in the second half cannot be excused whatever the circumstances.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Man of the Match: John Thompson
Cambridge 4-1 Mansfield Town, Saturday 6th October
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town were comprehensively beaten 4-1 and had defender John Thompson stretchered off on another awayday to forget for the Stags at Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium this afternoon.
Cambridge had failed to win any of their previous four home games, but had a new spring in their step with the arrival of new head coach Richard Money and were very good value for their interval lead through Michael Gash's ninth minute goal, which stemmed from a moment's hesitation by keeper Shane Redmond.
United should have been further ahead by the end of the half with Tom Elliott and Ross Jarvis putting good chances wide and Josh Coulson hitting a post.
Jinxed defender Thompson then had to leave the field on a stretcher just before the break after injuring himself winning a tackle.
Any hopes Mansfield had of a second half comeback were rocked by three home goals in nine minutes early in the half, Redmond again caught out by a low cross which allowed Liam Berry to make it 2-0 on 49 minutes before Tom Elliott and Ross Jarvis quickly put the result beyond doubt.
Jake Speight's 71st minute shot did deflect in off Josh Coulson for a consolation for the visitors 19 minutes from the end.
But the look on manager Paul Cox's face said it all at the end as Stags were once again left with nothing to show for an away game as Stags slipped to 13th.
New midfielder Soloman Taiwo was given a debut as Paul Cox reverted to a 4-3-3 formation and was neat and tidy though faded as the game went on.
The 6ft 1ins midfielder, a free agent, has been at a number of non-League clubs but once signed for Cardiff City in a £250,000 deal and has recently impressed in a couple of Mansfield reserves outings.
Matt Green, inevitably, made a return after completing his three-game suspension, but never managed to test the keeper.
Out of the side went Junior Daniel and Nick Wright.
The early exchanges were uneventful, though, on nine minutes, keeper Hedge had to be alert to grab a Taiwo through ball before Green could reach it.
However, the home side drew first blood seconds later. Redmond appeared to think Andrew's through ball was going out for a goal kick. But, realising Gash was going to get there, he reacted fractionally too late and Gash was able to steer it across the keeper and inside the far post from a tight angle.
A minute later it really should have 2-0 as Redmond was beaten to a Jarvis cross by Elliott who should have hit the target from six yards but headed wide.
Gash was too high from distance soon after, then Shaw pulled a low shot wide from a Geohaghon headed clearance as the U's clearly had a spring in their step after the goal.
Hedge twice punched clear from a Geohaghon throw and a Murray before Speight was caught offside as he forced a save from Hedge at the far post.
Hedge then caught Murray's first corner of the afternoon.
Pilkington's presence did just enough to force Shaw to fire narrowly wide.
Then Hedge did well to grab the ball at the second attempt after being unable to grab a splendid curling cross from Taiwo.
Coulson almost doubled the U's advantage on 25 minutes with a strong central run that ended with a 35-yard shot that struck the outside of the right post.
Green had a low shot deflect wide which the referee then deemed to be a goalkick on the half-hour mark.
Cambridge wasted another great chance on 34 minutes. A Gash backheel saw Willmott race past Geohaghon to the by-line before pulling back a low ball that the incoming Jarvis sliced wide from 12 yards when he should have the target.
Passes continued to go astray for the visitors and a dreadful over-hit cross from Sutton and a poor shot well wide from Murray summed up a frustrating first half for the Stags.
Berry went on a superb run, evading three challenges before Thompson steamed in to win the tackle in the box.
The full back stayed down for treatment with Berry booked for having a go at Thompson on the ground.
But Thompson stayed down and it soon became obvious he had done something more serious than first thought.
Eventually the stretcher came on and the stricken Thompson was carried off, Daniel coming on and Sutton switching from left back to right back.
Sutton was added to the book in the last of four minutes of stoppage time when he stuck out an arm to halt Wilmott's run down the left.
Geohaghon had also been limping on a couple of occasions in the first half and deemed not fit enough to continue after the break, Tafazolli replacing him.
United won their first corner of the game within three minutes which saw Berry race in unchallenged to meet Andrew's flag kick with a free header that he sent over the bar.
But United were 2-0 up and in full command on 49 minutes. And again Redmond might have done better.
Gash fed Elliott into the right of the box and he put the ball across low. Redmond dived but didn't get hold of the ball as it came off him, onto Berry and found the back of the gaping net.
Two minutes later it was all but over as Gash played a square ball to his right to Elliott crashed home an unstoppable shot inside the far post.
Worse was to come on 58 minutes. Andrew's long throw from the left skimmed a couple of heads before bouncing near Jarvis who instinctively stabbed the ball home from 10 yards.
Briscoe was sent on for Taiwo on the hour as shellshocked Stags looked for some inspiration.
Stags finally had a shy at goal on 65 minutes as Hedge had to parry Speight's 20-yard potshot.
At the other end Pilkington was in the way of Shaw's effort with Jarvis well over from the follow-up.
Gash failed to connect cleanly as he met a low Thorpe cross, the ball straight at Redmond, who then cleanly caught Gash's attempted 20-yard chip.
Redmond then had to dive to his right to gather a 25 yard free kick from Andrew curled low round the wall.
Stags did finally pull a goal back on 71 minutes, albeit with a huge slice of fortune as Hedge appeared to have Speight's tame low 20-yard shot covered to his right before a wicked deflection took the ball into the net down the centre.
Daniel's foul on Jarvis on 78 minutes saw him cautioned, a frustrated Murray joining him for dissent three minutes later.
Berry's last ditch tackle on Speight prevented him netting on 85 minutes as he took a return pass from Howell right in front of the goal.
Berry failed to get any power into his shot at Redmond as we entered stoppage time as Stags escaped any further pain on another awayday to forget.
CAMBRIDGE: Hedge, Coulson, Shaw, Gash (Pugh 87), Elliott, McAuley, Jarvis (Wellard 79), Berry, Thorpe, Willmott (Moke 85), Andrew. Subs not used: Wylde, Ross.
STAGS: Redmond; Thompson (Daniel 45+1), Geohaghon (Tafazolli ht), Pilkington, Sutton; Howell, Murray, Taiwo (Briscoe 60); Speight, Green, Meikle. Subs not used: Rhead, Clements.
REFEREE: Kevin Johnson of Weston-super-Mare.
ATTENDANCE: 2,545 (209 away).
CAUTIONS: Cambridge – Berry 44. Stags – Sutton 45+3, Daniel 78, Murray 81
Mansfield quickly need to find answers after Cambridge horror show
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden
IT TOOK a while for manager Paul Cox to emerge from the Mansfield Town dressing room to speak to the press, to give his verdict on a heavy defeat.
That in itself spoke volumes for how unhappy he was, given he is usually out within minutes.
And as he did speak, clutching a copy of the DVD of the game, you felt for him knowing he was going to have to watch it again very soon.
For the 209 fans that travelled, they will simply want to forget those 90 minutes and hope it was a one off.
Mansfield have struggled on their travels all season and this 4-1 reverse at Cambridge was a fourth loss in six games on the road. They have conceded 19 goals in that time.
Yet, it was the ineptitude of the display, the lack of fight and character that really stood out on Saturday.
From the ninth minute when Stags conceded another sloppy goal to go behind, it almost felt like game over, pulled apart by Cambridge more through their own fault rather than the hosts really pressing them.
After all, Cambridge were struggling before the weekend, even bringing in a new head coach in Richard Money as Jez George 'moved upstairs'.
And Cambridge made sure they cashed in on Mansfield's weaknesses.
Cox's injury-hit side were not helped by John Thompson being carried off on a stretcher just before the break, although it turned out to be severe bruising of the shin rather than a broken leg. They also lost centre-half Exodus Geohaghon to ankle ligament damage at half-time.
However, those are no excuses for the result, as Stags simply failed to defend as a team throughout – no matter who were the personnel – and caused little problems going forward.
It all started with Cox making two changes to the side that drew with Hereford seven days earlier, Soloman Taiwo signing on the morning of the game and starting straight away, with Colin Daniel making way.
And in the 4-3-3 formation, Matt Green returned from his three-match ban to start up front, with the injured Nick Wright dropping out.
An uneventful opening was soon forgotten on nine minutes when the game came to life as ex-Stag Danny Andrew, on loan last season, floated a diagonal ball from the left to the far side of the six-yard box where Michael Gash was allowed to collect too easily and then, from an acute angle, somehow put it beyond Shane Redmond.
A minute later, it could have been two as a cross from the right to the edge of Mansfield's six-yard box picked out Tom Elliott, but his bullet header went wide of the far stick before Gash put a dipping effort over the bar from distance.
After former Stag, Tom Shaw, scuffed a good chance wide, centre-half Josh Coulson advanced into the Stags half and, given time and space, unleashed a 30-yard effort that looked to have Redmond beaten, but hit the post and went behind for goal kick.
Again Stags were pulled apart, as Gash fed Robbie Willmott to the byline and when he pulled the ball back to the penalty spot for the onrushing Ross Jarvis, he could not believe it as his team-mate shanked the golden opportunity well wide with the home crowd on their feet, expecting a goal.
Then on 43 minutes, Jarvis caught Thompson inside the Stags box and was booked, leaving the Irishman writhing in agony on the turf, pounding the grass with his fist, but luckily by the end of the evening it was clear nothing was broken.
But four minutes into the second half, Cambridge had doubled the lead. Elliott was too easily threaded into the box down the right and he pulled a low shot which Redmond got down to save with his outstretched right hand but as it fell in the six-yard box, Luke Berry pounced to bundle home.
Two minutes later it got worse, Shaw on the edge of the Stags box getting the ball out of his feet, feeding it to Elliott on his right and the striker hit a thunderbolt into the far corner, giving Redmond no chance in the Mansfield goal.
Then on 58 minutes it was 4-0 as a throw from the left eluded the Stags, found its way to Jarvis on the edge of the Stags box and on the half-volley, given all the time to pick his spot, he smashed the ball beyond Redmond.
Finally U's 'keeper Jonathan Hedge was called into action when he produced a superb reflex save to deny a stinging low drive from Jake Speight.
They might have been close to him, but Redmond had to save three shots in quick succession before Stags got one back on 71 minutes, Speight turning Anthony Howell's ball into the box beyond the wrong-footed Hedge.
It was a mere consolation – and the scoreline could have been worse.
That DVD is probably worn out by now and Cox would have had nightmares as a result.
The only hope is, defensive crisis or not, they put it right against Lincoln tomorrow night.
Any more performances like this and promotion will be nothing more than a pipe-dream.
Cambridge: Hedge, Andrew, Willmott (Moke, 85), Coulson, Shaw, Jarvis (Wellard, 79), Thorpe, Berry, McAuley, Gash (Pugh, 88), Elliott. Subs: Wylde, Ross.
Stags: Redmond, Thompson (Daniel 45+1), Sutton, Geohaghon (Tafazolli, 46), Pilkington, Howell, Taiwo (Briscoe, 60), Murray, Speight, Meikle, Green. Subs: Rhead, Clements.
Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset)
Attendance: 2,545 (209 away fans)
U's 4-1 Mansfield Town: 1 for the Money
Alternative match report by Andrew Bennett
It is difficult not to feel a pang of melancholy when Autumn arrives, with Summer over and the imminent prospect of worsening weather, unwanted Halloween visits, maniacs with fireworks and, oh yes, the ineffable joy of Christmas shopping. But, as Keats so eloquently pointed out, this is also a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” of late ripening and creation, and nowhere was this more evident on Saturday than at the Abbey where United's young team responded to the appointment of new first team coach Richard Money with their best performance of a so-far tumultous season.
Jez George, thoroughly, passionately and unselfishly United to the core, outlined the reasons for his stepping aside with equal eloquence in his programme notes, and Money was afforded a warm welcome by a crowd which was some 700 more in number than at the last home game against Kidderminster. Even the weather seemed in the mood to herald a new dawn, temperate, calm and clear, as the vestigal rays of summer bade farewell to an Abbey which does have not have another game scheduled until the end of the month, FA Cup draw excepted.
Visitors Mansfield invested heavily in their squad in pre-season, so it was something of a shock to the Stags when their 2012-13 began with a blizzard of goals in defeats by 2-3, 3-4 and 1-4, before they stopped the rot with a 3-2 win at even-worse-starting Kidderminster. They have since steadily climbed the table with four wins and a draw at home, although their away form remains poor with only one point from their last three trips.
The Stags boosted their faltering back line at the end of August by paying £5,000 for the hulking Exodus Geohaghon, and have since signed an even taller understudy in Ryan Tafazolli, fresh from a brief spell at Cambridge City and a trial period at the Abbey in February. He was on the bench, but latest signing, former Dagenham & Redbridge and Cardiff midfielder Solomon Taiwo, was pitched straight into the starting XI less than 24 hours after signing up as a free agent.
United line-up: Hedge; Thorpe, Coulson, McAuley, Andrew; Jarvis, Shaw, Berry, Willmott; Elliott, Gash
On the bench: Ross, Wylde, Wellard, Moke, Pugh
Money's first team selection showed two changes from that which won 4-1 at Barrow, with Luke Berry restored to the side after his one-match red card ban in place of Liam Hughes, and Tom Elliott starting alongside Michael Gash for the first time in place of Andy Pugh. It was a conventional 4-4-2 line-up, with Rossi Jarvis a makeshift right-winger opposite Robbie Willmott on the other flank, and two 'big men' up front ready to do battle with the visitors' towering back line.
The action was fast and furious from the start, and the rejigged United team gelled almost immediately. Jarvis and Jonathon Thorpe made a good combination down the right, interacting with and covering for each other, Berry and Tom Shaw were perpetual motion in the middle, tackling back one minute and foraging forward the next, while the front two combined well, Gash leading the line authoritatively and Elliott always on the move and making himself available.
The Money shot came on 9. Shaw found Danny Andrew wide on the left, he curled a cross high into the box with Elliott could not quite reach, but with the Mansfield defence hesitating as if they expected it to drift out of play beyond the far post, the ever-alert Gash sneaked in to poke home at the back stick. Good poaching: 1-0.
Now adding growing confidence to their energy and commitment, United continued to press and after a splendid passing movement found Jarvis on the right on 11, his cross was perfect for Elliott to nod home from six yards… but somehow the big man nodded it across goal and wide of the far post, just scraping it on the way past. Should have been two.
Gash curled a long-ranger wide a minute later, then Shaw burst forward but scuffed his shot wide as well. On 17 Geohaghon was afforded the first opportunity to show off his infamous long throw, but Jonathan Hedge punched clear not once but twice under the visitors' aerial assault, Jake Speight eventually firing over as he was flagged offside.
Gash, fulcrum of so many attacks, set up Shaw for another shot on 20, but again he did not get hold of it properly and dragged it wide of the far post from 15 yards. Five minutes later came the most spectacular moment so far of an increasingly enjoyable afternoon, when Josh Coulson gained possession near halfway, advanced without being closed down then suddenly let fly from 35 yards, his thunderbolt of a shot heading for the top corner but bouncing off the outside of the post. Are you Wayne Hatswell in disguise?
The visitors tried gamely to respond, with right-winger Lindon Meikle giving Andrew a hard time but unable to come up with a telling cross. Matt Green fired wide from the edge of the box on the half hour, and three minutes later United wasted another very good chance when excellent approach work by Willmott and Gash set up Jarvis for an unchallenged shot on goal from twelve yards which he somehow spooned wide when all he had to do was keep it on target. Still no goal in black'n'amber for Rossi.
The U's continued to look the more likely to score but were unable to trouble keeper Shane Redmond. On 43 Berry rampaged forward from the centre circle with white shirts snapping at his heels, but was crowded out as he entered the box, and in trying to win it back, he caught Stags' John Thompson in a full-blooded but honest challenge.
The upshot was that the unfortunate Thompson had to be stretchered off and Berry picked up a yellow card for his trouble. Colin 'Junior' Daniel was his replacement. In added time Ritchie Sutton evened up the bookings count for a foul on Willmott, and the hosts went into the break one up after a frenetic and entertaining first half.
Geohaghon had sustained a knock during the first 45 which led to his withdrawal at the interval in favour of Tafazolli, who towered over even the skyscraping Elliott. United resumed where they had left off, forcing a corner in the first minute of the second half which Berry leapt to head just over. Take that, spindleshanks.
The floodgates opened on 49. Some splendid Cantabrigian tikki-takka (not the mints) saw Shaw find Gash, he slid a diagonal ball right to Elliott, and the big man's powerful cross-shot was parried by Redmond straight into the path of the inrushing Berry, who bundled home from close range. 2-0.
And two minutes later it got even better for the hosts. Shaw foraged into the box, seemed to have lost it, fell over, got up again, won it back and played a clever little ball to his right, and the unmarked Elliott. Big Tom made no mistake with a first-time power drive which he thrashed past Redmond before could he move. Blimey: 3-0!
Mansfield's leaky defence looked all at sea and memories began to be evoked of a 7-2 thrashing of the same opponents in March 1999. The game began to turn into what is usually termed as a 'romp' on 58 when Andrew arrowed a cross over from the left, it missed the strikers but fell perfectly for Jarvis to break his 58-game scoring duck with a left-footed volley, of all things, which screamed past the bemused Redmond. Dreamland: 4-0.
United's new coach must have thought he had fallen into the easiest job in the world. The Mansfield boss, enduring defending from his charges which ran John Terry's hearing defence close in the improbable and implausible stakes, withdrew Taiwo on the hour for Louis Briscoe, and within a minute he had been presented with a free-kick opportunity following a foul by Jarvis on Green. But he could only lash it over the top.
Now with nothing to lose except their dignity, the visitors tried to rally and Speight drew a tremendous full-length diving save from Hedge on 65 with a low shot which seemed to be destined for the bottom corner. Back came the U's, Shaw bursting through again to see his goalbound shot blocked by George Pilkington, Willmott advancing to fire over from distance, and Gash drawing two reasonably comfortable saves from Redmond, all in the space of five minutes.
The visitors conceded a free-kick just outside the box on 70 when Tafazolli brought down Berry, and Andrew stepped up to shoot low past the wall but not past the sprawling figure of Redmond. And a minute later United's clean sheet tally for the season remained stuck on one again when Mansfield grabbed an untidy consolation as Anthony Howell's low shot was guided past Hedge by Speight. 4-1.
For a few minutes Mansfield looked as if they believed they might make a contest of it, although Hedge remained well protected by his colleagues. Willmott fired into Redmond's arms on 74, Daniel was booked for a foul on the tireless Jarvis on 78, and Andrew again took the free-kick but could not beat the Stags custodian.
Jarvis was feeling the effects of the foul and so was replaced by Ricky Wellard for the last ten minutes after an excellent, all-action performance, with Shaw moving to the right of midfield. Andrew's free-kick was flicked goalward by the head of Coulson but that man Redmond was there again to stop.
Adam Murray was penalised for a foul on Berry on 81 but seemed to have escaped a booking until he kept mouthing off to ref Johnson as he reversed away and was promptly called back to be shown the yellow rectangle. And you thought Ashley Cole's tweeting was daft.
The visitors still plugged away and a goal looked certain for Speight when he sneaked behind the U's defence on 83 but somehow Berry slid in from nowhere to rob him of the ball before he could pull the trigger. Brilliant defending.
Money made two late changes, Adriano Moke and Andy Pugh replacing Willmott and Gash, and Pugh almost sneaked a fifth when his close-range shot was blocked by a stray Stag's leg.
The final whistle signalled a highly satisfying afternoon for United and their new man in charge as the team proved just what they could do when on their game, albeit against a somewhat fragile defence. The players' energy, commitment, organisation, attitude and the sheer quality of their play and their finishing set the standard which they must look to maintain from now on. We may not have the largest budget, but now we've got Loadsa Money.
United have scored at least once in each of their 13 league games this season. In terms of avoiding blanks in the 'goals for' column, this is their best start to a season since 2002-03, when they scored in their first 23 league matches; the run finally ended on 28th December 2002, with a 3-0 defeat at Hartlepool.
The U's last scored four or more goals in two consecutive league matches in March 2007. They won 4-0 at Northwich Victoria, with a hat-trick from Robbie Simpson, then thrashed Weymouth 7-0 at the Abbey; this time the three-goal hero was Daniel Chillingworth, while Simpson contributed another brace.
United last won 4-1 in two consecutive games in August 1987, when they defeated Crewe Alexandra in the league with a David Crown hat-trick, then won at Aldershot by the same score in the League Cup three days later. The last and only occasion on which they recorded two 4-1 wins in a row in a league match was way back in the Cambs League in October 1925, at Chatteris Town and Old Chesterton Rovers.
United's last two wins have both involved four different scorers. The last time this happened was in September 2000. They beat Rotherham United 6-1 at the Abbey with goals from Ian Ashbee (2), Tom Youngs (2), Zema Abbey and Jonas Axeldal, and three days later recorded a 4-0 home win over Port Vale thanks to Paul Wanless, Alex Russell, Youngs and Steve Slade.
New head coach Richard Money faced the U's 14 times during his playing career, finishing on the winning side on only three occasions. He first appeared for Scunthorpe United on 12th October 1974 in a 2-0 win for the Iron at the Old Show Ground, his team-mates including Neil Warnock and our very own Nolan Keeley.
He came up against United five more times for Scunthorpe during the next two and a half years, with Keeley also in the side on every occasion bar one, enduring four defeats and a draw.
He next turned up for Fulham on Boxing Day 1978, in a 5-1 hammering of the Division Two new boys. United had their revenge, 1-0, in the return, and the following December, turned the tables with a 4-0 thrashing of the Cottagers at the Abbey thanks to an Alan Biley hat-trick. Money's colleagues that day included future CUFC management team John Beck and Gary Peters. The U's also won the return that season, 2-1.
In April 1982 he visited the Abbey with Luton Town and came away with a 1-1 draw, then after returning to Scunthorpe, faced United three more times between March 1986 and February 1987, enjoying a 1-0 away win, a 1-1 home draw and finally, a 1-0 defeat at the Abbey, thanks to a strike from David Crown.
United made club history on Tuesday when they won at Barrow for the fifth season in a row. Never before have they managed five consecutive league wins at any club since they started playing competitive football in 1921. The next best run was four at Torquay from 1995-96 to 1998-99, and at Pye Radio in the Cambs League from 1935-36 to 1938-39. They have also won four times in a row at Hartlepool, Wisbech and United Cantabs, but not all in consecutive seasons.
The Barrow match also involved a red card, the third in a row in a game involving the U's. The last time that happened was in late September/early October 2008, involving Ben Farrell (at home to Kettering), Cameron Mawer of Weymouth, and Rory McAuley (away at Ebbsfleet).
Hedge 8. Dealt commandingly with everything Mansfield threw at him, with one particularly fine diving save in the second half.
Thorpe 8. Confirmed his promise with a display of decisive defending and useful forays forward in support of the attack. Good combination with Jarvis.
Andrew 7. Outwitted on occasion by the visiting winger, but stuck to his task stolidly.
Coulson 8. Dominant at the back and came close to scoring twice.
McAuley 8. Unspectacular but totally reliable.
Jarvis 9. Blossomed unexpectedly as a makeshift winger, supporting Thorpe usefully in defence, producing several runs and crosses worthy of Stanley Matthews, and broke his duck on the goalscoring front when with a little more luck he might have grabbed a hat-trick. A revelation.
Shaw 8. A little wayward pass-wise in the first half, but improved several levels after the break with a barnstormingly energetic, complete midfield performance.
Berry 9. Speaking of complete midfielders, Luke was even better than his central partner, driving the team on, foraging in the opposition penalty area
one minute and producing goal-saving tackles in his own box the next.
Willmott 7. Fulfilled his brief as the side's one 'true' winger with a series of runs, shots and crosses. Still plenty of room for improvement, but very much a step in the right direction.
Gash 9. Exemplary.
Elliott 8. First start paired with Gash and what a dangerous combination they were, always alert and available, and capped it all off with a quite superbly taken goal.
Wellard 7. Decent contribution from the bench.
Moke 7. Brief but reasonably exciting.
Pugh 7. Scant few minutes on the pitch and would undoubtedly have scored had he been given longer against Mansfield's rickety lean-to of a defence.
United crowned their new coach's arrival with a magnificent display of commitment, energy, flowing football and ruthless finishing. Right on the Money, in fact. Now to do it on a regular basis.
Man of the Match
Michael Gash. If Dan Ashworth and his chums at the FA's new National Football Centre in Burton wish to show any youngsters how to play the role of target man, they could do a lot worse than show a video of Gash's performance today. He led the line with authority, assurance, energy, strength and no little skill, bringing his colleagues into play, creating chances, and kept up his goal-a-game record to boot. Superb.
Johnson 8. Kept the game flowing well, apart from a couple of occasions when he might have played advantage, and issued cards only when really necessary.
Soundtrack of the Day
Portico Quartet “Steepless”
Latest | October 2012