STAGS IN SUPERB 2ND HALF SHOW TO SLAUGHTER DARTS
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 5 - 0 Dartford
Murray 5, Howell 55, Jones 66, Green 79, Stevenson pen 85.
Attendance: 2598 (104 from Dartford)
Date: 2 February 2013
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium
Mansfield Town turned on a superb second half display to overwhelm high-flying Dartford after a first half in which the visitors had held the upper hand. The Stags were very fortunate to go in at the break 1-0 ahead thanks to a fine strike from Adam Murray and it was Dartford who had almost all the play but were unable to make it count in front of goal. The second half was completely different as the Stags ran amok with four well-taken goals, and in truth could have doubled that figure. Howell knocked home after Jones headed down a fine James Jennings free kick, then Jones headed in a Daniel cross, Matt Green finished clinically after a great ball from Briscoe, and finally Stevenson nearly the burst the back of the net with a blistering penalty after he had been brought down himself. New signing James Jennings impressed throughout, with fine quality from numerous set pieces and a solid display in defence. No-one else performed well in the first half, but the second half saw a great team performance.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre.
---------------ADD TO BBC
Saturday, 2nd February 2013: Mansfield Town 5 Dartford 0.
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town turned in a five star second half display that saw them finally shake off their match rustiness to destroy a shellshocked Dartford.
The sides began the afternoon level on 41 points and the Premier Division new boys dominated the first half as Stags, without a game for two weeks, went in at half-time knowing they were very lucky to be 1-0 up through an early Adam Murray strike.
But they came back out with some harsh words ringing in their ears to dramatically improve and last another four goals past the excellent Marcus Bettinelli.
Even so, Dartford were far from finished until the third goal went in and missed great chances at crucial times all afternoon as they saw a scoreline grow that didn't tell the story of their efforts.
Despite good recent form, Stags had lost their last two home games so desperately needed to put that right against a Darts side whose recent form had dipped and they arrived with just two wins in their last 10 league outings.
This win was the first time this season the Stags have won three on the bounce and edged them up into sixth place just three points off the play-offs with games in hand.
It also wiped away the bad memories of that poor display in the televised 2-0 defeat away at Dartford back in October.
New signing, left back James Jennings, made an excellent debut, getting forward all the time and taking all the set pieces.
But, not far behind him in the man of the match stakes, were Luke Jones, who looked superb at both ends of the field, and Lee Beevers, who had a great game at right back.
Despite Stags' recent good form and a reduced admission of £10, Stags will have been a bit disappointed the crowd only just topped the 2,500 mark. But those who were there will have enjoyed every single minute of it.
Sutton was the unlucky man to have to make way for new boy Jennings with Beevers moved across to right back.
Jennings' first action was a high boot to the top of his head by Collier, the referee giving only a throw-in.
Stags were caught napping on four minutes from a Harris throw on the left which put Collier in on goal one-on-one, Marriott able to block with his knees.
Immediately the Stags went up the other end to grab a fifth minutes lead.
Green made progress down the right and, when he was challenged, the ball broke for skipper Murray, who simply drilled home a superb 20 yard finish from inside the D.
The Darts replied with a couple of corners which Mansfield were able to defend.
Collier then sent Evans down the right, the winger cutting inside and then sending a low shot across the face of goal and out for a goalkick.
Set piece specialist Jennings had his first chance to show his talent with a 16th minute corner which he lifted perfectly to the far post where Jones rose to head over.
Jennings saw his backheader clear his own crossbar from an Adam Green free kick for another corner which saw Marriott miscue his punch and leave the ball floating dangerously in the air in front of goal before it was cleared.
Harris somehow managed to get through two solid challenges 35 yards from goal before running on to lash a hopeful effort well over.
Marriott did much better with a fist onto a dangerous far post Evans cross.
Dartford almost levelled matters on 28 minutes as Burns' looping far post header from a left wing corner was headed off the line by Stevenson and cleared as far as Evans, who fired the follow-up well over.
It then took a good tackle from Adam Green to halt Meikle before he could capitalise on a poor kick out by Bettinelli.
Green saw the first booking of the game on 38 minutes for his foul on Champion.
A minute later, Daniel's cross was cleared to Meikle who saw a low shot pass narrowly wide of the target, Murray booked seconds later for something he said to the referee.
Dartford were having far more of the possession and getting most of the decisions too, which was starting to irk the home fans.
Adam Green was well wide with a free kick as we entered the last five minutes of the half.
The referee's popularity plummeted further on 43 minutes when he booked Dempster for a foul but failed to book Adam Green seconds later for his foul on Daniel.
In between those the visitors again came close as Champion's low shot bobbled and Marriott did well to smother the ball from close range as Harris tried to hook it past him.
Daniel battled his way almost to the left byline before lifting a shot just over from a tight angle.
The half-time boos were directed at referee Mr Bankes as Stags went ahead still in front by the slenderest of margins.
Briscoe took over from Meikle on the wing for the second half for Mansfield.
Stags immediately went onto the attack and Briscoe helped the ball on to Green who saw his shot blocked inside the opening seconds.
At the other end Harris slipped at the vital moment as he looked set to test Marriott from 16 yards.
Then Green put over a superb cross from the left, over the last defender and right onto the left boot of Daniel, whose volley was too high.
Murray was also too high from 25 yards from a half-cleared Jennings free kick.
Harris was unlucky again as he slipped stretching for a low Collier cross in front of goal and ended up sitting on the ball instead of testing the keeper.
After Murray was tripped, Noble was booked for a foul a few seconds earlier.
And Stags swept further ahead from the free kick.
Jennings put the ball into the box, Jones' headed down and, when the defenders failed to react, a jubilant Howell was on hand to crash the ball home through a crowd of players.
This was much better now from the home side and Stevenson swapped passes with Jennings before shooting wide of the near post on the left.
Harris was again unable to test Marriott when a low Evans shot flew past him across the face of goal as the Darts looked for a way back into the contest.
Murray and Noble were lectured after Noble stood on Murray, who reacted angrily and shoved the Dartford man over. But this time cards stayed in the pocket, thankfully for Murray as he was already on a booking.
Jones was narrowly over with a header from a decent Daniel cross.
Three home corners followed without profit. But the points were sealed seconds later on 66 minutes as Daniel hoisted a great cross to the near post from wide on the left and Jones flicked a header past Bettinelli to crown a good display at both ends of the field.
Noble should have reduced the arrears a minute later but planted a free header over from a right wing corner.
Dempster then did well to force Collier to blast wide from 18 yards on 71 minutes.
Marriott was down smartly to his right to smother a low 20 yard shot from Adam Green as the visitors pluckily beavered away at what was becoming an increasingly impossible task.
Howell got a flick onto a throw that left Bettinelli having to dive bravely at the feet of Matt Green before he could turn the loose ball home.
Then a crossfield pass from Briscoe set up Daniel for a shot that the keeper turned round his near post.
Dartford's last throw of the dice was a double substitution with 15 minutes of the game left.
Instead Mansfield made it 4-0 on 79 minutes.
Some neat passing saw Stevenson find Briscoe, whose perfectly weighted ball behind the defensive line invited Green to race onto it and provide a precise finish with a flick past Bettinelli.
Dominic Green's long range free kick forced Marriott across his goal to turn it away to his left.
Another great delivery by Jennings offered Jones another great headed chance, the defender getting it on target only to see the keeper make a fine save.
Jennings put the corner into the near post where Stevenson's flicked header hit a body on the line and was cleared.
With seven minutes to go, Rhead and Wright were given a late run out, replacing Daniel and Matt Green.
And the home side went nap with five minutes to go.
Stevenson was caught late by Adam Green's outstretched leg in the box to win a penalty which he confidently blasted home himself, high into the top right hand corner.
Champion was cautioned for a trip on Stevenson with two minutes to go.
Briscoe thrilled the crowd in stoppage time with a powerful run down the centre, ending with a low prodded shot that the keeper was able to get down to grab.
STAGS: Marriott; Beevers, Dempster, Jones, Jennings; Murray, Stevenson, Howell; Meikle (Briscoe ht), M. Green (Rhead 83), Daniel (Wright 83). Subs not used: Sutton, Clements.
DARTFORD: Bettinelli; Rogers (D. Green 75), Arber, A. Green, Champion; Evans, Bonner, Noble, Collier (Erskine 75); Burns, Harris. (Wallis 87) Subs not used: Wells, Hayes.
REFEREE: Peter Bankes of Liverpool.
ATTENDANCE: 2,598 (104 away).
CAUTIONS: Stags – Green 38, Murray 39, Dempster 43. Dartford – Noble 54, Champion 88.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: James Jennings
Mansfield Town hit form at the right time, can they now shine in the fast lane?
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden
AFTER the euphoria of last season's race to third and the play-offs, then heartbreak, it is fair to say this season has failed to conjure up too much optimism for Mansfield Town.
A slow start to the campaign and some terrible early away form has led to much criticism, a nagging feeling of doubt whenever a promotion push has been discussed.
The great FA Cup run and Liverpool match aside, when it comes to the Blue Square Bet Premier, the fire has never really been ignited.
Cup runs and dreadful weather have made the league action somewhat stop-start.
And, at half-time on Saturday against Dartford, it just about summed up the season. The Stags were 1-0 up, yet there was a flat feeling as the performance did not even merit that.
But, in the second-half, the Stags came out and blitzed Dartford 5-0. They had ridden their luck but suddenly found their destructible best.
In doing so, it was a third successive win was in the bag, three on the spin for the first time this season and just three points off the play-off places with games in hand.
But deeper than that, you look at the form table, and the Stags are top with six wins from their last eight league games, a period averaging 2.25 points per game.
The statistics don't lie. Mansfield are on a great run and if ever there is a time to be hitting form, it is now, with games coming every Saturday, Tuesday, starting with Barrow at home next weekend.
Far from pessimism, the Stags are the dark horses, the team to fear.
Manager Paul Cox said his side was coming around the bend and not getting ahead of themselves. But with a side that boasts four away wins on the spin and one of the best home records in the league, you have to be confident.
Last season, they won 13 and drew one of their last 15 games and while such a record would be hard to replicate, the Stags are positioned nicely.
Yet, it still feels like Mansfield have had a relatively average season at best so far, given the expectation created following last season's near-miss, when they lost to York in the semi-finals of the play-offs.
That is why the weekend's 5-0 demolition could be the start of something special. They went from being lucky, despite winning, to being ruthless and bursting with confidence.
At half-time, they were fortunate. Alan Marriott had saved the Stags on four minutes when Nathan Collier had been played in but one-on-one, the veteran stopper denied the striker. And a minute later, the tenacious Adam Murray won the ball back 25 yards out and then drilled in an unstoppable shot to give the Stags the lead.
And while James Jennings, in at left-back on his debut, demonstrated his prowess from dead-ball situations, the hosts were disjointed and somewhat lucky to go in at half-time ahead, Lee Stevenson having cleared one effort off the line.
Louis Briscoe replaced Lindon Meikle at the half-time and from the off, with some tasty words still ringing in the ears, the Stags got about their visitors.
On 54 minutes, Antony Howell doubled the lead. Jennings' free-kick into the box was knocked back by Luke Jones, perfectly teeing up the midfielder, who took a touch to his right to find space before firing low into the net.
Stevenson and Jones went close before, on 66 minutes, it was 3-0. A poor corner was cleared and from deep on the left wing, Colin Daniel whipped in a stunning first-time delivery into the box and Jones rose to plant a superb downward header into the bottom corner.
Matt Green and Daniel were both then denied before the fourth came as Stevenson and Howell combined to find Briscoe, whose measured pass split the defence to put Green through and he stayed composed to lay it back across goal into the far corner.
Jones was denied again before Stevenson saw an effort cleared off the line and then, late on, Stevenson was tripped in the box by Adam Green and a penalty was given. Stevenson took, firing into the top corner. So, in the end, it was emphatic - a convincing win.
Jennings came in and impressed, Stevenson got a third goal in three games since finally getting his chance. Matt Green was again among the goals.
And players like Exodus Geohaghon, John Thompson and Ben Hutchinson could not even find a place on the bench.
There has to be realism. But surely now, there has to be room for optimism.
The Stags are, officially, on a great run of results. They are edging closer.
And the fact they under-performed at the start but still came back to record such a solid win must create confidence.
Saturday's result could prove the moment where people actually start to believe – Mansfield could do this again.
Six wins from eight is some record, one that has been overlooked in some quarters.
And with obvious room for improvement, maybe the weekend will prove a turning point.
They are coming around the bend, now only time will tell if they can handle the fast lane
Latest | February 2013