BRISCOE FREE-KICK KEEPS WINNING RUN GOING
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 1 - 0 Nuneaton Town
Attendance: 2384 (82 from Nuneaton)
Date: 26 March 2013
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium
And so, despite an enforced 11 day break just when we didn't need it, Mansfield Town continued the incredible run of victories: it's now an ten wins on the trot (extending the club record of victories since joining the football league in 1931), and it's fourteen wins from the last fifteen games. It had looked like it was going to be “one of those nights”. The Stags hit the woodwork twice, Matt Green had two one-on-ones that you'd put your house on him to score but he didn't, Stevenson had two headers just off target, and all this in the first half. Then in the second half, the Nuneaton keeper fluffed a clearance from a backpass and the ball just rolled past his own post; and then Matt Green had a penalty saved. It had all the hallmarks of a frustrating evening. But then a stroke of luck, as Louis Briscoe's free kick, which was heading straight towards the keeper, took a slight deflection off the wall and into the net. It was undoubtedly a stroke of luck, but richly deserved. After that, the Stags held on for victory, and the news got even better as Kidderminster were held at home by mid-table Woking. It wasn't a vintage performance from Mansfield by any means. The Stags were strong defensively, with Dempster and Jones impressive. Murray was captain fantastic again, leading the team superbly even when things weren't going well. Up front, it just wasn't Matt Green's night but he kept going, never gave up and constantly kept three defenders busy. His selection as man of the match by the sponsors though was puzzling. Nuneaton had rested five players ahead of their winnable games against Woking on Thursday, and Telford on Saturday. This probably helped Mansfield, but Nuneaton kept going throughout and could have nicked a point. The Stags move on to Tamworth on Saturday followed by games on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and the roller-coaster in to the end of the season will move fast now. The Stags will need to hold their nerve. Come on Mansfield!
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Mansfield Town 1-0 Nuneaton Town, Tuesday, 26th March
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
JUST when it seemed strugglers Nuneaton Town were going to deny Mansfield Town two precious points in their chase for the title, up popped sub Louis Briscoe with what could prove his most important goal of the season at the One Call Stadium tonight.
Briscoe had only been on the field for five minutes when his deflected free kick finally broke the stubborn resistance of Nuneaton to extend Stags' new club record winning streak to 10.
The win takes the Yellows to within a point of leaders Kidderminster with three games in hand.
On a dreadful surface, surrounded by piles of snow, Stags laboured long and hard in a game which had survived two earlier pitch inspections.
In the first half they twice hit the woodwork and wasted a string of chances with keeper Lee Burge in fine form.
The frustration continued after the break, especially after sub Matt Rhead won a penalty within three minutes of coming on, only to see Matt Green's kick saved.
But, just when Mansfield must have thought it wasn't to be their night, Briscoe finally ended the agony soon after as Stags made it a magnificent 14 wins in 15 games and set themselves up for Easter games at Tamworth on Saturday and at home to Gateshead on Monday.
Stags skipper and assistant manager Adam Murray once again went through the pain barrier as he elected to play, despite looking likely to miss out with an ankle injury picked up in training.
With one eye on a home clash with Woking 48 hours later, Nuneaton, who had only lost once in eight games, decided to rest six of their expected starting XI as winter continued to bite throughout the division.
Stevenson put Stags onto an immediate attack when he caught McNamee in possession and forced a corner inside 20 seconds. That was headed out for a second, taken by Jennings, which saw Jones head against the crossbar with two minutes not elapsed.
Jones was then caught out when the ball lost all momentum in the sand and McNamee tried to break into the box, Jennings doing a superb covering job.
The visitors then won a fifth minute corner of their own which Stags cleared at the second attempt.
A long Chapman throw reached Stevenson who, from 12 yards out, dipped a header just over.
The home side came so close again on 10 minutes as Beevers' searching ball down the right set Green off on a run to the by-line. His cross was over the keeper and hung tantalisingly for Daniel who, under pressure, was unable to guide his final header into the empty net.
Former Stags loanee Moult was too high with a central 25 yard free kick after Beevers had caught Walker very late, no card shown.
A mazy run by Cartwright carried him into a shooting position, but his finish lacked conviction and was easy for Marriott.
Stevenson put Green to the by-line for another cross towards Daniel who again failed to get his header on target.
On 26 minutes Stags again hit the woodwork. Jennings' corner was headed goalwards by Jones where the ball bounced back towards Green, saw saw his first shot hit the foot of the post and keeper Burge smother his close-range follow-up.
Burge also did well to race towards Meikle, as he latched onto a superb Chapman through ball and try to stab it past the advancing keeper, Burge getting his body in the way.
Nuneaton defended two more home corners before wasting a good chance to break into the home box from the second with a loose pass.
Stevenson's looping header only just missed the target from a Beevers cross as Stags continued to chip away patiently at the visiting defence.
Burge was again the hero on 36 minutes as Daniel put Green away from the halfway line, the striker steaming into the box only to see Burge spread himself, the ball strike his body and fly up and onto the roof of the empty net.
Three minutes later Marriott had to make sure he was behind a low 20 yard drive from Dance.
Green missed another one-on-one three minutes from the break as Murray sent him clear. This time he got into the box but, with only Burge to beat, he dallied too long and allowed Gordon to hook round a leg and rob him. The ball ran to Meikle who sent it low in front of goal where Green again got a touch only to see it deflect narrowly wide of the far post.
McNamee was booked for hacking down Green as he tried to run clear in stoppage time, Chapman too high with the free kick as the half somehow ended goalless.
Home supporters tried to rally the troops with increased noise as the game restarted, a Stevenson cross immediately eluding Daniel right in front of goal.
But Marriott did have to stick out a leg to tackle Walker as he ran onto a Moult pass in the box.
There was a heartstopping moment on 54 minutes as Cartwright's 20 yard shot took a deflection, wrong-footing Marriott, who was happy to see the ball fly over the bar.
Mansfield then suffered a blow on 57 minutes when Jennings had to come off injured, Sutton making up the 11 two minutes later.
The change seemed to unset the home side's rhythm and Nuneaton enjoyed a worrying spell of pressure.
After Jones had headed a long Chapman throw over on 62 minutes, Stags sent on Rhead and Briscoe for Daniel and Stevenson.
A bizarre mistake by Burge then almost gifted Mansfield an opener as he let a through ball somehow bounce past him and inches wide.
On 65 minutes Stags then wasted the best chance of the night from the spot.
Cowan was booked for his foul on Rhead in the box, but Burge guessed correctly as he went to his right to block Green's spot kick.
Soon after Burge spilled a Meikle centre and Cowan had to hook of the goalline as the agony went on.
But we didn't have to wait long as sub Briscoe made the breakthrough with the aid of a bit of much-needed luck.
Taking control of a central free kick 25 yards from goal, Briscoe drilled the ball hard and low and it took a deflection off the wall which left Burge stranded.
But Marriott quickly had to get in the way of a Walker volley from a half-cleared throw as Nuneaton looked for a quick reply.
Then Briscoe seemed to get away with a handball as he laid a pass to Green in the box which saw Burge make a great save from Green.
Green did help a long ball into the net with five minutes to go but an offside flag was already up as he ended a busy night without a goal.
But that mattered little as Stags safely got to the end of three added minutes to complete a very hard-earned victory which will have delighted the army of fans who cleared the pitch of snow over two days.
Mansfield Town 1 Nuneaton 0: It's a perfect ten for Stags
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden (his last report before leaving the Nottingham Post)
AFTER all the heroics to get the game on with six inches of snow shovelled off the pitch at the One Call Stadium, it looked like the payback was going to be one of pure frustration for the Stags fans.
During Sunday and Monday, the youth team, supporters and even RAF members gave up their time to get the pitch playable as Mansfield looked to maintain their push for the title and with it, automatic promotion.
And after two passed inspections earlier in the day, it was game on against Nuneaton on a bitterly cold evening.
Yet, despite one-way traffic, missed chance after chance looked to be putting the freeze on Mansfield's promotion charge as top scorer Matt Green spurned three first-half chances before seeing a second-half penalty saved.
But with hesitation and frustration building on the pitch and in the stands, Louis Briscoe popped up with a free-kick four minutes after coming off the bench to put the Stags ahead on 67 minutes.
And from there, they sealed the deal, securing a narrow 1-0 victory to chalk up a tenth consecutive win and a 14th victory from their last 15 matches, meaning mathematically the title is theirs to lose.
Boss Paul Cox made no changes to his starting line-up or bench from the side that beat Forest Green 11 days earlier in their last outing.
And they started quickly, forcing a corner after just 13 seconds and when that was turned behind, James Jennings floated a flag-kick in from the right and Luke Jones met it but planted his header against the crossbar.
Five minutes later, Adam Chapman's long throw from the left caused problems and Lee Stevenson ghosted in to win the header but it went over the bar.
Colin Daniel was then guilty of spurning two great chances with his head, both provided by Green, cleverly cutting back from the byline.
First Daniel somehow put the wrong side of the post from close range before he failed to even head goalbound to the dismay of the home crowd.
They came either side of ex-Stags Louis Moult firing over a free-kick in a rare Nuneaton attack but despite a sloppy period from the hosts, they would go on to create chance after chance without finding the breakthrough.
Jones met the corner from the right, goalkeeper Lee Burge could only flap at it as he fell to the floor but from a yard, Green somehow struck it against the upright before it was bundled wide.
And Stevenson stooped low to meet Lee Beevers' cross from the right but his looping header fell the wrong side of the far post.
Ten minutes before the break Daniel put Green clear, beating the offside shout and he raced into the box, only to fire too close to Burge and the ball looped up off the keeper and onto the roof of the net.
On 42 minutes, he was clear again as Murray lobbed the ball over the top but Green took too much time in the box and Delroy Gordon made the tackle to dispossess him before Meikle pounced on the loose ball only to flash it wide of the far post.
Ten minutes into the second half Nuneaton's Neil Cartwright saw a deflected shot go over the bar from 20 yards and then Mansfield's Jennings went down in his own box and had to be taken off injured.
It led to a change with Ritchie Sutton replacing Jennings and minutes later there was a double substitution as Louis Briscoe replaced Daniel and Matt Rhead came on for Stevenson.
Green then over-ran the ball into the Nuneaton box and it was passed back to the goalkeeper but Burge mis-kicked it and it bobbled past the post for a corner. And the error was costly as Rhead was then dragged down by Gavin Cowan in the box and a penalty awarded.
But from the spot, Burge made amends diving to his right to palm away the striker's penalty and keep the game goalless.
However, another substitute had an impact on 67 minutes as Green won a free-kick and Briscoe drove it low through the wall and with a deflection, it left Burge rooted to the spot as the ball rattled into the corner of the net.
You could feel the relief inside the ground and nine minutes from time, Rhead stabbed at a shot putting it wide as he looked to double the advantage.
Green finally had the ball in the back of the net with a close-range header late on only to see it ruled offside, capping off his goalless night when he could have had a hat-trick.
But it did not matter, as the win and another maximum return of three points were sealed.
Man of the match: Adam Murray. It was not the most clinical Stags team performance but for sheer drive and leadership, the captain leads by example on and off the pitch. Played through an ankle injury and never stopped running after spending Sunday and Monday himself helping clear the snow.
Referee: Michael Bull (Essex). Stags wanted a penalty in the first half when Matt Green went down under a challenge from Delroy Gordon after going clear but the official was spot on to declare it a legitimate tackle.
Mansfield: Marriott, Beevers, Dempster, Jones, Jennings (Sutton, 59), Meikle, Murray, Chapman, Daniel (Briscoe, 63), Stevenson (Rhead, 63), Green. Subs: Wright, Howell.
Nuneaton: Burge, Cartwright, Cowan, Walker (York, 85), Adams, Sleath, Gordon, O'Halloran, McNamee, Dance, Moult (Brown, 85). Subs: Phillips, Dean, Armson.
Attendance: 2,384 (82 visitors)
Burge brilliant but Boro beaten
Written by MATT DAVIES
Mansfield Town 1
Nuneaton Town 0
AN INSPIRED Lee Burge almost earned Nuneaton Town an unlikely point at Mansfield Town on Tuesday night.
The Boro keeper made countless saves from Matt Green, including a penalty, but he was finally beaten by Louis Briscoe's 67th minute free-kick.
The visitors were on the back foot for long spells and in truth could have lost by many more as they slumped to just a second defeat in eight.
The result means Boro fourth from bottom of Blue Square Bet Premier, two points from safety.
Manager Kevin Wilkin made no fewer than six changes with Thursday's game against Woking in mind.
In came Neil Cartwright, Delroy Gordon, Adam Walker, Jon Adams, David McNamee and James Dance.
Gaz Dean, who is on nine yellow cards, was rested alongside Aaron Phillips, Simon Forsdick, Wes York, James Armson and 14-goal top scorer Andy Brown.
Boro somehow made it to the break unscathed. Within two minutes Luke Jones headed onto the bar for Mansfield.
Colin Daniel had two glorious headed chances that went wide or in totally the wrong direction and then on the half hour there was an almighty scramble involving Burge and danger man Green.
Burge blocked a header but the ball dropped for Green, who hit the post from a yard. The rebound came straight back to him but Burge blocked before Green fired another rebound just wide.
The Boro keeper was a busy man as he kept out Stags skipper Adam Murray, but he saved his best stop to deny Green in a one-on-one.
Green was causing all sorts of problems as he got in behind Delroy Gordon, who recovered with a brilliant all or nothing tackle when last man.
Boro went with Louis Moult in attack on his own in the second half and it worked well initially until they went behind.
Shortly before that Burge was in the thick of it again. He's sliced a kick horribly out for a corner as the ball bounced up.
From the kick Gavin Cowan fouled sub Matt Rhead to concede a contentious penalty but Burge would not be beaten as he dived to his left to brilliantly deny Green again.
Within two minutes his resistance was finally broken. Steve O'Halloran was penalised 25 yards out and Briscoe stepped up.
He caught it sweetly but the shot his a defender in the wall and left Burge stranded as it crept inside the post to make it 1-0 in the 67th minute.
Green finally scored with six minutes left but his woes continued as the offside flag went up.
GOALS: Stags - Briscoe (67)
STAGS (4-5-1): Marriott; Jennings (Sutton 59), Jones, Dempster, Beevers; Meikle, Murray ©, Chapman, Daniel (Briscoe 63); Stevenson (Rhead 63); Green; Subs not used: Wright, Howell
BORO (4-4-2): Burge 9; McNamee 7, Gordon 7, Cowan (c) 7, O'Halloran 7; Cartwright 7, Adams 7, Sleath 7, Walker (York 85) 6; Moult (Brown 85) 7, Dance 6; Subs not used: Phillips, Dean, Armson
REFEREE: Michael Bull 7
ATTENDANCE: 2354 (82 away)
YELLOW: Boro – McNamee (45), Cowan (64)
BORO STAR MAN: Lee Burge
Boro foiled by Stags after Burge heroics
by Alan Poole, Coventry Telegraph
Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/coventry-warwickshire-sport/coventry-warwickshire-non-league-footbal/nuneaton-borough-fc/2013/03/27/boro-foiled-by-stags-after-burge-heroics-92746-33067500/?#ixzz2OpF1p5EI
A DEFLECTED free-kick midway through the second half was enough to send Nuneaton to just their second defeat in eight games.
And the outcome was harsh on the visitors and keeper Lee Burge in particular who pulled off a serious of fine saves to keep the relegation battlers in contention.
Manager Kev Wilkin made six changes from the side that drew at Braintee, possibly with an eye on tomorrow's match against Woking.
And it was a nervous start for the visitors who could have conceded inside two minutes when a teasing James Jennings corner picked out Luke Jones but his header hit the crossbar.
Colin Daniel put a header over the Boro bar on seven minutes and then sent another effort wide three minutes later under pressure from Neil Cartwright after the home side had broken upfield through striker Matt Green.
Louis Moult and Cartwright missed half-chances for the visitors but the bulk of the action was at the other end as Mansfield piled on the pressure in their bid for a tenth straight league win.
On 26 minutes,a Jennings corner was not dealt with but Green blasted his initial shot against the post from one yard before seeing his rebound blocked by Burge.
Five minutes later the Boro keeper made another good save to block a Lindon Meikle effort and he thwarted the next Stags attack by using his legs to keep out Green after the striker had raced clear of the defence.
Three minutes before the break Mansfield squandered another excellent chance when Green again ran on to a through ball but this time defender Delroy Gordon was able to recover and sweep the ball away.
The visitors almost broke the deadlock nine minutes after the restart when good work from Adam Walker teed up Cartwright and his shot was deflected over the crossbar.
But after starting the half so brightly, Nuneaton almost conceded in bizarre circumstances on 64 minutes. A sliced clearance from Burge trickled away for a corner.
From the flag kick, substitute Matt Rhead was shoved over by Gavin Cowan but Green's spot kick was brilliantly saved by the Boro goalkeeper.
That effort appeared to lift the home side and they finally took the lead three minutes later. A foul 25 yards out allowed Louis Briscoe to try his luck and his free-kick deflected off the wall and into the net.
The final seconds saw the Boro break upfield but solid Mansfield defending ensured the home side continued their winning run.
Nuneaton: Burge, McNamee, Cowan, Gordon, O'Halloran. Cartwright, Sleath, Adams (York 85), Walker, Moult (Brown 85), Dance. Substitutes not used: Phillips, Dean, Armson
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