STAGS BEATEN AT BRAINTREE AND THEN KIDDIE WIN
Blue Square Bet Premier
Braintree Town 2 - 1 Mansfield Town
Paine 60, Sheppard 71. Green 8.
Attendance: 1755 (app 1200 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 April 2013
STAGS BEATEN AT BRAINTREE, AND THEN KIDDERMINSTER WIN IN DOUBLE WHAMMY
Martin Shaw at Cressing Road
What could have been a day that dreams are made of, turned into a nightmare, as Mansfield Town were beaten at Braintree Town and then title rivals Kidderminster won at Wrexham a couple of hours later. The Stags could have won the title today with a victory coupled with Kidderminster drawing or losing. But instead Mansfield now need to win both at Hereford on Tuesday and at home to Wrexham next Saturday to keep the title in their own hands, if Kidderminster were to beat relegation threatened Stockport at home on Saturday. If Mansfield were to draw at Hereford, then Mansfield and Kidderminster would go into the final game level on points and with the same goal difference though with Mansfield having scored more goals. So Mansfield would have to match whatever score Kidderminster achieved, but Kidderminster would have by far the easier game.
It could, and should, have been so different at Braintree though. The Stags were totally dominant for 60 minutes and should have been further ahead than one goal from Matt Green. Green put Mansfield ahead on 8 minutes brilliantly controlling a super ball from Lee Beevers and taking a couple of touches before finishing clinically. Mansfield were very good in the first half, working hard, being first to every ball, and never giving Braintree a moment on the ball. But Mansfield so desperately needed a second goal and it never came. They were so unlucky on 28 minutes when Howell fed Green on his left and Green smacked a fine shot against the inside of the left post but somehow it didn’t go in. If that had gone it, there would have only been one winner. Mansfield started the second half, as they started the first, but still the second goal wouldn’t come. And Braintree were level, completely out of the blue, on 60 minutes as defender Matt Paine scored with a great half volley from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner giving Marriott no chance. The goal seemed to knock some stuffing out of Mansfield as it was such a shock, and Braintree were in front on 71 minutes as a cross from the left by Habergham saw Sheppard outjump Dempster to head in off the right post. Mansfield were still in shock and were frankly poor, and it wasn’t until the last ten minutes that an equaliser seemed possible. First Braintree keeper McDonald superbly tipped away Rhead’s header into the path of Murray who headed wide and put his head in his hands. Then another back header from Rhead was incredibly tipped away by the keeper as the ball seemed certain to go over him and into the net. And finally Daniel wasted a great chance in stoppage time as he blazed over when he had time at the far post.
A terrible result. Credit to Braintree for coming back from being totally outplayed for 60 minutes.
Paul Cox had already said that the Mansfield players would not be staying behind to watch the Kidderminster game on TV whatever the result. Some Mansfield fans stayed behind in the Braintree bar, but most left at half time leaving only about ten Stags fans watching the second half. When Wrexham equalised midway through the second half at Kidderminster there were great scenes of jubilation in the bar but Kidderminster went on to win 2-1.
Mansfield need to regroup quickly and produce a gutsy performance to pick up a win at Hereford, which won’t be at all easy given Hereford’s recent form, but Mansfield have the shown the credentials that show they can do it. Come on Mansfield, another huge week awaits!
FULL REPORT LATER
Mansfield fans turned out in force hoping for it to be a promotion party. I confidently predicted before the game that Braintree would not provide the number of visiting fans and so it turned out. However, it was clear that there were no more than 500 home fans in the ground, and Braintree have been getting about 400 home fans this season, and an estimate of 1200 Mansfield fans seems the best estimate.
Paul Cox named an unchanged side again, no surprise given the recent run. Braintree came into the game having played on Thursday night, as well as Tuesday and Saturday. Braintree were also without top scorer Sean Marks.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Saturday, 13th April: Braintree Town 2 Mansfield Town 1
Mansfield Town threw away a chance to all but win the BSBP title when they allowed minnows Braintree Town to come from behind and pull off a shock victory at the Amlin Stadium this afternoon.
Had Stags won this one and Kidderminster not won at Wrexham later tonight, the title would have been Mansfield’s.
And it looked as if the Stags had kept their part of the bargain as they grabbed an eighth minute lead through goal machine Matt Green and dominated the first hour of the game against a part-time side who had already played Tuesday and Thursday this week.
However, it all went horrible wrong in the driving Essex rain as the wilting home side suddenly found a second wind on the cloying pitch and conjured up two goals in 11 minutes to rock the visitors with keeper Nathan McDonald in inspired form for the home side.
Stags will now anxiously await tonight’s Wrexham v Kidderminster score before heading for Hereford United on Tuesday night for another crucial game.
It had all been so different earlier as over 1,000 Mansfield fans took over the tiny Braintree stadium, sitting and standing on three of the four sides.
Manager Paul Cox named an unchanged side and unchanged bench from Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Macclesfield to take on the Essex part-timers who had already played on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.
Stags almost snatched a sensational lead inside the first 30 seconds, Stevenson sending in a teasing cross from the left which saw Green go up with keeper McDonald and the ball tantalisingly close to the line before Habergham cleared for a corner.
A dangerous low Daniel cross won a second corner on seven minutes which Jones met with a far post header that McDonald stretched upwards to safely clutch.
But Stags stormed into an eighth minute lead via the most direct route.
Beevers played a superb long ball over the top which saw Green race to get goalside of the home defence and calmly sidefoot a perfect finish past an exposed McDonald for his 24th goal of the season.
Jones got another header on target from a Murray free kick as Braintree struggled to hold on under intense pressure.
Murray swung another free kick straight at goal, McDonald seeing it late as it came through a crowd of players, but well positioned to hold.
As the pre-match sunshine disappeared and the rain came down, Stags almost gifted the home side an equaliser against the run of play as no one dealt with a low Daley cross from the right and Wright was given an unexpected chance to stab a low shot at Marriott from 12 yards.
Green almost doubled his and Mansfield’s tally on 28 minutes after Howell attacked the box in the centre and slipped a superb pass to his left where Green looked a certain scorer, but his vicious left-footed finish cannoned back off the near post.
At the other end Davis scooped a 20-yard effort well over the bar.
Briscoe then turned well to dip an ambitious 45-yard half-volley over the home bar, which would have been goal of the season had it dipped a little sooner.
Braintree were resembling a boxer facing defeat, reeling from wave after wave of punishing attacks and second best in almost every challenge.
A clever diagonal pass from Stevenson sent Taylor to the left by-line where he overhit a powerful cross that no one had a prayer of reaching.
Howell conceded a first corner of the game for the home side on 36 minutes which Mansfield managed to clear after a dangerous near post flick.
Stags then forced their fourth flag kick, but pushing was spotted and the chance wasted for the visitors as Murray’s kick came over.
Soon after McDonald was down bravely at Murray’s feet as he tried to find a shooting angle on the left.
Davis was too high with a header for the Iron four minutes from the break.
Then Green lost control as he tried to round the keeper from a tight angle on the right after doing supremely well to win a hopeful loft forward.
One minute was added on and, with that complete, the referee allowed Braintree to still float a free kick into the Mansfield box which Taylor finally played away to ensure Stags maintained their narrow winning margin at the break.
With less then two minutes of the second half played, Briscoe fired a 28-yard central free kick through the wall, but straight at McDonald.
Stevenson battled well to win Stags’ first corner of the second half, but Jones could only get the slightest of touches with his head on Murray’s flag kick and the ball skimmed well wide.
A sliced defensive clearance offered Mansfield a second soon after as the tiny home floodlights came on. That was headed out for a third, which Jones glanced goalwards only for the referee to spot an infringement and blow.
Marriott was having almost nothing to do but was quickly to his knees in the mud to grab a long free kick into his box and not offer the Iron any kind of opportunity.
Wright sliced well wide with a shot on the run a minute later as Braintree continued to plug away gamely with very little venom in their sting.
McDonald punched away a Murray ball into the box, which went through everyone.
But Braintree suddenly conjured up an equaliser against the run of play.
Habergham pulled the ball back from the left by-line towards the edge of the box where Paine shaped up and buried a right-footed shot on the half-volley, the ball beating Marriott’s dive and finding its way inside the left post.
A minute later Marriott was there to grab an on-target header that came out of a crowd of players from a free kick.
Rhead replaced Stevenson on 62 minutes as Stags immediately looked for a way to get back on top.
Jones was shoved in the back while defending and the whistle went before Mulley turned the ball into the Mansfield net on 68 minutes.
That saw the introduction of Meikle for Briscoe a minute later.
But it was the home side who struck again on 71 minutes to completely turn the afternoon on its head.
Habergham lifted a cross to the far post from deep on the left and it was Sheppard who rose highest to plant a header that beat Marriott all ends up from seven yards.
Howell was replaced by Chapman for the last 12 minutes as shellshocked Stags looked for a reply.
And they were desperately close a minute later as Rhead flicked a header onto a long Chapman throw which McDonald just managed to claw away towards Murray whose follow-up finished the wrong side of the post.
Taylor dived into a tackle on 84 minutes to see the game’s first booking.
With Stags pushing forward, they were almost undone on the break near the end as Holman squared a pass to Mulley whose finish thankfully deflected wide.
Green was hauled back as he tried to break and Massey was cautioned, but Green was also yellow-carded for what he said to the referee.
Three minutes from time Stags won a corner, but Murray’s delivery was poor and to no one, the Iron easily clearing their lines.
A minute from time, Rhead looked like he had levelled with another flicked header from another Chapman long throw, but McDonald pulled off an acrobatic save to turn it over his bar.
Mansfield were offered the lifeline of four extra minutes at the end to save the day.
And in the last of those minutes a Jones cross was cleared to Daniel who whipped a finish well over.
Instead, Holman was inches wide at the other end with a powerful, curling effort.
On 90+5 minutes, Chapman was booked for complaining to the referee over a foul that he had missed. Seconds later the whistle ended an afternoon that had promised so much but delivered nothing.
BRAINTREE: McDonald, Paine, Massey, Wells, Habergham, Symons, Mulley, Daley (Woodyard 67), Davis, Wright (Holman 76), Sheppard (Sparkes 90+2). Subs not used: Smith, Naisbitt.?STAGS: Marriott; Beevers, Jones, Dempster, Taylor; Howell (Hutchinson 78), Murray, Stevenson (Rhead 62); Briscoe (Meikle 69), Green, Daniel. Subs not used: Sutton, Hutchinson.?REFEREE: Brett Huxtable of Torrington, Devon.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Murray
Iron battle back to earn victory
By Andrew Webb
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/fixtures-results/match-report/?pageView=full#OvT8R4fXhU6vRAvQ.99
Mansfield Town suffered a shock defeat to Braintree Town at the Amlin Stadium.
The Stags, who could have moved five points clear at the Blue Square Bet Premier summit with victory, went ahead through Matt Green’s well-taken opener on eight minutes.
But Braintree courageously battled back and levelled on the hour mark thanks to Matt Paine’s 20-yard volley into the bottom corner.
James Mulley had a goal disallowed midway through the second period, but it ultimately mattered little as Kaine Sheppard’s header won in for the hosts.
The Stags named an unchanged side for the clash, as they looked to continue their excellent recent form which has seen them win 18 of their last 20 league fixtures.
And buoyed by a noisy travelling contingent of over 1,000 visiting supporters, Paul Cox’s men began in positive fashion and nearly grabbed an opener inside the opening minute.
Green and Lee Stevenson combined on the left channel, before the latter delivered a teasing cross into the six-yard box, with Matt Paine forced to head wide at the expense of a corner.
The Stags seized the initiative as they continued to attack with venom and having dominated possession, Luke Jones headed straight at Nathan McDonald following Adam Murray’s corner.
Braintree, with little to play for having already secured their Blue Square Bet Premier status, were being forced back constantly, and on eight minutes the Stags’ pressure paid off.
Lee Beevers floated a superb ball over the top towards Green, who skipped past his marker and nonchalantly fired beyond an on-rushing McDonald to establish an advantage.
Green’s 22nd strike of the campaign was received with euphoric cheers of uncontrollable delight amongst the visiting faithful, in the knowledge that their side had got the perfect start.
With the inquest into the opener still on-going between Braintree’s defenders, the Stags quickly sought to add another as they showed no mercy to their part-time counterparts.
Just two minutes later, Louis Briscoe’s teasing right-sided delivery caused havoc in the hosts’ six-yard box, but despite both Green and Stevenson lurking, Paine was able to clear.
Nevertheless, the one-way traffic continued as Jones was again denied by McDonald following another header, whilst the Iron custodian also kept out Murray’s in-swinging free-kick.
Alan Devonshire’s side gradually began to establish a foothold in the encounter having been outclassed for the opening quarter-of-an-hour and registered their chance on 18 minutes.
Winger Luke Daley weaved his way inside from the right channel and found Ben Wright with a low pull-back, as Alan Marriott was forced into a routine, but comfortable save.
The Stags’ work-rate was phenomenal as they chased every loose ball, fed off every scrap and refused to allow their opponents any time to settle or creative rhythm.
Following a quiet period and some brutal midfield exchanges, the Stags again broke clear midway through the first period courtesy of Anthony Howell
With Green and Stevenson advancing on the overlap to his left and right respectively, Howell eventually found Green, whose ferocious left-foot drive rattled the post.
McDonald caught Murray’s subsequent corner a few moments later, whilst, at the opposite end, Kenny Davis wildly blazed over from Kaine Sheppard’s intelligent lay-off.
The clash had developed into an enthralling and captivating contest between two teams; one of which was full of energy, whilst the other were brave and resolute.
Heavy rain made conditions difficult for both teams, though Mansfield really upped the ante after the re-start as they sought to add a ‘killer’ second.
Briscoe’s low 30-yard free-kick was routinely held by McDonald, whilst Jones thumped powerfully headed wide following Murray’s right sided corner towards the back post.
In another set-piece on 53 minutes, Murray’s back-post cross was flicked by Jones towards a centrally-located John Dempster, who was distracted by Nicky Symons.
What Braintree lacked in quality, they made up for in endeavour, as they refused to lie down and surrender to their title-chasing visitors.
The Irons survived a speculative 30-yard snap-shot by Murray close to the hour-mark, which was wonderfully palmed away by McDonald, before they surprisingly drew level.
James Mulley caused problems with some intricate footwork deep on the left channel, and having got away from Briscoe and Beevers, linked up with Sam Habergham.
Habergham’s cross to the edge of the area reached an unmarked Paine, who proved to be a real nuisance, as he steered a well-placed volley into the bottom corner.
The Stags were shell-shocked and their mood was reflected by the equally-miserable weather.
That despair was almost heightened on 68 minutes as Massey and Dempster tussled upon entering the area, with the Braintree man ultimately stabbing the ball home.
Just as it looked as if the hosts had established a lead, the referee came to the rescue as he judged Massey to have committed a foul, shirt-pulling, on Dempster.
However, Mansfield failed to take heed of the warning signs.
Three minutes later, Habergham’s deep cross found Sheppard at the near post, who stooped low and placed his header beyond a full-stretch Marriott to complete the turnaround.
Lindon Meikle and Adam Chapman were thrust into the action, and on 77 minutes, the duo combined with fellow substitute Matt Rhead, as Mansfield came close to equalising.
Chapman hurled in a long-throw from the right, flicked on by Rhead, deep into the six-yard box, to which Meikle powerfully headed wide at the back post.
More pressure followed but very much like the Amlin Stadium pitch, the hosts continued to soak up pressure as seconds agonisingly ticked away for the visitors.
With less than a minute of normal time remaining, Rhead also came within a whisker as he flicked on another of Chapman’s long-throws and forced McDonald into a superb reflex save.
Four minutes of added time brought no cheer for Mansfield, as Daniel volleyed over, whilst substitute Dan Holman curled an effort just wide at the other end.
Ultimately, it was the part-time Essex outfit that emerged victorious and threw a huge spanner in Mansfield Town’s bid to become champions.
Latest | April 2013