STAGS START WITH A DEFEAT BUT PLENTY OF POSITIVES
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Scunthorpe United 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Sparrow 30, Winnall 41
Attendance: 5241 (1500 from Mansfield)
Date: 3 August 2013
Martin Shaw at Glanford Park
Mansfield Town started life back in the Football League with a 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe United, who were playing in the Championship two seasons ago. The scoreline doesn’t tell the full story, as the Stags were the better side for the opening 30 minutes, but two sloppy goals conceded before half game turned the game in Scunthorpe’s favour. The Stags also finished the game stronger in the last 20 minutes but more missed chances and then a missed penalty meant the Stags went home empty-handed. There were some encouraging performances from Mansfield, most notably from debutante Sam Clucas, who looked very good as he has done in pre-season. While striker Ollie Palmer, who signed on Friday, came on for the last half hour and looked lively and promising.
It was great to be back in the Football League, and we’ve waited a long time for this day to come. It captured the imagination of Stags fans as a brilliant following of exactly 1500 fans made the journey to Glanford Park, and made a fantastic noise, backing their side.
Boss Paul Cox handed debuts to centre half John McCombe and winger/striker Sam Clucas. Ross Dyer started his first league game since the first game of last season, on the right side of midfield. Matt Rhead was a surprise choice (to me anyway) up front, starting alongside Lee Stevenson in a 4-4-2 formation:
Beevers, Dempster, McCombe, Jennings;
Dyer, Murray, Howell, Clucas;
None of Briscoe, Meikle or Daniel were in the starting XI, which surprised me. On the bench were new signings goalkeeper Ian Deakin, Jamie McGuire and striker Ollie Palmer. Palmer is a player I have seen several times before for Woking and Havant & Waterlooville. He’s got pace, is good in the air, and is a good finisher. I think he’s a great signing, and hopefully he will be able to step up two divisions. Palmer played in the same Woking side as Keiran Murtagh.
Stagsnet player ratings here
Man of the match: Sam Clucas
Stags lose League return 2-0 in close clash at Scunthorpe
chad.co.uk by John Lomas
Two goals in 11 minutes late in the first half ensured Mansfield Town’s long-awaited return to League football ended in a 2-0 defeat in the Scunthorpe sunshine this afternoon.
But the Stags will take heart from the fact that there was little other difference between two sides who were competing two divisions apart last season.
And, on another day, the Stags might still have come away with a point, Ross Dyer putting a header wide from six yards and Louis Briscoe blazing over a late penalty kick that saw Eddie Nolan dismissed for a second bookable offence.
The match stats showed Stags had five corners to United’s four and both teams had five goals attempts apiece.
But it was two defensive lapses that proved so costly in the end as returning home hero Matt Sparrow was allowed space at the far post to bury a 29th minute opening and then, as the Stags’ defence hoped for an offside flag on 40 minutes, hesitation by Alan Marriott proved fatal as Sam Winnall won a lost cause and, winning his challenge with the keeper, then had only to find the empty net.
Mansfield gave debuts to two of their new signings.
Central defender John McCombe and excellent left winger Sam Clucas made their bows for Stags in a 4-4-1-1 formation with big Matt Rhead up front.
Striker Ollie Palmer, signed eventually from Havant and Waterlooville yesterday, had to be content with a place on the bench.
In the end he was given the last 29 minutes and looked eager and hungry without ever really getting sight of goal.
The traditional opening day sunshine was evident at Glanford Park as Stags’ 1,400-strong army of fans arrived at the ground for Mansfield’s first League game in five years.
Stevenson almost gave Stags a second minute lead but scuffed his finish wide after Murray’s nicely weighted pass had given him sight of goal inside the box.
Marriott rose to confidently claim Winnall’s first cross from the right as the Iron finally ventured into Mansfield territory.
It was a tense, scrappy opening and next goal attempt came on 15 minutes when Stevenson’s speculative 25 yard shot looped up and over via a deflection for the game’s first corner.
A minute later and Clucas cut back inside between two bemused defenders before rifling a 20 yard shot at Slocombe for the game’s first on-target attempt.
A second Stags corner followed as the visitors’ early eager running brought the Stags fans into full cry.
Dempster produced a solid tackle to halt Winnall before he could line up a shot for the Iron.
Jennings then saw a free kick hit team mate Rhead in the wall while, on 20 minutes the whistle had gone for the ball going behind for a goalkick well before Dyer slammed it into the home net.
Tempers boiled over briefly as Murray clashed with Welsh and other players raced in. But the referee had a word with the pair and no cards were shown.
A half-cleared free kick bounced out to home skipper Collins, whose 25-yard drive was always rising over.
Back came Mansfield and Rhead nodded down a long Jennings throw for Clucas, who lifted a first time effort just over the home bar.
It had been a fine effort so far from Mansfield. But it was the home side who edged ahead on 29 minutes.
Welsh launched a long ball over from the left wing towards the far post where Sparrow was left free to get away a shot that Marriott tried to parry at his near post but was beaten by the power of the finish.
Dawson brought out the best of Marriott with a curling free kick over the wall on 34 minutes that had the Stags keeper going full-length to his left to grab the ball.
There was more danger as Hawkridge slipped a pass to Winnall, who was unable to round the keeper, Marriott spreading himself well to prevent the finish.
Disaster then struck for Mansfield five minutes from the interval.
Hawkridge sent a long harmless-looking ball downfield.
The Stags defence and, more importantly, Marriott seemed to hesitate before realising Winnall may be onside and win his chase for a lost cause.
Marriott ran out to challenge him, but Winnall won the tackle which saw the ball spin into space in front of the empty net, and the United man gleefully tucked it away.
Rhead did head the ball against the home bar from Beevers’ far post cross on 44 minutes, but an offside flag was already aloft and Stags, after a promising first half-hour, went in with much work to do in the second half.
Only six minutes into that second period, Cox made his first change, taking off Stevenson, and throwing on Meikle.
Marriott punched away the first home corner of the half, then Rhead saw the first yellow card of the game for a shove on the defender as he chased a long through hall on 54 minutes.
Welsh beat Beevers to a back post cross to guide a header narrowly wide before Palmer was thrown in for his Mansfield debut in place of Rhead on 61 minutes.
Nolan was cautioned for dissent on 61 minutes, before Stags had to endure some nervy moments in the home box after McComb failed to clear his lines.
Dyer missed the visitors’ best chance on 71 minutes. Beevers curled in a tempting cross from the right which Dyer met with a diving header from just six yards which he failed to get on target.
It was his final action as he was immediately replaced by the waiting Briscoe.
Slocombe did well to chase out his box to win a challenge with Meikle and Jennings was booked as he hacked down Welsh as he raced away onto the keeper’s clearance.
Slocombe confidently caught a Jennings corner on 87 minutes as Mansfield desperately looked for a way into the game.
There was late drama as Nolan got his hand in the way of a Clucas cross to give away a needless penalty kick.
Already booked, the yellow card produced saw Nolan dismissed and Briscoe stepped up for the spot kick.
However, he got right under the ball and shipped it up into the stand, well over the bar to the jeers of the home fans, summing up Mansfield’s day.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe, Dawson, Mirfin, Canavan, Sparrow, Burton (Iwelumo 81), Welsh (Clark 88), Hawkridge, Nolan, Collins, Winnall (Godden 77). Subs not used: Severn, Ribeiro, McAllister, Howe.?STAGS: Marriott: Beevers, McCombe, Dempster, Jennings; Dyer (Briscoe 71), Murray, Howell, Clucas; Stevenson (Meikle 51), Rhead (Palmer 61). Subs not used: McGuire, Sutton, Speight, Deakin.?REFEREE: Eddie Ilderton of Tyne & Wear.
ATTENDANCE: 5,241 (1,500 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Sam Clucas.
Stags get a rude awakening to life back in the League
Nottingham Post by Matt Halfpenny
AFTER all the hype and all the build-up, it was such a huge anti-climax. Mansfield Town's Football League return was not supposed to go like this.
Read more: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-19613481-detail/story.html#ixzz2b59fC7QN
Sure, they were playing a team in Scunthorpe who were two divisions higher last season and are among those expected to challenge for a promotion place in League Two over the coming months.
But, having experienced that champion feeling in April when they clinched the Conference title, the expectation was the Stags could ride the crest of that wave for a little longer.
Instead, though, those fans who woke up on the morning of the game dreaming of another promotion were given a reality check; cold, hard evidence in the heat of a sizzling Glanford Park that there is a distinct divide in class between the top flight of non-league football and English football's elite 92.
While supporters can be thankful that those trips to footballing outposts such as Lewes, Histon, Ebbsfleet and Woking are no longer on the agenda, it also means that an easy three points is also a great deal less likely.
Plenty has changed in the world in the 1,918 days since the Stags last played a Football League game - that gut-wrenching, soul-destroying final day defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge at the end of the 2007-08 season, when relegation to the Football Conference had already been confirmed.
Facebook and Twitter have become on-line social networking phenomenon; England are now favourites to win the Ashes; and the Queen has a great grandchild.
What has not is that to survive and prosper in League Two, success, or not, as the case may be, is dependent on an ability to take opportunities and avoid sloppy mistakes.
On this occasion, Mansfield were punished by a ruthless Scunthorpe for managing neither.
At first glance, it was hard to tell the Stags were the new boys after five years in the wilderness. For the first half an hour they were much the better side.
Tellingly, however, they failed to capitalise, lost concentration and in the lead up to half-time two swift goals ensured their aspirations of victory had all but gone.
Had Mansfield scored when in the ascendency, then an underdog's upset might have been in the pipeline.
But Lee Stevenson shot wide from just inside the box after just two minutes and Sam Clucas fired straight at namesake Slocombe.
Ross Dyer did find the net only to have his celebrations cut short as Lee Beevers' centre was adjudged to have gone out before being headed back across goal by Matt Rhead.
Those moments were always likely to come back to haunt Mansfield and Scunthorpe showed why, thanks to a clinical finish by Matt Sparrow.
He drilled a pin-point shot inside Alan Marriott's left-hand post from a deep left-wing cross from Andy Welsh - all after former Carlton Town winger Terry Hawkridge had begun the raid following a misplaced Adam Murray header.
The opener undoubtedly knocked the visitors out of their stride and Marriott had to be at his best to keep out Andy Dawson's free-kick and then deny Sam Winnall by diving at his feet.
The Stags had still not recovered when the back line got their offside trap all wrong, Marriott hesitated and a gleeful Winnall nipped in to prod the ball past the keeper and roll into an empty net for 2-0.
United threaten to cut loose either side of half-time with star of the show, Hawkridge, again to the fore.
A third goal at that stage looked likely and really would have left Mansfield no way back.
As it was, more pace was introduced into the Stags attack either side of the hour mark and it might have made for an interesting closing few minutes with better finishing, Dyer missing a free header from six yards.
Even then, Mansfield might have made a game of it had they netted from the penalty spot in the final minute of normal time when Eddie Nolan handled Clucas' cross in the box and was sent off for a second bookable offence.
It summed up Mansfield's afternoon when substitute Louis Briscoe kick was closer to clearing the stand than finding the target.
The simple message manager Paul Cox will have stressed to his troops once back in the dressing room is that they simply can't dine out on last season.
As far as the future is concerned, their Conference-winning pedigree means nothing.
Now the Stags have it all to do again - and without the talismanic Matt Green, whose absence was painfully felt, not just because of his goalscoring threat but also his ability to run the channels.
That said, there were positives too, not least the way the side fought back in the second half when they could have folded, and the way the travelling fans sympathetically applauded their team off at the end, despite the defeat.
Seemingly, they realise the need for patience.
It is not the first time the Stags have started the season badly, having lost their first two games in 2012-13.
We all know how well they hit back then.
The question is, can they do it again?
Iron start in winning style with goals from Sparrow and Winnall against Mansfield
By Sarah Clapson
AN OLD fans’ favourite and a new one ensured Scunthorpe United started the season in winning style, beating Mansfield Town 2-0.
Matt Sparrow, on his return to the club where it all began, opened the scoring with half an hour gone after a shaky start by the hosts.
And Sam Winnall made it a debut to remember by extending that advantage barely 10 minutes later.
It was a new-look Iron team which lined up against the Stags, with only four of the team which started the last game of last season doing so this time around - skipper Michael Collins, Sam Slocombe, David Mirfin and Eddie Nolan.
Six of boss Brian Laws’ 11 summer signings took their places in the first XI, with Winnall and Deon Burton getting the nod up front as Chris Iwelumo only made the bench.
Terry Hawkridge and Andy Welsh occupied the wings and there were returns in claret and blue for Andy Dawson and Sparrow.
It was the visitors though, who created the better openings in the early stages of the first half as United struggled to settle.
Lee Stevenson tried his luck from the edge of the area inside two minutes, while Collins lost out to Sam Clucas, who put in an inviting cross from the left which the Iron back line watch float wide.
Although Scunthorpe had their fair share of the ball, a lack of composure resulted in a lack of chances.
Again though, they were almost masters of their own downfall when they gifted possession to Town, resulting in an effort from Stevenson from range, which careered off Mirfin for a corner.
Slomcobe was drawn into action shortly after when Clucas shimmied past Hawkridge and curled an effort goalwards, while James Jennings’ free-kick from 20 yards was blocked by the wall.
With 20 minutes gone, gradually the Iron started to come more into the game.
Hawkridge was fouled out on the right and the free-kick from Welsh eventually found its way to Collins, who blasted the ball high and wide.
Still, it was a start and United began to build on it.
Clucas once again threatened down the left, but Scunthorpe took the lead on the half hour mark.
Hawkridge pushed forward and the ball made its way out to Welsh, who put in a teasing cross and found Sparrow at the far post. The midfielder kept his nerve to slot the ball home and put the hosts ahead.
Dawson tried to add to that with a free-kick after Burton was felled, but Alan Marriott was equal to his effort.
Starting to find their feet a little, Hawkridge fed Winnall down the right, and the front man raced forward, only to see his route to goal blocked by keeper Marriott at the last minute.
That Scunthorpe combination worked to great effect again just a few minutes later - Winnall this time showing great determination to follow the ball up and roll it home after going in full throttle with Marriott.
With almost an hour gone, Welsh really should have made it 3-0.
Good work by Collins, paved the way for a Nolan cross, but though Welsh was unmarked, his placement header downwards fell just the wrong side of the post.
With Mansfield somewhat deflated and United easing off in the heat, the game petered out a little in the second half as chances became limited.
Dawson tried to open things up for the home side with a powerful run forward, while Ross Dyer offered a reminder that Scunthorpe shouldn’t get too complacent, heading inches wide from Lee Beevers ball in.
And Slocombe had to be on his guard with 76 minutes gone, racing to the edge of the area to thwart Lindon Meikle.
Laws changed his strike force with 10 minutes remaining, both Winnall and Burton receiving standing ovations as they were replaced, the former by Matt Godden and the Iwelumo coming on for his first Iron appearance.
It was at the other end of the pitch though, where there was late drama.
After already being booked, Nolan was issued a red card with two minutes remaining for a handball offence.
Louis Briscoe stepped up to take the resulting penalty but failed to find the target, sending his strike sailing over the bar and ensuring the Iron kept a clean-sheet.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe; Nolan, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson; Hawkridge, Collins, Sparrow, Welsh (Clark 88); Burton (Iwelumo 81), Winnall (Godden 77). Subs not used: Severn, Ribeiro, McAllister, Howe.
MANSFIELD: Marriott; Beevers, Dempster, McCombe, Jennings; Dyer (Briscoe 71), Howell, Murray, Clucas; Stevenson (Meikle 51), Rhead (Palmer 61). Subs not used: McGuire, Sutton, Speight, Deakin.
ATTENDANCE: 5,241 (1,500 away).
Latest | August 2013