COBBLERS CLOBBERED BY CLASSY CLUCAS AND HUTCH
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 3 - 0 Northampton Town
Hutchinson 31, Clucas 34, Doumbe OG 64.
Attendance: 3469 (460 from Northampton)
Date: 21 September 2013
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town moved into 5th place in League Two with a 3-0 win over last season’s play-off finalists Northampton Town at the One Call Stadium. Two high class goals separated the sides at half-time, as Ben Hutchinson fired in a magnificent free kick from 25 yards into the top corner, and then Sam Clucas fired home from the edge of the box after Calvin Andrew had headed down. The Cobblers put Mansfield under pressure after the break and it took some super saves from Alan Marriott, a great goal-line clearance from James Jennings, and some great defending to keep them out, before an own goal sealed the win for Mansfield. Sponsors’ man of the match Ryan Tafazolli launched a ball into the Cobblers half and defender Doumbe sliced his attempted clearance over his keeper from 35 yards and into the net. A lucky goal but it came as a result of constant Mansfield chasing down of loose balls which forced the defender into panicking. Northampton continued to have chances and hit the inside of the post with the last kick of the game as Mansfield ran out deserved winners.
This was Paul Cox’s 100th league game in charge of the club. His record now stands at 59 wins and 196 points (W25 D14 L7 in 11/12, W30 D5 L11 in 12/13, W4 D3 L1 in 13/14). An average of 1.96 points per game. Astonishing. And there are still some fans not happy. Well done Coxy, keep it going!
Before the game John Radford congratulated Public Announcer Alan Wilson on his 25 years’ service. Well done Alan.
Stagsnet report here
Man of the match: Sam Clucas
Saturday, 21st September 2013: Mansfield Town 3 Northampton Town 0
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
Paul Cox’s milestone 100th league game in charge of Mansfield Town was marked in style today with a hard-earned 3-0 success against last year’s beaten play-off finalists Northampton Town.
That made it seven games without defeat at this level for the Stags and, although they scored three goals, it was their defending that impressed the most against the aerial assault the visitors provided.
Centre half Ryan Tafazolli was handed a League debut, drafted in to replace the suspended Martin Riley - and he ended up with the sponsors’ man of the match award.
Sam Clucas was again a handful and bagged his fourth goal in four games. And keeper Alan Marriott pulled off some important saves at big moments in the game to ward off any possible Cobblers’ fightback.
The first half hour wasn’t the most attractive, but two goals in two minutes then thrust Mansfield into the driving seat, a brilliant free kick from Ben Hutchinson and a low finish from Clucas setting the stadium alight.
Cobblers debut-making defender Mathias Doumbe added the third on 64 minutes with a spectacular contender for own goal of the season to rub salt in their wounds as the visitors - managed by former Stag Aidy Boothroyd - still search for their second win of the campaign.
Injured Chris Clements’ place in midfield went to Anthony Howell as Cox stayed with a 3-5-2 formation.
Summer signing Keiran Murtagh took his place on the Stags bench for the first time after injury while striker Matt Rhead was also back on bench after a one-game ban.
The game was not only a milestone for Cox as club announcer Alan Wilson was also celebrating 25 years behind the microphone.
Stags began in purposeful fashion, but the visitors almost snatched a second minute advantage when Platt was afforded a free header onto a long, high cross by Hackett from the right, but nodded his finish across goal and wide.
Jennings fed a ball to Hutchinson to his right for a snapshot that struck a defender in the chest, the home side shouting hopefully for a penalty.
Stags were then forced to defend a corner and long throw in succession.
The home side replied with a corner of their own on nine minutes.
The 13th minute proved unlucky for Cobblers centre half Heath who limped off with what looked to be a muscle pull, replaced by Widdowson.
A minute later Andrew flicked a header on target from Hutchinson’s long free kick, but it didn’t contain enough power to trouble keeper Duke.
A Cobblers break ended with Platt heading the ball into the path of Hackett in the box, but the winger was unable to control and the ball rolled off his leg to a relieved Marriott.
Morris was then well over with a hopeful 30-yard half-volley.
Stags were furious when the referee missed a blatant handball from Amankwaah, Jennings then penalised for tripping the defender.
Clucas sent a tempting ball across the face of goal soon after, Andrew unable to get there in time for what would have been the simplest of tap-ins.
Blyth sent a tame header wide under pressure from a Hackett cross as we reached the 25-minute mark without a goal.
But six minutes later Mansfield made the much-needed breakthrough thanks to free kick perfection from Huthchinson.
The visitors conceded a free kick in a central position, 25 yards from goal. Hutchinson stepped up and curled the ball over the ball and under the left angle with Duke left clawing at fresh air.
Seconds later Duke had to leave his box to kick clear as Clucas raced in, chasing a through ball.
However, Clucas did find the net soon after on 33 minutes.
Tafazolli set him up on the edge of the box and Clucas saw his low, scuffed shot find its way under the keeper’s dive for the striker’s fourth goal in as many games.
Blyth wasn’t too far over with a whipped shot on the turn from 20 yards after holding off the challenge of Sutton.
Northampton almost pulled one back right on the stroke of half-time, but Marriott was equal to Carter’s well-struck free kick, turning it over the bar, and Doumbe was wide with his header from the resulting corner.
Early in the second half, a long ball passed through everyone to an unmarked Widdowson on the other side of goal, who drilled the ball back hard and low across the six yard box where no one was able to make it count.
Then a Hackett cross was inches too high for Platt.
Stags were lacking a spark at this stage so on 54 minutes Paul Cox sent on Stevenson for Hutchinson.
But the visitors kept up their charged start to the second half with two successive corners, both defended well.
Stevenson conceded a silly free kick just outside the box on the hour which saw the visitors force three quick chances.
Marriott beat away Carter’s on-target free kick, then Morriss forced the keeper to parry his powerful follow-up shot. And when the ball was then sent back in to the far post, Blyth was too high with his header.
At this stage Andrew was replaced up front by Rhead.
Three minutes later it was 3-0 on 64 minutes as Cobblers debutant Doumbe put through his own goal.
Tafazolli launched a long ball upfield which Doumbe met on the volley but only managed to slice it up and over his stranded keeper from 20 yards.
On 71 minutes Platt’s flick sent Blyth through on Marriott only to see the keeper half-stop his finish with his legs and then Jennings head the goalbound ball off the line.
Platt wasn’t far wide with a far post header as the visitors desperately sought a reply.
Rhead worked an opening with Clucas, but blazed well over from the return pass.
Morris sent a first time shot wide before Stags sent on Speight for Clucas for the last nine minutes, Duke immediately required to run out his box and head clear as the sub chased a through ball.
Blyth bundled a poor shot at Marriott while McGuire sent a tame volley at Duke as we reached the final five minutes.
Blyth should have done better when a free kick from the right reached him 10 yards from goal only to send a hurried shot well over as the visitors realised it wasn’t their day.
McGuire was only just too high in the final minute with a six yard header on a Jennings free kick.
Carter thudded a 20 yard shot against a post with the final kick, Marriott beaten, to underline how their luck was out on the day.
But Stags cared little as they moved up into fifth place in League Two a week ahead of their first big local derby with old rivals and league leaders Chesterfield.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli; Beevers, McGuire, Hutchinson (Stevenson 54), Howell, Jennings; Clucas (Speight 81), Andrew (Rhead 61). Subs not used: Murtagh, Meikle, Daniel, Palmer.
NORTHAMPTON: Duke; Amankwaah, Heath (Widdowson 13), Doumbe, Collins; Hackett, Carter, Harriott (O’Donovan 73), Morris; Platt, Blyth. Subs not used: Tozer, Hooper, Emerton, McNamara, Toney.
REFEREE: Steven Rushton of Staffordshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3, 469 (460).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alan Marriott.
Seven games unbeaten for Mansfield Town
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
SO much has changed in the 100 games since Paul Cox took the helm at Mansfield Town, but not, it seems, his insatiable appetite for the club's progression.
There has been a lot of water under the bridge since the inauspicious beginning of his tenure - a 1-1 home draw in the Conference with a Bath City team who were to go on to be relegated.
Plenty of players have come and gone and there's been a fair share of disappointments to counter balance some never-to-be-forgotten highs.
Through it all, though, Cox has always retained his incessant search for improvement, and it was never more obvious than during his post-match assessment after completing a century of league games in charge.
While a comfortable win in terms of scoreline, Cox was brutally honest and his first comment was to describe the match as the worst the Stags had been all season when in possession.
And while he went on to praise the strength of a defensive unit that has only conceded four times in the last seven games since defeat on the first day at Scunthorpe - a record that has ensured Mansfield have stayed unbeaten during that time with four wins and three draws - he is always looking to tweak things for the better.
It is the only way to be. Stand still in football and you're going nowhere except backwards. Last week's game no longer matters. Only the fixture to come is of concern. The fact is, it would have been easy for Cox to rest on his laurels and bask in last season's Conference title win; to aim for nothing more a season of consolidation.
But he was adamant he would aim for the stars once more - and he has been true to his word.
Another promotion might seem ambitious, but try telling the Stags boss it's not on the cards.
To settle for second best is simply not the way he has been programmed.
That is why he is so critical and analytical of his squad even in victory.
Now Mansfield are up to fifth in the table and into a play-off spot, he'll reckon they can stay there - or climb even higher into the automatic promotion slots.
Certainly the formula he has gradually developed at the One Call Stadium is conducive to such a possibility.
In their first eight games, no-one has blown the Stags away, and you suspect that very few teams will do so now they have bedded into League Two.
When the former Eastwood boss took over, he often spoke of his admiration for Stevenage and the way they built a method of play that took them up into League One.
Mansfield are now starting to look strikingly similar; physically strong, resilient, savvy and with players who can 'do a bit in the right areas' to win matches for them.
On Saturday it was the turn of Ben Hutchinson to provide a moment of brilliance with a masterful free-kick bent over the wall and into the top left-hand corner just after the half-hour mark to put the home side in front.
The lead was doubled within two minutes thanks to the most consistent threat in the Mansfield team right now, Sam Clucas, whose low, drilled finish from the edge of the box complemented another display full of inventiveness and intelligent channel running.
As if those moments of inspiration were not enough, the Stags were given a helping hand in the second half when the Cobblers' Mathias Doumbé scored the most spectacular of own goals to halt a potential fightback in its tracks.
And with Northampton having no luck of their own in a much-improved second half display - Darren Carter's stoppage time strike thudding against the left-hand post summing up their afternoon - it was enough for the hosts to wrap up their second successive 3-0 home triumph.
In truth, Mansfield weren't great, but if you can win when you don't play all that well but still 'grind it out', it bodes well when you do turn on the style.
That it was fairly routine owed much to one player who has been on Cox's journey from the start and another who will hope to play a key role for him in the future.
Goalkeeper Alan Marriott made three excellent stops at just the right time to keep his side on the front foot, stepping up to the mark when his team needed him.
And then there was Ryan Tafazolli. Handed his first Football League start in the absence of the suspended Martin Riley - Anthony Howell in for Chris Clements was the only other change - he was tasked with quelling the threat of Northampton's experienced target man, Clive Platt, and did it admirably.
Recording back-to-back successes for the first time this season could not have been better timed ahead of this weekend's eagerly-anticipated derby against Chesterfield, where the table toppers are likely to provide as stern a test as Mansfield have faced since their return to the elite 92.
Yet even if the Stags' big day out at the Proact Stadium ends in disappointment, past history tells you Cox will only see it as a learning experience he can use for the greater good in the club's evolution over the weeks and months to come.
Doumbe's debut to forget as toothless Town beaten at Mansfield
MANSFIELD TOWN 3 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 0
Written by CARL FIELD
Mathias Doumbe had a nightmare on his Northampton Town debut as the Cobblers were comprehensively defeated 3-0 at Mansfield in League Two this afternoon.
Doumbe was at fault for two of the home side’s goals, giving away the free-kick for Ben Hutchinson to open the scoring in the first half, before putting through his own net in bizarre circumstances from 35 yards after the break.
In between those two goals, Sam Clucas also found the net for Mansfield as they dominated a below-par Northampton.
French central defender Doumbe, who joined the Cobblers on Thursday, went straight into the side with Lee Collins moving out to left-back. Ian Morris was back the skipper the side after recovering from a groin problem while Gary Deegan sat the game out through suspension.
However they were dealt a blow in the 13th minute of the match when Matt Heath was forced off injured and was replaced by Joe Widdowson, meaning Collins shifted back inside.
The early exchanges were devoid of any real chances until the deadlock was broken by the home side just after the half hour mark. Doumbe clattered into Mansfield striker Calvin Andrew 25 yards out giving the home side a free-kick and, from it, Hutchinson expertly bent it into Matt Duke’s top right hand corner beyond the despairing dive of the keeper.
Before the visitors had even had chance to draw breath, Mansfield has doubled that lead a little under two minutes later, as the ball fell to Clucas on the edge of the box and he turned on a six pence before firing a shot low beyond Duke into the bottom left hand corner to leave Northampton stunned.
Cobblers, although were bright in patches in the first half, lacked any cutting edge in the final third of the field, with their only effort of the opening period coming on the stroke of half time - a long distance Darren Carter free-kick that needed Mansfield stopper Alan Marriott to tip over the crossbar.
Town nearly got themselves back into the contest on 61 minutes, but were denied by a fantastic double save from Marriott.
First, he kept out Carter’s inswinging free-kick from the edge of the box after Chris Hackett had been fouled, before he also pulled off another smart stop to keep out Morris’ follow-up effort, before Jacob Blyth then headed over from close range.
Mansfield secured all three points three minutes later courtesy of a freak own goal from Doumbe to cap a nightmare debut. Attempting to clear a long ball forward from Mansfield 35 yards out, he spectacularly miscued and diverted the ball up and over a helpless Duke.
James Jennings then cleared brilliantly off the line for the hosts from Collins on 71 minutes, after the original effort had been well saved by Marriott, while Collins also hit the post late on, as the Cobblers continued to toil on a day they - and particularly Doumbe - will quickly want to forget.
Cobblers (4-4-2): Duke; Amankwaah, Heath (Widdowson 13), Doumbe, Collins; Hackett, Carter, Harriott (O’Donovan 71), Morris (C); Platt, Blyth. Subs not used: Tozer, Hooper, Emerton, McNamara, Toney.
Attendance: 3,469 (460 Northampton)
Jefferson Lake’s Mansfield v Cobblers view and player ratings
by Jefferson Lake
While the narrow loss to Exeter City last week represented a step forward for the Cobblers, this defeat - although it contained glimpses of good play - was definitely at least one step back.
It is important to say first of all that 3-0 was without a doubt an unfair reflection of the 90 minutes of football.
Mansfield manager Paul Cox admitted so, and while such statements are always easy to make when you’ve got the three points in the bag and the crowd’s adulation ringing in your ears, this was no false platitude.
What troubled Northampton in this game is what has plagued them throughout the current campaign - an inability to influence play in the critical areas and at the critical times.
Every week, sloppy goals are conceded through basic mistakes.
Mansfield’s three on Saturday included a free-kick excellently executed but given for a marginal and clumsy foul that didn’t need to be made, a first-time strike that seemed to go through Matt Duke’s hand after possession had been turned over in their own half, and a calamitous own goal.
A disorganised defence being taken apart by fluid, passing football, this was not.
Footballing hari-kari would be a more accurate description.
Then there’s the other end of the field, where serious questions remain over where the goals will come from to move this team away from the foot of the table.
At the risk of sugar-coating it, there were some encouraging signs at Mansfield, with Darren Carter showing signs of a willingness to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and Chris Hackett continually getting in good areas down the right (although his crossing range is out - an inexcusable weakness when you have two giants in the box waiting for the ball).
But to be conceding soft goals and having no cutting edge yourself is a recipe, perhaps not for disaster, then certainly defeats and that is what the side is getting.
Some have made comparisons between the current situation and the one that presented itself to Aidy Boothroyd in the aftermath of the Gary Johnson era.
From my personal point of view, the two situations could not be more different.
Nobody currently at the club is happy about the present situation but under previous regimes such concerns manifested themselves in paranoia and in-fighting.
Such things are not happening at Sixfields at the moment.
This is a team that is not playing well and of whom many doubts are being raised.
They do, though, desperately need a win, and it’s getting to the point where they need that win by any means necessary.
An uncharacteristically below-average performance, had no chance with the first and third goal but should have stopped the second ...5
His opponent, Sam Clucas, was more about energy than quality and he contained him well but was not in position for his goal ...5
Managed 11 minutes before limping out of the action with a thigh strain
A marginal foul that led to the first free-kick and an almost comical own goal were the watershed moments of his debut but he actually played pretty well outside of the drama ...6
Started at left-back and was moved inside to accommodate the Heath injury; a little ponderous in possession at times ...5
A mixed bag of a performance - got into countless good positions but his delivery seems to be out at the moment. Has two big players to aim at too ...6
Probably his best game for the club - played with a good tempo, struck two good free-kicks and hit the post towards the end ...7
Given a chance to with Deegan suspended but didn’t really take it. Plenty of energy but little to suggest he will be a regular any time soon ...5
Competed well down the left and provided a couple of acceptable shots but still seems to be feeling his way back into it ...6
His unselfishness is a great quality but it was his downfall on this occasion - should have been more ruthless in one or two areas ...5
Was one of several players to fall victim to the ‘trying too hard’ curse rather than just playing his natural game and going with the flow ...5
JOE WIDDOWSON (for Heath 11)
A more steadier contribution than he has been making in recent weeks and got forward well a couple of times ...6
ROY O’DONOVAN (for Harriott 74)
Introduced as a tactical roll of the dice but was unable to influence the outcome of the game with such a limited amount of time ...5
Not used: Tozer, Hooper, Emerton, McNamara, Toney
Latest | September 2013