STAGS TURN VICTORY INTO DEFEAT IN STOPPAGE TIME
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 2 - 3 Accrington Stanley
McCombe 23, 68. Naismith 48, 90+4, Gray 90+5.
Attendance: 2549 (73 from Accrington)
Date: 21 December 2013
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town threw away three points, conceding goals 4 and 5 minutes into stoppage time, after leading 2-1 through two goals from the recalled centre half John McCombe. It looked like the Stags would finally win a game after 11 games without a victory, but the Stags couldn’t hold on after defending deeper and deeper rather than trying to hold the ball upfield. Four minutes of stoppage time was signalled and 3.5 had passed when Accrington equalised. It was devastating for the players, management and fans. And even worse was to follow as Accrington scored again less than a minute after the restart. It was a poor game of football throughout, though Mansfield wouldn’t have minded if they could have registered the victory against an Accrington side that looked as devoid of confidence as the Stags did.
So the Stags are now 12 league games without a win, having taken just four points in the process, and getting closer to the club record of 14 games without a win, set in March-September 2000. Accrington’s victory saw them leapfrog Mansfield in the table and the Stags are now just two points above the drop zone, with 7 teams including Mansfield separated by 3 points. The Stags somehow need to re-group after this crushing blow and come back with an improved performance at Rochdale on Boxing Day, but it is also clear that Mansfield need to add some quality to the squad in the January transfer window, a point that is obvious to all, including manager Paul Cox, who is fully intending to do so.
Stagsnet report here
Saturday, 21st December 2013: Mansfield Town 2 Accrington Stanley 3
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
An incredible finish at One Call Stadium saw Accrington Stanley net twice in stoppage time to snatch a 3-2 victory from the jaws of defeat against a Mansfield Town side that have now gone 12 miserable League matches without a win.
It piles the pressure on manager Paul Cox and his players after fans saw an eighth home game without victory and another late capitulation.
Recalled John McCombe’s first two goals for the club looked to have set Stags on course for a much-needed win on an afternoon when two nervous sides, lacking in confidence, had fought out a poor game in windy conditions.
Accrington’s earlier equaliser had been thanks to a deflection and they only had three shots on target all afternoon, all of which found the net.
Just as Stags were waiting on the final whistle 2-1 up, Kai Naismith hit his second goal of the game to level on 90+3 minutes.
And, with Mansfield players and fans still shellshocked, James Gray then popped up at 90+5 minutes to grab an unlikely winner and spark joyous scenes on the visitors’ bench and behind the West Stand goal.
The result saw Accrington leapfrog Stags - a far cry from when Stanley were rooted bottom and Stags in the top three after the win at Chesterfield.
It meant the revived visitors have won now three and drawn two of their last six games on the road.
Mansfield made five changes from the midweek FA Cup defeat by Oldham. With John Dempster suspended and Sam Clucas and Ben Hutchinson injured, Junior Daniel and Lindon Meikle were also dropped to the bench.
Into a 3-4-1-2 came John McCombe and Ritchie Sutton at the back alongside Martin Riley with Daryll Westlake moved up as wing back, James Jennings back in on the other flank, and Lee Stevenson in to play in the hole behind a front pairing of Calvin Andrew, back in from the cold, alongside Ross Dyer.
Mingola sent in a cross carrying little threat from the left that Marriott easily gathered in the opening minute as the home side battled against a strong wind in their faces.
Andrew then headed clear a long range Naylor free kick.
Stags broke from that but Dyer was caught offside.
Riley took a bang on the head, putting a long Hunt throw out for a corner, which Westlake cleared at the near post.
Jennings did well to stick with Naismith in full flight and eventually managed to prevent the cross and win a goalkick to warm applause.
Riley went down again holding his head on the edge of the box, this time with blood streaming down his face.
The referee went across to his assistant to ask if he has seen anything untoward but nothing was given with Stags players protesting Riley had been the victim of a red card incident involving the collision with Gray.
Riley stayed down for lengthy treatment before coming back on with his head heavily bandaged.
Stags’ first corner came on 19 minutes which saw Riley head Murray’s far post kick back into the centre and Andrew miscue an ambitious overhead kick wide.
Murphy then sliced a difficult volleyed chance wide from Gray’s flick for Stanley.
Mansfield hit back with a pair of corners, and from the second swept in front on 23 minutes.
Jennings floated it in from the right and McCombe rose to head against the bar before making sure from close range as he rammed the follow-up high into the net.
Stevenson was a couple of feet wide of the target from 25 yards with a low effort four minutes later.
Accrington asked for a penalty when Riley controlled the ball and it flew up off his foot onto his hand, but it would have been harsh had he pointed to the spot.
Naylor whistled a 25-yard free kick narrowly over from just right of centre on the half-hour mark.
But a minute later Mingola nodded a deep ball perfectly back into the path of Gray, just inside the box, with time and space only to see him lash over and fail to make Marriott work.
There were jeers as Bettinelli completely miskicked at a back pass and conceded an unnecessary corner, but Jennings’ near post kick was cleared.
Dithering defending by Mansfield almost let in Gray. But, when he could have shot, he tried to dink a little pass towards no one in front of goal and wasted a truly dangerous moment.
Accrington continued to press and a half-cleared long throw saw Naismith snatch at the ball and whip it well over.
But Naylor did well to just outjump Dyer at the far post and concede a corner before he could put away a lovely Jennings cross.
From the corner Riley was too high with his far post header.
Straight away Dyer forced another corner for the home side, their sixth of the half with home fans screaming at their side to get on with it as they took their time and the ball was eventually caught by Bettinelli.
Four minutes were added on, but neither side looked likely to add to the scoreline at the end of a dire and nervous half of football.
However, Accrington were back on level terms with a huge slice of fortune within three minutes of the restart.
Mingola laid the ball inside to his right to Naismith, who lifted it innocuously towards the home goal only to see it take a deflection and sail wide of Marriott.
It was agony for the home side and typical of the luck of a side in such a poor run of results.
The home fans were irate and Jennings was booed for a poor, hurried low shot wide soon after.
Windass then shot from further out for the visitors, the ball again off target.
Jennings sent in a good free kick from the left which Riley got something on with a diving header but not enough to get it on target.
Naylor was well off with a hopeful 35-yard punt.
But Stanley were clearly encouraged by their equaliser and forced two corners, Marriott getting down to punch the second away and Naylor wide of the far angle with a cheeky first time shy at goal with the keeper out of position after the punch away.
Stevenson did well to win a loose pass and swap passes with Dyer before volleying wide from 20 yards.
Then McGuire was too high from 25 yards as he tried to use the wind to beat Bettinelli.
A loose header from Sutton then set up Stanley for another attack which ended with Naismith shooting wide.
Stevenson slid in well to win a tackle on the left and McGuire then helped the ball on to Murray whose finish was deflected for a corner.
And from that McCombe put Stags back in front.
Jennings put the ball over from the right and McCombe met it with a powerful shot that was blocked on the line only to see the ball roll back to the defender where he smashed it back through a crowd of players into the net from 12 yards.
As Stanley made a double change with 12 minutes left, sending on two strikers, Stags replaced Stevenson with Meikle.
Matt Rhead took over from Dyer and with three minutes left and Accrington pushing hard, Stags caught them on the break and Rhead’s slide rule pass sent Westlake away to seal the win only to see the keeper block with his legs.
Jennings was booked for a foul a minute into the four minutes of added time.
But with 90+3 on the watch the visitors were level again.
A long throw was headed away by McCombe to the edge of the box where Naismith poked a low finish back through everyone and just inside the post.
Incredibly more Stanley pressure saw McCombe win a tackle and the ball break towards Gray who smashed an 18-yard finish inside the left hand post to provoke and angry but not unexpected reaction from the home fans as the sides left the field.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, McCombe, Riley; Westlake, Murray, McGuire, Jennings; Stevenson (Meikle 78); Dyer (Rhead 86), Andrew (Daniel 89). Subs not used: Beevers, Clements, Deakin, Palmer.
ACCRINGTON: Bettinelli, Murphy, Joyce, Aldred, Winnard, Naismith, Mingola, Hunt (Bowerman 78), Gray, Windass (McCartan 78), Naylor. Subs not used: Liddle, Richardson, Hatfield, Wilson, Atkinson.
REFEREE: Carl Boyeson of Hull.
ATTENDANCE: 2,549 (73 away).?CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: John McCombe
Late collapse heaps pressure on Cox as Stags self destruct
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
IT was like was like an episode of children's cartoon Inspector Gadget. Except it wasn't Chief Quimby's message that was self-destructing in a matter of seconds, it was the Mansfield Town defence.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Late-collapse-heaps-pressure-Cox-Stags-self/story-20357049-detail/story.html#ixzz2oJ3VZB5y
Although it had not been a vintage Stags performance by any means in blustery conditions, they looked on course for a much-needed victory that would have given them plenty to cheer over Christmas.
But suddenly, as the game moved into stoppage time things went horribly wrong as the anxious hosts capitulated to gift wrap Accrington three points. Sure, it's the season for giving, but this was takings things to the extreme.
It was bad enough that Stanley were allowed to find an equaliser, through a low shot from Kai Naismith, after Mansfield tried and failed to clear an aimless long throw.
But to then allow the visitors to strike again in the fifth minute of a minimum four minutes of stoppage time, James Gray slamming home the winner after Mansfield again didn't deal with a cross, was simply inexcusable.
It could all have been so different had Darryl Westlake put away a chance to send Mansfield into a 3-1 lead with 87 minutes on the watch when he was sent clear by substitute Matt Rhead.
But it's never that easy for Mansfield at the moment, and, just like the team as a whole, the loan player looked anxious, seeing his low shot beaten away by Marcus Bettinelli.
You wondered at the time if that would be a costly miss - and so it proved.
With the Stags players dropping deeper and deeper to invite pressure, and then compounding the problem by giving the ball away time and time again, there was always a possibility Accrington's gamble of throwing players forward might pay off.
Many supporters channelled their frustration into venting their disapproval towards manager Paul Cox.
Not surprisingly, considering what had transpired, the knives were well and truly out.
As well as a cacophony of vociferous boos ringing out around the One Call Stadium, there were also loud calls for the Stags boss to step aside.
The minority of fans that wanted a change a few weeks ago is undoubtedly growing as each winless match goes by - and the nature of this soul-destroying setback will only have added to their number.
It's now 12 games without a win in League Two and Accrington, who were rooted to the bottom earlier in the season, have now leapfrogged Mansfield.
The way the Stags surrendered what they had was reminiscent of Morecambe, another game where they should have got at least a point, and at Fleetwood, where a 4-2 fightback to 4-4 was wiped out by a Cod Army winner with seconds to spare.
For his part, Cox is just as disappointed as those criticising him with how things have been going and the naive mistakes that his players are making.
The Stags manager even said he would have booed if he was in the fans' shoes.
But quitting is not in his vocabulary and, given the opportunity, he is determined to do something about it, which would surely mean new personnel in the January transfer window.
For the time being, though, Cox is stuck with what he has and with top scorer Sam Clucas ruled out for up to eight weeks, Ben Hutchison for up to six and John Dempster suspended, he had to shuffle his pack.
Aside from the enforced changes, there were also two others of the manager's choosing, with Lindon Meikle and Colin Daniel also left out. It allowed five new faces - Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, Lee Stevenson, James Jennings and Calvin Andrew - to figure in a more positive 5-3-2 formation.
Everything went according to plan for the first 45 minutes as Mansfield limited their opponents to a couple of wild pot shots and got themselves in front when McCombe celebrated his recall with a first goal for the club, smashing in a 23th minute effort after his header from a right-wing Jennings corner had struck the bar.
But the half-time lead lasted just three minutes into the second period as Naismith's shot looked destined for Alan Marriott, only for a deflection to carry it into the right-hand corner.
At that point, with the crowd getting on Mansfield's backs, it could have gone either way, so when McCombe smashed in his second at the second attempt off the underside of the bar from another Jennings corner, there was much relief.
But the longer the game went on, the more the Stags became edgy and after Naismith's leveller, Gray's winner, after more sloppy defending, left the home players visibly devastated.
It doesn't get any easier for Mansfield either, with tough trips to Rochdale and Cheltenham to come next and the Stags clearly devoid of confidence.
As Cox acknowledges, only chairman John Radford knows how much longer he will give to allow the former Eastwood man to turn things around.
It may be the players, not him, that are making the critical errors, but it's so often the manager who can pay the ultimate price.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2 Accrington Stanley 3
ACCRINGTON Stanley scored two goals in the final two minutes of injury time to secure a dramatic win at Mansfield Town and avoid dropping back into the League Two relegation zone.
Stanley trailed 2-1 at Field Mill in the 93rd minute - a result that would have seen the Reds slip back into the bottom two.
But instead Kal Naismith levelled with his second goal of the game before James Gray claimed a stunning winner just 60 seconds later.
Victory meant Stanley rose to 17th in the League Two table.
James Beattie's side, who had Josh Windass up front with Danny Webber absent because of illness, went behind in the 23rd minute as John McCombe found the net after his initial effort had struck the bar from a corner.
Naismith made it 1-1 three minutes after half time thanks to a deflected effort, but McCombe scored his second of the game to put Mansfield in front - again after his initial effort from a corner had been kept out by Marcus Bettinelli.
The game seemed to be slipping away from Stanley but Naismith found the bottom corner to make it 2-2 deep into stoppage time, before Gray followed suit in the most dramatic of finishes.
Stanley: Marcus Bettinelli, Nicky Hunt (George Bowerman 78), Dean Winnard, Tom Aldred, Lee Naylor, Kal Naismith, Luke Joyce, Peter Murphy, Piero Mingoia, Josh Windass (Shay McCartan 78), James Gray. Subs not used: Rob Atkinson, Michael Liddle, Laurence Wilson, Michael Richardson, Will Hatfield.
Latest | December 2013