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Season 07/08 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
0 - 1
 Foran 30 pen.
Attendance: 3344 (453 from Darlington)
Date: 19 January 2008


Martin Shaw and sw19stag at Field Mill

Mansfield Town fell to a third consecutive home defeat against high-flying Darlington today. The Stags put in a spirited, battling display that matched the visitors all the way and the teams were only separated by a ridiculous penalty awarded for an off the ball incident. Chances for both sides were few, as the Stags backline held firm, and the midfield was impressive, but Mansfield were disappointing in the final third, both tactically and in execution. There are parts of the team that desperately need strengthening and an injection of new blood could pay dividends but is looking unlikely for reasons that we all know too well. Billy Dearden is being denied the necessary funding, however minimal that might be, to provide the team with a reasonable chance of escaping relegation - an amazing situation in view of the club’s FA Cup financial windfall.

Monsoon conditions that were forecast and threatened to turn the pitch into a quagmire never materialized and on a fine and dry afternoon the pitch was as good as it has been all season, a tribute to the waterhog so kindly paid for by the club itself in midweek out of the FA Cup coffers, after the SSA had declined a request to pay for it.

Billy Dearden recalled Jake Buxton from suspension and Michael Boulding from injury replacing Chris Wood and Ian Holmes from last week’s winning eleven. Mullins reverted to right back, with Buxton joining Jelleyman in central defence. Bell started the game in the defensive midfield position with D’Laryea surprisingly on the left of midfield. Boulding was more or less on his own up front with Brown a good way behind him.

The Stags had the first chance of the game on 5 minutes as Brown’s ball forward for Boulding set him clear on the left but the angle was too tight and he fired past the right post. The game was even in the first 15 minutes, but then Darlington had a golden chance to take the lead. Julian Joachim played the ball to Greg Blundell, who found Cummings unmarked near the penalty spot and Cummings’ point blank shot was superbly tipped over the bar by Muggleton. Darlington started to press and their territorial advantage resulted in numerous corners.

But the game swung dramatically in the visitors’ favour on 28 minutes when a corner on the left evaded everyone in the box, yet the referee suddenly pointed to the spot to the bemusement of players from both sides and fans alike. The referee signaled a shirt pulling offence. Rarely is a penalty ever given for argy-bargy but when you’re at the top of the league the luck runs for you. Sadly, as pointed out by a listener texting in to the Stagsworld commentary, Mansfield’s luck ran out 14 years ago. Former Carlisle striker Foran side-footed his kick into right corner of the net, just evading the outstretched fingertips of the unlucky Muggleton.

On the half hour Brown’s back-header into the box was met a Darlington defender who sliced it just wide of his own goal-post. Moments later Stags were awarded a free kick 30 yards out which Bell blasted straight into the wall.

On 40 minutes, there was a strange incident when a back-pass from a Darlington defender was palmed up in the air by the keeper thus denying Boulding a clear scoring opportunity. The Stags were correctly awarded an indirect free-kick in the box, but how on earth did the keeper escape without a booking? After a quick touch from Bell, Martin blasted the free kick into the mass of players bunched on the edge of the six yard box. Hardly justice for the Stags.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Dawson went on a great run, beat his defender for pace and from a great position, shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat. It was a fabulous run but a typical Dawson finish not even hitting the target.

It had been a decent first half display, with the midfield looking good, the defence looking good, Muggleton looking very good, Boulding continually getting caught offside (at least 5 times) and Brown playing far too deep.

Half time 0-1

At the start of the second half, Richie Barker, Kevin Bird, Kevin Randall and Mick Laverick walked passed our commentary position - what we could do for a few goals from that lot.

Billy Dearden switched D’Laryea to his more natural defensive midfield role with Bell moving into a more forward midfield role, sometimes on the left. The Stags had more of the possession in the opening 15 minutes of the second half without creating any chances. On the hour McAliskey replaced D’Laryea with Brown moving to right midfield and Hamshaw to the left. Two minutes later, Bell’s terrific powerful free kick was plucked from above his head by the Darlo keeper who wouldn’t have had a prayer if it had been a yard either side of him. With the Stags on top, Darlington should have been down to ten men, after Ravenhill, who had already been booked, scythed down Dawson and astonishly escaped with a final warning from the incompetent official. Ravenhill was soon substituted.

On 69 minutes, Darlington had a rare chance when first Blundell’s shot was blocked and then Muggleton got down well to smother the shot from Valentine. On 71 minutes, the Stags had a good chance to equalize. Boulding did well to head down for McAliskey, who with a clear sight of goal from the edge of the box, fired two yards over the bar. On 75 minutes, Muggleton tipped a fine shot from Keltie over the bar.

On 79 minutes, a fine free-kick from Hamshaw found an unmarked Boulding on the edge of the six-yard box, who failed to get over the top of it and headed over the bar, when he should have hit the target. A waste of a beautiful cross that Barker, Bird or Randall would have buried. On 82, Holmes came on for Martin, as Stags went 3 up front and 3 at the back.

The Stags last chance came on 87 minutes, as Brown’s powerful deflected cross from the right just needed a touch from anyone in the packed box, but missed everyone. Minutes later, Brown summed up his woeful afternoon when from a similar position on the right, he shanked his cross out for a goalkick.

Soon after the final whistle went and the Stags were beaten again, this time somewhat unfortunately.

Man of the Match: Carl Muggleton

Report by: Martin Shaw and sw19stag at Field Mill

Line Up:
Muggleton 8 Some great saves and good handling, looked safe. Nearly got to the penalty.
Mullins 7 Defended well, neat, no mistakes.
Jelleyman 7 Solid in defence, worked well alongside Buxton. Lucky to get away with one backpass that hit Blundell.
Buxton 7 Looked good, slotted back in well. Good pace to hold off pacy strikers.
Martin 7 Some good tackles and blocks.
Hamshaw 7 Average first half, but some good crosses in second half. Needs a target man.
Bell 7 Good, winning lots of 50:50 balls. Switched from defensive midfield position to more attacking role in second half.
D'Laryea 6 Didn’t look comfortable in left midfield role in first half. Switched to defensive midfield at half time and then subbed.
Dawson 8 Played really well, tigerish in midfield. One superb run at end of the first half let down by off-target shot
Brown 4 Terrible. Good defensive play in early minutes, but awful up front throughout. Looked hopelessly out of position leaving Boulding stranded for most of the game. In his post match interview with Radio Nottingham, he seemed to suggest he was happy with his performance and positioning.
M.Boulding 6 Isolated up front, chasing hopeless knock-ons. Very little ball to his feet. Would have benefited from another striker alongside.
Sub Line Up:
McAliskey (for D’Laryea, 60) 6 Started to cause the defence a few problems, and gave us better attacking options.
Holmes (for Martin, 82) - By then the game was up. Too late to make an impact
Subs Not Used: White, Wood.
Opposition Line Up:
Stockdale, Austin, Foster, Miller, Mayo, Joachim, Ravenhill (Valentine 67), Cummins (Purdie 46), Foran, Blundell, Wright (Keltie 61). Subs Not Used: Martin Smith, Liversidge.
Mr M Jones 0 Inept, inconsistent, ridiculous penalty, should have sent Ravenhill off. Garbage basically.

Season 07/08 Reports