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Season 07/08 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
2 - 2
Boulding 14, Hamshaw 55.
 Thomas 69, Birchall 77.
Attendance: 2463 (141 from Barnet)
Date: 5 April 2008


Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Mansfield Town threw away a two-goal lead against mid-table Barnet at Field Mill to end with only a point, when a win would have given a much needed sequence of successive victories for the first time this season. The Stags were excellent for the opening 25 minutes taking the lead through Michael Boulding’s 22nd goal of the season on 14 minutes, and going close several times including a great effort by Johnny Mullins that missed by a whisker. Barnet improved a little bit later in the first half but had only one chance in the entire half, while Matt Hamshaw came closest to adding another goal for the Stags on the stroke of half time with a deft shot onto the top of the net. The Stags started the second half with yet more chances and Hamshaw was on target on 55 minutes to make it 2-0. The Stags had chances to make it 3-0 notably when Louis headed wide when well placed and a minute later Louis headed against the post. Two minutes after those two chances Barnet manager Fairclough made three changes on 67 minutes and what an impact they had. Sub Anthony Thomas scored from 20 yards on 69 minutes to make it 2-1, and 8 minutes later another sub, Jason Puncheon, deadly from set pieces as anyone who watches the goals on TV every week knows, fired a free kick against the post and the third sub, Adam Birchall was quickest to react, turning the ball into the net from close range against his former club to give heartbreak to the Stags. It was notable that the free kick was another example of one needlessly given away, this time by Dawson, that has cost the Stags dear. Simon Brown had the Stags only chance after that to win it whereas Barnet had a succession of corners which came to nothing. The game ended with the Stags fans still stunned and most trailing out of the ground in silence, totally gutted at what they had witnessed.

The Stags were unchanged from the side that beat Wrexham with Wainwright returning to the bench in place of Rory Boulding. Barnet included former Stag Adam Birchall on the bench. The game started in sunshine after earlier heavier sleet and the sleet was to return in the second half - indeed it started seconds before Barnet scored their first goal. The pitch had patches of standing water in front of the West Stand, but the pitch played extremely well.

John Batchelor was amongst the Stags fans in the West Stand, as was James Derry, and Jane Hewland the producer of Sky’s Dream Team. At half time I invited Jane Hewland to the press area where we interviewed her live on StagsWorld (see audio Latest News page) and she talked about her interest in doing a documentary about Mansfield Town.

The Stags started kicking towards the North Stand, playing against the wind. On 3 minutes Hamshaw’s corner from the left just evaded Mullins. Moments later Hamshaw crossed from the left and it flicked off a defender going just past the far post.

On 12 minutes, Hamshaw was again the action, crossing from the right. The defenders missed it but surprisingly Louis made no attempt to go for it as it passed between him and the goal when had he anticipated better he could have had an easy chance to score.

But on 14 minutes the Stags took the lead with great interplay between Boulding and Louis inside the box before Boulding was able to fire the ball in from close range right footed. Stags players and fans celebrated in style.

Within a minute, Boulding broke down the left and his pacey cross was just in front of Louis. This was great stuff from Mansfield and on 22 minutes the Stags were so close to 2-0. Mullins showed great skill to flick the ball up and over a defender just inside the box on the right and he hit a sweet left foot shot just inches past the right post.

Barnet started to get into the game a bit more as the half wore on but only created one half chance, when on 38 minutes, Albert Adomah beat Jelleyman too easily on the right, turning inside him and curling a left footed shot past the far post. Barnet really didn’t get to grip with the wind and countless times balls forward were easily shepherded out for goalkicks by the Stags defence.

On the stroke of half time, Hamshaw nearly capped a fine first half display with a goal when a deflected ball reached him on the edge of the D, and he sent a deft lob with the outside of his right boot onto the top of the net. Bad luck but it turned out to be a sighter for a similar chance in the second half which he put away.

Half time 1-0

Barnet made a formation switch at the start of the second half going two up front compared to one up front in the first half. Hamshaw made a good break from the half way line on 52 minutes and he played in Boulding who moved forward and slightly to the right before shooting towards the far left post, but Harrison tipped the ball around for a corner.

Then Boulding had a shot deflected wide from the edge of the box, while from a Hamshaw corner, Buxton looked as though he would have a free header before spectacularly falling to the ground. It looked like a penalty but the referee waived play on.

It was a great spell for the Stags, but after Adamoh had a rare chance for Barnet firing straight Muggleton the Stags deservedly made it 2-0 on 55 minutes. Hamshaw expertly collected a long ball into the Barnet box, and was then unmarked just inside the box, to lob Harrison with the outside of his right foot and just under the bar. More great celebrations.

On 59 minutes, Arnold chipped a cross from the left and Louis had to stretch for it and could only send his header just wide. A minute later Louis came even closer when Boulding broke down the left and put in a great cross. Louis leapt well and headed against the post. Anguish around Field Mill but the Stags were so on top that it wouldn’t matter, surely, would it?

Two minutes later Barnet made a triple substitution bring on Anthony Thomas, Jason Puncheon and Adam Birchall, three of the players who appear to have been the reasons behind Barnet not being near the foot of the table. Surprising therefore that they didn’t start the game. After the game Barnet manager Paul Fairclough conceded that he may have got his starting selection wrong.

Within a minute it was 2-1. Poor defending allowed Thomas to shoot unchallenged from 20 yards slightly to the right of centre, past the despairing dive of Muggleton into the bottom left corner. Oh no. This completely changed the complexion of the game.

On 72 minutes, Arnold had a shot but should have done better and Harrison easily saved.

Then on 77 minutes, complete disaster for Mansfield. Dawson gave away an unnecessary free kick 22 yards from goal. Puncheon fired the free kick against the post while Muggleton never moved - what was he doing? Birchall was quicker to react than the defenders and turned the ball into the net from close range. Stags were stunned and that is an understatement.

Barnet got on top and forced a succession of corners which luckily came to nothing.

Simon Brown, surprisingly on as sub for Louis who had played well, had the Stags only chance after that to win it. It came on 86 minutes when Hamshaw’s cross found Brown. It looked a sitter but Brown’s shot was going wide even before it took a deflection for a corner.

That was the last chance of the game which ended with the Stags fans stunned and leaving in silence, save for the PA system. I’m told there were a few boos which I didn’t hear.

Paul Holland put on a brave face after the game but did admit that some of the players were close to tears in the dressing room. No question that this was heartbreaking for any Stags fan. The Stags should have won comfortably and really threw it away. Other results went our way and we are still in there. An away trip to Stockport on Wednesday night looks a very difficult game and one that the Stags need to get something from. Come on Mansfield! Five games left to save ourselves - the fight goes on.

Man of the Match: Matt Hamshaw

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Muggleton 6 Mainly ok but static for the second goal-maybe he thought the free kick was going wide?
Mullins 7 So unlucky a piece of great skill and shot in first half. Defended well.
Buxton 7 Defended well.
Baptiste 7 Another good game against pacey strikers.
Jelleyman 7 Gave a the ball away a couple of times, but generally defended well.
Hamshaw 9 At the centre of everything. Some fine corners, scored a good goal, and hit the top of the net with another good effort.
D'Laryea 6 Did ok.
Dawson 6 Worked hard. Gave away needless free kick that led to second Barnet goal
Arnold 7 Showed some great touches. Sponsors man of the match.
M.Boulding 7 Good goal after excellent interplay with Louis. Brilliant cross that Louis headed against the post
Louis 7 Linked well with Boulding all afternoon. So close to killing the game with two chances at 2-0. Surprisingly substituted.
Sub Line Up:
Brown (for Louis, 79) - Missed a great chance to win it late on.
Wainwright (for Arnold, 79) -
Subs not used: White, Briggs, Horlock.
Opposition Line Up:
Harrison, Nicolau, Leary, Devera, Parkes, St Aimie (Birchall 68), Bishop, Porter, Carew (Thomas 68), Adomah, Akurang (Puncheon 68). Subs Not Used: Beckwith, Tabiri.
Clive Oliver (Northumberland) 7 Largely unnoticed, though did appear to miss a push on Buxton in the box.

Season 07/08 Reports