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Season 07/08 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Macclesfield Town  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 3250 (832 from Mansfield)
Date: 12 April 2008

report by Luke Mawbey at Moss Rose

Mansfield Town returned from the Moss Rose with a goalless draw on Saturday afternoon. Despite having the lion's share of possession, Mansfield failed to create any clearcut opportunities. Once again this could be seen as points dropped and with just 3 games remaining could well come back to haunt the Stags in what is now an almost losing battle against the drop.

The dismissal of skipper Jake Buxton in midweek forced Paul Holland into a change for the visit to Moss Rose. Johnny Mullins took over the captain’s armband, and was moved inside to play alongside Baptiste at centre-half. Keith Briggs as expected came in as full back, with Nathan Arnold continuing out wide left. Once again Holland gave Jefferson Louis a place in the starting eleven. An injury to Carl Muggleton also meant that Jason White deputised between the sticks.

It became very apparent from the first whistle that Mansfield realised the severity of the game in hand, whilst Macclesfield, obviously under far less pressure to secure their league place, seemed to drop a few yards deeper. Both sides seemed intent on lumping the ball forwards at every given opportunity, with sensible passing through the midfield at something of a premium.

Louis was beginning to give both Brisley and Cresswell a hard time at the heart of the Macclesfield defence with some good off-the-ball movement and excellent strength in holding up the ball to bring others into play. Indeed it took a full twelve minutes for the first opportunity of any note. Once again Louis did well to hold up a long ball from Baptiste and neatly lay it off into the path of Hamshaw. However with the entire goal to aim at the wide man could only see his shot blocked easily by Ashton and divert for a corner. Sadly, as we have seen far too often this season, the resulting corner was totally wasted, and harmlessly drifted into Jonathan Brain’s hands.

The next ten minutes followed the pattern of the first ten, with very little of any note happening. However on 20 minutes we had all noticed that the linesman had put up his board to announce a substitution. On came young Chris Wood for Gareth Jelleyman. He didn’t seem to be injured, however we can only assume it was for this reason, given Holland had to shuffle his pack at the back by moving Briggs to left back and slotting Wood in at right back. If it is an injury, we will obviously have to wait to see the full extent of it.

It was Louis who was the next to threaten. Neatly taking a crossfield ball from Hamshaw on his chest, before turning inside Cresswell. However the big man could only hammer his shot straight down Brain’s throat. It was becoming evident this may be the Stags’s best chance of success, i.e. from long balls being held up by the target man.

A series of misplaced passes, fouls, offsides and poor decision making continued to set the tone, with neither side really looking capable of breaking the deadlock. Macclesfield’s first real chance did come on 38 minutes as Francis Green broke clear of young Chris Wood. However, in spite of playing a superb ball across the goal, everybody missed it and to Mansfield’s relief it ran all the way through to go out for a throw in. Had any home player taken any kind of gamble, it would almost certainly have resulted in a goal.

Green then also tried his luck from distance, only to see his left footed effort be blocked by Baptiste and safely run through for Jason White to collect. The remaining few minutes of a somewhat dreadful first half passed away without any further incidents of note worth mentioning.

Half time 0-0

Neither manager made a change during the half-time interval, although this was perhaps understandable given both had to during the first 45 minutes.

Mansfield were quicker out of the blocks in the second half. A move between Dawson and Hamshaw found Briggs with a shooting opportunity. However with options available, he decided to try his luck, only to see his 20 yard effort roll along the ground and be comfortably gathered once again by Brain.

Indeed it took a further 12 minutes for the next half chance to present itself. Louis, who once again had the Macclesfield back line running ragged was fouled on the right hand side of the box. For once Hamshaw presented a ball of genuine quality which was met by Mullins, only once again to see his header go straight down the centre and be easily caught by brain. Five yards either side and the Stags skipper would have given his side the lead. A minute later, a superb cross by Briggs found Arnold in space, only to see his right footed effort superbly blocked by Hessey when it looked easier to hit the target.

On 70 minutes, Simon Brown was introduced in a straight swap for Nathan Arnold. Whilst some fans believed this to be a more attacking 4-3-3 move, it became obvious straight away this was not to be.

The next few minutes saw Macclesfield have their best spell of the game in terms of possession, but just a minute later it was the visitors who had arguably the best chance of the game. D’Layrea, who up until this point had been decidedly ineffective, slipped in Hamshaw. With the presence of mind to take on Hessey, he then found himself 20 yards out and central. Whilst a left footed effort may have been a better option, he decided to try a cheeky toe-ender, which flashed wide of Brain’s upright. Once again any effort on target may well have resulted in a more positive outcome.
It was to be the final real effort as the last ten minutes continued to follow the pattern of much of the game, with the majority being played in the middle third, and both sides looking very short of the ability to carve out major openings. After four minutes of additional time, the referee drew proceedings to a halt, and another opportunity had not been taken.

So what do we make of today? White and the defence had a relatively quiet afternoon, with Mullins yet again the pick of the bunch. Composed, good positional sense, and very reliable. D’Layrea saw more of the ball than in most games he plays, but continues to lack any drive going forward and still gives possession away far too often. Hamshaw was regularly involved, but the strikers continue to mis-read his intentions. Boulding had a better game than in recent weeks, however was well marshalled by a strong, tall Macclesfield back line, and was very much in Louis’s shadow who was very good on the day.

Results elsewhere mean it is almost certainly Dagenham who we now need to catch, and of course play on the final day. This means an absolute minimum of 4 points from the next two home games is required. Whether this can be done, will be sealed next week, or run on to the final day of the season, I suppose only time will tell. Once again though following Notts County and Barnet, many will argue this was yet another case of points being dropped at such a crucial time in the season.

Man of the match: Mullins

Report by: Luke Mawbey at Moss Rose

Line Up:
White 6 Unassured at times, but generally looked secure.
Briggs 6 Confident and composed with few errors.
Mullins 7 Steady and composed. Marshalled the defence well.
Baptiste 5 Won some key headers but dreadful in possession.
Jelleyman 6 Confident performance prior to injury.
Hamshaw 7 Regularly involved although missed Mansfield's best chance.
Dawson 5 Largely anonymous.
D'Laryea 5 Had lots of possession but zero end product.
Arnold 6 Showed real enthusiasm and worked hard for the cause.
Louis 7 Strong, direct and powerful allround performance.
M.Boulding 5 Struggled to make an impact; in the defender's pocket.
Sub Line Up:
Wood (for Jelleyman, 20) 6 Steady but unspectacular.
Wainwright (for M.Boulding, 61) 5 Had little time to stamp authority on game.
Brown (for Arnold, 70) 5 Looked totally out of sorts.
Subs not used: Muggleton, Horlock.
Opposition Line Up:
Brain, Hessey, Cresswell, Brisley (Edghill 79), Ashton, Walker, Dunfield, Tolley (Jennings 31), Thomas, Green, Evans (Izak Reid 66). Subs Not Used: Symes, Rooney.
Eddie Ilderton 7 Sensible and consistent.

Season 07/08 Reports