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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Northwich Victoria
O’Connor 25, 29, Stallard 90+3.
 Stamp 60, Steele 86.
Attendance: 2,741 (148 from Northwich)
Date: 25 August 2008

Martin Shaw at Field Mill


In a remarkable game, Mansfield Town scraped a win in the final minute of stoppage time against Northwich Victoria at Field Mill this afternoon. The Stags had been so much on top at half time, leading through two Aaron O’Connor goals, that the talk at the break was of how many the Stags would rack up. But a nervy second half performance allowed the Vics back into the game and an equaliser on 86 minutes left Stags fans barely able to comprehend what they were witnessing. But just when it seemed it would end in a draw, up popped Mark Stallard to smash home a close range winner to send the ground into raptures. Thus the Stags completed a third home win on the trot, for the first time since April 2006.

Billy McEwan made two changes with Gavin Hurren in for Blackwood and O’Connor in for Lee. Lee missed out with an ankle injury, Blackwood had a calf problem. McEwan said after the game that he didn’t know if they would be fit for Saturday. Wood and Trimmer were the replacements on the bench.

The Stags started with a 4-3-2-1 formation with Arnold and O’Connor playing wide behind Stallard, but soon changed to a 4-4-2 formation with O’Connor alongside Stallard, Arnold on the right of midfield and D’Laryea on the left.

After a quiet opening, the first chance of the game fell to the Vics on 9 minutes. A looping cross came in from the right, Gamble should surely have come for it inside his six yard box, but didn’t and Silk was outjumped at the far post but fortunately the header went wide. On 10 minutes, a brilliant run from Stallard, who, as he reached the edge of the six yard box wide on the left, cut the ball back for Somner for an absolute sitter, but somehow Somner sidefooted his shot wide of the left post from 10 yards. An unbelievable miss. On 14 minutes, Silk’s cross from the right was past the far post and found Stallard but the angle was too tight and he headed wide. On 24 minutes, Arnold found O’Connor who swivelled and shot from close range but the keeper saved.

But the Stags were in front on 25 minutes. O’Connor broke into the box on the right but his cross shot was blocked for a corner. Jeannin took the corner short to Arnold, who played it back to Jeannin to cross to the far post, where O’Hare headed the ball back to O’Connor who fired home left footed from 3 yards.

On 29 minutes it was 2-0. Stallard’s through ball found O’Connor well clear of the defence. He may have been offside, but the flag stayed down, he moved forward, went round keeper Tynan to the right and sent a scuffed shot towards the left post. It seemed it would miss the goal or would be cleared by a defender who was scrambling back, but somehow it just crept in at the far post.

On 31 minutes, Somner got into the box, the ball fell nicely for him, but his left footed shot his one of his own players. Two minutes later Jeannin’s right footed cross from the right found O’Connor who headed wide. It would have completed a hat-trick in 8 minutes.

Northwich immediately made a substitution with number 6 Crowell being replaced. As he left the pitch he booted a water bottle fully twenty yards down the touchline, and then had to take the taunts from Stags fans in the Quarry Lane end as he made his way to the changing rooms, though it looked as though he gave back as good as he got with some hand gesturing.

A good first half for the Stags with Silk impressive down the right, and O’Connor impressive with his two goals and plenty of chances. At the break, I was asked by the press guys when was the last time the Stags had won three consecutive home games. My answer was that we hadn’t won yet. Having said that, I didn’t expect us to collapse in the second half and my response was more to do with the fact that I couldn’t actually remember off the top of my head!

Half time 2-0

The Stags started the second half sloppily. On 49 minutes poor defending allowed Darryn Stamp a free shot which was deflected off a Stags defender just wide. On 58 minutes, a Vics corner from the right was headed wide by Stamp. A minute later, a great tackle by Moses gave away a corner but prevented a goal.

But it was 2-1 on 60 minutes. A corner from the left was floated to the far post. Gamble elected not to come for it, surely the wrong decision given it was inside the six yard box, and Stamp was unmarked at the far post to head in.

A minute later, a great Stags move involving Silk, Stallard and Arnold, ended with Arnold’s shot blocked for a corner. A minute after that, another fine move saw Arnold play in Somner who cut in and curled a left footed shot over the bar.

On 66 minutes a terrible mix up in the Stags box as Stamp was allowed to get the ball across the face of the goal and O’Hare cleared off the line. Gamble was all over the place.

Robinson replaced O’Connor on 69 minutes. Afterwards Billy McEwan told me that O’Connor had run out of steam and O’Connor confirmed that he was feeling stiff. On 72 minutes, Arnold’s shot was blocked and it broke to sub Robinson who fired a sitter over the bar from 8 yards. A minute later, Robinson did well to play in Stallard who was completely clear of the defence and just onside. Stallard ran at the keeper but his shot was saved. It came back to Stallard who tried to chip the keeper but it was straight into the keeper’s arms.

Seven minutes later, Stallard was completely clear of the defence again. But this time he took the ball too far and the keeper took the ball of his toes. A bad miss this one.

On 81 minutes, Vics sub Lee Steele, a player with loads of league experience, had a free shot from the edge of the box and curled it with the outside of his right boot inches wide of the left post.

But the Stags didn’t heed the warning and on 86 minutes Steele did make it 2-2. He got the ball 22 yards out and curled a brilliant left footed shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net giving Gamble no chance. It was a real sickener for the Stags but was not completely unexpected given how the half had gone.

The Stags needed to step up a gear but just seemed flat now. It therefore came as a big surprise and an even bigger relief and joy when the Stags netted a winner on 93 minutes. A free kick was awarded to Mansfield wide on the right level with the edge of the penalty area. Arnold floated the ball into the middle, it was headed down to the right, not sure who by, into the path of Stallard who got his head down and blasted a shot into the net from close range. Field Mill erupted.

A minute later the referee blew up for full time. As the teams left the pitch, Vics boss Dino Maamria seemed furious about something, possibly the awarding of the free kick. But there was no post match interview due to lack of media from Northwich and so we’ll have to wait to find out his thoughts.

The second half was something of a shambles from the Stags but in the end it all came right. The defending and keeping has to be better than this. So the Stags are up to fifth. Grays visit Field Mill on Saturday in a re-run of the FA Cup tie from a few seasons ago live on Sky Sports. The circumstances are so different this time, but the Stags will be looking for another home win to keep the run going. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Aaron O’Connor

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Gamble 5 Poor game today. At fault for first goal.
Silk 8 Excellent in defence and going forward.
Moses 6 An outstanding tackle in the second half.
O’Hare 6 OK.
Jeannin 6 Got in a couple of fine crosses in the first half.
Arnold 6 Did ok in the first half, but lacked confidence to run at players in the second.
Somner 6 Missed the easiest chance of the season in the first half. Good first half but lost a grip in the second.
Hurren 6 Started very well but pretty anonymous in the second half.
D’Laryea 7 Looked a bit out of place on left of midfield. The only midfielder to do ok in the second half.
O’Connor 8 Two goals and nearly completed a hat-trick in 8 minutes. Substituted as he ran out of steam and was stiff after the game.
Stallard 7 Fabulous run in the first half to set up sitter for Somner. Scored the vital winner, though missed some good chances before that.
Sub Line Up:
Robinson (for O’Connor 69) 6 Blasted a sitter over bar with his first touch.
Subs Not Used: Herriot, Shaw, Wood, Trimmer.
Opposition Line Up:
Tynan, Brown, Welch, Roberts, Sutton (Aspin 57), Byrne, Crowell (Mullan 33), Flynn, Williams (Steele 57), Stamp, Allan. Subs Not Used: Jones, Bailey.
P Davison (England) 8 Handled the game very well.

Season 08/09 Reports