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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Forest Green Rovers  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Lawless 10
 Ahmed missed pen 58
Attendance: 872 (215 from Mansfield)
Date: 22 November 2008


Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

After last week's morale boosting victory over Salisbury, Mansfield fell to a disappointing defeat at the New Lawn this afternoon against a side that had not won since August. Forest Green took the lead with a brilliant strike from Lawless after 10 minutes, giving Gamble no chance. The Stags generally had the better of the first half and Jason Lee headed against the inside of the post but the home side hung on to the lead at the break. In the second half, Forest Green's confidence grew and they created one or two chances without testing Paddy Gamble, but the Stags had a golden chance to equalise when Sinclair was brought down in the box, but Ahmed's well struck penalty was fantastically saved. Then home keeper Terry Burton made an equally incredible save from Stallard's close range effort, and the home side got bodies behind the ball to frustrate the Stags. At the end of the game the Stags were crestfallen as Forest Green celebrated wildly.

On four minutes, Sinclair put Arnold through but his run was poor and when he did get a shot in, it was even worse. Forest Green had a couple of crosses into the box a minute later, the first was headed away well by D’Laryea and the second by Jeannin.

The pattern of the game was set in the opening minutes: the Stags were going to rely on the pace of Sinclair and Arnold whilst Forest Green were going to pump as many high balls into the box as possible.

Then on 10 minutes, completely unexpectedly and out of nothing, Forest Green took a shock lead. A throw in from the right was cleared to Lawless 22 yards from goal who hit a fierce shot giving Gamble no chance as it flew into the right corner of the net.

Adnan Ahmed showed great skill on 12 minutes to get into the box but Arnold wasted it again. There was a nasty moment after 15 minutes when Gamble dropped a routine cross from the right. He was very lucky that no Rovers’ players were on hand to pounce.

Shortly afterwards, Sinclair showed blistering pace in a great run down the right. His cross from the by line was slightly too far for Arnold but Arnold did well to retrieve the ball from behind him and plant a fine cross into the box which Lee headed goal-wards. From our position in the main stand, we couldn’t tell if the keeper got a touch, but the header came back off the inside of the post and away in an amazing escape for the home side. After the game, both managers, who were positioned on the far side of the ground, confirmed that Forest Green keeper, Terry Burton, had pushed the ball on to the post for a fantastic save.

On 25 minutes, Ahmed found Arnold with a fine ball. The little striker cut inside and curled a shot over the bar. There was a rare break for Forest Green on 30 minutes when pedestrian defending from O’Hare and Moses allowed Symons through for a free shot from 20 yards which he scuffed wide of the left post. A minute later, at the other end, Lee flicked on well for Arnold who fired wide with a really poor effort. On 35 minutes, Ahmed made a great turn in the box and curled a shot straight at the keeper. Three minutes later, Arnold volleyed an ambitious effort wide of the right post.

There was another scare for Gamble 3 minutes before the break as he came out of his area and lost the ball but luckily O’Hare was on hand to clear it. Gamble partially redeemed himself 2 minutes before the break when Fowler shot through a crowd of players and the Stags keeper saved with his shins.

Half time 1-0.

The Stags had not played too badly in the first half but Forest Green had looked at a low ebb after a terrible run of form and the Stags were not able to take advantage. Arnold had been poor although he did put in one good cross for Lee to head against the post.

Six minutes into the second half, Somner volleyed well wide for Mansfield. Moments later, Forest Green put together a good move and Fowler shot just wide of Gamble’s post. Then more good play by Forest Green as Low set up Symons who again shot just wide. Straight to the other end and good play this time by Mansfield as Ahmed played in Silk on the right wing but his cross was dreadful and went behind for a goal kick.

More good play by Ahmed as he fed Sinclair in the box. Just as the pacey striker was about to shoot, he was brought down for a clear penalty. No sending off this time and Ahmed stepped up confidently but his well struck penalty was brilliantly saved on to the cross bar and, just for good measure, the ball dropped back down into goalkeeper Burton’s arms. It was a huge disappointment for the Stags and the 215 faithful fans at the far end of the ground.

Shortly afterwards, O’Connor and Stallard replaced Lee and Somner. On 71 minutes, Stallard shot straight at the keeper, after good play by D’Laryea and 2 minutes later, O’Hare headed an Arnold corner over the bar.

On 79 minutes came the moment when you knew it wasn’t going to be our day. Arnold did well on the left to get a low cross into the box to find Stallard who had lost his marker. Stallard’s close range shot was low and hard and was destined for the back of the net but keeper Burton somehow kept it out with an incredible save.

On 83 minutes, in a now rare Forest Green break, Clist shot just wide. Right on 90 minutes, Sinclair showed a good turn of pace in a run down the left but his cross-come-shot was just in front of the advancing O’Connor and just past the right post. It was the last chance of the game which ended with Stags players crestfallen, as home fans in the main stand and the players too celebrated like an FA Cup final win.

In truth this was not a bad performance from Mansfield and without three incredible saves from the home keeper, the Stags could easily have run out deserved 3-1 winners. But credit to the home side who defended determinedly, occasionally broke well, scored one screaming goal and, in the goalkeeper, had the true match winner. The win moves Forest Green Rovers, who are in the final relegation spot, to within a point of the Stags. Worrying times at Field Mill. However if the Stags continue to perform like this, they will soon move up to a mid table position.

The last time I saw Forest Green Rovers in the flesh was at Wembley in 1982, against Rainworth Miners Welfare in the final of the FA Vase. Forest Green have come a long way since then and wins like this will help them stay in the top flight of non-league.

Man of the match: Adnan Ahmed

Report by: Martin Shaw

Line Up:
Gamble 5 One good save from a shot through a crowd, but made a mess of an early cross and nearly got himself into trouble outside his own box.
Silk 6 Not his best game as some crossing was poor, but defended competently.
O'Hare 6 Defended ok though rarely under pressure.
Moses 6 Also defended ok.
Jeannin 6 Defended ok but some wasted crosses.
Somner 5 Quiet game in midfield, didn't do enough going forward.
D'Laryea 6 Worked hard in midfield, did ok.
Ahmed 7 Showed lots of good flashes, but missed the crucial penalty.
Sinclair 6 Did well to earn the penalty, and one great run in first half. Not given enough of the ball to run on to.
Lee 6 Won some good headers and unlucky to hit the post. But also gave away too many needless fouls.
Arnold 5 Hugely frustrating performance as he squandered chances, but put in fine cross for Lee's header against the post and for Stallard's close range shot that was incredibly saved, so could have still been the match winner.
Sub Line Up:
O'Connor (for Lee, 62) 6 Livened up the forward line a bit.
Stallard (for Somner, 62) 6 Unlucky not to score with close range effort.
Subs not used: Herriott, Chanot, Hurren.
Opposition Line Up:
Burton, Gill, Jones, Kempson, Stonehouse, Low (Afful 73), Lawless (Fowler 39), Smith, Clist, Symonds (Mohamed 73), Platt. Subs Not Used: Robinson, Mangan.
Paul Tierney (Lancs) 8 I don't think we mentioned him once on the commentary so he must have had a good game.

Season 08/09 Reports