{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Northwich Victoria  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Grand 31, Elam 76.
Attendance: 858 (app 300 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 April 2009

Martin Shaw at the Marsten’s Arena, Victoria Stadium


Mansfield Town put in a shocking performance to lose 2-0 at second bottom Northwich Victoria on Monday afternoon. The Stags were awful in almost every aspect as they showed no heart, no determination, no fight, and precious little skill as they were comfortably beaten by the Vics who were fighting for their lives, and victory kept the home side alive for another day.

The Stags were pathetic in the first half, with dreadful defending throughout and offering nothing going forward. Northwich could have been ahead long before they took the lead after 31 minutes with a free header from a corner. The Stags improved briefly in the second half but Northwich deserved their second goal on 76 minutes, never looked in any danger of conceding, and easily held on against the feeble Stags.

So that’s three abysmal performances on the trot away from home, at Histon, Wrexham, and Northwich, and in total 6 defeats from the last 7 away games. This form can no longer be considered a blip. While at home, the Stags have been playing really well. The contrast needs resolving straight away, and with an improved performance at Woking next Saturday: another side who will be fighting for their lives like Northwich.

Manager Holdsworth made a couple of chances from the side that was unlucky not to beat Barrow. Jason White came in for his first game of the season, in place of the suspended Marriott. O’Connor came in for Duffy, who was injured on Saturday, though Duffy was fit enough to make the bench. Once again, young Connor Higginson was on the bench, itching for his debut. Northwich included precisely no well-known players.

Jason White was soon in the action, with an eccentric flap at a cross on 2 minutes, for his first touch of the season. On 8 minutes, he came for a free kick to the edge of the box and dropped it, though surrounded by defenders. The defenders were able to clear, and there was debate amongst Stags fans as to whether it was White’s fault or bad communication by the defenders. Whatever, it was a nervous start for the keeper.

On 13 minutes, a Northwich throw-in from the right bounced all the way to the far post, with no Stags defender getting anywhere near it, and Elam at the far post had plenty of time to head the ball goalwards from 6 yards. He headed it down, though with little power, and White saved one handed. It was a fine save, though Elam should have buried it. Hotchkiss got lucky on 14 minutes committing an unnecessary foul 5 yards from his own byeline but the referee missed it. On 16 minutes, Byrom found space and fired in a low shot which was very well saved by White.

At last the Stags had an attack on 18 minutes, when Williams fired in a cross, left footed, from the left, which hit the top of the bar, with the home keeper stretching. On 19 minutes, there were half-hearted claims for a penalty from home fans but even Northwich boss Preece, just in front of us, showed with his body language that he agreed with the referee that it was no penalty.

It had been a dreadful opening 20 minutes for the Stags, characterised by poor defending, and it was all Northwich. On 25 minutes, a Vics free kick was headed out by Havern to Horrocks, who was 20 yards out and his shot was deflected just wide. Briscoe was lucky to only get a yellow card on 28 minutes with a very late challenge.

Northwich deservedly took the lead on 31 minutes. A corner right from the right, found Grand who leapt above the Stags defence and headed powerfully home from 6 yards. Poor defending.

The Stags had switched Briscoe to the centre, with O’Connor out wide. But it didn’t make any difference, and the awful defending continued. On 42 minutes, Elam ran through the Stags defence like butter, and got in a shot but White did well to tip it wide. On 45 minutes, Meadowcroft headed over, completely unmarked, from a corner. The Stags had uncharacteristically left 3 players on the halfway line as that corner was taken.

The half ended with almost nothing positive to say, apart from the performance of Jason White, who made some good saves after a nervous start. It was poor defending throughout, as Northwich consistently seem to have far too much space in the box. It looked like an end of season game for the Stags, while Northwich were fighting for their lives.

Half time 1-0

The Stags had a let-off on 48 minutes when the Vics had a goal disallowed. A free header in the box found Meadowcroft who knocked the ball in, but the referee disallowed it. It was not clear what for, as a foul wasn’t obvious and it didn’t look offside.

There was something positive for the Stags on 51 minutes when Clare turned impressively in the box. Normally I probably wouldn’t have noted this as a chance wasn’t created, but I was desperate for something positive to say.

On 54 minutes, at last the Stags had a chance. Williams put in a good cross from the right, and Briscoe headed over the bar from a good position. (note this was in the second half, not first half as described by Holdsworth in his post match interview). This was to turn out to be our only decent chance of the game.

Briscoe was replaced by Duffy on 56 minutes. Duffy was straight in the action on 59 minutes. Williams’ ball was headed on by Duffy, it hit a defender on the back and rebounded to Duffy, who sent a snap shot well wide from 21 yards.

O’Connor was replaced by Arnold on 63 minutes. On 64 minutes, Somner laid a good ball back for Hotchkiss who fired miles over the bar from 22 yards. A minutes later, Hotchkiss was booked for a `nothing` foul, probably the referee’s decision was influenced by two Northwich players who squared up to Hotchkiss. Soon afterwards, a fine ball from Arnold to Williams, who went on a good run but was fouled. From the resulting free kick, Arnold skied his shot over the bar.

Young Higginson came on for his debut on 70 minutes in place of Clare. As Clare sat down on the bench a couple of feet in front of us he told the other subs that the performance (the team’s and/or his?) was `shocking`.

Garner was booked on 72 minutes for a challenge with raised arms. On 73 minutes, Grand had a fine shot from 20 yards, which was very well saved by White, left handed, low to his left.

It was no surprise when Northwich made it 2-0 on 76 minutes. A cross was curled in from the left to the far post, where there was an astonishing lack of Stags defenders and Elam had all the time in the world to fire past White. Some Stags fans blamed White, as did my fellow commentator David Jackson on Radio Nottingham, but I didn’t think White had a chance.

Stags fans’ heads dropped even further, if that was possible, and started to file away. There was still no fight from the Stags players. On 87 minutes, Allan turned in the box, easily beating the defenders, and he shot wide, unchallenged. Three minutes into stoppage time, Crowell sent a free kick from 30 yards over the bar.

The game ended with Stags players applauding the Stags fans, but not many Stags fans applauded back, and why should they after a diabolical performance like this. The only positive I can find was the performance of the returning Jason White, who performed well after a nervy start. The rest were frankly a complete shower. We need some encouragement from an improved performance at Woking on Saturday in the last away game of the season. Anything else won’t be acceptable. Come on Mansfield.

Man of the match: Jason White

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Marsten’s Arena, Victoria Stadium

Line Up:
White 7 Some fine saves to keep the score down.
Havern 5 Poor.
Moses 5 Poor.
Garner 5 Poor.
Woodhouse 6 At least showed a bit of fight in a dreadful team defensive performance.
Briscoe 5 Never got going as he has in recent home games.
Somner 5 Never got control of the midfield.
Hotchkiss 5 Continues to give away unnecessary free kicks. Showed no skill.
Williams 5 One good run, and one good corner. Poor otherwise.
O'Connor 5 Did absolutely nothing apart from get caught offside.
Clare 5 One good turn, otherwise nothing.
Sub Line Up:
Duffy (for Briscoe, 56) 5 Had one shot, which was nearer the corner flag than the net.
Arnold (for O'Connor, 63) 5 Tried, but got nowhere like everyone else.
Higginson (for Clare, 70) - Not the best circumstances to make his debut.
Subs Not Used: Herriott, O'Hare.
Opposition Line Up:
Clarke, Joyce, Grand, Meadowcroft, Brown, Elam, Crowell, Byrom (Richards 88), Allan, Horrocks (Riley 90), Burns (Mullan 67).
S Martin (Stafford) 8 Very good game.

Season 08/09 Reports