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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
3 - 1
 Forest Green Rovers
Connor 47, 72, Mills 57.
 Caines 52.
Attendance: 2474 (48 from Forest Green)
Date: 14 August 2010

Martin Shaw at Field Mill


Mansfield Town opened the new season with an excellent 3-1 win over Forest Green Rovers at Field Mill. Paul Connor scored twice, the second a cool finish in a one-on-one, and also hit the inside of the post. Gary Mills also scored with a deft left footed chip over Forest Green keeper James Bittner after a goalkeeping mistake. Forest Green had equalised to make it 1-1 through a header from Caines, who was unmarked in the box from a free kick. But in the end, the Stags overpowered the visitors, and could have won by more, including when sub Luke Medley had a shot cleared off the line.

Only four of the Stags starting eleven were with the club last season. Manager Holdsworth gave debuts to left back Paul Stonehouse, signed from Forest Green of course, to centre halves Chris Smith and the returning Steve Foster (who was captain), to Tyrone Thompson in central midfield, to left sided midfielder Adam Smith, and to strikers Paul Connor and Keigan Parker. And only two of the 5 subs were with the club last season. Indeed subs Ashley Cain and Luke Medley were also to make their Stags debuts, taking the total on the day to nine debutants.

Forest Green included former Stags defender Craig Armstrong at right back, a position he never played for Mansfield, and Luke Jones at centre half.

The game was played in odd conditions as we had a blustery wind, rain and sun at various times.

After a slow start, on 7 minutes, Silk made a run down the right, and cut in, but his cross was cut out by the keeper. On 11 minutes, an Adam Smith cross found Briscoe, who did well to turn but his shot was hopelessly wide.

On 19 minutes Briscoe crossed to Adam Smith, who controlled well, cut back inside onto his right foot, and his shot was deflected over the bar. Exciting stuff from Adam Smith. And it sparked an exciting passage from the Stags. On 21 minutes, Briscoe shot across the face of goal, then Adam Smith fired back across goal, and eventually Briscoe crossed from the right perfectly for Paul Connor who headed the ball down into the ground and it bounced up but it was just wide. A great chance for the Stags.

On 24 minutes, Adam Smith made a good run and his fine shot was pushed by keeper James Bittner straight to Briscoe whose low shot from a tight angle was tipped behind for corner by the keeper. Then on 29 minutes, Adam Smith’s cross from the left nearly floated over Bittner into the top corner, but Bittner just claimed it under his bar. The opening half an hour had seen the Stags completely on top, with Bittner showing again that he looked a fine keeper, as he had done for Salisbury against us several times.

Forest Green had yet to mount a serious attack, and had their first chance on 31 minutes. A corner from the right was headed on by former Stags defender Luke Jones, and Baldwin headed over. It was to be their only chance of the half. On 37 minutes, a long range right-footed shot from Stags new left-back Stonehouse seemed to take a slight deflection and was well-held by Bittner. Then on 38 minutes, Keigan Parker was straight through on goal after a mistake by former Stags defender Craig Armstrong, but Parker’s shot was deflected away. It was a bad miss by the Sags new striker. On 44 minutes, Adam Smith was well wide with long range shot.

As the half time whistle blew, the Stags left the field to decent applause from an appreciative crowd.

Half time 0-0

The game exploded into life early in the second half with three goals in 12 minutes. On 47 minutes it was 1-0 to Mansfield. Silk made an overlapping run to byeline and from around 10 yards from the near post, he crossed to Connor who bundled the ball into the net from 3 yards.

But Forest Green were unexpectedly level on 52 minutes. Lee Fowler floated a free kick from 20 yards into the middle where Jamie Caines rose unmarked to head into the top right corner of the net giving Marriott no chance. It was poor defending from the Stags new defence.

Within a minute, the Stags should have created a chance to re-take the lead, as Gary Mills was in space on the edge of box, and he should have shot, but instead he tried to slip the ball forward to Parker who was 2 yards offside. Then on 55 minutes, Steve Foster played a neat ball forward to Parker, who was through on goal, but he shot over the bar from just inside box.

The Stags were back in front on 57 minutes. And it came from an unexpected source as it was the otherwise excellent keeper James Bittner who gifted it to the Stags. Gary Silk floated a cross into the middle. Bittner came for it, flapped and completely messed it up, and the loose ball fell to Gary Mills who delightfully chipped the ball with the instep of his left boot over the stranded keeper and defenders, from the edge of the box and it dropped into the net.

It was so nearly 3-1 three minutes later on 60 minutes. A great run and cross from Briscoe found Connor at the far post on the left, and his shot somehow came back off the inside of the left post before being scrambled away.

At the other end, Mills was the hero again, a minute later, as he made a great block on the edge of the box from a rare Forest Green shot. Indeed Forest Green were creating almost nothing from open play, but at every set piece they threw everyone forward.

Striker Luke Medley replaced Parker on 70 minutes.

On 72 minutes, Mansfield deservedly opened up a two-goal lead. Tyrone Thompson played a super ball forward from just inside his own half into the path of Paul Connor, who was away from his defender, ran in on goal, and slipped a lovely finish past Bittner from the edge of the box and into the bottom left corner of the net. Sadly a video camera fault means that although we have Thompson’s ball forward captured on the match DVD, Connor’s finish is not captured. If anyone caught it on their mobile phone or something, please get in touch.

On 75 minutes, the Stags were sloppy at the back and lucky to retain the two-goal cushion. Firstly the usually reliable Marriott misjudged a cross from the left and ended up allowing it to float over him and inches past the right post. Bizarrely the referee awarded a corner. From that corner, the ball across was misjudged by the whole Stags defence and by Marriott and the Stags were lucky to get away with it as it ran across goal.

Adam Smith picked up the Stags first yellow card of the season on 77 minutes.

On 79 minutes, Ashley Cain replaced Adam Smith who received a standing ovation for a lively performance particularly in the first half. Cain appeared with purple boots with an orange bit on the end.

Substitute Luke Medley nearly made it 4-1 on 81 minutes as he rounded Bittner and his shot at goal from a tight angle was on target, but cleared off the line by James Caines.

On 85 minutes, Istead replaced Paul Connor who left the pitch to a massive ovation.

On 86, Tyrone Thompson’s shot from the edge of the box was parried away by Bittner. Then on 88, a Stags corner came out to Silk, whose shot from the edge of box brought a great one handed save from Bittner at full stretch. The Stags were now rampant and Forest Green couldn’t wait for the game to end and were all over the place. On 89, Briscoe’s shot hit his own player in the box (Chris Smith) which took it away from goal. And then on 90 minutes, Medley crossed very well and Ashley Cain could only manage an air shot.

After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the final whistle to put Forest Green out of their misery, and the Stags left the pitch to a good round of applause.

So a very encouraging start on the pitch for Mansfield. Lots of fine performances, especially from Connor, who was unlucky not have a debut hat-trick, from Adam Smith, and from left-back Paul Stonehouse, as well as Louis Briscoe who caused the Forest Green defence a lot of headaches.

Man of the Match: Paul Connor

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Marriott 6 Quiet game. One uncharacteristic error from a cross.
Silk 8 Some great attacking down the right, and his crosses led to 2 goals.
Foster 6 Looked assured, though the defence was creaking from Forest Green crosses into the box.
Chris Smith 6 Like Foster, the central defence did not looked assured when the ball came into the box.
Stonehouse 8 Looked a fine left back, what we have been missing.
Briscoe 8 Some great play down the right, and looked at his best. The question is can he keep it up, as previously he would typically follow a good performance with several poor ones.
Mills 8 Delightful finish for the second goal with his left foot. Good all-round display typified by great last-ditch block on a dangerous Forest Green shot.
Thompson 7 Started slowly but came into the game well in the second half.
Adam Smith 8 Exciting debut with some great running at the defence, and shooting on site.
Connor 8 Great debut with two goals, the second a super-cool finish, and so unlucky with another effort against the inside of the post.
Parker 7 Played well, but his finishing wasn't so good.
Sub Line Up:
Medley (for Parker, 70) 7 One shot cleared off the line, and one other good cross. Promising stuff.
Cain (for Adam Smith, 80) - Didn't have time to get into the game. One chance but missed his kick.
Istead (for Connor, 85) -
Subs Not Used: Collett, Sandwith.
Opposition Line Up:
Bittner, Armstrong (Cleaver 86), Luke Jones, Caines, Grimes, Smith, Baldwin (Else 68), Klukowski, Lee Fowler, Styche (Mike Fowler 67), Norwood. Subs Not Used: Herring, Zak Jones.
Stephen Smith (County Durham) 8 Almost went unnoticed.

Season 10/11 Reports