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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
Connor 8
 Wright 90+7
Attendance: 2,234 (169 from Darlington)
Date: 16 October 2010

Ben Mason at Field Mill

The Stags were left to rue missed chances as Darlington grabbed a dramatic stoppage time equaliser at Field Mill today. Quakers veteran Tommy Wright smashed home in the 7th minute of stoppage time to deny Mansfield a first win in 5 games.

David Holdsworth made 4 changes to the side that were beaten at Nene Park the previous Saturday with no place in the 16 for Chris Smith, Kevin Sandwith and Gary Mills, whilst Luke Medley took his place on the bench. Rhys Day returned to Field Mill to make his 2nd Mansfield Town debut whilst Simon Grand, who was signed on loan from Fleetwood, made the bench. Tyrone Thompson returned from the wilderness to replace Gary Mills and Paul Stonehouse slotted in at left back for a like for like swap with Kevin Sandwith, which completed a starting formation, which depending on which way you look at it, could’ve been described as 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. I personally side with the latter and think that it’s complete madness to play with 1 up top at home, against a side in a desperate run of form.

The first action of note came from the boot of Kyle Nix, Stags won a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Nix curled the ball up and over the Darlington wall to swerve inches past the left hand post. But just moments later, Sam Russell was picking the ball out the back of the visitors’ goal after Paul Connor headed the home side in front. Louis Briscoe cut inside from the left wing to ping the ball down the right flank for Ashley Cain, who swung an inviting cross into the thick of the penalty area where Connor, unmarked, was able to guide his header into the turf before bouncing into the back of the net.

Louis Briscoe had started the game flying with his powerful and surging runs from the left side of Midfield causing all sorts of problems for the Darlington back line and was unlucky on a couple of occasions not to double the Stags’ advantage. The first of his chances came when he Briscoe fired a 20 yard effort just wide of the near post after again, beating his man.
Darlington, who’d rarely, been in the Stags half nearly caught the defence flat footed and levelled the game. A free kick 10 yards from the half way line was clipped into the box and the Stags backline stepped up allowing 3 black and white shirts a free header but the resulting header flashed across the face of Askalu and inches outside the post, fortunately the effort wouldn’t have counted as the assistant had raised his flag, but the warning signs were there and had to be noted.

Former Stags forward Jefferson Louis, on loan at the Quakers from Gainsborough Trinity, offered a very physical threat and he did well to sprint clear of Steve Foster to latch onto the ball at the edge of the box, he failed to make a significant contribution with the ball but despite not looking particularly dangerous when in possession, we had to be extremely wary, as J-Lo has always got a goal in him.

Briscoe was back in the thick of the action at the other end, exchanging passes with the excellent Adam Murray and Briscoe smashed his effort narrowly wide and into the side netting. Then, on the stroke of half time Connor was denied a 2nd of the afternoon by Sam Russell after Kyle Nix played a Gerrard-esque defence splitting pass through to the north-east striker, but Connor lacked composure and Russell was able to make the save, a crucial part of the match which would’ve likely seen us take the points.

Half Time: Mansfield Town 1-0 Darlington

Well, I don’t know what was said in each dressing room at Half Time, but it was clear to see which sides’ team talk was the most effective.

Darlington came out of the dressing room all guns blazing, pressing, pushing and harrying the Stags for every ball, they looked hungry and the most likely to be the next to notch on the score-sheet. Quick-fire chances from Ian Miller, Tommy Wright and Daniel Hone saw the Quakers pile on the pressure. Miller fired well wide of the goal when through and literally seconds later Tommy Wright found himself square in front of goal and somehow, managed to hammer his shot well, well wide of when it seemed easier to score. We were hanging on, hanging by a thread and for the first time in a very long time, the Field Mill faithful rose to the challenge. The atmosphere generated from the West Stand was electric and it was clearly noticeable how much of a lift it had given people in and around the ground, this had seemingly transferred to the players also as the faultless Rhys Day somehow managed to clear Daniel Hone’s goal-bound toe poke, after a goal-mouth scramble, off the line and to safety.

The improved atmosphere seemed to be the catalyst for Mansfield to grow back into the game, right winger Ashley Cain was replaced by Luke Medley as we tried to kill off the game. The Stags won a corner down between the QLE and the Ian Greaves stand and Rhys Day rose like a salmon to meet the ball with his head, only to see it cleared off the line to deny Day a trademark headed goal on his debut.

Chances were again wasted, Medley and Briscoe as the game drew to a close. With 3 minutes left on the scoreboard, Briscoe whose 2nd half performance was a shadow of his first decided to try and waste some time by holding the ball up in the corner, it was bizarre with such a long time remaining in the game.

The fourth official appeared from between the 2 dug-outs with his electronic scoreboard reading seven (7) minutes. 7 minutes? I can only assume that was for the injury to Askalu, but Stags seemed comfortable through it, looking for a killer goal rather than wasting time.

But in the final moments of the game, a sucker punch. It felt like I’d just been dumped on Christmas Eve after spending a fortune on Christmas presents for the woman. It felt worse than the contestants on Bullseye who had to stand and watch as Jim Bowen declared ‘Lets have a look at what you could’ve won’. It was horrible and a gut wrenching experience as Tommy Wright made up for his candidate for miss of the Season by earning Darlington a share of the spoils. I hate Football.

Full Time: Mansfield Town 1-1 Darlington

Man of the Match: Rhys Day

Report by: Ben Mason at Field Mill

Line Up:
Aksalu: 6 – Very little to do, couldn’t have done anything about the goal.
Silk: 5 – Shave your head Gary, it’s not working. Largely anonymous and was at fault for the equaliser.
Foster: 7 – Solid throughout.
Day: 8 – Excellent 2nd debut, unlucky not to score and did well to clear off the line. Won every header.
Stonehouse: 7 – Excellent support for the attacking moves, a little suspect when defending but player very well.
Murray: 8 – ran the midfield, sprayed the ball around the field and got everybody involved, he led by example.
Thompson: 7 – Did the nitty gritty in the middle and broke up play, good to have him back.
Nix: 7 – Some good football, decent range of passes and unlucky with the free-kick.
Cain: 6 – Crossed for the goal, otherwise didn’t really do much.
Briscoe: 7 – Excellent first half, wasteful 2nd half.
Connor: 6 – Scored a well placed header, but missed a chance to give us the win, he’ll have better games in a Stags shirt.
Sub Line Up:
Medley (for Cain, 64) 5 didn’t have his usual impact, looked a little sloppy in the wet conditions.
Istead (for Nix, 90+1) -
Parker (for Connor, 90+6) -
Subs not used: Collett, Grand.
Opposition Line Up:
Russell, Austin (Josh Gray 46), Hone, Miller, Brown, Waite, Bridge-Wilkinson, Moore (Powell 83), Louis (Senior 71), Wright, Hatch. Subs Not Used: Lowson, Clarke.
Peter Wright (Southport)

Season 10/11 Reports