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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
FA Cup 4th qualifying round
FC Halifax Town  
0 - 1
 Mansfield Town
 Briscoe 6
Attendance: 2986 (564 from Mansfield)
Date: 23 October 2010


Martin Shaw at The Shay

An early piledriver from Louis Briscoe together with an excellent defensive display from a new look back four plus one wonderful save from Mihkel Aksalu won Mansfield Town a hard-earned place in the first round of the FA Cup at the expense of plucky FC Halifax Town from the Evo-Stik Premier League. Briscoe took advantage of a mistake in the Halifax back line to beat one man and score with a thunderous shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the box on 6 minutes. Paul Connor headed over the bar from close range in the first half, and Simon Grand headed against the bar early in the second half, but FC Halifax fought hard throughout and were denied by superb performances from debutants Steve Cook at right back and Simon Grand at centre half, alongside new skipper Rhys Day who was also excellent. Stags Estonian keeper Aksalu made a magnificent save on 89 minutes from a close range header from James Dean, somehow tipping it onto the post when it looked a certain goal. Luke Medley was then guilty of missing a glorious chance to seal victory when he fired wide with only the keeper to beat a minute later, but the Stags hung on to the delight of the wonderful visiting fans.

The Stags, with just two draws from the last 6 games, arrived at FC Halifax who were unbeaten at home for quite some time and had won 10 games on the trot as well as not conceding a goal for around 9 hours. David Holdsworth made four changes from the side that drew with Darlington as Steve Cook, on loan from Brighton but who had most recently played for Eastbourne, replaced Gary Silk at right back, while Simon Grand, on loan from Fleetwood, came in for skipper Steve Foster in the centre of defence. Silk and Foster dropped to the bench. Adam Smith returned from his three game suspension following his red card at Gateshead and also in came Rob Duffy, replacing Cain and Thompson, in a 4-4-2 formation. Left sided midfielder Peter Vincenti, on loan from Stevenage, was not in the squad having only joined on Friday.

Bizarrely the game started at 2:57pm, and the Stags were off to a flyer taking the lead on 6 minutes. FC Halifax left back Danny Lowe dallied on the ball as Duffy tried to chase him down, Lowe lost control, Briscoe nipped in to take the ball past Lowe and from 19 yards belted the ball into the roof of the net giving the keeper no chance.

FC Halifax’s first chance came on 8 minutes when James Dean, with his back to goal inside the box, turned and fired wide. On 10 minutes, Briscoe came close to his second. Adam Murray played the ball in from the right and Briscoe’s shot from a tight angle from 10 yards out was inches past the left post.

On 17 minutes, Danny Holland seemed through on goal but Aksalu was out quickly to smother his shot from close range. On 29 minutes, Nix was booked as he dived in on a challenge, though he made no contact. On 34 minutes, a good break by Halifax , Dean crossed in from the left and Holland was just unable to get to it at the right post. On 36 minutes, a ball over the top by Vardy and Holland got on the end of it but fired wide of the left post.

The Stags should have been two ahead on the stroke of 45 minutes. Stonehouse put in a good cross from the left, Duffy headed it back across goal and Connor headed it over from 3 yards. Then two minutes into stoppage time, Murray crossed from the right for Duffy whose shot was held low on the line by keeper Hedge.

A good half from the Stags who were deservedly in front and could have been further ahead.

Half time 0-1

The Stags were unlucky on 49 minutes as they struck the woodwork. Nix’s free kick was chipped into the box and Simon Grand got above the home defence to head onto the top of the bar from 12 yards. On 50 minutes, Vardy break into the box on the left and his shot was well-blocked by Day.

On 53 minutes, Lee Gregory replaced Duffy.

A minute later, Dean made progress down the right and his cross was flicked towards goal by Baker but Aksalu saved it on the line. Briscoe shot straight at the keeper from 20 yards on 55 minutes.

Halifax appealed for a penalty on 65 minutes for a foul on Dean by Day but it was never a penalty in a million years, as David Holdsworth also noted after the game. The home fans were disagreeing with every decision at this point as was the home manager Aspin.

Medley replaced Connor on 72 minutes. On 76 minutes, a great clearing header over his own bar by the impressive Simon Grand. On 78 minutes, Nix’s free kick was chipped into the box and Gregory headed two yards wide of the right post. On 81 minutes, Danny Holland’s free kick was over the bar after a soft foul was given against the Stags.

On 89 minutes, probably the save of the season preserved the lead for the Stags. Sub Metcalfe crossed from the left and James Dean got away from the defence to head towards the right corner of the net from 4 yards but Aksalu somehow turned it onto the right post with his fingertips. Grand made an excellent clearance moments later.

Then on 90 minutes, Gregory broke and fed Medley who was through in a one-on-one against the keeper, slightly on the left around the edge of the area. But Medley fired wide of the right post - a waste of a sitter.

A minute into 5 minutes of stoppage time a Halifax chance was deflected wide. Thompson replaced Adam Smith two minutes later. The Stags held on and just about deserved the victory thanks to a terrific defensive display, great goalkeeping and a good finish from Briscoe. Even though Silk and Foster are two excellent defenders, it would be hard for David Holdsworth to break this defence up for the visit of Crawley next week. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the Match: Steve Cook

Report by: Martin Shaw at The Shay

Line Up:
Aksalu 9 Possibly the save of the season on 89 minutes tipping a close range header onto the post. Good punching throughout.
Cook 9 Outstanding debut - calm and composed and good distribution from right back. Also good to see a long throw as an option for the side now.
Day 8 Commanding display at centre half with towering headers, and led the team well.
Grand 8 Terrific debut with crucial clearances and unlucky not to score when he hit the bar.
Stonehouse 6 Did ok at left back. Good cross that led to Connor’s header over.
Briscoe 7.5 Excellent goal and then went so close on 10 minutes. A bit quiet after that.
Nix 7 Gave the ball away on occasion but work hard and often won it back. Quality of set pieces mostly good but some wayward passing.
Murray 6 Not his best performance and several times was clearly frustrated with himself for poor passing.
Adam Smith 6 Cut inside from the left and let fly a couple of times but with little effect. Slightly disappointing return to the side.
Connor 6 Missed his only chance when he headed over from close range.
Duffy 6 Good header back for Connor's chance. Good charging down to set up the goal. Did ok.
Sub Line Up:
Gregory (for Duffy, 53) 5 Largely ineffective against his former side.
Medley (for Connor, 72) 5 Missing too many sitters at the moment. We got away with his terrible miss on 89 minutes.
Thompson (for Adam Smith, 90+3) -
Subs not used: Collett, Silk, Foster, Istead.
Opposition Line Up:
Hedge, Hardy, Baker, Bower, Lowe, Vardy (Metcalfe 66), Hogan, Phelan (Marshall 77), Garner (Taylor 45), Dean, Holland. Subs not used: Senior, Gray, Riley.
Dean Mohareb (Cheshire) 5 Some terrible decisions, both ways. However was correct in turning down Halifax's feeble penalty claims.

Season 10/11 Reports