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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Forest Green Rovers  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Klukowski 9 pen, Styche 49.
 Mitchley 74. Foster sent off 62.
Attendance: 767 (158 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 November 2010


Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Mansfield Town were woeful for 74 minutes at the New Lawn this afternoon, with as bad a performance as any under David Holdsworth. Danny Mitchley's first goal gave renewed hope of a comeback, despite being down to 10 men after Steve Foster's indiscipline led to a red card, but a couple of late chances to grab an underserved point could not disguise the ineptitude of this display. The Stags started badly with Kevin Pilkington making a howler to concede a penalty on 8 minutes which was converted. Forest Green could have been further ahead at the break after a thumping header against the post, and a fine save from Pilkington. Just when you hoped the Stags would come out fired up for the second half, FGR scored again on 49 minutes, and the game was as good as over when Foster was sent off. The Stags nearly got back into it but left themselves too much to do.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that started at Kettering on Tuesday. There was no player in the Stags side who played in the 4-1 win here last season. However two of the players in that Stags team were in the Forest Green side today: Luke Jones and Craig Armstrong! An extraordinary testament to the turnover of players during David Holdsworth's reign as manager.

On a sunny afternoon, the Stags started sloppily. This was so disappointing after they had done the same as this at Kettering, and after the chairman had agreed to an overnight stopover to ensure the best possible preparation despite the fact that it is only a two hour journey down to Gloucestershire from Mansfield. On 3 minutes, a free kick for Forest Green, needlessly given away by Grand, was cleared as far as Fowler on the edge of the box who shot powerfully but wide.

On 8 minutes, Forest Green were ahead. A big clearance was played towards the Mansfield box. Kevin Pilkington came out of his box and either he or Grand could have easily booted the ball away, but instead Pilkington tried to shepherd the ball back into his box where he would be able to pick it up. He did get back into the box and got one hand on it but Styche took it off him and within a split second, Pilkington fell into Styche knocking him over. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty and booked Pilkington. Klukowski stepped up and sent Pilkington the wrong way tucking his shot inside the left post. It was bad moment for Pilkington but he has been very good since he returned to the club and this was his first mistake. After the game he told us that after spending 5 years at the club, he cares about it a lot and was upset to be abused by a couple of fans who told him to `**** off back to Luton`.

The Stags continued to play sloppy football giving the ball away regularly. On 20 minutes, Forest Green should have been two ahead. Hodgkiss put in a great cross from the right and McDonald sent a powerful header thundering against the right post. On 21 minutes, at last an attack for Mansfield as Briscoe put in a powerful cross from the right and Vincenti used the power of the cross to guide his header towards the right of the net but keeper Bittner saved low to his left. On 34 minutes, McDonald’s corner from the right was headed back across goal by Adam Quinn and Luke Jones sent an overhead kick over the bar.

On 39 minutes, really poor defending from Mansfield allowed Dyer clear through on goal but Pilkington was out quickly and made a great stop, to partially redeem himself for his earlier howler. On 44 minutes, a half chance for the Stags as Cook’s cross was just too high for Vincenti who could only steer it well wide off the top of his head.

A really awful half for Mansfield who created only one chance plus one half chance, and Forest Green could easily have been further ahead. Stags were sloppy throughout the side and the service to Parker was dreadful.

Half time 1-0.

Surely the Stags would come out fired up for the second half but no, on 49 minutes, Forest Green were two ahead. More poor defending allowed McDonald through on goal on the left and his shot or cross from the left evaded Pilkington and created an easy chance for Styche to turn it in, unmarked at the far post.

At last, on 52 minutes, Connor was in to the action in place of the ineffective Vincenti who is so obviously out of position in attack. On 58 minutes, non-contract striker Danny Mitchley replaced the equally ineffective Parker. Almost immediately the Stags looked sharper and there were two great efforts from Mitchley to thread balls forward to put Connor in on goal which didn’t quite come off.

On 62 minutes, Foster and Styche tangled on the bye-line as Foster cleared the ball away. As Foster got up he stamped on Styche, not seen by the referee but spotted by the linesman who called the referee over, and Foster was shown a straight red. It was the Stags’ fifth red card of the season - an extraordinary statistic and one that smacks of incredible indiscipline. Foster, as the supposed leader of the team, simply should know better and I do wonder if we have now seen his last performance in a Stags’ shirt. He has not been the leader we hoped to see, and this was evident after the sending-off of Day at home to Crawley.

Istead replaced the sacrificed Adam Smith and slotted in at right back with Cook moving to central defence as the Stags adopted a 4-3-2 formation.

The Stags were back in the game on 74 minutes somewhat unexpectedly and like the two goals at Kettering, it was something of a freak effort as the Stags benefitted from keeper Bittner’s scuffed clearance. It fell to Connor whose first touch going forward was poor, meaning that he lost the chance to shoot, but he crossed across the face of the box and it took a slight deflection into the path of Mitchley who side footed into the net with his left foot from 6 yards. A great moment for Mitchely with his first ever first-team goal for anybody.

It was suddenly a different game and the Stags looked hungry for an equaliser. On 78 minutes, it was Forest Green who nearly scored though, as a corner from the left was headed back across the goal by Quinn and Pilkington tried to catch it one handed but was fouled as he did so before Liam Marum poked home the loose ball but the referee’s whistle had already gone.

With Mitchley looking lively the Stags’ goal had kicked us into life. On 85 minutes, it seemed that the equaliser was coming. Briscoe showed great pace on the right touchline to get to the ball just before Craig Armstrong and bear down on goal. But after a fantastic run he wasted it with a low shot that was saved by Bittner. Briscoe has been with the club for nearly 2 years and it has always been obvious that he needs to improve his composure in front of goal. Unfortunately it seems that it is not improving.

Six minutes of injury time was added on and in the first of those minutes, Simon Grand got forward and from the edge of the box, sent a great shot goalwards powerfully and left footed, but it was parried away by Bittner. It turned out to be the Stags’ last chance.

This was a massively disappointing afternoon for Mansfield after the second half turnaround at Kettering. Today we only played for the last 15 minutes and quite simply that is not good enough, especially against a team in the relegation zone of the Football Conference. Once more we are back to parity between wins and losses this season. Not good enough and something is wrong.

Man of the Match: Danny Mitchley

Report by: Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Line Up:
Pilkington 5 Howler for the penalty. Partially redeemed himself with good save in 1-on-1 with Dyer. Did not deserve horrible abuse from a couple of fans at the end of the game.
Cook 6 Defended ok. Distribution including from crosses and long-throws was poor today.
Foster 4 Let the team and supporters down badly with indiscipline when he stamped on Styche.
Grand 6 Defended ok. Nearly grabbed an equaliser in stoppage time with a decent shot.
Sandwith 5 Poor.
Briscoe 5 Lack of quality today and didn't get into the game enough. And when it really mattered, he lacked composure in front of goal yet again after a brilliant run to get him in on a 1-on-1.
Murray 5 Very disappointing.
Thompson 5 So disappointing to see him play poorly after the outstanding second half at Kettering.
Adam Smith 5 Pretty anonymous. Should have been high on confidence after Tuesday night, but he was poor.
Vincenti 5 Is obviously being played out of position up front. Ineffective.
Parker 5 Service to him was simply rubbish. However he did not contribute anything either.
Sub Line Up:
Connor (for Vincenti, 52) 7 Did well. Even if 70% fit, should have been on earlier, in fact as early as 20 minutes into the game when it was obvious that the shape was all wrong.
Mitchley (for Parker, 58) 7 Make a big impression. Started with a couple of great attempts to put Connor through on goal, and deserved his goal from Connor's cross.
Istead (for Adam Smith, 65) 6
Subs not used: Collett, Stonehouse.
Opposition Line Up:
Bittner, Hodgkiss, Luke Jones, Quinn, Armstrong, Klukowski, Mike Fowler (Caines 89), Turk, McDonald (Else 82), Dyer, Styche (Enver-Marum 67). Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Head.
Warren Atkin (West Sussex) 7 Handled the game ok.

Season 10/11 Reports