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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 1614 (122 from Mansfield)
Date: 25 January 2011

by Robbie Roffe at the Darlington Arena

Mansfield Town produced a sterling display against defence-minded Darlington at the Northern Echo Arena to come out with a decent scoreless draw against a side in a good run of form. It could very easily have been three points that the Stags were celebrating, but for a combination of bad luck and dogged defending from the hosts. However Duncan Russell will be pleased with the clean sheet and the way in which Mansfield kept the hosts at arms length throughout the match without really breaking sweat.

The first incident of note occurred in the second minute, when Murray went down with a head injury. It was quickly decided that he had to be replaced, and Nix was hurried onto the field to take up the vacant central midfield role.

The Stags were on top for the first 20 minutes of the half, creating a number of half chances. Cain and Connor were linking up very well early on, with the latter clearly very up for it against a side who have been constantly linked with his signing over the last few years. Foster and Sandwith kept the defence well marshalled and all was looking positive for the Stags.

However 27 minutes in, Sandwith showed a bit of naivety to let Darlington create the first real chance of the match, as he failed to get rid of a long ball into the box, allowing Hatch to take it from his feet and bare down on goal from an angle. However, Collett got down very well to deflect his shot, and the follow up was put well over as Silk did well to put the Darlington player off. Collett deservedly got a big round of applause from the Mansfield fans behind his goal for this sparkling save.

Mansfield were next to create a good chance on 34 minutes, when a free kick from the right was whipped into the box to just in front of the front post where Foster was free. However he failed to get sufficient contact on his shot-on-the-turn and the ball was scrambled away. If that had been Connor at the front post, you would imagine it would have been rifled into the net.

The Stags once again were on the front foot for the remaining minutes of the half, and were unfortunate not to register the first goal of the match in injury time. A corner from Nix was put into the danger area from the right, Briscoe screwed a shot across goal from the back post and Foster seemingly turned the ball in. However, it was deemed there was an offside in the process and the flag was raised, although, from the Mansfield fans' angle, it was impossible to see what had really gone on.

HT 0-0

The Stags began in a similar vain to the first half and were trying to take the game to the nervous hosts.

Things were getting a bit edgy as the game wore on and chances were becoming rarer as both teams fluffed possession and defences were coming out on top. A change was looking necessary for the Stags to revive the forward line, and consequently Medley was deemed the man to replace Mitchley on 65 minutes.

Soon after followed the best chance of the game for either side, as Connor beat his man and produced an excellent cross field pass to release Medley down the right. Medley took it past his man, before cutting inside another defender on the edge of the Darlington area. With a full goal to aim at, he was unfortunate to hit it at Russell in the Darlington goal, before Connor pounced on the rebound to stab the ball home. However, the linesman's flag was raised, incensing Mansfield fans and players alike, as the Stags faithful struggled to comprehend exactly what was wrong with the goal. Post-match, it seems like the wrong decision was made, which would surprise no Mansfield fan who was at the game, as said linesman was flag-happy throughout the game.

The Stags took the seemingly poor decision in the right manner though, and were straight back on the attack. Medley was again looking dangerous and just needed the right ball to release him down the right against a tiring Darlo defence.

Sandwith was then next to come close to getting on the scoresheet, as he rose well to loop a header towards the left hand corner of Russell's goal. Darlington had men on the line however, and the ball was kneed away and then cleared further as the Stags were left to rue their misfortune once again.

The last fifteen minutes were scrappy, as both sides were looking increasingly happy with a point. Darlington had probably their best period of the match as they retained the majority of possession in the middle third of the field, but, in truth, were not really looking like scoring. They did manage to create one chance in the last few minutes, with the ball fortunately falling to Taylor, who fired wide from a tight angle. Mansfield were looking dangerous though on the counter attack, but unfortunately the final ball was lacking and the Stags were unable to create anything meaningful as the match drew to a close.

Overall Mansfield will be fairly pleased with a point against a side many supporters felt might beat the Stags. We were good in possession, solid at the back and dangerous going forward, without creating as many chances as Russell might have liked. This now makes the Wrexham game on the weekend even more crucial if the Stags are to harbour hopes of getting into the play offs. COYS!

MOM - Foster.

Report by: Robbie Roffe at the Darlington Arena

Line Up:
Collett - 7 Communicated well with the defence, made a great save the one time he was called upon.
Silk - 6 OK game, got forward quite well, missed a few headers.
Foster - 8 Great performance against his former club, commanding in air and on ground.
Sandwith - 7 Solid enough, 1 mistake almost gifted Darlo a goal in the first half, but good otherwise.
Stonehouse - 7 Coped well in the air against Hatch et al, a few good attacking balls.
Cain - 7 Mazy runs and good distribution in first half created danger, less involved in second half.
Thompson - 6 Terrier-like, sometimes suspect on the ball.
Murray - touched the ball once or twice before getting injured.
Briscoe - 6 Didn't really get into the game, although better and more involved in second half.
Connor - 7 Led the line well as always, seemingly unlucky to not get a goal.
Mitchley - 6 Lots of effort and energy.
Sub Line Up:
Nix (for Murray, 5) - 6 Worked well with Thompson defensively and kept the defence solid.
Medley (for Mitchley, 65) - 6 Languid looking as always, maybe should have scored and thus would have prevented controversy with whether Connor was offside for the follow-up.
Istead (for Nix, 86) -
Subs not used: Pilkington, Naylor.
Opposition Line Up:
Russell, Taylor, Quinn, Miller, Brown, Verma, Chandler, G. Smith (Moore 90), Bridge-Wilkinson, Modest (Main 52), Hatch (M. Smith 46). Subs not used: Arnison, Gray.
Seb Stockbridge 6 Decent game, not very noticeable, especially when taken in comparison to the linesman!

Season 10/11 Reports