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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Barrow AFC  
2 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Rutherford 30, Connor og 54.
 Smith 73, 86.
Attendance: 1130 (85 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 February 2011


Martin Shaw at Holker Street

For the second week running, Mansfield Town battled back from seemingly the dead to earn a point. The Stags were 2-0 down at Barrow thanks to a bad defensive display, when substitute Adam Smith rescued the game with two great goals in the final 17 minutes. Smith will surely have done enough to earn a starting place for the crucial FA Trophy tie at Chasetown next Saturday, especially with Ashley Cain so totally out of sorts. The Stags are 11 points outside the play-off zone, and with just ten days anyway to secure a ten year lease on Field Mill that is required to enable the Stags to be allowed to enter the play-offs. So the FA Trophy really has to be the focus now. Today's result, along with the fightback against Newport and the two games against Alfreton, are encouraging in that it shows the Stags are never out of a game, should they go behind for example at Chasetown.

Stags made two changes to the side that came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Newport: on loan keeper, Hungarian David Grof replaced the injured Neil Collett. And with Rhys Day not 100% fit according to Duncan Russell, Sandwith moved to central defence and Paul Stonehouse came in at left back. There was no place in the squad for Luke Medley - indeed Medley was the only person not to travel overnight (aside from the injured Marriott). Duncan Russell told the assembled media after the game that Medley has not been training properly, and until he does he won't be in the squad - it wouldn't be fair on the other players. And he explained that Medley is available to go out on loan. Former Stags loan left back Andy Nicholas was on the Barrow bench.

The game had seemed in doubt, with snow down the road in the Lake District but the snow never reached Barrow. Heavy rain all morning fortunately relented around midday, leaving the pitch in considerably better condition than that at Field Mill.

The Stags made a nervy start defensively and Barrow started the stronger. On 2 minutes, Almond shot just past the right post, and on 7 minutes Grof had to be alert to save low down from another Almond shot as the Stags defence was again missing down the Barrow right. And Grof got the ball straight to the other end and suddenly Moult was through on goal, but his low shot was saved. On 9 minutes Connor missed a great chance to open the scoring. Moult did really well to play the ball forward from the left, perfectly into the path of Connor, but from inside the box, Connor screwed his shot wide of the left post.

Naylor then made a couple of good headed clearances. On 20 minutes, a brilliant ball from Adam Murray out to the right for Cain, but Cain wasted it. On 22 minutes a great Stags move and Moult back-heeled to Cain who did well to get in a low shot that forced a good save from Masters in the Barrow goal. A minute later, the Stags had a shout for a penalty when Sandwith seemed favourite to get to Cain’s corner but went down in the box. The ref waved play on. Another great ball from Murray on 28 minutes, this time out to Connor on the left, but Connor’s cross was in front of the in-rushing Moult.

Barrow took the lead on the half hour. A long punt upfield from the Barrow keeper eventually found Richie Baker about 22 yards out from goal. Baker was given too much space by Stonehouse who backed off from him, and Baker sent in a shot which Grof did well to save. The ball came back out to Baker who this time fired against the left post, and it rebounded to Rutherford who fired in completely unmarked the six yards. The reason that Rutherford was completely unmarked was that Ashley Cain had been marking him but went to sleep as the ball hit the post, losing his man.

Murray came close to equalising on 33 minutes. Cain found Murray on the edge of the box, Murray’s first touch wasn’t good with his right foot, but with his second touch he crashed a left footed shot just past the right post.

And Murray came even closer on 35 minutes with a brilliant effort that not many players in the Conference could have attempted. The Barrow keeper came out of his box to make a headed clearance. Murray picked it up 35 yards out from goal, and chipped a brilliant effort that came back off the crossbar. The ball came to Briscoe who curled the follow-up wide of the right post. Murray held his head in his hands in anguish. It was a brilliant effort to sum up a magnificent first half display from the Stags midfielder.

On 38 minutes, a good run from Rutherford and he curled in a shot which brought a good diving save from Grof.

On 43 minutes, Briscoe ballooned a 20 yard free kick over the bar. On the stroke of 45 minutes, Grof made a good claim from a free kick, but was fouled in the process by the night club bouncer Paul Jones. Grof was so incensed that he threw the ball down in disgust and it ended up rolling into the net as the referee lectured Jones.

Half time 1-0

The start of the second half was delayed by 5 minutes by an injury to one of the assistant referees.

And in the first meaningful action of the second half, Barrow made it 2-0 on 54 minutes. Tyrone Thompson gave away a free kick on the left about 35 yards out, and picked up the first booking of the game in the process. The free kick was curled in right-footed by Baker, and it seemed to miss everyone and bounce up off the turf and into the right corner of the net. But video evidence showed that it flicked off the top of Connor's head, leaving Grof helpless.

On 61 minutes, good play by the Stags and Cain seemed to be in on the right, but an abysmal first touch saw him lose the ball. Seconds later, Connor appeared to be blatantly pushed in the box and it should have been a penalty, but nothing was given.

On 63 minutes, Adam Smith replaced the disappointing Cain, and Briscoe moved to the right. Three minutes later, Mitchley came on for Moult up front. On 70 minutes, Silk got a ball in to Mitchley but his shot was blocked.

The Stags pulled a goal back on 73 minutes. Silk's throw on the right down the near the corner flag, was played back to him and his cross into the middle came out to Adam Smith. Smith showed good trickery, cut inside, and unleashed an unstoppable right-footed shot into the back of the net off the underside of the bar from inside the box.

On 79 minutes, Briscoe’s cross-shot from the right, ended up going out for a throw-in half way between the corner flag and halfway line. A minute later Cook almost made it 3-1 for Barrow, when his shot deflected off Naylor and over the bar.

Nix replaced Stonehouse on 82 minutes as the Stags went to three at the back and just about everybody pushing forward.

On 86 minutes, the Stags were level and it was an Adam Smith special. Smith picked up the ball on the left from a nice Mitchley pass, made good progress down the left, cut inside a defender then back outside him again, and fired powerfully into the roof of the net, this time with his left foot. All 10 outfield players celebrated with Adam Smith and then went over towards the Stags dugout to celebrate.

You would have expected the momentum to be with Mansfield to go on and win it, but it was Barrow who then finished the stronger.

On 88 minutes, Chadwick poke a shot at goal, and Grof did well to block it, with Naylor then doing well to head over his own bar under pressure. From the resulting corner, Cook headed just over. And in the third minute of stoppage time, Barrow came close again, when Rutherford chipped the ball in from the left but somehow the Stags escaped.

Man of the match: Adam Murray

Report by: Martin Shaw at Holker Street

Line Up:
Grof 7 Good, confident debut. Made a couple of good saves, good handling, and good bowl-out to set up an attack.
Silk 6 A couple of decent moves going forward, and one crunching challenge, but overall not at his best defensively.
Naylor 7 The pick of the defence, with some good headers away.
Sandwith 6 Not a good day for the Stags defence.
Stonehouse 5 Poor game. Partially at fault for the first goal.
Cain 4 Woeful crossing. Also lost the player he should have been marking for Barrow's first goal.
Thompson 5 Very quiet. Conceded free kick that led to Barrow's second goal.
Murray 9 Outstanding first half. Tired towards the end, probably because he had had to do everything on his own before then.
Briscoe 5 Poor game, summed up by two off-target efforts.
Moult 6 Couldn't live up to his performance against Newport. Caught offside too often in the first half. One great ball to set up a chance for Connor.
Connor 5 An off day, though unlucky with the own goal. Missed a great opportunity in the first half.
Sub Line Up:
Smith (for Cain, 63) 9 What a difference he made as he single-handedly rescued a point with two great goals.
Mitchley (for Moult, 66) 6 Contributed little, though his through ball put Adam Smith away down the left for the second goal.
Nix (for Stonehouse, 82) -
Subs Not Used: Foster, Istead.
Opposition Line Up:
Masters, Mike Pearson, Jones, Bolland, Spender, Rutherford, Sheridan (Goodfellow 58), Baker, Edwards, Chadwick, Almond (Cook 76). Subs Not Used: Shaun Pearson, Blundell, Nicholas.
Darren Handley (Lancashire) 7 Handled the game well.

Season 10/11 Reports