{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
AFC Wimbledon  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Stuart's arm 68, Johnson 86.
 Thompson 14
Attendance: 3,613 (134 from Mansfield)
Date: 22 April 2011


Martin Shaw at Kingsmeadow

Paul Connor limped off with a torn calf during the first half of this game in the sunshine at AFC Wimbledon and is now a doubt for Wembley according to physio Jason Truscott. It is potentially a huge blow to the Stags' chances of winning the FA Trophy final at Wembley in 15 days time. The Stags took the lead after 14 minutes with a brilliant goal from Tyrone Thompson, firing home left footed from 25 yards. The Stags came within a whisker of doubling the lead ten minutes later when Luke Medley charged down a clearance from the goalkeeper, the ball rebounded into the ground, bounced up and landed on the roof of the net. Wimbledon had started the better but found the returning Neil Collett in good form, including an outstanding save tipping over a venomous Hatton free kick. AFC Wimbledon equalised on 68 minutes with a goal which should not have stood, as Jamie Stuart met a corner at the far post and video evidence confirms initial thoughts that the ball went in off his upper arm (left bicep). The home side won the game with another lucky goal on 86 minutes when sub Christian Jolley's shot took a big deflection off Johnson to give Collett no chance in the Stags goal. Whilst the two goals for the home side were fortunate, there was no denying that AFC Wimbledon looked a classy side and created so much more going forward than the Stags and ultimately deserved the win. The Stags defended well and Murray and Thompson were very good in midfield, but going forward the Stags were toothless and failed to create a single chance in the whole game apart from the goal and Medley's charge-down. The game showed again that the Stags squad are nowhere near good enough for promotion next season and are at least 6 new players away from being one that can challenge for promotion.

Manager Duncan Russell rotated his squad and at last there was a place in goal for Neil Collett, who needs minutes on the pitch to get his eye in ahead of a place in the starting line-up or on the bench at Wembley. Louis Briscoe was also rested at long last (though he was called up on 53 minutes when Paul Connor and Conor Higginson went off injured). In total there were 5 changes as out went Grof, Briscoe, Paul Stonehouse, Kyle Nix and Higginson and in came Collett, Dan Spence, Thompson, Medley and Ashley Cain.

The home side were quick out of the traps and there was a scramble in the Stags box on 2 minutes as former Bath striker Kaid Mohamed burst into the box and was well tackled by Foster and then Spence cleared. On 5 minutes Mohamed missed a glorious chance as he was clean through on goal, put through by a Luke Moore pass, but his shot was hopeless and was easily saved by Collett. On 11 minutes, Hatton sent a free kick from 25 yards arrowing towards the top of the net but Collett made a great save with his fingertips, tipping it just over the bar.

There appeared to be a gulf in class between the sides in the opening stages.

But the Stags took an unexpected lead on 14 minutes. Preece won a header on the halfway line and found Thompson 35 yards from goal. Thompson controlled the ball well, beat one man and from 25 yards powered a low left footed shot into the left corner of the net giving debutant keeper Turner no chance.

Collett made a great catch from a corner on 17 minutes to boost his confidence further.

It was so nearly 2-0 on 24 minutes. Keeper Turner tried a clearance, Medley was alert to charge it down, the ball rebounded into the ground, bounced up and landed on the roof of the net. It would have been a lucky goal, but if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win the lottery and in the end Medley was unlucky not to claim the goal.

Disaster struck on 30 minutes when Paul Connor went down injured. After a long stoppage, he limped off to the dugout and it seemed from our vantage point on the other side of the pitch that Jason Truscott put Connor’s leg in a bucket of ice, though my eyes could have deceived me from that distance. Conor Higginson came on in Paul Connor’s place.

On 39 minutes, a good move from the Stags as Smith found sub Higginson who fired at the keeper.

Two minutes into stoppage time, a brilliant tackle from Steve Foster in the penalty area as Mohamed was about to shoot.

A good half for the Stags, as they recovered well from an opening 14 minutes when there appeared to be a gulf in class, but the Stags were good for the final 30 minutes, with Thompson and Murray doing very well in the middle, Collett looking confident, and Foster and Spence making really good challenges.

Half time 0-1

A fairly quiet start to the second half. The first chance fell to former Histon full back Gareth Gwillim who looped an awkward shot over the bar.

On 53 minutes, Higginson, who had himself replaced the injured Connor, also limped off injured. As he came off towards the tunnel, he received warm applause from the home fans and his face displayed agony and tears of pain and disappointment. It was upsetting to see.

On 61 minutes, Collett made another good save, this time with his legs from Kedwell’s close range effort. A great run from Kedwell on 65 minutes as he easily outpaced Preece.

On 66 minutes, from Gwillim corner, Stuart headed against the bar.

But on 68 minutes, the Wombles equalised. A corner from the left sailed over the defence and over Collett, and Jamie Stuart met it at the far post and video evidence confirms initial thoughts that the ball went in off his upper arm (left bicep). Foster and Smith immediately appealed to the ref that it was handball, and Spence later joined in, but it was to no avail. A really bad decision from the referee.

On 70 minutes, the Stags blocked a shot on the edge of the box.

Istead replaced Medley on 81 minutes.

On 85 minutes, Jolley’s header beat Collett from Gwillim’s free kick and Spence was alert to clear off the line, with home players claiming the ball had crossed the line.

But on 86 minutes, the Wombles took the lead. From a throw-in, the ball fell to sub Christian Jolley, whose left footed shot looked as though it would be saved by Collett, but took a big deflection off the backside of Johnson and went into the other side of the net. A lucky goal and a sickener for the Stags.

On 87 minutes, Collett just grabbed the ball in front of Mully.

It took the Stags until 89 minutes for Cain to get down the wing and get a cross in, and it came to nothing. Silk put in a great tackle on Mohamed on 90+2. Then from a corner, the ball sailed over Collett and Stuart headed against the left post. There was debate whether it hit the post or Thompson had cleared off the line, but video evidence showed it struck the post.

The game ended in frustration for the Stags, with injuries top of the agenda, and frustration at the way the game was lost.

Man of the Match: Steve Foster

Report by: Martin Shaw at Kingsmeadow

Line Up:
Collett 6 Good return to the side with some good handling and one really great save, plus some other good saves, but then missed a cross for the first goal, and missed another cross from which AFC hit the post.
Silk 7 Some crunching tackles.
Foster 8 One fabulous tackle to deny a goalscoring opportunity.
Preece 7 Did well in the air, but outpaced on occasion.
Spence 7 Solid at left back.
Cain 5 Poor game. Looks less than 100% fit and took him until 89 minutes to get down the wing and get a cross in.
Murray 8 Very good game, pulling the strings in midfield.
Thompson 8 Great goal and did really well generally. Some good tackling.
Smith 5 Poor. Never got into the game.
Medley 6 Good work to charge down the keeper and nearly earn and unlikely goal. But too often seemed out of position on the wing.
Connor 6 Limped off with a torn calf. Now a doubt for Wembley according to Jason Truscott.
Sub Line Up:
Higginson (for Connor, 30) - Went off with a torn hamstring and it was upsetting to him in pain and in tears as he left the pitch.
Briscoe (for Higginson, 53) 6 Showed some more invention up front. But is not a natural striker.
Istead (for Medley, 81) -
Subs not used: Grof, Nix.
Opposition Line Up:
Turner, Hatton, Gwillim, Gregory, Stuart, Johnson, Jones (Mulley 60), Yussuf (Minshull 69), Kedwell, Mohamed, Moore (Jolley 60). Subs not used: Brown, Keirnan.
Chris Knowles (Northants) 5 Got the big decision of the day wrong in allowing AFC's first goal.

Season 10/11 Reports