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Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Bath City
Connor 3.
 Connolly 34.
Attendance: 3997 (80 from Bath)
Date: 13 August 2011


Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

Despite a great start to the opening match of the season, and an early lead from Paul Connor, Mansfield Town were disappointingly help to a 1-1 draw by Bath City at Field Mill. Connor headed home on 3 minutes, but then an incredible treble miss as the Stags hit the post, the bar, and had a header tipped over on 21 minutes which was costly as Bath equalised on 34 minutes with Adam Connolly’s shot from the edge of the box taking a big deflection to beat Alan Marriott. Mansfield lacked ideas after that until substitute Ross Dyer came on and livened things up, nearly scoring on 72 minutes when he rounded the keeper but couldn’t beat the defender on the line with his shot, and the Stags had other half chances before a golden opportunity in stoppage time as Andy Todd seemed certain to score in the six-yard box, but appeared to be pushed from behind and the chance was gone. At the final whistle, boss Paul Cox remonstrated with the referee for not awarding a penalty. Frustration for Mansfield and very disappointing that, as had happened so many times before, the Stags failed to put in a good showing in front of a bumper crowd, many who were taking advantage of £2 entry with a Wembley ticket stub.

The Stags had played their last league game at Bath in April, and had lost 2-0 in the run-up to Wembley. Incredibly only one player that played for the Stags in that game at Twerton Park was in the Stags squad today: Alan Marriott. Two of the Stags players from that game were however in the Bath City line-up today: Paul Stonehouse and Mark Preece. There were debuts in the Stags starting line-up for defenders Luke O’Neill, Martin Riley, and Matt Bell, midfielders John Worthington and Andy Todd, and Matt Green up front. Marriott, Naylor, Murray, Briscoe and Connor were the Stags players in the side today who were at the club last season. Of the Stags substitutes, Ross Dyer and Lindon Meikle came on to also make their debuts.

The kick off was delayed for 10 minutes to allow a much larger than normal crowd into the ground, as supporters queued to get their tickets at the ticket office for just £2 with a Wembley ticket stub.

In a party atmosphere early on, the Stags were off to a flier on 3 minutes as left back Matt Bell put in a beautiful cross from the left for the unmarked Paul Connor inside the six-yard box, to head past the keeper low to the keeper’s left. Terrible defending from Bath, in fact it was like time stood still as you couldn’t believe Connor had so much space.

On 6 minutes, Green got in a shot from a tight angle on the right which was beaten away by the keeper and just out of the reach of Connor. A chance for Bath on 8 minutes, as Lee Phillips did well on the edge of the box, and shot just wide of the right post, with the ball coming back off the stanchion at the back of the net, with Marriott looking as though he was beaten. On 9 minutes, Matt Green cut inside from the left and his shot took a deflection off 2 defenders and out for a corner. On 18 minutes, Bath’s first corner was headed wide by Gethin Jones who alarmingly was allowed a free header.

On 21 minutes, Green made a good run down the right and from a tight angle his shot was deflected into the side netting. From the resulting corner, there was an amazing sequence as the Stags hit the post, the bar and had a header tipped over. Firstly Riley headed against the post, it rebounded to Green who smacked the ball against the bar, and then it was crossed back to Naylor whose header looked destined for the roof off the net, until keeper Garner tipped it over. An incredible sequence and you just hoped it wouldn’t come back to haunt us.

On 31 minutes, Lee Phillips had another chance from the edge of the box which he fired wide and there was a comedy moment as a fan in the Quarry Lane End fell over in trying to get the ball. The Stags didn’t heed the warning of allowing shots from the edge of the box and paid the price on 34 minutes as Adam Connolly was given lots of space to fire goalwards from the edge of the box. His shot looked to be heading straight at Marriott, but took a horrible deflection off Murray, leaving the keeper with no chance.

On 36 minutes, Andy Todd put in a good run down the left, and his cross was saved by the diving keeper Garner.

Half time 1-1

The Stags had started well but allowed Bath back in it with some slack defending on the edge of their own box allowing Bath some free shots.

A half chance for the Stags on 47 minutes, as a ball over the top seemed to give Connor a 50:50 chance with the keeper of getting the ball. But Connor somehow stubbed his toe as the keeper ended up with the ball. On 55 minutes, Matt Green seemed to leave a foot in on the keeper who went down. The referee decided it was a fair challenge, the ball came out to Connor who should have an empty net to fire at, but lost the ball before he could shoot. Poor defending from the Stags on 58 minutes as the Stags gave the ball away in midfield, it was played out to the right by Bath, and crossed back in for an unmarked Lewis Hogg who headed straight at Marriott. A let-off for Mansfield. On 68 minutes, Green made a bit of space for himself on the edge of the box and his left-footed shot was easily saved low down by Garner.

Ross Dyer replaced a tired looking Paul Connor on 69 minutes. Dyer was off to a good start on 71 minutes as he made a great run down the left and got to the byeline, but his cross was cut out for a corner. A minute later, Dyer set up Murray with a lovely lay-off on the edge of the box and Murray side-footed over the bar. Moments later, Murray played a great ball over the top for Dyer, who got past the keeper and was off balance as he shot goalwards but a defender had got back to clear the ball off the line. After the game, manager Cox told us he thought Dyer had been fouled in the process of going past the keeper and the referee should have brought play back for a penalty.

On 75 minutes, Lindon Meikle replaced Matt Green who had cut a frustrated figure in the second half.

On 84 minutes, Bell’s corner from the left found Naylor unchallenged, but Naylor headed over the bar. On 88 minutes, good play from an otherwise under-par Briscoe who got into the box and there was a half-chance for Murray but the ball got stuck under his feet and Murray was flagged offside anyway. There was frustration for Mansfield on 89 minutes, as Meikle made a great run down the left and cut inside but tried to beat 3 defenders around him and lost the ball while two Stags players were unmarked inside the box waiting for the delivery. Meikle again frustrated Mansfield on 90+1 minutes when he tried a shot from an acute angle on the right and found the side netting with Stags players unmarked in the box.

Three minutes into stoppage time the Stags nearly won it. O’Neill floated a free kick into the box from the centre circle, it was headed on by Dyer, and Andy Todd seemed certain to score in the six-yard box, but appeared to be pushed from behind and the chance was gone. Stags players appealed for a penalty but the referee waved play on. Within seconds the referee blew the final whistle, and Stags boss Paul Cox charged onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee for not awarding a penalty, either from that incident, or the earlier one when he thought Dyer was fouled. Cox also thought the Stags could have had a penalty in the first half when a ball bounced up and hit a Bath City hand.

A muted response from Stags fans at the end, as the players were applauded off, but fans were clearly disappointed. Bath City players and fans meanwhile were delighted with their point which they probably just about deserved. The Stags will need to better and more inventive to break sides down like Bath who came and packed the midfield and tried to stop us playing.

A nice touch from Paul Cox after the post-match interviews had been carried out, as he came over to the two of us (not knowing either of us) and said "What did you think lads?" and he was happy to chat with us about the game.

And so on to Gateshead on Tuesday. The Stags will have left back Joe Kendrick available after suspension, and possibly right back Ritchie Sutton back from injury. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Martin Riley

Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

Line Up:
Marriott 6 A quiet afternoon. No chance with the goal. One header straight at him. Not troubled apart from that, though received some dicey back-passes from his defence.
O’Neill 7 Showed some good touches down the right, and defended solidly.
Naylor 6 Defended ok. Distribution was disappointing as he often missed out the midfield.
Riley 7 Good game. Swept up everything at the back. Our man of the match.
Bell 6 Defensively was given a difficult afternoon by Marley Watkins and was outpaced. Did well going forward with some good crosses, including a beauty for the goal.
Briscoe 5 Poor game on all fronts. Looked desperately out of touch, though was often surrounded by several defenders. Huffed and puffed but no end product.
Murray 6 Quiet game. Didn’t show the inspiration we came to expect last season and expect from a new captain.
Worthington 5 Looked lost in the first half, poor distribution. More involved in the second half.
Todd 6 Decent first half. Nearly the hero at the end.
Green 6 Dangerous in the first half. Looked frustrated in the second half and eventually substituted.
Connor 6 Early goal with nice header. Provided some good flick-ons in the first half. Seemed to tire in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
Dyer (for Connor, 69) 7 Really livened things up. Some good runs, a good flick-on and a neat lay-off. Nearly scored when he went round the keeper.
Meikle (for Green, 75) 5 Greedy when better options available to him.
Subs Not Used: Redmond, Wood, Stevenson.
Opposition Line Up:
Garner, Stonehouse, Preece, Jones, Simpson, Russell (Murray 74), Connolly, Burnell, Watkins, Hogg, Phillips (Cook 90). Subs Not Used: Matthews, Rollo, Webb
Darren Handley (Lancashire) 5 Not good. Pedantic.

Season 11/12 Reports