{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
0 - 2
 Mansfield Town
 Green 5, 14
Attendance: 2647 (296 from Mansfield)
Date: 3 September 2011


Martin Shaw at the Darlington Arena

Mansfield Town turned in a first class performance at the Darlington Arena this afternoon to gain partial revenge on Darlington for the FA Trophy final. Two cracking goals from Matt Green in the opening 15 minutes set up the victory and although Darlington had long spells of possession, it was the Stags who created the better chances during the rest of the game to thoroughly deserve the victory. The Stags were effective in both boxes with solid defending, and often last ditch defending typified by two terrific blocks from Joe Kendrick, and powerful performances from central defenders Ben Futcher and Ritchie Sutton. Murray and Howell put in really good performances in the middle with Howell doing the ugly side of the game so effectively, consistently breaking up Darlington play. Indeed Howell ran Green close for my man of the match, but Green has to get it for his early double strike and he was so unlucky not to claim a hat-trick when he hit the inside of the post near the end. Only three of the Mansfield starting eleven were at the club when we played at Wembley in May and of course the management team has changed as well, so this result perhaps meant more to the fans in terms of revenge than to the players and manager. It certainly felt very sweet to the terrific Stags following of 296, who never stopped backing their side throughout the game, even when the team were under pressure. So the Stags picked up a third straight win, the first time we have won three league games on the trot since October 2009. Three clean sheets on the trot too, the first time since August 2009. And the first time we have won three on the trot all with clean sheets since October 1991. Next up Newport County next Saturday in a televised game, and a game that Paul Cox recognised Mansfield will have work equally as hard to pick up the points.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that won at Stockport on Monday. Tom Naylor returned from suspension to take his place on the bench at the expense of Nick Wood. The Stags have made only one change to the side in the last 5 games, with Sutton in place of Riley. Manager Paul Cox made it clear that he doesn’t believe in changing something if it isn’t broken. In a change from the Stockport game, Briscoe played on the left and Meikle on the right. Darlington had only four players in the starting eleven that started at Wembley, one more than Mansfield. Former Stag Adam Rundle was in the side. Rundle played under Carlton Palmer at Field Mill and in the same side as Adam Murray.

Two of the biggest speakers I have ever seen provided the PA before the game and the stadium was literally vibrating underfoot. Bizarrely Darlington heavily watered the pitch in the hour and a half up to kick off. Utter madness given that heavy rain was predicted and duly arrived around kick off time, leaving a pitch that became very slippy indeed. Both teams were in different kit to Wembley - the Stags in navy blue, and Darlington in all white having ditched the black and white stripes.

Mansfield got off to a flier and took the lead with the first chance of the game on 5 minutes. Green got the ball wide on the right, made progress to the edge of the box, cut inside a defender onto his left foot and fired a low shot into the left corner of the net. A great goal.

And he made it 2-0 on 14 minutes. The Stags were awarded a free kick 35 yards out in a central position. Briscoe took it but slipped as he did so and scuffed his effort goalwards. It reached Green more or less on the penalty spot. The Darlington defence must have been stunned because they stood and waited whilst Green turned and fired right footed into the top left corner. Another great finish but Mark Cooper wouldn’t have been happy with his defence.

A brilliant start and it was so nearly 3-0 on 17 minutes. Kendrick’s free kick from the left was met by Futcher on the right who headed just wide of the left post.

Terrific stuff from the Stags. Darlington were stunned, but started to get a little bit of possession from about the halfway point in the half, without creating anything at the front.

On 28 minutes, Howell had a shot from the edge of the box following a Kendrick free kick. The ball wouldn’t sit up for Howell and he had to go at it acrobatically, but he earned a corner as it was deflected over. Moments later a knock down from Futcher from a cross from the right just evaded Dyer.

Darlington had not created any chances but had a good shout for a penalty on 31 minutes. Briscoe clumsily bundled Paul Arnison over in the box. Arnison was so convinced it was a penalty he immediately picked the ball up and then threw it away in disgust as the referee waved play on. You’ve certainly seen them given and if it had been at the other end, I think we’d have been very upset. Mark Cooper was furious.

The Stags were actually guilty of conceding too many fouls in their own half at this stage and gifting a bit of possession and momentum to the home side. The first real chance for Darlington came on 37 minutes when Lee headed over from a corner. In truth he was marshalled by the defence and could only head the ball upwards. Lee had another header on 42 minutes but this one was easy for Marriott. On 45 minutes, a corner was well flicked away by Futcher and moments later Marriott got a good fist onto a cross. Two minutes into injury time, Lee headed over again, pressurised by Futcher. Four minutes into stoppage time, a great block by Kendrick from a Rundle shot.

Half time came at a good time for the Stags. Darlington had been getting up a head of steam and had bossed the second half of the first half. The Stags were guilty of committing too many needless fouls. Nevertheless a 2-0 lead at half time was a terrific return.

Half time 0-2

Green nearly made it 3-0 on 48 minutes. Meikle put him away on the right, he thrust goalwards and from a good position shot just wide of the left post. An equally good chance for the Stags to seal it on 51 minutes as Green did superbly to get to the byeline and cut the ball back perfectly into the path of Dyer who fired straight at the keeper from somewhere near the penalty spot. Dyer should surely have scored, but having said that he did at least get his effort on target.

Darlington hadn’t come out of the traps quite as you’d expect but created two chances on 59 minutes. First Campbell shot just past the left post and then substitute Atkinson fired over.

Darlington were starting to put the Stags under pressure again, but in a fast break the Stags nearly scored again, on 62 minutes. Meikle found Briscoe, who was running at pace at the defence, but he couldn’t quite get his first touch right and the ball ran through to the keeper. A minute later Kendrick took one for the team, throwing his body in the way of a shot on the edge of the box for a great block.

It was all-action stuff now and Briscoe had another chance on 66 minutes as Meikle made another good run down the middle and played in Briscoe on the left. Briscoe cut onto his right foot and his body shape looked just right and it was a surprise that his shot went past the right post. Marriott nearly claimed a bizarre goal for the Stags on 67 minutes as his long kick arrived at the Darlington keeper just as he slipped, but he regained his ground to collect the ball just in time.

Connor replaced Meikle on 68 minutes, and Dyer to moved to the right wing. Moments later another penalty claim for Darlington with claims for a handball against O’Neill but that would have been very harsh.

A half chance for the Stags on 72 minutes as Murray shot from outside the box. But in truth it wasn’t a great effort and he was lucky to get a corner for a deflection. A minute later, Murray was guilty of giving the ball away and Greg Taylor cut inside from the left and crossed for substitute Walshaw whose shot was spilled by Marriott and Atkinson somehow slid the rebound wide from 4 yards when it seemed easier to score. A mistake by Marriott but not easy with the wet ball on a greasy surface.

Whilst Darlington were having most of the possession, the Stags were still creating chances and on 77 minutes Green got in a left-footed shot which was saved away to his right by the keeper. A minute later, a huge scramble in the Stags box following a corner and captain Miller had a shot deflected wide. From the resulting corner, another scramble and this time Kendrick had to kick clear off the line. The Stags were under huge pressure but standing firm.

Again the Stags had a chance to seal it on 81 minutes as Kendrick’s free kick was met by Dyer whose header was tipped away by the keeper and a follow-up by Connor was blocked. A great opportunity for Darlington on 83 minutes as substitute Liam Hatch flicked on a cross from the right, into the path of Adam Rundle who fired over at the left post. Then Miller was wide again from a close range volley on 85 minutes.

But on 86 minutes, the Stags came so close to a third goal. Connor on the right, found Green in the middle, Green turned and fired left footed against the inside of the left post with the keeper beaten. A terrific effort and so unlucky.

Worthington replaced Briscoe on 87 minutes. On 88 minutes, a Darlington cross hit Walshaw and landed in Marriott’s midriff. Then on 90 minutes, a shot from Greg Taylor was deflected wide by Sutton.

The final whistle went after three minutes of stoppage time, to great celebrations from fans and players alike.

So a great team performance from the Stags. Loan players Green and Futcher continue to look very good. Green is on loan until the end of December and hopefully the Stags will be able to sign him permanently in the January transfer window. Futcher is on a one-month loan, and hopefully the Stags will be able to extend the loan to 3 months, which would take it to mid November, but of course will not be able to extend it longer than that, so the only opportunity to bring him back again would be during the January transfer window (in other words he wouldn’t be available during the second half of November and December).

Next up Newport County next Saturday. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the Match: Matt Green

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Darlington Arena

Line Up:
Marriott 7 Good handling in slippery conditions and one good punch. Made one mistake when he failed to hold a shot and was lucky the rebound was poked wide.
O'Neill 7 Solid performance. Clattered early on but was ok to continue.
Sutton 8 Really good again, under considerable pressure.
Futcher 8 Marshalled the defence very well yet again. A man-mountain who wins most things in the air.
Kendrick 8 Defended very well. Distribution was better today. Two outstanding blocks from shots.
Meikle 7 Some effective play going forward, and hanging on to the ball better than of late.
Murray 7.5 Gave the ball away once which nearly led to a Darlo goal. Otherwise played very well.
Howell 9 Excellent, doing all the ugly side of the game that Paul Cox wants him to do. Lots of solid challenges and breaking up Darlington’s play.
Briscoe 7 Did well and worked hard, including tracking back. Lucky to have an assist with his poor free kick that led to second goal. Came close to scoring in second half.
Green 9 Two great goals. Led the line superbly. Has outstanding control. So unlucky to hit the inside of the post and not claim his hat-trick.
Dyer 6.5 Close to scoring with a shot straight at the keeper and a header clawed away.
Sub Line Up:
Connor (for Meikle, 68) - Had a shot blocked. Show lacked of pace on one occasion.
Worthington (for Briscoe, 87) -
Subs Not Used: Redmond, Naylor, Stevenson.
Opposition Line Up:
Russell, Purkiss, Miller, Lee, Greg Taylor, Arnison, McReady (Hatch 59), Kris Taylor (Atkinson 40), Rundle, Bowman, Campbell (Walshaw 63). Subs Not Used: Chandler, Bridge-Wilkinson
Karl Evans (Lancashire) 6 Generous to the Stags in not awarding a penalty against Briscoe. Not a fans' favourite among the home fans.

Season 11/12 Reports