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Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Barrow AFC  
2 - 3
 Mansfield Town
Almond 25, Boyes 56.
 Green 4, Futcher 29, Meikle 82
Attendance: 1244 (137 from Mansfield)
Date: 17 September 2011


Martin Shaw at Holker Street

Super Mansfield Town made it five wins on the trot for the first time in the league since October 1991 with a gutsy performance at Holker Street against Barrow. The Stags first win at Holker Street since both sides have been in the Conference. Twice the Stags led and twice they were pegged back. While leading 2-1, Mansfield had numerous gilt-edged chances to seal the game, but were punished by an uncharacteristic error by Alan Marriott to gift Barrow an equaliser. Then a tremendous solo goal by the outstanding Lindon Meikle, who picked the ball up in the centre circle before powering his way into the box past one defender and outpacing the rest and firing under the keeper, was a goal worthy of winning any game. It also sparked wild celebrations, with Meikle getting a booking. This win was all about determination, effort and guts, in a tricky game at a side who don't lose many at home. Paul Cox won't get carried away, but this was a win for the travelling Stags fans to really enjoy.

Torrential rain of almost biblical proportions on Friday night and Saturday morning had put the game in doubt, but fortunately ceased around 11am, to allow the game to go ahead. In the end, the game was played out almost entirely in bright sunshine. During the week, the eyes of the entire country it seemed had been on Mansfield Town's new CEO Carolyn Still (the initial story on the BBC website attracting a third of a million hits in 24 hours for example). Revelations in The Sun on Saturday morning had brought unwanted publicity. However they didn't stop Carolyn Still taking her place in the directors box alongside Stags owner John Radford.

On the pitch, the Stags were unchanged yet again. The only change was Alan Marriott's bright pink shirt and socks. Tom Naylor was on the bench, back from his trial at Fulham where he had played very well in a reserve game against Manchester United. Barrow had already beaten Fleetwood and leaders Wrexham at Holker Street this season and provided stern opponents.

Inside the first minute, the Stags earned a free kick 35 yards out. Briscoe struck it well but it was still rising as it went well over the bar.

The Stags were ahead on 4 minutes. Kendrick’s throw came to Murray, who dinked a ball over the top for Green who chested it down, charged into the box and volleyed the ball home from 12 yards. A clinical finish.

The Stags nearly made it 2-0 on 12 minutes. Good play from Green almost put Dyer in but he couldn’t quite control it. Barrow had a double chance on 13 minutes following a corner as a header went wide across goal, the Stags defenders stopped, thinking it was going out for a goal kick and Paul Smith fired a shot straight at Marriott. On 16 minutes a Barrow free kick was fired over the bar from a tight angle.

The Stags were under the cosh and a mistake by O’Neill on 20 minutes allowed a cross from the right which was headed over the far post. Moments later, the Stags were asleep from a short corner and Macreth shot over the bar. On 23 minutes, the lively Rutherford shot straight at Marriott. The Stags were under huge pressure and looking a little sloppy at the back. On 24 minutes, Almond shot over the bar.

The Stags had kept 4 consecutive clean sheets but under such huge pressure there was an air of inevitability that the record was going to go. The impressive Almond cut past Sutton on to his right foot and buried a shot to the bottom right hand corner, to equalise.

The Stags needed to reassert some authority on the game and on 28 minutes, Meikle’s left footed shot was deflected over the bar. From the resulting corner, the Stags were back in front. Kendrick took it from the left and it was on to the head of the towering Futcher who headed home from close range. Futcher was up nearly at the height of the crossbar when he headed it, giving the defenders no chance.

It was so nearly 3-1 just a minute later. A great run from Dyer down the left from the halfway line and he pulled his shot just past the right post. Good effort. On 34 minutes, nearly a carbon copy of the Stags second goal as Futcher got on the end of Kendrick’s corner from the right but this time he couldn’t direct his header goalwards. On 44 minutes, good goalkeeping from Marriott who did really well to hold a low shot from Paul Smith that bounced just in front of him in the wet conditions.

As the players went off for half time, the Barrow fans applauded their team off , mainly for a 15 minute spell in which they were all over Mansfield and played some scintillating football but the Stags had battled back to lead at the break.

Half time 1-2

The Stags should have sealed the game on 52 minutes. Fine play from Green on the left byeline, and he found Briscoe on the left hand side, who seemed to half go down but stayed on his feet and got himself into a position 6 yards out with the whole goal to aim at. Somehow he scuffed his left footed shot wide of the right post. It was an absolute sitter. All the Mansfield players held their heads in their hands.

Two minutes later an equally good chance for the Stags to extend their lead occurred when Green did really well down the right, cut inside on to his left foot and his shot was deflected into the path of Dyer sliding in at the far post. It looked a sitter for Dyer but somehow he slid it the wrong side of the post. Looking back at it on the DVD, Dyer’s initial shot was actually saved by the keeper and came back and hit him and rolled inches wide of the left post.

I said on the commentary that you hoped the Stags would not pay for these glaring misses but on 56 minutes Barrow were level. More good play by the impressive Almond who shot from the left hand side and it looked a straightforward save for Marriott but the Stags keeper couldn’t hold it and pushed it into the path of Adam Boyes who couldn’t miss from close range. It was a poor mistake by Marriott but it is so tough for keepers in slippery conditions like these.

A chance for the Stags to regain the lead on 58 minutes as Futcher got his head on Kendrick’s corner again and headed at the keeper. Another glorious chance for the Stags on 67 minutes as Briscoe got down the right and fed Green who turned and shot. It was half saved by the keeper who scrambled back to save it on the line. Green should have scored.

Three minutes later, the Stags came so close yet again as, following a good move, Howell got the ball just outside the box, manoeuvred it on to his left foot and sent a low shot against the outside of the right post. So unlucky for the hard working midfielder.

Connor replaced Dyer on 77 minutes and on 80 minutes a great block by Stags captain Adam Murray to block a Barrow shot.

On 82 minutes came the champagne moment of the season as Lindon Meikle sent the travelling Stags fans into raptures with a brilliant solo goal. Picking the ball up on the half way line from a Connor pass, Meikle charged past a defender straight down the middle and into the box and slid the ball under the keeper. The keeper got a touch to it but it went under him and into the net. Meikle went into the Stags fans to celebrate and picked up a booking as a result but he won’t mind, with the great scenes of celebration.

After that there were no more chances for either side as the Stags shut up shop excellently. Worthington replaced Briscoe and Bolland replaced Meikle for his Stags debut with all three Stags subs helping to run the clock down.

A terrific gutsy performance from the Stags to send the 137 travelling Stags fans on the long journey home extremely happy.

Radio Nottm commentary podcast of Stags winning goal.

Post match note: I managed to get the match DVD. I went to see the cameraman at the back of the main stand opposite the commentary box after the game, and ask for a copy for the MTFC official website. He told me to get a copy from the MTFC manager. I said I wouldn't get it for a while by which time "the moment has passed". He then said he didn't have any blank DVDs left. So I said I had got one and I said if I quickly got it, would he do it? He said oh alright then. I sprinted down the steps and around the ground to get my blank DVD from my bag and then back round past a few astonished faces who wondered what I was doing. By the time I got back I was so out of breathe I couldn't speak. Anyway, to his credit, he copied it for me.

Man of the match: Lindon Meikle

Report by: Martin Shaw at Holker Street

Line Up:
Marriott 6 Bad mistake for the second goal, but conditions were very slippy, and he made some good contributions from crosses. Got lucky when he dropped another cross when the ball had already gone out of play.
O'Neill 8 Some fine headers away.
Sutton 7 Made a couple of mistakes, but otherwise did well.
Futcher 8 Towering performance at the back. Scored one and nearly got another.
Kendrick 7 Defended well against a tricky customer in Rutherford. Two good corners for Futcher's headers.
Briscoe 7 Good game. Missed a sitter, but set up chances for others.
Howell 8 Won lots of challenges in the middle of the park. So unlucky with a great effort against the post.
Murray 7 Worked hard in the middle, and could be seen trying to rally the troops when we were under huge pressure.
Meikle 9 Terrific, and got the goal his play so richly deserved.
Green 9 Led the line superbly. The Barrow media thought he was fantastic. Clinical finish for the first goal and set up other chances.
Dyer 6 Did ok. Missed two good chances.
Sub Line Up:
Connor (for Dyer, 77) - Good pass to Meikle on the halfway line to set up the winning goal.
Worthington (for Briscoe, 84) - Did the professional thing working te ball into the corners.
Bolland (for Meikle, 90) - Good to see him finally get his debut.
Subs not used: Redmond, Naylor.
Opposition Line Up:
Danny Hurst, Cliff Moyo, Gavin Skelton, Adam Quinn, Kelvin Lomax, Jack Mackreth, Paul Smith, James Owen, Paul Rutherford, Adam Boyes, Louis Almond (Ryan Brooke 85). Subs not used: Zak Jones, Robin Hulbert, Richie Baker, Andy Ferrell.
Tony Harrington (Hartlepool) 8 Handled a difficult very well and ignored calls from the home fans.

Season 11/12 Reports