{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Forest Green Rovers  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Forbes 41.
 Dyer 18 seconds. Howell sent off 45
Attendance: 893 (241 from Mansfield).
Date: 1 October 2011


Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Mansfield Town had to play 45 minutes with ten men in 30 degrees of heat at the New Lawn this afternoon, and came away with a hard-earned point. The Stags took the lead after 18 seconds with a terrific finish from Ross Dyer, against his former club. The Stags were very much on top for the opening half hour. Forest Green equalised out of the blue on 41 minutes through Forbes, and should have gone ahead through Norwood who fired wide from a good position two minutes later. But on 45 minutes, Anthony Howell went in for a crunching challenge just outside the Forest Green box, and the referee immediately produced a red card. Opinion was split in the press box as to whether it should have been a red card or yellow card. Opinion was also split in the Mansfield camp as manager Paul Cox admitted after the game he thought it should have been a red card, whereas captain Adam Murray did not think it should have been a red. However viewing of the video (the camera was on the opposite side of the ground) suggests the red card was justified. In the second half, the Stags fought bravely and actually had the better chances to win the game as Riley and Murray had chances cleared off the line, Dyer headed against the bar, and Green appeared to be brought down in the box and the referee actually put his whistle to his lips but changed his mind as he was about to blow. Forest Green in contrast did not properly test Marriott in the second half. So a well-earned point, and one you fancy we would not have got under recent previous managers.

The Stags made two enforced changes from the side the won at Wrexham, as Riley and Kendrick replaced the suspended Futcher and Naylor. O'Neill moved from left back to right back. Like at Wrexham, the Stags started with a 4-5-1 formation, with Green on his own up front. Dyer was playing against his former club. The Stags were also without the suspended Briscoe. Rhys Day was back on the bench for the first time after a long time out. Forest Green included former Stags centre half Luke Graham, who played against us for Luton in the FA Trophy semi-final two legs last season.

The Stags were chasing a fifth successive away victory for the first time since 1991.

Before the game, I saw Forest Green chairman Dale Vince arrive on his motorbike with ripped jeans, a t-shirt and leather jacket. Not your typical chairman. He’s banned the sale of meat from the ground but the use of cow manure on the pitch seems to have had the desired effect of producing a fantastic surface.

The Stags were ahead in 18 seconds. Murray flicked a delicate ball over the top and Dyer volleyed a super finish just inside the left post. We haven’t seen such good finishing from Ross Dyer whose previous two goals have been tap-ins. Perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay Dyer is to say that it was a typical Matt Green finish.

The Stags were absolutely all over Forest Green in the early stages. On 9 minutes, an O’Neill corner was headed down by Riley and bounced off Todd’s leg right in front of goal when any sort of connection would surely have seen it go in. Forest Green had barely been in the Stags half, but on 13 minutes, loan signing Jake Thompson got in space on the left and fired a shot well wide. In fact so wide that it went out for a throw in.

On 15 minutes, Kendrick’s free kick flicked off Riley’s head and went wide. Griffin had a long range shot for Forest Green on 18 minutes which was well over.

The Stags completely dominated the opening half hour and Forest Green manager Hockaday looked a perplexed man in front of us on the touchline, wondering how his team were going to get back into it.

But slowly Forest Green started to get some possession and completely out of the blue on 41 minutes, they were level. Forbes played a one two, got the ball back and slide in to fire the ball into the left corner of the net. A peculiar looking goal for which Kendrick may have been slightly out of position.

A minute later, a fine run from Forbes, who was now full of confidence but he fired wide. A minute after that Forest Green should have been in front. A fine move and Thompson got the ball to the byeline and played it back for Norwood who, from a great position, slid the ball wide of the left post. It was a real escape for Mansfield.

The Stags were down to 10 men on 45 minutes. With the ball just outside the Forest Green box, Howell slid in for a tackle. It was undoubtedly a foul as he got the man. Viewing of the video (the camera was on the opposite side of the ground) suggests the red card was justified. If ever there was a day not to go down to ten men, then this was it. Probably the hottest day the Stags have played for several years. At half time, Cox marched over to talk to the referee but stewards kept him away. It was the Stags third red card in successive games.

Half time 1-1

The Stags started the second half with a 4-4-1 formation but on 52 minutes, Paul Cox changed the formation to 4-3-2, bringing on Bolland for Todd, and moving Dyer up alongside Green.

On 55 minutes, a promising one-two between O’Neill and Green but O’Neill’s shot was weak and straight at the keeper. That combination’s worked twice this season against Stockport and Newport but not this time. On 56 minutes, Rowe was clean through but his low shot was well saved by Marriott. On 58 minutes, Kendrick so nearly played in Green but with Green, a defender and the goalkeeper all converging on the ball, the goalkeeper was just able to clear it.

The Stags twice came within a whisker of going back in front on 63 minutes. First, Riley’s shot was blocked on the line and it rebounded to Murray whose shot was saved on the line. An incredible escape for Forest Green.

On 64 minutes, Norwood fired wide of the right post. The Stags were really holding their own and you couldn’t tell which team had only 10 men. On 71 minutes, Green’s shot from inside the box was deflected just over the bar. A minute later, O’Neill’s corner from the left was met by Dyer who sent a looping header against the bar. At the other end, Rowe crossed and it was deflected straight to Marriott.

A crucial moment on 80 minutes as Green broke into the box and went down under a challenge. The referee immediately put his whistle to his lips and his body shape suggested he was about to point to the spot but he changed his mind and took his whistle out of his mouth and didn’t give the penalty. Green was furious with the referee and from our position in the commentary box, it did look a penalty.

Back at the other end on 82 minutes, goalscorer Forbes cut inside and fired just past the right post. A double substitution for the Stags on 84 as Paul Cox withdrew his front two who had run themselves into the ground and replaced them with Meikle and Connor. As the game went into the last minute, Meikle had a sight of goal albeit from the halfway line but was cynically brought down by a defender who picked up a yellow card. Two minutes into stoppage time, Worthington did well to block Klukowski’s shot.

The final whistle brought a standing ovation from the 241 Stags fans behind the goal. This was a terrific gutsy performance from Mansfield again giving hope that this could be a successful season.

Man of the Match: Ross Dyer

Report by: Martin Shaw at the New Lawn

Line Up:
Marriott 6 Quiet afternoon. Made some good takes from crosses but few saves to make.
O'Neill 8 Defended very well, and got forward well.
Riley 8 Very good game, seemed to win everything.
Sutton 7.5 Did well.
Kendrick 6 Caught out a few times, otherwise did ok.
Dyer 8.5 His best game for the Stags. Super finish early on, he won lots of headers as usual, and did really well. Unlucky not to to score a second with a header against the bar.
Worthington 7.5 Worked very hard, summed up by one time when he lost the ball and chased back to win it back.
Howell 6 Did ok before the sending-off, which divided opinion on whether it was justified.
Murray 7.5 Great ball for the goal. Good game.
Todd 7 Worked hard again.
Green 7 Not protected by the ref. Seemed to have won a penalty but the ref changed his mind. Not his best game, but still did well.
Sub Line Up:
Bolland (for Todd, 52) 7 Did well.
Meikle (for Green, 84) - Fouled on the halfway line, when he would have had a run at goal.
Connor (for Dyer, 84) -
Subs not used: Redmond, Day.
Opposition Line Up:
Bittner, Hodgkiss, Turley, Graham, Stokes, Norwood (Allen 81), Klukowski, Forbes, Rowe, Thomson (McDonald 67), Griffin (Taylor 67). Subs not used: Turk, Imudia.
Andy Davies (Hampshire) 5 Got so many decisions wrong. Failed to spot Green being repeatedly fouled. Review of the video shows he got the red card right though.

Season 11/12 Reports