{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 11/12 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
AFC Telford United  
0 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 2,203 (474 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 November 2011


Martin Shaw at the Bucks Head

Mansfield Town and AFC Telford United were as bad as each other in a terrible game at the Bucks Head this afternoon. The Stags were very poor in the final third, creating almost nothing in the 90 minutes. The Stags were also guilty of giving the ball away needlessly on far too many occasions. Telford were just as bad though and I was astonished to hear one of the local media after the game say that this was a good Telford performance. I retorted that I wouldn't have liked to have seen a bad one. Telford did at least create the better chances and were unlucky when Richard Davies hit the bar in the first half. Davies had earlier missed a good chance firing wide from a good position, and Marriott had to make a fine block in the second half to deny Davies again. The only positive for the Stags was a good debut from John Thompson, plus that clean sheet which was Mansfield's first for 13 games. There was no lack of trying from Mansfield but there certainly was a lack of quality today.

This was the Stags first visit to the Bucks Head for a league game. The main stand is the same as that at Forest Green, and up on asking I found out that this is because it was built by the same person.

On a slightly misty day, and on a pitch that was a bit bumpy in places, Mansfield made just one change to the side that lost to Cambridge a fortnight ago. John Thompson came in for his long awaited debut following the horrific injury in pre-season, in place of Ben Futcher who has returned to Bury. Paul Cox did not consider that Rhys Day was match fit, having played just 3 games in 9 months. Cox told the media before the game that Meikle was up front and Dyer on the right wing. Telford included loan signing Ashley Cain, who was with the Stags last season and who despite his frustrating inconsistency could have been a Stags hero for ever if the referee had awarded him a penalty when he was brought down in the box in extra time at Wembley. Another new loan signing, Jay Smith, was in midfield for Telford. Smith had been excellent against the Stags for Tamworth at Field Mill last season.

The Stags started poorly and gave the ball away repeatedly in the opening 20 minutes. On 4 minutes, Telford had a glorious chance to take the lead when a free kick from the halfway line found its way to Davies inside the box and he shot wide of the left post when it seemed easier to score. Chris Sharp, who scored the equaliser at Field Mill two months ago, fired over the bar from the left on 9 minutes. On 20 minutes, Paul Cox switched Dyer and Meikle, with Dyer moving up front and Meikle to the right. The first chance for the Stags came on 24 minutes when Meikle crossed from the right and Hegarty got a weak header on target, but it was an easy save for keeper Young.

Telford were within a whisker of the lead on 28 minutes. Howell lost the ball in the centre circle, Davies strode forward and curled a fine effort over Marriott and against the bar. The ball rebounded into the air, and with no-one anywhere near him, Sutton put the ball behind for a corner. It was nearly a case of lightning striking twice, as it was Howell who gave the ball away in the centre circle in the game between the sides at Field Mill and was punished by Chris Sharp with the late equaliser.

The Stags best chance came on 30 minutes. A good move, and O’Neill played a cross across the edge of the area to Green, who snatched at his chance from the edge of the box and fired wide of the left post. On 32 minutes, Freeman put in a good cross (after several earlier poor ones) and Dyer headed wide. The Stags had a goal disallowed on 34 minutes as keeper Young dropped a Stags corner but the referee had blown his whistle and the home defenders had stopped before Green put the ball in the net.

On 39 minutes, Dyer broke into the box on the right and was about to be in a goal-scoring position when the referee blew for a foul to Mansfield and pulled the play back. Outrageously bad refereeing not to play the advantage.

On 43 minutes, a Stags free kick was cleared to Meikle on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked. Two minutes into stoppage time, O’Neill tried his luck with a piledriver from 30 yards that unfortunately was straight at the keeper when a yard or two either side might have been interesting.

A really poor half of football. Mansfield started sloppily but got better in the second half of the half. The Stags were however playing too much long ball.

Half time 0-0

Connor replaced Hegarty at the start of the second half.

Less than a minute into the half, Farrell’s shot for Telford was well wide but took a deflection on the way. At the other end, on 47 minutes, there were claims from the Stags fans behind the goal for a penalty as Murray’s cross hit Salmon, but it looked to me like it hit him in the chest. A half-chance for the Stags on 48 minutes as Dyer fed Green on the left and Green’s run-in on goal saw the ball smothered by the keeper. At the other end, a Telford free-kick found Salmon goalside of the Stags defence but somehow Salmon headed the ball backwards.

A good run from Green on 58 minutes, but he lost the ball in the box. Meikle did well on the left on 60 minutes and he crossed for Green but Green flicked his header over. Telford introduced former Crewe prolific striker Steve Jones on 61 minutes and within seconds he had a shot at goal but Marriott saved low to his right. On 66 minutes, Newton had a clean shot from distance but it was always rising and was over Marriott’s bar.

Marriott kept the Stags in the game on 67 minutes. Davies got goalside of the Stags defence but Marriott was out quickly to smother his shot. From the resulting corner, the Stags appeared to clear the ball off the line in a melee.

Salmon chipped a looping shot into Marriott’s arms on 73 minutes. And on 77 minutes, Telford got a free kick just outside the box, but the Stags defence stayed strong unlike at home to Fleetwood and the ball cannoned into Dyer. Telford were enjoying a spell of domination.

On 85 minutes, Green broke into the box on the left but the ball unluckily bounced off him out for a goalkick. Then O’Neill’s good cross was just cleared on 86 minutes.

Frustration for the Mansfield fans on 90+2 as Meikle cut inside but didn’t shoot when well-placed 22 yards out. Finally Murray had a shot blocked on 90+4 minutes.

At the final whistle, Mansfield players stood with their heads bowed and others with hands-on-hips, knowing that this had not been the result the club was looking for.

So a chance to get closer to the play-off zone was squandered, and another game against a lowly side next Saturday when the Stags visit rock-bottom Bath. Bath have only 8 points and one of those was at Field Mill. The Stags simply must win that one.

Man of the Match: John Thompson

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Bucks Head

Line Up:
Marriott 6.5 Quiet game, but made a very good save when called upon.
O'Neill 6 Tried to break forward as often as he could but his quality of crossing was very poor with almost every ball claimed by the keeper. Distribution also sometimes poor. Defended ok.
Thompson 7 Good debut and great to see him finally make his Stags debut. Looked calm and assured.
Sutton 6.5 Defended well after a shaky start.
Freeman 6 Some poor distribution and made some early mistakes. Did ok in the second half.
Dyer 5 Played mostly on the right of midfield apart from 25 minutes up front. Did nothing to suggest that right midfield is his position.
Howell 5 Gave the ball away in the build-up to Davies hitting the bar.
Murray 5 Not at his best. Created nothing.
Hegarty 5 Contributed nothing. Taken off at the break
Meikle 6 Started up front for 20 minutes until Paul Cox realised it wasn’t working. Did better on the left wing and his trickery caused Telford some problems but the final ball was usually lacking.
Green 6 Frustrating game as he didn’t get much service.
Sub Line Up:
Connor (for Hegarty, 46) 6 Got no service.
Subs not used: Redmond, Day, Moult, Bolland.
Opposition Line Up:
Young; Salmon, Whitehead, Killock, Valentine; Cain, Davies (Adams 85), Smith, Newton; Sharp (King 90), Farrell (Jones 61). Subs not used: Preston, Robinson.
Darren Bond (Lancashire) 5 Made some terrible decisions, most notably when stopping play for a foul to Mansfield as Dyer was through on goal wide on the right. Was refereeing his 2nd consecutive Stags league game after also doing the Cambridge game.

Season 11/12 Reports