Mansfield Town 2 Chester City 1
By Martin Shaw at Field Mill for SSIB website
With injury victims Linighan, Hassell and Bacon still missing, Stags were unchanged from the side that got a creditable point at leaders Barnet. Blake passed a fitness test after suffering from flu and tonsillitis. Greenacre also played after recovering from a heavy cold. Dearden explained after the game that Greenacre was keen to play so they tool a gamble on his fitness. Chester turned out with their usual blue and white stripes, and with Mansfield`s yellow shorts on in place of their normal white shorts!
The game started slowly and Stags looked very sluggish for the opening 20 minutes. From the Stags first corner. Williams floated a precision pass for Bromby, running in from the edge of the box, to head the ball forward. Just as it seemed the ball would be cleared, Chester stalwart Nick Richardson inexplicably headed the ball wide of his own keeper and into the net. It was a lucky break for the Stags, but it was nevertheless a clever corner and good header from loan defender Bromby, even though his header was going wide.
Chester looked lively going forward in the first half and created some awkward moments for the Stags defence which struggled at times to cope. It seemed fortunate that the defence had the extra pace of Bromby, in place of Linighan, to cope with Chesterís pacy forward line, in which top scorer Luke Beckett looked outstanding. Chester had a couple of headers just over the bar, before Bowling made a great save from a header, which he clawed away at the foot of the post. It was a save that brought cheers from the home fans. For the Stags, Greenacre showed one wonderful piece of skill when crossing from the corner flag when it seemed he had no right to, though it came to nothing. Lormor shot straight at the keeper with power when put through on goal, and Neil Richardson struck a low free-kick from 25 yards just past the bottom of the post with the Chester keeper scrambling to reach it.
At half time Stags were lucky to be ahead, and Chester had played much better going forward than their league position suggested.
Greenacre had Stags best chance in the early stages of the second half, embarking on a great run to outpace the defence, but his fine shot was tipped over the bar for an excellent save. Soon afterwards, Greenacre, tiring quickly following his heavy cold, was replaced by young Boulding.
Soon after coming on, Boulding broke down the right and skipped past the keeper 30 yards from goal. Had Boulding gone down it would have been a red card for the keeper. But the striker stayed on his feet, and squared the ball into the box but with the keeper stranded, no Stags player could get to the loose ball.
In one moment of high farce, Stags nearly took a 2 goal lead. A Chester defender played the ball back to his keeper. Lormor chased the ball hard and the keeper tried to clear it, but only managed to slice the ball up in the air and inches high and wide if the angle of bar and post.
After 68 minutes, following a short period of Chester pressure that hadnít however led to any chances, a corner was headed away by the Stags defence but from 25 yards Matt Doughty wacked back a volley into the top corner of the net that gave Bowling no chance. The Chester players went mad in their celebrations in front of their travelling fans Ė you would have thought they had won the FA Cup final and one of the Chester players was booked for over-exuberant celebrations.
Four minutes later, Clarke, in a surging run, burst down the right and sent over a great cross for Boulding, but as the substitute tried to head it goalwards from 6 yards, a defender just cleared it.
Incredibly within a minute, a carbon copy move led to the winner. Clarke showed fantastic skill before crossing from the right for Micky Boulding to rise higher than the defender and plant a clinical header in off the underside of the bar from 6 yards. It was the young substitute`s first goal at home and one met with delight from his team-mates and a larger than usual home crowd.
Stags now got right on top and dominated the remaining 18 minutes. In fact they were unlucky not to move further ahead on several occasions.
Sisson had a great run through the whole defence and had his shot blocked when perhaps he should have squared for the unmarked Lormor. Lormor had two further shots, one weakly wide of the post and another high over the bar.
In the end this was a great result for the Stags who just about deserved the 3 points. This was mainly due to an improved second half performance against plucky Chester. In fact Chester looked far better than their position suggests and surely look too good to be relegated.
My man of the match was shared between young midfielders Darrell Clarke and Michael Sisson who both had outstanding games, to compensate for Blake who was recovering from illness, though nevertherless put in a brave display.
In the post-match interview, Billy Dearden revealed the excellent news that youngster Michael Sisson had signed a new 2.5 year deal. This means that the promising trio of Hassell, Bacon and Sisson have all signed extended contracts.
Finally a comment on the pitch. Despite a lot of rain recently the pitch looked excellent. Credit must be due to new groundsman Rob Sprigg.
MOM: Darrell Clarke and Michael Sisson
Bowling 6 One fantastic save; no chance with the goal.
Williams 7 Fine game, including a great corner for the first goal.
Tallon 6 Solid and unspectaular.
Andrews 8 Two fantastic saving tackles in the first half. Solid all round.
Bromby 7 Solid and very quick. Pace was useful against fast forward-line.
Richardson 6 Fair
Sisson 9 Fantastic all-round display. Won numerous balls in midfield and distributed the ball well.
Clarke 9 Fantastic display. Seemed to behind everything Stags created.
Blake 6 Sluggish start but improved in second half. Recovering from flu and tonsillitis and hence a brave display.
Lormor 6 Worked tirelessly as ever without looking particularly dangerous.
Greenacre 6 Recovering from a heavy cold. One fine effort tipped over the bar. Tired in second half and was substituted.
Boulding (for Greenacre) 7 Good header for second goal. Showed pace and looked very dangerous in several late runs.
Roscoe (for Tallon) 7 Greeted by cheers rather than boos, as he came on during the celebrations for the second goal. Won a couple of 50/50 balls to the delight of the home fans and whipped in a couple of good crosses.
Asher (for Andrews) 6 Late substitute. Sliced a clearance dangerously with his first touch.
Not used: Gibson, Kerr