HAMSHAW INSPIRES STAGS TO VICTORY
Mansfield Town 2 - 1 Chester City
Brown 27, Baptiste 81 Maylett 9
Attendance: 2,366 (89 from Chester)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Mansfield Town made it three wins in a row with a 2-1 success over Chester City at Field Mill on Tuesday night. The win enabled the Stags to leapfrog both Chester themselves and local rivals Notts County. Jon-Olav Hjelde and Jason White were at fault for gifting Chester the lead on 9 minutes, but a brilliant pass from Barry Conlon and a great finish from Simon Brown leveled for the Stags on 27 minutes. An Alex John-Baptiste header from Matt Hamshaw's corner on 81 minutes won it for the Stags. The Stags are, at last, into the top half of the table, and 9 points behind the play-offs. Realistically 8 wins would be required from the final 10 games to take the Stags into the top 7. Come on Mansfield!
To hear Stagsworld commentary of the Stags goals, by Nigel Pinnick and Martin Shaw, click here
report from http://www.chestercityfc.net
Report by Nathan Auty
City's slim play-off hopes suffered another crucial blow as the winless run was extended to four matches with late defeat at Field Mill.
Mark Wright kept faith with the 5-4-1 system that ended Friday evening's disappointing 1-1 home draw against rock bottom Torquay United, but there were a number of enforced personnel changes. Injury ruled out ex-Stag Dave Artell and Simon Yeo, so Simon Marples returned at right back, allowing Sean Hessey to switch into the centre of defence, and Brad Maylett was handed his first start since arriving on loan from Boston United last week. Alan Kearney dropped to the bench as Laurence Wilson returned to the starting line-up, on the left of the four-man midfield, whilst Graham Allen and Lee Steele were included on the bench - which was minus young striker Chris Holroyd.
Wilson and Maylett, who both made first half substitute appearances on Friday evening, were given the license to support lone striker Royce Brownlie, often turning the 5-4-1 defensive system into a 5-2-3 when the Blues had possession. Dean Bennett and Jamie Hand were given the task of halting the hosts' breaks through the midfield.
This worked to City's advantage as early as the ninth minute when Maylett netted his first goal for the club, and his first of the season, although there was some element of fortune about the opener. A misplaced backpass by former Nottingham Forest defender Jon Olav Hjelde, on the right side of the box, was seized upon by the winger who drilled his first-time shot low and hard into the bottom far corner.
The home side soon got into gear, though, dominating much of the opening 45 minutes' play. John Danby kept out Simon Brown's powerful drive from distance, gathering at the second attempt, and the pacey threat of Nathan Arnold down the right flank caused a rare element of panic in the City defence on a couple of occasions, Blues skipper Phil Bolland clearing one such break from in front of the goal-line after Danby had fumbled low down at his near post.
City were looking threatening on the break though, quickly turning 5-4-1 into the 5-2-3 on a number of occasions. Paul Linwood sent a towering header goalwards from a Maylett corner just before the quarter hour, but the ball cleared the crossbar, and Maylett was wasteful moments later, shooting tamely at home 'keeper Jason White from the edge of the area.
Mansfield soon exerted their dominance, again through the pace of Arnold and Simon Brown, whilst the physical presence of Barry Conlon, who was sent off early on in the previous meeting between the two sides back in January, was also a key component to the home side's attacking power.
Arnold tested the composure of the City defence with two darting runs in quick succession, though without the final ball to match. The first cross was dealt with by Bolland, and the second one was overhit and flew across goal and out of play for a Blues throw-in. Danby then comfortably gathered a shot from distance by home midfielder Stephen Dawson before the half hour mark.
The equaliser that had been threatened duly arrived in the 27th minute, when Conlon lofted a pass over the middle of the Blues defence and Brown raced through to slot beyond the advancing Danby. Disappointment for City who had, up to this point, generally coped well with the opposition's attacking threat.
A similar move that led to the goal almost saw Brown in again over five minutes later, but the through ball was overhit and Danby gathered with ease. Ten minutes before the break, Conlon fired comfortably wide from the edge of the box and soon after Danby was tested, expertly meeting a low Bryan Hodge cross from the left side, which took a deflection.
City did create one final first half opportunity to restore the advantage, but after a good interchange between the three-pronged attack of Wilson, Maylett and Brownlie, the latter curled a left-footed shot comfortably wide of the right-hand upright.
The Blues proved to be a little more adventurous in front of goal in the second half, but it was Danby's goal that was again under threat early on. Marples did well to stop Hodge from Jonny Mullins' right-sided delivery and Danby was rescued by Jamie Hand's block in front of the goal-line to deny Arnold a simple finish.
City looked dangerous on the break, though, and Wilson produced an outstanding save from the home 'keeper, following a strong forward run by Bennett. The former Wrexham man laid a square pass for the youngster to power a 35-yard thunderbolt which White acrobatically turned round the post. Then, on the hour, Hand drilled wide from a similar distance.
Mansfield's Mullins joined Linwood in the referee's notebook for a foul on Wilson, before Lee Steele was introduced in place of the tiring Brownlie in attack. Steele combined with the overlapping Marples to win an attacking free kick almost immediately, which Kevin Sandwith dispatched towards the back post. The header dropped behind from a home defender, but the resulting corner was cleared.
Alex Meechan came on to replace goalscorer Maylett for the final quarter hour, but it was Mansfield substitute Matt Hamshaw who proved to be the catalyst for a City defeat. The former Stockport winger twisted and turned his way into the area before placing a cross towards the head of Conlon, only for Bolland to fortunately clear.
With only eight minutes left on the clock, another testing Hamshaw delivery, this time from a corner, was flicked on into the path of Alex John-Baptiste, who sent his powerful header crashing in off the underside of the crossbar.
Heartbreak for the Blues, who were very nearly put to the sword late on - Brown shooting wide on the turn, as a second successive away defeat makes that play-off ambition all the more difficult.
Evening Post report:
MANSFIELD BEAT CHESTER
Because this fixture was scheduled for December until a late postponement, the front cover of last night's programme wished everyone a Merry Christmas.
And with the way the Stags are ending the campaign, they will be wishing that they were still about to begin the festive season.
Without always playing their best football, Mansfield have started to string a run of results together. But has it come too late? There are just ten games left and while they are now well clear of the relegation zone, a late play-off push may be a bridge too far.
Nevertheless, chairman James Derry gave the players a real incentive by offering them all a free trip to Barbados if they can finish in the top seven.
But if Stockport and Wycombe win enough of their remaining games, how the Stags perform will be irrelevant.
This win, though, was enough to take Mansfield into the top half of the table for the first time since August.
Perhaps more importantly for the fans, it also took them above Notts County, who they meet on Saturday.
Ironically, Mansfield will probably take more to Meadow Lane than were at last night's game - a season's low gate in the league not being helped by just 89 Chester fans.
Those who were there, including County boss Steve Thompson and his assistant John Gannon, saw a game where Mansfield failed to hit the heights of their display at Lincoln on Saturday. But they will surely have taken note of Mansfield's new-found resilience.
Often this season, Mansfield have come unstuck when made to battle against teams who are physical. Last night, the Stags stood up to that assault and turned things round after conceding an early goal.
But they did not look as commanding at the back as they have done.
Jon-Olav Hjelde was drafted in for injured skipper Jake Buxton (knee) and it was his mistake that led to debutant Bradley Maylett firing Chester in front.
The Norwegian tried to clear in the 10th minute, despite getting a shout to leave it from Jason White who had come off his line to collect, allowing the Boston loanee to slide home from a tight angle. The Mansfield response was not immediate but came just before the half-hour as Barry Conlon and Simon Brown combined to justify their selection ahead of Martin Gritton, who was left on the bench.
An inch-perfect pass from Conlon bisected the central defenders and was taken by Brown who fired into the left corner.
It needed a smart save by White from ex-Stag Laurence Wilson's rasper to prevent the hosts going back behind in the 57th minute.
But the appearance of Matt Hamshaw off the bench saw Mansfield rejuvenated in attack.
After receiving a rapturous welcome, he delivered several testing centres that Chester did well to repel.
But from one of his less threatening, an 82nd minute corner from the left, City failed to clear allowing Alex John-Baptiste to head in via a visiting defender on the line.
Woa . . . Are Stags going to Barbados?
DEFENDER Alex John-Baptiste's late winner maintained Mansfield Town's sunshine run of success with a 2-1 victory over Chester City after chairman James Derry offered the squad dreams of Barbados.
Derry told the players before kick-off that if they can achieve the unlikely feat of making the Play-offs this season, he will pay for a holiday for them in the Caribbean this summer.
It would be the tallest of orders with games running out, but Stags have now taken 10 points from four games and this win put them up to 12th, nine points off a Play-offs place. All they can do is keep on winning and see what happens.
Even manager Billy Dearden is refusing to rule out the impossible, though Mansfield could barely afford to lose any of their remaining 10 games and need other sides to lose.
This chilly night at Field Mill was a million miles from Barbados as Stags were punished for a slow start as Brad Maylett poached a 10th minute opener for City.
But, without ever reaching the heights of Saturday's win at Lincoln, Stags rallied to level through Simon Brown on 27 minutes.
And, with just eight minutes of a scrappy second half left, John-Baptiste headed only his second goal of the season to inflict only Chester's second away defeat in eight away outings.
It was Stags' third win on the trot and set them up perfectly for Saturday's trip to Meadow Lane - and some tentative summer sun brochure reading.
Stags made just one change with skipper Buxton missing out with a knee injury and Hjelde drafted in.
Gritton was available again but had to make do with a place on the bench.
Chester almost shocked Stags inside the opening minute. Sandwith was given room to roam on the left of the box after only 40 seconds and let fly with a piledriver that White could only parry for the first of two corners.
It was a hesitant start from Mansfield. But Brown tested Danby from 25 yards in the seventh minute and the shot proved too hot to handle first time as it swerved at him and he was lucky no one was close enough to pounce before he grabbed it at the second time of asking.
But a mistake from Hjelde gifted Chester a glimpse of an opening in the 10th minute - and it was a chance they gratefully accepted.
Hjelde was caught in two minds as he tried to shepherd the ball back to White and ended up poking it loose into space to the right of the box and wide of the keeper.
White was out of position and the goal gaping but the angle was very tight. Nevertheless, Maylett marked his debut on loan from Boston with a superb slide rule finish from the right hand edge of the box and Mansfield were behind.
A minute later Dawson fired in a 20 yard rocket at the other end but once more Danby parried.
Linwood flicked a header well over the Stags bar from a free kick before a low Arnold cross caused a scramble in the Chester six yard box before being put out for a corner.
City tried to break from that as the home side were caught napping but Maylett's finish this time was tame and at White.
Brown wriggled free to the right of the Chester box on 23 minutes as home frustration grew but hammered a low ball across the face of goal, well ahead of any team mates.
Stags broke well from another City corner with Arnold turning well onto Conlon's ball and racing away. But, with Hodge free to his left, he took it too far and was dispossessed.
Arnold put a free kick over but Conlon could not get up high enough to steer his header on target.
However, it was Conlon's inch-perfect through ball that set up Brown for the equaliser on 27 minutes. He lifted the perfect pass into the path of Brown who took it on and, despite the close attention of a defender, dispatched an unstoppable finish past Danby from 12 yards.
With Brown down hurt from Bolland's challenge, play continued and Conlon eventually hooked a low finish wide.
The sides went in all square but, after their poor start, Stags could be pleased with the way they had fought back.
Dawson's low 20 yard shot tested Danby in the opening minutes of the second half.
Mullins did superbly to well to keep a ball in play on the right and pick out Hodge with a cross that the youngster was shaping up to volley before Marples just managed to nick the ball away.
Seconds later Danby flapped at a cross which left Arnold with chance that Hand did well to block.
Great work from Marples along the edge of the Mansfield box on 57 minutes saw him cue up former Stags loanee Wilson for a rasping left foot shot that White managed to turn aside one handed with a flying save to his left.
Hamshaw received a warm welcome when he replaced Arnold on the hour mark. He immediately put over a telling cross which Bolland cleared almost off the head of Conlon.
Play became increasingly scrappy as Chester tried to step up a gear and won a corner which was cleared.
A good break saw Dawson pick out Hamshaw on the right and his low cross was hooked clear.
Chester failed to properly clear a Hamshaw corner and Conlon got in a looping header onto the top of the net.
Stags were finally ahead with just eight minutes to play - and the unlikely scorer was John-Baptiste.
Hamshaw's corner skimmed off a defender's head and John-Baptiste met it with a header that crossed the line off the underside of the bar.
Hamshaw went on a mazy run which ended with him drilling a low ball across the face of goal which just needed a touch or deflection.
Brown shot wide on the turn a minute from time as Stags secured another three points that lifted them above Notts for the first time this season ahead of Saturday's derby.
STAGS: White, Mullins, Jelleyman, D'Laryea, Conlon (Gritton 82), John-Baptiste, Hodge (M. Boulding 71), Hjelde, Brown, Dawson, Arnold (Hamshaw 60). Subs not used: Muggleton, Charlton.
CHESTER: Danby, Marples, Sandwith, Bolland, Hessey, Hand, Bennett, Wilson, Linwood, Brownlie (Steele 62), Maylett (Meechan 77). Subs not used: Allen, Kearney, Vaughan.
REFEREE: Eddie Ilderton of Tyne and Wear.
GOALS: Mansfield - Brown 27; Baptiste 82. Chester- Maylett 10.
CAUTIONS: Mansfield - Mullins 58 (foul on Wilson)Chester - Linwood 26 (foul on Mullins);
MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Hamshaw.
report from the-onion-bag.com
Mansfield 2 City 1
By City Staff
Despite taking an early lead, City fell to defeat away from home against Mansfield.
Simon Marples made a surprise recovery from injury to be named in Mark Wright's starting eleven. With Simon Yeo unavailable and Lee Steele only fit enough for the bench, Bradley Maylett was pushed up front with fellow loanee Royce Brownlie and the returning Laurence Wilson. Dave Artell failed to recover from his cut ankle and missed out altogether. Everton midfielder Alan Kearney dropped down to the bench.
City started like a house on fire and were rewarded after just nine minutes when Maylett capped his full debut with a goal. Jon Olav Hjelde made a hash of his attempt at clever defending, presenting Maylett with the chance to finish into an empty net, a chance he took.
Minutes later Maylett nearly doubled the lead when he raced clear from a long clearance but found Jason White equal to his weak shot.
Let off the hook, Mansfield came back into game with authority as City struggled to contain the in-form Stags. Simon Brown, Barry Conlon and Nathan Arnold all tested John Danby's reflexes before the leveller came on 27 minutes. Conlon's through ball was inch perfect for the speedy Brown, the former West Brom man waited for the right moment and calmly finished past Danby.
Before the break Danby pulled of a top drawer save after Bryan Hodge's deflected cross wrong footed him and looked destined for the back of the net.
After the break John Mullin's neat cutback was all set for Hodge to tap into the net before Marples' last ditch tackle saved the day. Jamie Hand was next to go above the call of duty when he took an Arnold effort in a delicate area to block.
Bravery and pure guts weren't to be enough though and although Wilson's long range drive brought a fine save from Jason White, City were struggling to get anything going.
With eight minutes to go they finally fell to a Alex Baptiste header from Matt Hamshaw's cross.
The defeat sees Mansfield leapfrog City in the lead and with no games in hand left, any chances of the play-offs have well and truly gone.
Mansfield: White, Mullins, Hjelde, Baptiste, Jelleyman, Arnold (Hamshaw 60), D'Laryea, Dawson, Hodge (Michael Boulding 70), Conlon (Gritton 83), Brown.
Subs Not Used: Muggleton, Charlton.
Chester: Danby, Marples, Bolland, Hessey, Sandwith, Hand, Bennett, Linwood, Wilson, Brownlie (Steele 61), Maylett (Meechan 77).
Subs Not Used: Allen, Kearney, Vaughan.
Latest | March 2007