STAGS HAMMER HARRIERS 4-2
Mansfield Town 4 - 2 Kidderminster Harriers
Stallard 20 (pen), 45+3, Blackwood 32, O'Connor 90+2. Barnes-Homer 69, Richards 80
Attendance: 2479 (147 from Kidderminster)
Highlights from Stagsworld audio commentary here. Editted by Martin Shaw. A reminder that Stagsworld will bring you commentaray of EVERY Stags game this season, details here.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
Buoyant Mansfield Move Into Second
Mansfield Town 4 Kidderminster Harriers 2
A late Aaron O'Connor goal proved decisive as Stags beat Kidderminster Harriers 4-2 at Field Mill to move into 2nd place in the Blue Square Premiership table.
Stags had stormed into a 3-0 lead but the Harriers then pulled back two goals to provide a nervy finish before O'Connor finished off a fine move two minutes into added on time.
Mansfield have now recorded seven points from their opening three games of the season to put them amongst the early front runners in the quest for League football.
The day could not have got off to a better start as all of Field Mill rose to complete a minutes applause for Mansfield's Olympic double gold medal winning swimmer, Rebecca Adlington. Come the end of the 90 minutes, the Stags players must have thought they were walking on water.
The opening period of the game saw neither side command enough to serious threaten the opposition, although Harriers did slightly have the edge. However on 20 minutes, Stags veteran striker, Mark Stallard proved just what an important signing he may prove to be when after a through ball from O'Hare, his neat flick confused Bowler into clumsily sticking out a leg in the area giving the Referee no option other than to award Stags a penalty. Stallard suitably dusted himself down to cheekily clip the ball into the net to give Stags a 1-0 lead.
The visitor's tried in vain to get back into the game, but a combination of good defending and safe goalkeeping from Paddy Gamble proved enough to frustrate.
The front partnership for Mansfield of Stallard and Lee were once again giving their opponents trouble. Gamble's clearance, being flicked on by Lee, resulted in Stallard just lifting an effort over the goal.
Stags went 2-0 up on 32 minutes with a goal of quality. Silk provided the cross in from the right hand side where Lee delightfully headed the ball down to Blackwood, who from seven yards, finished well.
The Harriers then changed things around five minutes before the half time break, but in added on time they were dealt a further blow and it was much to their own making. Somner put in a cross towards the near post, which took enough of a deflection to wrong foot Bartlett in the Harriers goal. The keeper just managed to get a hand onto the ball but in doing so all he could do was to claw it onto the crossbar, where a prowling Stallard gleefully hammered home the rebound from almost on the line.
Any hopes that Kidderminster were a defeated side at this point were wiped out just two minutes into the 2nd half when Penn was given the room to hit a shot which cannoned off the foot of the post. Somner put in a block and when the ball came to Ferrell some 25 yards, he hit it way over. It was a warning that Mansfield should have heeded.
The game was a fine advert for conference football as both sides continued to pass the ball around well and create chances. A free kick from Somner found Stallard who turned well and powerfully shot towards goal, this time Bartlett was equal to it, although it took two attempts to catch the ball.
On 69 minutes though Kidderminster gained a lifeline when Barnes-Homer got the better of O'Hare and fired under the body of Gamble.
On 77 minutes good work from Nathan Arnold resulted in him robbing Ferrell in the area to provide the chance of getting in a shot on goal, which the Harriers keeper blocked. The ball broke to Jason Lee just a few yards from goal, but the Stags striker agonisingly put the ball over the crossbar.
Moments later and it looked like O'Hare was going to see red after a last ditch challenge on Richards resulted in a foul but the Referee amazed everyone by only producing a yellow card. It was a lucky escape or so everyone thought.
Gamble produced a fine save from the free kick by Britton but from the following corner was powerless to prevent a hammer finish from Richards. 3-2.
The visitor's now could taste blood and tried to force an equaliser. It was a tense time which saw Gamble dive at the feet of Barnes-Homer and save an overhead kick from Richards.
As the game entered its 90th minute, Arnold showed great skill and pace to race clear on a run from just inside the centre circle. With tackles flying in Arnold went on and on only to finally shoot over the bar from 18 yards.
Two minutes into added on time, Mansfield finally put the game beyond their visitor's with yet another well-taken goal. The first in a Mansfield shirt for Aaron O'Connor. Arnold burst through and slid the ball to Somner, the Stags midfielder shimmied before laying the ball wide to O'Connor who made no mistake with a fine finish across the keeper.
This weekend Mansfield travel to newly promoted Barrow. Just a few months ago both teams were two Divisions' apart but now they clash on equal terms. Barrow enjoying their start to the season with two wins and one defeat. Stags then take on Northwich Victoria on bank holiday Monday at Field Mill.
Observer Man of the match – Jonathan D'Laryea – Getting back to his best.
report from http://www.harriers-online.co.uk
Mansfield Town 4 Harriers 2
Date: 16-08-08 Venue: Field Mill att: 2479 away fans: 147
Can it get any worse?
As soon as the team was announced today the inevitable was going to happen. We were going to lose!
If proof was needed that Mark Yates does not take on board the criticism of his selection tactics from the first two games then this was it. Again we started with Dean Bennett and Simon Russell at the expense of Matt Barnes-Homer and Martin Brittain and again it took until those players to come on to look anything like a threat to an ordinary Mansfield side playing for the first time at this level.
He said himself at the end of last season that the formation with Darryl Knights in 'the hole' works so why don't we play it anymore. We get something that looks like it but Justin Richards is no Iyseden Christie and never will be, but Barnes-Homer could be.
MBH came on for the hapless Michael Bowler ten minutes before of the end of, a rather long, first half and immediately gave us more edge up front. It was when Brittain came on early in the second half for Simon Russell that we really looked up for it.
The first half was a torpid affair from both sides with countless passes going astray. Town, with former Harriers Michael Blackwood and Alex Jeannin both starting for them, were probably the better of the two and so it proved, but in a somewhat lucky fashion, not once but twice.
We'd had a couple of attempts on goal - I'll call them attempts and not shots that didn't really trouble the Mansfield keeper Paddy Gamble from Justin Richards and Darryl Knights - when the home side were gifted a penalty. Mark Stallard ran onto a ball to the inside edge of the box and Bowler tapped his ankles while hopelessly trying to get to the ball. Stallard instinctively felt the slight contact and 'tumbled' to the floor with a big grin over his face.
The ref inevitably pointed to the spot and Stallard volunteered to plant it straight down the middle with Adam Bartlett diving out of the way. Ten minutes later and the lead had been doubled when Jason Lee lobbed a ball onto the head of Michael Blackwood to bury in the back of the net. The crazy thing is that Blackwood was in a position in front of goal that he would never have been found in while at Aggborough.
We tried to rally but once Yates had realised that we hadn't got any idea he took off Bowler and bought on Matt Barnes-Homer. Instantly there was an improvement and we now had more threat up front but then just before the fiftieth minute of the first half disaster struck.
Matt Somner crossed the ball to the near post but it then took a deflection and bounced up into the air and onto the crossbar. Bartlett tried to reach it but could only send it rolling along the bar and then down to the feet of Stallard who gratefully tucked the ball home. A freak goal!
HT: 3 - 0
At the start of the second half we looked a different side to the one that had gone in to the break. Right from the off we took the game to Mansfield and within minutes had got our first real shot on target when Russ Penn hit a shot that came back off the post. The ball was cleared upfield to Andy Ferrell but he blazed the return ball over wildly.
Fez found himself in the referees notebook for the second time this week after a tackle on Nathan Arnold and from the resulting free kick Stallard fired the ball in and Bartlett managed to grab hold of at the second attempt.
Simon Russell then tried to get a piece of the action and sent a shot just wide of the post. It was never going to go in anyway. On the hour Martin Brittain arrived on the field to replace Russell and that was when we looked at our best. He attacked the known Mansfield weak point, Alex Jeannin, and provided cross after cross into the box.
Just under ten minutes after his arrival the comeback started.
Richards headed the ball on for MBH to take it into the box and draw the keeper. He slipped the ball under Gamble and wheeled away in celebration.
It was still 3-1 though and it could so easily have been four if Jason Lee had put away the loose ball from Arnold's shot but he lifted the ball over the bar with an open goal at his mercy.
With the Harriers still pressing to get a second comeback goal came the most controversial decision of the day. Richards broke free and with just Alan O'Hare between him and the goal the Town defender sent him crashing to the ground. With the Harriers fans rightfully baying for a red card the referee stunned everyone by just punishing O'Hare with a yellow.
No matter though because the resulting free kick was sent over by Brittain and flipped over the bar by Gamble. The ensuing corner produced an even better conclusion when Brittain again sent over a great ball that was then headed back for Richards to volley into the back of the net, leaving Gamble no chance of stopping.
We piled on the pressure now as we went in search of the third and equalising goal but good keeping saw the chances that fell MBH's and Richards way denied.
With four minutes of extra time left to play it looked like we would not be able to claw that third goal back and the inevitable happened. On the counter attack Nathan Arnold picked up the ball just inside his half and ran past three Harriers defenders with not one of them prepared to put a foot in to stop his progress.
He ran on into the area and played the ball through to Somner who then passed it on to Aaron O'Connor, who had only been on the field for a few minutes, to send a shot in across the goal and beyond the reach of Bartlett.
Have lessons been learnt by Yates from this game? It appears so because following the game he said that some of the blame was down to his starting team selection and it must be addressed in time for the visit of Altrincham next Saturday.
FT: 4 - 2
Goals for Mansfield: Stallard 20 (pen) 45, Blackwood 32, O'Connor 90.
Goals for Harriers: Barnes-Homer 69, Richards 80.
The Harriers Online MotM is:
report from harriers.co.uk:
A kamikaze first-half performance from Harriers was enough to ensure the side continued their poor start to the season at Mansfield Town.
Harriers made a bright start at Field Mill, aiming to pick up a first victory of the season after defeat to Cambridge United in midweek.
The visitors were making all the inroads forward and with just six minutes on the clock, Justin Richards fired the first shot towards the home goal which Paddy Gamble was able to gather.
Just as they were continuing to build momentum, things started to go horribly wrong. First, experienced Stags front-man Mark STALLARD went down easily in the box under a rash challenge from Michael Bowler, before dusting himself off and dispatching the 20th minute spot-kick.
Stallard went close with another chance before the half-hour mark whilst Darryl Knights had a chance for the away side; but it was 2-0 on 32 minutes with Michael BLACKWOOD haunting Harriers with a neat goal.
The ex-Aggborough man was the most alert inside the box - reacting quickest to Matt Somner's hopeful ball to tuck a smart finish past Adam Bartlett.
Harriers had started to steady the ship and edge themselves back into things slightly before the break, but a moment of madness from Bartlett saw the Stags' lead increased further in first-half stoppage time. Somner's wasted ball fired towards goal looked to be drifting harmlessly wide before it took a wicked deflection, wrong-footing a panicking Bartlett who in an attempt to tip the ball over the bar, knocked it the opposite way - straight into the path of the waiting STALLARD who gleefully grabbed his second of the day.
To their credit, though no doubt loaded with an absolute rocket from boss Mark Yates, Harriers began the second half in dominant style. When heads seemed more likely to drop, Harriers were at it from the off and within a couple of minutes, Russell Penn had hit the post and Andy Ferrell had fired a long-range effort just over.
Former Harrier Alex Jeannin put his goalkeeper under extra pressure with a header over his own bar, whilst as the half wore on, Simon Russell fired a curling effort just wide of the frame.
On 69, Harriers deservedly pulled a goal back - the tireless Justin Richards headed the ball down superbly into the box, to the feet of Matthew BARNES-HOMER who held off his man, drew the goalkeeper and finished with aplomb.
A little over ten minutes later the visitors gave Town a further scare - sub Martin Brittain's corner was shipped out to RICHARDS who, from 18 yards, fired a powerful volley that left Gamble helpless between the sticks.
Naturally it was then all hands to the pump as Harriers looked to cap what was a fine second-half showing with what would have been a deserved equaliser. Mansfield just about recovered their composure and managed to nick a fourth against the run of play in the 93rd minute to seal their second victory inside five days.
Nathan Arnold fed the ball to Somner, who in turn played in Aaron O'CONNOR with the defence scrambling - the ex-Grays Athletic front man fired accross Bartlett, with the ball clipping the inside of the post and nestling into the back of the net
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