SUPER STAGS BEAT LEADERS OXFORD IN EPIC ENCOUNTER
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town 2 - 1 Oxford United
Williams 20, Speight 24. Constable 73.
Attendance: 3,933 (637 from Oxford)
Date: 22 September 2009
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre.
Mansfield Town beat previously unbeaten Oxford United in a thunderous match at Field Mill on Tuesday night. Mansfield deservedly went two-nil ahead midway through the first half, with super finishes from Ryan Williams and Jake Speight, after Speight had earlier crashed a shot against the post. Oxford nearly pulled a goal back when Jamie Cook fired a piledriver against the post on the stroke of half-time. But they did make it 2-1 when Constable converted Adam Murray's cross on 73 minutes, to set up a frantic finale as the Stags somehow hung on, with Jamie Cook again hitting the bar on 90 minutes. It was a wonderful match - an incredible advert for the Blue Square Premier - and gets the Stags well and truly back on track after a run of 5 winless games.
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1st half 2nd half
Stags do Us
Mansfield Town 2 Oxford United 1
Oxford's long unbeaten away record fell at Field Mill this evening as they were well beaten by Mansfield Town. After weathering some early pressure United came back into the game, with Matt Green going close after lobbing Alan Marriott. However, the ghosts of Saturday's second half came to haunt United as the midfield were overrun by Mansfield who scored two quick goals to rock the Us. In the 21st minute Ryan Williams chipped Ryan Clarke to open the scoring, and Jake Speight doubled the lead four minutes later. Instead of collapsing Oxford rallied and pushed forward, with Jamie Cook having a 35-yard shot coming back off the crossbar, and Adam Murray forcing Marriott into a good save.
After a stuttering start to the second half, Oxford started to put Mansfield under the cosh. With quarter of an hour remaining James Constable reduced the arrears with a fine finish after he controlled a long ball from Murray. This spurred Oxford forward and they peppered the Mansfield goal, with Green, Constable, and Jack Midson all going close. Marriott made some fine saves, the ball came back off the woodwork, and former United triallist Gary Silk made an excellent tackle on Constable to deny an almost certain equaliser. However, the run had to end at some stage and Oxford failed to go the calendar year without an away defeat. If you're going to lose, you might as well do it when you're far enough ahead for it not to make too much difference.
Chris Wilder made just one change to the side that beat Eastbourne Borough 4-0 on Saturday, with Steven Kinniburgh returning to left back after Kevin Sandwith failed a fitness test, having turned his ankle in that victory. Kinniburgh was the first player to be substituted, ten minutes into the second half. Jack Midson replaced him as United changed from their 4-3-3 formation to a more traditional 4-4-2, with Simon Clist moving to left back. Three minutes from the end of normal time Murray was on the receiving end of a late tackle and was forced to leave the field to be replaced by Adam Chapman.
This evening's referee was T Harrington. This was the first time that he had been in charge of an Oxford game, and some of his decisions were very poor, including failure to play advantage when Green was through, and missing a blatant handball by Kyle Nix that almost led to Mansfield scoring from a breakaway. Never mind. The attendance was 3,933, of whom a decent support of 637 were following the Yellows, who were playing in white.
After this defeat United's lead at the top of the table has been cut to seven points, following second-placed Stevenage Borough's 1-1 home draw with fourth-bottom Grays Athletic. Mansfield have climbed two places to seventh. Kettering Town have climbed to third after their 2-1 win over Barrow; John Dempster scored the Poppies' opening goal. Tamworth have dropped one place to fourth after their goalless draw at Altrincham, and Cambridge United have descended to fifth after they drew 2-2 at York City, who dropped to eighth place.
Bottom side Chester City drew 1-1 at third-bottom Salisbury City in the most financially challenged game in the division, while second-bottom Forest Green Rovers held Kidderminster Harriers to a 1-1 draw at the New Lawn. Hayes & Yeading are just one place above the drop zone after they lost 3-1 at Eastbourne, and Ebbsfleet United have dropped to 19th after going down 1-0 at Histon. In 18th place are United's opponents on Saturday, Gateshead. They drew 0-0 at home to sixth-placed Rushden & Diamonds.
In the two inconsequential mid-table games, AFC Wimbledon were held 1-1 at home by Crawley Town, for whom Jefferson Louis scored, while Wrexham beat Luton Town 3-0.
Stags 2 -1 Oxford, Tuesday 22nd September
CHAD.co.uk, 22 September 2009, By John Lomas and Tim Morriss
Mansfield Town dramatically halted their barren run in glorious style as they inflicted the first defeat of the season on runaway BSP leaders Oxford United on a night to remember at Field Mill.
The Stags had stuttered with three successive defeats and five without a win.
But they stormed back to form in style in a thrilling game as strikes from Ryan Williams (20) and Jake Speight five minutes later shocked an Oxford side who had not conceded a goal in 560 minutes of football.
With Stags unable to grab the decisive third, Oxford goal ace James Constable set up a tense finish when he halved the deficit with just 16 minutes left.
The visitors then threw the kitchen sink at the home side who clung on to what they had in gutsy fashion.
Goalscorers Williams and Speight - who later went off with cramp - ran the visitors ragged in a first half in which Stags got in the visitors' faces as boss David Holdsworth had asked of them.
Kyle Nix and Matt Somner were outstanding in midfield with Luke Graham and Gary Silk catching the eye in a valiant rearguard action.
Revitalised Stags now host Hayes and Yeading this Saturday before travelling to Barrow on Tuesday.
There were surprises in the Mansfield line-up. Centre half Luke Jones was ruled out with a freak ankle injury picked up in training a day earlier, when he went over on a pothole, and the ever-present is now likely to be missing for six to eight weeks.
He was replaced by Luke Graham, but both Rob Duffy, who had been ruled out the day before, and Craig Armstrong, shrugged off knocks from the weekend last gasp defeat at Rushden, to play.
Jake Speight was also given a start in place of Blair Sturrock and Kyle Nix replaced suspended Gary Mills in a third change.
Silk got in a fine early aggressive tackle on dangerman Constable after Briscoe had given the ball away.
Green easily went past Armstrong on the right after chasing a long pass and cut into the box before pulling a tame shot wide of the near post.
Williams put in some good early crosses from the left and from the fourth of these, Somner flicked a header wide from 12 yards.
Speight should have put Stags in front on 13 minutes after another great Silk tackle had won the ball for Briscoe to curl a perfect low cross into the box for Speight only for his first touch to let him down in front of goal.
Somner produced a timely challenge to halt Cook just inside the home box.
But Stags' bad luck continued on 15 minutes as Garner had a shot blocked and the ball came back to Speight whose low finish came back off the base of the right hand post.
Speight then fed Briscoe from the right bye-line but the winger's shot was deflected wide for the home team's second corner.
Garner sent a looping header at Clarke soon after as the home fans responded loudly to their side's positive start.
Garner then got an outstretched leg in the way of Green's low shot at the near post. Then Marriott punched away the corner and got his body behind Bulman's powerful follow-up from 18 yards.
Oxford almost went ahead on 19 minutes as Batt sent Green clear into the right and he tried to lift his finish over Marriott but could only find the sidenetting.
And he was made to pay a minute later when Stags drew first blood in what was becoming a thrilling match.
The unlucky Speight could only fire straight at keeper Clarke from a good central position. The ball ran to Williams on the left of the box and with the keeper off his line the winger chipped him to perfection, the ball dropping under the far angle.
The celebrations had barely subsided when it was 2-0 five minutes later.
Williams found Speight to his right in the box and this time the striker made no mistake with an unstoppable rising finish from 12 yards that gave Clarke no chance.
Another neat home move saw Williams switch wings to Briscoe and his first time ball cued up Duffy for a first-time effort over from 20 yards.
Nix was penalised for what seemed perfectly good tackle jus outside the home box and Murray lined up a free kick which was on target but saw Marriott firmly behind it and hold on.
Play swept to the other end as Marriott left his box to sweep up a long ball intended for Constable.
Then Marriott needed two attempts to hold onto a low Green cross.
Murray conceded a free kick 20 yards from goal, for which the ex-Stags star saw a yellow card, but Nix was well over with his effort.
But a minute from half-time Cook was allowed time and space 20 yards from the home goal and saw his dipping shot come back off the crossbar.
Mansfield survived another Oxford corner in stoppage time before leaving the field to a deserved ovation after one of their best halves of the season so far.
Marriott left his box to tackle the incoming Constable on the restart and Silk then cleared before the Oxford centre forward could take advantage of the empty net as he got up quickly.
Oxford then won two corners, Foster heading over from the second of them, as the visitors inevitably crankied up the pressure.
Marriott needed treatment after landing heavily on his back as he went over the top of Silk to reach a Cook free kick. There were anxious moments when he didn't move for a while and huge relief when he was able to continue.
Briscoe was well over with an ambitious 35-yard try as Stags relieved the pressure.
Stags were then down to 10 men for a spell as Speight went off for treatment and on 61 minutes he was eventually replaced by Clare.
Three minutes later Stags had a completely new strikeforce as Sturrock took over from Duffy.
United sub Midson was over from a tight angle after drawing Marriott to the right of his goal.
Then Briscoe cut inside two opponents before forcing a save from Clarke, Silk slicing the rebound horribly wide.
Crighton was booked for a cynical body cehck on Somner in the centre circle on 69 minutes as the home crowd raised the noise levels even higher.
Constable had barely had a sniff all night. But 16 minutes from time he struck his ninth goal of the season to put Oxford right back into it.
Murray sent in a cross from the right and Constable showed why he is so highly rated as he calmly steered it past Marriott on the volley from almost on the penalty spot.
Briscoe forced Clarke into another parry from a 20 yard snapshot after Nix and Williams had carried a good counter-attack downfield.
Istead replaced Williams and was soon booked for a foul with Constable also cautioned. Then Briscoe joined them for a sliding challenge.
Marriott took no chances as he turned a dipping Middon effort over the bar near the end. Then a Crighton header came back off the bar in the final minute and Garner somehow stopped Green tucking away the rebound as it fell.
The tension was almost unbearable as we entered five minutes of time added on.
Marriott had more work to do as Midson got a touch on Foster's header.
But the final whistle brought one of the biggest cheers in a long time at the Mill as Stags walked off with a prize scalp.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Graham, Garner, Armstrong; Briscoe, Somner, Nix, Williams (Istead 81mins); Speight (Clare 61mins), Duffy (Sturrock 64mins). Subs: Gardner, Porter.
OXFORD: Clarke; Batt, Foster, Creighton, Kinninburgh (Midson 54mins); Bulman, Murray (Chapman 87mins), Clist; Green, Constable, Cook. Subs: Turley, Potter, Perry.
REFEREE: Tony Harrington of Hartlepool.
ATTENDANCE: 3,933 (637).
BOOKINGS: Stags - Istead, 86mins unsporting behaviour; Briscoe, 88mins unsporting behaviour. Oxford - Murray, 43mins foul; Creighton 69mins foul; Constable 86mins unsporting behaviour.
Mansfield 2 Oxford 1
Evening Post, September 22, 2009
IF any Mansfield supporters were beginning to doubt their team's ability to shape this season's Blue Sure Premier promotion race after three defeats in a row, maybe this performance and result will have restored their faith.
The Stags are still a long way adrift of the summit after a poor spell of five games without a victory.
But after ending leaders Oxford United's unbeaten run in a brilliant advert for non-league football, Mansfield have shown they have the ability to compete with the best.
The lead-up to the game had brought the first murmurings of criticism among some of the Field Mill faithful over David Holdsworth's leadership.
But this 90 minutes will surely have silenced that in a stroke.
Mansfield desperately fought to hold on in the closing stages as Oxford piled on the pressure in five minutes of stoppage time and Mark Creighton struck the bar in the dying seconds. Yet they held on with grim determination.
Oxford had not conceded a goal in 540 minutes and six games prior to their visit to Field Mill and won five of those six – a measure of Mansfield's task.
They did not really turn up in the first period as Mansfield carved open their previously watertight defence time and time again with Jake Speight in terrific form.
However, as the Stags failed to take a couple of golden chances in the second half, they were made to work hard for the three points.
Boss Holdsworth was not helped by the unavailability of a quartet of senior players.
Gary Mills and Kyle Perry were both suspended while Paul Heckingbottom (hamstring) and the previously ever-present Luke Jones, who turned an ankle in training on Monday, were injured.
But better news saw striker Rob Duffy make an unexpected recovery from a bruised ankle to start alongside Speight, while left-back Craig Armstrong shook off a hamstring problem.
Oxford started with the confidence of a side well clear at the top and Matt Green beat Craig Armstrong easily before dragging his shot wide of Alan Marriott's near post.
The Stags' first effort on goal came when Williams' excellent left-wing cross found Matt Somner whose header drifted wide of the right-hand upright.
Mansfield should have gone in front in the 13th minute when a thunderous tackle from Gary Silk gave Louis Briscoe the chance to cross early from the right but Speight missed his kick when unmarked eight yards out.
The frontman was unlucky two minutes later when his low finish from close to the penalty spot struck the right-hand post.
But Oxford hit back as first Green's shot was blocked at close quarters by Scott Garner.
The livewire Green then chipped over the advancing Marriott but just the wrong side of the post.
However, it was the Stags who finally broke through in the 20th minute.
A flick header released Speight through the middle and though his shot was clawed away by Clarke, Williams measured his chip perfectly to find the net.
Mansfield went in search of a second goal and duly got it five minutes later.
Williams took advantage of a fortunate ricochet to thread in Speight, who powered a shot into the roof of goal from 15 yards out.
However, the visitors were unlucky not to pull a goal back a minute before the break when Jamie Cook was given too much space and his 25-yard drive struck the bar.
Oxford were obviously going to come at Mansfield in the second half and the game's third goal was always going to be crucial
James Constable sniffed a chance early in the second period when he raced for the ball with Marriott.
As the two came together, the ball squirmed into the open but Silk was alert to clear the danger.
Mansfield almost bagged a killer third when Louis Briscoe jinked into the box but was thwarted by the reflexes of Clarke before Silk blazed the rebound over.
But, somewhat out of the blue, Oxford pulled one back when Murray's pinpoint ball in from the right was volleyed home by the sliding Constable for his ninth of the season.
That set up a nerve-jangling finish and though Oxford went close several times, they could not force a leveller.
The final whistle brought a massive roar from the home fans as they celebrated a memorable success.
If they didn't believe in this Mansfield side before, they surely do now.
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