STAGS DRAW WITH POMPEY IN FOUR-GOAL THRILLER
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 2 - 2 Portsmouth
Hutchinson 33, Meikle 72. Barcham 39, Connolly 43.
Attendance: 4577 (1005 from Portsmouth)
Date: 24 August 2013
Listen to StagsPlayer audio commentary of Ben Hutchinson goal here and Lindon Meikle goal here.
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
In a pulsating game at the One Call Stadium, Mansfield Town came from behind to earn a thoroughly deserved point against a classy looking Portsmouth side. Portsmouth were the better side early on, but it Mansfield who took the lead with a wonder-strike by Ben Hutchinson from 25 yards on 33 minutes. Portsmouth scored twice in the last six minutes of the half with fine goals, albeit with not the best defending from the Stags, to take just about a deserved lead at the break. Mansfield dominated the second half and deservedly drew level on 72 minutes when Lindon Meikle fired home from close range after a defensive mix-up. The Stags were overwhelmingly the better side in the second half but couldn’t force a winner as Portsmouth ran the clock down. It was great to have a fantastic atmosphere at the ground, with both sets of supporters creating a real din. Only 3500 Stags fans turned up for one of the most glamorous league games for many years, and this was a disappointment, and appears to reflect some dissatisfaction around the town with this season’s ticketing policy. Overall a good performance and a decent result against a side that are likely to be in the top 5 at the end of the season.
Stags manager Paul Cox named an unchanged starting XI from the side against Wycombe last week, the only change was on the bench with Murray in for the injured Howell. Portsmouth included star strikers David Connolly and Patrick Agyemang, neither of whom should be playing at this level.
Stagsnet player ratings here
Man of the match: Ben Hutchinson/Martin Riley
Mansfield Town 2 Portsmouth 2, 24th August 2013
chad.co.uk report by Stephen Thirkill
A Lindon Meikle equaliser secured Mansfield Town a point following an entertaining 2-2 draw against Portsmouth today.
The flying winger levelled the game after 71 minutes following an impressive second half display from the home side.
Portsmouth had led 2-1 at the break after goals from Andy Barcham on 39 minutes and David Connolly on 43 minutes had cancelled out Ben Hutchinson’s magnificent volley on 17 minutes.
It was nothing more than the fallen Premier League giants deserved after Barcham and Jed Wallace had ripped Mansfield apart down the flanks.
But Mansfield came out fighting after half time and equalised through Meikle with just under 20 minutes to go.
The goal further underlined Mansfield’s strength in depth with substitutes Matt Rhead and Ollie Palmer also playing a key part in the goal.
And Mansfield came close to securing their first home win back in the Football League with Meikle, Martin Riley and Chris Clements all threatening the Portsmouth goal as Stags pushed for the winner in the closing stages.
It was yet another highly encouraging display from Mansfield, who once again proved they can more than compete in League Two as they extended their unbeaten run to three matches.
Paul Cox showed faith in the same side that claimed a first league win of the season at Wycombe last Saturday by naming an unchanged line-up. But assistant manager Adam Murray replaced Anthony Howell on the bench.
Portsmouth started lively and Martin Riley had to be at his best to prevent Andy Barcham getting a shot on goal after he burst past Ritchie Sutton and into the box on six minutes.
Calvin Andrew registered Mansfield’s first attempt on goal after eight minutes after good link-up play with Ben Hutchinson created an opening.
But Porstmouth continued to pass the ball crisply through midfield as Mansfield struggled to get into the game and won back-to-back corners on 15 minutes.
James Jennings should have put Mansfield ahead on 17 minutes after the ball fell loose to him inside the box.
But he failed to get enough power on his effort and fired a soft strike straight at Smith in the Pompey goal.
Sutton was at his best to deny David Connolly with a last-ditch block on 24 minutes after Jed Wallace ghosted past three Mansfield defenders before picking out the former Republic of Ireland star 15 yards out.
Seconds later the dangerous Connolly hit the outside of the post after the Stags defence failed to clear the danger.
It was Mansfield that finally hit the front on 32 minutes when Ben Hutchinson smashed home a volley from 25 yards to send the home fans wild.
Portsmouth were not behind for long after some more flowing football once again carved open the home defence on 39 minutes.
Winger Jed Wallace proved too much to handle for James Jennings as he burst down the right flank before cutting the ball back to the unmarked Andy Barcham from the byline.
Barcham then made no mistake as he drilled the ball past Marriott into the roof of the net from the penalty spot to level.
Pompey then hit the front on 43 minutes after Andy Barcham powered past Beevers down the left flank on the counter attack before his shot was parried by the legs of Marriott.
Connolly then turned the loose ball home from eight yards to complete the turnaround by the impressive visitors and bag his fourth goal of the season.
It was probably no more than Portsmouth deserved after they had enjoyed the lion share of the first half and the best of the chances, with Barcham and Wallace terrorising Mansfield out wide.
The Mansfield fans were screaming for a penalty two minutes into the start of the second half after Ben Hutchinson went down under a heavy challenge from goalkeeper Phil Smith. But referee Stephen Martin waved the appeals away.
Jamie McGuire was close to levelling for Mansfield on 56 minutes as he fired a low volley through a crowd of player. But Smith was up to the challenge as he saved McGuire’s effort before pouncing on the loose ball.
Connolly fired over on 62 minutes after Wallace floated a ball into the box after a good pass by Patrick Agyemang as Pompey pressed for a decisive goal.
Mansfield levelled on 71 minutes after Smith fumbled a hook back from Ollie Palmer allowing substitute Lindon Meikle to fire home from close range after Matt Rhead but the ball in the danger zone.
Chris Clements fired an ambitious shot well over the bar with 10 minutes to go before Lindon Meikle scuffed an effort after a good run into the box a moment later.
Mansfield continued to look dangerous with the equaliser appearing to have knocked the stuffing out of Portsmouth.
Riley blew a good chance for Mansfield on 85 minutes after he failed to connect with a Clements corner, before Dempster headed over the bar seconds later.
Mansfield Town (3-5-2) : Marriott, Jennings, Sutton, Dempster, Riley, Beevers (Meikle 67 mins), Clucas (Palmer 53 mins), McGuire, Clements, Andrew (Rhead 64mins), Hutchinson. Subs not used: Mitchell, Stevenson, Tafazolli, Murray.
Portsmouth (4-4-2): Smith, Painter (Moutaouakil 73mins), Ngala, Bradley, Devera, Barcham, Padovani (Ertl 67 mins), Ferry, Wallace, Agyemang (Bird 80 mins), Connolly. Subs not used: Sullivan, East, Holmes, Butler.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
Attendance: 4,577 (1,005 away).
Stags are relishing being back among the League's big boys
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
IT'S for days like this that Mansfield spent five long years yearning to get back into the Football League.
Read more: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-19708846-detail/story.html?#ixzz2dFaSk1ix
There are some big games in the Football Conference. There are some great games, some skilful players and some fantastic goals.
But none of the matches the Stags played while competing in non-league's top flight had quite the same buzz to it as Saturday's clash, when former Premier League side Portsmouth were in town.
As good a strike as you will see from Ben Hutchinson, eye-catching attacking football from both sides, a wonderful atmosphere, even a little bit of sunshine… this match had just about every ingredient you could wish for as the Stags took on the League Two title favourites.
It all contributed to the sense that this was a notch up from what's been on offer in the past few seasons - and that the club is alive and kicking again after an unwanted spell in the doldrums.
The best thing for the Mansfield fans is they can expect many more days like this in the weeks and months. The grand occasions will come thick and fast with the likes of Northampton, Burton, Scunthorpe, Oxford and, of course, Chesterfield to visit the One Call Stadium.
There certainly won't be a need for Mansfield fans to be singing: "You could have come on a skateboard", nor will they be able to sit and count the number of away spectators, as was the case for clashes against the likes of Ebbsfleet, Braintree and Histon.
It's why Luton, Wrexham, Grimsby, Kidderminster and the rest are so desperate to join the Stags back in the elite 92. They want a piece of it too.
Opponents at League Two level don't come much bigger than Portsmouth, the city club with more than 10,000 season ticket holders and a proud history that has been somewhat tarnished in recent times due to their financial troubles.
More than 1,000 made the pilgrimage up from the south coast and added plenty of noise and colour to the afternoon amid an air of expectancy that their side would collect another three points to follow a 3-0 win over Morecambe the previous weekend.
It made for the unusual situation for a Mansfield side playing on home turf - the first time since taking on Liverpool in the FA Cup in January - that they went in as underdogs.
Encouragingly, though, for Paul Cox and supporters alike, the Stags were very much up to the task. In fact, the longer the game went on, the more likely it looked as if they would run out the victors, leaving Guy Whittingham the happier of the two managers at the final outcome.
However, if Mansfield were the dominant force in the second half, then Pompey edged the first period.
The Stags would have been fully briefed on the dual threat offered by experienced goal getters David Connolly and Patrick Agyemang, but what might have been more of a surprise was the constant problems posed by wingers Andy Barcham and Jed Wallace.
The pair gave respective opposite numbers Lee Beevers and James Jennings a torrid time, forcing Mansfield to switch from a wing-back system to 4-4-2 at the interval.
Yet while Pompey made all the early running, it was the Stags who should have been in front in the 18th minute as Jennings scuffed his shot horribly from 10 yards.
There was a let-off for Mansfield just after the midway point of the first half when Connolly wriggled free and struck the outside of the left-hand post.
And they took full advantage by drawing first blood in the 32nd minute for what was their first home Football League goal since April 2008 - when their visitors were preparing for the FA Cup final at Wembley against Cardiff.
As the ball dropped invitingly for Hutchinson, he did not hesitate and let fly with a terrific 25-yard volley that looped over Phil Smith. It is the kind of strike Cox is hoping to coax out of the mercurial ex-Celtic man on a more regular basis this season.
Suitably stung, Portsmouth hit back with two goals in five minutes leading up to half-time - and the razor-sharp Barcham had a significant involvement in both.
First he benefited from Wallace's pinpoint cutback by thumping in an equaliser and then he nutmegged Beevers and powered in a shot that Alan Marriott did well to block, before the predatory Connolly fired home the rebound.
That could have been the signal for Mansfield to capitulate, but the Stags are made of sterner stuff these days.
Jamie Maguire was disappointed to crash a volley straight at Smith, but the hosts kept up the pressure and levelled when all three substitutes combined.
As Smith fumbled Ollie Palmer's looping cross, Matt Rhead fired across the face of goal and Lindon Meikle, virtually with his first touch, turned home.
There only looked one likely winner after that, but none of Chris Clements, who curled over, Meikle, whose weak shot was easily saved and John Dempster, who headed off target from a corner, could make the most of decent openings.
Still, it was another confidence-boosting performance to follow the victory at Wycombe and proves the Stags are capable of competing with the very best at this level.
Being back in the big time seems to suit them rather nicely.
Pompey surrender maiden away win
Portsmouth News, by Jordan Cross
A defensive nightmare cost Pompey victory today as they drew 2-2 at Mansfield.
Sub Lindon Meikle’s goal meant Guy Whittingham’s side had to settle for a point at Field Mill.
Meikle fired home in the 72nd minute after keeper Phil Smith collided with his own defenders attempting to claim a cross - with no Mansfiled player in attendance.
That cancelled out first-half goals from Andy Barcham and David Connolly - with Barcham’s sizzling 60-yard run key to their second.
The Blues showed their attacking quality after Ben Hutchinson had smashed the Stags in front with a fine strike from 30 yards.
But Pompey will look at it as two points dropped when considering the manner in which Mansfield levelled.
Whittingham sprung a surprise when he made a single change from the side who beat Morecambe 3-0 last weekend.
But it wasn’t skipper Johnny Ertl, after a three-game ban, who came back in - but Bondz N’Gala, who made his league debut in place of Yassin Moutaouakil.
Pompey made a bright start with Jed Wallace firing wide early on and a surging run from Barcham winning a corner.
But the visitors were having their moments - with Calvin Andrew’s shot from 25 yards deflected over the top.
Pompey failed to make a succession of corners count inside the first 20 minutes with their delivery poor.
Phil Smith then had to be alert to deny James Jennings before Connolly fired off the post from a tight angle after 24 minutes.
But the visitors made the breakthrough 12 minutes before the break with a super strike from Hutchinson.
The striker smashed the ball home with a dipping, swerving effort from 30 yards which had Smith beaten.
Pompey superbly turned it around before the break, however, with Barcham key to both goals.
The electric winger was there to smash home the leveller after 39 minutes from Wallace’s perfect cutback.
And Barcham then surged from the half-way line before seeing a left-footed effort saved by Alan Marriott - but Connolly was there to tuck away the loose ball.
Smith had to be alert to make a great stop to maintain Pompey’s lead two minutes after the restart.
Andrew surged into the box but Smith saved well at his feet - with home fans vainly appealing for a penalty.
The Pompey keeper then did well again to keep out Jamie McGuire’s volley at the second attempt.
Mansfield were asking the questions now and there were more penalty appeals turned down as Marcos Painter and Andrew tussled in the box.
Connolly was still a threat, though, and fired over on the turn after taking Wallace’s cross.
Pompey’s lead evaporated in terrible style with 18 minutes left, though, as sub Meikle levelled.
Former Hawks striker Ollie Palmer did well to keep a high cross in play and looped it towards the Pompey goal.
There was no yellow shirt near to Smith, though, as he went up to collect the ball.
But two Pompey defenders impeded the keeper as he went to claim and he dropped the cross - allowing Meikle to fire home.
And that proved to be critical with the Blues forced on to the back foot for the remainder of the game.
The result leaves Pompey on five points and tucked in mid-table in League Two.
Latest | August 2013