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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town  
2 - 2
 Northampton Town
Green 11, 16. McGuire sent off 45+4.
 
 Holmes pen 64, Marquis 69.
Attendance: 4367 (1667 from Northampton)
 
Date: 28 March 2016

SPIRITED 10-MAN STAGS DRAW WITH LEADERS NORTHAMPTON

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town and runaway leaders Northampton Town drew a fabulous game 2-2 at Field Mill this afternoon. Northampton came into the game on an incredible run, unbeaten in 16 games, including 13 wins. The Stags went 2-0 ahead inside 16 minutes through Matt Green headers from excellent free-kicks from Mal Benning and Chris Clements respectively, to give Green his 13th and 14th goals of the season. It was a deserved reward for the Stags who tore into Northampton from the first minute when the tremendous Jack Thomas had a shot from 20 yards blocked. The Stags could have been further in front on 37 minutes when Mani Dieseruvwe pulled the ball back to Clements who fired just over the angle of bar and post. The Stags were so much on top that Northampton’s first effort on goal didn’t come until 44 minutes, a tame effort by Danny Rose floated over the bar. But disaster struck on 45+4 minutes when Jamie McGuire, who had been excellent in the opening 45 minutes, received a second yellow card. John Marquis on the halfway line, kicked the ball and in his follow through kicked straight through McGuire. Both players went down in a heap, yet the referee saw it as a foul by McGuire. On review of the video, it still does not look like a foul by McGuire to me. A terrible decision by the referee in my opinion, and one which completely changed the course of the game. With 11 against 11, Mansfield had been right on top for 45 minutes and there looked only one winner in this game, but with the Stags down to 10 men it would inevitably be a backs-to-the-wall job for the second half. The Stags were extremely fortunate on 58 minutes when a fine shot from Ricky Holmes struck the underside of the bar with Shearer beaten and bounced down onto the line and out again. I did not think it crossed the line. But another critical decision turned the game on 64 minutes as Northampton were awarded a controversial penalty. The incident started with a foul throw by the Cobblers on the Bishop Street side, not given as a foul throw by the inept officials, and within a few seconds James Collins threw himself to the floor in the area under no sort of challenge from Krystian Pearce. It looked like a clear dive from the West Stand. And of course James Collins shouldn’t have even been playing in this game if the FA had shown any sort of consistency over his much-publicised urine-throwing incident at Cheltenham races while banning Mansfield’s Adi Yussuf for 5 games for urinating in a place where he was told he could urinate by a steward and two Plymouth players, behind a stand at Home Park. Holmes sent Shearer the wrong way from the penalty spot as Shearer was unable to repeat his penalty-saving heroics from recent home games. The momentum was all with Cobblers and they equalised on 69 minutes when Shearer came for a corner from the right, didn’t get there and Marquis fired in from close range after a scramble in the 6 yard box. Probably Shearer should have done better. Northampton should have been in front on 80 minutes when Sam Hoskins, only just on as substitute, fired over from 12 yards. The Stags remained under pressure but showed wonderful spirit to stay in the game and earn the draw, which was the least they deserved. The home crowd gave the home players a rousing reception at full time, recognising the wonderful spirit shown by the players in the face of adversity and a man down for the second 45 minutes, not to mention the excellent first half showing. Some great performances from the Stags players: Green with his two well taken headed goals, Jack Thomas with an all action display from the first minute to the last, the entire defence which played very well, and special mention for Mal Benning for a tremendous return to form with an excellent free kick for the first goal and really good defending throughout. Great entertainment and a game played in a tremendous atmosphere in front of the biggest crowd of the season at Field Mill, mainly thanks to a 1700 following from Northampton who were completely becalmed in the first half, but vociferously behind their side roaring them on once they had a one-man advantage. The Stags move on to Hartlepool next week looking to continue the cracking form from the first half here and show the same spirit from the second half.

Special mention to groundsman Mez Merriman and his team for getting the game on despite torrential overnight rain. It looks like we’ll go through the season with no game called off at home due to bad weather, a tremendous achievement.

Matt Green’s two goals took him to 14 league goals for the season and 68 league goals in total. He is now 6th in Mansfield’s all-time list of league goalscorers (since we joined the league in 1931) (see http://stagsnet.net/vintage/records/records01.html).

Mansfield made two changes from the side that lost at Wycombe. Jack Thomas came in for his first start for 2.5 months, in for Rose. And McGuire came in for Alfei. Collins switched to right back. Murray wanted more experience in his defence. And he wanted McGuire and Thomas to get stuck in in midfield. McGuire sat in front of the back four in a 4-1-3-2 formation. In the midfield 3, Jack Thomas was in front of Clements and Blair.

Northampton included former Stags loan keeper Adam Smith.

It was a windy day with strong gusts. Mansfield had the wind behind them in the first half, though it tended to be only in gusts that the wind seemed to have much effect. The wind dropped slightly during the second half.

The Stags got off to a fast start with Jack Thomas getting heavily involved. Inside the first minute, he had a shot from 20 yards blocked. The Stags won their first corner in the 2nd minute, which was cleared away.

On 7 minutes, a free kick for the Stags from the left hand side was taken by Clements. It was just over the angle of bar and post with Adam Smith struggling to get to it. Free kicks from that sort of position were about to become very significant.

It was a promising start from the Stags showing great spirit. Northampton were off to a sluggish start.

The Stags were in front on 11 minutes. A free kick from the right, halfway inside the Northampton half, just in from the touchline, was taken by Benning. He curled it into the area, and Green got goalside of the defence to head past Adam Smith from 3 yards. Superb delivery from Benning, and good goalpoaching from Green. It was a deserved goal for the Stags for having got into Northampton from the start.

The Stags were 2-0 ahead on 16 minutes. Another free kick, this time from the left, and slightly further from goal, about 10 yards inside the Northampton half, again just in from the touchline. Chris Clements took it, and curled it into the area, Green again got goalside of the defence and glanced a header past Adam Smith from 7 yards. Beautifully floated from Clements, more superb delivery, and another good finish from Green.

Tafazolli was booked for a late challenge on Marquis on the halfway line, on 20 minutes.

But Tafazolli had been limping and earlier received attention and couldn’t carry on. After the game, Adam Murray didn’t yet know the extent of the injury. He was replaced on 22 minutes by Alfei, who went in at right back, with Collins switching from right back to centre half.

McGuire was booked for a foul on Richards on the halfway line, on 24 minutes.

McGuire and Jack Thomas were giving more bite in midfield, and certainly winning the midfield battle, but would have to be careful not to pick up too many bookings.

On 36 minutes, a high ball from Benning into the Northampton area, Adam Smith came and flapped at it, and the ball bobbed around, but wouldn’t fall kindly for a Stags player.

The Stags could have been further in front on 37 minutes when Jack Thomas picked up a loose ball in midfield, fed Mani Dieseruvwe who got to the byline and pulled the ball back to Clements who fired just over the angle of bar and post. It was close.

The Stags were so much on top that Northampton’s first effort on goal didn’t come until 44 minutes, a tame effort by Danny Rose that floated over the bar from 22 yards.

On 45 minutes, a Cruyff-turn by Clements, and he was brought down by O’Toole.

But disaster struck on 45+4 minutes when McGuire, who had been excellent in the opening 45 minutes, received a second yellow card. John Marquis on the halfway line, kicked the ball and in his follow through kicked straight through McGuire. Both players went down in a heap, yet the referee saw it as a foul by McGuire. On review of the video, it still does not look like a foul by McGuire to me.

A minute later, Diamond headed towards the roof of the net and Shearer tipped it over the bar.

A thoroughly deserved 2-0 lead for Mansfield at the break. The Stags had been right on top throughout and with 11 against 11, there looked only one winner in this game, but with the Stags down to 10 men it would inevitably be a backs-to-the-wall job for the second half. Northampton had been 2-0 down in their last away game, at Stevenage, with Stevenage down to 10 men, and came back to win 3-2. The Stags would do well to avoid the same fate.

Half time 2-0

Northampton were out of the traps quickly in the second half. Just 16 seconds in, sub Ricky Holmes had a shot from a tight angle on the right, easily saved by Shearer. On 47 minutes, a shot from Maloney, blocked by Jack Thomas on the edge of the area.

On 51 minutes, Green got to the byline and pulled the ball back but it was cleared.

Jack Thomas was booked for a foul on the touchline on 52 minutes.

A great tackle by Blair on 53 minutes.

Chapman replaced Blair on 55 minutes. Chapman was wearing a face mask for a broken nose picked up recently in training.

On 56 minutes, the Stags came close to scoring a third. Following Benning’s free kick from the halfway line, Green got in a shot from a tight angle on the right which was wide of the left post.

The Stags were extremely fortunate on 58 minutes when a fine shot from Ricky Holmes struck the underside of the bar with Shearer beaten and bounced down onto the line and out again. I did not think it crossed the line (from looking at it the frame by frame on video, I cannot tell if it was over the line).

Mitch Rose replaced Dieseruvwe on 62 minutes. Dieseruvwe got a good ovation for a decent game.

But another critical decision turned the game on 64 minutes as Northampton were awarded a controversial penalty. The incident started with a foul throw by the Cobblers on the Bishop Street side, not given as a foul throw by the inept officials, and within a few seconds James Collins threw himself to the floor in the area under no sort of challenge from Krystian Pearce. It looked like a clear dive from the West Stand. From looking at the video, I think it is a dive by Collins. Pearce puts his hand on Collins but doesn't push or hold him. Collins deliberately dives to the floor. If you put your hand on a player in the box, but do not push or hold, and the striker dives to the floor, that should not be given as a penalty. And of course James Collins shouldn’t have even been playing in this game if the FA had shown any sort of consistency over his much-publicised urine-throwing incident at Cheltenham races while banning Mansfield’s Adi Yussuf for 5 games for urinating in a place where he was told he could urinate by a steward and two Plymouth players, behind a stand at Home Park. Holmes sent Shearer the wrong way from the penalty spot as Shearer was unable to repeat his penalty-saving heroics from recent home games.

The momentum was all with Cobblers and they equalised on 69 minutes when Shearer came for a corner from the right, didn’t get there and Marquis fired in from close range after a scramble in the 6 yard box. Probably Shearer should have done better.

On 71 minutes, a fine run and shot from Holmes from the edge of the area, and a great save by Shearer to palm it away.

Northampton should have been in front on 80 minutes when Sam Hoskins, only just on as substitute, fired over from 12 yards. This came after Clements gave the ball away in his own half in a dangerous position. Poor from Clements.

The Stags were under the cosh. But on 82 minutes, Jack Thomas broke into the area and shot straight at the keeper.

On 85 minutes, the referee gave the second booking to a Northampton player as Hoskins was booked for a dive. Incredible how O’Toole, for example, hadn’t already been booked, for a whole series of fouls, six in total according to Adam Murray based on analysis from video analyst Sean.

The Stags players were looking out on their feet. But on 88 minutes, Mitch Rose showed good technique to get in a shot from 38 yards, straight at the keeper.

The Stags remained under pressure but showed wonderful spirit to stay in the game and earn the draw, which was the least they deserved. The home crowd gave the home players a rousing reception at full time, recognising the wonderful spirit shown by the players in the face of adversity and a man down for the second 45 minutes, not to mention the excellent first half showing.

Man of the match: Green/Benning/J.Thomas


Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill



Line Up:
(4-1-3-2)
Shearer 5.5 Probably should have done better with the second goal. Made a very good save from Holmes midway through the second half.
Collins 7 Solid and versatile. Switched from role in front of back four for this game, to right back, and then to centre half after 22 minutes. Defended well.
Pearce 7 Gave away the penalty, but unlucky in my opinion. Defended solidly.
Tafazolli - Went off injured on 22 minutes.
Benning 8 Tremendous return to form with an excellent free kick for the first goal and really good defending throughout.
McGuire 7 Picked up a second yellow card for an incident which was not a foul in my opinion, and hence unlucky to be sent off in my opinion. Had a very good 45 minutes before that.
Clements 7 Superb free kick for the second goal. One terrible pass that led to a Northampton chance.
Blair 6 Sacrificed after McGuire red card, so that Chapman could come on in a more defensive midfield role.
J.Thomas 8 Tremendous all action display from the first minute to the last, brought bite into an attacking midfield role. I would give him a run for the rest of the season now, with the hope to build the team around him next season.
Dieseruvwe 6.5 Good play to set up a chance for Clements. Did ok.
Green 8 Took his goals very well, and went close to a third goal in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
Alfei (for Tafazolli, 22) 7 Did well at right back.
Chapman (for Blair, 55) -
Rose (for Dieseruvwe, 62) -
Subs not used: Jensen, Beardsley, Daniel, Baxendale.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-3-3 first half, 4-4-2 second half): Smith; Moloney, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan; Taylor (D’Ath 46), O’Toole, Rose; Marquis (Hoskins 79), Collins, Richards (Holmes 46). Subs not used: Clarke, Lelan, Prosser, Byrom.
Referee:
Darren Handley 4 Got the McGuire second yellow card wrong and got the penalty wrong, in my opinion. Failure to book O’Toole for an accumulation of fouls (six of them) was poor as well.


Season 15/16 Reports