ADDITIONAL STAGSNET REPORT
You Make Your Own Luck In Football...
Report by Daniel Egginton
Mansfield once again dropped points, in a game on Valentine's Day that saw no love lost between the two teams. After Northampton midfielder John-Joe O'Toole had been sent off for an apparent elbow in the first half, Mansfield took the lead shortly into the second through a close-range strike from Vadaine Oliver. The Stags failed to capitalise on their lead and one-man advantage, dropping deeper and deeper, allowing Northampton pretty much all of the possession towards the end. After a flurry of free-kicks for the visitors in the dying minutes, the referee gave a dubious penalty, Ivan Toney going down following a challenge from Junior Brown. Marc Richards rolled the ball straight down the middle to earn a draw for the Cobblers; his 17th goal of the season. A galling result with few postives to be taken.
Following a defeat at Morecambe in midweek, manager Adam Murray made 4 changes to the team and also changed to a 4-3-3 formation. The injured Michael Raynes was replaced by Martin Riley. Callum Elder missed out on the 18 completely, replaced by the extra man in midfield Ricky Ravenhill, who was expected to miss out with a hamstring injury. Jack Thomas made his first start in a Mansfield shirt in place of Jamie McGuire, who dropped to the bench. Matt Rhead was replaced by Junior Brown. On the bench, there were returns for Liam Marsden (in place of Elder), and Murray himself, suprisingly naming himself for the first time, in place of Joe Fitzpatrick.
Sutton Riley Tafazolli Beevers
Thomas Ravenhill Heslop
Lambe Oliver Brown
Oliver had the first chance of the game in the third minute. After a Northampton cross had been blocked and cleared at one end of the field, the Stags' striker nicked the ball off a Northampton defender before taking a shot, which was blocked. In the ninth minute, Simon Heslop had a shot saved well by Matt Duke, from the right side of the box. Four minutes later, Ricky Holmes had the first real chance for the visitors. Given too much space by the Mansfield defence, his shot from outside the box was well saved by Lenny Pidgeley, diving to his right. Holmes' follow-up was wide, into the side netting.
Ravenhill picked up the first booking of the game in the 20th minute with a late tackle on Holmes. After some hard work by Reggie Lambe and Ritchie Sutton on the right, the ball came in to Oliver. He set up Heslop, but his shot was blocked. From the resulting corner, the referee decided that Ryan Tafazolli was climbing, and awarded Northampton a soft free-kick.
After some clever footwork from Brown on the left, he crossed the ball in to Oliver, who headed down to Heslop. His shot on the turn was soft and comfortably held by Duke. Jason Taylor picked up the first yellow card for Northampton with a clumsy challenge on Brown. After the ball found its way back out to Jack Thomas, it appeared he had won a corner, before the assistant changed her mind and signalled for a throw-in. From the throw, Thomas again found himself with the ball before he was brought down by that man Taylor, on the edge of the box. No warning from the ref for the man on the yellow card. Mr Collins was starting to lose control of a scrappy game, and struggled to get Northampton's wall back 10 yards. When he had, Heslop hit a wonderful free-kick that cracked against the bar, Duke nowhere near it.
In the 33rd minute, Oliver hit a shot narrowly wide from a tight angle, after a long ball fell kindly for him. Oliver had a header saved by Duke in the 35th minute from a Lambe free-kick, after O'Toole had been booked for a foul on Brown. Then, the red card for O'Toole.
A long ball forwards by Northampton caused concern for Pidgeley, who had to put it behind for a corner. After the corner had been headed away, O'Toole appeared to elbow Sutton, then kick out at him when he was on the floor. A clear red card for a disgusting piece of violent conduct. Northampton were lucky to keep ten men on the field when Taylor, on a yellow card of course, appeared to grab Pidgeley and drag him to the floor after O'Toole's red card had been shown. The game became more heated, with both Holmes and Sutton being booked after a foul by the former.
A half-chance for either side to end the first half. First, Lambe had a shot from outside the box saved by Duke. Then, good covering from Tafazolli after Beevers had lost the ball to Lawson D'Ath. A subsequent corner came to nothing and brought an end to a half of few chances.
Two minutes into the second half, Marc Richards fouled Lambe just inside the Mansfield half. It appeared Sutton was going to take the free-kick, but Beevers eventually ran over to take it. His long ball into the box dropped at the feet of Oliver, who was completely free on the left side of the six-yard box. After taking a touch to compose himself, he fired past Duke, who could do nothing to stop the close range strike. 1-0 Stags. The BBC has credited Beevers with the assist although I am pretty sure the ball was flicked on to Oliver.
Northampton won a corner in the 50th minute. D'Ath's cross found Taylor, who was lucky to be on the pitch, at the edge of the six-yard box. His header hit the bar and the ball was cleared. As the ref stopped play and tried to gauge the condition of Oliver, who was on the floor and holding his head, Ryan Cresswell was in his face, moaning about what he perceived to be holding in the box by the Mansfield defenders. In my opinion, if there was any foul it was being committed it was by the Northampton players blocking Pidgeley as the cross came in.
At this point Mansfield were still pushing forwards, looking for a chance. In the 54th minute, Heslop made a good run down the flank before playing the ball back to Beevers. His cross was cleared to Evan Horwood, who was tackled superbly by Thomas on the right wing. Horwood shoved Thomas as he got up, but the referee decided that this was not worthy of any more than a talking to. Thomas showed maturity in not retaliating and walking away. A couple of minutes later, a long ball was aimed to Richards, who shoved Riley to the ground. No foul according the the referee. In the 59th minute, a free-kick for the visitors was hit towards Cresswell, who managed to wrestle two Stags players to the floor at once. Again, no foul.
The referee had no choice but to give a free-kick on the hour mark, a late challenge on Riley by Joel Byrom earning the latter a yellow card. A soft free-kick was punched clear by Pidgeley, and when the ball came back in, Northampton won a corner. This was cleared fairly comfortably.
With 20 minutes to go, Mansfield were dropping deeper and deeper. Holmes won a corner off Sutton. The initial corner was cleared by Ravenhill at the near post, and when the ball came back in Sutton was there to head it clear. Jack Thomas was booked by the referee, who was starting to give Northampton some soft free-kicks.
After a low cross from Horwood was well held by Pidgeley, a great blocking tackle from Tafazolli on D'Ath gave the visitors another corner. This was played short, but to no avail as Brendon Moloney shot wide. Rakish Bingham came on for Thomas to make his first Mansfield appearance since his loan spell at Hartlepool finished.
Riley nearly made a mess of things a couple of minutes later, running back towards his goal under increasing pressure from Richards. He did enough, eventually, to get the ball to Tafazolli, who cleared. At the other end, Brown had a cross cleared in the 77th minute, before Heslop was shown Mansfield's fourth yellow card for pulling back Byrom in the middle of the park. A poor cross from Holmes was held by Pidgeley as the game went into the final 10 minutes.
After a clever free-kick from the visitors, the ball was chipped towards an unmarked Creswell at the back post. His header, which surely would have been the equaliser, hit the back of his own team-mate Richards, who had got in the way. The look of pure fury on Creswell's face was hilarious. Northampton brought forward Ivan Toney on for defender Lee Collins in the 82nd minute.
A soft free-kick and yellow card were awarded against Riley in the 84th minute, Pidgeley however did well to punch the cross away under pressure from Toney. Another ridiculous foul was given against Oliver on the edge of the box two minutes later. Richards' shot from the set piece was low and hard, but Pidgeley did well to save to his left. Adam Murray brought himself on for Lambe in an attempt to see out the game, to all intents and purposes slotting into the middle of a five-man defence. In the first minute of stoppage time, Billy Bodin came on for Taylor. I noticed that it was the fastest that Taylor, who was on the far side of the pitch, had moved all game.
Then, in the second minute, the penalty for Northampton. Toney went down under a challenge from Brown, and the referee pointed straight to the spot. After a lot of arguing, Richards rolled the ball slightly to Pidgeley's right. Pidgeley went the wrong way. Mansfield sent men forwards for the last couple of minutes but the game finished 1-1.
Pidgeley - 6.5 - Some good saves. Unlucky not to get a clean sheet.
Sutton - 6 - Got forwards, defended solidly.
Riley - 5.5 - Nervy at times.
Tafazolli - 6.5 - Some good blocks and tackles.
Beevers - 5.5 - Beaten on the wing a couple of times.
Thomas - 8 - Wonderful game. We lacked that spark in midfield after he went off.
Ravenhill - 6.5 - Quiet in second half. Played well though.
Heslop - 7 - Did well in box-to-box role, unlucky not to get a goal or two.
Lambe - 6 - Did OK.
Oliver - 6.5 - Did well with goal and won most headers. Not a lot of chances otherwise.
Brown - 6 - OK. Tracked back a lot.
Mr Lee Collins (ref) - 4 - Dreadful. Inconsistent. Like an extra man for the Cobblers by the end.
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