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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Northampton Town  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Richards 4
Attendance: 5454 (892 from Mansfield)
Date: 14 November 2015


Martin Shaw at Sixfields

Mansfield Town lost a tight game at troubled club Northampton Town thanks to poor play in both final thirds. The only goal came after just four minutes by Marc Richards. And the Stags only had themselves to blame as Alfie Potter skipped down the left past Nicky Hunt too easily and his cross into the middle found Marc Richards who got away from Blair Adams to head home from inside the six yard box. It was a terrible start. There was more sloppy defending in the second half as Northampton twice nearly added to their lead. The defending was disappointing as Mansfield have had such a good defensive record this season. Mansfield played some neat football with some good passing and dominated large spells of the game but the Stags were also poor in the Northampton box. The Stags had several chances but failed to test home keeper Adam Smith who was on loan at Mansfield last season. The closest the Stags came was a free kick from 20 yards from the right from Blair Adams which Matt Green headed against the bar. Green was also unlucky when he outmuscled a defender and headed onto the roof of the net. In the second half the two best chances fell to sub Adi Yussuf. Yussuf collected a good ball forward with a great first touch but then fired wide from a good position. Then in the final minute of stoppage time he slid wide from inside the six yard box after a low cross from Blair Adams. It all added up to a frustrating afternoon.

Mansfield remain in the play-off places and the overall play remains good. I thought we did enough with large spells of possession to deserve a point today, against a good side, but the play in the final third at both ends of the pitch needs to be better than this. Perhaps worth reflecting to remind ourselves how far we’ve come from last season that we are 16 points clear of the relegation zone.

The game was played in a pulsating atmosphere. It was almost a full house with 892 Stags fans and the home crowd swelled by the fear that this could Northampton’s final game. The local paper had previewed the game as follows: “It still remains quite extraordinary and almost beyond belief that this could conceivably be Northampton’s final ever match in their current form, with an appearance in the high court to come on Monday. For that reason alone, it promises to be an emotional afternoon with a sizeable crowd expected at Sixfields as fans continue to display their unwavering support for the club they love.” On the pitch, Northampton continue to produce the goods and are into the automatic promotion places.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that drew with Oldham in the FA Cup. It started as a 4-4-1-1 formation with Westcarr behind Green. Lee Collins was of course playing against the team he played for last season. There was a change on the bench as Krystian Pearce returned from suspension in place of 16 year old Cain Smith. I had a chat with Chris Beardsley before the game. He has now been injured for some weeks and every time he thinks he’s getting back it re-occurs. For example he came on as sub at Stevenage but the injury got worse. Northampton came into the game fresh from a fabulous win at Coventry in the FA Cup and were above the Stags in 5th place. It was thus a real top of the table clash of 5th vs 6th. Adam Smith was in goal for Northampton, having played four games on loan for the Stags last season.

It was a wet day across the country and the pitch at Sixfields was very wet. Adam Murray had explained during the excellent SSA Question Time event on Thursday why he has the pitch watered at home games just before kick-off and half time to allow the players to move the ball around better and quicker. I asked him before the game if it was possible to be too wet, like here, but he said no (presumably unless the game is actually off and not playable). Having said that, we did see some players slipping over quite a lot, notably Green and Yussuf, in trying to turn quickly. The Stags had the wind behind them in the first half. The wind dropped in the second half.

On 2 minutes Lambe pulled the ball back from the left across the 6 yards box but no-one was there.

On just 4 minutes, the Cobblers were ahead and the Stags only had themselves to blame as Alfie Potter skipped down the left past Nicky Hunt too easily and his cross into the middle found Marc Richards who got away from Blair Adams to head home from inside the six yard box. Poor defending.

A chance for the Stags on 11 minutes. Green got into the area, miscontrolled the ball, the ball came back to Westcarr whose left footed shot flashed just wide of the right post. On 13 minutes a great ball from Clements to Green on the left, he squared and it eventually came to Rose who fired wide.

On 18 minutes, Blair Adams cleared with his head whilst lying on the ground! On 20 minutes, Collins seemed to let Richards past him but recovered very well to clear.

On 23 minutes a Clements corner from the right was beautifully flighted, Tafazolli rose well but headed wide of the left post, with Chapman just unable to reach it. A Westcarr shot from 22 yards was blocked just outside the area on 26 minutes following a Chapman free kick. Westcarr claimed for a handball but that would have been harsh. A minute later a Reggie Lambe right footed cross from the left looped up off a defenders, Green outmuscled McDonald and headed onto the roof of the net. Good strength from Green. A minute after that Hunt sent in a deep cross beyond the far post, Adams headed back, but it was cleared. On 29 minutes, a half chance for Chapman was blocked.

The Stags were completely dominating, with the wind behind their backs, and had played some neat football.

On 34 minutes, a good header away by Blair Adams from a cross from the left. On 37 minutes Chapman squared to Westcarr whose shot from the edge of the box was blocked. Loose play by Westcarr on 39 minutes as he gave the ball away to D’Ath and a chance for Nicky Adams but his shot was palmed away by Jensen. Good save from the Beast.

On 40 minutes, Hunt allowed a cross from Buchanan but Blair Adams was alive to clear. We needed to be better at stopping the crosses coming in.

On 42 minutes Rose crossed from the right, and keeper Adam Smith punched away under pressure from Westcarr.

The Stags were unlucky on 45+1 minutes. A free kick from 20 yards from the right by Blair Adams was curled in and Matt Green headed against the bar.

The Stags were 1-0 down at half time but had played some neat football and dominated long spells. Green was unlucky to hit bar.

Half time 1-0

Matty Blair replaced Westcarr at the start of the second half. Blair played a few games on loan for Northampton a couple of seasons ago.

Hunt was booked for a foul on 47 minutes as Northampton broke. The resulting free kick from 26 yards by Byrom was blocked.

Clements was booked for a flying challenge on 50 minutes.

On 52 minutes it was Northampton’s turn to hit the bar. Nicky Adams did well to reach the ball on the byline on the left and get in a cross and Calvert-Lewis nipped in before Tafazolli to fire against the top of the bar. On 54 minutes, a short corner from the Cobblers and Byrom’s shot from a tight angle was put behind for a corner by Green. The Cobblers were now on top, though it wasn’t for long.

On 55 minutes, a poor kick out from Cobblers keeper Adam Smith, Lambe crossed in from the left, but Blair was penalised for a foul on Smith. On 58 minutes Blair crossed from the right, Clements didn’t pull the trigger when he had a chance, he got the ball to Green, who also didn’t get a shot away.

Matty Blair was making a difference.

On 60 minutes, a great ball down the left by Lambe, Green slipped over, got the ball back to Lambe, whose cross was put behind for a corner.

The Stags were now back on top, territorially.

On 65 minutes, a Clements corner from the right, Tafazolli attacked it and seemed to be impeded. Stags fans behind the goal shouted for a penalty but nothing from the referee.

Chris Wilder made a change to bring on a big central defender Taylor in place of little midfielder D’Ath. Taylor went into midfield but the Northampton reporter sitting next to me was clear that this was to shore up the defence with the Cobblers right on the back foot.

On 69 minutes, Green cut inside from the left, but his shot was blocked.

Yussuf replaced Rose on 70 minutes. It was now a 4-4-2 formation.

Hunt escaped a second yellow card on 71 minutes after a foul. It must have been close to a yellow card. The resulting free kick from the left was met by McDonald who flicked wide. The marking was poor with no-one picking up McDonald. The player who was supposed to be marking McDonald was not a defender so we need to be careful not simply to blame the defence.

On 74 minutes, a Clements corner from the right, Tafazolli couldn’t get over it and headed over the bar.

A great chance for the Stags to equalise on 75 minutes. Yussuf collected a good ball forward from Lambe with a great first touch but then fired wide right footed from a good position.

On 79 minutes, Byrom was through on goal for Northampton, but Jensen made a great save as he fired towards the top left corner of the net. From the resulting corner, an overhead kick was well wide.

Pearce replaced Lambe on 89 minutes. Tafazolli was up front in a 4-3-3 formation.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added on. In the final minute of stoppage time Yussuf slid in and slid the ball wide from inside the six yard box after a low cross from Blair Adams. It was close.

Frustration for the Stags. A release of joy for the home fans ahead of their day in court in Monday. I wish their club well.

Man of the match: Reggie Lambe

Report by: Martin Shaw at Sixfields

Line Up:
Jensen 7 Two good saves.
Hunt 4.5 Poor game. Allowed the cross for the goal too easily, and allowed other crosses in.
Collins 6 Ok against his former club.
Tafazolli 6 Got in several headers in the Northampton box. Allowed Calvert-Lewis to nip in and fire against the top of the bar.
Adams 5.5 Allowed Richards to get away from him to head home from inside the six yard box. Some good moments though. Good free kick which Green headed against the bar.
Rose 6 Didn’t get as involved as in some previous games.
Chapman 6.5 Knocked the ball around nicely.
Clements 6.5 Three really good corners.
Lambe 7 Some good balls and crosses, creating several chances
Westcarr 5.5 Got in a few shots. Gave the ball away loosely on occasion. Removed at half time.
Green 6.5 Unlucky with a header against the bar and when he outmuscled a defender and headed onto the roof of the net. Lost his footing on the wet surface a few times.
Sub Line Up:
Blair (for Westcarr, 46) 7 Started really well and made a difference. But then faded a bit.
Yussuf (for Rose, 70) - Had two good chances. Really good touch for the first one but fired well then slid wide in stoppage time.
Pearce (for Lambe, 89) -
Subs not used: Shearer, McGuire, J.Thomas, N.Thomas.
Opposition Line Up:
Adam Smith, Brendan Moloney, Zander Diamond, Rod McDonald, David Buchanan, John-Joe O’Toole, Joel Byrom, Lawson D’Ath (sub Jason Taylor 65), Nicky Adams (sub Ryan Cresswell 90), Alfie Potter (sub Dominic Calvert-Lewin 46), Marc Richards. Subs not used: Ryan Clarke, Sam Hoskins, Darnell Furlong, Ryan Watson.
Darren Bond 7 Generally handled the game well.

Season 15/16 Reports