SUPER STAGS WIN AWAY
Bradford City 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
Conlon 45+1. Arnold 14, M.Boulding 51
Attendance: 13611 (569 from Mansfield)
Highlights from Mansfield 103.2 commentary: here
Commentary by Jason Harrison and Steve Hartshorn. Editted by Martin Shaw
report from boyfrombrazil.co.uk
Bradford City 1 Mansfield Town 2 - League Two
Mansfield Town's players punched the air in delight after beating Bradford City 2-1 at Valley Parade. They out fought the Bantams - the second consecutive match at Valley Parade where the home side were found wanting for effort - and they deserved the win that moves them closer towards escape from the relegation zone of League Two.
I suspect that we will see the Stags at Valley Parade next season with the Bantams play off hopes rising and falling with the all too common away wins of this division. With ten games left the consensus has been reached that Stuart McCall's side are gong nowhere. McCall seemed to have come to this conclusion some time ago and continues to experiment with players while the squad has a generally low level of engagement. Mansfield, like Stockport and Dagenham & Redbridge, wanted to win more because they needed to win more and so City rumble out the last third of the season in trying style.
For forty-five minutes the Bantams were lifeless - flaccid even - as a series of getting by performances saw little in the way of forward motion. Indeed from the first half only Joe Colbeck - reliable in his effort - and Barry Conlon could claim to be have been in first gear. Conlon went close to scoring with a dipping drive from outside the box and nodded his third goal from open play just before half time but by then City trailed to a goal by Nathan Arnold which took a large deflection from David Wetherall's arms and represented the visitor's old shot on target of the half assuming that the arms of Wetherall did not prevent it being blazed wide.
Such is the painfulness of defeat. Mansfield were worthy winners - they got a second though one time Nicky Law target Michael Boulding after half time following a Bantams rally - with Arnold impressive throughout but anything other than a first gear performance would have seen the Bantams win with some ease. The Stags managed two shots on target all game. They came for a point and ended up with three and are probably amazed at how they managed it considering that from the point of view of creative chance making rather than passion and effort they were bad.
Not that City were better but one got the feeling that City are multiples better than this performance it was Mansfield at full tilt. Indeed the whole of City's season can be summed up in today's performance by Paul Evans. Some people said nice things about BfB this week and included was a quote about Evans being the best player in League Two which I stick to and stand by. His can pass superbly, he has a great engine, he tackles, shoots, heads and he can bend a free kick to boot. He can do all these things but he does not.
Today he blasted the ball too far rather than playing simple passes, he had no coordination with Eddie Johnson his midfield partner and he did nothing other than his base role of protecting the back four. A very talented player doing very little with his talent with the challenge for Stuart McCall to make Evans play like Evans does when Evans plays well because application is all that is missing from this side and it is McCall's job to add it.
McCall's job was murmured on the way out of the ground and someone swore on their first born that the next manager would be better except of course they did not and all talk of McCall's position should be given short shrift unless someone can come up with a statement as to why the club was improved by sacking any of the last four managers. For a change the handful murmuring against McCall were not the greatest abominations of football support today with the racist chanting from the Mansfield end taking that honour. One can only hope that Nathan Arnold heard it and gets on his way.
As for City changes are afoot and McCall is to make them. The likes of Alex Rhodes, Tom Penford, Eddie Johnson, Darren Williams and Evans all will be the subject of decisions on the futures soon and next season's team will look different to this one. One hopes that with ten games to go next season things will not be - as they are now - over for another year
Labels: League Two, Mansfield Town, Nathan Arnold, Paul Evans, Stuart McCall
Written by Michael Wood at Sunday, March 16, 2008.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
SLICK STAGS SHOOT DOWN CITY
Bradford City 1 Mansfield Town 2
It had been fifteen years since Mansfield Town last visited the Valley Parade, Bradford, in that time City have tasted the heady heights of the Premiership whilst The Stags have seemingly fought a long battle to nowhere, however in front of over thirteen and a half thousand rain soaked fans, goals from Arnold and Boulding breathed life into a Mansfield side striving for their football league survival.
Stags had dominated the first 45 minutes but found themselves pegged back thanks to a Barry Conlon equaliser right on the stroke of half time, cancelling out an excellent Stags opener by Nathan Arnold, but not to be outdone on yet another stunning away performance by the relegation threatened Stags, Micky Boulding's 21st goal of the season gave Mansfield all three points to send their 600 or so followers dreaming yet again that the corner had been turned and that Stags were finally going to string enough results together to climb away from the drop zone.
It had been seven days of turmoil at Field Mill. The heavy defeat at the hands of Rochdale had seen the sad departure of Billy Dearden, and yet another defeat a few days later at the hands of promotion seeking Hereford United had caused many to think that the battle for League 2 survival was almost over, but against the odd's, the tremendous display despite the defeat to Hereford was carried on but this time with the right end result.
Due to an injury picked up in the defeat against Hereford, Carl Muggleton was replaced between the sticks by Jason White in an otherwise unchanged starting line up. Again, Paul Holland going for the option of Louis on the bench and Arnold playing in the hole behind Micky Boulding.
As the rain poured down seemingly making conditions tricky for both sides, it was Mansfield who settled the brighter and caused the home side problems. City, fresh from a midweek win at Chester were eager to keep their season alive but failed to get to grips with a slick passing Mansfield side, who again defied their lowly league position by playing neat one touch football that was pleasing on the eye.
It took the Stags just 14 minutes to open the scoring and a goal of class it was. Micky Boulding sold City's Williams a dummy out wide before skipping away to cross the ball to the feet of Nathan Arnold, who from 20 yards neatly side stepped before unleashing a shot that took a slight deflection from the experienced Wetherall before flying into the top corner of the net. It was no more than an enterprising Stags deserved.
It could and indeed should have been 2-0 just 60 seconds later but the goal machine; Boulding failed to make precise contact on the ball and headed wide from 6 yards out.
The City fans who had seen their side suffer from inconstancy all season were bemoaning their teams inabilities as the side fighting for their lives were passing the ball around with ease and looking the far more dangerous.
Conlon, the striker who was not offered terms at the end of last season at Field Mill looked City's only threat and it seemed as if every ball forward by the home side had to go through the big Irish centre forward. He was though marshalled well by a Stags back line in particular, Captain Jake Buxton who seemed to spend the whole afternoon in a personal battle with him.
The Stags were defending well and in midfield were quick in the tackle and smart in the pass, whilst up front Arnold and Boulding were causing problems with their close skill and speed. It looked only a matter of time before Stags would score a well-deserved 2nd.
It wasn't to be though, Conlon had tested White earlier on in the half and the young keeper had done well on several occasions to punch the ball away from danger but he seemed to be caught a little off his line when Conlon got on the end of a free kick to flicked the ball over the outstretched hand of White and into the net for City's equaliser right on the stroke of half time. Indeed it was so close to the end of the first 45 minutes that just two more touches of the ball were made before the Referee blew for the break.
Despite that set back the Stags players left the field to load shouts of encouragement from their supporters and with their heads held high.
The 2nd half started with the expected upturn in heat from the home side no doubt fresh from an ear bashing from the experienced manager, Stuart McCall, but despite several scares, the Stags defence again held firm.
Indeed 6 minutes into the 2nd half, Stags again went in front, although the goal can best be described as a little scrappy. Arnold floated the ball into the box and City struggled to clear. The ball dropped to the feet of Dawson who looked to take too long in getting off an effort on goal, with City all at sea it dropped at the feet of Boulding who was relieved to see his shot go past Loach at the near post and tickle across the line much to the delight of the following in Hamshaw who picked up the ball in the back of the net and joyfully held it up to the Stags ecstatic following.
McCall now desperate to get his side back into the game made three changes in ten minutes. One of which, Chilean striker, Willy Topp had the best chance of saving a point 11 minutes from time but after giving two Stags players the slip all he could do was blaze his effort high and wide of White's goal.
Stags were defending well and coping with all that Bradford could throw at them. City's last and final effort of note being a shot from Penford that flew just over the crossbar.
The final whistle saw the away end erupt in celebration. It had been a day when again The Stags had defied all the odds and kept the dream of survival well and truly alive. As results filtered in from their relegation rivals it was obvious just what a priceless three points it could be.
With the season sprinting to a finish it is in Mansfield's own hands to keep League 2 football at Field Mill next season it is to be hoped that they can get their home form to mirror their recent away performances, starting this coming Saturday when they face Grimsby Town.
CITY 1 MANSFIELD 2
By Simon Parker
City's dismal home run goes on after another depressing afternoon at Valley Parade.
Relegation-haunted Mansfield scrapped their way to three priceless points - and condemned the Bantams to their fourth home loss in five games.
Stuart McCall's hopes that the midweek win over Chester could act as another springboard were blown away.
advertisementCity looked sluggish and ponderous from the start and fell behind after 15 minutes with Nathan Arnold whipping a shot home from 20 yards.
It could have got worse as Michael Boulding immediately missed a free header to double Mansfield's lead.
City bounced back to level on the stroke of half-time with Barry Conlon nodding his second goal in successive games from Paul Heckingbottom's free-kick.
But Mansfield regrouped and regained their advantage within six minutes of the re-start.
It was an awful goal to concede as the ball bobbled around the box before Boulding scuffed home his 21st goal of the season via the post.
City huffed and puffed to get back into it and Willy Topp shot over after a great turn and step-over. But there were few clear-cut chances despite the pressure.
CITY: Loach, Williams, Moncur, Wetherall, Heckingbottom, Colbeck, Evans, Johnson, Rhodes, Thorne, Conlon. Subs: Bower, Daley, Penford, Nix, Topp.
Bradford 1-2 Mansfield
Michael Boulding scored the decisive goal as Mansfield boosted their survival chances.
Nathan Arnold put the Stags in front after 15 minutes, firing home after good work from leading scorer Boulding.
Barry Conlon equalised against his old club with a looping header from Paul Heckingbottom's cross.
But Boulding earned all three points for the visitors with the winning goal after 52 minutes, the striker pouncing on Matt Hamshaw's knock-down.
Press Assaoc report:
Hot-shot Michael Boulding forced home a scrappy winner to boost Mansfield Town's relegation fight as under-achieving Bradford City lost at home for the fourth time in five games.
Boulding's 21st goal of the season put the away-day specialists back in front after former Mansfield striker Barry Conlon had thrown the Bantams a lifeline with an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
City had been on the back foot from the start and Mansfield's enterprise was rewarded after 14 minutes when lively frontman Nathan Arnold fired home a deflected shot from the edge of the box.
Boulding had created the opening with a neat dummy which completely baffled Bradford full-back Darren Williams and when Arnold let fly from 19 yards, his effort flicked off City skipper David Wetherall giving keeper Scott Loach no chance.
A minute later Boulding missed a great chance to double their advantage when he headed a cross wide of goal from six yards, but with City floundering it seemed only a matter of time before the Stags grabbed a second.
Conlon tested stand-in keeper Jason White with a long-range effort and the keeper's nervousness under the high ball looked like being City's best chance of clawing their way back into the contest.
The Stags failed to make the most of their first-half dominance and they were punished by Conlon in injury time.
City full-back Paul Heckingbottom floated a free-kick into the box and Conlon was delighted to see his looping 16-yard header beat the all-at-sea White.
Bradford started the second period in brighter fashion, but they were stung by Boulding's scrappy finish six minutes after the break.
City failed to clear Arnold's cross and, although Stephen Dawson's effort was blocked, Boulding guided the loose ball past Loach from six yards and was happy to see the ball dribble over the line.
Bradford boss Stuart McCall tried to salvage the contest by throwing on his three substitutes in the pace of ten minutes and Chilean playmaker Willy Topp almost grabbed a second 11 minutes from time.
The tricky striker superbly turned his marker and ghosted past another defender, but with the home fans waiting for him to fire home his first senior goal for the club, Topp blazed wide from 14 yards.
Mansfield defended like a team fighting for their League Two lives and City's best chance came late on when substitute Tom Penford saw his well-struck shot fly just over the bar.
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