STAGS THROW AWAY TWO GOAL LEAD AGAINST SOUTHPORT
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 2 - 2 Southport
Higginson 30, Briscoe 44. Connor missed pen 54. Turner 57, McGinn pen 83
Attendance: 1467 (38 from Southport)
Date: 5 April 2011
Mansfield Town threw away a two goal lead, and Paul Connor missed a penalty for a chance to make it 3-0, as Southport left Field Mill with a 2-2 draw. On the plus side, young Conor Higginson scored his first Stags goal, and Louis Briscoe scored his 17th goal of the season to become the club's top scorer this season. Paul Connor had not taken a penalty for the Stags before, but Briscoe had said after he missed against Luton and Histon that he would step down from penalty taking, so Connor stepped up, but had his penalty saved.
Stat by Martin Shaw: The attendance of 1,467 was the lowest league crowd for a Stags game at Field Mill since 1,293 watched the Stags beat Torquay 2-1 in December 1982.
Mark Kearney, after the Southport game, reminisces on Wembley 1987 with Nigel Pinnick on StagsPlayer, here.
Mansfield Town 2 Southport 2, Tuesday 5th April
IT was a tale of two halves and two penalties for Mansfield Town as they threw away a two goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to relegation-threatened Southport on Tuesday night, reports Stephen Thirkill.
The FA Trophy finalists looked to be cruising to an easy three points after a commanding first half attacking display, which saw Stags hit the front with a first goal for Connor Higginson and a sweet finish from Louis Briscoe.
But the game turned in the 54th minute when the normally reliable Paul Connor saw his goal drought continue as he failed to wrap the game up from the spot after Adam Murray was hacked down.
It proved to be a crucial miss as the visitors made a mockery of their lowly league position to fight back in fine style.
Despite being outclassed for large chunks of the game the seaside outfit showed the fighting spirit and determination so badly lacking by Mansfield Town throughout the second half.
Aaron Turner reduced the deficit on 57 minutes after tapping home from his own rebound to give Southport some new hope and belief.
It looked like the equaliser would never come as Kissock and Daly both blew golden chances for the resurgent visitors. But Southport got what they deserved in the 83 minutes when Stonehouse tripped substitute Shaun Whalley and Matty McGinn made no mistake from the penalty spot to earn what could be a crucial point in the Merseyside team's battle to beat the drop.
The second half display will be a major worry for Duncan Russell, who saw his stumbling side throw away not just two points, but vital momentum as the build up to Wembley draws ever nearer - all in front of just 1,467 fans, the lowest League attendance at Field Mill since 1982.
See this week's Chad, on sale tomorrow, for a full match report and all the latest from Field Mill
Stags pay the penalty as Southport fight back to draw
Evening Post report by Matt Halfpenny
AT the time it seemed little more than another chapter in Paul Connor's recent hard luck story, but eventually proved pivotal.
With the Stags 2-0 up and seemingly coasting, no-one was going to take the ball off the striker when Adam Murray was pulled down in the box and a penalty awarded.
Desperate to end his nine-game goal drought and having seen Louis Briscoe strike in the first half to pass him in the race to be the club's top scorer, Connor had a steely determination to find the net and, had he done so, it would have been game over.
But Southport's Tony McMillan pulled off a smart save from his spot kick – and that was the start of a resilient comeback from the visitors that saw them claim a well-merited point.
From Mansfield's point of view it was a terrible second half showing that smacked of complacency stemming from a comfortable lead at the break.
It highlighted once again why they are destined to finish in mid-table because they blow hot and cold from game to game and even half to half.
Too often, the Stags dropped deep, inviting the pressure on themselves.
And once they had pulled a goal back, much of the club's lowest league gate since 1982 knew what was coming after that.
After Saturday's 2-1 success over Rushden and Diamonds, boss Duncan Russell started with the same ten outfield players.
The only change was in goal, where David Grof came in for Alan Marriott, who had sustained a finger injury against his former club.
An early free-kick almost saw Briscoe sneak in on the blindside, only to be denied by visiting keeper McMillan.
Southport had a golden opportunity to go in front as Grof dropped an over-hit cross, which Karl Ledsham blazed over the top with the goal gaping.
The Stags were caught flat-footed in the 13th minute by a quick Southport free-kick that saw Ledsham cross low from the left.
Grof managed to claw the ball from the goalmouth but the hosts were fortunate the loose ball dropped to an amber and blue shirt, rather than a white one.
An eye-catching passing move involving five or six players culminated in Luke Medley letting fly from the edge of the box and McMillan parrying the ball out.
His own team-mate, Robbie Williams, then inadvertently turned the ball back towards his own goal and it needed another smart save to prevent an own goal.
But the Port number one was culpable as Stags took the lead on the half hour mark in a memorable moment for the home-grown Conor Higginson.
Steven Istead took a throw-in and collected a return pass from Medley to cross into the danger zone.
Connor and Briscoe put pressure on McMillan and as he dropped the ball, Higginson slammed low into the left-hand corner from 12 yards.
Mansfield immediately went for a second and almost got it, when Higginson and Luke Medley worked an opening for Briscoe to stab home, only to be ruled offside.
As half-time approached, the Stags were breathing a sigh of relief when Rob Marsh-Evans headed wide from John-Paul Kissock's left wing corner.
And they were delighted to double their lead when Medley played a pinpoint reverse pass to send Briscoe away and clear through the middle.
The winger did not strike the ball cleanly, but everything he touches turns to gold at the moment and it was enough to beat McMillan, who dived the wrong way, for his 17th of the season.
Even then, Southport should have pulled a goal back when Steve Daly had a free far post header from another set piece, only to strike the bar.
Southport came out determined to get back in the game and, after a mistake by Paul Stonehouse, Grof was alert to push Matty McGinn's finish around his left-hand post.
Kissock then stung the palms of Grof as the visitors continued to ask questions of the Mansfield defence.
It was then that Connor had his head in his hands and that miss was made all the more meaningful when Southport got themselves back in the game in the 57th minute.
Daly held the ball up intelligently and picked out Turner whose first shot was blocked by Grof before the midfielder tucked home the rebound from point-blank range.
Kissock could not have come closer to a leveller when he chipped Grof but also cleared the bar after an inventive flick from substitute Shaun Whalley.
It should have been 2-2 when Daly headed wide from six yard out after a precise centre from McGinn.
But the goal that had been coming arrived when Stonehouse was adjudged to have brought down Whalley in the box and McGinn coolly slotted home the penalty.
In the closing stages, 38-year-old assistant manager Paul Hall was given a run-out, replacing the impressive Higginson, while Steve Foster was denied a stoppage time winner by the excellence of McMillan.
But those couple of bright spots did not prevent boos at full-time, no doubt borne out of sheer frustration
Match facts: Mansfield Town v Southport
Mansfield: Grof, Istead, Foster, Naylor, Stonehouse, Higginson (Hall 89), Thompson, Murray, Briscoe (O'Rafferty 80), Connor, Medley. Subs not used: Collett, Sandwith, Preece.
Southport: McMillan, Williams, Davis (Gray 58), Marsh-Evans, McGinn, Kissock, Turner, Moogan, Ledsham (Whalley 46), McNeil, Daly. Subs not used: Dickinson, Flynn, Gray, Blakeman.
Referee: Russell Fletcher (Derbyshire).
Attendance: 1,467 (38 visitors).
Goals: Higginson (30), Briscoe (44). Southport (Turner 57), McGinn (83 pen).
Shots on target: Mansfield 5 Southport 6.
Shots off target: Mansfield 3 Southport 9.
Fouls: Mansfield 12 Southport 11.
Corners: Mansfield 4 Southport 9.
Offsides: Mansfield 5 Southport 2.
Bookings: Mansfield 0 Southport 1 (Ledsham, 26, foul on Murray).
Sendings off Mansfield 0 Southport 0.
Mansfield's man of the match: Adam Murray. There were no stand-out candidates after a dreadful second half showing, but the skipper took the game by the scruff of the neck in the first period and also won the second half penalty that should have seen Paul Connor seal the points for Mansfield
mansfieldtown.net report by Paul Stephen from Field Mill
Stags let a two goal lead slip against a resilient Southport side who hand themselves a real boost in their bid to beat the drop.
The home side went into the half time break 2-0 up with goals from Louis Briscoe and a maiden strike from Conor Higginson before Southport mounted their second half fight back in front of the lowest league crowd at Field Mill since 1982.
Things could have been very different had Paul Connor converted his spotkick 10 minutes into the second half prior to Aaron Turner reducing the deficit three minutes later and an equaliser coming from the spot right at the death as Stags struggled to repeat the commanding display shown in the game's early stages.
Duncan Russell made one enforced change for the visit of The Sandgrounders with David Grof coming in for the injured Alan Marriott in between the sticks. Assistant Manager Paul Hall retained his place on the bench after opting to come out of retirement in order to ease our injury worries just over a week ago.
Luke Medley won a corner in as early as the second minute as Stags made a lively start which found its way to Tyrone Thompson on the edge of the box whose low shot was turned over the bar by Paul Connor.
Karl Ledsham was then guilty of spurning a decent chance for the visitors a minute later when a long ball into the area was spilled by Grof into the feet of the midfielder who looked to find the open net but skied his effort high and wide.
Stags had to wait until the 16th minute before really threatening Southport when Louis Briscoe's through-ball found Luke Medley who had room on the left hand side of the area to fire a shot just a whisker wide of Tony McMillan's far post.
Medley was unfortunate not to open the scoring on 23 when his 25 yard piledriver, coming after being teed up by Briscoe, was saved by McMillan who parried it to covering defender Robbie Williams. McMillan was then called into action once again when Matthews completely baffled the whole stadium by bundling the ball goalwards rather than away from danger. To his relief, the red faced Matthews was saved from ridicule by his alert custodian putting it behind for a corner.
The increasingly busy McMillan was all at see on the half hour mark though and could only watch Conor Higginson score his first ever goal for Stags in only his second appearance since returning from his loan spell at Glapwell as Southport's defensive frailties were exposed for all to see. It came from Steven Istead's right wing cross which McMillan looked to have caught but instead dropped it straight into the path of Higginson when under pressure from both Louis Briscoe and Paul Connor. The 19-year-old forward then showed no hesistation in driving the ball into an empty net from 12 yards.
Rob Marsh-Evans could only head wide from McGinn's corner with half time fast closing in as Stags ensured that their pressure was made to count on 44. Louis Briscoe was man to get on the scoresheet with his 17th strike of the season after being put through on goal by Luke Medley's perfectly timed ball from the half way line. The fleet-footed winger ran to the edge of the box drawing McMillan off his line before confidently dispatching his shot to the 'keepers left to put Stags in the driving seat and move one goal ahead in his season's tally than previous topscorer Paul Connor.
Southport came out from the break looking to muscle back into the game quickly with first John Paul Kissock's overhead kick calling Grof into action before substitute Shaun Whalley capitalised on Paul Stonehouse's error and forcing a diving save from the Hungarian shotstopper with a stinging shot from just outside the area.
Five minutes in Luke Medley looked to have gtt the goal that his creativity deserved when he narrowly headed wide Istead's teasing cross but unfortunately had drifted into an offside position anyway.
The game could have well and truly been put beyond the reaches of Southport on 54 with the award of a penalty following Earl David's late tackle on skipper Adam Murray when he had burst into the area to overlap Paul Connor. Connor stepped up to take the spotkick but his weak effort was comfortable saved by McMillan who had guessed correctly by diving to his left.
Three minutes later Southport were handed a lifeline when David Grof made a fine save from a shot from distance which he could only parry into the feet of Aaron Turner who easily found the net from less than six yards out to make the scores 2-1 and set up a nervy last half hour as Stags looked content to sit on their slim lead.
Medley found the side netting on 64 before Matty McNeil charged forward to set hearts racing after Steve Istead had failed to cut out a dangerous crossfield pass. The Southport forward beat all around him for pace before shooting to Grof's left from 20 yards but thankfully his effort flashed wide of the post.
Shaun Whalley's clever flick then sent John Paul Kissock through on goal on 73 as the visitors looked to be moving closer to grabbing an equaliser. Kissock tried to chip Grof from 10 yards but it dropped just the wrong side of the bar and behind for a goalkick.
With 10 minutes to go Louis Briscoe was withdrawn for Niall O'Rafferty as Stags hoped to settle matters with a third decisive goal. The substitution did little to stem the flow of attacks though from Southport and the equaliser eventually came with seven minutes left on the clock. Shaun Whalley's run into the box was brought to a sudden halt when he was taken down by a push from Paul Stonehouse causing referee Russell Fletcher to point to the spot. Matty McGinn had the honours of taking the penalty kick which snuck under Grof despite him diving the correct way to his right.
There was some cheer to be had late on in a half which the home side struggled to threaten as they had earlier when 38-year-old Paul Hall was handed a cameo appearance when coming on for Conor Higginson in the 87th minute.
Hall had little to do as three minutes stoppage time passed quickly in which Steve Foster went closest with a curling shot and Stags were made to settle for a fourth home draw of the season.
Attendance: 1,467 (38 away)
Sponsors' man of the match: Conor Higginson
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