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Archived News from November 2013

21st November 2013 11:51

Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 3 Oxford United
Stevenson 45+4. Rigg 12, Constable 45+8, Williams 65.
Attendance: 3831 (769 from Oxford)

Date: 16 November 2013


Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were unable to recover fully from giving away an early gift goal and then a red card for Jamie McGuire after just 22 minutes, as Oxford United deservedly stormed their way to the top of the table. Even though the Stags equalised with a fine goal by Lee Stevenson after 45+4 minutes, Oxford regained the lead on 45+8 minutes with a trademark goal from James Constable, his 100th for Oxford and just two minutes after coming on as substitute. The Stags had a couple of good chances to equalise again in the second half but once Oxford made it 3-1 on 65 minutes, the result was not in doubt. Mansfield’s players worked very hard with a man short but the quality of Oxford’s players was there for all to see: Ryan Williams, on loan from Fulham, was outstanding on the right wing, as was Sean Rigg on the other wing; Dave Kitson showed some of his class that took him to the Premiership with Reading and Stoke; and Oxford were able to bring prolific goalscorer Constable from the bench.

The red card for McGuire was Mansfield’s sixth red of the season. Far too many. McGuire has already been suspended this season and before this game had seven yellow cards. His red card in this game was for a two footed lunge which he might have got away with a yellow, but was nevertheless reckless and ultimately cost the Stags the chance of getting something from the game.

Mansfield made three changes from the side that won 8-1 at St Albans: Lee Beevers and John Dempster returned to the defence following suspension, at the expense of Pilkington and McCombe. And with Ollie Palmer out injured after his impressive display last week, Paul Cox recalled Jake Speight from his loan spell at Alfreton. Speight had scored five goals on loan at Alfreton and hence returned to the club in good form having been in poor form in pre-season and early season and then not able to get a game so lacking match sharpness. From everyone’s point of view, this was a good use of the loan system.

Stagsnet report here


Saturday, 16th November 2013: Mansfield Town 1 Oxford United 3
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas

A sixth red card of the season proved costly as 10-men Mansfield were well beaten at home by high-flying Oxford United, who took over at the top of the table with this victory.


Jamie McGuire was red-carded on 23 minutes for diving into a tackle on Sean Rigg with Mansfield already a goal behind.

Lee Stevenson did end the League goal drought in first half stoppage time at 472 minutes to volley the 10 men level.

But sub James Constable quickly had the visitors back in front even deeper into stoppage time with his 100th goal for Oxford, two minutes after coming on, and once the outstanding Ryan Williams grabbed a third on 66 minutes, it was all over.

It was a seventh League game without a win for depleted Mansfield while, for Oxford, it continued a fine run of form on the road, now having won five and drawn two of their last seven away games.

Oxford played most of the football on show with Stags too often kicking the ball long with no recognised big target man to hold it up.

Oxford also deserve credit for their sturdy defending.

Jake Speight made a shock return to the Mansfield line-up. The striker had banged in five goals in six games on loan to Conference neighbours Alfreton Town but was this morning recalled by Mansfield to replace Ollie Palmer, who tore a hamstring last weekend.

There were also two changes at the back as Lee Beevers and John Dempster returned from suspension at the expense of George Pilkington and John McCombe.

The visitors included former Stags defender Johnny Mullins.

Everyone was hoping Stags would have been lifted by that fine 8-1 away FA Cup win at St Albans last weekend.

But in the end they were found wanting against a side that looks very likely to figure in the end of season promotion battle.

An even opening saw Stags force the first corner from a deflected Clucas shot on four minutes, but it proved an easy catch for the unchallenged Clarke.

Rigg needed treatment for a McGuire challenge which saw the Stags man lectured and ordered to go over and apologise to the fallen Oxford man.

Stags forced a second corner on nine minutes which Jennings curled to the near post and Stevenson’s flicked header forced Clarke into a reaction save.

A Daniel free kick, from a central position inside the D, saw his effort deflect wide for another corner.

However, the Stags fell behind after a mistake from keeper Marriott on 12 minutes.

Rose made a good run down the right and cut inside for a low shot that looked routine for Marriott.

But the keeper, diving to his right, failed to hold the ball and it ran loose for an easy tap-in for Rigg.

Soon after, Rigg put in a dangerous cross from the left that Marriott watched all the way as it bounced over off the top of his bar.

Oxford lost Whing to injury after 19 minutes, Hall replacing him.

The visitors were already time-wasting at this early stage and Stevenson eventually ran to fetch the ball for an Oxford throw letting the assistant referee know what he thought of it as he ran past him.

Mansfield’s afternoon worsened on 23 minutes as McGuire was shown a straight red card for a thundering tackle on Rigg.

The Oxford man stayed down and players from both sides began to jostle each other.

Eventually Raynes and Speight were also shown yellow cards.

Howells was well wide with a header from a long Jennings free kick from the left.

Williams was allowed to run unchecked down the centre and get away a shot that flew well over the angle.

Dempster needed attention for a bang on the head as Oxford cleared Mansfield’s fourth corner.

On 37 minutes Mullins almost doubled the visitors’ advantage as he got goalside of Beevers to meet a Hunt free kick with a firm header that wasn’t far wide of the far post.

Stevenson’s name was added to the book on 38 minutes for delaying an Oxford free kick with home fans baying at the official, who was getting a lot of his decisions wrong both ways.

Smalley was the latest to buy Oxford some time as he stayed down after whacking Stevenson in the back for a foul and then going down himself.

At this stage the visitors were making the most of their man advantage by holding onto the ball well and forcing Stags to chase.

In the final minute of the half Kitson saw his shot deflect wide off a team mate after Marriott had only been able to get one hand onto a Williams cross.

A stop-start half saw eight minutes added on.

And halfway through that the 10 men were on level terms.

Dempster got a head onto a long Jennings free kick which was cleared only as far as Stevenson who, from 16 yards, sent a crisp volley into almost the centre of the goal.

Speight was just unable to control a long Daniel ball soon after and it ran through to the keeper before he could capitalise.

It was stirring stuff all of a sudden with the home fans loudly behind the players. But the comeback was halted very quickly.

Strike ace Constable was sent into the action six minutes into the added time and within two minutes with almost the last kick of the half, put United back in front.

A neat passing movement on the right ended with Williams feeding a disguised pass inside on the right of the box and Constable dispatching a low finish which eventually found the net off the inside of the left post.

After the break, Stags were lucky that Hall’s low cross didn’t end up in the net after a deflection off Beevers that saw it pass inches wide with Marriott nowhere near and the goal gaping.

United looked dangerous and Jennings then had to dive in to get a block on a Williams shot while Constable guided a header narrowly wide from a Kitson far post cross.

Williams headed a Newey cross onto the roof of the home net before Stags finally sparked into action on 52 minutes as Speight chased onto a through ball on the right and sent in a vicious shot that Clarke had to turn over.

Marriott was then equal to a Constable shot from 20 yards that looked set to find its way under the bar until he fingertipped it over.

Constable sliced a near post shot wide from a Rose pass after Jennings failed to clear.

Kitson was added to the book on 61 minutes for a late tackle on Clucas.

Clarke was left stranded after leaving his box to beat Speight to the ball only to see it reach Clucas. But the youngster was quickly faced with a succession of defenders and his eventual shot-cum-pass drifted away harmlessly.

Oxford bagged a killer third goal on 66 minutes. Rigg crossed hard and low from the left by-line and Williams beat Jennings to the ball to turn it home from close range.

Mansfield almost pulled one back straight away as Dempster headed on a long Jennings throw for Speight to leap well and send his header straight at Clarke.

Clucas whipped a shot wide from 20 yards on 77 minutes as time continued to run out on the home side.

The game then petered out with disappointed home fans draining out the stadium.

STAGS: Marriott; Beevers, Sutton, Dempster, Jennings (Meikle 72); Clucas, Howell, McGuire, Daniel; Stevenson (Murtagh 85), Speight. Subs not used: McCombe, Rhead, Deakin, Andrew, Pilkington.
OXFORD: Clarke, Newey, Raynes, Rigg (Ruffels 77), Kitson, Smalley (Constable 45+6), Hunt, Williams, Whing (Hall 19), Rose, Mullins. Subs not used: Davies, Crocombe, Bevans, O’Dowda.

REFREREE: Charles Breakspear of Surrey.

ATTENDANCE: 3,831 (769 away).



Stags failing to heed a harsh lesson as another ban looms
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny

HAVING players sent off is not conducive to winning football matches at any level. Fact.

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-1-Oxford-United-3-Match-report/story-20091761-detail/story.html#ixzz2kzMd2GQl

So until Mansfield Town stop their habit of seeing red - one that has blighted their Saturday afternoons and Tuesday evenings since the start of September - their dismal run of form is unlikely to change.

It's true that Oxford United were always going to be a considerable challenge however the afternoon panned out - possessing an unbeaten away record this season told you that.

But when you are numerically disadvantaged for three quarters of the match, there is only ever going to be one outcome, especially against a side who knew that victory could take them top of the table, as it eventually did.

Jamie McGuire has won plenty of praise for the positive impact he has made in amber and blue for his desire, combativeness and tenacity.

But on this occasion, the midfielder has to carry at least some of the can for this defeat after being dismissed for a lunge on Danny Rose that was both reckless and unnecessary, given the incident took place on the edge of the Oxford box.

If that were the only dismissal of the campaign so far, then the club could put it down as one of those things; an unfortunate by-product of pressing, harrying and competing hard.

As a sixth red card in 11 league games, however, it is clear that a message needs to be sent to the squad that they have to stay on their feet and be far more responsible.

As it happens, of the five matches where Mansfield players have been given their marching orders - there were two sendings off in one game at Southend - only the 3-0 defeat at Roots Hall and Saturday's setback have resulted in defeats.

But of the others, only at Bury, where the game ended 0-0, were the Stags a man down. When Mansfield claimed a 2-1 victory at York and a 1-1 draw at Newport, both opponents had also been reduced to ten.

It has clearly become a major issue, particularly at a time when the team is low on confidence. Injuries have not helped the Stags, but how can they hope to get a settled side together when every week - or it seems that way - a different player is serving a ban?

Already Martin Riley, Matt Rhead, John Dempster, James Alabi and Lee Beevers have sat it out or are currently serving a suspension, and now McGuire will be added to that list. It's not just the game itself where it hampers game plans, it also has a knock-on effect for the weeks that follow.

While Mansfield could argue the Oxford game might have panned out differently had it been 11 v 11 throughout, the way Chris Wilder's men ruthlessly cut through the Stags suggested they would have been hard to stop at any rate.

Home manager Paul Cox talked at length after the game about the fine margins, which is certainly the case in a division as tight as this. But it's the class of player that creates those margins and, quite simply, Oxford had that much more quality.

There was no denying that the hosts put the effort in and did not give up. Their determination was not in question.

What was evident, though, was that the Us possessed that little bit extra with the trickery of wingers Sean Rigg and Ryan Williams and the power of forwards Dave Kitson and James Constable.

If you look down the table, Oxford are joined by Chesterfield, Fleetwood, Scunthorpe, Southend, Wycombe, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Bristol Rovers, Northampton and possibly one or two others in having a bigger budget than the Stags.

So while the influx of more quality is needed to bridge the gap to the play-off chasing teams, it's not easy to compete financially against more affluent sides.

Mansfield starter the stronger and almost went in front early on when Lee Stevenson's header was well saved by Ryan Clarke.

Within three minutes, with 12 on the watch, United stole in front after Rose's shot was parried weakly by Alan Marriott and Rigg rolled the ball into an unguarded goal.

There seemed no cause for panic at that stage, but McGuire's early bath after 23 minutes left Mansfield with it all to do.

The signs did not look good as back-in-favour Jake Speight - one of three changes along with the return of suspended duo Dempster and Beevers - was left chasing hopeful, long balls up front.

But halfway through the eight minutes of first-half stoppage time, the Stags found a lifeline as Stevenson volleyed in from the edge of the box after James Jennings' free-kick was only half cleared.

That first league goal in almost eight hours was a false dawn as, before the break, the Us were back in front with Constable, just moments after coming on, steering in Williams' right-wing centre for his 100th United goal.

There were rallies in the second half, notably when Speight warmed the hands of Clarke and Sam Clucas rounded the keeper only to square aimlessly across goal.

But you always had the feeling Oxford could step it up at any time and Williams wrapped things up by tapping home Rigg's low cross with 66 minutes played.

It doesn't get any easier for the Stags as they next visit promotion-chasing Fleetwood.

It's been an increasingly anxious autumn and after seven games without a win, the Stags will be desperate to ensure it does not become a winter of discontent.

Keeping 11 men on the pitch at Highbury would be a good start.


Mansfield Tn 1 (Stevenson 45+4) Oxford Utd 3 (Rigg 12, Constable 45+8, Williams 66)
By David Pritchard, Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United.

JAMES Constable netted his 100th goal to help Oxford United back to the top of the table as their sensational unbeaten away form continued with victory over ten-man Mansfield Town.

The striker reached the milestone by firing a shot in off the post deep into stoppage time at the end of an all-action first half.

Sean Rigg opened the scoring with his first goal of the season and United were well in charge when Jamie McGuire received a straight red card for a tackle on Danny Rose.

Mansfield hit back against the run of play with a smart finish from Lee Stevenson, but Constable restored the lead on the stroke of half time.

The striker had only just come off the bench to replace Deane Smalley, one of two injuries the visitors picked up, with Andy Whing also limping off.

United exploited the numerical advantage after the break, playing some of their best football of the season.

The third goal their play merited arrived midway through the half, with the excellent Ryan Williams finishing off a flowing move.

It all but ended Mansfield's resistance and United were happy to run down the clock for their sixth away win in eight league games.

Whing and Williams came into the side as two changes from the 2-2 draw with Gateshead a week earlier, replacing Scott Davies and the injured Jake Wright.

Mansfield came into the game on the back of an 8-1 win in the FA Cup at St Albans and they forced the first chance on nine minutes.

Stevenson met Sam Clucas' corner with a firm header, but Ryan Clarke reacted superbly to parry it clear.

It began a breathless first half and when United put their first meaningful attack together, they opened the scoring.

Rose latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area, beating his man and getting a shot away. Goalkeeper Alan Marriott saved, but the ball fell for Rigg to tap into a gaping net.

Both sides were then forced into reshuffles after losing players in quick succession.

First, Whing limped off with an injury, replaced by Asa Hall.

Mansfield's change was more damaging in the short-term, as McGuire was given a straight red card for a challenge which left Rose writhing in pain.

United looked to take advantage and Rigg, buoyed by his goal, had the beating of full back Lee Beevers.

Williams almost scored a sensational second just before the half hour mark with a lung-busting run down the middle, but his shot drifted wide from 20 yards.

Johnny Mullins, captain in Wright's absence was the next to threaten, heading over at the back post from David Hunt's free-kick.

The game was held up several times as players received treatment and it led to eight minutes added on.

It was an eventful period, starting with the Stags equalising out of the blue when Michael Raynes' clearing header fell invitingly for Stevenson, who lashed in a classy volley.

United had to make another enforced change as Deane Smalley, who had earlier needed attention from the physio, was replaced by Constable.

The striker made an instant impact, restoring the visitors' lead in the 53rd minute of the half. Dave Kitson split the defence with an inspired pass to find Williams, whose cut back was tucked home by Constable to bring up his century.

The visitors looked to go for the jugular when the second half began.

They put together an exhilarating spell of attacking football which sliced through Mansfield's defence, with Kitson revelling in the extra space.

He fed Constable to turn and let fly with a shot which Marriott tipped over while Williams headed just over after an excellent run and cross from Tom Newey.

But while it was 2-1, Mansfield remained a threat.

Jake Speight had a fierce shot tipped over by Clarke, who then presented the hosts with a chance on 64 minutes.

A ball over the top saw the keeper come out to punch, but the ball went straight to Sam Clucas. The midfielder rounded Clarke, but with four purple shirts on the line he shot wide.

Within two minutes United finally had the comfort of a two-goal cushion.

It came from another slick move started by Kitson. The striker's ball inside the full back was perfect for Rigg, who squared to give Williams a deserved goal.

The strike knocked the stuffing out of Mansfield, allowing the visitors to run the clock down with a session of keep ball.

With leaders Fleetwood losing at Northampton, the victory sent Chris Wilder's men back to the top of the pile.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Williams, Whing (Hall 19), Rose, Rigg (Ruffels 78), Kitson, Smalley (Constable 45).

Unused subs: Crocombe, Bevans, O'Dowda, Davies.

Mansfield Town: Marriott, Beevers, Sutton, Dempster, Jennings (Meikle 72), Clucas, Howell, McGuire, Daniel, Stevenson (Murtagh 85), Speight.

Unused subs: Deakin, Pilkington, McCombe, Andrew, Rhead.

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).

Attendance: 3,831 (769 visitors).


Constable hits 100 as United go top
rageonline.co.uk, Article by George Dugdale
James Constable’s 100th Oxford United goal helped to lift the Us back to the top of the table as a clinical performance swept aside 10-man Mansfield Town. United were given a scare when Lee Stevenson levelled Sean Rigg’s opener, but goals from Constable and Ryan Williams ensured a thoroughly deserved win for Chris Wilder’s side.

Injuries to Jake Wright, in addition to Alfie Potter’s extended lay-off, resulted in a change of shape and personnel for United. Michael Raynes was reunited with former Stockport and Rotherham team-mate Johnny Mullins at the heart of a back four, while Ryan Williams and Sean Rigg provided pace on the wings. Deane Smalley partnered Dave Kitson up front, with Constable waiting in the wings on the bench.

The visitors started the game well and Rigg set the tone for an afternoon of exhilarating wing-play as he left Lee Beevers trailing in the opening minutes. His cross failed to find a purple shirt, but it would not be the last time that United would find their way behind the Stags’ defence.

Mansfield are a physical side who provide a threat at set-pieces and this was evident as Stevenson forced Ryan Clarke into a fine reflex save from a corner.

The midfield battle was keenly contested, but United were able to get the ball into wide areas with encouraging frequency through the composed Danny Rose and it was the former Manchester United player who played a key role in the deadlock being broken. Williams collected David Hunt’s pass and rather than beating the two men in his path, clipped a ball through to Rose. The midfielder’s first touch took him away from John Dempster (where have we heard that before?!) and into the area. Alan Marriott got a hand to Rose’s left-footed effort, but couldn’t divert the ball away from the onrushing Rigg. The former Port Vale man had time to readjust and check the linesman was happy before stroking the ball into the empty net with his right foot. Despite having a nose bunged up with bloodied tissues after an earlier Mansfield challenge, Rigg had opened the scoring and his own account for the season.

United lost Andy Whing to injury shortly afterwards, but the goal advantage very soon became a man advantage when Jamie McGuire flew into a late tackle on former Fleetwood team-mate Rose in the Oxford half. Referee Charles Breakspear had the red card out within a flash and the home side’s task had become an awful lot harder.

Mansfield made the most of a half littered with free-kicks to put the ball into the Oxford box, but Mullins and Raynes were dealing with anything that was directed their way. Prolonged spells of Oxford pressure followed, but first Williams and then Mullins were unable to beat Marriott for a second time.

The second goal was feeling very necessary and Mansfield proved why in first half stoppage time. A free-kick was kept alive by Dempster in the United area and Raynes’ header fell perfectly for Stevenson to volley home from the edge of the box. It was a blow, but not one that would hold Oxford back for long.

Constable replaced Smalley, who had been struggling for the previous ten minutes, and it would be the 99-goal striker who would ensure that United went into the break ahead. Injuries to Whing, Smalley and a lengthy stoppage for a Dempster head injury meant that 8 minutes of stoppage time were indicated. United took full advantage of this as Asa Hall, who had replaced Whing, fed Kitson in the midfield. The former Reading man twisted one way, before playing a reverse ball inside the full-back for Williams to race onto. The Australian winger kept his calm and rolled the ball back for Constable to slot home off the post to bring up triple figures in an Oxford United shirt. A phenomenal achievement and one that the travelling United support celebrated loudly.

The goal had come at a vital time and United emerged from the break with a renewed sense of calm about them. Kitson was linking play brilliantly behind Constable, enabling Rigg and Williams to pose a threat throughout. The only thing denying Constable a second at the start of the second half was Marriott, who pulled off a fine flying save after the Oxford striker had twisted and turned before firing a shot towards the top corner of the Mansfield net.

The hosts weren’t out of the game by any means and they twice gave United a reminder of this with the score at 2-1. Jake Speight stung the palms of Clarke with a half-volley from a tight angle, before Sam Clucas failed to take advantage of a loose ball from Clarke’s punch.

This was Mansfield’s brightest period of the half, but it was ended in ruthless fashion by another lovely team goal by Oxford. Rose found Kitson in the hole that he had occupied with such effect throughout and the big striker (if it’s not an injustice to fail to refer to him as a playmaker nowadays) repeated the trick of slipping the ball between central defender and full-back for Rigg. Unlike in the opening exchanges, Rigg’s delivery was spot on and Williams burst into the six-yard box to divert the ball home.

Other than the blemish of conceding which was so quickly corrected, United had been intelligent in their dismissal of the ten men. They had used the space well and showed the quality necessary to kill the game. The final minutes of the game were spent with United having a competition among themselves to see how many passes they could string together in a row. By full-time, the record could well have stood at 30.

The final whistle eventually brought the afternoon’s entertainment to an end and United returned to the top of the pile thanks to results elsewhere. On to Gateshead in the cup (live on BT Sport for those who don’t mind shameless plugs…) and then to back-to-back home games in the league. Please let those be as much fun as this was…



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