STEVENSON GOAL EARNS ANOTHER AWAY WIN
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Exeter City 0 - 1 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 3303 (115 from Mansfield)
Date: 4 January 2014
Martin Shaw at St James Park
Mansfield Town picked up a second away win in six days, and 7 points from 3 games, to end a week that has been a massive morale boost to fans, players and staff. The Stags were good value for a lead at half time, with Lee Stevenson’s clinical finish just before the break. The Stags had started the game very well and should have been ahead early on as Ollie Palmer went around the keeper but had a shot cleared off the line and Stevenson had a shot tipped around the post. Exeter had a decent spell midway through the half but Mansfield ended it on top. The second half was a different story as Exeter pinned Mansfield back for much of it, and they were repelled by great backs-to-the wall defending with Stags bodies being thrown on the line, some fine goalkeeping from Alan Marriott, and crucially the Stags had Lady Luck on their side as Exeter undoubtedly deserved a point in the end especially when they hit the post after 5 minutes of stoppage time. Luck tends to even itself out and this makes up for games like Burton away when the Stags were defeated by a goal that shouldn’t have stood and not given a blatant penalty. There’s no doubt that Mansfield tired as the game wore on, having played on a heavy pitch three days ago while Exeter had a day off, and so it took a tremendous effort to dig in towards the end. Despite the upturn in results, it is still apparent that more quality is needed in the squad and January will be a big month in the transfer market. Mansfield are six points above the relegation zone and nine points below the play-off zone. The quality of signings will probably determine whether Stags can start looking up or continue looking down.
Congratulations to Adam Murray, who when he came on, chalked up 500 career games.
Boss Paul Cox made two changes to the side that drew with Burton: Dempster came in as expected for the injured Riley, while Stevenson came in for Murray. Murray hasn’t yet reached fitness level where he can play two full games in 3 days. Nevertheless, Murray did come on as a substitute and when he did come on, he chalked up 500 career games. Massive congratulations to him. It was the same formation as the last two games, with the three central defenders, Westlake and Jennings as wing-backs, Howell joined Clements in central midfield, and Stevenson played behind the front two. Exeter had former Stags loanee Craig Woodman on the bench, who’ll always be remembered for that storming goal against Notts County in 2004.
Stagsnet report here
Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli
Saturday, 4th January 2014: Exeter City 0 Mansfield Town 1
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
Much-improved Mansfield Town made it seven points from their last three games with a nailbiting 1-0 win at Exeter City this afternoon.
The Stags deservedly led at the break through Lee Stevenson’s 45th minute finish.
But the Grecians piled on the pressure in the second half as Stags clung desperately on, Alan Gow hitting the Mansfield post in stoppage time at the end.
Heroic Mansfield defended superbly and really got stuck in on the sodden surface, conceding a lot of fouls and wasting time when they could as they were pushed further back under intense second half pressure. Alan Marriott also made a couple of crucial saves for the visitors.
In the end they took all three points once again, as they did at Cheltenham last weekend, and continued their unbeaten start to 2014 after the New Year’s Day home draw with Burton Albion.
The Mansfield side showed two changes. Adam Murray was dropped to the bench with Stevenson coming in to play behind the front pair and Anthony Howell moving deeper in a holding role. Murray later came on as part of a triple substitution for his landmark 500th career game.In defence it was a straight swap with John Dempster in for the injured Martin Riley.
Despite worries about the game, after the pitch was waterlogged in midweek, and further rain before kick-off, the playing area was fine for play.
A Clements free kick was over-hit from the centre circle and went straight out for a goalkick in the game’s first threat on two minutes.
Two more Clements free kicks were then cleared as Stags put together some good early moves.
The Stags then wasted a golden chance on six minutes.
Clements lifted a perfectly-weighted pass over the defence and Palmer timed his run superbly to be onside.
He drew keeper Krysiak and then rounded him to his right, but Bennett had got back and managed to kick his firm, low finish off the line.
On 11 minutes Stevenson picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, took it on and switched feet to send in a low shot that the keeper turned round at the foot of his post, Stevenson then furious to see the referee award a goalkick.
Two minutes later Rhead swapped first time passes with Stevenson before teeing up a swerving volley that curled away the wrong side of the post.
It took Exeter 15 minutes to threaten as Parkin got the slightest of touches from a free kick down the centre to send a header straight to Marriott.
On 17 minutes came the game’s first corner with Exeter again threatening as Moore-Taylor sent a diving header wide at the far post.
Jennings shouted angrily at Nichols as he went down easily under his challenge in the box, the referee having none of it.
Jennings did well to win a tackle he had no right to win in the centre circle and then, spotting the keeper off his line, launched an ambitious finish upfield which dropped short and into the keeper’s hands.
Jenninhs sent over a dangerous inswinging corner seconds later but the referee spotted a foul on Krysiak and the danger was ended.
Gow was inches over with an 18-yard snapshot on 26 minutes as Stags struggled to clear from an attack instigated by Gow’s superb initial running.
Tafazolli then threw himself in the way of Wheeler’s cross as the Grecians borke down the right.
That won them a corner which Rhead headed behind for another, this one breaking eventually to Nichols whose finish was wild and high.
As Exeter broke from another Stags attack, Gow was wide of the far post with a low curling finish from the right of the box.
Butterfield was booked on 31 minutes for a high boot on Rhead.
Gow miscued a Parkin nod-down into the ground and over the bar, then Parkin’s control let him down as Gow tried to feed him in on goal.
Stevenson then went down under Baldwin’s challenge in the box, but again the referee was unimpressed.
Four minutes from the break Palmer managed to win a high ball forward and it broke invitingly for Rhead, only for the striker to scuff his first time finish well wide.
Westlake then sent in a cross in from the right which Rhead controlled and volleyed straight to Krysiak but claimed it had struck a home hand, once again no penalty given.
But Stags broke the deadlock in the last minute of the half.
Dempster launched the ball forward and Rhead nodded down for Palmer on the right of the box. He played a square pass to Stevenson who kept calm and made space for a neat low finish.
It could even have been 2-0 inn stoppage time as Clements showed off his silky skills to make space and send Westlake into space for a shot straight at the keeper.
Marriott punched clear an early Sercombe free kick on the restart after Sutton had fouled Parkin.
Parkin saw the second yellow card of the game on 49 minutes for leaving a foot in after Howell had slid in to beat him to the ball.
Rhead headed a Jennings corner goalwards, Grimes clearing in front of the goalline, then Stevenson had a shot blocked as the visitors continued to look dangerous.
Westlake was booked for continually hampering Gow as he tried to burst forward on 53 minutes
When the free kick was finally taken a minute later Nichols’ curler from 25 yards clipped the outside of the near post, though Marriott looked to have it covered.
Stevenson did well near the right corner flag to get in a cross which was met with a sliced volley over from Clements just outside the box.
City were then denied an equaliser by a superb Marriott save on 57 minutes.
Grimes got into the box on the left, and when Gow superbly dummied in the centre, the ball rolled across to an unmarked Nichols who, with only Marriott to beat, saw the keeper manage to block his firm, low finish.
Stevenson joined the growing list of cautions on the hour for a late challenge in which he hurt himself too, requiring treatment.
City threatened once more down the centre, Nichols almost going clear but halted by an offside flag.
Rhead threw himself into an acrobatic header from a Jennings cross from the left. It was on target but lacked anything like the power needed to beat Krysiak from there.
City cleared Mansfield’s third corner of the game.
But at this stage it was the home side going up the gears in their search for an equaliser, and Nichols wasn’t far off with a low shot from 18 yards that went through everyone and trickled wide of the far post.
Then Sercombe ran at Sutton with time and space and managed to fire in a low shot that Marriott parried low to his right at the near post.
However, Mansfield remained dangerous. Howell was having a fine game and won another 50-50 challenge and unleashed a fierce 25 yard shot straight at the keeper. Seconds later, from a sublime Clements flick, Howell shot low, again on target, but again the keeper was in the way.
With 19 minutes to go, Paul Cox freshened up the side’s tiring legs with a triple substitution. Off came Stevenson, Westlake and Palmer and on came Murray, Meikle and Daniel.
Sutton got in a block on a low Nichols shot and soon after the home side had their first corner of the half, which Sutton headed clear as we reached the last 12 minutes of a tense game.
Another two home corners followed as the tension rose for the 115 away fans.
Stags were being pushed deeper and deeper into their own box but were defending heroically.
Butterfield had a shot blocked, then Bennett, at full stretch, couldn’t quite turn another chance on target as Marriott got there first.
Two more scrambles were survived as the intense pressure grew and grew.
In a brief respite, with Stags wasting as much time as they could, Clements wasn’t too far from 20 yards.
A quickly-taken free kick almost caught Mansfield napping on the right, but Nichols lashed the ball across the face of goal.
Mansfield continued to give away free kick after free kick as it was announced six minutes were to be added on with Stags’ fans’ blood pressure going through the roof.
Clements was booked for arguing with the referee over time wasting on 90+2 minutes.
Keohane tamely shot straight at Marriott from distance as the home sided became ever more desperate.
In the last of the six minutes Jennings blazed another low cross into the stand for a corner.
That was cleared by Dempster but came out to Gow whose low shot hit the left post but came back out again as Stags hung onto another three vital points.
EXETER: Krysiak, Butterfield, Bennett, Baldwin, Sercombe, Gow, Moore-Taylor (Gosling 87), Nichols, Parkin (O’Flynn 70), Grimes, Wheeler (Keohane 58). Subs not used: Pym, Woodman, Davies, Reid.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli; Westlake (Murray 71), Clements, Stevenson (Daniel 71), Howell, Jennings; Rhead, Palmer (Meikle 71). Subs not used: Deakin, Briscoe, Dyer, Beevers.?REFEREE: Darren Bond of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,303 (115 away)
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Tafazolli.
Mansfield Town's revival continues as Lee Stevenson fires them to victory
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
LAST year it started with consecutive away victories in the industrial north-west.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-s-revival-continues-Lee-Stevenson/story-20404523-detail/story.html#ixzz2pbuSfUD5
This time, Mansfield Town will hope it's back-to-back away victories in the south-west that does the trick.
After a morale-sapping bad run of form, every team hopes that a revival is just around the corner.
In the Stags' case - certainly during Paul Cox's reign as manager - that usually transpires once the Christmas tinsel has been packed away.
His first season in charge was faltering in the lead up to the festive season, but Mansfield won 13 of their last 15 games and stormed into the play-offs.
And 12 months ago, the Stags conquered the Conference on the back of a devastating run of 16 wins out of 17 during the title run-in, beginning with consecutive wins over Stockport and Southport.
With such a glorious period in the club's history still fresh in the mind, it's hard not to draw comparisons between then and now, when Mansfield have followed an unexpected 2-1 success at Cheltenham to end a 13-game winless streak with another against-the-odds victory in Devon.
While these latest two sets of three points - sandwiched by a useful home draw against high-flying Burton Albion - have hardly been vintage Stags, they have seen the team rediscover some of the key qualities that have brought them good times.
And with the January transfer window now open and Mansfield in confirmed talks to sign 'good quality' players, why shouldn't all at the club reach for the stars in the shape of a play-off bid?
No one would have predicted last season that three points at Edgeley Park and Haig Avenue would prompt the unstoppable momentum they subsequently built up.
But even if the recent upturn does not prompt a hat-trick of late-season surges, it should, as a bare minimum, give them the belief they belong in League Two.
Winning 1-0 at Exeter means Mansfield have now put six points between themselves and the drop zone.
They are up to 16th spot and, even if only temporarily, it should lift some of the anxiety and give players greater confidence.
There surely has to be a psychological benefit for the Stags of once more looking up the table to see who they can catch, rather than looking down it and seeing what they have to fear.
In truth, Mansfield rode their luck in the final stages at St James' Park with the kind of good fortune that eluded them throughout much of October, November and December.
But like at Cheltenham, they also ensured their hosts were not given an easy way back into the game.
Two changes were made to the starting line-up. With Adam Murray rested amid a recent hectic schedule, Lee Stevenson was given chance to stake his claim as an attacking midfielder, while groin injury victim Martin Riley's absence saw a recall for John Dempster.
Ollie Palmer should have put the visitors ahead when Chris Clements' astute pass split the home defence only for the striker's shot to be cleared off the line by Scott Bennett after he had rounded Artur Krysiak.
The game's defining moment came on the stroke of half-time as Dempster's clipped ball forward was flicked on by Rhead to Palmer. He, in turn, deftly guided the ball into the path of Stevenson whose run carried him into the area, where he drilled home an unerring right-footed finish.
After the break the Stags continued to offer an attacking threat with a Rhead header cleared off the line by Mat Grimes.
The Grecians were a lick of paint from finding an equaliser twice in the space of three minutes through Tom Nichols.
With 20 minutes to go, Mansfield withdrew much of their attacking unit in a bid to hold out for a clean sheet.
It worked - but only just - as Alan Gow struck the woodwork in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Now the Stags must address their poor home form that has yielded just two wins in front of their own fans all season.
Report: Exeter City 0 Mansfield 1
Read more at http://www.exetercityfc.co.uk/fixtures-results/match-report/#YRs9PB8VqpAJmm9F.99
Exeter City lost a pulsating clash 1-0 to Mansfield Town, as the wait for a win at St James Park continues.
But the scoreline does little to depict the true story of the game as City threw everything at their opponents and will feel aggrieved not to have taken anything from a game in which they greatly dominated in great swathes and hit the post three times.
After taking the lead on the stroke of half-time, through Lee Stevenson, Mansfield were subject to a second half onslaught of pressure as Exeter pressed and pressed to score. It was a fascinating encounter but ultimately disappointing for Paul Tisdale’s side who now have only picked up one point from their last six home games.
Tis made just the one change to the City starting XI that won 3-1 against Torquay United with 18-year-old Matt Grimes coming in for the injured Matt Gill. That change freed up a place on the bench for Jamie Reid who continues his comeback from an early season groin injury.
The Grecians made a nervy start to the game with Mansfield having the best of the early action, and the first real chance for the visitors came with five minutes on the clock. Anthony Clements played a great ball into Ollie Palmer and he rounded Artur Krysiak and looked set to score with the keeper stranded. But Scot Bennett was on the line to poke the ball away to safety and deny the Stags a glorious opportunity to take the lead.
Minutes later, they were on the attack again as Stevenson dragged his shot just wide of Krysiak’s right-hand post. A third great effort, with Stevenson again involved, saw him tee up Matt Rhead who hit a sweetly struck volley but again it failed to hit the target.
After riding their luck in the opening period, City began to get more into the game. Sam Parkin connected with Danny Butterfield’s free-kick but his header was weak. The chances came thick and fast for Tis’s side, Jordan Moore-Taylor’s diving header was just off-target and there was a strong shout for a penalty when Tom Nichols was bundled over by James Jennings following a low free-kick, again from Butterfield, but referee Darren Bond waived away the pleas.
Exeter continued to clock up chances. A Mansfield clearance squirmed to Alan Gow in the box but his half volley went just over the crossbar and David Wheeler made a storming run down the right but as he darted into the area, his shot was blocked by the commanding Ryan Tafazolli in the Stags defence.
With half-time looming the teams looked set to go into the break honours even. However, City had struggled to deal with Lee Stevenson throughout the half as he caused problems in his role just behind the front pairing of Palmer and Rhead. And he was to have the final say. In a lovely worked move, Dempster played a long ball, which Rhead headed forward. Palmer then flicked it through for Stevenson, who was on hand to net from a tight angle. Much to the frustration of the Grecians who will have felt they had the best of the first-half play and enough chances to have the advantage themselves.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Mansfield Town 1
Mansfield continued with purpose into the opening minutes of second half as a goalwards header from Rhead was hooked away on the line by Grimes.
However, Exeter were ready to battle and bombared Marriott’s goal in a period of sustained pressure. Nichols came so close to drawing City level with a hat-trick of fantastic chances in quick succession. After some fantastic feet from Gow, he was pulled back by Westlake. Nichols curled in the resulting free-kick but his effort clipped the left-hand post and went agonisingly wide.
Minutes later, Grimes collected and sent a fizzing cross across the area that was was met at the far post by the20-year-old with the goal at his mercy, a combination of Marriott and the post intervened to keep City pegged back. Then, the offside trap foiled a move started by a lovely ball through from Bennett to Gow who again played in Nichols.
The crowd started to really come alive as Sercombe in space charged up field and shot left-footed. Cox opted for a triple substitution with 20 minutes left, taking off goalscorer Stevenson and Palmer and switching to a 4-5-1 formation to quell the constant City pressure. City continued to press, with the play entrenched in Stags half.
Wave after wave of pressure continued and Tafazolli was forced to head the ball out for a corner and there were cries for a handball as the ball bobbled around in the area without any City player able to make a real connection. Sercombe’s header towards goal then fell right into the path of Marriott, when just a slight touch from an Exeter player.
A break for a throw-in gave Mansfield a quick break and Clements launched a speculative effort well wide. Tis sensing that Mansfield would eventually have to crack, threw on Gosling, in place of Moore-Taylor. A quickly taken free-kick on the edge of the area was spun across the face of goal by Gow but the Stags got a touch to send it out for a corner.
By the time the 90 minute arrived, City were playing with just two defenders and the announcement of six minutes stoppage time roused the Grecians faithful. City continued to throw everything at the Stags goal and with seconds remaining there was to be one last agonising moment for Exeter as, somehow yet again Gow’s placed left-footed shot hit the post.
Players, manager, and supporters alike will wonder how an on earth they have managed to lose a game where they really did give their all.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 Mansfield Town 1
Exeter City: Krysiak; Butterfield, Bennett, Baldwin, Moore-Taylor (Gosling 86); Wheeler (Keohane 57), Grimes, Sercombe, Gow; Parkin (O’Flynn 69), Nichols
Subs not used: Pym, Woodman, Reid, Davies
Mansfield Town: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli; Westlake (Murray 70), Clements, Howell, Jennings; Stevenson (Daniel 70); Palmer (Meikle 70), Rhead
Subs: Deakin; Briscoe, Dyer, Beevers,
Attendance: 3,303 (away 115)
Referee: D. Bond
Latest | January 2014