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Archived News from February 2014

6th February 2014 0:20

Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Plymouth Argyle 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Alessandra 90+6. Rhead 73.
Attendance: 6,248 (211 from Mansfield)

Date: 1 February 2014

Martin Shaw at Home Park

Mansfield Town were denied a deserved victory by an equaliser 6 minutes into stoppage time at Plymouth Argyle this afternoon. Mansfield had the better chances of the game before finally taking the lead. Sam Clucas missed two good chances and Matt Rhead missed a good chance before it was Rhead who scored on 73 minutes. Dempster fed Jennings on the left, Jennings’ cross was missed in the air by Stevenson and a defender, and Rhead was on hand to poke the loose ball under the keeper for a neat finish. The Stags looked relatively comfortable after that and held on to the ball well in the closing minutes and well into the 6 minutes of added time. But then Lee Stevenson, who had had a good game, gave the ball away on the halfway line, which gave Plymouth momentum to attack down the left. Plymouth kept the ball in the final third, and even though the Stags were able to half-clear the ball a couple of times, it was played out to Thomas on the right. Thomas tricked his was past substitute Beevers too easily, Beevers going down and putting his shoulder out in the process, Thomas slid the ball into Alessandra, who drilled a low shot past Marriott from 12 yards. It was another gutting moment for the Stags who have picked up such a nasty habit of conceding late goals this season after the opposite was true last season: twice now against Plymouth when neither was deserved by the opposition. Seven points have been lost this season due to injury time goals (Plymouth home 1 point, and away 2 points; Accrington 3 points, and Fleetwood 1 point). Mansfield could not be accused of sitting too deep and were holding on to the ball well, but the slip by Beevers was very costly after Stevenson had earlier given the ball away needlessly. In an incredibly tight league, the Stags are just three points above the drop zone having played a game more, yet also just three points behind 13th place. All this after another traumatic week at the club in which Mansfield were unable to make a much-needed signing during the transfer window and it emerged that John Radford’s One Call financial input into the club is reducing drastically. And another confusing development emerged before kick-off as Paul Cox announced that he may be able to bring in a loan player after all, having previously been told he could not.

Stagsnet report here


Saturday, 1st February 2014: Plymouth Argyle 1, Mansfield Town 1
chad.do.uk report by John Lomas

Mansfield Town saw two precious points slip from their grasp in the sixth minute of stoppage time as they were pegged back to a 1-1 draw at Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.


It did make it four away games unbeaten and stretch their current improved run to one defeat in seven, but Mansfield looked totally in charge before they were stung at the death by Lewis Alessandra’s slow finish.

A poor game, played in strong wind, had seen both keepers have a relatively comfortable afternoon, though the home side did have to change keepers on 64 minutes after Sam Clucas’ challenge on Luke McCormack left him with a hand injury.

The game seemed to have 0-0 stamped all over it with Stags at least trying to play on the floor in the conditions and Argyle under pressure from their own fans for a string of mistakes, Reuben Reid taking much of the flak.

But Mansfield broke the deadlock with a close range Matt Rhead finish and Plymouth rarely looked like they would come back from that until the game’s late twist.

Mansfield made two changes with Clucas back in for his first start since injury, replacing Ross Dyer up front, while Martin Riley took over from Ritchie Sutton in defence.

In the third minute Alessandra beat Riley to a pass that the Stags defender had looked favourite to take control of and fired a low shot at Marriott.

Stags broke from that but were halted by an offside flag.

Rhead needed treatment after a challenge just inside the Argyle half, but the home side broke swiftly from the cleared free kick though Banton and the visitors were grateful to Clements for his interception as Plymouth tried to work a shooting chance.

Tafazolli missed a cross from the left, but Reid had his attempted finish blocked as the pressure remained on Mansfield.

Stags had their first chance on nine minutes when Stevenson was well wide from a Clucas nod-down.

Dempster was booked on 13 minutes for flattening Reid in full flight down the centre and Young was inches wide with his right-footed free kick from 25 yards.

Worryingly, Tafazolli gave away another free kick in a similar position soon afterwards and this time Young slotted his kick through the wall low and straight at Marriott.

McCormick caused palpitations for the home side when he spilled a long free kick pumped in from the right by Jennings, but Stags were quickly crowded out as they looked for a finish.

On 13 minutes Riley almost directed a backpass into his own net, Marriott thankfully able to get across and keep it out.

Stags won their first two corners, Clements forcing the keeper to turn round at his near post from the first and then Rhead heading the second back across goal from the far post only to see Clucas head into the near sidenetting on the other side.

A Clucas cross was deflected for another flag kick, but this time the visitors were pulled up for pushing and failed to threaten the goal.

Westlake was on target from 20 yards but it was easy for McCormack to gather.

Argyle won their first corner of the afternoon on 27 minutes, but, after a few worrying bounces, the ball was safely in the hands of Marriott.

Then a typical Clements through ball almost got Clucas in on goal, the keeper just managing to get there first.

On 34 minutes Dempster gave away an unnecessary corner and, taken short, Young cued up Reid for an unchallenged shot from 12 yards that he miscued over the bar.

It was the best chance so far in a game littered with mistakes from both sides.

Stevenson went down in the home box as he was challenged trying to reach a Rhead pass, but nothing was given.

A minute from the break Trotman was only just over with his header on the end of a Hourihane free kick.

At the other end Tafazolli headed on a long Clements free kick and Rhead lashed a volley over.

In the one minute of stoppage time Argyle forced a couple of corners, Marriott tipping over Nelson’s header from the first over under pressure almost on his goal line and the second, worked short, saw Banton fire just over from 20 yards.

So a half in which Stags had enjoyed slightly the better of the possession and the home side had enjoyed slightly the better of the limited number of chances, ended goalless.

Plymouth kicked off the second half attacking the end where their fans were gathered, though against the wind.

And Clucas could have opened the scoring via route one within two minutes. Marriott cleared a backpass downfield, Rhead flicked on to leave Clucas one on one with the keeper and he chose to try to lob him only to see the ball clear the bar from 12 yards.

Both Howell and Tafazolli had a hack at Alessandra in the box as he twisted and turned in the home side’s next attack. But, as he finally went down, the referee pointed for a goalkick with the home fans cheering what they thought was a penalty award.

Stags won a corner which saw Clements find Dempster at the far post. He headed superbly back into the centre of the six yard box with no one able to get there to finish.

Stevenson conceded a free kick 30 yards out which Hourihane floated in to the back post where Stags had a let-off as an unmarked Alessandra headed down into the turf instead of at goal.

Mansfield cleared another home corner as Plymouth enjoyed a spell of pressure.

McCormick reached up to punch away a Jennings corner on the hour.

Then Clucas caught McCormick with an outstretched foot after he had mishandled the ball and went to apologise.

But that sparked a bizarre row among the home players with Trotman squaring up to his own keeper and the referee eventually booking them both along with home skipper Hourihane.

McCormick needed treatment on his right hand and couldn’t continue, replaced by Cole on 64 minutes with Harvey also sent on for Blizzard.

Mansfield won their sixth corner of the afternoon, but Clements’ kick caught on the wind and drifted tamely onto the roof of the net.

Argyle quickly responded with a corner of their own, which Marriott fisted clear.

Reid wasted a great chance to put Alessandra in on goal with a loose pass that had the home fans groaning.

But on 74 minutes it was the away fans that were celebrating as Rhead broke the deadlock.

Jennings crossed from the left and, with Stevenson making a nuisance of himself as he jumped with a defender, the ball bounced behind him and broke nicely for Rhead who prodded home from five yards across the keeper and inside the far post.

Harvey tried to catch Marriott napping with a vicious shot at the near post that the keeper managed to beat away.

On 83 minutes Reid made space for a decent low shot that Marriott blocked but couldn’t hold onto. The ball ran loose to Alessandra who tried to get it back towards goal from wide on the left only to see Tafazolli take charge almost on the line, controlling and coolly clearing.

Argye won another central free kick 30 yards out which Young tamely curled wide.

At the other end Clucas and Stevenson swapped a series of passes before Clucas disappointingly shot tamely at Cole.

Beevers replaced Jennings in Mansfield’s first change of the day with four minutes left.

Seconds later a scramble in the Stags box ended with Reid lashing the ball wide of the near post.

With two minutes to go, Dyer took over from Rhead.

At this stage Stags were completely comfortable and in charge, unlike many recent grandstand finishes away from home.

The fourth official held up six minutes added time, the first of which saw a clever free kick from Hourihane catch everyone out, including intended target Harvey who was just unable to get there before Marriott.

Stevenson lost possession to offer the home side an opportunity to get forward, but Thomas could only volley Hourihane’s ball across the face of goal.

Stags looked home and dry as we entered the last of those six added minutes only for disaster to strike.

Thomas got to the right by-line and then pulled a ball back for Alessandra who set himself nicely for a firm low strike that found the net from 15 yards.

With eight minutes extra on the watch, Beevers went off injured, Daniel coming in for brief seconds before the whistle finally went.

PLYMOUTH ARGYLE: McCormick (Cole 64), Blanchard, Hourihane, Alessandra, Young, Reid, Blizzard (Harvey 64), Trotman, Nelson, Banton, Purrington (Thomas 81). Subs not used: Boco, Wotton, Richards, Vassell.

STAGS: Marriott; Dempster, Tafazolli, Riley; Westlake, Clements, Stevenson, Howell, Jennings (Beevers 86); Clucas, Rhead (Dyer 88). Subs not used: Sutton, Meikle, McGuire, Daniel, Palmer.

REFEREE: Peter Bankes of Merseyside.

ATTENDANCE: 6,248 (211 away).



Plymouth Argyle 1 Mansfield Town 1: Match report
Nottingham Post report by Sarah Clapson

MANSFIELD Town suffered last minute heartbreak as they had three points snatched from their grasp in a 1-1 draw at Plymouth Argyle.

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Plymouth-Argyle-1-Mansfield-Town-1-Match-report/story-20544293-detail/story.html#ixzz2s7Kqh2iM

Matt Rhead had given the Stags the lead with 15 minutes remaining and they looked comfortably on course for victory going into added time.

But Lewis Alessandra fired home with seconds remaining to deny the visitors what would have been a vital win.

After seeing their home clash with Bury postponed in midweek, manager Paul Cox made two changes from the side which fought back for a 2-2 draw with Wycombe Wanderers seven days earlier.

Sam Clucas made a significant impact when he came off the bench against the Chairboys following five weeks out with ankle ligament damage and he was deemed fit enough to make the first XI at the expense of Ross Dyer.

Martin Riley too, has spent time on the treatment table with a leg problem but stepped into the defence, with Ritchie Sutton dropping to the bench.

Neither side though, was able to make any inroads in an end to end first half which was low on quality.

Both teams lacked a much-needed spark in the final third and though they worked a few openings, goalkeepers Luke McCormick and Alan Marriott enjoyed a relatively stress-free 45 minutes.

The hosts had the better of the early exchanges, with Alessandra firing straight at Marriott after three minutes, having beaten Martin Riley.

And the Stags defence continued to look a little vulnerable as Ryan Tafazolli failed to deal with a cross from the left hand side - just recovering before Reuben Reid could get a sniff of goal.

Luke Young twice tried his luck with successive free-kicks, firing one past the upright and another straight at Marriott.

At the opposite end, the closest Mansfield had come was an effort from Lee Stevenson which flew well wide after being played in by Clucas.

One of Mansfield’s best opportunities though, almost led to their downfall.

With 18 minutes gone, a free-kick swung in by James Jennings on the right caused a scramble in the penalty area when McCormick failed to claim.

The ball came back out to Jennings, who blasted towards goal, but with his shot blocked, the home side launched a counter-attack.

The pace and trickery of Jason Banton had been Plymouth’s best outlet in the first half and he looked to be away again. But when John Dempster tried to intervene, he ended up sending the ball back towards his own net, with Marriott only just able to gather.

Clucas had struggled to make an impact in the first half, but went as close as anyone to finding a breakthrough with a header straight at the side-netting from a few yards out after Jennings’ corner had been nodded into his path by Rhead.

And whilst that wasn’t the easiest of chances, the same could not be said of the one which came his way in the second half.

The first period came to a quiet close, with Reid and Banton both well off target, but the visitors started brightly after the break.

Two minutes in, Clucas found himself through on goal in the penalty area; he tried to lob McCormick but misjudged his effort and sent the ball over the bar.

Alessandra’s judgement was not much better at the other end, when he met a free-kick at the far post and headed it down and away from goal.

The most entertainment came shortly past the hour mark when Neal Trotman started on his own keeper following a cross which had not been dealt with.

Pushing and shoving ensued, resulting in yellow cards for both. McCormick subsequently departed with a hand injury sustained from a challenge by Clucas.

Replacement Jake Cole had been on the pitch barely 10 minutes and hardly even touched the ball before he was picking it out of the net.

With 74 minutes on the clock, a cross from Jennings wasn’t dealt with by Plymouth and reached Rhead at the far post, with the striker gratefully slotting it home.

Argyle had rarely threatened in the second half, suffering from poor distribution and a lack of cutting edge.

However, they almost found a way through with 10 minutes to go when McCormick palmed away an effort from Reid, with Tafazolli on hand to mop up.

An assured-looking Stags side seemed on course to hold on for three points as the final whistle neared.

Time and again, Plymouth had squandered possession when in promising positions, but with seconds to go in added time, they grabbed an equaliser.

Mansfield had failed to clear the danger and Alessandra fired past Marriott from inside the area after latching on to a ball in from the right.

PLYMOUTH: McCormick (Cole, 64); Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson, Hourihane, Young, Blizzard (Harvey, 65), Banton, Reid, Purrington (Thomas, 81). Subs not used: Boco, Wotton, Richards, Vassell.

MANSFIELD: Marriott; Riley, Dempster, Tafazolli, Westlake, Howell, Clements, Stevenson, Jennings (Beevers, 86 (Daniel, 90+8)), Clucas, Rhead (Dyer, 88). Subs not used: Sutton, Meikle, McGuire, Palmer.

ATTENDANCE: 6,248 (211 away).

Mansfield Town gutted after throwing away victory at Plymouth
Nottingham Post considered report by Sarah Clapson

SICKENING, Paul Cox called it. Heartbroken was how his players looked.

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-gutted-throwing-away-victory/story-20548557-detail/story.html#ixzz2sFToVLbX

It wasn't a defeat this time; it just felt like one.

For Neal Trotman read Lewis Alessandra. Instead of 93 minutes, this time it was the 96th.

The point Mansfield Town received at the end of it seemed like scant consolation as some put their heads in their hands and others sunk to the floor. Their position in the table didn't fare much better.

October's 1-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle was tough to take, this was just as bad, if not worse.

The Stags should have been home and dry at Home Park, but left with faces as green as their surroundings.

And of all the places for it to happen, it had to be on one of the longest away journeys. Five hours and 530 miles of stewing over a missed opportunity.

These are the kind of results that can define a relegation battle.

Victory would have given Cox's men a little breathing space. A draw and results elsewhere however, has left them just three points off the bottom two and with oxygen supplies running out.

How they respond will be almost as significant as the result, particularly given the oppressive mood which threatened to take a grip afterwards.

"We're gutted," said Cox. "We feel like we've lost that game.

"In the dressing room I've had to pick them up.

"I feel for the lads because they've put on a great show and great performance.

"We looked similar to how we looked last season .

"We played on the front foot, especially in the second half and we had a couple of chances where you think the game should have been out of sight by the 90th minute.

"But I've got to pick them up and go again."

You don't have to watch Mansfield for very long to become aware of where their problems lie.

It is something Cox will hope to rectify now he has been given the green light to dip into the loan market.

The Stags were not as dominant as against Wycombe Wanderers a week earlier, but they should certainly have put the outcome beyond doubt.

Plymouth were poor.

The talk in those parts remains of a play-off charge, which seems somewhat incredulous based on Saturday's display.

Time and again, they squandered possession and niggled an irritable crowd which quickly grew weary of their mistakes.

Much like their visitors, they also lacked a bit of quality in the final third - something which the game as a whole was low on.

Alan Marriott wasn't quite twiddling his thumbs, but he wasn't far off.

The Pilgrims had the better of the opening exchanges as the Mansfield defence took a little while to settle. All they had to show for it though, was a couple of free-kicks and a tame effort from Alessandra.

The Stags hardly had a glut of chances in the first half themselves, with their two best ones not even finding the target.

In fairness to Sam Clucas, the angle was against him when he headed into the side-netting after Matt Rhead had guided James Jennings' corner into his path, while Rhead lashed over after Ryan Tafazolli had flicked on Lee Stevenson's free-kick.

Clucas was the guilty party again after the break - and there were no excuses this time.

Set-up again by Rhead, following Marriott's long clearance down field, Mansfield's top scorer found himself clean through on goal, one on one with Luke McCormick.

It was route one and should have been 1-0. Clucas though, almost tried too hard and looked to lob the keeper but misjudged his shot and the ball plopped on to the roof of the net.

Cox's side have been criticised for being too direct at times. On that occasion, it was almost brilliantly effective.

For the main part however, mindful of a strong wind, they tried to keep the ball on the ground - and were all the better for it.

At times in the second half, the Stags put together some nice moves. They looked calm and assured, hardly a side fearing for their future.

A near-perfect pitch - despite heavy downpours in the build-up - helped, but if they can do that there, why not at the One Call?

Perhaps the last thing Plymouth needed just as the visitors were getting on top, was a change between the posts.

A challenge by Clucas when going in for a cross left McCormick with a hand injury and unable to carry on - although not before a bit of bizarre pushing and shoving with team-mate Trotman over a failure to deal with Jennings' ball in.

His replacement had been on the pitch barely ten minutes when he was picking the ball out of the net.

Again, it was Jennings who whipped it in, with Rhead on hand at the far post to slot home.

With 15 minutes to go and barely a peep out of Plymouth in the second period, it looked for all the world like being the winner.

How valuable that would have been, too.

Even going into the final, sixth minute of added time, there seemed little danger. For most of this half, barring the commendable away support, you could have heard a pin drop in the stadium, so it wasn't that any alarm bells had been drowned out - there simply was little threat from the home side.

They'd had hold of the ball and given it away, they'd made bad decisions in good positions - in short, they were on course for defeat.

That all changed with 96 minutes on the clock when Alessandra pierced the net and Stags hearts when he fired in Nathan Thomas' pull-back.

A cruel end to what could be a crucial game for Cox's men. The challenge now is to ensure the same cannot be said of their season.


Plymouth Argyle 1 Mansfield Town 1: Match report
Plymouth Herald, By Chris Errington, Chief Football Writer, @ChrisErrington1

LEWIS ALESSANDRA came to the rescue of Plymouth Argyle with a last-gasp equaliser against Mansfield at Home Park on Saturday.

Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Plymouth-Argyle-1-Mansfield-Town-1-Match-report/story-20544233-detail/story.html#ixzz2s6CKUKCK

Alessandra struck in the sixth minute of stoppage time with a low shot after excellent approach play from substitute Nathan Thomas.

His eighth goal of the season saved Argyle from defeat against 19th-placed Mansfield .

However, his dramatic late intervention could not gloss over an error-strewn performance from the Pilgrims.

Argyle lacked attacking inspiration for most of the match and when they did create chances they were simply not clinical enough.

Mansfield were not much better than them, but took the lead in the 74th minute with a close range finish from striker Matt Rhead.

That seemed set to earn the Stags maximum points from their trip to Plymouth, until Alessandra popped up in the closing seconds.

The Pilgrims have now gone four League Two games without a win and their hopes of a play-off challenge are starting to fade.

There was a recall to Argyle's starting line-up for midfielder Luke Young at the expense of Rommy Boco.

That was the only change to the team from the 1-1 draw with Cheltenham Town at Home Park last Saturday.

Young came on as a second half substitute in that game and scored a late equaliser with a superb free-kick.

Only seven of his previous 20 appearances in League Two this season had been in the starting line-up.

Mansfield were boosted by the return to fitness of 11-goal top scorer Sam Clucas from an ankle injury.

Argyle played a 4-3-3 formation, with Young, Dominic Blizzard and Conor Hourihane the midfield trio.

Reuben Reid led the attack for the Pilgrims, with Alessandra and Jason Banton in support.

Alessandra had an early chance when he cut inside Darryl Westlake but his low shot was easily saved by Alan Marriott.

Young shot narrowly wide from a 30-yard free-kick in the 13th minute.

The chance came after Reid was body-checked by Mansfield captain John Dempster, who was booked as a result.

Argyle had another opportunity from a free-kick soon afterwards, this time for a foul by Ryan Tafazolli on Blizzard.

It was 25 yards out and Young got plenty of power on his shot but it was straight at Marriott and he safely held onto the ball.

Argyle 'keeper Luke McCormick uncharacteristically dropped a free-kick which was hit into the penalty area but Mansfield could not profit from it.

Clucas then headed into the side netting from a tight angle after a deep corner was nodded back to him.

After a promising start to the game, Argyle had lost their attacking impetus.

Their next chance did not come until the 34th minute when Reid sent a shot high over the bar after a pass inside to him from Young.

Argyle centre-back Neal Trotman headed too high from a Hourihane free-kick into the box.

There was one more opportunity for the Pilgrims before the break but Banton crashed the ball over the bar from 20 yards.

Mansfield had the benefit of a strong wind behind them in the second half.

They squandered a great chance to take the lead soon after the restart when Rhead flicked on a long clearance from Marriott.

Clucas was clean through and lobbed the ball over McCormick - and failed to hit the target.

Argyle could also have opened the scoring in the 52nd minute when Hourihane picked out Alessandra with a free-kick into the Mansfield box.

However, Alessandra could not get a proper connection on his header with the goal at his mercy.

It was not going Argyle's way, and Trotman and McCormick were both booked in the 62nd minute after some pushing and shoving between the pair of them.

That came after they collided as a cross was played into the box.

McCormick could not hold onto the ball but grabbed it at the second attempt, and had his left hand kicked by Clucas.

That led to the pushing and shoving, for which the Argyle team-mates were both cautioned.

McCormick could not continue because of an injury to his hand so Jake Cole was sent on as a 64th minute substitute for him.

At the same time, Blizzard was replaced in midfield by 18-year-old Tyler Harvey.

Argyle continued to struggle and Mansfield broke the deadlock in the 74th minute with a goal from Rhead.

The Pilgrims could not deal with a left-wing cross into their penalty area and Rhead scored with a close range shot, angled into the opposite corner of the net.

Thomas was an 81st minute substitute for left-back Ben Purrington as Argyle tried to come up with an equaliser.

Reid had one shot saved, and slashed another wide of the target, while Young's 25-yard free-kick went harmlessly wide.

Argyle seemed destined for defeat until in the sixth minute of stoppage time Alessandra grabbed a dramatic Equaliser.

Alessandra was set up after some clever wing play from Thomas and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner of the net.

ARGYLE: Luke McCormick (Jake Cole 64 mins); Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman, Curtis Nelson, Ben Purrington (Nathan Thomas 81 mins); Luke Young, Dominic Blizzard (Tyler Harvey 64 mins), Conor Hourihane; Jason Banton, Reuben Reid, Lewis Alessandra.

Substitutes (not used): Rommy Boco, Paul Wotton, Jamie Richards, Isaac Vassell.

MANSFIELD: Alan Marriott; Darryl Westlake, Martin Riley, John Dempster, Ryan Tafazolli, James Jennings (Lee Beevers 86 mins, Colin Daniel 90 +8 mins); Chris Clements, Lee Stevenson, Anthony Howell; Sam Clucas, Matt Rhead (Ross Dyer 88 mins).

Substitutes (not used): Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Jamie McGuire, Ollie Palmer.

REFEREE: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)

ATTENDANCE: 6,248 (211 away)

GOALS - Argyle: Alessandra 90 +6 mins; Mansfield: Rhead 74 mins



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