STAGS BEATEN FROM SET PIECE ON OPENING DAY
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Northampton Town 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 5202 (900 from Mansfield)
Date: 9 August 2014
Martin Shaw at Sixfields
Mansfield Town were beaten on the opening day of the season by a header from a corner, in a disappointing game at Northampton. There was little between two sides who both looked ordinary on the day. The Stags started the game well with early chances, but the Stags defence started to look nervous after keeper Sascha Studer came for a cross and completely misjudged it allowing a shot that ended in the side-netting. Northampton started to get on top and went in front from a corner that was headed in unmarked at the far post by former AFC Wimbledon, Cheltenham and Bristol Rovers striker Kaid Mohamed. Keeper Studer ended up in the back of net and was adamant that he had been fouled. I could not tell from my position level with the halfway line whether it was a foul, and nor was it clear from the match DVD. Speaking to several Stags fans who were behind that goal, none saw a foul on Studer. What was clear however was that Alex Fisher was the man marking Mohamed and completely lost him. A costly error from Fisher. The Stags ended the first half well and Tafazolli and Taylor both went close. All in all, a very even half; and the Stags played some decent stuff going forward. As the second half wore on, Mansfield pushed more men forward and were sometimes left exposed at the back as the Cobblers missed a couple of gilt-edged chances through Ivan Toney and Marc Richards, while Adam Murray missed a good chance for Mansfield and sub Liam Hearn looked dangerous but wasn’t given good enough service. In the final 20 minutes or so, the Stags started lumping balls up to the front which was a crazy tactic given that Palmer had gone off injured and Rhead was not playing, (I asked Paul Cox about this tactic after the game, and he agreed it was crazy in the closing stages when we did not have the right players to take advantage). The quality of the Stags crossing also left a lot to be desired as the Stags several times got into good positions only to completely waste them. Overall a very tight game, which probably should have been a draw, but for the poor defending from the corner. No need to panic, after the encouraging performances of pre-season, but a disappointing defeat nonetheless.
On a statistical note, the Stags continued their record on not winning away from home on the opening day since August 1990 and a win at Wigan Athletic.
Man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli
League Two: Northampton Town 1 Mansfield Town 0 - 9th August 2014
chad.co.uk report by Stephen Thirkill
A bullet header from Kaid Mohamed was enough to condemn Mansfield Town to a disappointing 1-0 opening day defeat at Northampton Town.
The home side struck on 26 minutes after a sustained spell of pressure had pushed Stags back on the defensive, with summer signing John-Joe O’Toole pulling the strings.
But the visitors did show excellent character to fight back after falling behind, with Ryan Tafazolli and Rob Taylor both coming within a flash of levelling deep in first-half stoppage time.
Mansfield boss Paul Cox brought on the big guns in Liam Hearn and Sam Clucas early in the second half as he desperately looked for a change in his side’s attacking fortunes.
But the changes failed to have the desired effect as Northampton stood firm and continued to look the most likely to score.
Mansfield did pile the pressure on in the closing minutes with a flurry of half chances. But it was too little too late.
In truth the game should have been over much earlier with Marc Richards and Ivan Toney blowing glorious opportunities to close the game out when one-on-one with Sascha Studer.
The loss means Mansfield have now failed to win an away fixture on the opening day of the season since they beat Wigan in 1990.
But despite the disappointing defeat, Paul Cox will take heart from the return of Liam Hearn, who showed glimspes of the threat he will offer throughout the season.
Stags travel to Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup in midweek before entertaining Oxford United next Saturday.
Paul Cox left Liam Hearn and Sam Clucas on the bench as they continued their efforts to get fully fit following a disjointed pre-season.
But there were full Football League debuts for Fergus Bell and Alex Fisher following their summer moves from Monza as well as Swiss shot-stopper Sascha Studer.
Simon Heslop slotted in to the midfield to make his Mansfield Town debut, while Rob Taylor made his Stags debut at left wing-back.
John-Joe O’Toole made his Northampton debut after moving to Sixfields from relegated Bristol Rovers during the summer.
It was Mansfield who started the brightest when Alex Fisher poked a half-chance over Matt Duke’s bar on four minutes.
Ritchie Sutton went into the book after just seven minutes for cynically hacking down Chris Hackett as he threatened to break down the right wing.
And, from the resulting free-kick, Lee Collins nearly headed home after Sascha Studer had flapped at Darren Carter’s cross.
Northampton began to push Stags back into their own half as they enjoyed a superb spell of pressure, with J-J O-Toole pulling the strings for the home side.
And the Cobblers finally made that pressure count as they took a 26th minute lead when Kaid Mohamed’s beat his marker at the back post to unleash a bullet header which gave Studer no chance.
In truth, the goal was nothing more than The Cobblers had deserved as they began to stretch Stags and open them up in wide errors with some slick passing and movement.
The lively O’Toole failed to fully test Studer on 32 minutes when he failed to connect with a snapshot after finding space on the edge of the box.
Fergus Bell was then unable to make the most of decent space in the box moments later after Lee Beevers’ inside ball had picked out the midfielder’s run.
Matt Duke produced a wonderful one-handed reflex save to deny Ryan Tafazolli’s powerful header in first-half stoppage time.
Seconds later Rob Tyler’s thunderous effort from 25 yards flew inches wide as the visitors ended the first half strongly.
Marc Richards perhaps should have doubled the home side’s lead on 50 minutes when he pulled away from his marker to head just over Studer’s crossbar.
Boss Paul Cox had seen enough and brought Liam Hearn on for his Football League debut and Sam Clucas on 55 minutes as he looked to shake-up the Mansfield attack.
Fisher headed Beevers’ cross over Duke’s bar and scuffed a weak shot into the hands of the Northampton goalkeeper.
Hackett then rifled a low shot into the side netting with the aid of a deflection on 61 minutes, before Darren Carter tried his luck for the home side as the game began to get stretched.
Marc Richards blow a glorious chance to seal all three points for the home side on 76 minutes after Ivan Toney beat Sutton to head the ball into the striker’s path.
But Richards lacked the necessary composure and dragged his shot horrifically wide from eight yards.
Ivan Toney had egg on his face seven minutes from time when he was unable to divert his effort into the back of the net despite being in plenty of space just eight yards out.
Northampton Town: Duke, Alfei, Carter (Morris 76 mins), Collins, Richards, O’Toole (Toney 57 mins), Hackett (Horwood 79 mins), Diamond, Robertson, Ravenhill, Mohamed. Subs not used: Tozer, D’Ath, Moyo, Archer.
Mansfield Town: Studer; Beevers, Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli, Taylor (Clements 80 mins); Murray, Heslop, F. Bell (Clucas 54 mins); Palmer (Hearn 55 mins), Fisher. Subs not used: Riley, McGuire, Marsden, A. Bell.
Referee: Andy Davies.
Attendance: 5,202 (900 away).
Stags man of the match: Ryan Tafazolli.
Northampton Town 1 Mansfield Town 0: Match report
Nottingham Post report by Sarah Clapson
MANSFIELD Town couldn’t get the start they wanted to their League Two campaign as Kaid Mohamed’s header condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at Northampton Town.
Read more at http://www.nottinghampost.com/Northampton-Town-1-Mansfield-Town-0-Match-report/story-22284588-detail/story.html?#SfCGiLBE7qICMJf0.99
And the margin of victory for the Cobblers could have been greater, with some great chances missed by the home side.
Five players made their Stags debuts at Sixfields, with goalkeeper Sascha Studer taking his place between the posts in front of a familiar-looking back line of Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster and Ryan Tafazolli.
In midfield, Rob Taylor and Simon Heslop also played their first competitive games in amber and blue, with fellow newcomer Fergus Bell just behind the front two.
Up front, Alex Fisher was picked to partner Ollie Palmer, which meant another summer recruit, Liam Hearn, found himself on the bench.
It was the visitors who made the brighter start in a fast-paced opening to the game as they quickly looked to attack.
Inside two minutes, a cross from Lee Beevers on the right found Bell in the centre, but the summer signing couldn’t quite get a shot away and the ball was snatched from him.
Fisher too, couldn’t make the most of an opportunity, sending a looping effort over the bar when under pressure from Cobblers keeper Matt Duke as he latched on to Heslop’s long ball.
Northampton though, gradually grew into the game and began to put their opponents under some pressure.
Some of it was of the Stags’ own making - Sutton giving Chris Hackett the chance to swing a ball in when he hauled the midfielder down on the right.
His run thwarted, Hackett made the most of the resulting free-kick, finding Lee Collins at the far post; but his team-mate could only find the side-netting.
Nevertheless, with 26 minutes on the clock, the home side did take the lead. And in simple fashion.
Darren Carter’s corner wasn’t claimed by Studer and Mohamed opened the scoring with a cushioned header at the back post.
John-Joe O’Toole tried to add a second with a snap-shot from just outside the box shortly afterwards, but, this time, Studer was equal to it.
Having been under the cosh, Mansfield looked to respond before the break and could have gone in at the interval all-square.
There was a good chance for Adam Murray to equalise with ten minutes to go when Fisher sent in a low ball from the right. But though unmarked, the ball fell behind the skipper and he was unable to trouble Duke.
Deep into stoppage time, the Cobblers keeper was called into action for the first time - and proved more than up to the task.
He pulled off a superb point-blank reaction save to push away Tafazolli’s header from Bell’s free-kick, with Taylor’s follow-up strike flashing inches wide of the post.
Fisher tried to carry that momentum into the second half with a shot on the turn from a tight angle, but his effort lacked power and Duke comfortably gathered.
Boss Paul Cox rung the changes before the hour mark, with Sam Clucas replacing Bell and Hearn introduced for Palmer, who was helped off the pitch after taking a knock.
The substitutions certainly gave Mansfield a greater threat up front, but Northampton still looked dangerous.
And the hosts almost went 2-0 ahead, with Hackett’s strike from the edge of the area deflected a whisker wide of the upright.
In a much more even second half, Cox’s team refused to give up hope of digging out on equaliser, though the arrival of Ivan Toney off the bench caused them problems at the back.
The substitute was at the heart of another great chance for the Cobblers with 74 minutes gone when he put Marc Richards clean through.
One-on-one, the front man looked to have the beating of Studer, only to be left with his head in his hands after dragging his effort wide from eight yards out.
And another golden chance for Northampton went begging in the final ten minutes - Toney slotting the ball wide from Ian Morris’ pull-back when faced with an open goal.
Both were big let-offs for Mansfield, but they couldn’t make the most of them as they looked harried in possession and struggled to carve out an opening, with a late goalmouth scramble coming to nothing.
NORTHAMPTON: Duke; Alfei, Collins, Diamond, Robertson, Hackett (Horwood 79), Ravenhill, Carter (Morris 76), Mohamed, O’Toole (Toney 57), Richards. Subs not used: Tozer, D’Ath, Moyo, Archer.
MANSFIELD: Studer; Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli, Beevers, Murray, Heslop, Taylor (Clements 80), F Bell (Clucas 54), Palmer (Hearn 55), Fisher. Subs not used: Riley, McGuire, Marsden, A Bell.
ATTENDANCE: 5,202 (900 away).
Mohamed scores on debut as Cobblers secure opening-day win
by Jefferson Lake, northantstelegraph.co.uk, email@example.com
Kaid Mohamed marked his Cobblers debut with the decisive goal as he helped his new side to an opening-day win over Mansfield.
Mohamed’s header on 23 minutes was the difference between the sides but Town could have won by a greater margin with Marc Richards and Ivan Toney both spurning opportunities to put the game beyond the Stags’ reach.
In his first selection of the new season, manager Chris Wilder handed Northampton debuts to three players - Mohamed on the left of midfield, Danny Alfei at right-back and John Joe O’Toole in the number 10 role.
O’Toole played in behind Richards, who made his first Town start for almost a decade following his free transfer return to Sixfields in the summer.
It was Mansfield’s Alex Fisher who had the first glimpse of goal, latching onto a long, diagonal pass to clip a shot over the advancing Matt Duke but well beyond the target.
Lee Collins sidefooted into the side-netting after Stags keeper Sascha Studer had completely missed a Chris Hackett free-kick from the right wing.
The warning shot was not heeded by Mansfield, who allowed Mohamed a free run at the back post to power in a header for the club’s first goal of the campaign.
Darren Carter’s corner in was a good one but the winger should never have been given the space to complete a comfortable finish.
O’Toole might have done better with a difficult volley minutes later after Carter’s run into the box had been blocked by a covering defender.
Ryan Tafazolli should have levelled the scores in first-half stoppage time but Duke pulled off a superb one-handed save to his right to push the effort to safety.
Town made a bright start to the second half and Richards headed an Alfei cross narrowly over the top after good build-up play in midfield.
Hackett himself saw a left-footed shot deflected wide of the target after Richards and the recently-introduced Ivan Toney created some confusion in the box.
Carter then had a swirl from distance, with Studer taking it at the second attempt, and Hackett’s first touch let him down as he met a Gregor Robertson cross.
Richards should have put the game to bed 15 minutes from time, driving wide with his weaker left foot after great work by Toney to outmuscle Ritchie Sutton.
Toney had an almost better chance shortly afterwards, failing to make a good connection with an Ian Morris cross from the left touchline.
They were almost made to pay for their profligacy when Mansfield mounted some late pressure but Town weathered it and sealed a well-deserved win.
Cobblers: Duke; Alfei, Collins, Diamond, Robertson; Hackett, Ravenhill, Carter, Mohamed; O’Toole; Richards
Subs: Toney (for O’Toole 56), Morris (for Carter 76), Horwood (for Hackett 79)
Not used: Tozer, D’Ath, Moyo, Archer
Mansfield: Studer, Beevers, Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli, Taylor, Murray, Fisher, Heslop, Palmer, F Bell
Subs: Clucas (for F Bell 54), Hearn (for Palmer 54), Clements (for Taylor 80)
Not used: Riley, McGuire, Marsden, A Bell
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