Friday, 15 July 2011

Mansfield Town 1 v Notts County 2 - Friendly

Friday 15th July 2011 - At Field Mill, Mansfield
Mansfield Town (1) 1 (Paul Connor 26)
Notts County (1) 2 (Neal Bishop 28, Hamza Bencherif 75)
Admission £10, Programme £2.50 (covers Notts County & Doncaster Rovers friendlies), Attendance 2,353 (622 away fans)

Mansfield Town
: Marriott (GK), Sutton, Goodall, Murray, Watt, Riley, Smith, Worthington, Connor, Briscoe, Meikle
Subs: Kinniburgh, Stevenson, Todd, Howell, Dyer, Nicolson, Obed, O'Neill, Bell, Mitchley, Redmond (GK).
Notts County
: Nelson, Kelly, Pearce, Nielson, Sheehan, Bencherif, Allen, Bishop, Demontagnac, Judge, Westcarr.
: Burch (GK), Edwards, Sodge, Wall, Ravenhill, Spicer.
Hmm, friendly, there's a word to conjure with.
Here's a dictionary definition of the word friendly I found:
'Favourably disposed towards, not antagonistic, showing or expressing liking, goodwill, or trust. Not hostile, but amicable, respectful' ... Aye right!
I think one can safely assume than none of the players 'gracing' the Field Mill pitch tonight, nor a good number of their coaching staff actually own a dictionary then.
So far this pre season I've been fortunate to have witnessed some really competitive yet entertaining games, played in the right spirit.
But tonight, well ... I think the kindest thing I could say would be, that was two teams who are still in their embryonic stage, going through a learning curve together, who evidently still have quite a lot of work to do before the season starts for real.
I suppose both teams could say they showed that they were willing to meet fire with fire, but it wasn't the kind commitment to the cause I'd want to watch every week.
Hopefully it was just a one off, because I'm planning to be a regular visitor to Field Mill this season ... in between all the other games I'm going to of course.
Amongst the never ending tide of antagonism, squaring up, late tackles and pre-meditated strong arm stuff, there were actually a few sporadic passages of football played.
But if you blinked you might have missed them.
Special offer. Present your FA Trophy Final stub at the Field Mill ticket office
and you can get a ticket for the opening day BSP fixture v.Bath City for just £2

Adam Smith broke into the County box after 22 minutes and was fouled by Neal Bishop, the referee pointed to the spot and Smith got up to take the penalty himself. That surprised me because I thought Louis Briscoe or maybe Paul Connor would take the spot kick.
A few seconds later Adam Smith must've wished either one of them had of done, because his tame effort was easily saved by Stuart Nelson.
4 minutes later Lindon Meikle played the ball into the path of Paul Connor straight through the middle, the Stags number 9 outpaced the County defence and drilled his shot neatly past Nelson to open the scoring.
That snatch of Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis that greets Stags goals at Field Mill had barely stopped blaring from the PA system before County had equalised, when Neal Bishop, who'd prevented a goal at the other end when he upended Adam Smith, got on the end of a knock from Craig Westcarr, to steer a deft header past Alan Marriot.
There was no PA announcement at all this time and the Stags website later credited both the cross and the goal to two completely different players.
I could've understood it more if the new look Stags players had been difficult to recognise, given that a lot of them were making their Field Mill débuts and the white numbers on the back of amber shirts become virtually invisible to the naked eye from a distance.
Charlie Allen went down under a challenge in front of the Notts dug out and an undignified mass handbags at ten paces 'confrontation' broke out.
Out of the stoppage, Allen was carried off on a stretcher, sucking on an oxygen mask, to a waiting ambulance.
I'm told that his injury is a suspected broken ankle, hopefully it isn't as serious as it looked and his recovery will be swift.
Connor had the ball in the net again and once more Meikle was the provider, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Despite the unsightly and lengthy interruption in play, the first half finished on 44 minutes and the teams left the field to calm down a bit for 15 minutes with the Stags new manager Paul Cox deep in conflab with the referee.
Charlie Allen, the son of Notts County's manager Martin,
is stretchered off and taken to a waiting ambulance.

Alas, neither side took the opportunity to chill out during the break and the heavy tackles continued to rain in.
Shane Redmond came on in goal for the Stags in the second half, along with former Worksop Town, Eastwood Town and several other Town's attacker Andy Todd,.
Toddy is now a player coach at Field Mill and he replaced Louis Briscoe.
I won't mention all the other substitutions, I've gone on long enough already without running this post to a third page, but they were plentiful.
With 20 minutes remaining, Redmond made two great stops within the space of a minute, but on 75 minutes Hamza Bencherif's had a close range effort saved by the Stags keeper but latched onto the rebound to net the winning goal.
The stadium announcer remembered to switch his microphone on this time, but wrongly credited the goal to Robbie Nielson, the ex Hearts right back who was playing for County tonight. I don't know if they've signed him or if he's just a trialist, but he was a solid and reliable performer for the Edinburgh club before he moved on to Leicester City and would be a great acquisition for County.
But I do know Robbie didn't score tonight!
So, on the whole.
The Stags matched their Football League opponents kick for kick (foul for foul?) all over the park tonight.
But it wasn't pretty to watch at times. Most of the time actually.
Neither side are the finished article yet and both managers are going to be working overtime in the build up to the season to iron out a few obvious flaws.
But the reality of it is, this was merely a pre season practice match that you can't read too much into the outcome of ... lets be thankful for that then.
Maybe the games I've seen thus far had kidded me into believing pre season was all about open, entertaining football played in the right spirit, but tonight I got an abrupt reminder of why I've often said in the past that I wouldn't be bothering with any more July friendlies any more because they're usually crap to watch.
I see on Facebook, that quite a few Stags fans found a few positives to draw on from this performance.
Well, Meikle, Connor and Murray did OK, without actually winning any medals, Redmond looks like a good back up for Marriot in goal ... but frankly I was glad when the final whistle went and the game was over, because I didn't enjoy it as a spectacle very much at all.
In fact, if I hadn't been sitting with two good mates and having some entertaining banter, I would probably have left early. And that's something I just don't do usually.
Onwards and upwards, eh!?
Things can only get better and I sincerely hope they will.