Monday, 29 August 2011

Stockport County 0 v Mansfield Town 1 - BSBP

Monday 29th August 2011 - at Edgeley Park
Blue Square Bet Premier
Stockport County (0) 0
Mansfield Town (0) 1 (Luke O'Neill 67)
Admission £16, Programme £3, Attendance 3,571
Officially there were 436 Mansfield supporters in the open 'Railway End' ... meanwhile a fair few who weren't included in that total, headed for the cavernous 'Cheadle End' stand at the opposite end of the ground, because it has a roof ... and some damn fine catering on offer too.
Segregation and getting soaked at football is soooo last year darlings.
Steak pie, mash, peas and gravy

Stockport County:
Glennon, McCann, O'Donnell, Piergianni, Holden, McConville, Nolan, Sheridan (Miles 75), Rowe (Chamberlain 71), Gritton (Chadwick 61), Elliott.
Subs Not Used: Ormson, Halls.
Mansfield Town:
Marriott, O'Neill, Sutton, Futcher, Kendrick, Briscoe, Murray, Howell, Meikle (Worthington 88), Green, Dyer (Connor 80).
Subs Not Used: Redmond, Stevenson, Wood.
The local police decreed that today's game would kick off at noon, to avoid a repeat of a minor skirmish that kicked off after the County v Stags game a couple of seasons ago.
The aim of the Greater Manchester Police, was to prevent people from drinking before the match, which would obviously prevent a repeat of the six aside handbags at ten paces 'battle' that erupted that day.
From personal recollection it was a sustained 'riot', which threatened to disrupt planet earth's tectonic plates whilst bringing the lithosphere crashing down around our ears (I'm being ironic), that must have lasted for almost 25 to 30 seconds before the GMP heavy mob restored order.
Sledge hammers and walnuts if you ask me.
Either way, we were mixing freely in the Prince Albert public house at 9.50AM with Stockport fans, Mansfield fans, a few neutrals here for the early start who were ticking two or three different games off today and a couple of bemused looking locals who were wondering why the pub was open so early on a Monday morning.
So much for bringing forward the kick off time to prevent people from consuming intoxicating beverages.
At £1.70 a pint, I indulged myself several times over .... and then had another couple of pints in the bar in the ground before kick off ... in the 'home fans only' end of Edgeley Park.
The County fans knew we weren't locals, but they knew (and we knew) that we were all there for the same reason ... to have a beer or five and watch a couple of ex league clubs trying to check their fall from grace in recent years.
We got along just fine.
While the local plod teamed up with their Notts counterparts and roamed the streets outside searching for likely looking lads (i.e. easy targets) to pick on.
Big up n' nuff respect to the staff in the Prince Albert, who kept the beer flowing and the waiting time down to a minimum (I don't suppose they're available to help train the slow coaches in the Sandy Pate Bar at Field Mill are they?) ... and to the locals we met up with under the Cheadle End to carry on drinking with ... getting dumped out of the football league not only helps people get some kind of perspective on humility, it helps to keep the peace when one comes in contact with a horde of fellow sufferers and the cheap beer is flowing.
I guess there was a large serving of gallows humour in evidence too.
Of course, the Stockport and Mansfield fans have a common bond, they've both been through the same kind of hell and back, soul crushing trauma, that comes from having had that clown Carlton Palmer managing your team.
Don't even think of telling me you've had a hard life until you've had that kind of psychologically head crushing crisis to deal with.
There are still nights, when my dearly beloved wakes me up from screaming nightmares, needing to reassure me that he's gone now, before checking under the bed with a torch to make sure he's not lurking about.
Admit it guys, you should've come down this end too ;-)

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes ... Stockport County v Mansfield Town on a wet and miserable Bank Holiday ... I heard on the news today that Hurricane Irene has reached such a level of ferocity as it devastates the north east coast of America, it's classification is now being upgraded to that of 'an average day, all year round in Greater Manchester' ... well, I might have done ;-)
It was the home side who started the liveliest and with a noisy crowd behind them, it has to be said, they looked like they were going to take some stopping.
But Mansfield weathered the early pressure and began making in roads into Stockport territory themselves, signalling their intentions on 9 minutes, when Louis Briscoe found Ross Dyer unmarked in front of goal ... but the Stags striker headed wide.
Bit by bit, the Stags picked up the tempo and County began to misplace a few passes and lose their shape.
The visitors needed to be more clinical in front of goal, but the final touch went wanting several times.
Half time came and went and the longer the game remained goalless the more ominous the prospect of Mansfield having to settle for a point, despite being the better side (again) became ... of course, there was always the possibility that Stockport might snatch all three points from one of the sporadic counter attacks they were launching too.
But on 67 minutes, Matt Green and Luke O'Neill exchanged a series of neat passes en route to the County penalty area, before the latter fired the ball across the goal and into the far corner.
His first ever goal for the Stags.
Stockport's late rally was as half arsed as it was half hearted ... and while the Stags deserve credit for withstanding some pressure in the closing stages, the home side were their own worse enemy today, squandering several good chances and surrendering possession cheaply ... and didn't their fans let them know about it!!!
Though County saw a lot of the ball towards the end of the game, Mansfield had done more than enough when it mattered and deserved to be in front ... they hadn't won a game at Edgeley Park since 1993 and had to stay really focussed right at the finish to ensure they picked up all three points this afternoon.
On the balance of play, Stockport possibly had possession for longer spells than the Stags, but they were wasteful in the last third, their manager Deitmar Hamann must've wanted to kick himself in response to the amount of stray balls and uncompleted passes his side played today ... and that was probably his best option ... because if he'd asked any of his forward line to kick him, they would probably have missed on this showing.
Still five minutes to go, but a lot of Stockport fans had seen enough already

So back over the Woodhead Pass we headed like a snaking convoy of unhinged rally drivers, vying with all the holiday traffic for the best overtaking spots ... and got home before 4pm on a match day afternoon.
A six point Bank Holiday weekend for Mansfield, with two clean sheets into the bargain ... whatever else unfolds this season, they're definitely staying up at the rate ... and then some!
I resisted the temptation to head over to Matlock tonight for their 7.45pm kick off, I've had a great weekend, with some really good company ... why on earth would I want to spoil things by driving through that horrible town that has a silly looking church with a bent spire ... Chesterfield here I DON'T come!

Next up: I'm going to watch Villa play.