Saturday, 3 September 2011

Darlington 0 v Mansfield Town 2 - BSBP

Saturday 3rd September 2011 at the Northern Echo Arena
Blue Square Bet Premier
Darlington (0) 0
Mansfield Town (2) 2 (Matt Green 5, 15)
Admission £18, Programme £2.50, Attendance 2647
Russell, Purkiss, Miller, Lee, Greg Taylor, Arnison, McReady (Hatch 59), Kris Taylor (Atkinson 40), Rundle, Bowman, Campbell (Walshaw 63)
Unused subs - Chandler, Bridge-Wilkinson.
Mansfield Town:
Marriott, O'Neill, Futcher, Sutton, Kendrick, Briscoe (Worthington 87), Murray, Howell, Meikle (Connor 68), Green, Dyer.
Unused subs - Redmond, Naylor, Stevenson.
No cameras allowed ... but once I'd had a quick
chat with the stewards they turned a blind eye

Back to familiar surrounds once again for the Stags.
More and more ex Football League clubs frequent the BSBP every year ... and stay there.
Lincoln City and Darlington themselves, enjoy Non League football so much, they're back for a second go.
On the face of it, consecutive away fixtures in under a week at Edgeley Park and 'Reynold's Folly' was a big test for Paul Cox's side, but I'm happy to report, the two away wins, two clean sheets and six points have been thoroughly deserved.
The Darlo supporters have acres of space to watch home games from, this picture illustrates their displacement, dotted along one side of the ground with a few tucked away in the far corner, while the visiting supporters are housed at the East Stand end of the ground, another section of the 'arena' that I doubt will ever be even 20% full all season.
The Stags had 296 fans 'packing out' the 3,000 capacity stand today ... and a few more secreted in the home section.
I must say, the official attendance surprised me, the photograph's were taken at kick off time and as you can see, it doesn't look as though there are 2,647 people present.
The story of how local celebrity 'safe cracker' George Reynolds took over Darlington FC and promised them Premier League football is the stuff of legend ... but after building a new ground (named the Reynolds Stadium) that matched those ambitions and moving the club from Feethams in the centre of town, to a purpose built 25,000 stadium just off the A66, Reynolds was declared bankrupt, took the club into administration and left just month's after the club had relocated.
Feethams is now an overgrown mess of which only the roof that covered the Tin Shed end terrace remains. It's a complete eyesore standing in stark contrast alongside the neat and tidy Darlington Cricket Club.
The licensing authorities have decreed that the Arena's capacity should be pegged at 10,000, meaning 15,000 seats will always remain unused even in the unlikely event that Darlo could ever get anywhere near that amount of local interest.
They took 9,000 fans to a Wembley final last season ... draw your own conclusions.
Amazingly, there are still Darlington fans who spoke highly of George Reynold's in the bar before the game, but they were in the minority.
Of course, The Quakers did reach the giddy heights of the Premier League eventually ... just not that Premier League!
Talking of Darlington's visit to Wembley last May ... and I suppose I must, albeit very briefly ... due to us being at the ground early this lunch time, the steward on the main doors let us in to have a look at the big, fancy and very shiny trophy they won that day.
For some reason, I'd already left Wembley Stadium when they were presented with it after scoring the only goal of the game in the last minute of extra time, so I hadn't seen it before.
My departure, right on the final whistle, had something to do with a 'no show' and completely inept performance by their opponents that day.
But I'm sure that opposition will put the experience behind them soon, have a big shake up in personnel and rise phoenix like from the ashes this season ... won't they!?
The FA Trophy, stood in Darlo's reception area

But it's time to look forward, not backwards ... and on current form the Stags are certainly heading in the right direction.
The young Darlington fans at the back of the seats next to the away end, had barely had time to sing their Wembley song before their side were on the rack and two goals behind today.
Matt Green, who had a short and uninspiring loan spell at Darlo four years ago, started the game at a blistering pace and fired home two goals for the visitors in the first fifteen minutes.
There were only 3 survivors of the Stags Wembley 'no show' in the starting line up and the newcomers weren't about to grind out a draw and get caught out in the very last minute, like Duncan Russell's team did in May.
A short while later, Ben Futcher came very close to putting the Stags three ahead as they continued to push forwards ... and the previously noisy home support went quiet for a while ... you're far too old to be teasing kids like that Mr Noble!!!
Can you hear the Darlo sing???

On 30 minutes, Darlington's Paul Arnison was booked for protesting too vociferously over a penalty appeal that was waved away by the the referee Mr Karl Evans.
I've said previously when appeals have gone against the Stags, that these things even out over a season.
Well, today it was Mansfield's turn to have a slice of luck and Louis Briscoe's foul on Arnison went unpunished.
That's not an impartial observation, I was in the away end for a reason ... I wanted the Stags to win, I wanted the ref to miss Briscoe's transgression and he did.
I was smack in line with it behind the goal and though it was fun to make diving gestures and laugh at the justifiably incensed Darlo fans, there couldn't have been any complaints if the penalty had been awarded and Briscoe had have been booked instead.
Shit happens! ;-)
Ha, ha, ha, book the 'diver' ref!!!

In the second half Darlington got more and more into the game.
And while the Stags defended doggedly, the Quakers shooting was a bit awry at times too, which was nice ;-)
But despite the home side going for goals most of the second half, Matt Green was still looking dangerous on the counter attack and could've finished the game off and secured his hat trick, with just minutes to go.
With Darlington left exposed in defence because they were pushing forward to get back into the game, Matt Green found himself in space on the edge of the box, but with the home keeper Sam Russell stranded and well beaten, the ball crashed against the upright.
Liam Hatch, entered the fray as the home side brought out the big guns to salvage something from the game ... but the Stags resolve was unbreakable ... and on the final whistle, the away fans hailed yet another three points won on the road against a team fancied to do well this season.
Wrexham and Gateshead lead the way at the top of the BSBP, both unbeaten and on 19 points, but the Stags are coming up on the rails in 4th place now and 7 points behind ... it's far too early to be thinking about getting out of this very competitive league at the end of the season, but top 4 has got to be more fun than floundering around in the bottom 4 at any time of the year.
Apparently, today was national Non League day ... why on earth does anybody need an excuse to watch Non League football? It's great!!!
Meanwhile in the Evo-Stik League, I was saddened to hear that Worksop Town had lost again today and are only one place off the foot of the Premier Division table, with less points than the already doomed Retford United had at this time last season.
In their vital Euro 2012 qualifier, Scotland were undone v the Czech Republic at Hampden Park, courtesy of some iffy penalty decisions ... I listened to Craig Levein's interview on the car radio heading home down the A1 ... and though it's hard not to sympathise with the Hearts legends woes, it did remind me of all the times that certain Scottish people have taunted me about England and penalties.
All in all, a day for for saying 'what goes around, comes around'.
Not that I'm gloating (much).
Besides after last night's results, Wales are my second favourite British international team right now, with Northern Ireland relegated to third.
And I only have a top three ... despite my Heart of Midlothian connections.