Tuesday 13th March 2012, at Field Mill
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Exodus Geohaghon 90+1
Fleetwood Town (0) 1
Jamie Vardy 81
Admission EX GRATIS (1 free ticket for tonight, with every full price ticket purchased for the recent Stags v Lincoln City game)
Programme £3 Attendance 3,132
1 Marriott, 6 Riley, 16 O'Neill, 17 Sutton, 26 Geohaghan,
4 Worthington (9 Rhead 82mins), 11 Murray, 21 Howell,
10 Green, 15 Dyer, 24 Meikle (7 Briscoe 79mins)
Unused Subs - 23 Redmond, 29 Andrew, 28 Hutchinson
1 Davies, 2 Beesley, 5 McNulty, 13 Goodall, 26 Cavanagh, 6 Pond, 18 McGuire, 27 Fowler, 9 Brodie (11 Till 76mins),
14 Mangan (19 Seddon 84mins), 33 Vardy
Unused Subs - 34 Stephenson, 23 Charnock, 31 Rose
Tonight fourth placed Mansfield Town, riding high on the back of a run of five consecutive wins, entertained the BSBP league leaders and hot favourites for automatic promotion, Fleetwood Town, who had just won six in a row.
The BSBP's match of the night, finished all square.
Alas, the referee, Mr Ross Joyce, wasn't up to the task of handling such an important fixture.
And mustering up as much politeness as I possibly can, to describe his performance, I would have to say he was woeful, inadequate and completely baffling in equal parts.
Even though most of Richard Brodie's illegal use of the elbow, forearm smashes and hands all over Luke O'Neill's face cheating methods, were very cleverly done on the ref's blind side, the 'man in charge' must have been wearing an eye patch, or possibly even two, to miss most of what was blatantly going on.
Not that Brodie's fairly obvious indiscretions were the only things that Mr Joyce either missed, ignored or got wrong.
A Fleetwood fan spoke to me on the way out of the car park and it seemed from what he was saying, that both home and away fans were perplexed by the referee's handling of the game at various times, so it's not just my biased overview of his input to the game, that is screaming "ineptitude!"
The second half was far more open, enthralling and entertaining than the first, despite Ross Joyce's efforts to reduce the game to the level of farce at wearingly frequent intervals.
And though the visitors just about shaded things possession wise, the Stags rolled up their sleeves and worked damn hard for their point.
They deserved something from the game and it would've been a travesty if Jamie Vardy's 81st minute strike, when Lee Fowler's forward pass released him on a run into the box, where he poked the ball past Alan Marriott, would have proved to be the winning goal.
So it was fitting, that O'Neill was instrumental in the home side's late equaliser, when his accurately placed right wing corner hung invitingly for Exodus Geohaghon (on loan from Darlington until the end of the season), to powerfully head the ball just inside the far post ... remind me to move out of the way (and run for my life), if this giant of a man is ever charging towards me at full tilt!
The resilience and never say die work ethic of the whole Mansfield team won them a well earned point, that keeps their play off challenge very much alive.
And I must mention and praise the non stop vocal backing from the crowd on the Quarry Lane End, that was worth an extra man tonight too.
Keep it up lads!
Wrexham's 5-0 away win at Ebbsfleet tonight, means they are now three points behind Fleetwood at the top of the table with a game in hand.
The two horse race for the title looks to be going right to the wire, while results elsewhere shook up the play off spots too.
The Stags finished the night still in 4th place, but it's very tight amongst the play off contenders, with a lot of football still to be played.
Anyway, before I hit my pillow with a resounding thud, here's a tune dedicated the man of the moment ...