Saturday, 24 November 2012

Mansfield Town 1 v Matlock Town 1 - FA Trophy First Round

Saturday 24th November 2012, at Field Mill (AKA One Call Stadium)
FA Trophy First Round
Adam Murray 25
Lewis McMahon 39
Admission £10, Programme £2
West Stand only open for Stags fans, North Stand for Matlock
Attendance 1615 (250 away fans)
Mansfield Town:
Shane Redmond; John Thompson, Exodus Geohaghon, Luke Jones, Richie Sutton, Louis Briscoe, Adam Murray, Chris Clements, Lindon Meikle (Nick Wright 62), Ben Hutchinson (Matt Rhead 74), Matt Green (Jake Speight 67)
Unused Subs: Anthony Howell, Colin Daniel. 
Matlock Town:
Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Phil Roe, Laurence Gaughan (Brad Grayson 21), Adam Yates, James Lukic, Glyn Cotton (Joe Leesley 90+), James Ashmore, Massiah McDonald, Lewis McMahon, Gareth Davis.
Unused Subs: Will Dennis, James Travis, Matt Leese.
Shane Redmond - Man of the match
From the outset, I want to make it abundantly clear, that when I left Field Mill this afternoon, I felt extremely disappointed with the complete lack of interest and application that some of the Mansfield Town squad had shown today. This embarrassing 'no show' from Paul Cox's team, was completely unacceptable.
And, I think the Stags only saving grace as they go into Tuesday night's replay at Causeway Lane, is that they surely can't be as inept as they were this afternoon again. 
Can they? 
Hmm, that is a rhetorical question, of course.
In his programme notes, the Stags manager said "We want to be successful in all competitions this year".
I would suggest, that given the lack of focus and application shown by some of his players today, that they might not exactly share his views.
Obviously, on the back of their recent good run of league results, aiming for a play off place must be the Stags priority.
And there is the small matter of the second round FA Cup tie with Lincoln City coming up next weekend.
But, over the course of the season, you've got to take each game as it comes and treat all opponents with the measure of respect they deserve, or you're going to end up getting a reality slap or two along the way.
There is no doubt in my mind, that some of the Stags team have got illusions (delusions?) of grandeur and they appear to believe they're better than they actually are.
Did they honestly think that all they had to do today was turn up and the game against their Evo-Stik League visitors was as good as won?
Because, credit where it's due here, although far too many Mansfield players displayed traits that suggested that they were merely (and indifferently) going through the motions today; Matlock were well organised, worked hard as a unit and actually squeezed their Blue Square Bet Premier hosts out of the game and stopped them from playing for long spells. Whilst still managing to get forward regularly and creating plenty of chances, that caused the home team's defence no end of problems. 
The Stags goalkeeper Shane Redmond wasn't voted man of the match for nothing today. 
He kept his side in the game. 
Though whether some of his team mates will thank him for pulling out the stops to ensure they get another bite of the cherry, over them there Derbyshire hills on Tuesday night, might be open to question.
Seven minutes into the game, Matlock well and truly gave due warning of their intention to take the game to the Stags, when Phil Roe went to ground under a John Thompson challenge in the Mansfield penalty area and the referee had no option but to point to the spot.
Lewis McMahon struck the ball well, but Shane Redmond pulled off a great save from the penalty and then recovered quickly enough to turn away James Ashmore's effort from the rebound.
It was a brilliant double save from Redmond, who is obviously growing in stature and confidence, now that he's getting a decent run of games.
The opening goal on 25 minutes, brought a collective sigh of relief, as much as a cheer, from the Stags faithful who'd braved the foul weather this afternoon to watch this FA Trophy tie, when Jon Kennedy in the visitors goal parried Louis Briscoe's 20 yard shot away and Adam Murray was on hand to prod the ball home from close range.
But on 39 minutes, Massiah McDonald neatly wrong footed his marker (if he actually had one), with a deft back heel into the path of Lewis McMahon, who planted the ball into the corner of Redmond's net.
It was a quality strike, to finish off a great move by Matlock, who had pulled the Stags defence all over with their neat build up play, leading up to the goal..
Talk around me turned to clichéd discussions about giant killing and plucky minnows.
Mansfield Town are not, never have been and never will be giants, by any stretch of the imagination.
Except, of course, for Exodus Geohaghon, who is approximately 8 feet tall, shoots fire out of his nostrils and has a death ray glare.
Well, that's a slight embellishment or two on my part, but he is good at long throw ins.
Which on it's own, probably wouldn't help him to get past the auditions to join the X-Men, but it keeps him in gainful full time employment as a top flight non league footballer.
That's not meant as a criticism of 'Big Ex' by the way.
Faint heart and tippy tappy football never won a fair maiden or promotion out of the Blue Square Bet Premier ... so there's some food for thought for all you purists who frequent the 'One Call Stadium'.
And as for Matlock's minnows tag.
Hmm, there is, in actual fact, just one division separating the respective leagues that these two teams play in and they're both where they are in the grand scheme of things on merit.
HT - Stags 1 v Gladiators 1
Brad Grayson almost put Matlock in front early in the second half, but Shane Redmond pulled off another fine save after the former Frickley Athletic striker had surged past Exodus Geohaghon and left him for dead.
Jon Kennedy then denied Matt Green at the other end.
On the subject of Matt Green, last week he came on as a second half substitute to great effect, today, it would be fair to say that Matlock had obviously done their homework on him and he wasn't so effective.
Tin hat on time, because I know this will go against the grain with quite a few loyal Stags fans, but in my humble opinion, they haven't seen the best of Green for a while now, but I suspect he will up the ante again in due course, possibly to coincide with when it's time to renew his contract again.
But hey!
What do I know, eh!?
Either way, with a little over 20 minutes remaining, Paul Cox replaced Matt Green and sent Jake Speight on in his place.
Matlock attacked again when Brad Grayson and Lewis McMahon combined out on the left flank, but Shane Redmond intercepted the ball before it reached the lively Massiah McDonald.
Incidentally, McDonald is currently on loan from Worksop Town and, by all accounts, is impressing the Gladiators fans no end.
McDonald found himself some space on the left hand side of the penalty area, but fired over from ten yards out, as the visitors looked to finish the game off at the first attempt.
Matlock were enjoying a really good spell now and, not to put too fine a point on it, the Stags weren't in it at all for a while.
Paul Cox later called his team's performance 'dire' and said; "The lads know they've let themselves and the supporters down today".
Damn right they did!
The Stags have been playing a lot of games of late, but they've got a big enough squad to work around that, so the tired legs and punishing schedule theories I've heard bandied about, are falling on deaf ears with me.
Today, a part time, Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side, looked fitter and sharper than a full time Blue Square Bet Premier one.
Go figure!
In the last five minutes, Mansfield suddenly woke up to the fact that they were meant to be favourites to win this game and Matt Rhead, twice, almost snatched a late victory that would've been totally against the run of play. But he put the ball wide from a free header and then he flicked an even better chance wide from Adam Murray's cross, when just belting the ball hard and on target would've been the better option, so late in the game.
Deep into injury time, Brad Grayson nearly won it for Matlock, but Luke Jones made a last ditch clearance.
That was bloody close :-O
FT - MTFC 1 v MTFC 1

Back in the 1976/77, when I still foolishly thought, in my youthful manifestation, that lower league and non-league football (apart from the mighty Retford Town) was beneath me, a friend's dad took us along to an FA Cup replay between Mansfield and Matlock, it was my first ever visit to Field Mill.
The visitors won that game 5-2, but the Stags went on to win promotion to the old Second Division (now called the Championship) a few months later.
It was the one and only season that they ever played at such a high level.
Could this be an omen?
Or, am I merely saying that as an over optimistic precaution, just in case Mansfield Town come unstuck in the replay at Causeway Lane on Tuesday night?
It's OK, save your breath, I already know the answer.
Me clutching at straws again ... the very thought.
This one lives in a box under my bed.