Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Alfreton Town 0 v Mansfield Town 3 - BSBP

Tuesday 1st January 2013
at the Impact Arena, North Street, Alfreton
Blue Square Bet Premier
Alfreton Town  (0) 0
Mansfield Town   (1) 3
Exodus Geohaghan 43,
Colin 'Junior' Daniel 57,
Mark Dempster 72
Admission £18, Programme £3 , 
Attendance 1,537, inc. 756 in the away end but there were plenty of other Stags fans elsewhere in the ground.
Happy New Year!
Alfreton Town:
Barnes, Law, Quinn, Kempson, Brown, Clayton (Taylor 63), Bradley (Emerton 80), Arnold, Russell (Meadows 63), Tomlinson, Killock.
Unused subs - Streete, Wilson.
Mansfield Town:
Marriott, Thompson, Dempster, Geohaghon, Beevers, Clements (Hutchinson 77), Murray, Howell, Meikle, Green, Daniel.
Unused subs - Jones, Speight, Rhead, Stevenson.
Will the real Mansfield Town please stand up?
Less than a week ago, I was at Field Mill, or the One Call Stadium as some people now call it, to watch the Boxing Day clash between these two sides.
It's no exaggeration to say, that I left the ground that afternoon, feeling completely gutted, at having just witnessed one of the worst Mansfield Town performances I have ever seen.
And I mean ever!
Spot the free loaders
A lot of personal things that happened in 2012, have had a profound effect on me.
Family and friends funerals and a mountain of bad luck ... both for myself and several other people I care a lot about, have turned me into an even more pragmatic, cynical and grumpy old git, than I was at the outset of the year.
Farewell and f*** off 2012, you were a bloody horrible twelve months.
Things can only get better!
However, having experienced some very dark days, I now feel, that I have a better understanding about putting things into perspective.
Especially peripheral stuff, like ... lets say for example, football results.
Win, lose, or draw, it is only a game, when all is said and done.
However, the fact remains, that even from that battle weary standpoint, I've still been having a monumental sulk, since December 26th, because of Alfreton's 2-1 win over the Stags.
It wasn't so much the score line, but the nature of the spineless, abject surrender, that pissed me off so much. And it left me thinking a multitude of expletive laden thoughts, along the lines of: 'If some of those lazy b*****d wage thieves don't give a f***, then why should I!?' as I made my way out of the ground as quickly as possible.
However, Mansfield Town gave me something to smile about today, something to laugh at even, given my completely rational and eminently sensible dislike of the Reds manager, Nicky Law.
But, I want to put it on record, before anybody gets the wrong idea, that this acrimony, has got nothing whatsoever to do with Alfreton Town FC. I don't have a problem with them in anyway whatsoever ... just him!
I also want it placing on record, that if Mansfield could play the way they did in the second half this afternoon, every week, then they would be a match for any team in this league this season.
This game was played on the floor and not in the clouds, which made a refreshing change.
And players who were missing in action last week, stood up to be counted against the same opponents today.
The Stags manager Paul Cox, hasn't always got things right since he arrived from Eastwood Town, but he got everything 100% spot on today.
So credit where it's due.
A change of personnel and a new game plan worked wonders.
I enjoyed this game. A lot.
The first half was, for the most part, a very cagey and scrappy affair.
There were plenty of half decent chances, created by both sides.
But, while there was nothing wrong with the distance and range the players from the respective teams were finding, their accuracy was woeful at times.
Oh well, 'New year same old crap', I muttered under my breath, as I meandered around the pitch, to get near the bar door, in anticipation of a half time drink, as soon as the referee's whistle sounded, while contemplating whether I should spend the entire second half in there, sulking again.
However, much to my surprise, as half time appeared over the horizon, a game of football suddenly broke out.
Woo hoo!
Paul Clayton started it, when he ghosted into the Stags box and shot narrowly wide of Alan Marriott's goal, following a pinpoint centre from Josh Law.
The narrow escape woke Mansfield up and I looked on in awe as they tore into Alfreton for the last few minutes of the half, as if their lives depended on it.
Exodus Geohaghon nods the ball past Phil Barnes to open the scoring, despite the Reds captain Adam Quinn restraining him with a headlock manoeuvre.
Chris Clements launched a dangerous looking ball across the Reds back line, from out on the left flank, that John Dempster returned across the six yard box from the back stick, to where Exodus Geohaghan stooped to nod the ball home, for the first goal of the game, despite the close attention of Alfreton's captain Adam Quinn.
John Dempster and Adam Murray, both came within a whisker of adding to the Stags lead before the break, as a game that had 'deadlock' and 'stalemate' written all over it just a few minutes ago, suddenly came to life.
That short burst of action could easily have seen an interval scoreline of 1-3, but we had to settle for: 
HT - Reds 0 v Stags 1
Ah, that half time beer tasted good, in the 'home supporters only' bar.
And quite a few other people who shouldn't have been in there either thought so too.
After the break, Mansfield Town took control of the game and gave the Reds a bit of a pasting.
Now, I overlooked a 'slight' push by Ben Tomlinson, in the build up to Alfreton's second goal at 'fortress Field Mill' last week, so I would hope that any Reds fans reading this, can be equally magnanimous, about turning a blind eye to the events that I am about to recount. 
By the same token, I hope that Nicky Law is seething with indignity at the injustice of it all.
From my not entirely impartial vantage point, i.e. I really wanted Mansfield to win this one and was possibly wearing amber tinted spectacles as I perused the game, I only saw the referee Ross Joyce make one mistake all afternoon.
And that was when he booked Paul Clayton for diving on 56 minutes, instead of awarding a penalty against the Stags keeper Alan Marriott and possibly showing him a card of one kind or another, for felling Clayton, after the Alfreton striker had taken the ball past him.
But, hey! What do I know about the rules of the game?
Anyhow, I'm sure you'll all agree, that these slight injustices, borne out of genuine human error, balance themselves out over the course of a season.
But, I doubt if anybody from Alfreton found it half as funny as I did, when Colin 'Junior' Daniel netted Mansfield's second goal, less than a minute after the unpunished transgression took place.
It's good job that the guy on the left in this photo wasn't refereeing this afternoon's game, because he's very thorough and doesn't miss a trick ;-)
The Cop End, North Street.
For the benefit of the home fans who missed the second goal, because they were too busy berating the match officials, this is what happened:
Phil Barnes pulled off a great save when he parried a well struck Matt Green shot ... the loose ball fell kindly for Lindon Meikle, who's deflected cross, rolled even more kindly into the path of Colin 'Junior' Daniel, who slotted the ball home from close range, whilst Barnes was still recovering from his initial save.
Phil Barnes is a great keeper, very under rated in my opinion, but he was left exposed and couldn't do everything himself.
Collectively, Alfreton's heads visibly dropped now.
It was as if they had used up all of their fighting spirit and tenacity reserves on Boxing Day and had nothing left to give now.  
Green and Daniel combined well to set up Anthony Howell with a close range header, that Adam Quinn managed to clear off the line, as Mansfield turned the screw and went iu search of a third goal.
Matt Green didn't get on the score sheet himself today, but he was running the Reds defence ragged.
The Liverpool scout sat nearby was heard to say, into his phone, "Brendan lad, we're going to get murdered next Sunday"
Okay, calm down! Calm down! I made that bit up.
Goal number three was inevitable and this is how it came about:
Above. Chris Clements lines up a 72nd minute free kick.
Below. John Dempster's just provided the final touch to Chris Clements free kick to put the Stags 3-0 ahead.
The game was now effectively over and there was no way back for Alfreton.
The Stags threatened to run riot, but there were no further goals forthcoming, much to the obvious relief of the home side's manager, err ... old what's-his-name.
Nobody remembers you ,when your down and out.
Mansfield took their foot of the gas briefly, allowing the Reds to come at them, in a vainglorious attempt to salvage something from the game.
But, once the home side had pushed up and left a few gaps at the back to exploit, the Stags just upped the ante and threatened to over run them again.
Darran Kempson injured himself, while trying to clear his lines, when Matt Green broke into the Alfreton penalty area for approximately the dozenth time this afternoon. .
Alfreton had already used all three of their substitutes, so they had to finish the game with ten men.
Aw bless!
Ben Tomlinson had the chance to grab a late consolation goal for the home side, but Alan Marriott was off his line quickly, to smother the ball and preserve his clean sheet.
The visitors created enough chances in the second half, to win by a far more convincing margin.
The final 0-3 scoreline only flattered one team, after such a one sided second half ... and it wasn't Mansfield Town.
But let's not be greedy.
The three points keep Paul Cox's team in touch with the play off places, with a game in hand, as we enter the business end of the season.
FT - Alfreton Town 0 v Mansfield Town 3
After the match, Stags manager Paul Cox said:
"I thought it was a thoroughly professional performance from the boys - they look as though they've looked after themselves over Christmas.
"Their work-ethic, mindset and, more importantly, the shape of our side looked excellent.
"On another day, we could have scored a few more goals, especially in the second half, where I thought we were excellent today"
And as for the Alfreton manager ...
Full time. It's no good looking up there for help.