Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mansfield Town 1 v Bury 4 - Sky Bet League 2

Tuesday 25th February 2014
Game postponed on original date of Tuesday 28th January and first rearranged date of Tuesday 11th February, waterlogged x 2
at Field Mill (AKA the One Call Stadium)
Sky Bet League 2/ Division 4
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Sam Clulcas 71
Bury (1) 4
Danny Mayor 25
Daniel Nardiello 56, 64
Jake Carroll 71
Admission £18, Programme £3, 
Attendance 2.628 (inc. 220 in away end)
Mansfield Town:
Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli (Hutchinson, 81); Westlake, Clements (Cain, 67), Stevenson, Howell, Daniel; Rhead (Palmer, 63), Clucas. Subs: Dyer, Beevers, Meikle, McGuire.
Jensen, McNulty, Jones, Sedgwick, Mayor (Miller, 72), Tutte, Nardiello (Dudley, 90), Platt (Forrester, 68), Carroll, Veseli, Mills. Subs: Charles-Cook, Hinds, Proctor, Burke
Field Mill
As glamour games go, it is fairly obvious why I felt compelled to make sure that I was at this one, instead of staying at home with my feet up, watching the European Champions League on TV. 
A quick look at the Football League table provides one with so many potential permutation and a massive portion of intrigue, it is just about enough to get any hardcore football purist leaking at least a few drops of sex wee, in a frenzied state of giddy abandon. 
And, quite frankly,  if you don't subscribe to that theory, you must be a some kind of a weirdo.
By my reckoning, any two from the bottom twelve in the League 2 table could be heading to the Conference at the end of the season, it really is that tight ... and both of tonight's teams urgently need points to climb away from that drop zone. 
I want to believe that Paul Cox's team have got enough in their tank, to stay clear of the dreaded last two places, however my (fading) hopes are probably borne out of the fact that I really don't want to believe they could be relegated back into the realms of non league football so soon. 
The reality of the situation is; if they don't get their act together soon, Paul Cox's Stags are bouncing recklessly on the exit trapdoor to oblivion and lining themselves up for a very painful reality slap.
I'm told that the Stags played better than they have done for a long time on Saturday, which gave me a faint feeling of optimism before the game, but as tonight's shambolic performance unfolded before my disbelieving eyes, and the news that the teams around Mansfield in the table were picking up points elsewhere, the alarm bells became deafening.
As we saw at the climax end of last season, any team that puts a good run of results together can soon leave those around them who have become complacent, stranded and in the mire.
The truth is, regardless of how crap the first season back as a Football League club is for Mansfield Town, I really miss getting to see them more often than I do, glutton for punishment and masochist that I am.
I wasn't merely getting my excuses in early last term, when I said that promotion back to the Football League wasn't necessarily the holy grail it's cracked up to be, just in case the Stags had faltered at the last hurdle and missed out on promotion, but now they are back among 'the 92', I wouldn't dare to speculate on what the consequences might be for the club if they were to lose their league status again.
It's an unthinkable and potentially catastrophic scenario, but one that is not yet beyond the realms of fantasy.
Off the pitch, there is far too much tacky sideshow type stuff going on at the Stags if you ask me and all of that must have a knock on effect on the pitch ... but, you didn't ask, so rather than pontificating over a tsunami sized shit storm of controversy and behind the scenes smoke screens, mirrors, half truths, downright fibs and distractions, I'll merely comment on the football fare that was on offer tonight ... from a Mansfield supporters perspective it was rubbish! 
If, however, you were one of the 220 Bury fans sat in the North Stand, it must have been a great night, because the Shakers played well, very well in fact, but for the bulk of the crowd, this was akin to having teeth pulled, it was a real horror show.
From the outset, the battle for the middle of the park, was a bit of an ugly runt, but Paul Cox's side are renowned for bypassing that section of the pitch as often as possible, in an up n' under, basic and fairly crude kind of way (horses for courses rules apply), so that wouldn't usually have influenced very much. 
Yet, having got a foothold in midfield, Bury looked impressive last twenty minutes of the first half after Danny Mayor had weaved is way into the left hand side of the Stags penalty area and unleashed a low shot past Alan Marriott, just inside the post, to give the visitors the lead.
Sam Clucas and Anthony Howell were both denied by the Shakers keeper Brian Jensen as the Stags looked to get back into the game, but it was the visitors who came closest to scoring again, just before the break, when Daniel Nardiello's effort from Mayor's right wing cross was tipped over the bar at full stretch by Alan Marriott.
HT - Stags 0 v Shakers 1
Right from the restart, Lee Stevenson had a chance to pull the Stags level, but he blazed the ball over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Chris Clements set piece effort was easily dealt with by Jensen.
The Stags got the rub of the green on 54 minutes when Mayor went to ground under a challenge from Darryl Westlake in the penalty area, but the referee Graham Scott waved away Bury's appeals as Alan Marriott block a shot from Andy Tutte who'd latched onto the loose ball.
Bury didn't need to feel aggrieved for long however and Nardiello had doubled their lead within two minutes.
The ever lively Mayor played the ball into the path of Nardiello who turned the ball into the net via the upright from close range.
"You know Mansfield Town, will never let you down" ... ironic musical interlude:

Stevenson broke forward for the Stags, but Pablo Mills, dispossessed him with a timely interception that reminded me of a dad showing off and tackling his 6 year old son in a back garden kickabout.
And if that wasn't humiliating enough, Bury scored again in the 64th minute, by taking a route one, direct approach ... and embarrassing the Stags defence and goalkeeper in the process. 
Nardiello, flicked on Jensen's long punt up the field, to himself, noted that Marriott was off of his line and lobbed the ball into the unguarded net, before a defender had even arrived on the scene. 
Nil-three! At home! Against Bury! FFS!
Momentarily, Mansfield were handed a slight (tiny, miniscule even) glimmer of hope, when Jensen took pity on them and very generously made the charitable act of palming Colin Daniel's knock into the six yard box, straight to Sam Clucas, who pulled a goal back.
But while the Stags fans were still on their feet  celebrating the start of a highly unlikely comeback, Bury went straight up the other end and scored again.
Craig Jones crossed, Marriott replicated Jensen's palm the ball to an opposition player in the box stunt and Jake Carroll made it 1-4. At home! Against Bury! FFS!!!
Ollie Palmer should have scored a consolation goal for the Stags inside the last couple of minutes, but his effort was well wide of the target, despite him being clean through, with plenty of time to pick his spot. 
In stoppage time, Ben Hutchinson hit a 35 yard shot, straight at Brian Jensen, but a second Stags goal would've given the full time score a very flattering look.
Well played Bury, a well deserved win.
FT - Mansfield Town 1 v Bury 4