Saturday, 8 August 2015

Mansfield Town 1 v Carlisle United 1 - SkyBet League 2

Saturday 8th August 2015
SkyBet League 2
at the One Call Stadium (Field Mill)
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Malvind Benning 29
Carlisle United (1) 1
Jabo Ibehre 45+2
Admission £18 (Quarry Lane End)
Programme £3
Att 4,145 (722 away)
Mansfield Town:
Shearer, Hunt, Tafazolli, Pearce, Benning, Rose (J. Thomas, 90), Chapman, Clements, Lambe (Westcarr, 85), N. Thomas (Yussuf, 74), M. Green.
Unused Subs - Jensen, J. Thomas, McGuire, Caton, Beardsley.
Carlisle United:
Gillespie, Miller, Atkinson, Raynes, Grainger, Brough (Balanta, 72), Joyce, Kennedy, Hery (Dicker, 87), Ibehre, Asamoah (Osei, 79).
Unused Subs - Hanford, Wyke, Archibald-Henville, McQueen.
Mansfield Town, who finished 21st in League Two (AKA Division Four) last season, today hosted Carlisle United who had finished in 20th and who are managed by former Stags manager Keith Curle these days.
With the two teams fully aware of how important it is to get some points on the board early doors to avoid an unwanted flirtation with the wrong end of the table again, given that they have both spent time outside the Football League in recent years, it was always going to be a close, edgy game.
There is a cautious optimism among the Field Mill faithful that they won't struggle this time around, but also a prevailing sense of pragmatism regarding expectations.
'Mid table mediocrity' is what those who have never stared into the face of extinction and the land of no return might call it, but cutting one's cloth accordingly, having realistic aspirations, working towards sustained progress and a prevalent mindset subscribing to the theory that 'caution prevents abortion' will always be better lifestyle choices in the lower leagues, than adopting a 'shit or bust' gung ho, high risk approach.
Patience is a virtue... and besides, once the Stags get some momentum going, I'm actually daring enough to believe that a top half finish isn't beyond their reach.
Some of the exhibition stuff witnessed in pre season games at Field Mill was curtailed today, where workmanlike graft was order of the day as opposed to risque flamboyance. But until the seeds are set and the realities of life in the basement division begin to unfold, that is the way it's got to be... for now at least, particularly when you consider, that if you include Matt Green, who recently returned to Mansfield from Birmingham City, the Stags had eight players making their League debuts this afternoon.
Goal! Malvind Benning 29 minutes.
Mansfield started well and deservedly took the lead from a Marvind Benning free kick (above) in the 29th minute, after Nathan Thomas and Reggie Lambe, but they were hit by a sucker punch in first half stoppage time, when Jabo Ibehre finished well from former Stags player Derek Asamoah's pass.
HT: 1-1
The home side shaded the first half, but didn't impose themselves quite as well after the break and Carlisle had the better of things for a while, until the latter stages of the game when Chris Clements had two efforts on goal that both cleared the crossbar... and the Stags were unlucky not to snatch a winner late on when Matt Green put the ball narrowly wide of the upright in stoppage time.
Craig Westcarr only came on for five minutes at the end, far be it from me to suggest he should have had longer to establish a link up with Green (especially with Reggie Lambe playing so well), but the 4-3-3 horses for courses, patient approach was order of the day, while Carlisle flooded the centre of the park with a five man midfield... and my livelihood doesn't depend on results, so who am I to suggest the odd tweak here and there? Besides, I actually trust Adam Murray's judgement and was one of the people who wholeheartedly approved of his managerial appointment.
Murray was present at the youth team game this lunchtime, along with his assistant Richard Cooper and is always willing to give the clubs development players a fair crack of the whip, so respect where it is due. Rome wasn't built in a day and Mansfield Town won't be either.... it is going to be long haul project, encompassing all of the sides that come under the club umbrella, but having had the opportunity to have a decent look at the youth team(s) structure at the club, I can vouch for the fact that they are doing things the right way.
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v. Carlisle United 1
A fair result in the end, by my reckoning, much as I would have preferred Keith Curle's side to have got a good spanking to start the season off.
He never touched him ref!
The Stags now face two short away trips during the following week, to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup and Notts County in the League on Friday, they are not the bookies favourites to win either game, but every underdog has it's day, so bring it on!
Mansfield Town have nothing to lose and can relax, while the opposition will have all the worry about saving face and preserving their (apparent) big club status and reputations.
Big club's don't play in the First Round of the Capital One Cup or Division Four... just saying!