Saturday, 22 August 2015

Mansfield Town 1 v Oxford United 1 - SkyBet League 2

Saturday 22nd August 2015
Sky Bet League 2
at the One Call Stadium (Field Mill)
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Craig Westcarr 2
Oxford United (1) 1
Kemar Roofe 60 pen
Admission £20 (West Stand upper)
Programme £3. Attendance 3112 (547 away fans)
Mansfield Town:
Jensen, Hunt (Collins 73), Tafazolli, Pearce, Benning, Rose (J Thomas 55), Chapman, Clements, Lambe (N. Thomas 67), Westcarr, Green.
Unused subs - Marsden, McGuire, Beardsley, Yussuf.
Oxford United:
Slocombe, Baldock, Skarz, Roofe, Mullins, Wright, Rose, Sercombe, Hylton (Hoban 84), MacDonald (Taylor 46), O'Dowda (Ruffels 80).
Unused subs - Lundstram, Crocombe, Long, Dunkley.
Oxford United chalked up their 13th unbeaten game in a row at Field Mill this afternoon, though they could have been three goals down inside the opening twenty minutes as the Stags came charging out of the starting blocks.
In the end, the draw was a fair result and I would've taken that before kick off, as the highly fancied Oxford United rolled into town with almost five and a half hundred supporters egging them on.
With exactly two minutes on the clock, the visitors only cleared Adam Chapman's long throw in as far as Craig Westcarr, who smashed home a first timer shot past the unsighted Sam Slocombe who didn't get a clear view of the ball until too late because the Stags former Oxford striker Matt Green was obscuring his sightline (below).
I sometimes invent things to fill up column inches on this blog, so don't ever take my word for anything if it is factual accuracy you are looking for, but the next statistic is 100% genuine:
In November 2013 Mansfield Town were awarded a penalty kick when Morecambe's Barry Roche fouled Colin Daniel and then redeemed himself by saving the resultant spot kick from Sam Clucas.
Today, in the eighth minute, when Sam Slocombe clumsily felled Mitchell Rose inside his own area, it was the first time that any match referee has given a penalty to the Stags in the subsequent 86 consecutive games since Clucas' failed to score from the spot.
This being Mansfield, the outcome was inevitable and though Matt Green sent Slocombe the wrong way, he crashed the ball against the crossbar... and the Stags have now failed to score from  their last two penalties.
Chris Clements, who was putting in a great shift in the middle of the park, slipped a through ball into the path of Matt Green, but Slocombe was alert to the danger and thwarted the prolific Stags marksman.
Having survived a bit of a going over in the opening stages, Oxford began to get back into the game as the first half wore on.
Brian Jensen did well to turned a Kemar Roofe free kick over the bar and Alex McDonald crashed a shot against the foot of the upright from a well worked free kick routine.
Just before the break, Chapman (another former Oxford player in the Stags ranks) spotted Slocombe had wandered off of his line and attempted to find the net with an audacious from near the halfway line. But the ball went wide of the post and Slocombe's blushes were saved.
HT: 1-0
The Stags had by far the best of the first half, but after the break the visitors manager Michael Appleton, re-shuffled his pack and it was United's turn to be in the ascendancy.
Brian Jensen, the veteran Stags goalkeeper, had to use all of his experience to keep Oxford out a few times, but he was beaten from the spot after Reggie Lambe fouled Callum O'Dowda in the 59th minute to concede a penalty.
Right on the hour mark, Kemar Roofe made no mistake with a well drilled spot kick after sending Jensen the wrong way.
Oxford were now showing signs of why they are being considered by many as serious title contenders, while the fizz had gone out of Mansfield's initial energy and they began to look a bit fatigued and flat. Adam Murray certainly doesn't skimp on fitness training and I am sure the Stags players will be put through their paces this week, when they have a blank midweek before their trip to York City next Saturday.
A nailbiting finale
After the game the Stags manager said that there were plenty of positives to take at of this performance and seemed content enough with a draw against a team of Oxford's calibre, which in my opinion were fair enough comments.
But you couldn't help wondering about what might have been, if the home side had made good of their opportunities in the opening thirty minutes.
Alas football isn't about ifs and buts, goals win games, not (slightly) overweight bloggers pondering about a few pivotal moments early doors, when just maybe, Mansfield Town ought to have put this game to bed.
However, a point against Oxford United, is a good point and when Jensen denied Danny Hilton a late winner right at the death, it went illustrated that point.
An entertaining game, with both teams dominating a half apiece and no complaints about the effort, performance and final result from me.
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v. Oxford United 1