Saturday, 17 October 2015

Mansfield Town 1 v Bristol Rovers 2 - SkyBet League 2

Saturday 17th October 2015
Sky Bet League 2
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Ryan Tafazolli 81
Bristol Rovers (1) 2
Jermaine Easter 17, Matt Taylor 90+8
Attendance 4,196 (inc. 847 in away end)
Sammy the Stag... he can't even look.
Mansfield Town:
Jensen. Hunt, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning; Lambe (Nathan Thomas 55), Chapman, McGuire (Clements 55), Jack Thomas (Yussuf 51), Westcarr; Green.
Unused subs - Shearer, Rose, Collins, Blair.
Bristol Rovers:
Nicholls, Leadbitter (Harrison HT), Brown, Lockyer, Parkes, Mansell (Gosling 84), Taylor, Lines (Ollie Clarke HT), James Clarke, Easter, Sinclair.
Unused subs - Mildenhall, McChrystal, Blissett, Montano.
Probably not one for the purists.
However, deep down inside the psyche of any football fan, hidden away behind the section of the brain that creates emotions of celebratory elation, joy and unrestrained euphoria, there is a dark recess that occasionally produces cravings that will only ever be satisfactorily fed, by releasing a massive outpouring of angst ridden despondency; brought about by experiencing the kind of trauma tantrum that can only be induced by a bout of severe injustice, the latin name for this condition is kinnel wewuzrobbed... and in light of events on the battlefield of the One Call Stadium that doubled up (occasionally) as a football pitch this afternoon, over 3,000 people experienced such a simultaneous rush of disquietude and release of mortally wounded distress.
Of course, for this sort of live theatre of pain stuff to work properly, the plot needs a Machiavellian baddy or two, for the angry mob to vent it's spleen towards... enter Bristol Rovers!
I have no axe to grind with 'the Gas' personally, in fact I have a number of friends who had travelled up to support Rovers at t'Mill today, but a good number of their followers obviously hold a grudge and still have a lot of ill feeling towards Mansfield Town FC, given that they played the Stags on the day they were relegated from the Football League.
Surely you get relegated for being crap all season and not just because of results on the final day. Either way, I'm actually happy that they only spent one season in the National League before they regained their place in 'Division Four'.
For the record, everybody connected with Mansfield Town, on and off the pitch, holds the visitors manager, Darrell Clarke, in very high regard, as a time served Stag and local lad made good, he is fondly remembered by all for the service he gave to his hometown team.
But I digress... now I am not easily shocked, but was somewhat taken aback by the tactics employed by Bristol Rovers this afternoon, whereby they redefined the parameters of the word 'gamesmanship'.
Cheating is a probably too strong a word to use, but extreme timewasting and going to ground, sans contact, at every given opportunity, to gain an unfair advantage, kind of suggest that such a description wouldn't be too far wide of the mark.
Alas it is only human nature to meet fire with fire when you are getting ****ed about and several of the Stags players began to respond in the time honoured fashion to the visitors gameplan.
It got messy.
Very messy at times.
Jermaine Easter opened the scoring for 'the Gas' on 17 minutes when Lee Brown and Danny Leadbitter combined well to set up the opportunity for their number 17 to crash home the ball from eight yards.
At that point the game had still just about stayed within the 'rules of engagement' you would usually associate with a 'firm but fair' tangle. But the niggling and play acting descended rapidly and pretty soon players were leaving a foot in here and there and meeting fire with fire.
Though Mansfield ultimately lost to a goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time, with a total of just 9 players on the pitch, including two who were clearly injured (and who would've been withdrawn if the Stags hadn't already used all three substitutes), at a time when pretty much the odds were stacked against them, it could be argued that they had actually been the architects of their own downfall, when they allowed Rovers to sucker them into a tit for tat battle, that saw them lose their discipline, two players to red cards and a game of football.
As it happens, Bristol only had 10 men on the pitch as well, as the referee Mark Haywood had a very busy afternoon, where he had struggled to keep control of the game at times. When in called the captain's together to appeal for calm, they wrestled him to the floor and challenged him to "Get out of that!" while Nicky Hunt grabbed him in a headlock and Danny Leadbitter gave him a Chinese burn... Okay, I made that bit up, but with the climate of the game worsening, it was actually feasible that they might have grappled with the perplexed official.
The first red card was shown to Rovers goalscorer Jermaine Easter in first half stoppage time. 
Adam Chapman gave the ball away and the visitors raced forward, Easter realised he wasn't going to get to the ball before Brian Jensen, so he dived... and as the referee approached with his hand on his pocket in readiness to show him a yellow card for the 'assimilation' offence, Easter jumped to his feet and tried to take a swing at Jamie McGuire and then attempted to headbutt him. Neither connected, but the intent was there.
McGuire, along with Tafazolli was remonstrating with him for going to ground.
Note, even while he was having a rush of blood to the head, Easter wasn't daft enough to have a pop at the biggest lad on the pitch.
Obviously the two combined attempted (but failed) assaults, along with the dive, now warranted the Rovers' number 7 getting a second yellow card, at the very least. Either way he was dismissed.
You'd have to ask the referee if it was actually a straight red, or two (or even three) yellows that equated to the total of number of punishable transgressions that led to Easter's sending off.
Blog update (in bold type) added Tuesday 20/10/15
*Following an appeal by Bristol Rovers, Easter's red card was rescinded... and he is now available to play tonight against Notts County. 
The second dismissal, around the hour mark, saw Krystian Pearce dismissed, "to even things up", for allegedly kicking out as he tussled off the ball with Tom Lockyer, for a position on the right hand side of the area, as the players gathered to face a left wing corner.
Lockyer dropped to the ground and Pearce will now miss Tuesday's long haul to Yeovil Town.
Ryan Tafazolli
Nicky Hunt and Ellis Harrison were both booked for clattering into each other and a few minutes later, Hunt became the third player to receive his marching orders for a second bookable offence when he fouled Stuart Sinclair as the visitors mounted an attack from the middle of the park. Their will certainly be a few empty seats on that bus to Somerset in midweek now.
As an aside to all of the bickering, posturing, 'assimilationing' and histrionics, there was also a game of football going on... and on 81 minutes, Tafazolli planted an 18 yard drive just inside the post, to pull the Stags level.
A draw looked to be on the cards now, with just three minutes left on the clock, Jensen saved at the feet of Harrison and got a nasty knock for his trouble, while Tafazolli cleared the loose ball away.
Jensen stayed down while he received lengthy treatment, but all three Mansfield subs were already on, so he had to see the game out, despite his obvious discomfort.
In the Eighth minute of added on time, James Clarke, with a last throw of the dice, swung a cross into the box and Matt Taylor headed home a late, late, ****ing late winner for the visitors. 
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v Bristol Rovers 2
And the moral of this story is... keep your discipline and let the referee deal with overly physical opponents, who are being picked off at regular intervals by a sniper on the roof, or need to get some studs in their boots. Bloody divers!