Saturday, 2 January 2016

Mansfield Town 2 v Accrington Stanley 3 - SkyBet League2

Saturday 2nd January 2016
at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Sky Bet League 2
Mansfield Town (1) 2
Matt Green 27
Chris Clements 88
Accrington Stanley (1) 3
Piero Mingoia 3
Billy Kee 72
Terry Gornell 85
Admission £18. Programme £3. Attendance 3,271 (144 away)
Mansfield Town:
Jensen, Rose, Collins, Pearce, Adams, Chapman (C), Clements,
N Thomas (Blair 53), Lambe (Yussuf 76), J Thomas, Green (Westcarr 64)
Unused subs - Shearer, Beardsley, Tafazolli, McGuire.
Accrington Stanley:
Mooney, Pearson, Wright, Davies, Halliday, McConville (Buxton 77), Conneely, Crooks, Mingoia (Gornell 71), Windass (McCartan 67), Kee.
Unused subs - Etheridge, Barry, Proctor, Wakefield
John Coleman's Accrington side passed the ball around really well at times today, that is one of their main strengths and the man on the ball didn't even need to look up and pick out one of his teammates most of the time, because they're so well drilled they instinctively know where to move and what runs to make when they were in possession in certain situations and as a consequence, they were very comfortable on the ball and always likely to pose a threat when they pushed forward as a unit.
They had stand out performers in Josh Windass, Sean McConville and Billy Kee, who made up an impressive three pronged engine room.
Watching from up in row P, you could see the shape that the visitors were adopting and how clinically they were exploiting any gaps Mansfield left when they were dragged out of position (which happened far too often), by Stanley's quick and fluent passing game, or played a stray pass. 
Mansfield got a lot of flak for the way they played today, but surely such a myopic viewpoint overlooks the fact that Accrington had more quality about them than they've been given credit for by some people... just maybe they won today because they played well themselves.
Mitchell Rose, playing out of position at right back, was beaten by Windass and delivered a cross in from the left wing behind the Stags defence for the live-wire Piero Mingoia to run onto and he netted from close range in the third minute.
Windass seemed to have been given a free role to run amok wherever he wanted on the pitch, because moments later he was back to torment the Stags back line from the right flank and the visitors would have had a second early goal if Kee could've kept his shot on target.
Mansfield then had their keeper Brian Jensen to thank for thwarting Accrington's early onslaught, and he proved that the old adage saying that all goalkeepers are mad was true, when he went in to collect the ball at Kee's feet (who was subsequently yellow carded for following through with a raised boot) and showed agility that defied his stature to keep out McConville's thumping shot from close range.
Against the run of play, the Stags were back on level terms after twenty seven minutes when a hopeful long range ball towards Matt Green by Chris Clements wasn't cleared by Tom Davies and the Stags striker cut in to area through the left channel and fired an angled shot across the face of goal that nestled into the net just inside the right hand post.
It was a relief to see that the goal finally ignited a spark within the Stags players and leading up to the break, having survived a dominant spell from the visitors that had gone on for way too long, they began to play some half decent stuff of their own.
The youngsters at the back of the Quarry Lane End responded to their teams efforts, but the ever present snatch squad of stewards, were soon wading into them and chucking people about and even ejected two lads from the ground altogether in the ensuing stand off, that wouldn't have happened until 'the bouncers' started stamping their authority on the situation, in what I thought personally was an over the top manner. People stewarding football crowds, need a better understanding of fan culture, especially that of the young 'ultra' sections of fans that almost every club in the league has these day. They are creating a great atmosphere in the singing section at the One Call Stadium and the club openly encourages them to do so... and they aren't spoiling things for anybody else because they occupy the back few rows of seats.
The storm-trooper division of stewards who marched purposely up the stairs to sort the young fans out, weren't particularly bothered whose view of the game they were blocking as their show of strength antics began to encroach into the next block of seats. This situation needs sorting out ASAP. Maybe the club could send an incognito observer to sit near that section of the crowd for a couple of games to see what really goes on up there... just saying.
In the words of David Bowie: "Let the children boogie"
Anyway, back on with the show after that diversion.
Mansfield finished the first half on the front foot and were unrecognisable from the way they had played prior to Green's well taken goal.
Adam Chapman released Green with a knock into the path of his forward run and the 'out of form' striker, who has only scored four goals in his last seven outings, opted to thread the ball sideways to Reggie Lambe instead of going for goal, but his pass was cut out by the towering figure of Jason Mooney, who probably wouldn't look out of place as a point guard in the NBA, if he ever fancied a new career.
I'm told he measures in at six feet nine inches... but he he looks much bigger!
Just before the break the Stags piled forward to make good of their current momentum and as the referee Scott Duncan ran forward to keep up with the action, he missed Tom Davies clattering heavily into Green in the centre circle and obstructing his run on goal.
The attack broke down but the crowd were incensed about Davies' unpunished yet blatant foul.
Green carried on after treatment but was obviously struggling and though he came back out for the second half, he was effectively walking wounded now and he was replaced just after the hour mark.
HT: Mansfield Town 1 v Accrington Stanley 1
The Stags started the second half as though they meant business. And they came close to making good of their up tempo spell ,when Green cut in from the right hand side of the area, but over hit his pass to the well placed Reggie Lambe, but he managed to keep the ball in play and roll it back into the path of Jack Thomas who shot over the bar from the edge of the box.
Green limped off and was replaced by Craig Westcarr, hopefully the Stags centre forward is not going to be out for any length of time like other pivotal team members have been. For a while (though it didn't last) the home side were on the oppositions toes, fighting for every ball and showing the kind of commitment that would halt their poor run of home results if only they could maintain the tempo for a whole ninety minutes.
In the first half Mansfield had scored against the run of play (which is something of an understatement) and in the seventy second minute, Stanley did exactly the same thing,
Terry Gornell, who had only been on the pitch for a minute in place of Accrington's goalscorer Mingoia, pounced on a moment of indecision from Lee Collins and passed the ball to Matt Crooks whose attempted sideways pass deflected off of Krystian Pearce into the path of Kee who unleashed an unstoppable shot past Jensen.
The Stags started to loose their way a bit and with a few passes going astray Adam Murray sent on Adi Yussuf to bolster his attacking options, but once again it was turning into a frustrating afternoon for the 'Field Mill' faithful as the home side failed to make any inroads in the final third.
Somebody sat near to me was ranting and raving about why Ryan Tafazolli was still sitting on the bench, because Mansfield needed to go long now to save a point and his presence would be a big plus in final ten minutes to that end.
Hopefully the rumours that Tafazolli is being rested because he is on his way to a bigger club, AKA Leeds United during the transfer window, of one of the smaller league clubs in Sheffield, will prove to be unfounded. He is a player that the Stags need in my opinion and I would be gutted to see him leave; hopefully it's all only speculation.
With five minutes of the ninety to go, Mansfield conceded a soft goal, Adam Buxton's cross was headed down towards the bottom corner by Gornell who beat Collins to the ball, Jensen got his hand to the ball and crashed into the upright, as Gornell knocked the ball in from the rebound while two Stags defenders stood ball watching.
With their side now two goals behind, it was enough for a lot of fans who had seen enough and left the ground and shuffling away into the miserable January weather. But they missed an excellent strike from Chris Clements who curled a great free kick into the top corner from twenty five yards out, after Westcarr had been fouled. Who cares if the defence wall was only six yards away from the kick when it was taken? Not me, the wall had blocked the tallest man in the universe's view for long enough to prevent him from doing anything about Clements dipping effort.
The PA man declared that Adam Chapman had been awarded man of the match, which was met with an audible murmur of disapproval from around the ground, a great way to lift a team who are chasing a late equaliser... not!
But the "Added time will be five minutes" announcement seemed to be far more popular.
But even though Krystian Pearce was thrown forward to add to assist with the attack, the Stags couldn't salvage a draw.
In fact they could have lost by a bigger margin had it not been for Jensen responding quickly to block Kee after Gornell had sent him chasing forward,
Collins did have a half chance to snatch a late goal, but a crowded Accrington defence weren't going to let their advantage slip now and the ball was charged down.
FT: Mansfield Town 2 v Accrington Stanley 3
The Stags did look good either side of half time, but over the entire ninety plus minutes, Accrington were more clinical and have some quality players who display a good touch, both on the ball and when they're distributing it. They were the better side and a late equaliser would've been a bit 'jammy', though I would've taken it.
I (really, really) hate to see Mansfield Town lose, but would have to concede that it was a fair result today.