SkyBet League 2
at the One Call Stadium/Field Mill
Mansfield Town (2) 2
Matt Green 12, 16
Northampton Town (0) 2
Ricky Holmes pen 64, John Marquis 68
Admission £18. Programme £3. Attendance 4367 (1667 away)
Shearer, Collins (C), Pearce, Tafazolli (Alfei 23’), Benning, McGuire, Clements, Blair (Chapman 56’), Thomas, Dieseruvwe (Rose 62’), Green
Unused subs - Jensen, Baxendale, Beardsley
Smith, Moloney, Taylor (D’Ath 46’), Diamond, Richards (C) (Holmes 46’), Buchanan, McDonald, Collins, O’Toole, Rose, Marquis (Hoskins 79’)
Unused subs - Clarke, Byrom, Lelan, Prosser
Prior to kick off I would've torn your arm off and probably chucked one of my own in for good measure, if you'd offered me a score draw against the runaway SkyBet League leaders, particularly after the Stags no-show, shambles of a performance at Wycombe.
I'm glad that Northampton have turned things around remarkably fast since they looked like going to the wall not so long ago, but given the undoubted talent that they have at their disposal, I was very disappointed with the 'gamesmanship', theatricals and diving that they resorted to, especially once they realised that the referee Mr Darren Handley could be suckered into falling for just about every trick in the book.
But the Stags didn't have to wait for their first goal to come when Matt Green timed his run to perfection and met Mal Bennings ball in from out on the left with a well directed header past Adam Smith.
Within five minutes Green struck again, from virtually the identical spot, when he nudged a glancing nod past Smith from Clements cross.
The home side were dealt a blow, when their influential centre half took a hefty kick and could play no further part.
Hmm, if I was a conspiracy theorist, then I might be so bold as to suggest that Northampton had nobbled the Stags best player on purpose.
The same supporters who chastise Murray for bringing in a Spireite on loan, were later condemning him for substituting the same player. The retail cost of Crystal Meth must be at an all time low in that dodgy subway near Mansfield probation office.
Danny Rose had Northampton's first real chance after 40 minutes, but he skied the ball into the back row of the North Stand.
But the referee levelled things up just before the break, when he sent Jamie McGuire off for receiving a second yellow card, for a face to face stand off with John Marquis, who wasn't punished for his part in the confrontation and as a consequence stayed on the pitch and scored the Cobblers equalizing goal in the second half.
HT: Mansfield Town 2 v Northampton Town 2
Bennings free kick found it's way through to Green who smashed the ball narrowly wide.
But as Northampton began to make good use of their extra man advantage, they almost got a goal back as Ricky Holmes unleashed a stinging shot that beat Shearer but crashed down off the crossbar and was cleared away to safety. Phew!
Moments later disaster struck for the Stags, when James Collins cut into the penalty area but found himself crowded out and unable to cross the ball and he went to ground. The referee adjudged that Krystian Pearce one of the three defenders blocking his path had fouled him. And regardless of the fact that he hadn't, not by any stretch of the imagination, Holmes stepped forward and calmly stroked the spot kick past Shearer. Who says cheats don't prosper?
There was no such skulduggery at play however, when John Marquis netted the equaliser four minutes from close range after Shearer had struggled to catch a corner kick and the loose ball fell kindly to the visitors lively number 27.
Mansfield began to tire as they dug in to preserve a point, with a numerical disadvantage against a team who were 12 points clear at the top of the table. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Adam Murray had no option but to switch things around under the circumstances and he made changes to bolster both the defence and midfield, as Northampton threatened to turn a 2-0 reversal into a 2-3 win, just as they had done at Stevenage last week.
Sam Hoskins was introduced to liven things up for the Cobblers, he miscued a shot just moments after coming on and also received a yellow card for a blatant dive, "Well done referee you finally spotted one! Shame about the other dozen times!" shouted out an overweight, shaven headed football blogger who lives in East Retford.
The visitors were probing for an opening now, but the Stags were defending doggedly as the clock ticked down.
Adam Smith had saves to make from Jack Thomas and Mitch Rose but Chris Wilder's team aren't top of the league for nothing and they weren't likely to come unstuck from a quick counter attack this late in the game.
Good luck to Northampton in SkyBet League 1 next season, they've got some decent players and there is no need for all of the 'other stuff' they got up to today.
The Stags definitely restored some pride this afternoon in the second part of their Easter double header... not that anything was going to please some people, who are claiming that Murray's substitutions cost the home side a win. WTF!?
I'd ban space ships from parking at the ground, so you can't get to Stags games from whichever planet you live on.
FT: Stags 2 v Cobblers 2