Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Chesterfield 2 v Mansfield Town 3 - Central League

Tuesday 21st March 2017
Central League (NE)
Chesterfield (0) 2
Charlie Wakefield 82
Luke Rawson 88
Mansfield Town (2) 3
Pat Hoban 14, 31
Alfie Potter 59
Dylan Parkin, Iffy Ofoegbu, Fowler (Charlie Wakefield 60), Harry Taylor, Dylan Hand, George Lynam, Owen Darwent (Luke Rawson 72),Marc  McKenna (Jay Smith 69), Joel Phillips, Jack Brownell, Jake Beesley (C)
Unused sub - Brad Jones (GK)
Mansfield Town:
Brian Jensen, James Baxendale, Kyle Howkins (Kieran Harrison 60), George Taft, Ash Hemmings, Jamie McGuire (C), Lewis Collins, Alfie Potter, CJ Hamilton, Pat Hoban (Zayn Hakeem 46), Yoann Arquin
Unused subs - Alex Roughton (GK), Jason Law, Cameron Healey
Blimey! I didn't know that Steve Bruce
was a Central League linesman.
A midweek Central League local derby fixture, that proved to be little more than an afternoon stroll in the Derbyshire sunshine for a dominant Mansfield Town second string.
The win, in truth, was far more convincing and comfortable for the visitors, than the narrow margin of victory would suggest.
And so it should have been; given that the Spireites fielded a relatively young team, compared to the Stags, who used the game as an opportunity to give (in the main) a side of first team players, the chance to get some valuable match time, under the watchful eye of Paul Raynor... and to afford the first team assistant manager some insight into the capabilities of two of the Under 18 squad, namely: Zayn Hakeem and Kieran Harrison, who were used as second half substitutes.

Yet, having squandered a string of gilt edged chances in both the first and second half, Mansfield could have been left red faced right at the death, as Chesterfield netted two late goals to give the game a full time score line that had never looked likely to be on the cards.
Having arrived a good hour before the game, because I didn't want to hang around and drive too slowly through some of the satellite towns, villages and tired looking outposts one must pass through to reach Chesterfield itself, for fear of having my alloys pinched if my speed fell below 30 MPH; we opted to sit in the padded 'prawn sandwich brigade' seats, above the halfway line, as an unsegregated crowd entered the Proact Stadium and mingled in a peaceable manner, in spite of the presence of a few old 'faces' from both respective manors, who would happily have punched the living daylights out of each other a few years ago.
One must only hope that the cash strapped and soon to be relegated host club, weren't given too much of a bill to pay for the presence of their local constabulary who turned up briefly before kick off for a sniff around, before clearing off to solve some crimes, or whatever it is they do when they're not bothering football supporters.
The Proact Stadium, the building of which was financed by a recently restructured loan from the council, is certainly a more comfortable arena to watch a game of football in, than Chesterfield's previous home: Saltergate ever was.
The old ground was used during the film adaptation of David Peace's 'Damned United' book and also as a prop in the Japanese Prisoner of War TV drama 'Tenko' when the production team needed somewhere suitable to depict the kind of rodent infested squalor that camp dwellers and captives were subjected to.
I can't imagine that even the most staunchly dyed in the wool and committed members of the home support miss that dump, or remember it with any kind of misty eyed affection, even though it was perfectly in keeping within it's 'how we used to live' geographical surrounds.
Anyway, enough of this all of this preamble stuff and on with the main event.
Brian Jensen got an early touch inside the opening minute, but it was his opposite number, Dylan Parkin. in the Chesterfield goal, who was the busiest of the two keepers. And I think that it would be fair to say that the latter rode his luck a few times too.
The running of Alfie Potter out on the right flank, with James Baxendale tucked in behind him as a right back, would prove to be a pivotal feature of the Stags virtual one way traffic towards the Spireites goal and it was Potter who created the first chance, crossing to Yohann Arquin whose header was parried back towards him by Parkin who saved the resulting shot. 
Parkin was soon in the thick of things again, when he spilt an angled ball across the face of his goal from CJ Hamilton, but clawed it back under his control at the second attempt after it ricocheted towards him off a teammate.
Pat Hoban crashed a shot past Parkin from twelve yards, but the young keeper grasped the ball as it bounced back off of the left hand upright.
With the vast majority of the game being played out in and around the home side's goal area, it was always a question of when the Stags would find the back of the net, rather than if, but when the opening goal did come, in the fourteenth minute. there was an ironic twist of good fortune about it, when George Lynam's attempted clearance struck the shins of Pat Hoban and rebounded past the stranded Parkin and into the back of the net. They all count!
And the bizarre ones are doubly funny when they are scored against Chesterfield, even more so when they benefit Mansfield Town.
Parkin won the next round of his personal battle against Hoban, when he got down to his right and turned the Stags number nine's thumping volley around the post at full stretch.
Hoban found himself in space but hooked his shot over from ten yards out.
But just after the half hour mark, a mix up between the Spireites keeper and his left back Connor Fowler, saw Hoban presented with an opportunity to tap the ball into the back of the back of an empty and unguarded goal.
Dylan Parkin and myself follow each other on Twitter, he's a nice lad and I once had him down as man of the match in an Under 18 game he played against the young Stags. And usually I would probably be sympathetic to his of having suffered the consequences of a couple of defensive errors, but not today. 
Sorry Dylan pal. Whenever Mansfield Town play Chesterfield, at any level, all Spireites are fair game. It isn't personal and I genuinely hope you have more luck the next time you turn out for that team you play for.
Iffy Ofoegbu disturbed Jensen, who had to get up from his deck chair and put down his iced tea (with a slice of lemon) to catch a tame effort on goal from the home side's right back, after the ball bounced straight to him at a comfortable height.
CJ Hamilton, who had been causing problems for the Spireites on the left hand side of the visitors attack throughout the first half, broke free past a challenge and homed in on Dylan's goal, but lost his footing as he was about to shoot, much of thee amusement of the Prozac Stadium faithful. Whoops! I meant Proact Stadium faithful. Please excuse my punny slur on the terminally depressed locals who have to watch the crap football that their first team play here. No, come to think of it don't... they get what they deserve!
HT: Spireites 0 v Stags 2
Mansfield continued to peg the hosts back in their own half and Dylan was forced into making another save early in the second half from a long range shot by Potter.
Minutes later, Zayn hakeem who had replaced Hoban at half time, saw off both Ofoegbu and Jack Brownell with a burst of pace though the left channel, but his angled shot flew wide of the right hand post.
Having escaped a near miss, Chesterfield picked up their game and applied some pressure on the Stags defence, winning a corner along the way... but they'll probably want to work on their dead ball routines in training this week as McGuire cleared Brownell's delivery out of the Stags area to Hakeem who knocked it to Yoann Arquin, before racing forward to support his strike partner in attack. The young Stags took a return pass and crossed the ball to Potter, who, aided by the Spireites defender Harry Taylor air kicking and missing a clearance altogether, took aim and lobbed the ball over Dylan... who took his phone out of his glove bag and rang Interpol's missing person's bureau to report his AWOL defence, who by now had been missing in action, for almost a hour.
There was still no let up for the home side as Hamilton had a cross headed away from underneath the bar and George Taft nodded the ball past the near post from Baxendale's delivery.
Hakeem made room for himself to deliver a cross from the right, wrong footing Taylor with a step over (of sorts) before hitting a dipping cross just over the bar.
Potter was excelling for the visitors playing on the right and lifted by his outstanding goal for the Stags, he was confident enough to try his luck again, but as he cut into the Spireites area from the right, he slightly over hit his shot that cleared the left hand post.
Arquin threaded a through ball to Hakeem, who paced forward before scuffing the ball wide of the target from four feet.
A good striker must never be afraid to have a go, or to let a few missed chances knock their confidence... and a few minutes later Hakeem was back in the thick of it, heading over the bar from Lewis Collins' cross.
Charlie Wakefield combined with Brownwell and then Taylor, before putting on a burst of pace to take him past Jensen before planting the ball into the back of the Stags net.
Completely against the run of play and with just eight minutes remaining, the home side suddenly began to resemble a passing and competent football team.
Surely we weren't about to witness the spectacle of one of the most unlikely comebacks in the whole history of world football, since it's apparent invention in China over two thousand years ago (when it was still called Cuju), were we!?
Stranger things have happened... usually in games that involve the world famous and much loved football institution that is Mansfield Town.
Parkin raced from his line to clear the ball and arrived a fraction of a very narrow moment in time before Hakeem got to it and subsequently the Spireites keeper's whacked clearance cannoned off the Barbuda and Antigua Under 20 international's right shin pad and rolled inches wide of the upright.
On another day Hoban and Hakeem could both have claimed hat tricks and the Stags could (and should) have been out of sight and running down the clock sitting on an highly deserved hefty lead.
But football isn't like that sometimes and in the final minute of the scheduled ninety, a fifteen year old substitute: Luke Rawson, chased a through ball from Wakefield and kept his cool as he slotted the ball under the beast size frame of Jensen.
A dozen or so home supporters raised their six fingered hands in celebration, knowing that keeping the Stags stiffs winning margin down to just one goal, was the best thing that they were likely to have to cheer about for quite a while; as their club slide perilously towards football oblivion any time soon.
But Mansfield saw out the remainder of the game without any further mishaps and claimed the three points, from a game that they should already have had tied up, possibly even before half time.
FT: Chesterfield 2 v Mansfield Town 3 
The best team won, even though they should have been more clinical in front of the opposition goal and a bit more focussed in front of their own during the closing minutes.