Saturday, 25 November 2017

Mansfield Town 2 v Chesterfield 2 - EFL League 2

Saturday 25th November 2017
SkyBet EFL League 2 - 1pm Kick off
at the One Call Stadium/Field Mill
Mansfield Town (1) 2
Hayden White 26, Zander Diamond 88
Chesterfield (1) 2
Joe Rowley 14, Andy Kellett 58
Admission £22. Programme £3.
Attendance 7525 inc 1646 away
The Stags went into this afternoon's local derby riding on the crest of a nine match unbeaten run in all competitions, that saw them climb into a play off position in midweek, courtesy an impressive 4-0 win away from home at Port Vale. 
This afternoon's visitors won only one of their opening ten games and as a consequence of their poor start, kicked off in 92nd place (in a 92 team Football League). However, since replacing their manager Gary Caldwell with Jack Lester, the Derbyshire side have enjoyed a recent upturn in results which has seen them claim three wins and two draws from their last six league games, and they arrived at Field Mill today, off the back of a 3-2 win over Forest Green Rovers at the Proact Stadium on Tuesday night.
Seventeen league paces, fifteen points, fifteen miles and a whole load of long standing and very deep rooted loathing, animosity and mutually reciprocated ill will; was all that stood between these two sides, as the players took to the pitch for the police dictated kick off time of 1pm. And regardless of how much of a morale boosting result this 2-2 draw must have been for the visitors, those statistics remain exactly the same in the aftermath of this local derby stalemate.
There are large elements within the fan bases of both of these clubs who genuinely despise each other, with a passion, twenty four hours a day and three hundred and sixty five days per year. So I personally don't see what difference a couple of hours makes to the equation.
I've heard said that 'hate' itself is far too strong a word to be bandied about in the context of any football rivalry, but I would dispute any such claim in relation this particular fixture.
And I'm damn sure that anybody who has ever been at the sharp end of the 'matchday experience', when these two sides have met previously, would agree entirely with my point of view to that end, regardless of which side of the great divide they hail from.
It had been advertised over the course of the week in the build up to the game, that both sets of supporters were being asked to put their differences aside and join in a minutes applause in the 12th minute, by way of a tribute to a 12 year old Chesterfield supporter, Abbie Jacques, who passed away last month due to complications with the type 1 diabetes she was suffering from. And sadly, only yesterday, young Dawson Willcock, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, also died, of a rare strain of cancer aged just 2. Subsequently a minutes applause was also held in his memory in the second minute. 
The plight of both children and their families, was well known to the the supporters of their respective clubs. But, given the short notice of these arrangements and taking into account that not everybody, by any stretch of the imagination, has access to social media and the like and will have seen any of the advance publicity, both of these acts of remembrance were impeccably observed by both sets of supporters.  
Mansfield will rue the fact that they didn't put a few more finishing touches to their dominant probing and pressing, during a virtually one way first half
Yet, in the final analysis, they'll also be relieved that they grabbed an equaliser with just two minutes to go, after they had been outplayed in the second, when Zander Diamond headed home Alex MacDonald's cross, to chalk up the second goal that went against the run of play of the afternoon, after Joe Rowley had scored the first one with the Spireites solitary attempt on goal, during an  opening forty five minutes, during which the home side had created enough chances to already have put the game beyond Chesterfield's reach well before the interval.
Jacob Mellis in particular had several opportunities to put the visitors to the sword, as he combined with Alex MacDonald, and Omari Sterling-James to form a three pronged attack.
And MacDonald was denied what looked like a stonewall penalty, when Robbie Weir appeared to trip him en route to goal, after he'd left the visitors number twenty eight looking like a spare mannequin at a fashion show with a neat turn of pace.
But despite the relentless flow of Mansfield pressure, it was their 'nearest and dearest' local rivals, who made a smash and grab raid to claim the opening goal, when Jak McCourt delivered a left wing cross deep into the Stags area that Andy Kellett touched to Joe Rowley, who hooked a curling shot over Conrad Logan.
On 26 minutes Hayden White paced forward into the Chesterfield area, to take a return pass from Omari Sterling-James in his stride and having committed Joe Anyon into moving from his line, crashed the ball past the exposed Spireites keeper.
Rowley's goal hadn't knocked Mansfield out of their stride at all, and they soon picked up the ante and put Jack Lester's side under the cosh again, but as Mellis saw another effort skim past the upright, there was a growing concern that while so many good chances were going begging, the old adage that says that the form book goes out of the window when local bragging rights are at stake, might just be waiting in the wings to make an appearance.
HT: Stags 1 v Spireites 1
The second half was pretty much identical to the first, inasmuch as it was mostly played towards the North Stand, as Chesterfield, boosted by still being on level terms at the break, after taking a real pounding against the ropes with their gum shields out before the half time whistle, emerged from the players tunnel like a different team and took the game to their hosts with a vengeance.
The Stags for their part had seemingly had a collective memory loss during the interval and had forgotten how to pass to each other, keep their shape and stay tight on their opponents to prevent them from being creative and building up a wave of attacks.
Danny Rose was cutting a lonely figure up front on his own, particularly with Ian Evatt 'marking' the Stags striker closely and winning everything in the air that was intended for Rose, who really needed more service on the ground and support, as Jerome Binnon-Williams and Sam Hird teamed up with Evatt to keep the Mansfield front man quiet with their 'physical presence'.
Dennis almost got a second for the Spireites when he hit the bar... and Logan was forced into action by both Dennis and Rowley.
Though it pains me to say so, it would be fair to say, that it had been coming, when, in the fifty eighth minute, the unmarked Kellett directed a free header past Logan from a Kristian Dennis cross
With Mansfield still reeling from the blow of going behind again. 
Will the real Mansfield Town please stand up!?
It had been a blow for the Stags faithful when Rowley had opened the scoring in  the first half while the home side were in the ascendancy, but it must have been a real sickener for the deflated Spireite hordes, when MacDonald sent a dipping cross into the visitors area, that Diamond met like an incoming express train to ram his header past Anyon, to score the late equaliser, that undid all of Chesterfield's second half endeavours.
On the balance of the whole ninety minutes, the draw was probably a fair result, given that both teams had ruled the roost for forty five minutes apiece, but missing out on the three points that would have lifted their side off of the bottom of the table so late in the game, was a proper kick in the knackers for the Spireites, who were all but already celebrating an away win.
Danny Rose and Alfie Potter both had chances to win the game for Steve Evans side in stoppage time, and if either effort had gone in, that would really have rubbed the salt into the wounds of the visitors, but it wasn't to be. And both sides had to make do with a point each.
FT: Mansfield Town 2 v Chesterfield 2
It's something of an understatement, but I don't much care for Chesterfield, but on today's evidence, if Jack Lester can get them playing like they did in the second half, then there is every chance that they will pull away from the relegation places... but not if they ride their luck like they did in the first.
That's ten games unbeaten in a row for the Stags in all competitions now... just saying!
The Stags are playing a fundraising game at Clipstone FC on Tuesday night (kickoff 7pm), before they face Guiseley AFC, who are managed by two ex Stags managers: Paul Cox and Adam Murray, at home, in the FA Cup 2nd Round, on Sunday 3rd November (2pm kick off).
If anybody of the amber persuasion wants a game to watch on Saturday, the currently table topping and reigning EFL Youth Alliance (North) champions: Mansfield Town U18, are at home against Lincoln City. 
The game kicks off at 11AM and will be played at Rainworth Miners Welfare, with an admission charge of £3. See you all there!