Blue Square Bet Premier Game #5: Mansfield Vs Kettering 27/8/11 – Field Mill 3PM
‘Home is where the heart is’
I’ve been quite unlucky in the last 4 years or so, moving house on two occasions, the first time moving from the village I grew up & was educated in to a place where I knew one person, leaving behind my friends, my hangouts and most disappointingly – my Mansfield Town posters which got ripped from my wall (don’t ask!). My point is that I was forced to go away from everything I knew, into a relative unknown – I guess that feeling would have been similar to those players remaining at Mansfield Town from last season, who’ve been paired with new players and a new look around Field Mill. I’m told the old sayings, put up by the lesser twin, have been taken down by Paul Cox and I know for a fact that around the corridors leading from GATE8 to the press box, the photo frames which housed pictures of the players from 2 seasons ago, have been removed, ready for updated ones to be put in place. The old players, along with fellow members of the press & anyone who uses said corridor, will be getting that new house feeling – the majority of your old fixtures & belongs are with you, but something’s different and five games into the new season, it’s not quite ‘home’ yet.
I moved house again on Christmas Eve of last year (yes, in the snow! – Again don’t ask) and 8 months down the line, I still haven’t quite got things how I want them, this got me wondering yesterday as I walked past those empty photo frames at Field Mill, how long would it take the new look Mansfield Town to settle in at home, how long would it take them to be able to kick their slippers off, sit back on the sofa with the loved one watching Eastenders with a brew, and say ‘Honey, I’m Home’
Yesterday saw Kettering make their way to Field Mill, hoping to inflict further damage on us and our home, adding to our worst start since relegation season, 2007-08. The visitors headed to Field Mill with saw backsides, after taking a spanking at the hands of York City midweek, Paul Cox looked to repeat that spanking, by naming an unchanged side from the one which drew with Luton midweek. The Mansfield boss did make one change to the bench, Nick Wood made way as Ritchie Sutton returned from injury.
Luke O’Neill – Ben Futcher – Ritchie Sutton – Joe Kendrick
Louis Briscoe – Adam Murray (C) – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle
Ross Dyer – Matt Green
SUBS: Shane Redmond – Jon Worthington – Lee Stevenson – Paul Connor – Ritchie Sutton.
Eager to continue the good football from Tuesday evening, Mansfield started the game the brightest with just two minutes on the clock a neat little move earned stags a corner, Luke O’Neill’s right sided throw found its way to Matt Green, his low cross was in search of strike partner Ross Dyer, who just piped to the post by Kettering’s Phillip Ifil, who nodded the ball away for stags’ first corner. Joe Kendrick’s left footed out swinger was poor but Louis Briscoe rescued the bouncing ball on the edge of the area, a neat burst of pace saw him pull the trigger and earn a second corner, this time a better in swinger delivery from Kendrick saw Martin Riley head wide at the back post.
Moments later, Mansfield were on the charge again, Lindon Meikle picked the ball up wide left and opted to feed Kendrick just inside, the Irish left backs cross was deflected away but only as far as Adam Murray, advancing to the edge of the box the stags skipper pulled the trigger, team mate Matt Green got a touch on it and took the sting from the ball making it easy for visiting shot stopper Laurie Walker to collect.
Mansfield 1-0 Kettering
Mansfield have yet to go on and build from taking the lead on 3 separate occasions this season, with all the games resulting in 1-1 draws, desperate not to see another draw, the stags looked for a second straight from the restart, Lindon Meikle and Matt Green looking lively in the space between the half way line the edge of the box, however Kettering stood strong and recovered and looked for a response themselves, FA Trophy winner Aman Verma’s right wing cross was headed away by Ben Futcher, Jean Paul-Marna was first to the loose ball, twisting past Riley and blasting an effort towards goal left footed, however Paul-Marna’s accuracy needed some work, as the ball trickled away for a stags throw in.
From taking the lead to around the 40th minute, Mansfield looked surprisingly uncomfortable, the visitors had a whole host of chances to be level but failed to take them, Ben Futcher proved Mansfield’s saviour on 25 minutes when a Tom Williams corner met by George Taft, Bury loanee Futcher with a near goal line clearance to deny Kettering a leveller. Jean Paul-Marna volleyed over following a Phillip Ifil chipped cross as the stags again failed to pick up the second ball, Tom Williams also fired over from a free kick – just two of the many Kettering chances in the first period which a shaky Mansfield survived.
With 5 minutes of the first half remaining, Mansfield found the next gear and created a couple of chances themselves – Matt Green’s chipped cross following Meikle’s threaded pass could only find the keepers grateful hands, before Louis Briscoe burst down the right wing, crossing deep for Ross Dyer who struck beautifully on the volley, denied by a top draw save from Laurie Walker.
Alan Marriott had to be alert right on the stroke of half time at the other end, pushing Phillip Ifil’s deep free kick over the bar following Ben Fucther’s foul on Moses Ashikodi, Futcher also had his name taken by the referee, reviving his first booking in a stags shirt. The visitors were unlucky not to be level at least as the first half ended, they perhaps enjoyed the better play, but it was the stags that had taken the early chance to go into the dressing room ahead.
Half Time: Mansfield 1-0 Kettering
Having clearly been told off during the interval, Mansfield started the second half a lot brighter and looked for the all important second straight from the starting whistle, Matt Green just a fraction offside from Kendrick’s directional ball.
Five minutes into the second half, Jean Paul-Marna looked to beat the offside trap, he was unsuccessful and stayed down, trying to con a free kick from a non-existent Martin Riley push in the back, the Kettering front man earned a yellow card for his trouble and from the resulting free kick, Mansfield finally scored a second. Alan Marriott’s directional kick was met by Ross Dyer, connecting with the ball perfectly to send Matt Green into the box, the Oxford loanee struck right footed to grab his second goal in as many games and double Mansfield’s lead – proving that Mansfield Town are at last capable of scoring more than one a game. Following the goal, Jean Paul-Marna was fortunate to escape a second yellow as he continued to bend the referee’s ear about the push that never was.
Mansfield 2-0 Kettering
With the second goal under their belts, Mansfield we’re hungry for more, Martin Riley standing up to Jean Paul-Marna pushing the ball left to Kendrick, his long ball was headed on by Ross Dyer, this time it was Anthony Howell the recipient of Dyer’s knock down, the former Alfreton man’s touch was too heavy and the ball collected by Walker. Moments later, Louis Briscoe stung the palms of Laurie Walker with a 30 yard drive, having a go after good work from Matt Green, who passed inside to Howell who in turn found Briscoe in space. Mansfield kept the pressure on from the resulting corner, however Kettering somehow clung on and watched the ball away for a goal kick.
Kettering boss Morrell Maison then threw on Jake Thompson & Martin Kelly in a bid to reduce the score line, however the stags made Kettering’s job a lot harder on 64 minutes. Having survived a Thompson cross, Luke O’Neill cleared to Briscoe in the centre circle, the stags wing man chipped over the top and found Matt Green wide right, his burst into the box drew defenders away and gave Ross Dyer space at the far post, Green setting Dyer with a perfect pass, Dyer returning the favour by slotting home to official open his account for the season and make it 3-0
Mansfield 3-0 Kettering
Kettering had a golden chance to respond 7 minutes later, unmarked Moses Ashikodi blasted an effort from 35 yards, beating Marriott but not the woodwork as his effort came smashing back out off the post. Martin Riley was then replaced with Ritchie Sutton who came on at centre back, making his Mansfield debut, Jon Worthington swapped places and the skipper’s armband with Murray as Paul Cox also looked to shore up the midfield. Paul Connor also saw the last 9 minutes replacing the impressive Ross Dyer in attack, Mansfield did enough to see the game out and collect their first 3 points of the season, lifting them away from the drop zone.
Full Time: Mansfield 3-0 Kettering
On reflection, it wasn’t the best performance by Mansfield Town yesterday, especially in the first half, but to their credit they kept going and finally put the game to bed, returning to good powerful play – grabbing the goals and keeping the sheet clean. The new look Mansfield Town may finally have found comfort at home, ending the august home fixtures unbeaten on home soil, with two draws and a win.
Next Up, it’s a trip to Stockport tomorrow – with a midday kick off you can join myself & Scott on 106.9FM & online (see link right) from 11AM for build up followed by full match commentary – can the stags pick up their first away win of the season and end the opening month on a high?
Thanks for reading.
Match Photos: James Williamson