Blue Square Bet Premier Game 6: Stockport County Vs Mansfield Town – Edgely Park 29.8.11 – 12NOON
I wouldn’t say I’m a man that plays petty games, I wouldn’t say I’m the type of man to hold a grudge either, but I’m the kind of man that believes in right & wrong – I’m the kind of man that thrives of seeing past demons banished into the evening sky, to then sit back knowing that a wrong move, has been put right.
Every time I experience a bad day following the stags or curse the awful situations I find myself in trying to watch & provide coverage of my stags, I always find myself thinking back to a certain night in 2008, angry shaking my fist at two teams, desperately wanting to put things right. The teams in question, Chester City & Mondays opponents Stockport County. The date? Tuesday 29th April 2008 – the outcome, Mansfield’s bitterly painful relegation to the Football Conference. All play off hopefuls Stockport had to do that night was score just once, to give Mansfield a shot at final day survival; however the Stockport side failed to score, meaning Chester survived.... and Mansfield dropped.
Before Chester’s demise, Mansfield managed to get some payback – yet the wounds hadn’t healed, I doubt they will ever be fully healed until the stags return to the promise land, however heading to Monday’s game, I knew I’d only be happy with one outcome – a stags win, to welcome Stockport County to this horrid (yet agonisingly beautiful) league.
Paul Cox was forced into one change from the side which grabbed the first win of the season on Saturday, Martin Riley was unable to shake off a toe injury and was the one to miss out, Ritchie Sutton came into make his full debut for the club, whilst Nick Wood filled the empty gap on the bench.
Luke O’Neill – Ben Futcher – Ritchie Sutton (Martin Riley) – Joe Kendrick
Louis Briscoe – Adam Murray (C) – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle
Matt Green – Ross Dyer
SUBS: Shane Redmond – Lee Stevenson – Jon Worthington – Paul Connor – Nick Wood.
Under the guidance of Ex-Liverpool man Dietmar Hamann Stockport have enjoyed a sluggish, yet unbeaten start to life in the BSBP – having a made a bucket load of signings during close season, it was clear from the off that the hatters we’re still gelling, unsure of who to pass to, yet managing to keep the ball and look for open spaces, former Stag Martin Gritton seemed to be the main target early on but Adam Murray was equal to the attack, heading comfortably back to Alan Marriott. Moments later, Danny Rowe cut inside from the left wing and was stopped in his tracks by the towering Ben Futcher, who received a yellow card for his trouble.
With just 4 minutes played, it was the recently relegated hosts that looked to open the scoring, Jon Nolan stole the ball from Matt Greens feet inside the centre circle, Nolan pushed wide in search of the dangerous Sean McConville who opted for a driven shot which Alan Marriott was more than equal too, releasing a long ball quickly for Mansfield to counter, Louis Briscoe the recipient – unfortunately Briscoe’s ball into the box was easily held by Stockport keeper Matt Glennon, who would have been a stags player a few seasons ago had it not been for a last minute change of plans – he even appeared on the team photo! FACT!
Stockport continued to press in the opening ten minutes, a minute shy of the ten minute mark the stags were tested once more, Danny Rowe’s left wing cross was headed away by Luke O’Neill but only as far as Tom Elliott who dragged his shot narrowly wide of Alan Marriott’s goal. At the other end the stags began to find their feet and should have been 1-0 up following Marriott’s goal kick, Matt Green headed the ball wide to Louis Briscoe who easily beat Euan Holden for pace, Briscoe’s deep cross was met at the far post by the unmarked Ross Dyer who should have done a lot better, heading the final ball well wide.
Mansfield then looked to keep the ball for a while, a series of long directional balls nearly opened up Stockport, but the wet slippery surface saw Mansfield often run into trouble and fail to punish the home side. It’s fair to say that both sides defensive qualities over powered the strike force, something which was evident more so for the stags, proved with 20minutes on the clock. Luke O’Neill the man receiving pats on the back, shepherding out Danny Rowe after the Stockport winger received the ball left from Gritton’s clever flick on.
8 minutes later Paul Cox & Micky Moore were left baffled as Ross Dyer took on a 30 yard shot after picking up Ritchie Suttons powerful headed clearance, The former Hednesford man had Briscoe wide right, Meikle advancing left and in form Matt Green onside 2 yards ahead of him. Dyer made up for his selfishness later on in the half though, heading on to Matt Green who did well too cushion a header down to Anthony Howell, Adam Murray then switched play to the impressive Luke O’Neill, his drilled cross gifting Mansfield their first corner of the early afternoon game. Joe Kendrick’s left footed out swinger was headed away; Louis Briscoe was in a perfect position on the edge of the box to volley towards goal – the ball was just wide due to the wetness of the ball, had it been on target Mansfield would have been ahead as Matt Glennon was rooted to the spot.
Half Time: Stockport 0-0 Mansfield
With the rain pouring on the 436 travel stags fans housed in the uncovered seating behind the goal, Paul Cox’s side were eager to make the rain turn to sunshine by starting the second period brightly, straight from kick off Lindon Meikle revived Joe Kendrick’s wide pass and looked to burst into the box, foiled just as he was about to pull the trigger by Stockport skipper Daniel O’Donnell, the resulting throw saw Green return the ball to Kendrick, whose cross in search of Dyer & Briscoe only find the hands of Matt Glennon.
As the game hit the 50 minute mark, the stags had Alan Marriott to thank as a rare defensive lapse in concentration saw McConville latch onto Holden’s long throw into the area, McConville took on the shot from a tight angle and was denied by the legs of Marriott, the stags rallied from the corner and showed good defensive awareness to stop the runs of Nolan & Gritton, Matt Green back to head clear.
Stockport tried to find another opening again through McConville, the stags management bellowed for Mansfield to become tighter at the back, a call which worked wonders as the home side’s ties with the ball were quickly cut, Luke O’Neill stopping a Stockport attack & with one pass, created a Mansfield Attack, the former Leicester youngster played a neat cross park ball to Meikle, who set himself on the edge of the box and curled a shot wide.
With 67 on the clock, Mansfield grabbed the lead through an unlikely source. Joe Kendrick’s left sided throw in found Green who progressed into the box, unable to go anywhere though Green found Howell who spotted the run of Luke O’Neill wide right, O’Neill the played a neat 1-2 with Green whose movement was brilliant, O’Neill firing into the bottom corner left footed to delight the travelling fans, grabbing his first ever senior goal.
Stockport 0-1 Mansfield
Stockport attempted a response by introducing the dangerous Nick Chadwick for Martin Gritton, Chadwick was well marked though and the home sides only options came from McConville and second half sub Elliott Chamberlin. The hosts couldn’t punish Mansfield though as Luke O’Neill & his fellow defenders put in a tremendous shift to earn the stags their second clean sheet of the season. The stags pushed too and introduced Paul Connor for Ross Dyer & tough tackling Midfielder Jon Worthington for Lindon Meikle who took a late knock. The stags stood firm and watched the clock down, the final whistle eventually calling an end to the game, gifting Mansfield their first win at Stockport since 1993!
Next up for the stags, its more righting the wrongs on Saturday, a repeat of the FA Trophy final see’s us travel to Champions Darlington.... not that we’re looking for revenge or anything! Don’t miss full match commentary on Takeover Radio 106.9FM from 2PM, listen online by clicking the link on the right.
Thanks for reading.
Match Photos: James Williamson