Blue Square Bet Premier Game #8 Mansfield Town vs. Newport County – Field Mill, Saturday 10th September 5.15PM (Shown live on Premier Sports TV)
‘Somewhere over the rainbow’
Those of you who know me will know around my house I have sayings, famous quotes and song lyrics plastered all over the place in an attempt to inject some inspiration into my life – however what you didn’t know until now was that there’s one song & a particular lyric which I’ve always listened too – but never really understood the meaning off, until yesterday evening when a rainbow descended over Field Mill as the mighty Mansfield Town were in cruise control over Newport County.
“Somewhere over the rainbow- way up high in the land that I heard of once, once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow- skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream of, really do come true.”
The reason I’ve never understood the logic of the lyric is because Rainbows are suppose to be never ending, stretching as far as the eye can see, meaning the place where your dreams will come true is nonexistent – however, yesterday for the first time in my 10 years watching the stags at Field Mill, a rainbow shone over our home ground with around 5minutes left. I realised then, that the land from the lullaby is actually wherever you want it to be – and that the dream is something within your heart which you believe in from the moment you wake up in a morning, to the moment you fall asleep at night. Sometimes, when you see a rainbow alone, your dream doesn’t come true – but yesterday I wasn’t alone, I had 2,203 others with the same dream as me – for mighty Mansfield to be magnificent, and for our beloved stags to get back to the promise land. The rainbow shone through the fading sunshine and battled its way through the storm clouds gathering above, the rain hammered down but the magical dreams the rainbow brings provided a fitting backdrop for when the final whistle blew and for when every single stags fan stood on their feet, applauding a 5-0 demolition of Newport County, and acknowledging the possibility of Mansfield Town Football Club being back at its beautiful best.
Another thing I have around ‘Costa-Del Craig’ is photos, because I believe that every picture tells a story and that every story paints a picture, today I thought I’d share this picture of the rainbow shining over field mill yesterday evening, I wonder what significance, if any, it will have some the end of the season.
I’m not going to share the story I think it tells yet, I’ll leave that to your imagination for now. What I will do though, is share with you yesterdays match report! Just to ‘Cover the angles’...
Paul Cox, rather unsurprisingly stuck with a winning 11 – he has no need to change anything after solid performances over the last few games. The stags boss was forced into shuffling the bench around though, Lee Stevenson was withdrawn after picking up an injury midweek during a behind closed doors friendly with Shepshed Dynamo (for those interested, we won 7-0 with Paul Connor grabbing 4 goals, Danny Mitchley got 2 whilst Nick Wood grabbed the other – the line up is unknown), Winger Adam Smith took the vacant space. Defender Tom Naylor also kept his place on the bench despite spending last week on trial with Derby County, he’ll also head off tomorrow (Monday) to spend the league with Premier League Fulham, playing against Manchester United reserves tomorrow night.
Luke O’Neill – Ben Futcher – Ritchie Sutton – Joe Kendrick
Louis Briscoe – Adam Murray (C) – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle
Matt Green – Ross Dyer
SUBS: Shane Redmond, Tom Naylor, Jon Worthington, Paul Connor, Adam Smith.
After 3 straight wins which have included 3 consecutive clean sheets, the majority thought or luck would not travel back to Field Mill with us, especially taking into consideration the presence of the TV Cameras and the fact we’ve failed to win a televised game wince our drop into the BSBP. However the new look Mansfield were keen to break from old tradition, starting very brightly at Field Mill yesterday evening. Firstly towering defender Ben Futcher headed the visitors kick off easily away throw in, which Joe Kendrick soon won back from Lee Bakers attempted cross park ball, heading down to Anthony Howell who in turn pushed wide right for Louis Briscoe. It was Briscoe who provided a neatly chipped ball over the top of Newport’s back line which Matt Green was first too, Green did well to hold up play before feeding O’Neill wide right, the young right back then looked to find Briscoe who couldn’t keep the ball in play despite his best efforts.
A minute later and the stags were on the attack again, this time from Joe Kendrick’s left sided throw. The Irish full back found Lindon Meikle on the edge of the area, the lively winger got in space before unleashing a shot which cannoned away of Gary Warren. Mansfield kept the pressure on and picked up the second ball through Luke O’Neill who pushed wide to Louis Briscoe, the highly rated wingers cross caused no end of problems – Ross Dyer headed down for Matt Green who was unfortunate to see his effort deflected, Lindon Meikle then saw the ball fall kindly at his feet inside the area, opting for a left footed shot rather than a pass back into space occupied by Green & Dyer – All this with just two minutes on the clock.
Newport looked very shaky and even early on, you could tell some players were having difficulty adapting to life under the management of former spurs coach Anthony Hudson, a sloppy header from Exiles skipper Warren saw Green racing through, fortunately for County, former stags shot stopper Glyn Thompson was first to the ball, slamming it into the stand before balling furiously at his sloppy defence.
With 6 minutes gone, Lindon Meikle was fouled earning the stags a free kick just over the half way line, Joe Kendrick’s deep delivery was headed away but only as far as stags skipper Adam Murray, who fired goal wards from the edge of the box – unfortunately Murray couldn’t keep his effort down. The visitors got their first real sight of goal two minutes later, former Crawley hit man Craig McAllister advanced forwards but Ben Futcher stopped him in his tracks, for which the referee signalled a free kick. Danny Rose took it quickly and got it on the return from Elliot Buchanan; Rose struck from distance but was thwarted by Marriott who collected and quickly bowled out to O’Neill who then found Green as stags looked to build again, The oxford loan man’s momentum stopped as Ismail Yakubu slid in to put the ball out for a throw.
Matt Green threatened on the 9 minute mark, stabbing a shot towards goal following Joe Kendrick’s deep free kick, Glyn Thompson held on to it but could do nothing about the events which took place a minute later as dangerous Mansfield burst into the lead with a fine phase of play. Decent build up saw O’Neill pick the ball up on the half way line and progress forward before giving the ball to Ross Dyer on the edge of the box, Dyer pushed a yard or so back to Murray who held up play long enough to see Briscoe find a pocket of space on the edge of the box, Briscoe then received the ball from Murray before poking through the eye of a needle to Matt Green who then struck beautifully left footed past Thompson, grabbing his 5th of the season leaving the visiting keeping with no chance.
Stags 1-0 Newport
Mansfield immediately pushed for second keen to inflict more damage to Newport who have only won once so far this season, Lindon Meikle chipped the ball into space looking for Ross Dyer, the former Forest Green front man couldn’t get there before Thompson who hoofed clear. Craig McAllister was the recipient of the long ball but again found his route blocked by Futcher who was again penalised. Rose took the free kick quickly and again opted for a drive from distance, this time his effort flew miles wide.
Danny Rose was again at the centre of the action as Newport put together a rare attack. Rose’s corner was headed clear by he picked up the second ball, this time delivering a strongly whipped in ball beating everyone bar Ben Futcher who powered a header clear finding Briscoe, last season’s top scorer raced forward with Green & Dyer in support, Briscoe opted for Green but saw his pass hacked clear by the hastily back tracking Gary Warren. Newport created another chance just shy of the half hour mark, Alan Marriott struggled to deal with Lee Bakers left wing cross as it held up in the evening wing, and the ball ran loose to Paul Rogers who embarrassingly ballooned his effort into row z.
Mansfield answered the wakeup call and created 3 efforts in as many minutes, the first saw Luke O’Neill progress forward from right back and have a go from around 30 yards, Glyn Thompson lucky to hang onto O’Neill’s powerful effort. A minute later Alan Marriott deliver a long ball which was headed on by Ross Dyer, Lindon Meikle picked it up and charged into the box, opting for a curling effort rather than a pass as Matt Green stood unmarked on the 6 yard line. The third effort on 33 minutes saw Mansfield double their lead and the opening goal scorer & provider fittingly switch roles. Matt Green picked the ball up on the edge of the area and saw Briscoe lingering in space, with a neat pass Green sent Briscoe on his way and the stags wing man burst into the area before powering a low right footed shot underneath the despairing body of Glyn Thompson to double Mansfield’s lead and grab his third goal of the campaign.
Stags 2-0 Newport
The stags continued to press and put together some fine flowing moves up until the break, the visitors saw very little of the ball in Mansfield territory when they did the impressive Luke O’Neill, Anthony Howell, Ritchie Sutton & Ben Futcher amongst others were on hand to clear – the half time whistle must have come as a huge relief to the visitors as Mansfield constantly looked thirsty for more goals.
Half Time: Stags 2-0 Newport
Mansfield began the second half in exactly the same fashion as they began the first – attacking. Louis Briscoe powered his way down the right hand side to earn the stags a thrown in which Luke O’Neill took, putting together a neat interchange with Matt Green and Adam Murray, with the former crossing 1st time from Murray’s neat ball into space – O’Neill’s cross was headed away but Murray won it back and found Green on the edge of the box, the lively front man turned his man and set a ferocious shot crashing against the bar, Ross Dyer picked it up but play was stopped as the ref judged Dyer to have fouled Thompson whilst battling for the floor bound ball.
Newport then threw together an attacking move of their own with Thompsons cross bar still shaking, Ritchie Sutton headed away Paul Robson’s cross but the County right back got a second chance, delivering a deeper ball towards the far post, McAllister headed goal wards but his header was tame and Alan Marriott held on firmly to give stags chance to regroup.
Mansfield did just that creating yet more chances infront of their own fans housed in the Quarry Lane End. Kendrick’s left sided throw in found Lindon Meikle who created space with a turn of pace, this time he opted for a pass finding green who, rather than turn his man and progress into the box, played a cleaver back heal to Anthony Howell who smashed an effort goal wards, his left footed drive deflecting away for a stags corner – Kendrick’s delivery didn’t meet the grade through and Luke O’Neill did well to mop things up on the half way line.
With 56 on the clock, mighty Mansfield struck again – A long ball over the top evaded the static visiting defence and found Matt Green onside, Green could have opted for a shot himself but instead played Briscoe into the box with a short stab with the outside of his boot, Briscoe opted for a shot searching for a mirrored goal to his effort in the first half, however the ball zipped off the surface and was curling away from goal, Ross Dyer slid in at the back post at the right moment to tuck the ball into the roof of the net, grabbing his 2nd of the season and Mansfield’s 3rd of the evening. The goal a fine example of unselfish play by Green, good overlapping work from Briscoe and excellent timing by Dyer, who showed excellent pace to get into the box, excellent movement to stay onside and suburb composure to tap home.
Stags 3-0 Newport
Matt Green stabbed an effort goal wards as the rain clouds began to settle over field mill, Greens effort was held by Thompson but both sides knew there was a storm coming – The heavens opened as rain began to pour, as did the Mansfield goals, grabbing a further two in three minutes.
Joe Kendrick set Lindon Meikle wide left, the eager winger nipping in from the flank and powering a shot towards the top corner, prevented only by a top draw save from Glyn Thompson. Kendrick took the resulting corner which was headed away, only as far as Louis Briscoe who struck a sublime effort on the volley past the despairing Glyn Thompson to make it 4-0.
Stags 4-0 Newport
Luke O’Neill had been superb all evening in defence, moments after Briscoe’s effort O’Neill progressed forward to show Newport not only could he defend, he could score too – something Stockport are all too aware of! O’Neill’s mazy run saw him push the ball wide right to Green, the inform loanee front man then produced a spectacular back heel to send O’Neill racing into the box, the 20 year old former Leicester man kept his cool to shoot low between the keepers leg into the back of the netting, grabbing his second of the season and providing another stinging slap into the cold Newport faces.
Stags 5-0 Newport
Adam Smith got a rare outing replacing Lindon Meikle shortly after the goal as Mansfield looked to keep on the pressure but at the same time begin to rest ahead of next weekend’s tough trip to Barrow. Smith went on a few mazy runs but outpaced himself on the wet surface, it almost seemed Smith was trying too hard to impress Paul Cox and win back that left wing slot he occupied before the arrival of Lindon Meikle. Paul Connor & Jon Worthington were brought on in the final 10 minutes too for Ross Dyer & Anthony Howell respectively; both of them put themselves about as stags searched for a magical 6th goal. Adam Murray kept the momentum following right to the death, providing the link from one wing to another – unfortunately for Mansfield, the wetness of the surface saw many of the crosses from both Briscoe and Smith over hit and in the end, Mansfield had to settle for five goals – the referees whistle sparking one loud cheer and a full standing ovation. Mansfield Town were just magical.
Full Time: Stags 5-0 Newport
The 4th consecutive victory see’s the stags extend their unbeaten run to 6 games, the last time stags win four on the bounce was back in October 2003, kicking off when Keith Curle’s side won with 9 men at Cambridge United, we all know how that season ended – boys, start practising penalties! Yesterday’s win over Newport also brought the fourth consecutive clean sheet, the last time stags managed that was back in April 1997 were we kept a total of six successive clean sheets with 3 wins and 3 goalless draws. However, what’s interesting is the combination of the two – consecutive wins AND consecutive clean sheets, the last time we managed to get 4 on the bounce was in May 1977 – I’m also led to believe that if we beat Barrow and keep a clean sheet next Saturday it will be a new club record, however if someone knows different, please get in touch on twitter http://www.twitter.com/craigpriest14).
Yesterday was a class showing and at the full time whistle, I really felt that Mansfield Town were back and this will be our season – I don’t want to get carried away as I know that under estimation & over confidence will be our greatest downfall. I do believe if we play to the same standard as we have done in the past few games, we will beat anyone – I also believe we’ve a lot more waiting in reserve with the likes of Naylor, Thompson, Riley, Bolland and Connor just to name a few! It’s a frightening thought really at how good we could actually be!
Next Saturday will be a tough game, Barrow are a decent side and showed their no pushovers yesterday by coming from behind to beat league leaders Wrexham 3-1. It’s a long trip and will test our mentality and the way we play, it will not be a walk over and it will be a real achievement if we do actually win AND keep that clean sheet record going. I feel that friendly at Hednesford will come in extremely handy and we will see a side to Mansfield Town we’ve yet to see in full – we’re going to have to be ugly as well as ruthless and magical. If you can’t get to the Barrow game, there’s full match commentary from Myself & Scott on 106.9FM & online (see right hand side for the link) with build up from 2PM.
Thanks for reading, remember if you see a rainbow – the dream land maybe closer than what you think.
Match Photos: James Williamson