Sunday, 4 December 2011

CTA #24 Stags Vs Braintree

Blue Square Bet Premier Game 22: Mansfield Town Vs Braintree Town – Saturday 3rd December 2011 Field Mill 3PM

‘Net Busters’

Goals are like buses, you wait ages for one and then four come along at once! I’ll just wait for your laughing groans to due die before carrying on, but come on after looking back on the last few games and yesterday, what other metaphor could I use to describe how happy we are after finally grabbing three points?

Maybe ‘we’re as happy as Larry’ but in all fairness, does anyone actually know who ‘Larry’ is, or if he’s even happy? Moving on....

Stags Celebrate Dyer's Goal Agaisnt Gateshead
We’ve felt for the last couple of games now that a win was on its way, and when it did arrive it would be an emphatic one. The style of Mansfield’s play, especially on Tuesday against Gateshead, suggested that the Stags we’re back – yesterday I think they proved it. Yes there were a few slips, conceding first the one which is highlighted brightest, another would be being put under pressure towards the end, however when you strip it down – footballs a game of chances, if you take yours at least once more than your opponents you will win. That’s exactly what we did yesterday, and my word what a feeling winning brings.

At the start of December, Christmas songs have been drilled into your head and your constantly reminded that despite everything happening, everybody pulls together to have an enjoyable and rewarding time – this is something we at Field Mill did yesterday too, the sound of the drum in the Quarry Lane End drove us on and it seemed like every time we got the ball down and attacked, the volume of the songs got louder and louder, heaven. I hope this continues and, despite being on the road in the coming weeks, the beat continues to the tune of three points, and because I’m an old romantic, the song ‘Jingle Bells’! I always remember the Christmas games for this song, my favourite being Kettering away on Boxing Day when we won 3-1 under the caretaker ship of Adie Moses and Mark Stallard – but that’s a story for another day.

Yesterday Paul Cox stuck with the same 16 that drew with Gateshead on Tuesday, with midfielder Aman Verma retaining his starting place despite going off injured on Tuesday. The Stags also stuck with the effective 4-2-3-1 formation, which also drops to a 4-3-3 if you’re a lover of the classics.

Alan Marriott
Ritchie Sutton – John Dempster – John Thompson – Kieron Freeman
Adam Murray (C) – Aman Verma
Ross Dyer – Lee Stevenson – Lindon Meikle
Matt Green
SUBS: Shane Redmond – Louis Briscoe – Paul Bolland – Luke O’Neill – Nialle Rodney

Ross Dyer, one of many unlucky on Tuesday
After firing numerous shots on Tuesday, many turned up to a cold and windy Field Mill hoping to be warmed up by wave after wave of Stags attacks. Two minutes in the Stags started to deliver, Kieron Freemans deep free kick was flicked on by Ross Dyer on the edge of the box, the ball deflected away to Lindon Meikle who drove his shot wide, with it taking an unlucky deflection off Matt Green.

Three minutes later a directional ball from Lindon Meikle found its way to Matt Green, the Oxford loanee who was perhaps the unluckiest man in football on Tuesday did well to earn Stags a throw in. Meikle revived the ball short from Freeman’s throw and showed good pace and skill to shrug off his marker, whipping in a dangerous cross which was unfortunate too miss both Green and Verma who arrived at the far post.

With eight minutes on the clock, Mansfield were left bemused as the visitors gained the advantage. Sleepy defending from a right sided throw in allowed Braintree to move the ball central, a neat flick from stand in skipper Sean Marks fell for Ben Wright, who struck fiercely first time finding the bottom corner of the net, Alan Marriott received his first touch of the afternoon as he picked the ball out of the back of the net and returned the ball to the centre of the pitch for the restart.

Stags 0-1 Braintree

Despite being left in disbelief, Mansfield were determined to start over and looked for an immediate response. Adam Murray twice struck wide from distance before Mansfield converted frustration into fine passing football. Kieron Freeman’s long throw in with 12 minutes gone found its way to Green inside the area, Green swivelled well but fired five yards wide of the target.

Three minutes later the visitors had keeper Nathan McDonald to thank following good footwork from Green on the edge of the box. The lively striker drew defenders too him and created space which Murray moved into, the Stags captain controlled Greens pass well and fired strongly at McDonald, who did just enough to beat the ball away.

Alan Marriott was then in action on 18 minutes as he saved a tame shot from Sean Marks after Braintree’s leading marksman had skipped past Kieron Freeman, however it was the Stags who then took hold of possession and after a spell of eventual ineffective passing, got back on level terms.

As Matt Green was fouled to the right of the area, Aman Verma whipped in a testing free kick, despite the ball landing way past the far post; John Dempster kept it alive at the far post and with neat skill earned a corner. Verma whipped another testing ball in and the ball nestled in the back of the net, with Crawley loanee John Dempster being credited with the goal, heading in at the far post.     
Stags 1-1 Braintree

The Stags then looked to build from the goal as they continued to press, camping in the Braintree half for a sustainable period; however Mansfield couldn’t turn their pressure into goals despite good passes and movement from Stevenson, Meikle, Green and Verma. With nine minutes to go before the break, Stags were left feeling a little aggrieved, Kieron Freemans right sides cross into the box found the run of Dempster who was bundled down from behind, Referee Peter Banks said no to the penalty appeals and as play continued, Lindon Meikle’s follow up cross drifted harmlessly out for a goal kick.

With two minutes to go before the break, Alan Marriott was again the hero saving from Sean Marks. John Dempster was dispossessed by the Braintree captain on the edge of the area; Alan Marriott showed good agility to block Marks’ final left footed effort, palming it away for a corner which failed to trouble Mansfield.

On the stroke of half time Matt Green looked to be upended in the Braintree box however the claim fell on deaf ears as the referee again said no, the visitors played on and pushed the ball down field earning a free kick 22 yards central from goal after John Dempster’s alleged foul on Jai Reason, John Thompson was then booked for comments to the referee. The free kick was hit well by Ben Wright, however the former Peterborough and Crawley front man fired over – this the last action of the half.

Half Time: Stags 1-1 Braintree

Matt Green celebrates his goal agaisnt Cambridge
No changes were made by the Stags at the break and from the whistle; they looked to take hold of the lead. Ritchie Sutton’s deep cross from the right hand side on 49 minutes was turned behind for a corner, from which the Stags finally grabbed the advantage they deserved. Aman Verma’s right footed in-swinger was headed down by Lee Stevenson in the middle; Matt Green turned brilliantly and smashed emphatically into the roof of the net to grab his first goal since the 2-1 defeat to Cambridge on bonfire night.

Stags 2-1 Braintree

From the restart the visitors tried to get back on level terms, first Ben Wright attempted to lob Alan Marriott from distance before Thompson and Dempster combined well to thwart a Braintree attack from Matt Johnson’s powerful throw in. Ben Wright’s long range free kick also failed to trouble the hosts.

It was the Stags who were soon back in control though, creating numerous chances in search of a third, On 55 minutes Freemans strong clearance deflected kindly for Matt Green, Green shrugged off the challenges of the back tracking defence before setting Lee Stevenson, his driven effort was on target but was deflected away for a corner.

Meikle in action agaisnt Lincoln, scored Stags' 3rd
On the hour mark, the Stags did extend their lead with perhaps the best team goal of the season, one which demonstrated patience, determination, skill and perfection timing. Matt Green kept the ball wonderfully for the Stags, despite being forced away from goal and back towards the half way line, Green battled past three players as he held the ball up in search of support, Ritchie Sutton provided it on the right hand side and skipped past Aswald Thomas with ease following Green’s pass, Sutton then put in a powerful cross towards the middle, finding Lindon Meikle half a yard out who completed the task, bundling home past the keeper for his fourth strike of the season.

Stags 3-1 Braintree

Mansfield were in complete control and should have had a fourth following driven efforts from Freeman and Meikle, however the Stags only had to wait 8 minutes for there reward, as Matt Green, finally playing with that confident buzz, tapped in his second of the game. Lindon Meikle’s cross should have been collected by McDonald in all fairness, however the Braintree keeper fluffed his collection and dropped the ball straight to Green’s feet, a little drop of the shoulder took the ball past the despairing shot stopper and left Green with an open net, which his naturally stroked the ball into to.

Stags 4-1 Braintree

Moments later McDonald redeemed his error, Aman Verma’s free kick was delivered beautifully finding Ross Dyer, the striker who scored a sensational goal on Tuesday powered a seemingly unstoppable header towards goal, which somehow McDonald palmed away, Dyer’s contribution lead to a chorus of ‘There’s only one Rossy Dyer’

Green was unfortunate not to complete his well deserved hat-trick on 72 minutes, John Thompson looked assured and confident at the back preventing a rare Braintree attack and sending a delightful pass to the left wing for Lindon Meikle, his first time ball in was just a little too quick for confident Green who gambled at the far post but just couldn’t connect with the ball.

Nialle Rodney then made his home debut replacing the impressive Meikle on the left hand side, Rodney was immediately involved providing the link between Green and Freeman; the latter curled a powerful effort the wrong side of the post. With 10 minutes left to play, Alan Marriott punched away a Braintree cross before holding on to Braintree substitute Chib Chilaka’s follow up shot, Paul Cox then withdrew Ross Dyer for Briscoe.

Mansfield still remained lively and Murray was unlucky not to feed Green with several neatly chipped passes, despite Murray holding his back for a while, it was Lee Stevenson who was replaced next, Paul Bolland entered the fray with three minutes to go. The Stags got a late corner after Sutton’s cross was deflected behind, however Aman Verma’s delivery was to be the last kick of the game as the full time whistle blew, sealing three points for Stags, propelling them up to 8th place three points behind a play-off spot.

Full Time: Stags 4-1 Braintree

There’s not much to say on this one to be honest other than, the Mansfield Town we knew was hiding in the dressing room lockers, finally came out to play. Neat passing, bright movement,  togetherness, determination, flare and most importantly – ‘the finishing touch’ were evident from the off, I hope that this continues and we can once again build a winning sequence and achieve our goal. Last year I had a miserable Christmas, I’ve said all year long I want to go all out this year, I’d swap all that now for a winning run – nothing, will ever beat the Mansfield Town winning feeling.

Away from the pitch, yesterday saw us as a club experiment with a new media outlet, providing live Twitter updates. Despite a few spelling mistakes brought on by excitement, cold and overenthusiastic typing, it seemed to go well – please have a look back at the tweets and let me know your thoughts. With the future of Takeover looking to be frozen until January (Statement to follow in the week), Full commentary will be provided on away games on the Mansfield Matters website until further notice. On Tuesday, we will test out the demand for coverage with Full Commentary on Grimsby Vs Stags; I will be on my own for this one from 7.40PM, with Scott rejoining me for our trip to Droylsden next Saturday in the FA Trophy. A Midweek friendly has also been arranged with Eastwood Town, again open to the public, I will look to cover the game in some manor, either with full commentary online or the aforementioned twitter updates. Thank you for your support during this difficult period; it’s a good job the Stags are winning eh!

Thanks for reading, audio of yesterday’s goals can be heard below.

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