There was an overwhelming attendance at Meadow Lane today. 10,302 people were in present at Meadow Lane to witness a real Derby clash. It wasn’t pretty football by no means, especially by Notts.
And it was brilliant to see how many Mansfield fans made the journey up to Nottingham, and they were in for one hell of a match. By the end of the match they must have been pleased that they took a point, but also disappointed as they had numerous penalty decisions turned down by strict Premiership Ref Jeff Winter. Many have criticized his performance; although I didn’t think he had a bad game.
Critics before the match stated that players would have to be rolled over by a tank in the penalty area for Jeff Winter to give a penalty, that seemed to be the case for Mansfield this afternoon.
In the first ten minutes Notts were slightly on top. But then we were just overpowered by the oppositions passing of the ball and sheer control of ‘keeping possession’ – a strategy that Notts never seem to use. The Stags were much sharper than Notts in the first half and if it weren’t for Jeff Whitley’s goal line clearence the Stags could’ve been in front within the first 25 minutes. To add more Drama, the actual clearence from Whitley gifted Colin Little a sitter after they got the ball back in the box, he was six yards out and onside, he skied it over the cross bar, a shocking miss.
To follow was even worse, and it was from Notts. Paul Heffernan was put in the area and was odds on to score, he stuck the ball in the side net infront of the visiting fans.
Another incident cropped up in the first half after Corden and Ramsden were in a scuffle. Corden had appeared to swing a punch at a Ramsden. I’m not sure if contact was made or not but both players were punished for it. Corden though, it seemed should have been dismissed from the action.
In the first half Mansfield had two penalty decisions turned down by Mr Winter today. One of the two Stags forward’s was pulled to the floor by Stuart Garden, well so it seemed, and Winter said no. The second incident another one of the front men fell and was booked for diving and another for dissent.
It was the creative flair of winger Liam Lawrence that threatened us all afternoon and two minutes before the interval he scored, he ran into the box and the defence was all over the place, Lawrence fired and the ball came off someone in the deflection but he got the credit, the Stags had broken the deadlock and were ahead in the Nottinghamshire derby.
But Wayne Corden, who was the object of booing from Notts fans after the incident earlier on in the match apparently, taunted the Z block after the goal, but I don’t want to go into this, as I didn’t see it.
So Notts fans went in at the break, extremely disappointed with a poor first half display against Bill’s old side.
HALF TIME: MAGPIES 0-1 STAGS
The second half was brighter and full of incidents to talk about. I didn’t think I’d say this for a long time but Darren Caskey changed the face of the match, for us anyway, he came on in the 54th minute. Allsopp replaced Heffernan and in the first half Liburd replaced the injured Paul Bolland (bad toe).
As soon as the second half kicked off, there was a talking point; the brilliant Stuart Garden stopped a difficult shot with his legs just two minutes into the half.
When Caskey came on the formation was changed to 5-3-2, with two wingbacks. The tactics proved wisely, Caskey changed the face of the game, he was part of Notts’ equalizing goal. But it was Marcel Cas who used his power and strength to run into the box he took a shot and hit the keeper, the ball was scrambled on the line and Richard Liburd got a touch and stuck it into the back of net. There was jubilation and relief from Notts fans as they were on there feet, but Notts were level from Liburd.
The passion excitement and drama stepped up; it was end-to-end action. Notts looked to get the ball up the pitch out from the back from goalkeeper Stuart garden, but as he went to kick the ball he slipped and sliced the ball, it was then Colin Little’s chance to lob him he didn’t do so he carried on with the ball and finally shot but then Garden made a great save. He made a number of good saves though and must have been in contention for Man of the match.
Then Notts won a controversial free kick in ‘Darren Caskey territory’. The excitement was bubbling around the Notts fans wondering if we could get that goal. Caskey stepped up and struck a belter of a free kick. Curling over the wall and into the top right hand corner of the net, the fans went wild it was a brilliant free kick – and that is Caskey’s first of the season.
But Mansfield continuously put the pressure on, they had three chances and Christie was at the heart of them, but it was Liam Lawrence who was providing the chances all afternoon. Notts’ were sloppy at the back and Stone was poor, he can’t pass he has no calmness in him self. And it was scrappy in that penalty area towards the last five minutes of the match.
The referee added three minutes of stoppage time and this proved to be crucial. And then in the fourth minute of injury time Mansfield got the equaliser. It was hugely controversial, A ball was sent forward and it came off the head of Darren Caskey and flicked onto Christie who appeared to be offside – but can you be offside if an opponent as had the last touch? And Christie thirty seconds from the whistle smashed the ball beyond Garden to give the visitors a deserved equaliser.
The Kop End erupted with jubilation and the away fans were up on their feet. There was an attempt at a pitch invasion by some of the visiting fans, but they failed flat on there face. It appeared that one fan had ran onto the pitch to pay some sort of a visit to Mr. Winter and the ref was clearly unhappy that he was on the pitch and rightly so, he was escorted away by stewards, the pratt.
The whistle blowled and both sets of fans were satisfied with the point, in the end, I am sure. Mansfield fans are now utterly disappointed that they didn’t win, but overall a draw was justified.
It was a fantastic match, not in terms of quality but in terms of end to end excitement. Mansfield were the better team overall but you only get what you’re given out in football.
But more importantly now, we have only won one home game in nine, a dreadful record that needs putting fit.
So we can talk about the free kick, the penalty decisions, the stoppage time added on, was it onside or offside – but it wont change a thing, It was a draw in the Derby.
I can’t wait for February the eighth, now.