We Have Made It In A Mans(field) World

A much more up to date lyric reference this time around, coming straight out of the new Camera Obscura album released this month. Makes a change from my usual sixties / seventies / eighties references I suppose.

Since I last wrote, after the disappointing (from a lot of angles) defeat at home to Doncaster Rovers on Good (well, bad really) Friday, there was the magnificent 4-0 away drubbing of Newport County on Easter Monday, which I’m reliably informed (i.e. the Facebook group and the forums) is our best ever away win in the football league.

It was the first of three consecutive away games in the space of just over a week. Today’s game is the second of those, a tasty away trip to second in the league, Mansfield Town. Always assuming it goes ahead, as the weather hasn’t been great all week, and they had their Easter Monday game called off due to a waterlogged pitch. They have seven (the count has been going up all week) defenders out for this game, so the conspiracy theorists on the forums are out saying they will be watering the pitch to get this one called off as well.

We’ve come up to Nottingham early in the weekend, as it allows a visit to relatives before sloping off for the day to Mansfield, seeing as we didn’t get the chance to visit for either of the two Notts County games due to Covid and work commitments.

Our game against Mansfield at home earlier in the season was a disappointing 3-1 loss, much aided by a stinker from the ref, and I had named my piece for that one as “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s Field Win (But It Wouldn’t Be Nothing Without The Ref To Lend A Hand)”.

And of course, there is the Mansfield manager, the infamous Nigel Clough who celebrated Burton Albion being moved from the Southern Premier league to the Northern Premier league many moons ago by saying ‘At least I won’t have to go to places like Crawley anymore.’ The game earlier this season was the eleventh time he’s had to take a team he’s managing to Crawley since then. This time he isn’t having to travel to Crawley, but Crawley are coming to him.

We start the day in the final play-off place of seventh, two points and a game in hand on the teams directly below us. With six games left to play, it is in our own hands, but we have a stinker of a run in. After today’s game against second, we are away at third placed Wrexham, have a rearranged game against fifth place Barrow to play, and then three games against the three teams scrapping for their lives in twenty first, twenty second, and twenty third in the league. No games against teams with nothing to play for, which would be the ideal at this point in time.

After a wander around the town, doing some sightseeing and shopping, we got to the ground and did a full lap around it before getting to the away turnstiles. There is a sign on the south stand proclaiming that the this is ‘The Oldest Professional Football Ground In The World.’ And in some ways that is obvious, there are no women’s toilets in the away end, just three disgusting portaloos with nowhere to wash hands, and the single disabled toilet is as bad. You can see why the place is called Mansfield, and not Womansfield.

They were trying to sprinkle the pitch, but the wind is taking the water straight over us in the north stand. The wind is very gusty which should make things entertaining. Crawley are in all white today, and the hosts are in their traditional yellow shirts and socks and blue shorts. And it looked like we enforced a change of ends before the kick off.

There is an early Mansfield corner, but easily cleared and we work two chances in quick succession as both Danilo Orsi and Klaidi Lolos drag shots wide right. And then we work it well down the right the ball comes into Lolos who turns with it only for it to be partially cleared, it comes to Kellen Gordon whose shot is deflected past the keeper and into the bottom corner of the net and we lead 1-0.

The lead is nearly gone straight away as a poor pass out of defence goes straight to a Mansfield striker fifteen yards out, but their shot is high and wide into the stand behind the goal. At the other end, a Jeremy Kelly shot is straight at the keeper after being put in by Nick Tsaroulla. We have a couple of free kicks from the right-hand side, but the wind takes the ball out behind on both.

Mansfield have a chance blocked, they got in after a blatant push on Gordon. We attack again and Tsaroulla’s shot is tipped around the post for a corner. From which an eventual shot is blocked and then cleared. There is more decent work down the right and a Gordon cross is forced out for a corner.

Just past the halfway point of the half excellent work from Lolos sees Ronan Darcy away in midfield, he cuts across the box and then passes it to Tsaroulla, who cuts back inside and curls a shot into the top corner, and we are ahead 2-0.

From the restart there is a Mansfield shot which goes into the side netting. The Mansfield fans are cheering only for those cheers to die away and be drowned out by the ironic jeers from the Crawley fans.

We work the ball into the box a couple of times but find that final ball is just out, a bit too strong, or a bit too soft. Mansfield break and we just about scramble it for a corner. They have a couple of blocked shots from it, but we break away only for Orsi to be hacked down at the halfway line, a cynical foul that didn’t bring the deserved yellow card. The resulting free kick from Will Wright is headed for a corner, which is tipped away by the keeper for another corner from the other side, and Darcy ends up with a shot on target.

There are three minutes added at the end of the half. Mansfield get a free kick on the edge of the penalty area on the left wing, and it is headed out for a corner. At the other end, a Wright long throw is headed out for a corner, but the ref blows for half time before it can be taken, and going into the break we lead 2-0.

The second half begins with an early shot from Mansfield straight at Corey Addai. There is early Mansfield pressure, and another Addai save. We break and have a shot that goes wide at the other end.

After a break in play for a Mansfield injury we play out from the back, and it is worked forward. The ball is with Tsaroulla on the left wing and his cross is controlled by Orsi, and he turns and puts it in the net, and we lead 3-0.

And straight from the kick off we win the ball back in midfield and Lolos picks it up and he runs past numerous defenders, and he smacks it in from just inside the box and we are in dreamland and ahead 4-0 for the second away game on the trot.

Gordon picks up a booking for a bit of a nothing challenge, which seems harsh, but he was on a last warning from the ref from the number of times he had gone to ground too easily under challenges in the first half.

A bit of a lull follows, there are plenty of substitutions from both sides. We work it forward to Adam Campbell whose eventual shot is just wide left. The crowd is announced as being 7,346, but doesn’t mention how many away fans there were, but there must have been at least a couple of hundred.

Mansfield have another shot and Addai pushes it around the post for another corner. With just over ten minutes to go after more substitutions Mansfield work the ball into the penalty area and one of their subs controls and their shot beats Addai and the score is pegged back to 4-1.

Another attack is worked through to Campbell, but the shot is wide again. There are five minutes of added time. During which there is some nervy play, and we give the ball away in our own box. This leads to a couple of Mansfield corners, there is some pinball in the box, three blocked shots and eventually a shot wide. The full-time whistle goes, and it is a very impressive 4-1 away win.

A picture of the trademark Scott Lindsey celebration is ruined by a steward walking into shot just at the fist pump moment. I can’t be the only person who was trying to sing ‘Nigel, Nigel, what’s the score?’ Especially as he was named as a candidate for manager of the season for a team expected to be promoted, whereas ours who beat him and has us in the playoffs when everyone had us to finish bottom is snubbed.

The win sees us consolidate seventh place, now three points ahead of the clubs in eighth and ninth, and only two places behind the teams in fifth and sixth, and our game in hand on sixth is against the team in fifth, so a win of that would see us jump both of those!!! Mansfield drop to fourth and out of the automatic promotion places. Alvin Stardust, Ed Davey. Becky Adlington, Steve Ogrizovic, Richard Bacon, George Fox, Nigel Clough; your boys took one hell of a beating. And if the season had finished today, we would be playing them again in the playoffs.

Next up is that aforementioned away trip to Wrexham on Tuesday night, for which we will be there, as we’ll be going over to stop in Chester from being in Nottingham (we don’t actually want to stay over the border, and it is allegedly still legal to shoot a Welshman in Chester with a bow and arrow).

Come on you reds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *