Sunday, August 19, 2007
Mansfield Town 1 Lincoln City 3
Steve Bruce, that ugly dinner lady and manager of Birmingham City has slammed the English Football Academies this week in the press saying “there’s a dearth of young talent … we’re not producing them like we used to”. I immediately e-mailed pan face (Bruce) telling him to get his arse down Sincil Bank and watch our No.7 Lee Frecklington, he’s the best I’ve seen down 'The Bank' in years.
I asked the kids if they fancied watching The Imps at Field Mill today, “no Dad they’re crap” was there response. I’ve stopped all pocket money until further notice. Lincoln City are my team and a “club in crisis”, we’ve shipped eight goals in two games, and our defence has more leaks than Tewkesbury town centre.
Mansfield has a population of 70,000 and lies on the banks of the River Maun. It has a history of coal mining which was brutally decimated by Margaret Thatcher’s despicable government in the 1980’s. Only two collieries remain: Welbeck and Thoresby.
It’s a good night out round Mansfield, I can testify to that, when my colliery closed in 1999 we had our leaving do there, I still get a headache thinking about that hangover to this day.
Stags’ managing director, Keith Haslam is an outcast in these parts; two years ago he borrowed over £500,000 from the club as an interest free loan. The club also gave half a million to Haslam’s holding company, Stags Limited, to purchase land for an academy. Have they built on it yet?
John Gaunt is the Centre of Excellence Director for Mansfield, I used to work for him at The Pies, and he is a top man.
Flicking through the £2.50 programme I notice that one of the lads I got in at Notts County from the the Meadows area of Nottingham is now an apprentice at Mansfield. At Notts they kept telling me I wouldn’t find 15 years olds at grassroots good enough for academies, as I used to say to them, Chelsea didn’t pick up John Terry until he was fourteen!
There are strong connections between these two clubs, John Scohfield, our Head Coach, has played for both clubs, as has Mansfield’s Commercial Manager, ex Newcastle United player, Tony Lormor. We had a tricky winger once, who we signed from The Stags, called Derek Asamoah, he’s now plying his trade in France for Nice, now that is a tough one to swallow. Cult hero Phil Stant has also played for both clubs as well as nearby rivals, Notts County.
It’s a short drive down the A60, past the old Home Brewery in Daybrook, up the Mansfield Road, passing Lord Byron’s ancestral home at Newstead Abbey.
I’m listening to Radio Nottingham’s match day programme, they are taking the p**s out of Lincoln’s defensive record. They ask a good question though. Who was the first Spaniard to score in a FA Cup tie in England?
I park the car down a cul-de-sac opposite Sainsbury’s, and stroll through a mass of retail parks and down through a snicket, past the River Maun, where there is a lone fisherman. I keep my wits about me, as there has been a history of violence between these two sets of supporters before games.
It’s £17 to sit down in the impressive West Stand. I pay £1.80 for a Diet Coke. They are playing Rihanna’s tiresome tune, Umbrella, on the public address system, it was somehow number one for 10 weeks.
Mansfield are now managed by likeable Lancastrian, Billy Dearden, they picked up a useful point last week down in West London, at Terry Butcher’s Brentford.
The team news comes through, there’s no place for Lincoln’s Gary Croft in the starting line-up. Bit of trivia for you here but he was the first professional footballer to wear an electronic tag after being caught driving whilst disqualified.
I’m worried about our makeshift backline. Ex Aston Villa trainee, Paul Green is left back but is right footed, while Ryan Amoo is playing right back. I’m not a big fan of his. There’s a little old lady up our road who is 87, every day she walks down Sainsbury’s for her groceries, put a ball at her feet and even she would run past Amoo. Nat Brown and Adie Moses, our centre halves, have never given me much confidence.
We take the lead after 90 seconds, Marriot’s goal kick is flicked on by Forrester to Leicester City loanee, Louis Dodds, he holds off a couple of challenges and finishes coolly. The 600 travelling faithful celebrate.
The home fans give goalkeeper White some unfair criticism, he’s only a young lad and it’s the first home game of the season.
The Stags bounce back but most of their efforts are hit from distance, their ageing centre half Martin McIntosh hits a couple of long rangers. They resort to hitting long balls to ex Huddersfield striker Jon McAliskey. I read somewhere that McAliskey had said he hoped to score 20 goals this season; on this showing he’ll do well to have 20 shots, and may well be retired to Skegness beach.
Lincoln continue to play sleek football, Jamie Hand, their new signing from Chester City, is the perfect foil for the emerging Frecklington and gives him more license to push forward.
Mansfield deservedly equalise on 36 minutes from the penalty spot following a push on Boulding by Green. Boulding dispatches the penalty with ease. The Imps respond immediately from kick-off, a marauding run from ex Glasgow Rangers forward, Dany N’Guessan leaves a trail of Stags players in his wake, he whips a cross in from the by-line, which McIntosh turns into his own net. 2-1 Lincoln.
Jimmy Saville, the Mansfield Town Disc Jockey, gives Rihanna’s Umbrella a second outing at half-time. I don’t think this record is due for release in Mansfield until Monday morning.
In the second half we play the best football I have seen from us in years and exert real pressure on the Mansfield defence. We counter-attack with pace. Dany N’Guessan is battering the highly rated Stags full-back Alex-John Baptiste, who recently signed a lucrative three year deal with the club.
Lee Bell, who I saw at Burton Albion last season, is caught napping in the centre circle, Forrester finds Stallard in acres of space on the left, and he runs at the Stags’ defence and finishes with an audacious curling shot which goes in off the post. It’s goal of the season so far.
Lincoln give a master-class of football, the movement is terrific. Mansfield play with no urgency or ideas. Lincoln are now in for the kill, Green and Forrester both miss chances and Frecklington fires over from 25 yards. Owain Warlow, our young left winger, comes on for a cameo role and looks an exciting prospect and gives us more balance.
The Stags’ sponsor’s award right winger Matt Hamshaw man of the match, he hasn’t beaten his fullback once in 90 minutes. He is on Radio Nottingham as I drive home; he gives an articulate and honest assessment of the game.
We won’t play a poorer side than Mansfield, this season, and I take no pleasure in saying that because I have a soft spot for them. As the bloke behind me said to his young son: “you’re not here to enjoy it, you support Mansfield Town”
Mansfield Town 1 Boulding (Pen) Lincoln City 3 Dodds, McIntosh (og) and Stallard
Man of the Match: Dany N’Guessan