Mansfield (h) - As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees a third win on the trot

Pools 1 Mansfield Town 0
League 2
Victoria Park
20th March 2015

Of all the matches we have to play in this survival game, this is the one I was looking forward to, as I thought this was one in which we could pick up all three points. Especially as they were only nine points ahead at the start of the day, but with a worse away record than Pools. The stats on Pools over this month show that we are top of the league. 
There was a good turnout for the game, helped by the chairman’s deal on reduced ticket prices, and on the back of a couple of great, and to be honest, totally unexpected away results, the Vic was bouncing. Three back-to-back wins have totally transformed our end-of-season chance of survival. Not that anyone here thought otherwise, “cough cough, splutter.” Our fortunes seem to have taken a dramatic turn for the better in recent games, hopefully just at the right time. 

Some of our players have also been turning in better performances on a more regular basis. The team selection and system has vastly improved, as we seem to have a more settled side, with players who have been sidelined now showing their worth when given a chance to shine. 

The visitors, as all our opponents in this league, were a big side at the back, with stoppers in the strongest sense of the word. Stoppers in the “crunch” sense, as we found out to our cost. A karate kick to the face of Walker saw a red card brandished, fortunately for us it was possibly their best player who showed his frustration late in the game. 

The young pools winger Jones was given some special attention, almost chopped in half at least five times as he tore down the wing, At one point there were three defenders queuing up just to have a go at the little lad who was torturing them. One nine foot centre half was booked, but too little, too late in the Ditchburn Poolie's opinion. 

Jones had been brought on to replace Harrison, who had earlier taken a whack in the nose and not long after wards went off suffering from concussion. The last player we would want to lose at this point was Harrison who, up until the injury, had been immense in the tackle, and between him and Mirfin they never lost a header. The word is that he is ok and will be back next week. 

The visitors seemed to think the bottom team were there for the taking, and pressed us a little, but despite all the huff and puff the game was scrappy with no real advantage to either side or nothing to write home about. Mansfield sent a couple of headers wide and they kicked and pushed a few players, which upset our rhythm, but they were no real threat to us up to the break.

As you all know I was the founder member of the Temperance Society, and do not understand the need to drink mind altering liquids at a football game. Usually the football has that effect. The demon drink at games has its down side, as once again the Carroll family, father and two daughters and miscellaneous friends, for the third time this season missed an early second half Pools goal after lingering at the bar a little longer than they should. We are thinking of having a whip round in the last few home games, so the Carrolls can continue this habit until we are safe. The goal they missed this time was a Walker penalty, which was struck with aplomb by the lad, who seems to be recovering his early form after quite a long time out. 
"The visitors, as all our opponents in this league, were a big side at the back, with stoppers in the strongest sense of the word. Stoppers in the “crunch” sense, as we found out to our cost."

The goal was engineered by Featherstone, who controls our game, is very aware of danger, and spots an opening in an instant. And this he did today when he chased a long ball down, putting pressure on the nine foot tall defender, won the ball off him, made for goal and was summarily chopped to the ground in the box. 

This goal took the pressure off the lads and we played some good football as the visitors became more physical, which was to the detriment to their play. The foul on Walker was a joke as he was kicked in the face trying to head a ball, and it needed a straight red. Junior Brown was a big loss to them as he had been their best player and had scored against us at Mansfield. 

Pools were pushing Mansfield back now with the man advantage they were making more chances. A great ball from Walker set up Bird whose shot was blocked with the keeper beaten. Kee, for the visitors, was given licence to kick or push anything in a blue shirt, which he did continuously throughout the game. 

I must mention the lino down the CK stand. He was so good at spotting the opposition straying offside, I was prepared to have his babies. He hit them every time. I suppose the Pools defence had a lot to do with this trap, so my offer to the lino was withdrawn. 

The young Boro winger, Jones, was clattered every time he made a run; at one point he had three players lining up to hit him as they could see him as a threat. Give him his due, he never stopped running at them and kept coming back for more. 

Bingham came on for the visitors, and I thought it could be sods law, this lad had played some good football for us and after being pulled back to Mansfield, here he was trying to score. I sensed that he was a little subdued today, and it could be he was only pulled back to go on the bench, so felt he was only going to do enough. Maybe we will see him back here sometime soon. 

The visitors did step up their game, going for an equalizer,as they could possibly be dragged down into the bottom of the table dogfight. Flinders was in fantastic form, and in one spell he made three high quality saves in a brief good spell that the visitors put on, and these were game-saving stops. This was brought on by us hoofing the ball again, but that was soon put right and we ran out worthy winners. 

There was some anger around the dugout as the game ended, and I saw a Mansfield player attempt to throw a punch at a Pools fan who was probably taunting him after their loss. One member of their staff was man-handled away from the fracas. 

There were some good performances today all over the pitch. As I mentioned, Flinders and Featherstone (who took the Man of the Match accolade), Jones and Jones both did well, and Franks was rampant down the wing, and even managed some decent crosses. Walker looks to be back to his best and full of confidence. Harrison and Mirfin between them won nearly every header in some hard battles. 

So bring on Cambridge, which I am sure will be a tougher game than this, but I am sure we will be up for it.