It’s now 22 league games without a win for AFC Telford United after a 1-0 defeat to promotion-chasing Mansfield Town at Field Mill.
Match Report by Steve Humbles
The Bucks made three changes from the side which lost at Newport last week. Luke Hubbins, Jay Smith and Richard Peniket - who has left the club - were the ones to drop out with Will Salmon, debutant Simon Ford and Steve Jones coming in. Ford’s selection meant he became the 200th player to play a competitive fixture for AFC Telford United.
Mansfield started brightly and the Stags were unlucky on 6 minutes when Louis Briscoe’s vicious drive struck the underside of the crossbar and rebounded to safety, whilst the same player also shot just over from distance on 18 minutes.
Telford threatened when Jordan Rose, playing in an unaccustomed midfield role, headed Ian Craney’s free-kick across the face of goal and the advancing Karlton Watson was just unable to make a connection right in front of the sticks.
The Bucks’ ball retention wasn’t great early on but the visitors did grow into the game after surviving the first ten minutes, with Phil Trainer producing a typically industrious display whilst Rose looked composed and assured in his more advanced position.
In fact Telford had a great chance to score on 29 minutes. The recalled Steve Jones burst forward from midfield and, just as it looked as though he had overrun the ball, a defensive clearance from Ritchie Sutton struck him in the face and rebounded kindly to leave the former Crewe man clean through on goal.
Jones, however, was clearly in discomfort from that incident and his tame shot was blocked by goalkeeper Marriott. Indeed, Jones was in such pain that he went straight down and received lengthy treatment before being substituted shortly afterwards with a suspected detached retina.
Mansfield retaliated and hit the crossbar for a second time when captain Adam Murray’s fierce left-footed volley, from an almost identical position to Briscoe’s strike earlier in the half, thundered against the woodwork.
On 35 minutes Colin Daniel’s free-kick was blocked by the wall after Watson committed a foul on Lee Stevenson just outside the penalty area, a foul for which Watson was duly yellow-carded. Then, as Mansfield continued to press, Luke Jones sliced wide from the edge of box.
Telford haven’t had much luck the season and there was a feeling they were using up most of their luck in one hit as the hosts then proceeded to strike the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds on 41 minutes - making it four times that the Stags had struck the frame of the goal during the first-half.
Firstly Daniel struck the outside of the post after ghosting in at the back stick to connect with Matt Green’s right-wing cross, and Stevenson then retrieved the ball wide on the left before curling in a cross which looked to be dipping over Young’s head only to hit the crossbar via the goalkeeper’s fingertips.
Telford nearly sneaked in front on the stroke of half-time when Bagasan Graham – who had come on for Jones – ran down the left and produced a dangerous cross. Jordan Rose was steaming in but couldn’t quite reach it and the chance was gone.
However there was still time for Mansfield to break away and Stevenson burst clear of several defenders before shooting straight at Young.
Just as at Newport last week though, Telford survived the first-half against promotion-chasing opponents only to concede a dreadful goal early in the second period. This time it was youngster Watson who made the individual error, gifting possession to Mansfield top-scorer Green who gleefully ran on to slot underneath Young.
The shock of conceding such a disappointing goal clearly knocked Telford back and the home side suddenly had their tails up. Substitute Lindon Meikle, who always impresses against Telford, had a shot deflected just wide.
Rose, who was having a good game in midfield, produced a clean hit which was smartly saved by Marriott on 57 minutes but it was Mansfield who were making all the running. Former Hednesford man Chris Clements fired wide from 25 yards and Stevenson’s swerving free-kick flew inches wide of Young’s left-hand post with the goalkeeper beaten on 70.
In fact, Mansfield did have the ball in the net for a second time shortly afterwards through Luke Jones’ bullet-header from a right-wing corner, but the effort was rightly ruled out by the referee for an infringement on Young.
A sorry second-half for Watson was capped when he was sent-off on 73 minutes and there could be no complaints from the youngster either. With the Leicester loanee having already been booked in the first-half, referee Breakspear had no alternative but to produce a second yellow for a foul on Murray.
Still Mansfield couldn’t force a second-goal against Telford’s ten men. Meikle’s deflected shot was well-saved by the wrong-footed Young and Green’s snapshot was also saved by the increasingly busy shot-stopper with Telford’s defence at sixes-and-sevens.
The closest Telford came to an equaliser was when Rose met Graham’s left-wing cross in the dying minutes. However, he couldn’t direct his header on-target and the ball slipped wide of Marriott’s left-hand post.
In the final analysis though, Telford could have few complaints having been second-best for most of the game and the Bucks remain rooted to the foot of the Blue Square Bet Premier table.
1. Alan Marriott, 2. Ritchie Sutton, 5. Luke Jones, 10. Matt Green, 11. Louis Briscoe, 14. Chris Clements, 17. Lee Beevers, 21. Adam Murray (c), 26. Lee Stevenson, 29. James Jennings, 31. Colin Daniel.
Substitutes: 7. Lindon Meikle (for Briscoe, 46 minutes), 12. Nick Wright (for Daniel, 72 minutes), 16. Matt Rhead, 20. Jamie Tolley, 33. Exodus Geohaghon.
1. Ryan Young, 2. Will Salmon, 3. Ryan Valentine (c), 4. Ian Craney, 8. Phil Trainer, 10. Steve Jones, 15. Jake Reid, 16. Simon Ford, 21. Karl Watson, 22. Jordan Rose, 23. Charlie Henry.
Substitutes: 9. Bagasan Graham (for Jones, 34 minutes), 12. Jay Smith, 18. Steve Leslie, 19. Kris Taylor, 24. Nialle Rodney (for Henry, 81 minutes).
Referee: Mr Charles Breakspear (Walton-on-Thames)
Attendance: 2,725 (including 67 away supporters)