1. If those who were not at Saturday’s game looked at the scoreline bearing in mind the respective league positions of the two teams; they would have understandably asserted that it was an expected and altogether routine win for the Stags next to top of the league against the Silkmen who are next to bottom of it. This is far from the truth and had the Silkmen taken their chances, had a little more luck and defended more stoutly at set pieces, we could have been celebrating a fantastic victory as opposed to a disappointing reverse!
2. The Silkmen starting line-up did not contain any of the plethora of signings of recent weeks and it was most pleasing to see Callum Evans in the starting line-up although on the right side of midfield (as opposed to centrally where I think he is usually most effective) with Reece Cole also deemed worthy of a starting berth.
3. The first few minutes saw the Silkmen make a lively enough start although the Stags soon got a foothold in the game and scored with a pretty soft goal when Grant easily converted a loose ball that came about from an initial parry by Silkmen ‘keeper Kieran O’Hara. The Stags faithful rejoiced gleefully, and sang of their belief that teams from the third tier of English football would be gracing Field Mill next season.
4. The remainder of the half saw Mansfield appear reasonably comfortable with a couple of half chances at best for the Silkmen. However Mansfield were not exactly tearing us apart when the excellent Evans gleefully drilled home through a crowded penalty box following a Michael Rose corner several minutes before the half-time cuppa. The celebrations that followed nearly turned into ecstasy as Scotty Wilson went through on goal following a decent pass from Callum Maycock (his only meaningful contribution that I can remember) and beat the Stags keeper with a neat effort only to see the ball bounce agonisingly off the upright, and then Reece Cole saw his shot blocked as a consequence of some desperate defending. The half-time whistle then seemed to come at the wrong time for the Silkmen who by this time were firmly on top, and the Stags were most certainly wobbling more than a little bit.
5. The second half saw the Silkmen kicking towards the stand housing their extremely loyal supporters, and they nearly went into raptures when Scott Wilson was once again clean through on goal, but was unfortunately thwarted by Stags ‘keeper Smith, when Scott should arguably have done much better; particularly when considering his recent Midas touch in front of goal!
6. As luck would have it (or not in Macc’s case), the Stags took an undeserved lead following a corner when Stags skipper Pearce scored a rather fortuitous and scruffy goal from close range, and all of a sudden the home faithful once again found their voice again after it had been noticeably absent since the Silkmen equaliser. I have to be honest in saying here though that what I didn’t understand was the decision to replace Maycock with new signing Brice Ntambwe just before the corner was taken. Please don’t get me wrong when I say that I 100% agreed with the change; it was just the timing of the change that seemed wrong. It most definitely appeared to disrupt our concentration, and led to another very soft goal as Pearce lost his marker and scored a goal which most definitely would not be a contender for goal of the season!
7. The Silkmen should have restored deserved parity when Tyrone Marsh inexplicably shot VERY WEAKLY at the Stags ‘keeper from just outside the box with the goal at his mercy. This led to cries of dismay from the Silkmen faithful who had understandably expected Tyrone to burst the proverbial onion bag due to the fact that he had all the time in the world to control the ball and place it anywhere he liked between the sticks other than the arms of Stags ‘keeper Smith! The miss by Tyrone summed up our afternoon and whilst acknowledging another super save by young Kieran (O’Hara) during the half the defending for their third (you guessed it from another corner) was most definitely not up to scratch once more as Stags loanee Walker claimed his 20th goal of the season albeit with the assistance of the officials who appeared not to notice that the kid was practically stood on the line and did look offside when he tapped the ball in!
8. To be honest even the most optimistic of Silkmen fans had expected very little before the game, but as we trudged out of the ground a number of us spoke of our disappointment that we had lost a game that we could so easily have won. To be fair to a number of Stags fans in their sports bar after the game, unanimously voiced their opinion that we were ‘too good to go down’ and most definitely one of the better sides to have visited Field Mill this season. Whilst such plaudits are nice to hear, it does not diminish the fact that we still occupy a relegation place; have lost our last two games, and a number of the sides around us have games in hand on us!
9. Brice Ntambwe is a big physical presence who gets stuck in, and could definitely prove a very useful acquisition, whilst Botti Biabi looked like he could be pretty decent as the season progresses during his brief cameo appearance. It was gutting to see Callum (Evans) go off injured again after a very good performance until the time of his injury, and I know I speak for the Silkmen faithful in wishing him a full and speedy recovery from his injury. Nathan Cameron was immense again and yours truly’s Man of the Match and I will also give a honourable mention to Miles Welch-Hayes although I still struggle to understand why Fitz isn’t a ‘shoe in’ for the left back berth!
10. The next two games are pivotal to our season IMHO, and will prove crucial in defining how good our chances of staying up are. They are both pretty tough fixtures, but we have to be the 12th man to the lads in roaring them on to (hopefully) a maximum six points. and minimum four points, to really bolster our chances of ensuring our continued presence in the class of 92 Football League clubs. Danny Whitaker is a true Silkmen legend who knows how much our club means to our small but incredibly loyal and passionate Silkmen fan base, and as we approach one of the most important periods in our history, I sincerely hope that we see our legendary 23 on the pitch again to lead our fight to safety. Oh and by the way, could we please get a third strip (to play in at away fixtures) so that we don’t have to wear that accursed black one again? It may be a very strip nice to look at, but we haven’t had much success when the lads have worn it have we? I am Silkmen till i die!!
Featured Image courtesy of Chelsie Wilson.