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Reserves held in eight-goal thriller

2 December 2014

Brown, Palmer, Bingham and Rhead on target in pulsating 4-4 draw with Rotherham United.

Our second-string had to settle for a point against Rotherham United in the Final Third Development League (East Division), after conceding with virtually the last kick of the game in a 4-4 draw at One Call Stadium.

In a pulsating match, two first half strikes by Rotherham’s Alex Revell were sandwiched in between a stunning solo effort by Junior Brown, as the visitors led 2-1 at the break.

Mansfield battled back to lead 3-2 at the hour mark courtesy of goals by Ollie Palmer and Rakish Bingham, before Conor Newton equalised with around a quarter of an hour remaining.

The Stags looked to have snatched all three points in the closing stages as Matt Rhead converted a spot-kick after Anthony Dwyer was tripped inside the area, but Rotherham snatched a share of the spoils thanks to Jordan Bowery’s injury-time leveller.

On a wintry afternoon in North Nottinghamshire, the Millers came flying out of the traps and Stags’ shot-stopper Adam Bishop was called into action inside the opening 60 seconds as he bravely dived at the feet of Jordan Bowery, to prevent the strike from getting a shot away.

Mansfield responded with an opportunity of their own just a few moments later when Matt Rhead got on the end of a great cross into the area by Junior Brown, but couldn’t direct his header towards the target.

Brown looked lively for the Stags in the early exchanges, but the visitors enjoyed some good spells of possession with Bowery and Johnson Clarke-Harris looking their best players.

However, it was Rotherham’s experienced striker Alex Revell who had the next shot, when he smashed a low drive from the edge of the area, just a couple of yards wide of Bishop’s right-hand post.

Clarke-Harris then blazed over with a speculative drive on 12 minutes, before the South Yorkshire side opened the scoring just shy of the quarter-hour mark, courtesy of a bouncing low effort by Revell.

The Stags didn’t take long to hit back, however, as only four minutes later the impressive Brown embarked on a weaving run into the area, which concluded with him slotting home from a tight angle.

Rakish Bingham had an effort smothered by Millers’ ‘keeper Tony Thompson as the Stags threatened to score again, but against the run of play, it was Rotherham who got their noses back in front on 24 minutes, when Revell stabbed the ball past Bishop from a few yards, after the Stags custodian parried a swerving 30-yard drive by Conor Newton.

Both sides continued to create opportunities and after Mat Sadler drew a near-post save from Bishop, the hosts went close to making it 2-2 as Bingham saw a beautiful curling effort ricochet back off the upright.

The Millers then had to make a couple of changes in the minutes just before the half-time interval as Lee Frecklington and Brad Peace-McDonald suffered knocks and were replaced by Alex Wiles and Jerry Yates respectively.

Mansfield looked brighter and more creative after the re-start, applying plenty of pressure on the Millers’ goal.

Brown had already gone close with a 20-yard free-kick, before Richard Cooper’s side got a reward for their efforts when Ollie Palmer spun exquisitely inside the area and slotted a low shot into the bottom-right corner beyond a full-stretch Thompson.

The Stags kept their foot on the gas and only a few moments after Brown had fired narrowly wide from Fergus Bell’s lay-off, Rhead showed some excellent control to set up Palmer, who was denied courtesy of some excellent goalkeeping by Thompson.

Nevertheless, Mansfield went 3-2 up in their next venture forwards. After Bingham was again brought down on the edge of the area, the youngster stepped up and unleashed a curling set-piece strike around a five-man defensive wall and into the bottom-left corner.

Rotherham were then forced to play the final quarter of the game with 10 players. Having already made their three permitted substitutions, defender Joe Skarz sustained what looked like ankle damage and hobbled off in evident pain.

Mansfield then made three changes in order to give young blood a run-out as Tom Slone, who has produced some excellent displays at youth level this term, Anthony Dwyer, a fast, tricky and creative winger, and technically-gifted playmaker Joe Fitzpatrick came on with Jamie Sendles-White, Brown and Bingham making way.

With just 15 minutes left to play, Rotherham snatched a fortuitous equaliser to get back on level terms. Bowery threaded a piercing low ball through to Paul Taylor, whose toe-poke stab-shot was brilliantly saved by Bishop, but there was nothing the Stags ‘keeper could do to prevent Newton from finding the target with a looping header from the rebound.

Straight from the re-start, Mansfield went down the other end and almost instantly made it 4-3. Bell’s floated corner was flicked across goal by Rhead towards Luke Waterfall, who got power and direction on his header, but Thompson flung himself across goal to make a brilliant one-handed save.

The Millers’ custodian made another great save from a shot by Dwyer with less than five minutes to go, but in the aftermath of the incident, the Stags’ teenager drew a foul inside the box and rightly won a penalty.

Rhead took responsibility with the resulting spot-kick and sent Thompson the wrong way, and with only a few minutes left to go, that looked to be that.

However, deep into injury-time, Rotherham pinched a point. Taylor’s corner into the area wasn’t dealt with properly by the Stags’ defence and Sadler headed the ball across the goalmouth towards Bowery, who squeezed a low shot home.

Team: Bishop, Green, Hempshall, Waterfall, Sendles-White (Slone), Brown (Dwyer), Thomas, Bingham (Fitzpatrick), Bell, Palmer, Rhead.

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