A Harsh Scoreline Doesn’t Reflect A Really Even Game
By Dave Martindale
Radcliffe were at times unlucky and at times wasteful in front of goal today in a very even match where the scoreline clearly didn’t reflect the balance of play.
Radcliffe had played probably their best game of the season last week but had come out on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline and we were hopeful of them taking that form into this week’s tough fixture against a thoroughly professional Mansfield Town Academy side.
The first half was incredibly even with some great football being played by both sides. Defences came out on top more often than not though with the best two chances falling to Connor Bland. Both attempts caught as sweet as a nut, cutting in from the right hand side and firing an arrow towards goal.
The first cannoned back off the apex of bar and post and the second was equalled by a worldy save from the Mansfield Town keeper in the very top corner. Oh so unlucky, but that seems to have been the way of things over the last few weeks for Radcliffe.
The sparse supporters had witnessed a great spectacle when the whistle was blown for half time.
In a game like this one the first goal is always critical and after a couple of good chances had been spurned by Radcliffe, shooting straight at the keeper when the goal beckoned, it was Mansfield that broke the deadlock. A nice give and go to create a little space and the shot found the back of the net for 0-1 (49).
Radcliffe were still giving everything and creating quite a few chances but just rushing the last ball or scuffing the shot when a clear strike was what was needed.
Fin Jackson was giving everything in the middle and Oliver Petchell had the beating of the Mansfield central pairing time and again, only to see a bobble off the soggy turf or a toe in just deprive him of a clean effort.
Radcliffe were probably guilty of over-thinking it and not keeping it simple in the final third and couldn’t seem to get the breaks.
Mansfield had 5 subs and with a very boggy pitch it was always going to get tough towards the end...a great break showing us how to do it with a one-two-three passing combination and a cross that was drilled home for 0-2 (75).
Heartbreak for Radcliffe and no reflection of how tight this game had been.
There then followed a bit of a weird moment when a Mansfield player was flagged for offside but the ref didn’t see it and, sure enough, after the breakdown the ball ended up in the back of the net...the goal stood and we were 0-3 (78).
With seconds left and the boys still claiming for the goal to be reversed, Mansfield kept focussed and rubbed salt in the wound with a fourth. 0-4 (79) and a very definitive scoreline for a match that could have gone either way until the last 5 minutes.
It didn’t matter in the end, a loss by 2 or a loss by 4 makes no points difference and Radcliffe will just have to knuckle down and get back to the basics.
A welcome break from league action next week with an away cup tie to look forward to.
Man of the match goes to Ollie Petchell who looked threatening in three positions today and was unlucky on a number of occasions