For the first time in many seasons, there seemed to be a chance that the Stags would beat one of their bogey teams: Arlesey had recently changed manager but were on a run of four games without defeat; the Stags welcomed back from injury Papy Kanyuka and introduced Tero Karhu from Finland, although they were without the normal centre back pairing of Barnes and Tickner.
Arlesey were first to show promise, not the greatest footballers but organized, they pushed up from the kick off. Within three minutes Beevor had the first chance of the match finding himself free seven or eight yards out from Gavin King’s right post. Beevor shot but King was well placed to parry the ball then collect.
It was not long before Kanyuka began to show why he had been missed popping up on the right to lay on a chance for Solomon Henry but he failed to connect. Moments later Karhu won the ball in midfield and threaded a beautiful ball through to Kanyuka only to see him shoot wide of the ‘keeper having outpaced the home defence. This could have been a turning point as Arlesey looked vulnerable at the back at this stage.
From the restart, the ball was quickly back in the Stags’ part of the field, bouncing about as if in a pinball machine. With both sides unable to follow the ball for what seemed an eternity, Liam Harold stepped in at King’s right post to poke the ball home.
The Stags tried to get back in the game from the kick off but were soon on the back foot again. Although the game was being pressed into the Stags’ two thirds of the field, neither team seamed able to actually make a telling pass and the ball spent a lot of time in the air rather than being controlled properly by either team.
On 34 the Stags should have equalized when after some great left wing play the ball was crossed in for Carlos Brown who’d cut through the home defence. Unhappily, his header went just wide of the Arlesey post. Once again, Arlesey were able to turn defence into attack and sent the ball up to their left wing from whence Paul Bloss crossed. The Stags defence had trouble coping with the flight of the ball leaving Ozzie Foster to tap home the simplest of chances.
Forest piled on the pressure just before the break, Arlesey gave away two corners, and had the ball cleared from the line but eventually Heselton easily beat ‘keeper Bussey to a cross and tapped the ball into the net on 44 minutes.
The second half started with Arlesey on the attack but soon Henry was to have a good try at the other end then Kanyuka brought another brilliant save from Bussey. Kanyuka was again in the action moments later when he outpaced his defenders down the left wing and sent in a glorious cross only to see a defender somehow get a head to the ball before Heselton looked odds on to score. Kanyuka was now looking his old self coming down the left and, once again, Arlesey had to scramble away more of his crosses.
The last chance of the game fell to the Stags when they won a free kick on the edge of the Arlesey area; unhappily Walker was able to bend the ball around the wall but just past the upright.
The positives to be taken from this match are the performance of Tero Karhu and the return of papy Kanyuka, who had been sorely missed over the past few weeks. On the down side was the inability to put away chances. This has been hopefully rectified by the signing of Ian Cooper who was unable to play on Saturday.