If it were done when tis done, then twere well it were done quickly!” The Stags met a resolute Barton side and were beaten for the first time this season and it was felt that it’s probably better to get this defeat out of the way, feel bad but learn from it.
Barton played downhill in the first half but this large advantage could have been nullified when, after only six minutes defender Tawhid Juneja was shown the red card for elbowing Richard Georgiou in the neck. Barton regrouped and seemed to be the stronger for having only ten men. They began to play the off side trap to effect and, led by James Gray went on to give a solid but not exciting performance.
The Stags should have gone ahead after 16 minutes When Fola Orlilonishe got free on the left, after an excellent midfield pass from Cox, and bore down on ‘keeper Steve Graham who cut down the angle and made a great save when perhaps a pass inside to either McKenzie or Georgiou might have brought a better result. After two more sorties from the Stags, the game settled to Barton having 60% of the play but they had to wait until the half hour mark until their first attempt on goal was put wide by Gray.
Five minutes later another shot was well saved by Hasler but he spilled the ball giving a Barton man a chance on goal which was stopped on the line by Marc Ward. With their third attempt on goal, Barton scored when O’Brien set Barnes free on the right for last season’s top scorer to chip over Hasler.
The Stags were optimistic for the second half as they had the slope and 11 men but they could not get to grips with the off side trap. They did start brightly with a combination of Georgiou and McKenzie on the right giving McKenzie a good chance but another good save from Graham prevented the equaliser.
As the half moved on, the Stags tried everything with Graham making another two good saves from Orilonishe and was happy to see a shot from Cox just go wide. For the next fifteen minutes they failed to make any great impression until the final quarter of the game when Marc Ward hit the upright with a screamer of a shot from a good 40 yards. Minutes later David Bastian joined the attack and he too hit the upright with a glancing header.
As the final whistle blew, it was not to be the Stags’ day. The upside is that this team will learn from Saturday’s failure and see how to break down a simple off side trap which is a feature of a great deal of the “football” in this division.