12:10pm Saturday 5th May 2012
By Dave Flett
MANSFIELD Town’s striking options look limited as they ponder a solution for the loss of 30-goal top marksman Matt Green.
Green is banned for Monday’s Blue Square Bet Premier semi-final play-off decider against York City at Field Mill after being sent off for two bookable offences during Wednesday’s 1-1 first leg draw.
Stags boss Paul Cox now looks set to choose between former Corby Town target-man Matt Rhead or ex-Kilmarnock forward Ben Hutchinson.
The pair have both struggled to find the net since their January arrivals with the robust Rhead hitting the target twice in 16 outings and Hutchinson notching just once in 12 appearances.
Green grabbed more than 33 per cent of the Nottinghamshire outfit’s goals during their league campaign having started the first 44 fixtures before being rested for the final two matches.
Winger Louis Briscoe, who is expected to start from the bench again for the return leg, has the next highest tally with 11.
Former Minsterman Adam Smith may also come into contention in Green’s absence but he has not featured since scoring in the 2-1 home win over Stockport on April 9.
That was Smith’s second goal in 2011/12, having also spent three months on loan at League Two Aldershot from October to January.
Cox is expected, meanwhile, to keep faith with the back four that finished Wednesday’s match at Bootham Crescent with on-loan Cheltenham defender Dan Andrew continuing at left-back and Ritchie Sutton partnering Exodus Geohaghon in the centre due to the injury suffered by Martin Riley in the first leg.
Mansfield go into the tie in formidable form at Field Mill, having won nine of their last ten home matches during a 13-game unbeaten run in front of their own fans.
The last team to leave Mansfield triumphant were Cambridge on November 5, with Gateshead, York and Fleetwood the only teams to have claimed a point there since in 1-1 draws.
Kidderminster are the sole visiting team to keep a clean sheet against the Stags all season during a 3-0 victory back on September 24, while Southport are the third away team to have managed maximum points after a 3-1 triumph.
The 1-1 draw with Fleetwood is the only blemish in what would otherwise be a 100 per cent ten-game record for the hosts at Field Mill and the champions are the only team in the division to have lost fewer home games.
Grimsby, meanwhile, are the only side to have scored more times on their own turf, rippling the net 51 times – a return one better than that of the Stags.
Defensively, though, Mansfield have the worst record of all four play-off semi-finalists but pink-shirted goalkeeper Alan Marriott, who was left blushing in the first leg after a mix-up with Geohaghon led to the latter’s own goal which squared the tie at 1-1, is in confident mood.
Quite how many City games Marriott has attended this season is a mystery but the former Lincoln and Rushden shot-stopper delivered the following assessment when he said: “We did not play as well as we can while it was probably one of York’s best performances of the season but they couldn’t beat us even when we were down to ten men, which gives us confidence.”
Cox, meanwhile, is calling for his team to add quality to their endeavour, adding: “We did not give a good account of ourselves (on Wednesday) and I can’t remember when we last played so disjointed.
“We just did not have that bit of quality that we have shown of late and I don’t know if that was because of the occasion. We did not look as dynamic but we did work extremely hard.”
Mansfield (probable): Marriott, O’Neill, Geohaghon, Sutton, Andrew, Murray, Roberts, Howell, Dyer, Rhead, Meikle.
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