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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Huddersfield Town  
1 - 3
 Mansfield Town
McAliskey 14
 
 Day 21, Mendes 38, Lawrence 75
Attendance: 18,633 (1,745 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 1st May 2004

Martin Shaw at The McAlpine Stadium

What a wonderful performance from the Stags at this magnificent arena this afternoon, to seal a place in the play-offs, with a 3-1 victory. The Stags could have easily won by 6 or 7 goals and the home side could not have complained. Indeed rarely can a side have created so many gilt-edged chances away from home.

There were three changes from side that lost to Carlisle: Eaton for Vaughan, Williamson for MacKenzie, and Disley for Larkin. The return of Eaton was wonderful news for the player who has played only one game this season due to injury.

In a truly wonderful big-match atmosphere, the game kicked off 19 minutes late to allow for more fans to get into the ground.

It was mostly Huddersfield in the early stages, and on the 3 minutes the dangerous Andy Booth rose above Day to head just wide. Three minutes later, Holdsworth got to the bye-line and crossed to the far post. As the ball was in the air we noticed the linesman’s flag go up. What for, I have no idea, as it could not have been offside. Anyway Booth headed into the net from 2 yards, at the far post. The disallowed goal was a huge let-off for the Stags.

But on 14 minutes, it was 1-0. Abbott crossed from the right, Booth beat both Day and Baptiste to the ball, chested the ball down and crossed back into the middle where McAliskey slid the ball in from two yards.

The home side were on top for the opening 20 minutes but then, in an amazing transformation, Stags were to go on and dominate the rest of the match. On 20 minutes, after a brilliant run from Mendes, where he beat a couple of players, he fed the ball to Disley who in turn slipped the ball forward to Corden who had a clear sight of goal but his fine shot was excellently tipped round the post.

Corden took the corner himself and flighted it perfectly for Day to rise above the crowd and head home from six yards. Two minutes later, another Corden corner found Day who won his header but the chance came to nothing. On 31 minutes, there was fantastic link play between Hassell and Lawrence down the right but Hassell’s cross was blocked for a throw in.

The Stags were getting on top and on 38 minutes took the lead. Williamson won a ball 25 yards from goal and fed Mendes who did brilliantly to beat his man and fire home into the centre of the net from 14 yards. On 40 minutes, there was a rare chance for the home side when the referee awarded a free kick for absolutely nothing right on the edge of the box. The wall lined up and I was screaming for Lawrence to get back on to the post, which he did at the last moment, just as the free kick was fired over the bar.

On 43 minutes, Lawrence whipped in a superb cross, there was a scramble in the box, and it was hard to tell exactly what happened at the far end of the pitch but the home keeper eventually managed to collect the ball. Two minutes into stoppage time, Huddersfield nearly pulled a goal out of the blue when Abbott sent an overhead kick over the bar. I remembered that he had scored the only goal of the game recently with an overhead kick, at home possibly to Southend.

Half Time 1-2

So the Stags reached half time 2-1 in front and this had been an exceptional performance for 25 minutes with Williamson and Disley excellent in the middle of the park. The news that Northampton, Yeovil and Oxford were all losing at half time was music to our ears.

The Stags started the second half in equally blistering form and should have been 3-1 ahead in the first minute. Lawrence put in a cross from the right which was headed against the underside of the bar by a home defender. We were already up celebrating the goal as it bounced down seemingly over the line before the keeper claimed it. But the linesman indicated it had not crossed the line and the referee waved play on.

On 49 minutes, Lawrence embarked on a brilliant run from his own half and he eventually passed the ball out to his right to find Corden totally unmarked. Just as he was about to shoot, amazingly he slipped over and yet from a lying position, still managed to sweep a shot past the keeper but it was cleared off the line by a defender. If he could have got any kind of power behind the shot, it would have been a certain goal.

Just a minute later, Mendes went on a brilliant run and found Lawrence, but as he tried to play the ball back into the centre, it was blocked for a corner. The Stags were now playing fantastic football and it came as quite a surprise that Huddersfield then had a good five minutes during which time they sent 2 headers wide of the post.

On 62 minutes, Larkin came on for the impressive Disley and, just two minutes later, there was a scare for the Stags when there was a scramble in the box. It was hard to see what went on at the far end but Pilkington appeared to make a fine save and then a shot went just wide. On 67 minutes, the outstanding Williamson went on a magnificent run and from the corner of the box, chipped the ball over the keeper. It looked to have “goal” written all over it, but somehow just cleared the bar. A minute later, it was Larkin who broke clear of the home defence but with the keeper well off his line, he chipped the ball well over the bar.

Two minutes after that, the rampant Stags were at it again. This time, Corden crossed from the left and Williamson met it with a shot which went into the ground before being claimed by the keeper. But although it was all Stags, they nearly paid for the host of missed chances on 71 minutes. Former Stag Iffy Onuora had just come on as substitute. A cross from the right found him at the far post but somehow, he managed to miss from all of a yard. On 73 minutes, more wonderful passing this time between Mendes and Larkin should have created a chance but they couldn’t quite get a shot in. But it was joy unconfined a minute later when Lawrence found himself with a shooting chance from just inside the box. For all the earlier missed chances, here was the man who would not mess up and he buried a left foot shot just inside the keeper’s right hand post. He celebrated wildly, not unlike after his goals at Chesterfield and Wycombe, ripping his shirt off in front of the Stags’ massed ranks. In bizarre circumstances, the linesman attracted the referee’s attention to something, the referee then called Lawrence over and booked him. It was hard to understand the decision, as, if it had been for over-zealous celebration, then the referee could not have missed it himself.

You would have thought that the home side would have pressed forward but there was none of it, and it was the Stags who continued to pour forward. On 80 minutes, it was so nearly 4-1. Williamson broke clear and fed the ball to Larkin who chipped the keeper but somehow the keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar. On 82 minutes, Mendes had a powerful shot, well saved and from the follow up, Curtis sent his shot wide. Just a minute after that, Larkin tried his luck from 40 yards with the keeper off his line but the keeper got back to save it. D’Jaffo replaced Mendes and on 85 minutes, incredibly the Stags had yet another chance as Lawrence found himself clean through on goal but somehow the keeper managed to save it with his legs. Two minutes later, there was a rare attack from the home side when Onoura broke clear but, just as he was about to shoot from the edge of the box, Baptiste robbed him with a magnificent tackle. On the stroke of 90 minutes, Dimech came on for Williamson, probably to enable the Stags’ midfielder to receive a rousing reception and what an ovation it was for the Stags’ Man of the Match! Three minutes of stoppage time was played out with the ball getting nowhere near the Stags’ net and so, amid great celebrations, the Stags were 3-1 winners in a game which, had they scored 6 or 7, would have been no more than they deserved.

Man of Match: Lee Williamson


Report by: Martin Shaw at The McAlpine Stadium



Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Surprisingly quiet afternoon. Made one good save in the second half.
Hassell 8 Defended very well, and linked superbly with Lawrence down the right on numerous occasions.
John-Baptiste 8 Excellent, as usual, though struggled in the air early on.
Day 8 Given a torrid time in the air by Booth early on, but recovered very well.
Eaton 7 Very good return from injury. Looked as though he’d never been away.
Lawrence 9 Outstanding. Gave the defence the run around for 70 minutes.
Curtis 8 Excellent performance. Won lots of 50:50 balls.
Williamson 9 What a performance! Given an amazing ovation when he came off on 90 minutes. Created so much going forward.
Disley 8 Played very well.
Corden 8 Tremendous. Put in some terrific crosses and teased the home defence. Did miss a sitter though when he slipped.
Mendes 8 Brilliant. Ran all afternoon, and caused the home defence all kinds of problems.
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Disley, 62) 7 Looked very sharp. Had 3 chances to score but just failed.
D’Jaffo (for Mendes, 84) - .
Dimech (for Williamson, 90) - .
Subs not used: JWhite, Artell.
Opposition Line Up:
Rachubka, Yates, Mirfin, Scott, Lloyd, Carss, Worthington, Abbott, Holdsworth, McAliskey, Booth. Subs: Senior, Edwards, Onuora, Brown, Fowler.
Referee:
S Tanner (Bristol) 6 OK.


Season 03/04 Reports