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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Cambridge United  
2 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Oli 16, Easter 54
 
 Larkin 44, MacKenzie 62
Attendance: 3549 (728 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 11th September 2004

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the Abbey Stadium

STAGS SCRAP TO FIRST DRAW OF SEASON

The Stags picked up a point at lowly Cambridge United this afternoon thanks to two goalkeeping errors from the home keeper, though video evidence suggests that the first goal should have been disallowed. But Mansfield were unlucky not claim all three points with Neil MacKenzie’s wonderful effort striking the angle of bar and post and bouncing down onto the line. The Stags always looked uncomfortable in defence against the breakaways of the home side, but made good use of the aerial power of Artell and Day in the opposition box to claim a share of the spoils.

Mansfield were unchanged for the third game running, in front of an impressive away following of 728, 28 more than traveled to the memorable encounter at the Abbey last season.

The Stags started positively and on 3 minutes home keeper Shaun Marshall collected well above Asamoah following Day’s long ball. On 7 minutes, Larkin was just wide of the right post with a header following a Stags corner. Cambridge’s first effort came on 10 minutes with a free-kick from the left which was headed wide. A minute later, Corden had a goalbound shot, but in truth it was too weak, though it took a deflection for a corner. On 14 minutes, Buxton had a fine header cleared off the line from another MacKenzie corner on the right.

The home side took the lead on 16 minutes against the run of play. A high hanging corner from Walker came in from the left, and it was headed against the bar by Adam Tann, who timed his jump better than Artell and McNiven who were marking him, and from the rebound, new signing Dennis Oli smashed it in from 2 yards, with Pilkington still rooted to his line.

The game entered a quiet spell and with no chances at either end. On 29 minutes, there was an outstanding piece of defensive work by Corden. He found himself as the last defender but managed to dispossess the Cambridge forward as he burst through on goal. A minute later, a cross from Neil nearly allowed Corden to score his first ever headed goal, but the cross was just in front of him. There was an escape for Pilkington on 33 minutes as he came out for a through ball but didn’t get there and a Cambridge player pushed the ball wide of the near post. On 40 minutes, a cross from Corden was caught by home keeper Marshall, who was dealing superbly with anything into his box at this stage. On 42 minutes the Stags came close to equalizing. For the first time, the Stags got behind the home defence, and Corden played a ball for Asamoah who was on the byeline, and set up MacKenzie for a clean strike that was goalbound but blocked.

The Stags were handed a gift equalizer on 44 minutes. Making full use of the wind for the first time, McNiven floated a high ball into the Cambridge box from the halfway line. Marshall came to collect but missed it as Day's outstreteched arm flicked the ball away from him. It landed on the ground and Asamoah bundled the loose ball towards the net with his chest. Just as the ball was about to enter the net, Larkin stretched forward to poke it in, with Cambridge defenders claiming for handball. Stags fans and players looked to the referee who signaled the goal, allowing the celebrations to start. In truth, th egoal should have been disallowed.

At half time we reflected that the Stags had not played well, usually needed too many touches, and had allowed excellent home midfielder Justin Walker, wearing white boots, to run the show. The Stags didn’t seem to have made enough use of the wind in their favour, until the late goal.

Half time 1-1

On 47 minutes, Artell was beaten by the bounce of a high ball down the left, but Pilkington was out superbly to block with his chest. On 51 minutes, Corden put in a great deep cross after good work by MacKenzie, but Larkin frustratingly failed to make good contact. It reminded us of his wonderful chance to score with a flicked header at Cardiff where he failed to stretch his neck sensing the keeper coming towards him.

On 52 minutes Artell headed down to Larkin, who, from the byeline, cut the ball across the open goal, but no-one was there. Immediately Dennis Oli broke to the other end where Artell hadn’t managed to get back goalside of Jermain Easter who stroked a soft shot from Oli’s cross in off the post. Artell banged the turf in frustration, knowing that he had been at fault for being beaten for pace. Artell tried to redeem himself immediately, just failing to connect with a brave diving header from Larkin’s cross from the right. There were calls for a penalty as the Stags players felt Artell had been impeded.

On 57 minutes the Stags were so unlucky not to score. MacKenzie sent in a piledriver from 22 yards that hit the inside of the angle between bar and left post and bounced down onto the line. It did not look as though it crossed the line, but players and fans alike could not believe it had stayed out as it looked a goal all the way. The Stags were very much on top and were level 5 minutes later. Another deep free kick from McNiven was pumped into the Cambridge box, Marshall under pressure from Artell fumbled it and it fell to MacKenzie, who slammed home left footed from 8 yards, against his former club. He hadn’t had a particularly good game, but this could have been his hat-trick.

Cambridge had a rare sniff of goal on 67 minutes, but McNiven did well to clear the loose ball. The game entered an end-to-end phase amid high tension but there were precious few chances for either side. The Stags looked hungrier and more likely to score but couldn’t find the killer touch.

As the game went into 3 minutes of stoppage time, out of the blue, Cambridge came close twice to snatching it. First Chillingworth curled a shot from 20 yards just past the Stags right post, with Pilkington beaten, and then a shot from Easter from the right curled past the other post. If either of them had gone in it would have been a travesty as the Stags were clearly the better side over the 90 minutes.

This was an acceptable point, hard-earned, but without goalkeeping blunders from the home keeper could have been a defeat. That would have been ill-deserved and the Stags could also have own the won the game as they had better possession than Cambridge who looked an average side.

Man of Match: Scott McNiven


Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the Abbey Stadium



Line Up:
Pilkington 6 Possibiy at fault for the first goal. Did ok after that. Did well to clear one breakaway early in the second half.
McNiven 8 Very solid with excellent distribution.
Artell 6 Caught out for second goal, but did well in attacking role and involved in both Stags goals.
Day 6 Did ok.
Buxton 7 Good game; fighting well to keep his place.
Neil 7 Fine game on the right.
John-Baptiste 6 Did well defensively but looked lost moving forward when in good space.
MacKenzie 7 Had a poor start but could have a had a hat-trick; was so unlucky to hit underside of bar.
Corden 7 Showed some great defensive qualities, as well as linking well with the forwards.
Larkin 7 Looked dangerous down the right in the second half. Scored in 5 of the last 6 games.
Asamoah 6 Didn’t really get in the game. Worked hard.
Sub Line Up:
Murray (for Neil, 60) 6 Did ok.
O’Neill (for Asamoah, 72) - Looked a little lightweight.
Curtis (for MacKenzie, 76) -
Subs not used: White, Tait.
Opposition Line Up:
Marshall, Gleeson, Tann, Angus, El Kholti, Nicholls, Walker, Mbome, Easter, Chillingworth, Oli (Turner 66). Subs not used: Jowsey, Quinton, Lockett, Duncan.
Referee:
K Stroud 6 Very good first half, but gradually worse. Harshly booked O’Neill near the end.


Season 04/05 Reports