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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
2 - 2
 Lincoln City
Murray 45, Baptiste 51
 
 McAuley 15, Yeo 45
Attendance: 5349 (1024 from Lincoln)
 
Date: 2nd October 2004

Report by Steve Hartshorn

Stags stretched their unbeaten league run to six games but it took a goal each from Adam Murray and Alex John Baptiste to gain Mansfield a point after The Stags had fallen two goals behind in the local derby with Lincoln City at Field Mill last weekend.
More familiar faces returned to The Stags line up following the mid-week LDV Vans penalty shoot out victory over Darlington and Stags needed those experienced heads to earn a point against a big and physical City side who had drawn their previous three Coca Cola League 2 games.
The encounter started brightly enough for Mansfield, with The Stags having plenty of possession but their early dominance failed to result in any clear-cut chances and from that the visitors began to gain heart.
There was a scare for Mansfield on five minutes when the experienced Imps striker, Martin Carruthers drilled a shot from 20 yards that beat the outstretched hand of Stags keeper, Kevin Pilkington, but thankfully cannoned against the foot of the Mansfield’s custodian’s right hand post.
Stags gamely tried to impose their high tempo type of football onto the game, but the visitors had done their homework and Mansfield found themselves at times having to defend deep to combat the Imps threat. This resulted in The Stags having to mainly rely on the pace and skill of their two livewire strikers, Colin Larkin and Derek Asamoah, but unfortunately the two early on were being well marshalled by the City defence with the gangly Futcher displaying all the undoubted qualities of a traditional lower league centre half and hoofing the danger away with blind gusto.
On 13 minutes, Gary Taylor-Fletcher crossed and the Stags had to be grateful for a clearance from Craig Woodman. However from the resulting corner, City took the lead. Taylor-Fletcher floating the ball directly onto the head of The Imps centre half, Gareth McAuley, who made no mistake from 6 yards out.
The majority of Stags’ attacking play came down the right hand side with Alex Neil and Scott McNiven working tirelessly to combine and pose City problems. Strangely The Stags left hand side and in particular, Wayne Corden was almost forgotten as the play stuck to the right hand side like a frenetic school playground tussle.
The visitors were employing the off-side trap to try and combat the pace of The Stags attack and frustratingly it worked, although on 22 minutes, Asamoah caused worry but his right footed effort was drilled wide.
The Stags were again the dominant side in regards to possession but were failing to test Marriott in The Imps goal.
On 34 minutes, a foul by Dave Artell resulted in The Stags centre half receiving a booking. There were no complaints, Artell coming 10 yards into The Imps half to chop down Simon Yeo.
Five minutes later, Yeo, obviously in retribution, felled Artell and found himself in Referee Marriner’s notebook as the vicious undercurrent evident in most local derby games threatened to rise to the surface.
Stags were trying to get back into the game before the half time break and Colin Larkin saw his effort blocked by Morgan, but on 44 minutes, The Stags were hit by a sucker punch.
Ben Futcher hammered another clearance from inside his own half, the ball finding the roaming Simon Yeo. With The Stags defence backing away, The Imps midfielder, who had not scored a League goal all season, had time to assess the situation and curl the ball into The Stags net, despite a desperate dive from Pilkington.
The North Stand erupted, but the rest of Field Mill resigned themselves to the thought that Stags would be going into the break two goals down.
That didn’t prove to be the case. Deep into the three minutes added on time, Tom Curtis floated in a cross from the right, which found the head of his midfield partner, Adam Murray who scored his first Stags goal since his return to Field Mill in the summer.
That goal proved to be the catalyst for a Stags revival as Mansfield peppered away at The Imps from minute one in the second half. The players obviously geed up by Manager, Keith Curle’s half time talk.
It took only 5 minutes of Stags pressure to bring about the equaliser, although as later revealed by the goalscoring hero, Alex John-Baptiste, the corner taken by Alex Neil, wasn’t as well worked out as it should have been. Neil seemed to be waiting an age to take the corner, apparently awaiting the arrival of Adam Murray, when Murray failed to come over for the short corner, Neil whipped the ball into the centre where a delighted John-Baptiste powered in an unstoppable header to score his first career goal.
City were now on the back foot and relied mainly on trying to catch Mansfield on the break, but the Stags defence held firm.
The game was alive and had now become the frenetic local derby that both sets of supporters expected as play swung from one end to the other.
On the hour mark, Imps boss, Keith Alexander changed the focus of his attack and introduced Francis Green at the expense of the goal dry, Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
10 minutes later, Keith Curle made the decision to take off the superb Asamoah, The Stags front man obviously still not fully recovered from an injury that forced him out of the mid-week drama against Darlington. Joe O’Neill introduced.
On 72 minutes, John-Baptiste was on hand to block a goal-bound 20-yard effort from Simon Yeo. Peter Gain then had a couple of pot-shots as City tried once more to get the upper hand.
Neil MacKenzie was introduced 79 minutes, replacing Murray and instantly ‘Macca’ fired a cross-field ball into the path of Colin Larkin but good defending from the visitor’s frustrated The Stags striker.
In the 83rd minute, Field Mill was almost treated to yet another special from the feet of Wayne Corden. This time though the wingman’s spectacular effort flew just over the goal with the sound of a thud instead of the expected net crackling glee.
Both sides were desperately trying to get the winner and with just two minutes on the clock, it looked as if Joe O’Neill would provide it but after a good cross from Neil MacKenzie, The Stags striker headed into the grateful arms of Marriott in the Imps goal.
With the game entering added on time, Green tested the agility of Pilkington and Tom Curtis saw his chance for glory sail way over the bar.
Although not winning the game, Mansfield had kept their unbeaten run going and had shown great character by coming back from two goals down. Both sides seemed happy with their spoils.
This week Stags face the difficult trip into Wales to take on 2nd placed, Swansea City in their own version of the England v’s Wales international clash. Due to the hotly anticipated World Cup game taking place on the Saturday, The Stags game in Wales takes place on the Friday evening with The Stags eager to keep pace with the Coca Cola League 2 pacesetters.

Man of the Match: Alex Neil

Report by: Steve Hartshorn



Line Up:
Kevin Pilkington 7
Scott McNiven 8
Alex John-Baptiste 7
Dave Artell 6
Craig Woodman 7
Alex Neil 8
Tom Curtis 7
Adam Murray 7
Wayne Corden 6
Derek Asamoah 7
Colin Larkin 6
Sub Line Up:
O'Neill (for Asamoah, 70) 6
MacKenzie (for Murray, 79) 7
Day (for Neil, 90) -
Subs not used: Langford, Dimech.
Opposition Line Up:
Marriott , McAuley , Morgan , Futcher , Bloomer , Butcher , Gain , Peat , Taylor-Fletcher , Yeo , Carruthers
Subs: McCombe , Rayner , Green , Toner , Sandwith
Referee:
A Marriner (W Midlands)


Season 04/05 Reports