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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Southend United  
0 - 1
 Mansfield Town
 
 Warne 77
Attendance: 7082 (232 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 28th December 2004

HIGH DRAMA AS STAGS SECURE ANOTHER AWAY WIN

Martin Shaw at Roots Hall

Mansfield Town picked up their second consecutive away win with a 1-0 success at Southend United this afternoon amid chaotic scenes in injury time. Paul Warne had given the Stags the lead after 77 minutes, but in the fourth minute of stoppage time the home side had a goal disallowed in controversial circumstances to enable the Stags to cling on to the points.

The Stags were forced into two changes from the side that won at Shrewsbury 10 days ago with both Alex Neil and Wayne Corden ill with flu. Joel Kitamirike came in at right back, for his debut, in place of Neil, while Simon Brown came in for Corden for his first ever start for the Stags. Meanwhile Adam Murray and Brown were themselves suffering from flu, but were forced to play due to lack of numbers in the Stags squad. Southend included former Stags defender Adam Barrett who has notched an impressive 7 goals this season.

Earlier in the day I had seen the Stags players walking along the seafront at Thorpe Bay, taking in a bit of sea air before they retreated into their hotel for a spot of lunch. Back at the ground and just before kick off we were in the excellent Shrimpers Bar when I got a call to be a last minute substitute to do co-commentary for Mansfield 103.2. The view from the press box turned out to be somewhat better than the view from the away end, which I know from many previous visits is one of the worst in the country.

Southend came into the game on the back of three successive 1-0 wins. But the Stags had an advantage in not having played just 48 hours ago. The Stags started brightly and nearly went ahead on three minutes. Barker's flick put Asamoah through on the left and he glided past two defenders before shooting from 10 yards, but the keeper made a good save to his right. It was a good start and reminiscent of Asamoah’s goal at Shrewsbury. The ball ran free and Brown crossed it back to the far post where Barker headed wide. Five minutes later Asamoah was back in the action as he got into a good position but sent a shot from the edge of the box 5 yards wide.

After the Stags’ early promise Southend came more into the game. On 20 minutes a Southend corner eventually fell to the impressive Bentley who mis-hit a shot towards goal from six yards and Pilkington did very well to get down low and made a good save. There was an interesting moment 5 minutes later when Asamoah won a free kick around 25 yards from goal. For it was Asamoah himself who stepped up to take the free kick, even though his kick wasn’t a good one. I have not seen him take a free kick before and what it indicated was that he is the player high on confidence at the moment, perhaps unlike many others.

The game continued with Southend having slightly the better of it without creating clearcut chances, but it was the Stags who finished the half strongly, culminating with a shot from left back Buxton which crashed off the inside of a post and along the line before missing the far post. But it would not have counted as the referee harshly adjudged a foul had occurred.

Half time 0-0

The Stags started the second half like they started the first. A long ball from the back found Asamoah who showed a superb turn of pace to race away from two defenders and get in a shot that the keeper saved with his legs. Then Asamoah did superbly to get in an acrobatic kick which was straight at the keeper.

Southend got up a head of steam, with the large home crowd getting right behind them, and the Stags defended well but survived some nervy moments.

But just before the hour mark it was Asamoah in the centre of the action yet again as the Stags went close. Kitamrike at last got in a decent cross from the right, after numerous poor efforts earlier, and Asamoah’s first time shot was goalbound before striking a Stags player and flying just over the bar.

Southend had another lengthy spell of pressure, with one header flying just wide. On 75 minutes the game burst into life as Adam Murray and Bentley both slid in with dangerous tackles. Around 10 players got involved in a scuffle and it seemed to us that Dimech threw a punch and was lucky that it was not spotted. Bentley was booked and Murray was lucky not to be booked, but was not fit enough to continue and was replaced by McLachlan.

Two minutes later, on 77 minutes, came the Stags goal. Yet again it was Asamoah at the centre of the action. He sped down the right wing and pulled the ball back to McLachlan, on the penalty spot. McLachlan elected to play the ball backwards into space for Paul Warne who had plenty of time to pick his spot and place a shot beautifully just inside the right hand post. It really was a slide-rule finish. Warne ran behind the goal to celebrate with the 232 Stags fans as all the Stags players went to join him. Predictably the referee booked Warne for leaving the field of play, and some other Stags players were lucky not join him.

There was a heart-stopping moment on 82 minutes when Adam Barrett headed just wide, as Barrett, and another Southend player, held their heads in their hands signifying just how close the effort was.

In the 90th minute Asamoah had a great chance to finish it when he broke clear yet again but he lacked composure when he got into the box and shot over the bar.

But as they game went into the 94th minute there came a key moment of the season so far. Gray threw himself at a header from 6 yards which was cleared off the line by Dimech. The ball ran free and a shot was well saved by Pilkington. Still the ball wasn't cleared, and it was crossed back from the left across the goal before being bundled into the net by Dudfield. I immediately noticed that the referee was blowing for an infringement and celebrated joyously, while the home fans and players were incensed. In the press box we assumed that the ball must have gone out of play before it was crossed back from the left across the goal, in a scene reminiscent of Larkin’s ruled-out effort at the Millenium Stadium. But strangely, in an interview after the game, Dudfield said that the linesman had spotted an offside. I can’t see how that could be the case with at least 4 players standing right on the line! The Stags players said after the game that they thought the ball had indeed gone out of play.

Either way, it was a huge stroke of luck for the Stags, and while it can’t in any way make up for the Millenium Stadium, it certainly made for a joyous afternoon.

Meanwhile it was all too much for one home supporter who was arrested after trying to attack the linesman, right in front of us.

A minute later the final whistle went as the officials waited for protection from stewards and the home players continued to protest. The Stags players celebrated with the visiting fans, and as at Shrewsbury, chairman Keith Haslam celebrated with every single Stags player as they came off the pitch.

And so the Stags clung on to a second away win in succession, after previously just winning one away game all season. On balance a draw would probably have been a fair result. But three clean sheets in a row is a cause for some optimism, with the Stags just four points behind the play-off places and with a game in hand. It will be another tough game on Saturday with a visit to Northampton, who will be looking for revenge after their 4-1 mauling at Field Mill in September. The central defensive pairing of Baptiste and Dimech is looking very impressive, while Buxton is playing particularly well at left back and Asamoah is single handedly causing defences huge problems in the Stags attack. After a dreadful run, the Stags are at last getting the season back on track. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Derek Asamoah

Report by: Martin Shaw at Roots Hall



Line Up:
Pilkington 7 A couple of good saves, one particularly good in stoppage time, but a surprisingly quiet afternoon.
Kitamirike 5 Out of position at right back. But not an impressive debut. Often beaten for pace, and when he had the chance to go forward, his crosses were very poor.
Dimech 8 Fine game after a slow start.
John-Baptiste 8 Very good game throughout.
Buxton 8 Great game at left back.
Warne 6 Not at his best but took the all important goal very well indeed.
Curtis 6 Never got a grip of the midfield.
Murray 7 Not 100% fit and it showed in the first half, but excellent in the second half before he went off injured.
Brown 6 Quiet game.
Asamoah 9 Outstanding, again, as he had been at Shrewsbury. The best player on the pitch, and Southend couldn’t handle him. Did brilliantly to set up the goal.
Barker 6 Did very little.
Sub Line Up:
McLachlan (for Murray, 75) - Did well to set up the goal for Warne.
Subs not used: White, Maxwell, Lloyd, McIntosh.
Opposition Line Up:
B Griemink, L Hunt, A Edwards, A Barrett, K Maher, M Bentley, C Pettefer, W Gray, C Wilson, T Bramble (77 L Dudfield) , F Eastwood
Subs: N Nicolau, L Dudfield, D Flahavan, S Prior, J Corbett
Referee:
P Robinson, E Yorkshire 7 Gave the Stags a huge late Christmas present by disallowing the Southend injury time goal. Thanks Santa.


Season 04/05 Reports