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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Northampton Town  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Benjamin 53, Smith 77.
 
 Rowson 45+1 og. Asamoah sent off 43.
Attendance: 6,122 (827 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 1st January 2005

ABSURD SENDING-OFF RUINS STAGS CHANCES

Martin Shaw at Sixfields

Mansfield Town fell to their first defeat in five games at Sixfields this afternoon but all the talk after the game was about referee Penn, whose sending off of Stags striker Derek Asamoah was an appalling decision and one which cost the Stags dear. Asamoah had already been booked for allegedly diving in the Northampton box, when two minutes before half time, he went down under a challenge from McGleish just outside the box. It seemed a clear foul. But the referee decided that Asamoah had dived again, despite Asamoah having little to gain from a potential free kick wide left and outside the box, and the referee brandished a second yellow card. After the game both managers, Palmer and Calderwood, confirmed that McGleish admitted that he had clipped Asamoah for the second incident. The Stags took the lead moments later, but were unable to hang on in a one-sided second half and went down 2-1.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that won at Southend on Tuesday, and for the first time for a while were able to name a bench of first-teamers, rather than youth-teamers. The return of Larkin from appendicitis was particularly pleasing. The Cobblers included new signing Trevor Benjamin, a tremendous signing for a League two club, while former Stag Lee Williamson was on the bench.

The first half was a largely even affair with few chances for either side, but nonetheless fairly entertaining. Scott McGleish, so often a thorn in the Stags side in the past, had an early shot over the bar, and then shot over again, on 12 minutes, following an uncharacteristic mistake by Baptiste.

On 19 minutes Asamoah was through on goal in the penalty box and went down under a challenge from Martin Smith. As Stags players shouted for a penalty, the referee decided that Asamoah had dived and promptly showed the little striker a yellow card.

On 28 minutes, the Stags had their best chance of the half when, following a corner taken by Warne, the ball eventually found its way back to him, and he crashed a shot from a tight angle that Harper did well to push away. Moments later Barker won a header in the Cobblers box and Asamoah headed it on, but somehow the home side cleared the ball off the line. On 31 minutes, Westwood fouled Asamoah near the halfway line and was booked for the foul. Asamoah reacted angrily to the foul and was lucky not to be spoken to by the ref. As the players ran away from the incident, Palmer had a quiet word with Asamoah to tell him to calm down.

But after a quiet 10 minutes, the game exploded into life. Two minutes before the break, Asamoah burst away from Westwood down the left and was clearly clipped from behind by McGleish. It was outside the box and seemed like a routine free-kick, with a possibility of a yellow card for McGleish. Unbelievably the referee decided that Asamoah had dived and showed the little striker a second yellow card. In the commentary box, we were speechless. Carlton Palmer was beside himself with anger, vented upon the fourth official. But Asamoah had to go. After the game, both managers confirmed to the assembled media that McGleish had admitted he had clipped Asamoah.

Moments later Curtis limped off, to be replaced by McLachlan. But there was time for more drama as the Stags went in front in first half injury time. Paul Warne in sent a corner from the left and Rowson flicked the ball into his own net. It was a just reward for Warne, whose had put over a number of good corner kicks. The Stags celebrated joyously with Warne receiving most of the congratulations

Half time 0-1

Right at the start of the second half we witnessed the miss of the season. McGleish did well on the byeline to pull a low cross back to Benjamin, on the edge of the six yard box. Somehow he put his shot wide, very wide, in fact about 10 yards wide. Incredible.

But the Stags were now under heavy pressure, and in the face of what was now a strong wind in their faces the Stags were struggling to get the ball out of their own half. And the pressure paid off for the Cobblers on 53 minutes.
And their reward came on 53 minutes. Martin Smith put in a cross with the outside of his left boot from the left side, it seemed to flick off Baptiste before crashing off Buxton's shin at the far post and flying back across goal straight into the path of Benjamin who buried his shot under Pilkington from 6 yards. It was a touch unlucky for Mansfield, but it had been coming.

Northampton continued to lay siege to the Stags goal, and Pilkington had to be alert to deny a McGleish run onto a through ball.

But on 77 minutes the inevitable second goal arrived for the home team. Josh Low crossed from the right and Dimech was unable to reach it, allowed Martin Smith to launch himself and head past Pilkington from 6 yards. It reminded me a little of Asamoah's goal against the Cobblers at Field Mill in September.

Moments later Barker tried a shot from 25 yards but it was straight at Harper and on the Mansfield 103.2 commentary we noted that this was the Stags first attempt of the half.

Corden and Larkin came on for Brown and Kitamirike for the last 11 minutes as the Stags tried to find a way to an equaliser. But it was the home side who came closest to scoring again with McGleish twice firing over the bar, the second time was an absolute sitter.

Corden tried to set Larkin away on a run and played a perfect ball into his path. Larkin collected the ball brilliantly and was heading towards goal when he was pulled back by the linesman for offside. Deep into stoppage time, the Stags had a sniff of goal when Corden crossed from the left and it seemed destined for Larkin's unmarked head but sadly a defender rose to clear the ball away.

In the end Northampton clearly deserved the victory and were all over the Stags in the second half. But there can be no doubt that the sending off was unjust and changed the game. Having said that, the Stags probably had a stroke of luck in injury time at Southend on Tuesday with the disallowed goal enabling them to claim the victory on that occasion.

Man of the Match: Luke Dimech


Report by: Martin Shaw at Sixfields



Line Up:
Pilkington 6 No chance with either of the goals. Not as decisive on crosses as in recent games.
Kitamirike 7 A much better performance. Defended well.
Dimech 9 Outstanding.
John-Baptiste 7 A couple of very bad errors early on, but excellent after that.
Buxton 7 Good game at left back.
Brown 6 Quiet game again. Yet to show us what he can do.
Curtis 6 Went off injured just before half time. Did ok.
Murray 6 Did ok in midfield.
Warne 7 Put in a number of great crosses, notably from corners. His performance of the 3 recent away games.
Asamoah 7 Had started the game very well indeed. Appeared desperately unlucky to be sent off.
Barker 6 Unable to keep the ball upfield for the Stags on his own in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
Subs:
McLachlan (for Curtis 45+0) 6 Did ok.
Corden (for Brown, 79) -
Larkin (for Kitamirike, 79) - Great to see him back. Looked quite sharp.
Subs Not Used: White, Neil.
Opposition Line Up:
L Harper, P Bojic, A Westwood, C Willmott, T Jaszczun, J Low, D Rowson, C Hearn, M Smith, S McGleish, T Benjamin.
Subs: L Chambers, B Cozic, E Sabin, D Galbraith, L Williamson
Referee:
A Penn (W Midlands) 4 Decision to send off Asamoah was appalling and cost the Stags the game.


Season 04/05 Reports