{ match reports }
 
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Boston United
Barker 53, Lloyd 65, Rundle 70
 
 Maylett 49, Thompson 90+0
Attendance: 3223 (256 from Boston)
 
Date: 30th April 2005

Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Mansfield Town rounded off a mediocre season at Field Mill with a super display to beat Boston United 3-2 this afternoon. The Stags dominated for almost all the game and should have won by a bigger margin, though the visitors enjoyed two short purple patches immediately after both their goals that could have earned them a share of the spoils.

Before the game, Alex Neil was presented with the Player of the Season awards from the SSA and CHAD, while Alex John-Baptiste picked up the award from Ollerton Stags Supporters club. Meanwhile Daniel Sleath received the Jack Retter Youth team player of the season award from SSA’s Paul Taylor. Congratulations to all three players, plus to my own choice for player of the season: Richie Barker.

Stags boss Carlton Palmer handed a first start to young Danny Heron, while Luke Dimech was playing his final home game for the club, as Rhys Day was not considered fully fit and was on the bench. Callum Lloyd, who scored last week at Macclesfield, dropped to the bench, while McNiven replaced the injured Jelleyman at left back. Boston had dangerous striker Daryl Clare on the bench.

The Stags started very brightly and passed the ball around very neatly in the opening minutes, with Neil and McLachlan both impressive. On 7 minutes, young Heron had a half chance but the ball span away from him before he could shoot. Two minutes later Brown put in a good cross from the right, Barker headed the ball down and Coke fired from over a difficult chance. On 11 minutes, Brown again did well to put in a good ball for Coke, but the ball got cut stuck under Coke’s boot and he couldn’t scramble the ball in from close range.

Then on 13 minutes Neil’s corner from the left was met by a glancing header from Brown which smacked against the top of the bar. Just a minute later Barker was put clean through by Neil, and perhaps he had too much time to think. Barker decided to try to shoot past Boston keeper Abbey from 15 yards, with no defender anywhere near him, but Abbey saved easily. It was a very poor effort from Barker who surely should have attempted to go around the keeper, as he would have had a great chance of either scoring directly or earning a penalty and red card.

It had been a terrific opening 15 minutes which the crowd enjoyed, but failed to produce a goal.

The game quietened down for the next 15 minutes, before Dimech fired in a shot from the edge of the box which was blocked, and Heron appeared to be pulled down trying to reach the loose ball, but the referee waved play on. I noted at this point that Boston boss Steve Evans seemed to be doing his nut with his players, as they had been totally overrun by the Stags. On 32 minutes Boston created their first moment of danger when Dimech, who had been impeccable until this point, fouled Pitt, and Thomas fired the free kick over the bar.

On 41 minutes, Brown did well to turn on the edge of the box and made room for a left-footed shot which was deflected over the bar. Just before the break, Boston had a very rare break into the Stags box, and McNiven did well to head clear.

It had been a good first half for the Stags with just the end product missing, but it was to get better in the second half.

Half time 0-0

At half-time referee Mike Pike, who had had a poor first half seemingly missing many fouls on Stags players, was replaced by assistant referee Steve Bratt. Perhaps it was due to poor performance rather than the injury which was announced! A minute after the restart, Barker sent a snapshot well wide, as Stags continued where they had left off.

But incredibly on 49 minutes the Pilgrims took the lead. Pitt broke down the left and put in a cross. The cross was heading nowhere but took a deflection off the unlucky Alex John-Baptiste perfectly into the path of Maylett, who was unmarked and able to easily beat White from 8 yards.

Just two minutes later Pitt again broke down the left and crossed from the byeline, for substitute Daryl Clare whose weak shot was straight at White when he should have scored. Just a minute after that Boston had another chance when Rusk shot over the bar from the edge of the box.

Palmer reacted to the remarkable change in the game but bringing on Day for Heron, with Dimech moving to right back to counteract the pace of Pitt on the left wing, while Alex Neil moved to midfield, and Brown moved up front.

And what a master-stroke it was as within a minute the Stags were level, thanks to Brown. The new striker Brown was able to get in a shot from just inside the box, which keeper Abbey could only parry with his fingertips, and the ball ran loose into the path of Barker who side-footed home from 14 yards. It was Barker’s tenth goal of an excellent season.

Just a minute after that, Brown nearly scored himself, when he broke clear following a pass from the quiet Coke. Brown shot straight at the keeper from the edge of the box, though he had players free to his right. On 56 minutes, Curtis and Lloyd replaced McLachlan and Coke.

The Stags were deservedly in front on 65 minutes. Neil made a great run forward, and played the ball to Lloyd just inside the box. Lloyd made a yard for himself and fired left-footed into the bottom right hand corner of the net. A minute later Lloyd could have made it two in a minute. In a brilliant move, Barker got to the byeline and pulled the ball back for Lloyd who fired over the bar from just two yards in front of goal. It was an incredible miss, but great credit to Lloyd for getting into the position. On 68 minutes, Baptiste headed a Neil free-kick wide of the left post.

On 70 minutes the Stags surged 3-1 in front and it was no more than they deserved. Neil put in a good cross from the right and Rundle sent an excellent flicked volley into the net with his right foot. Rundle had had a poor game until that point but this was a touch of class.

On 79 minutes, White made a great diving save, as Pitt crossed from the left and Thompson sent the ball goalwards. On 81 minutes, Rundle, now oozing confidence, made a good run and put a good ball into Barker, but Barker miscontrolled it and a defender put the ball behind for a corner. Following the corner, Neil fired over the left angle of bar and post, from just outside the box.

McNiven put in a fine tackle on 84 minutes to halt a Boston break, but in the first minute of injury time, Boston grabbed an undeserved second goal. Thompson beat the offside trap and from the left hand side, beat White at his near post, despite White getting a leg to the shot. Generally speaking keepers are disappointed to be beaten at the near post.

Just a minute later there was a massive scare for the Stags when Boston absurdly threatened an equalizer. Thompson again broke clear and this time fired wide of the left post from outside the box, with White beaten. The Stags were now nervous, but the final whistle was greeted with a great cheer, and the customary end of season pitch invasion. During the pitch invasion I noted that Simon Brown was stripped down to his underpants by determined supporters, possible reward for a man of the match performance.

This was a super performance from the Stags with Brown, Neil and Dimech outstanding. It should have seen a thumping victory but in the end the Stags were hanging on at 3-2. Boston were very poor and played football for only 5 minutes after their first goal, and then 3 minutes after their second. Otherwise they were totally outclassed.

The crowd of 3223 was the third lowest home league crowd of the season. The average home league attendance for the season was 4075, with an average of 512 visiting supporters at Field Mill. An interesting statistic is that the average home attendance before Christmas was 4637, and the average home attendance after Christmas was 3560.

The win saw the Stags leap back into the top half of the table and into 11th place. But defeat at Leyton Orient could see the Stags finish as low as 18th.

Man of the match: Simon Brown

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill



Line Up:
White 7 Fine handling and kicking. Possibly should have saved the second goal.
Neil 8 Fine game pushing forward.
John-Baptiste 6 Defended reasonably well, though perhaps not at his best.
Dimech 8 Great game in central defence, and later at right back.
McNiven 7 Good game.
Brown 8 Put in numerous fine crosses, and looked very potent when he went up front.
McLachlan 7 Very good first half, with numerous good passes. Had to be taken off when he tired.
Coke 6 Slightly anonymous.
Rundle 6 Poor first half but improved greatly after his excellent goal.
Heron 7 Did well on his first start.
Barker 6 Not at his best today despite his goal. Should have done much better with a 1-on-1 in the first half
Sub Line Up:
Day (for Heron, 52) 7 Defended well.
Curtis (for McLachlan, 56) 6 Fairly quiet.
Lloyd (for Coke, 56) 8 Made a difference when he came on. Scored a fine goal.
Subs not used: Lonsdale, McIntosh.
Opposition Line Up:
Abbey, West, Ellender, Brooks (Thompson 72), McCann, Maylett, Rusk, Holland, Thomas (Noble 45), Easter (Clare 45), Pitt.
Subs Not Used: O'Donnell, Norris.
Referee:
Mike Pike (first half) 5 Poor; missed numerous obvious fouls. Steve Bratt (second half) 8 Handled the game well.


Season 04/05 Reports