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Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
Mansfield Town  
1 - 2
 Wigan Athletic
Christie 50
 Ellington 39, Liddell 43
Attendance: 5,524 (439 from Wigan)
Date: 28th January 2003

Two reports from today's game:
For report by Martin Shaw, click here.
For report by Rob Wheldon, read below.
The Stags received a major boost with the news that Bobby Hassell was fit for an early return to the Stags eleven, however, player manager Keith Curle was again ruled out due to a calf injury but striker Iyseden Christie came back into the side after a one game ban - Lee Williamson, also back after a ban, was on the bench. Wigan included million pound striker Nathan Ellington in front of an appallingly low away crowd considering the side are well clear at the top of the 2nd Division - indeed there will probably be as many Stags fans at Plymouth as there were Wigan fans at Field Mill tonight!!

The visitors dominated the first half, their fast counter attacking style caught the Stags defence square on numerous occasions with the express pace of both Ellington and Teale particularly dangerous alongside the more cunning Liddell. The Stags had several lucky escapes early on but then created the best chance of the opening 20 minutes when Christie burst through the Wigan defence only to hammer his shot just wide. The Stags were constantly outdone on their left where Doane was struggling to keep pace with Teale, in fact, not too many defenders would have been able to cope with the speed at which Wigan attacked. Ellington was fortunate not to be booked when, after being put clean through his touch was heavy, Pilkigton claimed the ball but the striker launched in, causing injury to both himself and the Stags keeper. When it seemed as though the Stags had weathered the early storm Wigan took the lead just 6 minutes from half time, again it was a rather square looking defence which Ellington burst through, but the Wigan striker looked at least a yard offside and alongside him Liddell looked even further forward. However, not for the first time in the half, the Assistant on the far side missed the decision and Ellington waltzed through after a long Dinning pass to score. It got worse for the Stags just a few minutes later, this time there were no protests for offside as McCulloch raced clear on the left, his low cross looked to be near enough to Pilkington for him to claim the ball but the keeper hesitated which left Liddell free to round the keeper and tap the ball home.

Half Time 0-2

The Stags needed an early goal to have a chance of claiming anything from the game and within 5 minutes of the restart top scorer Iyseden Christie had hauled the Stags back into the game. Andy White broke free on the right and put in a superb low cross which Christie eventually converted thanks to a deflection. The Stags had clearly made a decision to defend deeper and not be caught upfield and as a result the side looked far less likely to concede a third goal. However, Wigan were still on top for large spells of the half, Ellinton fired a low drive which hit the base of the post and then flashed a header wide as the Stags struggled to create any further clear cut chances. Surprisingly Andy White was replaced just past the hour by Craig Mitchell and then the Stags injury misfortune struck again as Christie sustained a knee injury which meant he too had to be replaced by fellow youth teamer Chris Beardsley. The Stags inexperienced front line certainly made an impression as the Stags managed to muster a lively ending to the game. Lee Williamson came on for Tom Curtis with just over 15 minutes remaining as the Stags looked for an equaliser. Wigan keeper John Filan then annoyed the home fans and the referee after a minor collision with Mitchell lead to the keeper writhing around as if he'd been shot, indeed it was no surprise when after treatment the keeper was fine and then got himself booked for deliberate time wasting after the Stags had returned possession. Incredibly, the apparently greviously injured keeper manager to take the kick himself. Doane was then cautioned for a reckless foul on Ellington, though once again the theatrics of the Wigan player did him no favours, the booking was deserved, but clearly there was no contact between Ellington and Doane. Williamson then launched into a tackle from behind near the corner flag as tempers rose, again the yellow card was deserved. Near the end the Stags had a strong penalty claim turned down when Lawrence was tripped near the bye-line inside the area - the Assistant could not have been closer, but as always happens to sides at the bottom playing against sides near the top, the decision went the way of the visitors.

The result was a fair one, the Stags might have nicked a point but on balance Wigan deserved the victory. They have one player who cost more than the Stags have spent, in total, in over a decade and at the end of the game the Stags fielded 9 players under 23, with 6 of them former or current Youth Team players. The Stags certainly defended better in the 2nd half and playing against a quality player like Ellington would have been a tough learning experience for young centre halves Day and Gadsby. Again the major refereeing decisions didn't quite go the way of the Stags, though to be fair the referee overall had a fine match, in fact the Stags main gripe would have been with the Assistant with the Yellow Flag, who denied the Stags a penalty and missed the offisde for the opening goal. It was great to see Hassell back in the side and Lawrence certainly benefitted from his return. However, Corden had a very quiet game and Doane was given quite a hard time by the impressive Teale. This was, in line with recent displays, another encouraging display overall, Wigan will win the 2nd Division thanks to the money of Whelan, but the Stags showed that the difference isn't that great and should travel to Plymouth full of heart. Man of the match is difficult as the Stags failed to make to great an impression in attack. Defensively they improved markedly in the 2nd half and for that Matt Gadsby wins the award.

Man of the Match: Matt Gadsby

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 6
Doane 6
Hassell 7
Day 7
Gadsby 8
Lawrence 7
Corden 5
Curtis 6
Disley 6
White 7
Christie 7
Sub Line Up:
Mitchell 7
Beardsley 7
Williamson 6
Opposition Line Up:
Filan, Mitchell, Jackson, De Vos, Eaden, Liddell, Teale, Dinning, Kennedy, Ellington, McCulloch. Subs: McMillan, Breckin, Roberts, Beasant, Jarrett.
P Walton - 8

Season 02/03 Reports