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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Bristol Rovers  
1 - 3
 Mansfield Town
Tait 90 (pen)
 Mendes 10, Disley 13, 41
Attendance: 8,451 (307 from Mansfield)
Date: 30th September 2003

Martin Shaw at the Memorial ground

Mansfield Town produced a devastating display of football in the first half to crush Bristol Rovers at a packed Memorial Ground this evening. The Stags scored 3 goals in a scintillating first half in which they could have had more whilst at the other end Kevin Pilkington was not tested. In the second half the Stags were professional and barely allowed Rovers a chance to get back into the game. Indeed it was only in the last five minutes when Rovers had a goal disallowed and then scored a soft penalty in injury time.

The Stags started positively and were ahead in only the tenth minute with an outstanding solo goal from Mendes. He picked up the ball some 25 yards out from a MacKenzie pass, and weaved his way past a defender before unleashing a bullet into the top right hand corner of the net from 15 yards. Within 4 minutes it got even better as the Stags scored an equally fine second goal. A superb move culminated in a one-two between Disley and Mendes which finished with a crisp side footed 10 yard shot from Disley into the bottom right hand corner. It was a tremendous finish. Stags fans could barely contain their joy and were simply amazed at the quality of the first two goals.

Rovers were shell-shocked and simply never caused Mansfield a problem throughout the first half, in which Luke Dimech was outstanding at the back. Kevin Pilkington had absolutely nothing to do and the Stags came close to extending their lead on 2 occasions, firstly when the ball was deflected wide from a corner when the defender knew nothing about it, and then Lawrence had a glorious opportunity with the keeper off his line, he had a chance to chip him from 30 yards but dallied too long and didn't get a shot in. Earlier in the game, the Stags also had a goal disallowed when Lawrence slotted into an empty net but the whistle had already gone for offside. Lawrence also had a couple of free-kicks from long range but neither came to anything.

The Stags deservedly scored a third four minutes before half time in fortunate circumstances. A Rovers attack broke down and within seconds the ball had been played to the far end, where Disley collected a MacKenzie pass, and had a chance for a shot and somehow his effort from 8 yards deflected off a defender and up and over the keeper into the net. From our position it looked as though the ball was going wide and it was with surprise and joy that we saw it nestle in the back of the net. At half time we reflected that this had been one of the best away performances in recent years and we could not recount a time since the 1993 when we had last given away a three goal lead (against Swansea).

Half Time 0-3

The second half began quietly, which suited Mansfield, and for twenty minutes Bristol Rovers barely came close to scoring. However it was inevitable that Rovers would have a good spell and they finally put the Stags under pressure, but with Dimech outstanding and the rest of the defence solid, clear cut chances were few and far between. At the other end, Mendes had the Stags best chance, but curled an effort just wide with the keeper rooted to his line.

Kevin Pilkington dealt very well with all crosses into the box and it wasn't until 85 minutes when the Stags rear-guard was broken. After a terrible mistake by Stags substitute Beardsley, who gave the ball away in midfield, the ball was played straight out wide, a cross was whipped in and headed past Pilkington by Tait but to the relief of the Stags was wiped out by an offside flag. As the game entered stoppage time Bristol Rovers were handed an undeserved consolation goal when Dimech handled the ball, it was a clear penalty and there were no protests. Tait, who was a target for the Stags just over a year ago, slammed the penalty down the middle but unfortunately Pilkington dived to his left. There were no further alarms in 3 minutes of stoppage time and the Stags were soon celebrating a hugely impressive victory.

This victory was gained thanks to a wonderful attacking first half display in which Bristol Rovers were simply crushed. Curtis was tremendous in midfield and Mendes continued to be the revelation he has been this season. Rarely can the Stags have had so few problems at the back in a half away from Field Mill. The second half was professional without being outstanding but in truth Rovers never looked like pulling the game around until those final five minutes.

Man of Match: Tom Curtis

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Memorial ground

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Nothing to do in 1st half - no chance to save penalty - handled crosses well - kicked straight down middle!!
Clarke 6 No mistakes, defended well but distribution poor
Day 7 Defended solidly though one mistake in 1st half where he was a bit lucky
Dimech 9 Excellent defending, very tight on strikers, unlucky with hand ball for penalty
Vaughan 7 Defended well and pushed forward well on occasion
Lawrence 7 Very good 1st half, quieter in 2nd
MacKenzie 8 Nice touches in midfield, drove side forward well
Curtis 9 Absolutely superb, won every 50-50 ball
Disley 9 Excellent performance, didn't look out of place on left - 1st goal was superb, 2nd a bit fortunate
Christie 7 Put himself about but no rash challenges, linked well with Mendes
Mendes 8 Worked hard all night, created several chances; his goal was superb
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Disley, 68) 6 Didn't get much of the ball, but looked sharp
Beardsley (for Christie, 80) 6 One bad mistake in lead up to disallowed goal, but otherwise did OK
Corden (for Curtis, 84) - Didn't have time to get into game
Subs Not Used: JWhite, Artell.
Opposition Line Up:
Miller, Boxall, Barrett, Edwards, Anderson, Savage, Hyde, Street, Hodges, Tait, Agogo. Subs: Austin, Quinn, Parker, Bryant, Haldane.
I. Williamson 8 - Handled the game very well and for once it seemed that most decisions went in the Stags favour.

Season 03/04 Reports