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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Torquay United  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Hockley 35
Attendance: 2,773 (180 from Mansfield)
Date: 21st October 2003

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Plainmoor

(For a match report by Sweden Stag, visit the Latest News page here:
http://www.stagsnet.net/news/newsdetails.php?newsid=1361 )

The Stags fell to a disappointing defeat at a bleak Plainmoor this evening in front of a small crowd with little atmosphere from the home fans. In truth it was a game that had 0-0 written all over it for the entire 90 minutes, but unfortunately Mansfield conceded a rather unlucky goal after 35 minutes which sealed the victory for Torquay. The Stags always wanted one touch too many around the edge of the Torquay box and were rarely able to get a clear strike on target.

The Stags were first to create danger when, on 3 minutes, Christie bustled into the box running on to a pass and fell over the keeper claiming a penalty. It looked optimistic and the Stags were given a corner only, which came to nothing. Torquay’s first effort came on 5 minutes with a shot from inside the box, just wide of the post.

In the first 15 minutes the Stags looked comfortable, passing the ball well and with Dimech looking outstanding. After 17 minutes, Vaughan put a looping cross into the box, which Curtis could only head weakly at the keeper. Four minutes later, Dimech made a superb tackle to halt a Torquay breakaway, showing incredible speed when he looked second favourite to get the ball.

On 26 minutes, Corden played a superb long cross-field pass into the path of Christie, who should have made more of it but was crowded out. On 29 minutes, there was some light relief when the referee insisted that Artell removed his dark blue cycling shorts, which were just visible below his sky blue shorts, as the dark blue clashed with Torquay’s shorts. Almost immediately Mendes had the best chance of the half so far when his shot was smothered by the keeper at the near post, after a great overhead kick by Christie put him through. There was real danger for Mansfield when Torquay’s dangerman, David Graham, broke clear of his defender in the box, and with time to spare, blasted it high over the bar. On 33 minutes, a Torquay player was booked for kicking the ball away in the Stags half, and it seemed that the referee had forgotten to advance the ball 10 yards, so your intrepid reporter screamed at the referee, who clearly heard, and then finally signaled for the ball to be moved.

But after 35 minutes disaster struck the Stags in rather unlucky circumstances. A Torquay player picked up the ball 25 yards out and was about to shoot but, with the referee rather in his way, he scuffed his shot horribly. But the ball ran beautifully out to the left wing where it was immediately cut back to Matthew Hockley who clipped a left foot shot past Pilkington’s right hand.

It was the lucky break you felt could be crucial, and so it was to prove.

On 38 minutes, Dimech blotted his copybook with a bad challenge, lunging in from behind, and would have been relieved only to see a yellow card. Two minutes later Mendes picked up a loose ball and created a shot for himself, but it was weak and straight at the keeper. On the stroke of half time, the Stags had their best chance of the half, when Lawrence burst into the box, playing a one-two with Christie, but shot just wide of the left post from a good position.

Half Time 1-0

At half time, we noticed from our position 5 yards behind the Stags dugout that chairman Keith Haslam wandered across the pitch and went to stand behind the goal with one section of Stags fans. Sub Andy White was taking shooting practice and nearly hit the chairman twice.

Mansfield started the second half brightly, passing the ball well. A fine, deep, cross from Corden was met by Lawrence coming in to the box, but his volley was straight at the keeper. On 51 minutes Torquay had a well struck snap-shot wide of the left post. Eight minutes later, Torquay had another shot, this time wide of the right post. Corden was then replaced by Larkin and soon afterwards Artell headed over with a free header from a Williamson free-kick.

On 66 minutes, Mendes showed terrific pace and control to storm forward through the middle from his own half, but he was closed down as he was about to shoot. It highlighted the problem for shot-shy Stags. However credit should be given to a resolute home defence who didn’t give the Stags any room.

On 74 minutes, Clarke tried his luck with a left foot shot from 25 yards. It was over the bar, but at least he had a go. On 78 minutes White and Disley replaced Christie and Curtis. Almost immediately Disley had a chance but headed over from a deep cross.

But on 87 minutes came the moment when it seemed the Stags would claim a point. Larkin was put through by a great pass from Williamson and Larkin was in space in the box and had time to compose himself before firing a yard wide of the right post with his left foot. The whole of the Stags bench in front of us were off their feet, as we were, as it seemed certain to be a goal. The fact that we couldn’t get the shot on target epitomized our evening. On 89 minutes the Stags last chance fell to Mendes, following a Larkin flick, but his shot was once again weak, and failed to trouble the keeper.

And so the game ended in frustration for Mansfield who were worth a share of the spoils but were not sharp enough going forward. The Stags corners were disappointing this evening with none of them looking remotely dangerous. Torquay defended well all evening and had done their homework cleverly, as they had dangerman Lawrence double-marked for most of the evening. This was the first time Mansfield had failed to score away from home. A quick return to winning ways is now required with the visit of Cheltenham to Field Mill on Saturday.

Luke Dimech was our man of the match for a fine display in defence where he looked classy on the ball. Maybe it is time to give him a go in midfield where his tackling, speed and distribution may be of greater benefit to the team, and allow Day back into defence.

Man of Match: Luke Dimech

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Plainmoor

Line Up:
Pilkington 6 Had little to do. Dealt with crosses ok, Not at fault for the goal. Kicking often poor but did not affect the game.
Clarke 7 Defended well and tried to push the team forward by linking with Lawrence.
Artell 6 Defended ok. Rarely troubled.
Dimech 8 Started superbly and continued well. Looked so good on the ball.
Vaughan 5 Had a terrible start, giving the ball too often. Slightly better in the second half.
Lawrence 7 Tried hard but ball just wouldn’t quite fall for him.
Curtis 7 Worked hard in midfield in his usual role.
Williamson 6 Not creative enough when it was needed.
Corden 6 Didn’t get behind the defence to create enough problems.
Christie 7 Competed well and won most of his headers, but appeared to want one touch too many when going for goal.
Mendes 7 Had a good game, showing great speed, but couldn’t find the killer touch.
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Corden, 59) 5 Missed the best chance, and didn’t impress.
AWhite (for Christie, 78) - Tried to get stuck in.
Disley (for Curtis, 78) - Header over the bar from first touch, but not enough time to influence the game. Perhaps should have come on earlier.
Subs Not Used: JWhite, Day.
Opposition Line Up:
Dearden, Williamson, Woods, Taylor, Bedeau (Hill 33), Russell, Fowler (Broad 83), McGlinchey, Graham (Benefield 90), Kuffour, Hockley. Subs not used: Wills, Killoughery.
D.Crick, Surrey 6 One or two poor decisions but generally handled the game well.

Season 03/04 Reports