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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
F.A. Cup Round 1
Mansfield Town  
6 - 0
 Bishop's Stortford
MacKenzie 12, 43, 51, Mendes 15, <BR>Larkin 41, Curtis 78. Curtis missed pen 56.
 Gwilliam sent off 55.
Attendance: 4679 (356 from Bishop's Stortford)
Date: 8th November 2003

The Stags began with a vitually full strength side for the visit of Ryman Premier League side Bishops Stortford in Round 1 of this seasons FA Cup. Luke Dimech and Lee Williamson were both rested so Tom Curtis returned to the side in midfield and Iyseden Christie, completely dropped last weekend returned to the bench. Stortford included former FA Cup hero Roy Essendoh, who scored for Wycombe when they knocked out Leicester City a couple of seasons ago.

The opening ten minutes were fairly quiet, with the Stags clearly showing their opposition healthy respect. It was clear, even in the opening exchanges, that going forwards the Stags, in particular in wide areas, could prove far too strong for their non-league visitors. On 12 minutes the Stags went ahead after some neat work in midfield the ball fell to Mackenzie who's shot from 20 yards appeared to take a slight deflection on it's way past Stortford keeper Desborough. Barely had the Stags fans sat down from celebrating the opener when Mendes struck a 2nd and the pacey striker can take enormous satisfaction from his part in the build up as well as the finish. Mendes chased a long ball on the right and looked 2nd favourite, however, he slid in with a perfectly timed challenge and hen took the ball past the defender and laid the ball off, he was then on hand to tap home after Desborough allowed a shot to go under his body. Credit to Stortford, they picked themselves up well from these two blows and had their best spell of the game and the Stags had to be grateful for a stunning last ditch challenge from Artell after his initial challenge on the edge of the area had fallen to Essendoh, the striker crossed and it looked certain Beale would score until Artell slid in with a perfect block. With Lawrence and Corden creating havoc down the flanks, the Stags were still creating chances, Larkin mis-hit a volley after great play between Hassell and Lawrence saw the full back put in an inch perfect cross and Corden twice cut in from the left, leaving defenders in his wake, only to see his curling shots narrowly miss the upright. The Stags pressure was to be rewarded just before half time, when two more quick goals made the game safe. First Mackenzie netted his second from similar range to his opener, this time his shot was perfectly struck leaving Desborough no chance. Then, on the stroke of half time, Larkin was on hand to tap home.

Half Time: 4-0

With the game safe, the Stags boss rested influential duo Dave Artell and Liam Lawrence. Jamie Clarke slotted in at centre half, with Disley playing in an unfamiliar wide right role. The Stags had an early scare after a bad back pass from Rhys Day put Pilkington under pressure from Essendoh, the Stortford striker got his foot to the ball and fell under Pilkington's challenge, however, the referee waved away the Stortford penalty appeals, which I have to say from my view looked a pretty strong claim. Just 6 minutes into the 2nd half the Stags made it five and Neil Mackenzie grabbed his hat-trick. Indeed, this was the best goal of the game with Mackenzie showing some great skill before firing another long range effort past Desborough. Most of the talk in the crowd was of record scorelines, with 9-2 the target, but unfortunately a series of missed opportunities eventually scuppered any chance the side had of breaking the record. The first of these golden opportunities came from the penalty spot after Disley was fouled on the far post by Gwilliam after a great ball in from Corden. It was a definite penalty, but the decision to send Gwilliam off for the challenge appeared extremely harsh. Corden grabbed the ball, but after some deliberation, the ball was given to Tom Curtis, who hadn't yet netted in his Stags career. Sadly for Curtis, keeper Desborough pulled off a tremendous save to deny the Stags midfielder. Disley then could have added another but once more Desborough pulled off a stunning save, diving full length to block Disley's powerful strike. Beardsley replaced Larkin, who was clearly disappointed to be replaced. Mendes turned well inside the area and hit a powerful swerving shot, Desborough could only palm the ball out and it fell to Curtis who, with the keeper beaten, blasted the bouncing ball onto the top of the bar from just 8 yards out - his reaction said it all - was he ever going to score!! In fact, 12 minutes from time Curtis got the goal his display had deserved, with a neat header from a left wing cross perfectly placed in the keepers bottom left hand corner.

So the Stags progress safely to the next round and this was a thoroughly professional performance and a shock never looked on the cards. Credit to Stortford and their supporters, they never gave up and maybe they didn't always get the rub of the green with a couple of decisions going against them. However, there was a real difference in ability between the two sets of players, with Corden in particular, and Mackenzie dominating the game. Indeed Corden could and perhaps should have had a hat-trick along with Mackenzie, as should Tom Curtis, but the fact is that these three players all had terrific games, the difference between them is the fact Mackenzie has the match ball and therefore rightly the man of the match.

Man of the Match: Neil Mackenzie

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 6 Quet afternoon for Pilks
Hassell 7 Solid performance from Bobby
Day 7 Coped comfortably with Essendoh
Artell 7 One particularly good challenge and solid thoughout
Vaughan 7 Steady and did well defensively
Lawrence 7 Some great touches down the right - correctly rested at half time with the game won
MacKenzie 9 Oozed class against this opposition
Curtis 8 Despite a missed penalty and a missed open net, had a fine game
Corden 8 At times pure magic - a real crowd pleaser
Larkin 7 The goal will give him a lift and was disappointed to be subbed
Mendes 8 Fantastic effort in the build up to his goal - another fine display
Sub Line Up:
Clarke (for Artell, 46) 8 Some real quality touches from Jamie
Disley (for Lawrence, 46) 6 Missed a good chance but as the half wore on began to look like he was recapturing form
Beardsley (for Larkin, 62) 6 - Not involved too much
Subs not used: JWhite, Christie.
Opposition Line Up:
Desborough, Allman, Wiltshire, Barnett, Gwilliam, Southam, Rainford, McKeown, Beale, Essandoh, Renner. Subs: Bunn, Lewis, Parker, Hayes, Addai.
C Boyeson (E Yorkshire) 5 - Technically correct to send the Stortford player off, but all those watching would rather him used his common sense.

Season 03/04 Reports