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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
FA Cup Round 2
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Wycombe Wanderers
Lawrence 12, pen 70, pen 90+5.
 McSporran 56, 58.
Attendance: 5,512 (163 from Wycombe)
Date: 16th December 2003

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill

What drama at Field Mill tonight as Liam Lawrence completed the first hat-trick on his career with a penalty that turned out to be the last kick of the game. It sparked scenes of wild celebration as the Stags marched into round three after a see-saw encounter where the lead changed hands three times.

Keith Curle sprung a surprise by selecting a 4-5-1 formation with Mendes the lone striker, and Vaughan back to replace Eaton who had pulled out with a groin strain, as exclusively revealed by Wayne Corden to your reporters after the game.

The game was played in front of a packed home crowd of over 5,300 Stags fans, in marked contrast to the 163 from Wycombe, which represented the smallest away following at Field Mill this season (4 fewer than the 167 brought by Bury). One wonders what Tony Adams is making of such poor support, after his glory days at Arsenal.

The Stags began positively with the quick pass and move game using the 5 midfielders to great effect. After 5 minutes a dangerous cross into the Wycombe box was headed inches wide of his own post by a Wycombe defender. A minute later a Lawrence cross found Disley in space but Disley could only flick the ball wide. It was a case of too much time and too much space for the midfielder. On 10 minutes Lee Williamson had a chance for a shot from distance after he picked up a clearance, but his effort was high and wide.

But on 12 minutes the Stags were in front. Lawrence played Hassell in on the overlap and got the return ball in the box. Lawrence was dispossessed when about to shoot. Remarkably he regained possession immediately, looked up, and chipped the keeper just underneath the angle, for a stunning goal.

Three minutes later Wayne Corden saw his goalbound shot deflected for a corner. On 18 minutes Bobby Hassell put his side in trouble with a terrible crossfield pass but Vaughan did really well to block any danger. At this stage, although the Stags were on top, they seemed to be looking for one pass too many rather than getting more shots on goal.

Just after the half hour, Corden had a shot from long range which the keeper fumbled but retrieved as it headed behind him. On 34 minutes, Hassell misjudged a Wycombe cross and Pilkington did well to punch clear under pressure. A minute later Corden had a fine shot from outside the box, which the keeper tipped onto the post and back into play, and there ensued several more shots which were somehow blocked by the defence before Curtis eventually blazed over. It was an incredible incident, which reminded the fans of the incident in the first game which resulted in Wycombe’s goal. If the Stags had scored at this point, probably the game would have been over as they were so much on top. Two minutes before the break Mendes just failed to get on the end of a Corden cross and as play switched to the other end Artell did well to spring the offside trap right in front of Tony Adams on the Wycombe bench. Just before the break, Hassell made his third error, gifting possession to a Wycombe forward who strode in on goal, but Hassell made a magnificent retrieving tackle to ensure the Stags went in 1-0 ahead.

Half-time 1-0

Mansfield started the second half poorly and seemed to be playing a long ball game all of a sudden. On 49 minutes Wycombe had a free shot straight at Pilkington, which seemed to boost their confidence to make use of the possession that the Stags were gifting them at this stage. Two minutes later Wycombe had their best chance of the game when a shot was fired just over the Stags bar. It was clear Mansfield were sitting back too much and suddenly an equaliser looked on the cards after the Stags had been so dominant.

The equaliser duly arrived on 56 minutes as McSporran, who was so obviously the Wycombe danger man, was fed a sharp ball into the box, where he turned his defender, and beat Pilkington at his near post. Just two minutes later the game was turned on its head as McSporran scored again: this time a wonderful solo effort. He beat the offside trap, outstripped the Stags defence and placed a fantastic right foot cross-shot inside Pilkington’s right hand post. The Stags were shell-shocked and now looked second best.

Curle quickly replaced Disley with Iyseden Christie, who had such a fine game in the first game. Gradually the Stags passing game returned and on 65 minutes, Corden dribbled into the box and allowed Vaughan a chance for a shot which was deflected over the bar.

On 70 minutes, Christie earned the Stags a penalty when he was brought down by the keeper in a melee by the penalty spot. After a long delay caused by Christie jockeying with the Wycombe defenders for a position on the edge of the box, Lawrence eventually stepped up and scored under the keeper as he dived to his left.

Almost immediately Christie had a one-on-one with the keeper but his shot was too close to him and he did well to gather it. Then straight to the other end, and McSporran missed an easy chance shooting straight at Pilkington when a lob over the keeper, who was well out of his goal, would probably have earned a goal.

As the game went into the last 10 minutes the Stags went looking for the winner and Hassell was unlucky not to make more a chance as he burst into the box. Corden then had a free kick from the right hand corner of the box which was gathered by the keeper with Artell closing in. With two minutes left, Dimech replaced Vaughan, and soon afterwards Corden had a dipping volley that flew just over. As the game entered 3 minutes of stoppage time Christie got the ball in the net after a fine Corden through-ball but he was clearly offside.

In the final minute of stoppage time, Williamson surged into the box and was heading for the bye-line when he went down under a sliding challenge. The referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty despite huge Wycombe protests, and Williamson celebrated with a somersault in front of the North Stand. After another long delay, Lawrence finally stepped up after 95 minutes and blasted the ball home, again just beating the keeper, to send Field Mill into raptures. The referee blew the final whistle before the game could be re-started, and the Wycombe players continued to argue with the officials. We were able to study the video of the penalty incident straight after the game in the club office and it looked as though contact was minimal, but the Wycombe defender was plainly at fault for a rash challenge. We had an opportunity to ask Curle about the incident and he said he thought it was a clear penalty. Wayne Corden told us after the game that he was right behind the incident and he too thought it was a rash challenge.

And so the Stags earned a place in the third round against Burnley in the New Year. There is little doubt that the Stags deserved to win, and throughout the game when they played the pass and move game they looked the better side. But for 20 minutes at the start of the second half, the longer ball game was employed to little effect and often lost valuable possession, inviting Wycombe back into the game.

After the game we interviewed Wayne Corden for the next issue of Follow The Yellow Brick Road fanzine. Talking about tonight’s game Wayne said “It was an interesting game. I thought we perhaps should have got another goal before half time, that would have killed them off. I had a shot at 1-0 and I’d turned away because I thought it was in, but the keeper got a finger tip to it. I didn’t realise until you just told me that it hit the post. But going in 1-0 at half time they’ve always got a chance. We didn’t start off very well the second half. We sat back on them. It’s happened before. The first 15 to 20 minutes we can’t seem to get going in the second half. But it shows what character we’ve got coming back after that. The atmosphere in the changing room was good, everyone was buzzing. There was dancing by Junior Mendes and Liam’s got the match ball and everyone’s signed it.”

Wayne’s final message to the fans was “Get behind us, keep the faith, and give us your support this season”. You will be able to read the full interview in the next edition of FTYBR, in January. Don’t miss it.

Man of the match: Liam Lawrence

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Came and caught or punched everything. Not at fault for the goals.
Hassell 5 Not at his best. Three errors in the first half put the Stags in trouble.
Day 7 Dominant in the air.
Artell 8 Excellent performance. Several crucial tackles.
Vaughan 7 Better than in the first leg.
Lawrence 9 Outstanding first goal and took the penalties expertly under severe pressure.
Curtis 7 Covered a lot of ground. Very good in holding role. Also got forward well.
Williamson 8 Tackled well, covered a lot of ground and earned the crucial penalty.
Disley 6 Seemed to get crowded out and couldn’t find the space he needed to make an impact. Sacrificed when we were 2-1 down.
Corden 7 Always looking to make things happen. Denied a couple of times by good saves.
Mendes 7 Battled well on his own up front but couldn’t create a chance for himself.
Sub Line Up:
Christie (for Disley, 59) 7 Earned the first penalty and unsettled Wycombe with his physical presence.
Dimech (for Vaughan, 88) - Only on for a few minutes.
Not used: JWhite, MacKenzie, Larkin.
Opposition Line Up:
Williams, Johnson, Rogers, Thomson, Vinnicombe, McSporran, Roberts, Simpemba, Simpson, Dixon, Faulconbridge. Substitutions: Ryan for Dixon (45). Subs not used: Talia, Bulman, Currie, Holligan.
Paul Taylor 6 The penalty in injury time means that all is forgiven for last season.

Season 03/04 Reports