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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Macclesfield Town  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Tipton 90+2.
 Christie 71.
Attendance: 3,578 (1466 from Mansfield)
Date: 28th December 2003

Martin Shaw at Moss Rose

Mansfield Town were denied a third 1-0 win in eight days by an equaliser 10 seconds before the final whistle at Macclesfield this afternoon. After an even first half, Iyseden Christie gave the Stags the lead after 71 minutes from close range. Wayne Corden had a chance to seal it in the first minute of stoppage time, but a minute later Matthew Tipton slammed home a loose ball from the edge of the box through a sea of legs to earn the home side a point.

Backed by a large following of 1466, the Stags made three changes from the side that had beaten Rochdale two days earlier, with Clarke replacing the injured Vaughan, Lawrence returning from injury at the expense of Disley, and Christie replacing Larkin. The return of Christie was the biggest surprise given that Keith Curle had said after the Rochdale game that he would be available in about a week. Artell also returned from injury to take a place on the bench just two days after Keith Curle had said he would be back in a week to 10 days. Macclesfield included forward Stags loanee Colin Little.

Mansfield started very slowly and were nearly behind after just a minute. A corner from the right was not cleared and was turned against the bar with Stags defenders static. Five minutes later Mansfield had a great chance of their own. Mendes broke into the box following a throw-in and fired into the side netting with only the keeper to beat, albeit from a tight angle.

In the opening 15 minutes the Stags were generally second best but then had a great 5 minutes with chances galore. First Lawrence had a shot blocked after good interplay with Williamson. Then a minute later a great cross from Lawrence found Corden completely unmarked at the far post, but his volley was well-saved by Wilson. Then another minute on and Lawrence shot wide from a 25 yard free kick. At the other end Hassell made a fine tackle to prevent danger, but the ball was straight to the other end and Mendes turned superbly on the edge of the box and shot low towards goal, but the keeper saved it low down to his right. It capped four chances in 5 minutes for the Stags.

After 24 minutes, Carruthers shot straight at Pilkington, who held it well, and then Hassell did well to deflect a dangerous cross over his own bar. On 29 minutes, the home side tried an audacious free kick from the halfway line which just cleared the bar with Pilkington off his line. On the half hour, Mendes was found by Clarke on the edge of the box and he turned and shot, but again it was saved low down by Wilson.

The Stags then had a let off when Tipton was adjudged offside as he broke clear, and he chipped Pilkington and into the net, but the linesman was flagging for offside. From our (well-placed) position it did look as though he was onside.

After the flurry of chances in the opening half hour the final 15 minutes of the half was quiet, though just before half-time the Stags had two more chances to take the lead. First, Christie broke down the left but instead of shooting he crossed for no-one, and then Corden shot wide with almost the final kick of the half.

Half time 0-0

At half time we reflected that the game had been very even. The Stags had had more chances than the home side (8 compared to 5) but the home side had knocked the ball around very nicely and had been unlucky to hit the bar, and with the offside goal. The Stags best players had been Day, Hassell and Mendes.

The second half kicked off with lightly falling snow. After 50 minutes Christie got behind the defence and played a square ball but it didn’t fall kindly for the Stags. Then seconds later Hassell crossed into the box and Wilson caught the ball with his feet behind the line, but the ball was probably not quite over the line. Then Williamson surged into the box in a move reminiscent of the injury time penalty against Wycombe, but this time he ran the ball out of play.

The Stags had started the second half very strongly and soon afterwards Corden cut inside and sent a terrific shot just over the bar.

On 59 minutes, Lawrence powered a shot inches wide of the left post from the edge of the box after a fine header down by Christie.

The game entered a quiet 10 minutes before Dimech made a great saving tackle on 70 minutes and just a minute later the Stags were in front. Keeper Wilson received a back-pass, and fluffed his clearance to Mendes 35 yards out from goal. Mendes broke forward and crossed into the box, but it was cleared towards the byeline. Time seemed to stand still as everyone expected it to go for a corner, but Mendes collected the ball again with defenders static, and crossed again for Christie who bundled the ball in from 2 yards. The Stags faithful celebrated heartily.

In the final 19 minutes you would have expected an onslaught from the home side but it never came and Pilkington had just one save to make, when he got down well to hold a low shot to his left on 81 minutes. Minutes later Pilkington did well to come out of his box to clear a dangerous through ball.

As the game entered two minutes of stoppage time the home side seemed to have run out of ideas. In the first minute of stoppage time the Stags had a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-0 in a moment that will give us all nightmares. Christie broke down the left and with Corden screaming for the ball in the middle, he squared it, but it wasn’t a perfect cross and Corden scuffed his shot. The home side broke straight to the far end and after a ball was played into the Stags box from the left wing, there was a scramble and the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, where Tipton slammed in a terrific shot low through a sea of legs and into the bottom right hand corner of the net. It was a great goal, especially as it wasn’t an easy ball to hit, but it was a real sickener for the Stags. The referee played another 10 seconds before blowing the final whistle, and the dejected Stags players were soon trooping off the pitch wondering how they had let slip the three points.

After the game Macc boss John Askey told local radio station Silk FM that he thought the chance of an equaliser had gone but that he was pleased that they stuck at it. He was pleased that they had held what he called a very good Mansfield side. He said he thought it was great skill from Tipton to score the late goal, and he bemoaned the offside flag which denied the first half goal for Tipton, which he said was very unlucky.

After an even and entertaining first half, the Stags had the better of the second half with the home side barely having a single chance, and the final moments of stoppage time are difficult to stomach. Having said that, 7 points from the games against Hull, Rochdale and Macclesfield are probably just about what the Stags deserve and leave the side nicely placed in the league just behind the top 3, as the attention now switches to the Third Round of the FA Cup on Saturday. A full house at Field Mill, which will realistically mean around 8,600 seems assured and with Burnley having lost three on the trot in the First Division, the Stags will fancy their chances of an upset.

The Stags defended particularly well today with Day again outstanding, and Hassell looking back to his best, with Dimech also putting in an improved display, and Clarke looking solid at left back. Curtis and Williamson were not at their best in midfield, while Lawrence also lacked his usual excellent touch. Up front Mendes looked very sharp again.

Man of the Match: Rhys Day

Report by: Martin Shaw at Moss Rose

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Good game. Confident on crosses and generally good handling.
Hassell 8 Some great tackling and blocks. Looked back to his best defensively.
Day 9 Outstanding. Never made a single error and won everything in the air and on the ground.
Dimech 7 Started slowly but excellent in the second half.
Clarke 7 Defended well at left back.
Lawrence 6 Lost the ball too often in the middle. Not his best display. His touch seemed to be lacking.
Curtis 6 Couldn’t really get a grip on the game.
Williamson 6 Failed to create anything going forward.
Corden 6 Didn’t get into the game much.
Mendes 8 Very sharp all afternoon. Created the goal and unlucky not to score himself.
Christie 7 Scored the vital goal, and one neat header down for Lawrence, but his cross should have been better for Corden in stoppage time.
Sub Line Up:
Subs not used: JWhite, TCurle, Artell, Larkin, Beardsley.
Opposition Line Up:
Wilson, Adams, Welch, Carragher, Munroe, Priest, Brackenbridge (Miles 79), Whitaker, Little, Tipton, Carruthers. Subs: Delaney, Carr, Flitcroft, Ross.
M.Pike 7 Generally handled the game well.

Season 03/04 Reports