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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Kidderminster Harriers
Day 25
 Ward penalty saved 23.
Attendance: 4,574 (242 from Kidderminster)
Date: 10th January 2004

The Stags continued to be without both left backs Tony Vaughan and Adam Eaton through injury, so Jamie Clarke continued to fill in. Dave Artell continued on the bench having recovered from his injury, Keith Curle deciding not to split up the central defensive partnership of Day and Dimech, though Dimech will be suspended for next weeks trip to Orient which should see Artell return. Craig Disley was also missing from the squad with a back injury. In the Kiddie starting eleven were former Stags Adam Murray and Matt Gadsby.

The game began slowly with neither side able to create any clear cut chances. Over recent weeks the pace in the Stags play has been noticeable for its absence, this was again the case today as they struggled to maintain any sort of possession or pressure for any length of time. Indeed, it was the visitors who dominated possession without ever creating anything for their strikers. It wasn't until the 20 minute mark before any notable goal action took place, a left wing cross from Corden created a scramble just inside the Kiddie 18-yard area, Mendes managed to knock the ball back to Curtis who fired a low, weak shot straight at Kiddie keeper Brock. However, out of the blue came a great chance for the visitors to take the lead. As the ball was swung in from the left hand side Murray and Williamson seemed to tangle inside the area. The ball was never reaching the former Stags man, however, the referee immediately pointed to the spot - Lawrence was booked for his futile protests. However, Ward's spot kick was weak and easily saved by the in form Stags keeper. Harriers were to rue this missed opportunity as the Stags took the lead just 2 minutes later. A free kick after a foul on Hassell saw Lawrence float in a fine cross which Rhys Day met powerfully to head home, despite Brock's best efforts to keep the ball out. Christie was then guilty of spurning a great chance when put through, he took too long on the ball instead of firing in a shot and eventually the chance was gone. The Stags were fortunate at the other end when Clarke badly mis-jdged a long ball into the area, the ball fell over his head and was met by a fine volley by Bennett which flew just wide of Pilkington's right hand post. Possession continued to be squadered by both sides for the remainder of what was an extremely poor 45 minutes of football, with the Stags fortunate to go in a goal ahead.

Half Time: 1-0

The chat amongst the crowd at half time was that the 2nd half couldn't be any worse than the first. Sadly it was. Corden threatened twice with curling shots from the edge of the area, but for the most part the game was untidy with neither side looking likely to score. To make matters worse, fussy referee Clattenburg decided to start booking Stags players for almost every challenge - in particular a booking for Curtis for handball was very harsh as Murray had escaped an identical offence just a few minutes earlier. The Stags only real threat stemmed from set pieces, with Williamson almost always looking for the head of Day, on a couple of occasions Day won the header, but sadly there were no Stags strikers around to profit. Christie created a good chance for himself after a fine run down the left saw him break free of the Kiddie defence, however, his shot was deflected well wide, in fact so wide it went for a throw. Larkin replaced a disappointing Lawrence on 62 minutes, the Stags winger just hasn't been in any sort of form since the transfer rumours began. Kiddie brought on big striker Williams in an attempt to provide some goal threat and he almost scored within minutes of entering the fray. The ball was played into the Stags area by Murray and fell to Williams on the far post, his powerful drive looked goal bound only to be blocked by a superb challenge by Hassell. The Stags full back was also called upon just a few minutes later, when faced one on one he defended well and forced Christianson wide as the Stags regained their shape and were able to deal with the substitute strikers ball into the box. In fact, the last 15 minutes or so were almost entirely in the Stags half, though the home side should have made the game safe when Mendes broke clear but failed to find the unmarked Christie in the middle after his pass was well overhit. Pilkington did well from several late corners and there was one more fine defensive challenge from Hassell in injury time as he stopped Bennett getting in a shot from an acute angle.

All in all this was a terrible match, short on excitement, short on skill and short on the sort of tempo we have seen from the Stags this season. In fact, this was the worst home performance of the season, but such is quality of the Stags defenders that it still brought home 3 points. Only Curtis of the midfield quartet shone and the strikers had a very poor afternoon. Jamie Clarke had a very shaky first half, but full credit to him as his second half performance was excellent. Likewise Bobby Hassell, who again gave the ball away far too often but who also defended superbly in the 2nd half. For Kiddie, both Murray and Gadsby were very good, Gadsby in particular shone in a role just in front of the defence. However, they lacked any sort of cutting edge in attack and generally the Stags defence handled their attacks with some ease. The Stags now face a trip to Orient and must improve markedly on this performance if they are to bring anything back from East London.

Man of the Match: Rhys Day

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Quiet afternoon, though decent penalty save and handled crosses well
Hassell 6 Poor distribution but some top quality defending
Day 8 Defended solidly throughout and scored the vital goal
Dimech 6 Solid enough but his passing wasn't the best
Clarke 6 Shaky first half display, but much, much better 2nd half
Lawrence 5 One good cross, but otherwise well below par
Curtis 8 Shone in the midfield, some fine challenges and used the ball well
Williamson 5 Very poor display, hardly noticed he was playing
Corden 5 Starved of possession but when he did get the ball didn't make the best use of it
Christie 5 One of those days for Issy
Mendes 5 A poor display, high on effort as always, but no end product
Sub Line Up:
Sub: Larkin (for Lawrence, 61) 5 Looks totally out of form

Subs not used: JWhite, Artell, TCurle, Buxton.
Opposition Line Up:
Brock, Smith, Hinton, Hatswell, Stamps, Ward, Parrish, Gadsby, Murray, Bennett, Christiansen. Subs: Danby, John Williams, Henriksen, Rickards, Betts.
M Clattenburg (Co Durham) - 5 - Fussy and too quick with the book

Season 03/04 Reports