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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Southend United
Corden pen 14
Attendance: 4,292 (240 from Southend)
Date: 24th January 2004

The Stags were without 5 first team players through suspension for the visit of a Southend side on a high after a 4-0 midweek LDV win over QPR. Liam Lawrence, Tom Curtis, Lee Williamson and Bobby Hassell, all 1st choice players, sat watching from the stands alongside already suspended Jamie Clarke. The Stags were boosted by the return of Tony Vaughan and in came youngsters Jake Buxton at right back and Alex John-Baptiste in central midfield. Craig Disley came in to play on the right with Luke Dimech at centre half for Dave Artell who began on the bench alongside Colin Larkin.

Playing into a strong wind, it was the Stags who had the first meaningful strike on goal. A foul on Christie gave the Stags a chance at a shot on goal, the kick was taken short by Vaughan to Mackenzie who's powerful low shot flew just wide of the post. Southend forced a couple of corners, both of which were well dealt with by Rhys Day, in commanding form at the back. The Stags were given a great chance to take the lead after Disley's pass found Christie clear of the defence, he took the ball to the left of Flahavan in the Southend goal and fell under a challenge. The referee pointed immediately to the spot - from my view it was unclear whether it was a penalty or not, but it was more a penalty than the one given against the Stags in the last home game with Kidderminster. Wayne Corden converted the penalty, confidently placing the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Southend could have drawn level on 22 minutes when a deep right wing cross evaded the Stags defence and found Gower on the far post, Gower's first touch was good but then his shot was deflected over the bar by Mackenzie, the corner being very well claimed by Pilkington. On the half hour Mendes and Corden combined well, but the Stags strikers low ball into the box was cleared by Cort for a corner. At the other end, a fine corner from Corden found the head of Dimech but the Stags defender failed to get any power on it and Flahaven saved easily. The Stags were fortunate to escape when Buxton was caught in possession by Gower, the Southend livewire knocked the ball to Constantine who fired his shot hopelessly over the bar. The Stags looked most threatening with Corden in possession, and it was he who created the Stags next chance, beating two defenders before knocking in a perfect low cross which Mendes just missed and the ball curled agonisingly past the far post. Southend had the final chance of the half, when a cross from the right found Cort in acres of space inside the Stags area, but the defender headed well over the bar. In fact, this was the story of the half for the visitors, who generally had the better of play but in front of goal were awful.

Half Time 1-0

Southend should have been back on level terms within a few minutes of the restart, a cross on the right was flicked onto the far post where Broughton flew in to head the ball wide when it seemed easier to score. In fact, it was Broughton who was having a nightmare and his afternoon wasn't to get any better. Southend countered quickly through Broughton, his ball across to Gower saw the Southend winger in the clear but his first touch just allowed Dimech to make an outstanding last ditch challenge. The Stags countered, Mackenzie found Mendes free on the left, Mendes broke into the area and found Mackenzie again on the edge of the box, his shot was weak but fell straight to Christie who turned well but fired his right foot shot just wide of the upright. The Stags were again caught on the counter as Constantine broke through, Pilkington saved brilliantly at point blank range with his legs but the ball fell straight to Clark who, with the goal at his mercy, mis-kicked, the ball not even going for a throw!! The Stags were forced into a change as Artell replaced the injured Vaughan, the outstanding Dimech switching to left back. Disley also appeared to be struggling with a side injury, but combined well with Mackenzie to set Christie clear, the Stags striker cut inside but his left foot shot flew over the bar. The struggling Disley was replaced a few minutes later, Colin Larkin moving to the right as the Stags dropped into a more defensive formation. Southend still created the best chances, Constantine fired wide after a left wing corner was only cleared to him on the edge of the area and a late free kick was well claimed by the impeccable Pilkington.

All in all this was another poor performance from the Stags and Southend will rue several missed chances. The away side dominated possession and the Stags again played in fits and starts. Once again Corden was used very little, yet when the winger did get the ball something always seemed to happen. Disley had a good game on the right, but the midfield pairing of Baptiste and Mackenzie didn't work and they were very much second best. The strikers will both have better days, neither had much service but neither really threatened. On the plus side, the Stags again looked good defensively, with Day and Pilkington both commanding. However, head and shoulders above the rest of the side was Luke Dimech, who had possibly his best game in a Stags shirt.

Man of the Match: Luke Dimech

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 One fine save and fine handling throughout - in great form
Buxton 6 A couple of shaky moments but solid overall
Dimech 9 Superb performance, some great interceptions and tackling
Day 7 Another excellent performance
Vaughan 6 Looked a little rusty
Disley 8 A very good performance from Dis
John-Baptiste 6 Defended well but looked a bit lost in a midfield role
MacKenzie 6 A few nice touches but generally ineffective
Corden 6 When he got the ball looked a real threat - why won't people pass to him???
Christie 6 Threatened at times but lacked service
Mendes 6 Like Christie, did OK but needs a goal
Sub Line Up:
Artell (for Vaughan, 74) 6 Defended well when he came on
Larkin (for Disley, 81) 6 A few nice touches out wide
Subs not used: J.White, A.White, T.Curle
Opposition Line Up:
Flahavan , Jupp , Cort , Warren , Stuart , Clark , Smith , Maher , Gower , Broughton , Constantine.
Subs: Emberson , Jenkins , Kightly , Wilson , Bentley
E Evans (Manchester) 6 - Too fussy but thankfully didn't book as many as usual

Season 03/04 Reports