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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 2
 Doncaster Rovers
Lawrence, pen. 15mins
 Blundell 60, 67 mins
Attendance: 7,724 (2,421 from Doncaster)
Date: 21st February 2004

Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Mansfield Town fell to hugely disappointing defeat against Doncaster Rovers at a packed Field Mill this afternoon. The Stags put in a reasonable first half performance though were slightly fortunate to be ahead at half time, but capitulated in the second half and were deservedly beaten by a very impressive Doncaster side.

The Stags were unchanged from the side that had won at York whilst Doncaster included former Stags defender Steve Foster.

There was an exciting opening to the game and both teams played good football in the first quarter of an hour. The Stags were literally handed a gift on 15 minutes when Ryan needlessly handled in his own box and the referee, who was perfectly positioned just five yards from the incident, immediately pointed to the spot. It was a soft penalty and a lucky break for the Stags. Lawrence stepped up and sidefooted a weak penalty to the keeper's left. The keeper got down well and seemed to make a clean save but inexplicably flicked the ball back into his own net when he seemed to have it under control. It was a wonderful start for the Stags but they failed to build on it and nearly gifted Rovers an equaliser when a mistake by Artell allowed Fortune-West a chance to shoot, but Rhys Day made a wonderful tackle just as he was about to pull the trigger. Doncaster came close to equalising on thirty five minutes when, following a corner, Albrigton slammed a shot against the top of the bar. The Stags went in at half time 1-0 ahead and were slightly fortunate to be in that position as Doncaster had played some good football.

Half time 1-0

But the second half was to be a massive disappointment.

Curle made a surprising substitution at half time bringing on Mendes for Corden in a tactical switch. Mendes moved to the right wing whilst Disley moved to the left wing. The Stags had a terrific chance to extend their lead on fifty five minutes when Lawrence had an excellent shot which was superbly tipped over the bar by the keeper. However five minutes later disaster struck when Vaughan misplaced a backwards header into the path of the dangerous Blundell who strode forwards and took his time before placing a slide rule pass into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Shortly afterwards Larkin was brought on for the ineffective Paquette, but on sixty seven minutes the visitors were deservedly in front. A ball was played into the box and Fortune-West cushioned a header into the path of Blundell who easily beat Pilkington with a left footed shot. It was another defensive disaster for the Stags as the marking was non-existent.

The final twenty three minutes was very disappointing as the Stags created just one chance to equalise. That came on seventy seven minutes when a ball from the left wing from Christie put Larkin clean through down the middle. He raced towards goal, but showing a lack of confidence, elected to play a ball to Lawrence on his left. Lawrence was pushed slightly wide but got in a decent shot which was well saved by the keeper. After that Rovers held out comfortably and in truth never looked like surrendering the lead.

In what was a massive game for both clubs the Stags put in a terrible second half showing and were comfortably beaten by an impressive Rovers side who were roared on by a vociferous away support. In contrast the 5,300 home supporters never really got behind their side in what was a disappointing afternoon all round. After the game Stags boss Keith Curle admitted he had not had enough big match performances from his players and said that only Buxton and Lawrence had come out with any credit. I would agree with that assessment and for me Lawrence, who is looking somewhere back near his best, shaded the man of the match from Buxton. So after the hugely encouraging win at York last week the Stags have taken a big step backwards. The Stags now need a big performance at Cheltenham next Saturday.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington, 6 - Some good handling and a couple of decent saves; no chance with either of the goals.
Buxton, 7 - Good performance, the pick of the defence. Dealt well with the tricky McIndoe
Day, 6 - One excellent tackle to rescue Artell, but otherwise not at his best.
Artell, 5 - Poor performance littered with individual mistakes.
Vaughan, 5 - Poor performance, bad mistake to gift the first goal.
Disley, 6 - Fought hard but unable to create anything.
Lawrence, 7 - Good performance, was behind everything that the Stags created
Williamson, 5 - Didn't really get a grip of the midfield
Corden, 6 - Did OK, and was surprisingly substituted at half-time
Pacquette, 5 - One excellent turn on the edge of the box, but otherwise very disappointing.
Christie. 5 - Not on top of his game, control often let him down.
Sub Line Up:
Mendes, (for Corden, 46) 5 - Completely anonymous on the right wing.
Larkin, (for Pacquette 65) 5 - Didn't look sharp, had one chance in a one on one and elected to pass instead.
Subs not used:- JWhite, Clarke, Dimech
Opposition Line Up:
Warrington, Mulligan, Ryan, Albrighton, Foster, Melligan, McIndoe, Blundell, Fortune-West, Ravenhill, Green.
Subs: Akinfenwa, McGrath, Richardson, Beech, Brown.
G Salisbury (Lancashire) 5 Made a whole string of very strange decisions.

Season 03/04 Reports