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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Hull City
D’Jaffo 69
Attendance: 6,859 (2307 from Hull)
Date: 6th March 2004

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill


A powerful header by debutant Laurent D’Jaffo gave the Stags a hard-earned and deserved victory over second placed Hull City at Field Mill today. D’Jaffo headed home from a corner after 69 minutes, shortly after Lee Williamson had missed a great chance. Outstanding performances from Luke Dimech, back in a central defensive role, and Tom Curtis in midfield, were instrumental in earning an important victory.

From the starting line-up at Cheltenham, Hassell came in for Buxton, Dimech moved to central defence in place of the suspended Artell, with Williamson coming into midfield, while D’Jaffo came in for Mendes up front. Curtis was back in the 16. Hull included former Stags loanee Damian Delaney.

Before the game we met up with Wayne Corden to hand over some copies of Follow The Yellow Brick Road fanzine, which included an interview with the star winger. Corden was pleased to receive them, and told us what a big game it would be today and how much D’Jaffo had impressed him in training. We asked Wayne to make sure he popped a few crosses onto the big man’s head.

In a very bright Stags start, Hull were on the back foot immediately as Corden jinked round a defender and saw his cross headed away in desperation for a corner, which was cleared. On 4 minutes, Christie got into a great position on the right and sent in a lovely, inviting cross, along the edge of the 6 yard box, but no-one was there to turn it home. D’Jaffo acknowledged to Christie that it was a great cross and he should have been there. The Stags continued to look good, restricting Hull to kicks down the middle, which a confident looking Pilkington easily cleared by coming out of his box. Hull’s first attack came on 9 minutes when a poor clearance led to their first corner. Play soon switched to the other end and a long throw-in from Hassell on the right nearly dropped for a Stags player in the 6 yard box before being gratefully gathered by the keeper. On 12 minutes, Corden sent in a cross from the left which D’Jaffo glanced wide of the post. A minute later, Lawrence was fouled and stamped-on in the process by Ashby. Ashby escaped without a booking and the feud between those two players continued for the rest of the half. From the free-kick Lawrence sent a weak shot into the wall.

On 16 minutes, a long ball over Christie’s right shoulder put him through on the edge of the box. He turned and shot with his left foot, but unfortunately straight at the keeper. 3 minutes later, Christie had the ball in the net, but the referee had blown for a foul by Lawrence. The incident was right in front of us and we could not see a foul.

Pilkington made a good save moments later bravely diving at a Hull forward’s foot to dispossess him on the edge of the box. D’Jaffo was coming onto the game nicely and showing touches of class, with several impressive lay-offs to Lawrence on the wing.

Just before the half hour, Disley made an outstanding tackle to dispossess a Hull player 25 yards out and let fly with a great shot, which was well held by the Hull keeper. A minute later, the Stags created the best chance of the game so far, when Lawrence put in a fine cross from the right which found D’Jaffo completely unmarked 6 yards out. But his downward header was weak and straight at the keeper when a bit more power and a fraction either side of the keeper would have seen a goal. Possibly he was a little unlucky as the cross seemed to hang in the air longer than you would expect.

On 38 minutes, Disley limped off to allow Curtis a long awaited return, which received great applause from a noisy home crowd. Soon afterwards, Dimech rescued Vaughan with a superb tackle, after the left back had given the ball away, not for the first time in the afternoon. Just before the break, the Stags had an astonishing passage of play where they held the ball for a good 90 seconds without losing it to the shouts of ole from the West Stand for every completed pass. The move resulted in a shot for Corden which was just wide. In injury time, Day made a good last-ditch tackle to prevent Hull getting in a shot.

Half time 0-0

At half-time the Stags got a good ovation for an impressive display which had dominated the game, albeit without a hatful of chance, but restricting Hull to virtually nothing.

On 46 minutes, Christie was nearly through but he was dispossessed as he held off the defender, and a minute later he was booked for flattening an opponent. On 49 minutes, Pilkington saved well from a rare Hull chance, as there was a disturbance in the lower tier of the West Stand near the Hull fans. From that point, for a while, the Hull fans seemed lifted and in turn lifted their players. On 53 minutes, Ben Burgess sent a shot, which deflected off a Stags player onto the bar with Pilkington beaten. The ball rebounded into play and Curtis coolly headed it out for a corner, missing the post by just a yard! The Stags then came under a period of sustained Hull pressure as the Stags seemed to lose a grip of midfield. At this time, Dimech was superb with fine tackling, and Day was strong, but the Stags resorted to pumping hopeful balls upfield, which just kept coming back.

Suddenly on 67 minutes, the Stags had a rare attack which saw the ball bobbling around the penalty spot with the Hull keeper well out of his goal. The ball fell to Williamson outside the box, who lobbed at the empty goal over a crowd of players, and the whole ground held its breath as the ball dipped inches over the bar, to Williamson’s anguish, as it would have been his first goal of the season.

But just two minutes later Field Mill erupted as the Stags went in front. Lawrence sent in a corner from the right and D’Jaffo peeled away from his marker to bury a powerful header just inside the post. You could sense the relief amongst the players as they collapsed in a heap on top of the scorer, who then got up and ran to the dugout to give Curle a “high-five”.

Confidence flooded back to the Stags players following the goal and they were knocking the ball around, particularly down the right hand side where Lawrence was now on fire. On 77 minutes the Stags could have been 2 ahead when from another Lawrence corner from the right, Day’s strong header hit Christie on the line as it seemed to be going in. A second goal now would have killed the game but the Stags still had a nervous last 15 minutes to endure.

On 81 minutes, the Stags managed to block two goalbound efforts in the space of a few seconds, one striking Vaughan’s backside. To their credit, Hull were trying to fight back but failed to create any more clearcut chances, as Dimech superbly marshalled the defence, constantly leading by example with some excellent tackling and great speed to the ball. In four tense minutes of stoppage time, the only half chance fell to the Stags, as Christie so nearly played substitute Pacquette in.

At the final whistle the Stags players and fans celebrated heartily, and the players gathered in the centre circle in a huddle, before leaving the pitch to a wonderful reception. With the Hull players already having left the pitch, it was interesting to note a fair contingent of Hull fans also clapping the Stags players off.

So a vital victory for Mansfield in a massive game. It is a result that gets them back on track after a poor run of results and form. It was important not only to win but to put in an impressive display, which they did, thanks to fine performances, notably from Dimech, substitute Curtis, and most of the rest of the team. Whilst the 3 points are very important, the future will tell whether the confidence that the victory gives them will count for even more in the other vital games in March. And so onto a big local derby at Lincoln next Saturday. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the Match: Luke Dimech

Report by: Martin Shaw & Jeff Barnes at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Looked confident; came out for some early balls. Didn’t have any difficult saves to make.
Hassell 7 Defended well and good to see him linking well with Lawrence again.
Day 7 One particularly fine tackle. A commanding presence, and read the game so well as usual.
Dimech 9 Outstanding back in a central defensive role. Marked well, tackled like a tiger, and showed great pace for such a big man.
Vaughan 6 Was exposed in the first half on occasion, and rescued by Dimech. Seemed to get caught out of position. Improved in the second half.
Lawrence 7 Went missing for 20 minutes in the second half, but otherwise was the most creative midfield player.
Disley 7 Did well, with one outstanding tackle and shot. Unlucky to pick up an injury.
Williamson 6 Started well in the opening 20 minutes but was ordinary after that. Seemed to lose control of the midfield in the second half, tending to be caught in possession.
Corden 7 Influential in the first half, but a little starved of possession in the second.
D’Jaffo 7 Great header for the winner. Missed an easier chance in the first half. Some nice lay-offs, especially to Lawrence.
Christie 7 Was behind a lot of the danger that the Stags created. A shame he stopped Day’s header from a corner!
Sub Line Up:
Curtis (for Disley, 38) 8 Excellent. Incredible performance after recent operation. Showed what we’ve been missing. Won all the 50:50 balls.
Pacquette (for D’Jaffo, 82) - Only on for the end of the game. Probably his last appearance for the Stags.
Subs not used: JWhite, Buxton, Larkin (absent for second half as wife ill - SSA sends its best wishes to Colin and family).
Opposition Line Up:
Myhill, Joseph, Thelwell, Ashbee, Price, Marshall, Delaney, Holt, Lewis, Walters, Burgess. Subs: Musselwhite, Forrester, France, Hinds, Green.
R Pearson (Co Durham) 8 Let the game flow, often playing a sensible advantage. Showed common sense when a fussier ref may have brandished more cards.

Season 03/04 Reports