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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Lincoln City  
4 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Fletcher 55, 68, Green 70, Yeo 89.
 Lawrence pen 35.
Attendance: 6,034 (1735 from Mansfield)
Date: 13th March 2004


Martin Shaw at Sincil Bank

Mansfield Town fell to a crushing 4-1 defeat at Lincoln City this afternoon thanks to a terrible second half display and conceding 3 goals in 15 minutes. The Stags led 1-0 at half-time but simply stopped playing in the second half and there was an air of inevitability that goals were conceded.

Artell replaced the suspended Dimech in central defence. Curtis returned to the starting line-up in place of Williamson. Andy White was on the bench after returning from a loan spell at Burton.

The Stags opened positively and knocked the ball around beautifully for the first five minutes, but they were stopped in their tracks when the referee awarded an indirect free kick near the penalty spot as Pilkington picked up a Lawrence back-pass. The Stags keeper and players were furious at the decision, but it seemed reasonable to me and Pilkington was unwise to pick the ball up. The resulting free-kick was blocked, but, within a minute, the referee incensed the Stags fans further when he awarded the Imps a corner that clearly should have been a goal-kick. The corner was cleared but there was more danger for the Stags minutes later when a mistake by Day, who was trying to leave the ball for Pilkington, allowed an attacker to nip in but his shot was cleared.

The Stags had a gilt-edged chance to take the lead after 15 minutes when, in a carbon copy of Nogan’s goal for York against the Stags a few weeks ago, the Lincoln keeper raced out of his goal but only cleared as far as Curtis who lobbed towards an empty net from 35 yards but dragged his shot 5 yards wide.

In an even first half, the next chance fell to Rhys Day after 27 minutes whose header from a Lawrence free-kick was tipped over the bar. On the half hour, Stags had the ball in the net when Christie smashed home from close range off the underside of the bar after Day had headed on from a ball into the box, but the flag was already up and, to the disappointment of the large Stags following, the goal was ruled out.

But there was joy on 35 minutes when Lawrence, who was having an excellent first half, tricked his way past two defenders running along the edge of the box and went down under a challenge. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and it looked the correct decision to me though it was one of those decisions that could have gone either way. Lawrence picked himself up and never looked like missing, as he slammed the ball into the right hand side of the goal, while the keeper dived the other way. That was the last meaningful action of the first half and the Stags were just about value for their lead at the break.

Half time 0-1

But the second half was to see a terrible collapse from the Stags. Lincoln equalised on 55 minutes. The home side caused danger all afternoon from corners and when one was not cleared, the ball fell to Gary Fletcher who was unmarked and slammed the ball into the roof of the net from 10 yards. Thirteen minutes later, it was 2-1 when Fletcher ran through the Stags defence with defenders either side of him but with no challenge offered, said “Thank you very much” and placed an excellent shot in off the left hand post from 22 yards.

Just two minutes later, the Stags were buried when the nippy Francis Green, again unmarked, flicked a lob over Pilkington from 20 yards with the Stags keeper out of his goal.

The Stags were simply awful and had stopped playing football - indeed their first chance of the second half didn’t arrive until 83 minutes when a Lawrence free-kick was headed over the bar by Christie.

On 88 minutes, Lincoln hit the bar following another of those dangerous corners but, a minute later, it was 4-1 when Yeo scored with another lob over Pilkington in a carbon copy of the third goal.

This was a true game of two halves. At half-time, there was a real feeling that the Stags could claim an important victory, but the second half was one of the worst collapses that I can remember. Lincoln looked dangerous time and again, and the Stags were simply hanging on for the entire 45 minutes. A much stronger performance will be needed for the trip to Bury on Tuesday night, when the pressure is now on the Stags to return home with 3 points. The Stags were beaten today by a good side, and one that knew what it was trying to do. There was a real belief in the Lincoln side, who concentrated their efforts on set pieces, and in new signing Ellison (the bald left back), they had the best player on the pitch, as he put in countless excellent corners and crosses. The Stags meanwhile seemed to miss Luke Dimech, who had been so outstanding against Hull a week ago. It seems a formality that Dimech will return for Artell at Bury, and there may be a case for Buxton replacing the out-of-form Vaughan at left back.

Man of the Match: Liam Lawrence

Report by: Martin Shaw at Sincil Bank

Line Up:
Pilkington 6 Not at fault for any of the goals. One or two decent saves.
Hassell 5 Linked well with Lawrence in the first half, but the defence was weak, and he was out of position on occasion.
Day 7 Pick of the defence. Some good clearances.
Artell 5 Is clearly out of form at the moment.
Vaughan 5 Disappointing again.
Lawrence 7 Fine first half; did well to win and convert the penalty. Quieter second half.
Curtis 5 Didn’t get a grip of the game. Especially poor in the second half.
Disley 5 Failed to create anything.
Corden 5 Not at his best.
D’Jaffo 6 Didn’t really get any service. Won a few headers, but no-one could take advantage.
Christie 6 Caught offside too often, but didn’t play badly.
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Corden, 72) 6 Looked quite sharp but came on too late.
AWhite (for D’Jaffo, 80) - Didn’t have a chance to get in the game.
Subs not used: JWhite, Clarke, Williamson.
Opposition Line Up:
Alan Marriott, Mark Bailey, Kevin Ellison, Jamie McCombe, Paul Morgan, Simon Weaver, Peter Gain, Ben Sedgemore, Gary Fletcher, Marcus Richardson, Francis Green.
Subs: Matt Bloomer (for Bailey 45), Simon Yeo (for Green 76), Richard Liburd (for Gain 83), Kevin Sandwith, Dene Cropper.
Trevor Kettle (Berkshire) 5 Plenty of decisions to annoys both sets of fans.

Season 03/04 Reports