|Nationwide League Division Three|
|19th August 2000|
|Arber 23||Blake 5|
|Stockley 28||Clarke 64|
|McGleish 33||Greenacre 75|
|Attendance: 1, 732|
Rob Wheldon at Underhill
Stags began with the same team and 4-5-1 formation that started the opening game of the season at Cheltenham. Fit again Michael Sisson was recalled but had to be content with a place on the bench. Last season the Stags failed to score against Barnet, after drawing 0-0 at Underhill a week before Christmas they lost the home match on April Fools day 1-0. Barnet had ex-Stags midfielder John Doolan in their starting 11, though former Stags defender Warren Hackett was ruled out through injury.
Fans had barely taken their seats when the Stags took the lead with another superb long range goal. Many would have thought that Chris Greenacre's 40 yarder last week would have proved a one-off for the Stags, however, from an only slightly shorter distance Stags midfielder Mark Blake put in his bid for goal of the season. Picking the ball up in midfield Blake noticed home keeper Lee Harrison off his line and shot from 35 yards, the ball looping over the stranded keeper's head and into the bottom left corner of the net. The Stags fans behind the goal couldn't believe what they had seen, a second spectacular long range effort in successive games, and already Mark Blake has reached his goals total of last season!! Barnet came back at the Stags strongly and dominated for long spells - it seemed as though the Stags gamble to play one striker wasn't working as possession was almost non-existant for the visitors. Matters were made worse by the very early withdrawal of goalscorer Mark Blake who limped off after just 14 minutes, replaced by Michael Sisson. A Barnet equaliser seemed inevitable as the home side launched attack after attack on the Stags goal, and sure enough on 22 minutes they did after Pemberton's goal line clearance fell to Mark Arber to slot home. This began a ten minute purple patch for the Bees, as they took the lead just five minutes later when Stockley headed home a Doolan cross and just two minutes later another Doolan cross was headed home by Scott McGleish. Stags could have gone 4-1 down just a few minutes later but Pemberton brilliantly stopped McGleish's run on goal. Stags boss Billy Dearden made a tactical change shortly before half time, taking off Alistair Asher and bringing on striker Mick Boulding to play in attack with Greenacre, and change the formation to 3-5-2. Boulding immediately got into the action with a surging right wing run which saw Harrison palm away his shot for a corner. The Stags were looking much better with the new formation and Greenacre should have made better contact with a header just 6 yards from goal when found by Boulding. However, the Stags injury jinx struck again when Boulding collided with Arber and needed lengthy treatment on a badly injured nose.
Mick Boulding was unable to start the second half and the Stags used their third and final substitution to bring on Danny Bacon. Just minutes into the second half Chris Greenacre then collided with a Barnet defender and looked in real trouble, however, the striker ran off his knock and didn't require treatment. Stags were now the better side, they had responded well to the tactical change and were now dominating possession, particularly impressive was Pemberton who looked very calm and assured at the back and rarely wasted the ball. After a quiet first half Darrell Clarke was also getting into the game and stamping his undoubted, if erratic, quality on the game. Stags pulled a goal back on 64 minutes with a terrific move. Clarke neatly fed Bacon on the left, the young Stags striker drew in two defenders before calmly passing the ball back to Clarke just inside the area and the young midfielder calmly passed the ball past Harrison, a supremely calm finish. Hicks was then involved in an horrific clash of heads inside the Stags box, he needed lengthy treatment and looked decidedly groggy. However, how typical of the man that just seconds later he flung himself at a Currie cross to head clear. Hicks was again inspirational. It was all Mansfield now as they searched for the equaliser, Corden shot just wide and Greenacre almost got on to the end of a superb Williams cross. With 15 minutes remaining the Stags got their reward, Williams again found the perfect pass which Greenacre controlled superbly before firing past the helpless Harrison, another fine goal and the Stags strikers second in the opening two games. The match was now stretched, with both sides threatening to take the points. Barnet thought they had snatched a victory right at the end, but Arber's headed goal was ruled out by an off-side flag. It would have been cruel on the Stags side, whose magnificent second half efforts had clearly deserved a point.
Another real display of character from the Stags. They looked well and truly beaten at 3-1, with the 4-5-1 formation clearly not working. The switch to 3-5-2 really did the trick and the Stags boss must be praised for changing things so swiftly, though most believed that the Stags should have started the match with a 3-5-2 set up. Danny Bacon gave Greenacre the support he needs, and in the second half Darrell Clarke showed what a fine player he can be when involved. Stuart Hicks was again outstanding at the back, even more so after what appeared a bad knock in the second half. As good as Hicks was, he was just overshadowed by Martin Pemberton who had a superb game, he was solid throughout and made a couple of vital interceptions.
Man of the Match: Martin Pemberton
|Bowling||6||Didn't appear to be at fault for the goals|
|Asher||6||Given a torrid time before the tactical switch when he was the defender sacrificed|
|Pemberton||8||Excellent tackling and distribution|
|Hicks||8||Already a fans favourite for his lion-hearted displays|
|Andrews||7||Solid 2nd half performance, under much pressure in the 1st|
|Williams||7||Created the equaliser and had a very effective 2nd half - starved of the ball in the 1st|
|Corden||6||Like Williams, starved of possession in the 1st but got more involved in the 2nd|
|Blake||7||Spectacular goal but injured after just 14 minutes|
|Robinson||6||Still looks a little rusty and was over-run in the 1st half|
|Clarke||7||Poor first half, but excellent in the 2nd - excellent goal and got involved|
|Greenacre||7||Few chances for Chris but took his goal really well|
|Sisson||7||Played for 75 minutes with the energy and skill we expect|
|Boulding||6||Only on for a few minutes before being injured himself - but looked very sharp|
|Bacon||7||Looked assured in possession and combined well with Clarke for the Stags' 2nd goal|