|Nationwide League Division 3|
|16th December 2000|
Brighton & HA
|Greenacre 61, 89|
Rob Wheldon at Field Mill
Stags welcomed back Stuart Hicks and Darrell Clarke from injury and Bobby Hassell and Lee Williams from suspension. The return of these influential players allowed Stags boss Billy Dearden the luxury of reverting to a 3-5-2 formation, with Hicks and Robinson joined by Adam Barrett making his home debut at the centre of defence. Shayne Bradley also made a long awaited return at home as he partnered Chris Greenacre in attack. On paper this was the strongest Stags line-up for many weeks, with only long-term injury absentee Michael Sisson likely to have figured from a fully fit squad. Despite speculation surrounding the future of the division's top scorer Bobby Zamora, he did partner Hart in the Brighton attack. Micky Adams' side came to Field Mill in good form and were 2nd in the table at the start of the match.
Brighton began the match in confident fashion and dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes of the game. However, the Stags defence stood firm and Mimms was not tested. As the half wore on the Stags came more into the match and created several clear chances which sadly were not converted. Lee Williams, having a terrific half on the right hand side, created the first chance for Clarke, but the Stags midfielder struck his shot wide of the post. Just a few minutes later it was Williams again providing the ammunition, this time top scorer Chris Greenacre saw his shot curl narrowly wide. Though Brighton still had their fair share of pressure, their only meaningful attempt on goal came when a left hand side corner was only partially cleared and a long range effort from Carpenter was tipped over the bar comfortably by Mimms. Stags continued to look the more threatening and once more chief tormentor was Lee Williams, this time his superb left foot ball found Clarke through on goal, but, instead of squaring the ball to the unmarked Greenacre, Clarke opted to shoot himself from the right hand edge of the box and fired over. The Stags midfield had quickly discovered that the best attacking option was through Lee Williams and once again he was involved in the best chance of the half. Having beaten his marker Williams hit a perfect low cross which was met by Greenacre who should have scored, however, Kuipers made a terrific point blank save from the Stags leading scorer.
Half Time 0-0
Again Brighton began the half the stronger but yet again the Stags defence, Hicks in particular, ensured that Bobby Mimms was relatively untroubled. The one time Brighton did get an effort on goal and beat Mimms they were thwarted by an incredible goal-line clearance from Hicks. That apart, the home side still looked the likelier scorers and just after the hour got the goal their fluent attacking play had deserved. Mark Blake picked the ball up and fired towards goal but his mis-hit shot was intercepted by the lively Greenacre who after a neat first touch calmly fired the ball past Kuipers. Brighton players, and Kuipers in particular, protested furiously that Greenacre was in an off-side position when he received the ball. From my angle it was impossible to tell whether he was when the ball was struck by Blake. At the other end Zamora should have done better when for once he got above the Stags defence, however, his header was saved easily by Mimms. Stags boss Billy Dearden replaced the tiring Clarke with Craig Disley. Stags next effort at goal was from Shayne Bradley who after picking up a neat ball from Hassell cut across the 18 yard box and hit a low shot which Kuipers saved well. This was Bradley's last action as he was replaced by Boulding soon after. Williams was again involved in the next few Stags attacks. First he hit a great cross which Greenacre just flicked wide, then moments later another cross whipped in to Greenacre saw the Stags striker head wide once more. In the 89th minute the Stags made sure of the points and saved a nail-biting finale when Greenacre slotted home his 14th goal of the season. Micky Boulding picked the ball up and threaded a great pass to Greenacre who calmly rounded Kuipers and side footed the ball into the empty net.
Stags produced their best performance of the season and on chances created thoroughly deserved the 2-0 win. Though Brighton shared possession the Stags defence rarely gave them a chance and when they did Stuart Hicks was in the way. Credit also to under pressure boss Billy Dearden, his team selection was spot on and subsequent substitutions were timed perfectly. The back three of Barrett, Robinson and Hicks excelled throughout and made the much hyped "shoot-out" between Zamora and Greenacre a non-event. Whilst Zamora was ineffective Greenacre was involved throughout and took his goals clinically. Lee Williams made a welcome return to form on the right hand side and both Bradley and Clarke did well, though they suffered from a lack of match fitness towards the end of the match. Bobby Mimms rounded off a fine Stags display with faultless handling in wet conditions. Man of the match is tough, Hicks was magnificent at the back, however, Lee Williams was given the award by the sponsor's and it is hard to argue with that, his best performance of the season.
Man of the Match: Lee Williams
|Robinson||8||Yet another hugely impressive display from the skipper|
|Barrett||8||Excellent home debut|
|Hicks||9||Won just about every header and was on hand to save a certain goal|
|Pemberton||7||Not quite as influential has he has been lately, but solid nevertheless|
|Williams||9||Best game of the season for Willow|
|Blake||7||Battled well but still guilty of the odd rash challenge|
|Hassell||8||Again pick of the midfield|
|Clarke||7||Provided the vital link between midfield ant attack|
|Bradley||7||Strong and powerful but perhaps lacking a little match fitness|
|Greenacre||8||Two clinical finishes from the deadly marksman|
|Disley||7||Used possession well and did all asked of him in the last 25 mins|
|Boulding||7||Brought on at the right time and his pace caused all sorts of problems for the Brighton defence - Great pass for Greenacre's 2nd goal|
|Not Used: Lindley, Asher, Corden|