Nationwide League Division 3
27th January 2001

Carlisle United


Mansfield Town

Morley 18 Bradley 26
Whitehead 45
Attendance: 3, 375 

Steve Hartshorn at Brunton Park

Well, didnít you just know it would happen? The Stags, with only one defeat in the last six outings, travel the 300 odd mile round trip to the leagues bottom club and lose.  I can make no excuses. Carlisle were the better team over the 90 minutes. The Stags should have put one of their late chances away, that would of course given them a share of the points, but it would have been hardly deserved.

I sort of knew that nothing was going to go right during the game. You see, I was having to do co-commentary on the game for 103.2. Well, I needed to go to the loo, the ground was empty at the time and I ended up walking through corridors decked in complete darkness. Three doors later, one which contained a room full of goalposts, and one an obvious directors lounge, I find a bog, and then have to stand there with a cigarette lighter in one hand and well, you can guess what else in the other. Business done I walk out and find out it was the ladies and Iíd peed all over my trainers. I was starving and due to going live, didnít even have time to fetch a scotch-pie. Not the best of situations in which to do a live broadcast!

If all this wasnít bad enough, the team news had come through and as well as Barrett missing, I also found out that Stuart Hicks was absent due to injury. The worrying fact that it is no secret that the Stags recent good form has been down to the form shown by Barrett and Hicks, both plying their trade at the centre of the Stags defence. With those players missing and one being replaced by Ali Asher, a player who won all last seasonís player of the year awards, but so far this season has had a dramatic loss of form, you could well understand me being a little worried about what was about to unfold.

Now Stags manager, Billy Dearden isnít one for opening his mouth and causing trouble, but heíd managed to upset the local Carlisle press by saying that United were a long ball side. Armed with that fuel to set the hearts of his players burning, Atkins side came out gunning for the Stags right from the start.  It was honestly all one-way traffic and the worry about the centre of the defence and Mansfieldís inability to defend set pieces was proven when on 18 minutes, home debutant, David Morley headed United one nil in front.  Was there to be a Stags comeback? Not at first no. Carlisle really had the bit between their teeth and the Stags looked disorganised to say the least.  A short time later and the game was turned on its head by Stags front man, Shane Bradley. Looking like nothing on at all, Bradley hit a left footed curler right into the top corner of the net, leaving United keeper, Matty Glennon to pick the ball out of the back of the net for his first touch of the afternoon.  The start of something good? Narr, not in this game. Carlisle got back into the swing and before the half time break, another set piece caused the Stags defence problems and Stuart Whitehead put United back in front.

Half Time 2-1

As the second half wore on, I expected to see the Stags raise their game. Carlisle, despite only losing 2 of their last seven games, are after all, bottom of the league. Unfortunately for me, that extra gear was never found. Whereas I wanted the Stags to be riding a 70ís Chopper bike with 3 gears to use, all they rode was the smaller Chipper without a gear to be found.

The last five minutes passed by in a blur as the Stags finally got going and put Carlisle on the back foot. BUT, it was too little, too late and if I were honest, if the Stags had got a point, then it wouldnít have been deserved.

So where does the Stags season go from here? A home game and the long awaited opening of the main stand comes into view next Friday when Exeter come to town. Another side at the wrong end of the table and Iím sure another side who will be fighting all the way. Confident of a win? I should be, our home record is one of the best in the Division, trouble is as our league position indicates, our away record is totally at the other end of the scale.

So, we start the run to the play offís once again next week. Itís been a long day, the Stags have lost to the side at the bottom of the league and I peed on my shoes. Football can be so cruel sometimes.

Man of the Match:  Shayne Bradley

Line Up Rating
Mimms 5
Asher 6
Robinson 6
Hassell 6
Pemberton 5
Williams 6
Blake 6
Corden 6
Clarke 6
Bradley 7
Greenacre 6
Boulding 6
Lawrence 6
Not Used:  Disley, Bacon, Pilkington