|Nationwide League Division 3|
|13th February 2001|
|Blake 5||Iwelumo 68|
Rob Wheldon at Field Mill
Stags were still without all three first team squad central defensive players due to injury, so Alistair Asher and Les Robinson formed the Stags central defensive partnership, with Bobby Hassell reverting to his favoured right back position and Martin Pemberton at left back. Darrell Clarke was still missing from the Stags midfield, Craig Disley continued to fill his role. Stags knew that a win could take them to 9th position in the table.
Stags began in fine form and were on the attack from the outset. It was only a matter of time before the Cheltenham goal was breached, and when the opener came, Alistair Asher was the Stags hero with a superb 40 yard cross field pass to Corden whose low cross was slid home by Blake. Stags then missed chance after chance as the visitors goal led a charmed life, whilst at the other end Mimms twice had to tip over the bar from long range efforts. Bradley was put clean through by the extremely impressive Disley, but the strikers first touch took the ball far to close to the keeper and the chance was wasted. However, Bradley was not to be denied on 26 minutes when his looping header from Corden's fine cross hit the bar and rebounded off the keeper and over the line. Stags really should have had the game wrapped up well before half time, the normally lethal Greenacre was next to spurn a great chance, hitting a powerful shot off the inside of the post with the ball flying away to safety. Disley also had a good opportunity but shot tamely at the under pressure Robins keeper. It was great attacking play, but also solid defensive work by Asher and Robinson that had put the Stags well on top by half time - the only regret for Stags boss Billy Dearden was that the scoreline wasn't more emphatic.
Cheltenham quite obviously had received a stern talking to from boss Steve Cotterill and much more was seen of them as an attacking force. Within minutes of the restart Mimms was forced into a fine save at his near post and from the corner had to be brave to claim the cross. At the other end though the Stags were still missing chances, first Greenacre then Bradley wasting fine opportunities. On the hour the Stags suffered another injury blow when Mark Blake was crudely challenged in midfield, referee Bill Burns didn't even give the free kick as Blake was forced out of the game to be replaced by Jervis, Pemberton moving to fill Blake's role and Jervis slotting in at left back. Stags fans were probably most concerned that they could pay for the missed chances and on 68 minutes this worry increased after a neat move saw Iwelumo break through the Stags defence and hammer the ball past Mimms. Still the Stags continued to miss opportunities to put the game away, Greenacre saw his close range effort saved by Book and Bradley missed the target from 10 yards. Disley then tried a spectacular over-head kick from 20 yards which flew wide. Lawrence replaced Williams on 70 minutes and his introduction maintained the Stags pressure, the youngster finding Greenacre with a low cross to which the 18 goal striker was just beaten to by Howarth. At the other end Asher did extremely well under pressure from Iwelumo knocking the ball back for Mimms to clear. The final whistle was greeted by cheers of relief from Stags fans, but in truth the game should have been over long before the referee ended the home fans agony.
A fine attacking display was matched this time by a fine defensive performance. Indeed the only thing missing was the finishing touch with both strikers missing a string of fine chances which would have given a much more comfortable look to the scoreline. Shayne Bradley was the main culprit missing the target three times when clear and the normally lethal Chris Greenacre had a bad day in front of goal, though to be fair his overall play was again excellent. Craig Disley was once more superb in midfield, Wayne Corden continued his fine run of form and Les Robinson was his usual immaculate self in defence. However, top plaudits must go to the much criticised Alistair Asher, his stunning pass lead to the opening goal and throughout the match his defending was excellent against taller and physically stronger opponents - though Man of the Match is close between Disley and Asher, for his guts and the spirit he has shown after some indifferent performances, Alistair Asher fully deserves the award.
Man of the Match: Alistair Asher
|Mimms||7||Did everything very well|
|Hassell||7||Solid at right back|
|Robinson||8||Normal service from Robbo - excellent|
|Asher||8||Superb pass for first goal and did well throughout|
|Pemberton||7||Big improvement on recent performances|
|Williams||7||Created lots of chances which in the main were wasted|
|Corden||8||Some terrific passing and creative wing play - he's on form at the moment|
|Blake||7||He and Disley bossed the midfield until his injury|
|Disley||8||Another outstanding all action display|
|Bradley||6||Scored but should have had at least two more|
|Greenacre||6||Like Bradley missed some good chances|
|Jervis||7||for Blake (61) - Slotted in well at left back|
|Lawrence||7||for Williams (70) - Bags of promise - must be given longer to shine|
|Boulding||6||for Corden (87) - Little chance to make an impression|
|Not Used: Pilkington, Bacon|