|Nationwide League Division 3|
|17th February 2001|
Rob Wheldon at Field Mill
Stags were once again without key central defenders as both Stuart Hicks and Adam Barrett failed pre-match fitness tests. Barrett has not yet shaken off his ankle injury and Hicks is still struggling with a hamstring injury. Better news was that Darrell Clarke had regained fitness but was left on the bench for the Spireites visit. Both Lee Williams and top scorer Chris Greenacre started the game despite suffering a virus earlier on in the week. The kick off was delayed for 10 minutes allowing late comers entry to the ground, however, I believe the game should have kicked off as normal as these supporters should have been at the ground well in time for kick off - if you go to catch the 3pm train, it doesn't wait until ten past if you are late does it? Around 3,400 Chesterfield fans had the 4,500 Stags fans surrounded after they had been given the three smaller stands creating quite a strange but noisy atmosphere. This was the biggest attendance for a league match at Field Mill since 1992 when 8,333 watched the Stags take on Burnley in our last promotion season.
The home side got off to the worst possible start falling behind after just 6 minutes and keeper Bobby Mimms must hold his hands up (something he should have done when the ball went over!!) as it was his mistake that proved so costly. Lawrie Dudfield seemed to be going nowhere but managed to slice cross in from the byeline, however, it should have been comfortable for Mimms but the Stags keeper misjudged the flight of the ball and the cross dipped under the bar and into the net, an extremely fortunate goal. However, the Stags should have equalised soon after when a terrific ball from Lee Williams found Wayne Corden unmarked 12 yards from goal, his first touch was excellent but he then scuffed his shot terribly and the chance was wasted. The next Stags chance fell to Greenacre who latched on to a Blake pass and hit goal-wards only to see Pollitt (one of the players subject to the FA Investigation) pull off a terrific save. The game was fairly even afterwards, with Robinson and Asher coping well with the threat of Reeves and Beckett with Greenacre and Bradley finding it equally difficult to get past Blatherwick and co. Spireites nearly added to their lead when the excellent Robinson was harshly adjudged to have fouled Beckett, the kick from Lee Richardson flying narrowly wide.
Half Time 0-1
The 2nd half was a complete non-event from the home sides perspective, with barely a goal attempt to talk about. Indeed the only thing worth of comment was the rather irrational performance of Premiership referee Peter Jones who let everyone know he was there by booking four and blowing his whistle incessantly - he was appalling and did not help the football flow. Stags were indebted to Mimms for a fine double save when first Edwards and then Reeves were denied as the game ground to a conclusion. In a desperate attempt to change things boss Bill Dearden brought on Bacon and Clarke to replace the disappointing Bradley and Asher, who had a decent match. Clarke almost made an impression when linking well with Disley but as so often happened in the 2nd half the final ball was poor. Williams was really feeling the effects of his illness and was replaced by Lawrence. Stags almost had a chance near the end when Pollitt dropped a Lawrence cross but as players waited for the whistle for a foul on Pollitt which never came Corden slid his shot wide. That sort of summed up the afternoon, very disappointing, especially 2nd half.
There is little doubt that Chesterfield are, as there league position suggests, a strong outfit, paying the wages they are that comes as no real surprise. However, the Stags did not do themselves justice, especially in the 2nd half and goal mouth action at both ends was at a premium. The emergency central defenders of Asher and Robinson had good matches, as did Bobby Hassell at right back. Mark Blake and Craig Disley competed well but both Greenacre and Bradley disappointed, the former looked like he was still suffering the effects of illness. Man of the match is not particularly hard, not for the first time this season the captain, Les Robinson, lead by example and produced a superb defensive display.
Man of the Match: Les Robinson
|Mimms||5||Error cost the Stags the match|
|Hassell||7||Looked comfortable at both right and centre back|
|Robinson||8||Another great game from Robbo|
|Asher||7||Handled Beckett very well|
|Pemberton||6||Looked good coming forward but occasionally careless in possession|
|Williams||5||Looked tired and lethargic|
|Corden||5||One or two decent touches but poor overall, missed a great chance|
|Blake||7||Battled well in the middle|
|Disley||7||Like Blake did well|
|Greenacre||5||Gave the usual 100% but looked like he was struggling fitness wise|
|Clarke||7||for Asher (69) - Looked lively when introduced to an attacking midfield role|
|Bacon||6||for Bradley (69) - Given little service|
|Lawrence||6||for Williams (77) - Should have been on earlier, got some decent crosses in|
|Not Used: Pilkington, Jervis|