29 July 2000
|Hicks (og) 3||
Corden (pen) 86
Rob Wheldon at Belle View
Stags fielded a strong side for the clash with near neighbours Doncaster Rovers, some of whose fans seem to believe there is a miners strike on at the moment. Stags began with a 3-5-2 formation with on trial keeper Miotto in goal. Ruled out of the game due to injury were Les Robinson, Liam Lawrence and Micky Boulding and not in the squad were keepers Bobby Mimms and Ian Bowling. New signings Stuart Hicks and Wayne Corden started the game, as did on trial Martin Pemberton.
Stags began nervously and were behind within a couple of minutes when a cross from the right was headed past his own keeper by Stags skipper Hicks. Stags then fell further behind after 6 minutes when a free kick from the right wasn't claimed by Miotto and headed home by the unmarked Doncaster striker. Despite the poor start the Stags soon settled and their passing became more controlled as the Stags maintained possession for long spells. Some fine work on the left saw Corden play an inch perfect pass to Clarke some 15 yards out but the Stags midfielders powerful shot was tipped onto the underside of the bar by the keeper and bounced clear. Minutes later Williams broke free on the right and his cross was headed goalwards by a Doncaster defender, the home keeper pulling off another fine save to deny the game its second own goal. Hicks was then involved in a minor punch-up with a Doncaster striker, both were told to be subbed by the Referee, Hicks being replaced by Bobby Hassell. This was a bit harsh on Hicks as the only punch I saw thrown was from the Doncaster man, and the reaction of the players at Hicks "dismissal" said much. However, Hassell stepped into the centre of the back three as if he'd been playing there for years.
The 2nd half saw the Stags really take a grip on the match, despite the scoreline. Tony Lormor soon pulled a goal back after being found in space by Greenacre, his left foot shot curling past the keepers outstretched right hand. Despite the odd counter attack Stags controlled possession though Miotto made a sharp save after Doncaster had, for once, breached the Stags defensive line. Williams was then given a stern talking to after a needless late tackle, one for which he would have been at least booked in a competitive match. Stags shooting was not as great as it could have been, though this soon changed with the introduction of Danny Bacon, who replaced Chris Greenacre. After a few neat touches Bacon received the ball on the left hand side of the Doncaster box, with his back to goal. The promising young striker then swiveled past his marker before unleashing a stunning half-volley which was brilliantly saved by the home keeper. As the Stags pressed it seemed as though the equalizer would never come. However, with just 5 minutes to go, Lee Williams was pulled over in the box and the Referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. I was quite a long way from the incident, though judging by the lack of protest it appeared the correct decision. Wayne Corden cheekily chipped the penalty home and gave the Stags a thoroughly deserved draw.
Doncaster are a fit and powerful outfit and this was a stern test for the young Stags side. However, it was a test which, after a poor first ten minutes, they passed with flying colours. The keeper was a little shaky on crosses but did make one fine save and Stuart Hicks will have better games - he does look a commanding presence in our box, which is what we need. Tony Lormor worked as hard as ever in attack though Chris Greenacre had a quiet afternoon. In midfield Martin Pemberton competed well, as did Michael Sisson, Darrell Clarke was again quiet. Andrews and Asher did well enough but the star performer was undoubtedly Bobby Hassell. He won everything in the air, distributed the ball superbly and looked the most accomplished player on the pitch.
Man of the Match: Bobby Hassell
|Miotto||6||Flapped at a couple of crossed but did claim a few too - one fine save|
|Asher||7||Like the rest of the defence had a poor first ten minutes but recovered very well|
|Hicks||6||Bad own goal and then "sent-off" - he'll have better games!!|
|Andrews||7||Solid as ever|
|Corden||7||Some good crosses after getting into good positions - never took anyone on though|
|Williams||7||His step over trick actually failed today, but otherwise had a decent game marred by one bad tackle|
|Clarke||6||One good shot but otherwise quiet|
|Pemberton||7||Strong midfield performance and showed he is well worth a contract|
|Sisson||8||Busy and effective as ever|
|Lormor||8||Scored and worked hard - good to see him back|
|Greenacre||7||Quiet afternoon for Chris, who had a couple of decent long range efforts in the 1st half|
|Hassell||9||Won tackles and headers, passed superbly and generally commanded the defence|
|Bacon||8||Some great touches and one stunning attempt|
|Blake||7||Solid in the tackle|
|Disley||6||On for last 10 minutes|
Only on for last 5 minutes but his sheer size could cause other sides big problems this season