|Nationwide League Division 3|
|28th August 2000|
|Blake 22||Askey 9|
|Clarke 45, 64||Sedgemore 27|
|Bradley 54||Barker 72|
|Attendance: 3, 360|
|Rob Wheldon at Field Mill|
The Stags began a new era at Field Mill with their first home game at the newly redeveloped Field Mill. There is still a lot of construction work required before the ground is complete, but the North Stand, the only one of the three redeveloped sides to be completed, was full for the visit of Macclesfield. Stags began with the same side that disappointed in the away game at Plymouth just two days earlier. The visitors had ex-Stags player Ben Sedgemore in their starting line-up.
Stags began brightly but soon were outplayed by a Macclesfield side who looked comfortable in possession and seemed to have more time on the ball than the Stags players, who gave away possession far too often. It was no surprise when the visitors took the lead on 9 minutes, after the Stags had narrowly survived a scare just moments earlier. A Barker header had Bowling beaten but hit the post only to land to Askey who had a simple tap in from 8 yards. The Stags still struggled to get in the game and it was the visitors who were well on top. However, the Stags were gifted an equaliser when Blake's weak header bounced in front of Macc keeper Bullock and somehow evaded his grasp and went in. The home side still failed to rest the initiative from the visitors and fell behind again when Sedgemore fired in a shot from the edge of the box on 27 minutes. For the first time the Stags got into the game, but were still second best and looked extremely shaky at the back. On the stroke of half time the Stags grabbed their second equaliser with a splendid goal. Greenacre picked up Corden's through ball and his cross found Clarke on the far post whose stunning volley looped over the helpless Bullock. It was a great goal but masked a poor half from the Stags, a half which the Silkmen had dominated.
Buoyed by the late equaliser the Stags finally took the game to their visitors. Their early dominance was rewarded by two goals in the space of 10 minutes. First Shayne Bradley marked his home league debut with a calm finish at the far post and then Darrell Clarke netted his 2nd of the game and 4th of the season just after the hour. Rather than go on and complete the victory the Stags then went back to needlessly conceding possession in dangerous areas and defending very poorly at times. At the same time the Silkmen clearly believed they were still in the game and the Stags defenders were grateful to Ian Bowling who quickly came out to prevent Barker pulling a goal back for the visitors. However the Silkmen's dominance of possession was rewarded by a third goal as Barker volleyed past Bowling from 8 yards. However, the goal was not without controversy as the referee inexplicably gave the Silkmen a free kick on the edge of the box, penalising Hicks when it was clearly the Stags defender who was fouled. Though the free kick was cleared for a corner, it was from the corner that Macc scored. Stags were then forced into three quick changes in succession, Bradley, Greenacre and Clarke were all forced to leave due to injury and replaced by Asher, Lomas and Bacon. This unsettled the Stags even further and few were surprised when Macclesfield grabbed the late equaliser that they deserved. Asher should have cleared the ball downfield but was beaten on his own goal-line, the cross seemed to be comfortable for Ian Bowling but the keeper dropped the ball which fell to Whitehead to head into an empty net - a disaster for the Stags keeper who until then had kept an immaculate goal.
A very poor defensive performance dominated the Stags first home league game of the season. For long spells Macclesfield completely dominated the game and looked far more comfortable on the ball. For the Stags, Blake and Clarke were excellent, Corden impressed when in possession and the strikers did their bit. On the down side, Robinson and Andrews were poor and Lee Williams' distribution was not up to the standard we have come to expect. The biggest puzzle of all is how Bobby Hassell still fails to get a game, he was Nationwide Player of the Month last August, has always impressed and is now fully fit - frankly it's mystifying.
Man of the Match: Darrell Clarke
|Bowling||6||One very costly mistake marred a good performance|
|Robinson||5||Didn't look comfortable as a centre half|
|Andrews||5||Very shaky, rarely won a tackle or header|
|Hicks||7||Stretched by the failings of his partners, but gave his all and saved the Stags on many occasions|
|Williams||5||Poor crossing from the normally reliable Lee|
|Corden||7||Looked good in possession but didn't get the ball enough|
|Clarke||8||Two more goals in an all action display|
|Sisson||6||Busy but gave the ball away too often|
|Bradley||7||Worked hard and scored a good goal|
|Greenacre||7||Like Bradley, worked the front line well|