|4th November 2000|
|Leyton Orient||2-1||Mansfield Town|
Martin Shaw at The Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Road.
Stags slipped to their fifth game without a win as Leyton Orient continued their impressive home form. The home side dominated the first half and deservedly led at half-time, though the penalty decision which gifted them their goal left Stags players, manager and fans fuming at diabolical refereeing. Orient increased their lead soon after half-time and it seemed the game was over, but a spirited second half performance from Mansfield so nearly brought them a point. Darrell Clarke pulled one back with a fine goal and if Danny Bacon had scored from 5 yards instead of shooting over the bar, Stags would have gained an undeserved, though much-needed point.
Stags trio of players who had been doubtful for the game, Stuart Hicks, Martin Pemberton and Michael Boulding, were all the on bench. Manager Billy Dearden started the game with a 4-4-2 formation with Bobby Hassell at right-back and Dave Jervis at left-back.
Mansfield were immediately on the back foot and it quickly became clear that Bobby Hassell was playing out of position. Time after time, Orient surged down the left wing and put in crosses which produced near misses. Inside the first 5 minutes, dangerous striker Carl Griffiths had headed wide and also shot wide, whilst Ahmet Brkovic had also shot inches wide. Hassell redeemed himself when an excellent last-ditch tackle prevented another opening for Griffiths. Stags were simply not in the game, with Blake continually losing the ball in midfield, Clarke not getting into the action and Lee Williams having a poor game with numerous missed passes.
Stags had to wait until 25 minutes for their first effort on goal as Wayne Corden made excellent space for himself but shot wide right-footed from 22 yards. More chances fell for the Orient strikers and Stags somehow survived four consecutive corners. But on 39 minutes, Stags were dealt a hammer blow by the referee. The ball was played into the box and Orient striker Carl Griffiths clearly controlled the ball with his arm but this was not spotted by the referee. Within two seconds, the ball had struck Wayne Corden on the upper arm and the referee was pointing to the penalty spot. Upon studying the video after the game, it was clear that even the Orient players were not appealing for a penalty. Impressive left-back Matt Lockwood easily dispatched the spot kick. It was Orients sixth penalty of the season at Brisbane Road. Stags continued to come under pressure and went in at half-time 1-0 down after a very poor performance.
Half time 1-0
David Jervis, who had been injured early on, could not continue due to an ankle injury and was replaced by Martin Pemberton, who made a very welcome return to the side. Pemberton immediately looked comfortable down the left but it was down the other wing that Stags were undone just 4 minutes after half-time. A cross found Griffiths, having lost his marker Fortune, and the Orient striker easily headed home over Bobby Mimms from 5 yards. It was again desperate defending from the Stags which has been all too common in recent games.
All of a sudden, Mansfield started to play some decent passing football and Orient, who had looked for long spells like one of the best teams in the division, suddenly looked in trouble. Most of Stags fine play came down the left where Darrell Clarke and Wayne Corden caused all sorts of problems for the home side. Stags had appeals for a penalty turned down when Greenacre went down, though on this occasion, the referee gave the correct decision when he did not award a penalty. Mimms had to be alert when Griffiths was through for a one-on-one but saved well, with the loose ball being fired hopelessly wide from the edge of the box. Corden was continuing to look dangerous and he fired over the bar from 20 yards.
But on 73 minutes, Stags pulled a goal back that had clearly been coming for some time. A great ball forward from Bobby Hassell found Darrell Clarke on the edge of the box. Clarke turned quickly, took the ball in his stride and fired expertly low into the bottom right hand corner of the net. It was a fine goal from Clarke who has made a habit of scoring at Brisbane Road.
Stags were now really in the hunt for a draw and Danny Bacon headed against the post from a Greenacre cross but the referee had already blown for a foul. Twelve minutes from time, Stags had a golden opportunity to gain a point. As the ball ricocheted around in the box, it fell to Danny Bacon on the edge of the 6-yard box. With the goal at his mercy, Bacon somehow managed to fire over the bar. You somehow knew that was going to be a miss that would cost Mansfield dear. Stags continued to push forward but were unable to create another clearcut chance. With a few minutes left, an Orient player went down injured and it was fully 3 minutes before play restarted. As the clock ticked over 90 minutes, the inept referee again incensed Stags fans by amazingly only adding on 2 minutes of injury time. Orient managed to hang on to the ball in those final two minutes and were mightily relieved to settle for the 2-1 scoreline.
So it was another desperately disappointing result and one that sees the Stags slip to 17th place. Had Stags played in the first half as they did for most of the second, they could certainly have come away with a point and even won the game but once again, the inconsistency of the players was infuriating. For example, Corden and Clarke were completely anonymous in the first half and yet outstanding in the second. Orient were made to look devastating in the first half yet very ordinary for long spells in the second. The most pleasing aspect was the assured performance of Pemberton in the second half, returning from injury. He looks a class act and should help to shore up the defence.
Stags last played at Leyton Orient exactly 8 months ago on 4 March. Stags won that game 3-1. Since then, they have taken just 27 points from 29 league games.
Comparing the start this season with the start last season: Stags have exactly the same number of points: 19 points from 17 games.
Man of the Match Wayne Corden
|Mimms||6||Often hesitant on crosses in the first half but did make two fine saves|
|Hassell||6||Very poor first half but looked much more assured in a more central role in the second|
|Fortune||5||Given a torrid afternoon by Griffiths|
|Robinson||6||More solid than Fortune and did better in the second half|
|Jervis||5||A couple of good runs going forward but looked very lightweight in defence|
|Williams||5||Guilty of many misplaced passes|
|Blake||5||Very disappointing performance from Blakey. Seemed totally out of sorts|
|Clarke||7||Excellent going forward in the second half after a quiet first half|
|Corden||7||Involved in most Stags attacks|
|Greenacre||6||Worked hard without much service|
|Bacon||5||Bad miss at a crucial time and easily kept in-check for most of the game by Orients meaty centre half|
|Pemberton||7||(for Jervis, 46 minutes) A good return to the side|
|(for Blake, 79 minutes) Unable to conjure up any late magic on this occasion|
|Not Used: Pilkington, Asher, Hicks.|