Lawrence 56

Tuesday 20th November 2001 - Kick-off 7.45pm

Nationwide League Division 3

Attendance:  5, 043  

Stags picked up a fourth successive victory, and a third successive clean sheet with a terrific win at the Memorial Ground against struggling Bristol Rovers. It was a highly competent all round performance from the Stags, with Robinson and Barrett outstanding in defence, and debutant Matt Piper, on loan from Leicester, a real handful up front for the home side.  

Stags made one change from the side that beat Oxford, with Piper replacing the injured Bacon. Stags had the better of the first half and created the three best chances. Greenacre turned and produced a fabulous shot from 30 yards which whistled just past the post - an effort reminiscent of his wonder goal at Rotherham 2 seasons ago. Then Barrett headed down into the ground and over the bar from a right wing corner. Finally Piper was put through in a one-on-one with the keeper, and his shot was on target, but the keeper had closed down the angle and smothered the shot. Rovers looked pacey up front but lacking in skill. They got behind the Stags a couple of times early on but failed to create clear-cut chances, and after that the excellent Robinson snuffed out further danger.

Half-time 0-0

The Stags started the second half on top, and should have gone in front when Piper broke through the home defence but instead of shooting from the left, decided the angle was too tight, and waited for more attackers, but the chance was gone. The Stags went in front on 55 minutes. Disley was brought down on the edge of the box, and with Tankard, Corden, and Williamson all hovering over the ball, Lawrence stepped forward and curled a beauty towards the top left hand corner and onto the underside of the
bar.  As the Stags fans gasped, the ball bounced down, hit the backside of the Rovers keeper and squirmed into the net. Lawrence went berserk, claiming his first goal of the season in front of the celebrating Stags fans, and it will take a brave statistician to call it an own goal.

The game went into a quiet period, but Stags had a gilt-edged chance to wrap the game up in a three-on-one breakaway, when Piper broke down the right, and crossed for either Disley or Corden, both unmarked.  But Disley left the ball for Corden, and Corden then found the ball behind him and the chance was gone.  Rovers brought on Mark Walters as substitute, which livened them up a bit, and Stags were under pressure from around the 70 minute mark until around 85 minutes. There were a couple of free headers that whistled wide from crosses, and occasional threats of a ball bobbling in the Stags area.  But the Bristol storm quickly blew itself out and Corden could have made the game safe, with a trademark run and shot, but this time it was comfortable for the keeper. During the period of Rovers pressure, both Robinson and Barrett put in outstanding last ditch tackles as the Rovers threat was snuffed out.  In one heart-stopping moment, Pilkington dropped a loose ball, but Robinson was quickly on hand to clear the danger. As the game went into 3 minutes of stoppage time, Stags played keep-ball by the corner flag in front of visiting supporters, and wound the clock down very efficiently. 

Overall a very satisfying three points, as Stags picked up their first ever victory away to Bristol Rovers. Rovers looked a very poor side it has to be said, but Stags showed a quality and resilience that suggests a real promotion challenge can be sustained. A good turnout of around 300 Stags fans for a midweek game, and a special mention for the Everton scout Brian Harris who we met in the pub before the game, who showed us his Everton FA Cup winners medal from 1966, and who was there to look at Greenacre and

Report by Martin Shaw & Jeff Barnes


Pilkington 7 Much improved, and now showing confidence from crosses. Made one great punch from a dangerous ball, though was a little lucky with a  late mistake - his only blemish
Hassell  6 Defended competently, though not as potent going forward as usual
Tankard 7 Looks very comfortable at left back; never beaten down the wing
Barrett 8 Commanding performance, winning most headers in the air
Robinson 8 After a dodgy opening five minutes, produced a captain's display snuffing out the Rovers threat, with several well-timed tackles
Lawrence 7 Great free kick, and looking better with his defensive duties
Corden 7 Quiet first half, but very skilful on the ball in the second half
Disley 7 Didn't get the rub of the green going forward, though did win the free-kick for the goal. Generally did well.
Williamson 7 Decent game in the middle, never allowing the home midfield to settle
Greenacre 7 Good touch as always, and unlucky with one shot in the first half
Piper  8 Great debut, looked very quick, full of skill, held the ball up well, and created plenty of danger.
Subs Not Used:  White, Asher, Jervis, Reddington, Bingham
Your Choice Man of the Match

Robinson 24%

Barrett 21%

Piper 16%