were beaten 1-0 by Exeter City at Field Mill tonight to register
successive defeats for the first time this season, after the 3-2 reverse
at Oxford United. It was a
desperately disappointing result for the Stags who had the opportunity
to return to second place. Earlier in the day, Stags had turned
down an improved (though undisclosed) bid from Wigan Athletic for Chris
Greenacre. On the field, the Stags were unchanged. Exeter included
former Stags player Andy Roscoe in the left side of midfield, along with
keeper Arjan Van Heusden who will be remembered by Stags fans for his
inspirational performance at Field Mill last season. Despite their
defeat at non-league Dagenham just 48 hours earlier, Exeter entered the
game with 6 clean sheets in the previous 8 games and just one defeat in
The opening half was extraordinary for its total domination by
Mansfield. Rarely can a half have been so one-sided. Indeed Exeter
only made it into the Stags box on 3 occasions that I could remember.
The first was a corner that nearly crept in as Pilkington looked
unconvincing. The second was another corner seconds later and the third
was a Christian Roberts run to the bye-line on 42 minutes, when Barrett
sensibly avoided a rash challenge and pushed the striker wide so that
when he shot it was far too tight an angle and ended up in the side
netting. At the other end Stags had so many
chances to take the lead. Greenacre could easily had a hat-trick, with
his best chance falling from a free header which sailed agonisingly
wide. From an earlier corner to the near post, Greenacre picked up the
ball, turned and his shot was blocked, with the resultant chanced from
Lawrence also blocked. There were other chances for Lawrence, who sent a
great free kick inches wide, Hassell who had a couple of shots,
Williamson with a fine shot from the edge of the box, and Corden who
shot well from 18 yards. Time
after time, Van Heusden pulled great saves out of the bag and looked
Half time 0-0
Somehow the Stags really didn't get going in the second half and
couldn't break down a resolute Exeter defence that never tired despite
their cup game just 2 days earlier. The only goal of the game came on 52
minutes. After Disley had given the ball away, the lively
Christian Roberts broke into the Stags box and showed great pace to fly
past Les Robinson but stupidly the Stags defender bundled him over and
the referee pointed to the spot after a glance at his assistant. If
Robinson had shown the same restraint as Barrett in the first half Stags
would probably have escaped. McConnell placed an accurate spot
kick right in the corner to give Pilkington no chance. Stags rarely
looked like conjuring an equaliser, and easily the best chance fell to
Disley after Lawrence had rounded the keeper and provided an almost open
net, but unfortunately for Disley a defender threw himself in front of
the Stags midfielder and deflected the shot just
over the bar. One other good chance came when a ball through the middle
seemed to find Piper as favourite to chip the ball over Van Heusden as
the keeper charged out of his box. But the keeper somehow smothered with
his body fully 10 yards outside his area and the chance was gone. It
summed up a poor evening for Matt Piper.
In a surprising substitution, Corden was withdrawn, with Bradley coming
on, and Lawrence moved the left wing, where he looked particularly
ineffective. But Bradley never got into the game and the Stags
never really came very close to an equaliser. So a second defeat within
a week leaves the Stags needing to bounce back away to Lincoln on Boxing
Day. It was a bad start to the festive season. Somehow it seems that all
the talk of the Leicester game, combined with the incessant rumours over
Chris Greenacre, are causing the Stags to lose some focus. But in the
end it was the failure to convert
a whole host of first half chances against an inspirational goalkeeper
that cost the Stags dear.
Man of the Match: Adam Barrett
Very little to do, and given no chance with the penalty.
Hassell 7 Particularly
good first half going forward, but quieter in the second.
Very rash challenge to give away the penalty, after a confident opening
Excellent opening half to prevent any Exeter pressure.
Replaced at half with an injury.
Good first half on right, looked out of position on left after the
Totally anonymous in the second half after a reasonable opening half.
Looked totally out of sorts and also gave the ball away in the lead up
to the only goal.
Good first half down the left, but quieter in the second..
Looked lively in the first half and could have had a hat-trick, but
couldn't get into the game in the second half.
Very disappointing, too often went for the wing instead of heading for
Pemberton (for Tankard, 46 mins) 6
Did ok as a replacement for Tankard.
Bradley (for Corden, 74 mins) 6
Never got into the game.
Subs Not Used: Bingham, Reddington, Asher.