Tuesday 26th February 2002 - Kick-off 7.45pm
Nationwide League Division 3
The Stags were without Liam Lawrence, Dave Jervis and Allen Tankard who have all been ruled out for the season. Also missing was Craig Disley and Bobby Hassell though both are expected to be in contention for a return for Saturday's clash with Scunthorpe. However, the Stags squad has been bolstered by the arrival of Adam Murray from Derby County and Paul Wheatcroft from Bolton Wanderers who have both joined the club on a months loan and both made their debuts tonight, Murray alongside Lee Williamson in the centre of the Stags midfield and Wheatcroft on the right wing. Les Robinson, despite being far from fully fit, continued at right back for Hassell. The visitors were without the injured Martt Clarke and the suspended Jamie Wood but included the experienced Scott Houghton on the left wing and former Stags loan keeper Barry Richardson in goal.
The game began 5 minutes late after the referee suffered a calf strain and was replaced by the 4th Official. Stags made a bright start and could have been a couple ahead in the first ten minutes. First Greenacre was put through by Murray but his shot which hit the post would not have counted as the offside flag was raised. Murray again teed up Greenacre with a perfect cross but the Stags top scorer mis-hit his volley and it was easy for Richardson. Wheatcroft then put Kelly through but after being forced wide Kelly lost the ball after a strong challenge. At the other end Fitzpatrick fell theatrically under a Robinson challenge and was rightly told to get to his feet by the referee. Kelly then neatly cut back another fine Murray ball but Corden saw his goal bound effort deflect wide - incredibly the referee gave a goal kick!! The Stags were becoming anxious and too often resorted to hitting long balls from the back rather than playing through midfield which has been their strength this season. The Shaymen could sense a nervousness in the Stags approach play and became more adventurous themselves. It didn't come as a great shock when on the half hour they took the lead, and what a terrific goal it was too. Houghton broke free on the right and curled in a superb cross which was headed home by Fitzpatrick. The Stags became even more nervous and were giving away possession frequently. Murray was still pulling the strings in midfield though, and another neat through ball put Greenacre clean through but the normally lethal striker badly screwed his shot wide.
Half Time: 0-1
The Stags needed to up the tempo in the 2nd half and immediately it was evident that strong words had been said in the dressing room. Martin Pemberton was central to the big improvement in the Stags play, making several penetrating runs on the left hand side and bringing Corden into the game much more. Indeed it was a Pemberton break which lead to the Stags equaliser. Pemberton took the ball fully 40 yards before being challenged on the goal line, the ball went for a corner, Corden took it short with Pemberton and curled in a great left foot cross which Kelly headed home. The Stags were now playing the high tempo football which has kept them in the promotion places for most of the season. Just past the hour Williamson tried his luck from 25 yards, Richardson could only palm the ball away and Greenacre reacted first to steer home the loose ball. The Stags could and should have increased the lead further, Williamson missing the best chance after Greenacre had cleverly back-heeled the ball into his path. Bradley, who replaced Wheatcroft, then showed good pace as he broke through but his low shot flew just wide of Richardson's far post.
A poor first half performance was followed by a massive improvement in the 2nd half. Some players looked nervous in possession and at times too many long balls were being played from the back. However, in the 2nd half the marauding runs of Pemberton and the clever play of Murray ensured the Stags took the point. At this stage of the season it isn't too important how well you play as long as the points are in the bag!! Credit to Halifax, they are far from the worst side to visit Field Mill this season, indeed they are considerably better than both Darlington and Lincoln who the Stags have beaten recently. One final mention for skipper Les Robinson, who appeared to play the whole 90 minutes with an injury to his left leg, maybe the calf strain which has kept him out recently, and did a great job at right back. Man of the match is between Murray and Pemberton, for me Pembo just nicks it as he seemed to be the inspiration for the 2nd half improvement.
Man of the Match: Martin Pemberton
Report by Rob Wheldon
|Pilkington||7||Immaculate in everything he did|
|Robinson||7||Brave performance from a man clearly not fully fit|
|Pemberton||8||Excelled on the left, particularly when going forward|
|Barrett||7||Usual solid show from Adam|
|Reddington||7||Like Barrett ensured Pilks was well protected|
|Wheatcroft||6||Quiet debut for Paul|
|Corden||7||Had a poor first half but excellent 2nd half|
|Murray||8||Touches of class throughout - excellent debut.|
|Williamson||6||Another quiet game - improved 2nd half but very poor 1st half showing|
|Greenacre||7||Scored but missed a couple of good chances - always busy though|
|Kelly||6||Nice headed goal and played well on the right when switched - too deep at times|
|Bradley||6||(for Wheatcroft, 74 ) - had a good last 16 minutes - should be given longer|
|Subs Not Used: White, Asher, Clarke, Bingham.|