Saturday 19th January 2002 - Kick-off 3pm
Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 4, 349
The Stags were without skipper Les Robinson for the clash with Hartlepool United after he suffered a calf strain during last weeks defeat at Southend, Stuart Reddington, who replaced Robinson after 4 minutes last week stepped in to cover. As expected Craig Disley missed the game due to a knee injury and Martin Pemberton continued to deputise alongside stand-in skipper Lee Williamson, who at 19 became the second youngest captain in post-war years. Despite a goal for the Reserves in midweek, Shayne Bradley again had to be content with a place on the bench with on-loan Matt Piper continuing to partner Chris Greenacre in attack.
The Stags started very brightly and were rewarded with an early goal, however there was more than a little fortune to it. A great corner from the Stags left by Corden was headed past his own keeper by Pools defender Lee. The Stags looked set to capitalise on this great start, but as last week missed a catalogue of good chances, the best wasted by Lawrence who after being found by a neat cut back from Piper blazed his left foot shot well over the bar when really he should have scored. Williamson then tested Williams in the Pool goal, his low shot bouncing just in front of the keeper who deflected the ball wide for a corner. As the half wore on Hartlepool came more into the game, with strikers Humphreys and Watson proving a real handful. Thankfully for the Stags both central defenders Barrett and Reddington were in excellent form and Pilkington was well protected. The Stags keeper did have one awkward moment, a long range drive from Humphreys bounced just in front of the Stags keeper who held onto the ball well.
Half Time: 1-0
Hartlepool started the 2nd half strongly and for a long period threatened an equaliser. However, it was apparent fairly early on that it was going to be one of those days for the visitors. Former Stag Darrell Clarke almost did what all ex-Stags seem players do and score against his former side, however his diving header hit the post and came back to Pilkington who grabbed the ball gratefully. Pool then struck the post again moments later, this time with a spectacular 30 yard volley from Barron which had the Stags keeper beaten. At the other end the Stags were looking dangerous on the counter and the more Hartlepool pressed forwards the more chances were created at the other end. Indeed for all Pools early 2nd half pressure it was the Stags who continued to create the better chances. With 12 minutes remaining the Stags made the game safe, Williamson breaking through to put a slide rule pass to Corden who finished easily. The game really opened up and Greenacre hit the bar from close range after more good work from Piper out wide. Piper then was put clean through but instead of chipping the keeper who was in no-mans land seemed to freeze and the chance was gone. However, the final nail in the Pool coffin was left to Chris Greenacre who finally got his goal in the last minute after a great run and cut back from Matt Piper.
The Stags were flattered by the 3-0 scoreline but probably did enough to win and certainly created the games clearest opportunities. Hartlepool are a strong side and will be in contention at the end of the season. Matt Piper continued to do all his best work out wide and at times Greenacre was left isolated, again it was a big surprise that Shayne Bradley was not used. Lee Williamson drove the side well from midfield and Wayne Corden showed some flashes of his ability. Kevin Pilkington also had another good afternoon in goal. However, the Stags were under pressure for long spells after dominating the opening 25 minutes and needed solid performances from the centre halves, which they got, with Barrett just the pick of the two.
Man of the Match: Adam Barrett
Report by Rob Wheldon
|Pilkington||7||Did everything well and came out for crosses - fine game.|
|Hassell||6||A few stray passes and struggled with injury in the 2nd half.|
|Tankard||6||Solid but offered little in attack.|
|Barrett||8||Excellent again - competed strongly and held firm under 2nd half pressure.|
|Reddington||7||Another impressive display marred by the odd poor pass in a dangerous area.|
|Lawrence||5||Not one of his better days.|
|Corden||7||Good in possession, scored a good goal and with better service probably could have scored more.|
|Pemberton||6||Solid job and a few good runs, but the Stags missed Disley.|
|Williamson||7||Some fine passing and generally had a good game.|
|Greenacre||7||Another fairly quiet game yet hit the bar and scored.|
|Piper||7||Again did all his best work out wide, brilliantly created the 3rd goal but missed a great chance.|
|Jervis||7||(for Tankard, 67) Looked very sharp and did very well.|
|Asher||6||(for Hassell, 80) Decent enough at the end.|
|Subs Not Used: Bingham, Bradley, White.|