Tuesday 29th January 2002 - Kick-off 7.45pm
Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 4, 321 (262 from Kiddie)
The Stags were again without skipper Les Robinson and midfielder Craig Disley for the visit of Jan Molby's Kidderminster. The recall of Matthew Piper back to Leicester City gave Shayne Bradley the opportunity to return to first team action and he took his place alongside Chris Greenacre in the Stags attack in an otherwise unchanged line-up from the side that won away at Exeter last time out. Danny Bacon returned and took his place on the subs bench after over a month out with injury. Kidderminster were without the injured former Stag Mark Blake and Stags transfer target on-loan Wolves striker Colin Larkin. The game was marred by an appalling performance by Referee Paul Danson, ensuring that he was all fans talked about as they made their way home.
The visitors started very strongly and from the first minute the Stags were on the back foot, though Pilkington's action was restricted to punching clear a couple of in-swinging corners from the Kiddie left. It took fully ten minutes for the Stags to break into the visitors half as Pemberton brought the ball clear, found Corden whose cross was knocked back by Bradley for Williamson to shoot over. Hassell, the Stags best player by a distance, broke forward beating three Kiddie defenders but finally ran out of room and the ball was gathered by the Kiddie keeper Brock with the help of two of his defenders. A couple of minutes later Corden cut in from the left and hit a curling shot straight at Brock. The Stags were now into the game and on 17 minutes Greenacre neatly flicked on a Pilkington goal kick for Bradley to run through on goal, however, the strikers shot was screwed well wide. However, the Stags were dealt a severe blow on 19 minutes when Kiddie went ahead. A cross from the Kiddie right by Appleby was met by the towering Smith, his header hit the far post and trickled into the net. The Stags were immediately put on the back foot and only good defending from Reddington a minute later prevented another Kiddie goal, the tall Stags defender heading clear a dangerous left wing cross. Referee Danson, not allowing the game to flow for a second, booked Greenacre just past the half hour, even the decision to award a foul against the striker seemed extra-ordinary, the booking frankly absurd. Indeed Danson managed to book 4 players during a half which contained not one bad challenge. As the half drew to a close the Stags again began to exert some pressure and again Hassell was involved in the Stags best moments. Corden played a neat through ball which Hassell ran onto and drove into the area, shooting goalwards with his left foot but could only turn away in despair as the ball was cleared by a defender with the keeper well beaten. On the stroke of half time Williamson shot from 20 yards but again Brock was up to the task and saved well low to his left.
Half Time: 0-1
The Stags clearly got a rollicking from boss Stuart Watkiss at half time as the Stags were totally dominant in the 2nd half. However, time and time again it appeared it was not going to be their night, with Danson ruining any chance of a fluent passing game both sides are famed for. Indeed for some reason Kiddie resorted to blatant time wasting tactics almost from the opening minute of the half, something Danson completely failed to put a stop to. The Stags almost took the lead within a minute of the restart when Lawrence cut the ball back for Greenacre to fire a fine low shot just wide. A minute later Lawrence then put in a good low cross which just evaded Bradley. Sall then headed back weakly but Greenacre just failed to capitalise. Moments later Brock then clearly handled outside his area but consistent with his performance Danson saw nothing and allowed play to continue. The Stags were pouring forwards and a goal looked inevitable but then the referee again had to interfere. Greenacre was adjudged to have fouled Smith, but at worst again it was a free kick, however, the referee decided once more the offence worthy of yellow card, Greenacre's second, and therefore sent the Stags leading scorer off. A disgraceful decision which can only be explained by Danson wishing for some sort of infamy. However, this only incensed the crowd and lifted the noise at Field Mill. More shocking time wasting tactics from the visitors went unpunished as the Stags grew ever more desperate for the richly deserved equaliser. The goal when it came was both very well deserved and superbly taken, a neat chest down by Bradley which Martin Pemberton controlled neatly with his right foot before half volleying the ball into Brock's bottom right corner. The Stags had to survive some late Kiddie pressure and had to be thankful for a stunning Pilkington save at the end, a looping header appeared certain to go in but the back-tracking keeper bravely tipped the ball wide before colliding with the post. The very least the Stags deserved was a point for the superb spirit showed in the 2nd half, even though the first half performance was well below par.
Kidderminster are clearly a good side and gave the Stags many problems in the 1st half, though apart from the goal the Stags defended well. In the 2nd half the Stags improved immensely and Kiddie resorted to very sad time-wasting tactics. What could have been a great advert for the 3rd division was ruined by an awful referee and by the attitude of the visitors in the 2nd half - as early as the 55th minute they ran the ball into the corner flag!! Stags boss Stuart Watkiss was incensed by the performance of Danson, saying "I saw him after the game and told him that he was a disgrace to his profession. However we never stopped battling and fully deserved the equaliser. We never know when to give up, and we are going to need that character with three more big games in the next 12 days." Kiddie boss Jan Molby was pleased with the point, saying: "Mansfield were excellent after the break, after we had played well in the first half. Now we must make sure we add to this great point with a win at Swansea." For the Stags striker Shayne Bradley looked very rusty indeed and clearly needs more games to regain match fitness, the back four all performed well and Lee Williamson did a sound job in the middle. Martin Pemberton had probably his best game in midfield, particularly second half, but both wide men were very quiet and generally ineffective. First half the Stags were poor, however, the half time break certainly did the trick and the Stags were a different side 2nd half. Man of the match was between Pemberton, Pilkington and Hassell, for his outstanding work when things weren't going so well in the 1st half Hassell gets the nod.
Man of the Match: Bobby Hassell
Report by Rob Wheldon
|Pilkington||7||Stunning save at the end and again good on crosses|
|Hassell||8||Great work going forward, the Stags biggest threat 1st half|
|Tankard||6||Defended well and got forward effectively in the 2nd half.|
|Barrett||6||Like Tankard defended well and gave 100% throughout - totally committed.|
|Reddington||6||Solid in the air and prevented any real goal threat.|
|Lawrence||5||Decent spell at the start of the 2nd half, but gave the ball away far too much, especially at the end.|
|Corden||5||Very quiet, no service and didn't do enough with what little he got.|
|Pemberton||7||Excellent 2nd half, scored a fine goal and competed well.|
|Williamson||6||Struggled a little in the 1st half but much better 2nd half|
|Greenacre||6||Another fairly quiet game but very, very harshly sent off.|
|Bradley||5||Very rusty, poor touch and missed a couple of good chances.|
|Bacon||6||(for Corden, 82) Not really much time to get involved.|
|Asher||6||(for Williamson, 90) Actually looked very strong in the 5 minutes injury time.|
|Subs Not Used: Bingham, Jervis, White.|