Tuesday 12th February 2002 - Kick-off 7.45pm
Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 4, 072 (Stags supporters 1,729)
As expected the Stags were boosted by the return to the squad of Les Robinson and Craig Disley, though both had to settle for a place on the bench. The Stags were without strikers Chris Greenacre and Shayne Bradley, both suspended, and Danny Bacon (injured). Andy White came into the side to partner experienced David Kelly in the Stags attack. Former Stags midfielder Ben Sedgemore was in the Imps line-up which also included former Forest star Kingsley Black. The Stags were backed by a remarkable 1,729 fans whose vocal support must have given players the belief this was in fact a home game.
The Stags totally dominated the opening stages and the home side barely got into the Stags half, let alone create anything worthy of note. However, despite creating a few decent chances it took 15 minutes for the Stags to take the lead and when they did there appeared to be more than a touch of fortune about the goal. Corden picked the ball up on the left hand side, cut in field and then switched back to his left and put in a curling cross which beat Imps keeper Marriott and flew into the top corner. The Imps only threatened the Stags goal once, Pilkington tipping a low 20 yard shot past the post. The Stags pressed forward in search of a second goal with Tankard coming close to heading home Williamson's clever corner. Indeed it was young Williamson who was at the hub of everything the Stags did, he and Martin Pemberton were totally dominant in the centre of the park and it was no surprise that when the Stags did increase their lead Williamson was the architect. Pemberton played Williamson through and he neatly flicked the ball over the advancing Marriott and headed home despite the efforts of Bailey. No sooner had the celebrations of the Stags fans died down than they were raised again and once more the irrepressible Williamson was the man doing the damage. Finding a little space at the edge of the area after a neat lay off from Andy White, Williamson moved the ball to his right hand side and curled a superb 25 yard shot past the helpless Marriott.
Half Time: 0-3
The Imps replaced both Sedgemore and Black for Cameron and Walker and they adopted a far more attacking line up. This paid immediate dividends as within 40 seconds of the restart the home side had pulled a goal back. Walker's cross found Thorpe unmarked on the far post and his header came off the inside of Pilkington's right hand post and into the net. However, the home sides joy was very short lived as within 3 minutes the Stags regained their three goal advantage. Hassell broke forward and after exchanging passes with Lawrence found Williamson, his cross was chested back by Kelly to Pemberton fully 20 yards from goal, the midfielder then fired a first time left foot shot past Marriott. Hassell almost added to the scoreline, though his shot was blocked and the ball span away for a corner. From the corner the ball fell to Reddington whose half volley flew just wide. As the half wore on the Stags seemed to drop back and this brought on some pressure, with Lincoln playing a more direct style, using a long throw to good advantage. Thorpe could have profited from a long throw but his shot on the turn after a flick on by Walker hit the bar and flew over. Battersby then came close from another long throw as for a brief period the Stags defence seemed to enter panic mode. The Stags were still looking dangerous at the other end and only a great one handed save from Marriott prevented Lawrence making it 5-1. Reddington then made an almost fatal error, keeping a ball in play only to see Thorpe steal the ball from him but then waste the opportunity when his cross was too close to Pilkington. Pemberton took a knock in midfield and was replaced by Disley who had a busy few minutes before the referee, who had a good game, blew for time.
So the Stags move back up to third place, level on points with Luton, after a fine display. Andy White can take much pleasure from his performance in attack, he competed for everything and did the hold up work very well. Also excellent were both Corden and Hassell but most plaudits go to the central midfield duo of Pemberton and Williamson. Pemberton competed for everything, broke forward numerous times and scored a great goal - on any other night he would have been man of the match. However, Lee Williamson added goals to his outstanding overall play and was the best player on the pitch.
Man of the Match: Lee Williamson
|Pilkington||7||Did well under pressure 2nd half|
|Hassell||8||Customary excellent display from Bobby|
|Tankard||7||Combined well with Corden and defended well under pressure|
|Barrett||7||Had a good 1st half but struggled a little under the high ball 2nd half|
|Reddington||7||Like Barrett was excellent 1st half but a few missed headers 2nd half|
|Lawrence||7||Busy throughout, not all his touches came off but gave 100% all night|
|Corden||8||Magic when on the ball - only he knows if the goal was meant to be a cross|
|Pemberton||9||Great goal capped yet another good display from Pembo|
|Williamson||10||Performances don't come better than this at this level - magnificent.|
|White||9||Excellent return for Andy, held the ball up well and brought the midfield into the game|
|Kelly||7||Fully committed display though had few chances in front of goal.|
|Disley||7||(for Pemberton, 85) Bonus last 5 minutes for Craig - even in that short time he impressed|
|Subs Not Used: Robinson, Asher, Bingham, Jervis.|