|Hutchings 76, Martin 80|
|Tuesday 19th March 2002 - Nationwide League Division 3|
|Attendance: 3, 316 (271 Stags fans)|
Mansfield suffered a
demoralising defeat at lowly Leyton Orient in a game of few chances. It
was the Stags fourth straight away defeat, whilst Orient were clocking up
their fourth straight home win. Mansfield retained the same starting
eleven as at Swansea but reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Kelly up front
and Murray moving to the right side of midfield. Orient including Iyseden
Christie, now hopefully fully recovered from injury.
The Stags made a positive start and knocked the ball around very nicely early on. Craig Disley, who looked excellent in the opening stages, had the best early chance to score on 7 minutes. Following a great move, Disley drove a shot goalwards from 10 yards, but it was deflected wide for a corner. Orient created little, in fact nothing, and the lively Christie was well-marshalled by Les Robinson, who looked back to good form in central defence. Stags had a couple of awkward moments at the back, both involving Reddington. First he made a brilliant saving tackle when an Orient striker was about to pull the trigger and shoot. Then he was lucky to see his clearance from an awkward cross sliced just wide of his own post. At half time Stags looked comfortable and a 0-0 draw or a narrow Stags win looked the likely result.
Half time 0-0
Stags started the second half positively but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. But Greenacre was so close to grabbing the lead for Mansfield on 57 minutes. He hit a soft and somewhat speculative shot towards goal from the edge of the box. But Orient keeper Scott Barrett seemed to stumble and just smother the ball on the line. From my position it seemed he did stop it on the line, though after the game, one of the Orient stewards who was in line with the goal-line told us he thought it had crossed the line. Greenacre also did well with another chance when he nipped in before the keeper and a defender to flick a shot just wide. It was a great effort as he was not favourite to win the ball. But Stags best chance came when Pemberton beat his marker on the left inside the box, and drilled a hard low cross into a ruck of players. It just needed to hit someone to go in, but missed everyone and fizzed across the goal. Orient just had once chance - rather similar to the Stags chance, as a cross evaded everyone in the area. With just 15 minutes left, the Stags looked comfortable for a point, although not creating much themselves. But on 76 minutes the game changed. John Martin (who looked about 14, but with plenty of skill) crossed high from the left. There shouldn't have been danger, but left back Pemberton was nowhere to be seen, allowing Chris Hutchings a free header which he couldn't miss from 5 yards. Hutchings headed it down and underneath Pilkington. Just 4 minutes later, Orient scored again with their second attempt on target of the game. John Martin took advantage of some sloppy defending to ghost into the box and shoot under Pilkington from 6 yards. Two shots, two goals, and the Stags were beaten. Eight minutes from time, Greenacre smashed a powerful close range shot towards goal, but it was amazingly saved by the Orient keeper. It was an incredible save from a good clean hit and sealed the Stags fate.
The Stags are now rocking badly after this defeat and really need to pick up a win at struggling Torquay. Basically this was a decent display defensively, but the midfield lacked creativity in the second half and the service to the strikers was very poor. With 7 games left, Stags still need to pick up at least 4 wins, but cannot rely on the 4 home games. I feel that the result would have been so different if the Stags had scored with one of the chances at 0-0. It just needed a piece of luck which didn't come their way. But the fact remains that the side did not really create enough chances. To me, the balance of the midfield seemed wrong, with Williamson playing too deep and Murray not at his best on the right. Corden was starved of the ball in the first half and then tended to come infield too much where he was not effective. Apart from Pemberton's cross, there was not a single cross from either wing.
Man of the Match: Stuart Reddington.
Report by Martin Shaw
Ratings by Martin Shaw
and Jeff Barnes