Saturday 23rd February 2002 - Kick-off 3pm
Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 4, 120
The Stags were missing Liam Lawrence, out for the season, Craig Disley and Dave Jervis for the trip to 8th placed Shrewsbury. The home side themselves were also without key players, the suspended Luke Rodgers and the injured Nigel Jemson. The Stags began with Les Robinson at full back and Bobby Hassell at right midfield, probably in an effort to minimise the disruption to the rest of the side. The Shrews included former Stag Tony Lormor and ex-Forest midfielder Ian Woan.
The home side had slightly the better of the opening 10 minutes, a free kick given away by Corden on the left as early as the 2nd minute gave Woan the chance to fire at goal but his free kick flew over the bar. Pemberton then gave the ball away in a dangerous position but Lowe's cross beat the far upright with Pilkington scrambling back. Lowe again had a long range attempt but again missed the keepers left hand post. Slowly the Stags came into the game, Greenacre broke free on the right, sent in a curling cross but Kelly's header was weak and Redmile headed back to his keeper. Greenacre then turned well on the edge of the area before hitting a right foot shot just wide and moments later Hassell broke forwards, evaded a couple of challenges before being crowded out on the edge of the area. The Stags were now on top and a free kick from the left had Redmile heading over his own bar with Kelly poised to pounce. Pemberton broke forward well, found Kelly whose cross was well controlled by Greenacre before hitting a shot just wide with many Stags fans thinking the ball was going in. However, the Stags were to be rocked back on 34 minutes and there was more than a shade of misfortune about the Shrews opening goal. Allen Tankard chased back a hopeful through ball and seemed in a good position to clear when his hamstring went and he fell to the ground, a Shrews player pounced on the ball and though the lob hit the post Lowe was on hand to score. Asher replaced the injured Tankard, which meant Pemberton dropped to left back, Hassell moved into the centre of midfield and Asher moved over to right midfield. Woan then could have increased the home sides lead but Pilkington produced a fine save. On 43 minutes former Stag Tony Lormor did what all former Stags do and scored - his 2nd goal against the Stags since leaving the club. Greenacre needlessly gave the ball away on the edge of the Shrews area, the home side broke quickly and Lormor was free on the left, he had plenty of time to pick his spot and drilled the ball past Pilkington. The Stags were a shade unlucky to go in two behind at half time.
Half Time: 2-0
The Stags struggled to make any impact and only when Shayne Bradley was introduced on the hour did they create anything in front of goal. Indeed Bradley had only just replaced Kelly when he created and missed the Stags best chance of the game. A break on the right by Asher saw the ball fall to Bradley who beat one defender and with only the keeper to beat he screwed his left foot shot just wide - he really should have hit the target. Moments later Williamson headed straight at the keeper from an Asher cross as the Stags briefly threatened to get back into the game. However, as the Stags shifted to a back three the Shrews could, and should, have scored several times. The long ball out wide caught the Stags out time and time again and Lowe and Jagielka were guilty of wasting a couple of gilt edged chances before Woan finally put the game safe after Robinson was dispossessed on the edge of his own area.
The Stags never really came to grips with the conditions and were second to every ball and lost almost every challenge. It seemed as though the home side were more hungry and more ready to fight which cannot be acceptable from a side in an automatic promotion place. Whilst clearly the conditions prevented the Stags playing their usual passing game, they were the same for both sides and when only one side is prepared to roll their sleeves up then the outcome is entirely predictable. There were few plus points in this, the Stags worst performance of the season, but Kevin Pilkington prevented the scoreline becoming a true embarrassment and was therefore the Stags man of the match. Several players really performed poorly and must improve for Tuesday's vital clash with bottom club Halifax Town. Stuart Watkiss was understandably angry after the game and spoke to BBC Radio Nottingham: "I can't accept we were outfought today, the Shrewsbury players won all the 2nd balls and the 50/50s, and running into the areas. We took a gamble in the 2nd half to try and nick a goal with 3 at the back. But it didn't work and in the end it could have been 6 or 7. Though I'm sure it wouldn't have been like that it we'd stuck with 4-4-2. We've been beaten by the better team. We've got to improve our performance 200% on Tuesday. If we play like that again, it don't matter who we're playing in this division, we'll get turned over. For 99% of the season, the lads have done well, but it's a bad day at the office today, we've fell way below our standards today. You know what, I was quite happy up until they got the first goal - we were the better team. But the minute they got the first goal, there was only one team gonna win it, and too many of our lads heads dropped and accepted being second best, and that what hurts the most. We've took a beating today, but if we feel sorry for ourselves we're not gonna get anything by that, so we've gotta roll our sleeves up."
Man of the Match: Kevin Pilkington
|Pilkington||7||Some good saves prevented the score being worse|
|Robinson||5||Not his best display, bad error for 3rd goal|
|Tankard||7||Stags were comfortable until his injury|
|Barrett||6||Gave the usual fully committed display|
|Reddington||6||Under pressure throughout the game|
|Hassell||7||The pick of the midfield, brought the ball forward well but with no end product|
|Corden||5||Not his sort of pitch but looked very fragile|
|Pemberton||6||Did OK in a couple of positions|
|Williamson||5||By far his least effective display of the season|
|Greenacre||6||One chance missed in an otherwise very quiet display|
|Kelly||5||Couple of decent moments but faded out of the game badly|
|Asher||6||(for Tankard, 35) - Looked very strong but gave the ball away too often|
|Bradley||6||(for Kelly, 60) - Missed a great chance but did hold the ball up better|
|Subs Not Used: White, Bingham, Sisson.|