Bramble 22    

Saturday 12th January 2002

Nationwide League Division 3

Attendance:  3, 300

Stags fell to a narrow defeat at Roots Hall this afternoon, beaten by one moment of brilliance from home striker Tes Bramble midway through the first half. The first half was fairly even but Stags had the better chances and were unlucky to be behind at theThe Stags warm up prior to todays match interval. The second half was one way traffic as Stags dominated but failed to take any of a succession of chances, with the home side hanging on for dear life. Rarely can a home side have had so little possession to claim 3 points. The statistics of the game do not lie: Stags had 12 shots on target compared to 2 for the home side.

New manager Stuart Watkiss made one change for the Stags bringing back Matt Piper in place of Shayne Bradley, while Craig Disley was still missing due to injury. Stags plans were hit early on when Les Robinson went off injured. This gave Stuart Reddington his chance and he didn't disappoint.  The first 20 minutes were pretty even and quiet. Then on 22 minutes one moment of brilliance was to ultimately claim the points for Southend. Home striker Tes Bramble collected the ball on edge of the box out on the right hand side, and turned to place a great shot just inside the far post.  Momentarily Stags were put out of their stride and the home side got on top. But it didn't last long and Stags were the better side for the final 15 minutes of the half, as Wayne Corden looked dangerous on the left wing.  The best chance fell to Liam Lawrence after a left wing cross evaded the defence, and from just 8 yards, Lawrence smacked his shot goalwards. It seemed certain to go in, by Flahaven pulled off a magnificent save, just as he did time after time at Field Mill earlier in the season. One brilliant move started by Bobby Hassell saw the young Stags right back completely free inside the box on the right, but his attempted low cross was well saved by Flahaven. Just a minute before Southend took the lead, it seemed Stags would earn a penalty when Williamson went down under a challenge from the home keeper. But the referee, who had an extremely poor game, instead decided Williamson had dived, and promptly booked the Stags midfielder. At best it was a penalty. At worst Williamson fell over the keeper's body. No way did Williamson dive. A diabolical decision.

Half time 1-0

IT easiest to first mention Southend's second half attacks. Barrett cleared a corner off the line and Hutchins smacked the rebound against the top of the crossbar. This flurry turned out to be Southend's only chances of the half, and just about the only time they were in the Stags half, until they played "keep-ball" by the corner flags in injury time.  It truly was one way traffic throughout the second half as Stags poured forward with wave after wave of attacks. From our position at the far end it was sometimes difficult to tell how clear-cut the chances were, but there were certainly plenty of them. It seemed that everyone had chances:  Piper had a shot saved, Corden shot straight at the keeper, Lawrence sent a free-kick too close to the keeper, Williamson had a shot saved, Greenacre shot just wide. The closest moments seemed to come when 2 goal-bound shots were blocked. Stags must have had 75% of the possession in the second half, but failure to take any of the numerous chances has cost Stags dear and presented 3 points to the home side. Rarely can a side have done less going forward in a match than Southend did today to win this game. 

After the game, Southend boss Rob Newman paid tribute to his defenders who threw their bodies in front of the ball to prevent goals, and to his goalkeeper who handled the ball well. He admitted his side just hung on for the win, and paid tribute to the Stags as a passing side, with good movement who he said will be in the top 3 at end of season.

So a bitterly disappointing result to start off Stuart Watkiss's managerial career, but if Stags continue to dominate matches away from home like this one, they will surely win more away games than they lose. Attention now switches to Field Mill as Hartlepool (with Darrell Clarke) will be the visitors next Saturday.

Man of the Match: Stuart Reddington

Pilkington 6 Almost nothing to do.
Hassell  7 Did well defensively and going forward.
Tankard 6 Did give the ball away a little too often, but solid enough at left back.
Barrett 7 Good game, as Southend strikers were given little chance to impress. One excellent clearance off the line.
Robinson 6 Went off injured very early on.
Lawrence 7 Created a lot from the right wing, and unlucky not to score in the first half.
Corden 6 Not in the game for the first 35 minutes, but then burst into life. Several teasing crosses but not quite at his best.
Pemberton 6 Did ok in midfield but Stags missed Disley's creativity.
Williamson 7 Unlucky to be booked, and that maybe stopped him going in for all his usual tackles, but still won more than he lost in midfield.
Greenacre 6 Quiet first half. Livelier in the second half but not at his sharpest.
Piper  6 More direct than in past games, but lacked cutting edge.
Reddington  7 (for Robinson)  Good return to the side, looked confident and won most of his battles.
Subs Not Used: Bingham, Jervis, Asher, Bradley.

Report by Martin Shaw