Watkin 29 pen, Romo 81    
Saturday 16th March 2002 - Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 3, 597 (Stags approx 250)

Pictures courtesy of Gary Martin


Stags poor away form continued to hamper their progress towards promotion as they slipped to the fourth defeat in 5 away games at Swansea thisStags fans at Swansea this afternoon - courtesy of scfc.co.uk afternoon. In truth it was a game that turned on one incident when keeper Kevin Pilkington gave away a penalty and was immediately sent off after just 30 minutes. Substitute keeper Michael Bingham was unable to save the penalty, and despite a spirited second half effort, a late second goal won the points for the Swans.  Stags continued with the policy of just one player up front that they had used in the second half against Oxford, with Andy White dropping to the bench. Martin Pemberton had recovered from injury to play at left back, and Stags packed 5 into the midfield with Craig Disley's first start since December.

Stags had a couple of good chances in the opening minutes as, first Wayne Corden side-footed towards the corner of the net, but keeper Freestone just managed to tip the ball away. Probably a bit more pace on the shot would have seen the opening goal. Then Chris Greenacre went close with a shot just past the left hand post. Little had been seen of the Swansea attack, though Pilkington had competently caught some crosses. Then the game was to change fatally for the Stags on 30 minutes. A shot from Ryan Casey from 20 yards was hit without power straight at Pilkington. But the Stags keeper spilled it at the feet of the onrushing Steve Watkin who immediately flicked the ball past the keeper. But as Pilkington tried to retrieve the ball he only succeeded in bringing down the striker to give away the penalty, and gave the referee no choice but to award the penalty and a red card as Pilkington was the last man. There was a delay whilst Kelly was sacrificed and Michael Bingham came on for his Stags league debut, but despite diving the right way, his first touch of the ball was to pick it out of the back of the net.

Stags were stunned but the game entered a period with few chances before half time and the only incident of note was when a kick was aimed at Williamson off the ball, and several players became involved in a fracas.  Amazingly the Swansea player was not booked and the referee got both players to shake hands. Williamson was then booed for the rest of the game by the home fans, and for a period it seemed to put him out of his stride though he recovered his composure later on.

Half-time 1-0

Straight after the interval, Corden had a chance to equalise when he shot just wide. 10 minutes later Corden was substituted, presumably injured, and replaced by Barrett who moved to left back, with Pemberton moving to left side of midfield. But the Stags seemed to lose any shape they had left and Swansea dominated for about 20 minutes and should have extended their lead.  There were 2 shots in particular that went inches wide, and an unnecessary back-pass from Reddington put Bingham under pressure, as his kick out struck John Williams and nearly rebounded into the net - Bingham did well to just get back to punch the ball away. Bingham also made a terrific save from a 20 yard shot pushing it around for a corner. Then he tipped a downward header from Watkin over the bar.

Stags had a good spell for 15 minutes during which Reddington missed a sitter to equalise. From a corner, Disley did well to head the ball across goal, giving Reddington a free shot from 5 yards. But the Stags defender blasted the ball over the bar with his left foot. It was somewhat reminiscent of Tankard's late headed miss at Leicester. Wheatcroft came on for his second appearance and immediately looked dangerous. From another corner down the right, Wheatcroft soon hooked a shot inches wide of the right hand post with an effort that seemed certain to go in. Greenacre also had 2 chances, first smacking a shot just over the bar from a good knock down, and then shooting high over the bar after a good turn.  Stags were looking like they could grab a point but Swansea killed the game on 81 minutes. Bingham struck a clearance against Williams who gathered the ball and played it square for substitute Romo, who fired a terrific shot into the net from 25 yards with Bingham only just back in his goal. There was no way back from here and the game ended quietly. Stags continued to battle but it was a lost cause.

Stags now have to bounce back and get something from the next 2 away games at Orient and Torquay. The highlight of today was the news that Cheltenham had lost at Halifax and Rochdale had only drawn at home, meaning that Stags position had worsened only slightly. But surely there is little room for more slip-ups. Failure to keep a clean sheet for the past 11 games now needs to be remedied, and also surely Stags need to be more positive and start with 2 up front at lowly opposition such as Orient and Torquay.

Man of the Match:  Bobby Hassell

Report by Martin Shaw & Jeff Barnes

Pilkington 5 Good handling early on, but then spilled long range-shot and gave away penalty and sent off in one incident.
Hassell 7 Defended well and some typically good forward runs.
Pemberton 6 Started off at left back and looked solid. Moved into midfield and looked busy.
Robinson 6 Defended ok. Was beaten for pace by the fastest player in the football league.
Reddington 7 Defended well, showed positive attitude and got into forward positions. Missed best chance to equalise.
Corden 7 Looked dangerous in the first half and nearly scored.
Kelly 6 Quiet in opening 30 minutes. Sacrificed for Bingham when Pilkington was sent off.
Murray 6 A bit anonymous.
Williamson 6 Was played too deep to be effective. Didn't win many 50:50 balls, and was clearly rattled by booing of home fans.
Disley 7 Not quite back to his best but looked positive and always tried hard.
Greenacre 7 Battled for everything and won plenty of balls that he no right to win. Unlucky with a couple of long range efforts. Needs another striker to play alongside him.
Bingham  6 (for Kelly, 29) - Made one excellent save and generally did ok. Poor kick from a back-pass nearly gave away a goal.
Barrett 6 (for Corden, 55 ) - Slotted in at left back and did ok.
Wheatcroft 7 (for Murray, 72 ) - Looked positive, some nice touches, and went so close to equalising with a good effort just wide from a corner.
Subs Not Used: Sisson, White.