Saturday 22nd March 2002 - Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance:  2, 679  Torquay held promotion-chasing Mansfield to a goalless draw at Plainmoor.  The home team very nearly claimed the win a minute from time, but away keeper Kevin Pilkington earned a standing ovation from fans of both sides after somehow keeping out a goal-bound first-time shot from David Graham. "I hope I look back in a few weeks time and see that save as one that took us up," said Mansfield assistant manager Neil Richardson.  Mansfield could have had few complaints if Torquay had clinched all three points in the second half.  Having snuffed out The Stags free-scoring attack, Torquay dominated the second half.  Steve Woods crashed a 71st minute volley against the bar, Alex Russell went close from 30 yards, and Marcus Richardson had a goal disallowed for offside.  In the 83rd minute, Pilkington made his only mistake of the match, stranding himself well off his line during a Torquay counter-attack, but Chris Brandon lobbed the ball wide of the empty net.  Third-placed Mansfield had gone into the match with five defeats in their previous six away games, and desperately needed to stop the rot.  "It's been a long week on the road," said Richardson after games at Swansea, Orient and Torquay.  "It was hard work, and at this stage of the season there's a lot of tension for everybody.  "We are looking forward to getting back home."  Torquay, all but safe from relegation, have been improving steadily in recent weeks.  Manager Roy McFarland said: "I think Mansfield are a little fortunate to go away with a point.  "We never got behind them in the first half, but we picked up well in the second and we had much the better chances.  "We are looking very strong at the back, and I think that showed again. Sean Hankin, Steve Woods and Reuben Hazell were all outstanding.  "They took care of Chris Greenacre well, although we didn't make any special arrangements for him"

Teamtalk:  A superb performance from visiting keeper Kevin Pilkington kept The Gulls at bay as Mansfield held out for a goalless draw at Plainmoor.  The Stags stopper was in superb form - denying David Graham what looked a certain winner in stoppage time with a world-class save.  The home side gave a debut to Nicky Banger, who set up the first chance of the game when he laid the ball off for Marcus Richardson to fire in an effort from 25 yards which was well saved by Pilkington.  The visitors should have been in front on 40 minutes when Wayne Corden curled a cross in from the left and Shayne Bradley somehow headed wide from only five yards out.  United were denied again when Richardson's shot was superbly blocked by transfer-listed Stags defender Adam Barrett.  Lee Russell then had an 30-yard effort well saved by the impressive Pilkington as the home side continued to push forward.  The woodwork came to the visitors' rescue on 70 minutes when a Russell corner found Stephen Woods at the back post and the defender smashed the ball against the bar from an acute angle.  Four minutes later The Gulls had an effort ruled out for offside when, after good work from Russell and Chris Brandon, Kevin Hill tapped the ball home only for the official's flag to ruin the celebrations.  A long clearance from Kevin Dearden then found Brandon clean through on goal but the striker's lobbed effort from 30 yards fell just wide.  The game was a minute into stoppage time when Pilkington pulled of a
miraculous save to deny Graham from only 12 yards after a cut-back from Richardson.  There was still time for David Kelly and Andy White to go close for the visitors but the game was to end goalless.  Torquay stay 20th in the table as a result but are now 11 points clear of bottom side Halifax, who were thumped at Luton.  With Mansfield riding high today's match was always going to be a tough test for Roy McFarland's side. Making his debut for the Gulls was Nicky Banger who signed yesterday morning, and, as Charlie MacDonald returned to Charlton last week, this was the only change in the line-up that took on and beat Macclesfield.  Mansfield's recent away form has been somewhat questionable and Torquay met them this afternoon after a midweek defeat at Leyton Orient for the Stags.  Torquay's last two games, on the other hand, both ended in three points for the Gulls.  With a hint of mist hanging in the air, the game kicked off on time with Torquay attacking the noisy away fans in the Babbacombe End.  It was Mansfield who had the first chance, when a shot was sent wide of Kevin Dearden's goal, and then a minute later, Martin Pemberton struck a free kick which also went wide.  Torquay took a little time to compose themselves at the start of the game, and for the first 5 minutes the action took place mainly in the Gulls' half of the pitch.  Kevin Hill finally had Torquay's first shot on goal, but the strike from outside the area never really threatened Mansfield's goal. Nicky Banger also had a dip after some great work by Chris Brandon, but he sent the ball over the top of Kevin Pilkington's goal.  Mansfield were the better team for the first 20 minutes or so and Martin Pemberton was the player that seemed to be involved in many of Mansfields' good moves, he ran at Torquay's defence on a couple of occasions and looked lively and pacey.  Chris Brandon had a half chance with the keeper at his feet on 20 minutes and after Pilkington had spilled the ball Brandon played it back to Kevin Hill, who's subsequent cross found Marcus Richardson. Richardson's header was weak though, and the goalkeeper had little to do to stop the ball.  Chris Brandon had a shot deflected by the behind of Nicky Banger as he shot through a crowd on 25 minutes, and Pilkington had to readjust his dive before saving well as the ball skidded towards goal.  David Graham received a kick to the head on 36 minutes but Torquay completely wasted the free kick opportunity with Paul Holmes taking his time and being run down, then Shayne Bradley had a great chance for the Stags but his header, from 4-yards, was put well out.  It was definitely Mansfield's first half but their final touch was never good enough. Chris Greenacre, the division's top goalscorer, was quite quiet.  Torquay started the second half a bit brighter, and Paul Holmes showed some fantastic skill to supply the ball into the Mansfield box. Nicky Banger also had an early chance and David Graham fired a shot so wide that it went out for a throw in.  Sean Hankin received a yellow card on 53 minutes, then Mansfield's Craig Disley had a weak shot saved by Kevin Dearden. Then, on 56 minutes, Mansfield attacked well down the right, but again their final touch was missing.  Chris Greenacre had another chance to put the Stags in front after 12 minutes of the second half, he did well to break through Torquay's defence but his shot was very poor and Dearden just watched the ball roll past his right hand post.  Tony Bedeau replaced Nicky Banger and then on 63 minutes Alex Russell struck a great shot from outside the Mansfield area. The goalkeeper did well to get
down low to it, and he held it well.  Steve Woods shot from a tight angle on 70 minutes, and the ball glanced the cross bar. It was a great effort after an Alex Russell cross, (and on Gullsbet- Steve Woods was 50/1 to score the first goal.)  Kevin Dearden showed some good footwork as he was forced to come out of his area to receive the ball. He took it around two players before playing it well to Kevin Hill.  Torquay's fans celebrated with 17 minutes left, after Marcus Richardson put the ball in the back of the net. It was short lived though as the referee disallowed the goal adjudging the ball to have gone off the pitch before the cross was sent in.  There was a definite improvement in Torquay's performance in the second half, after they were pegged back in the first. Inside the last 10 minutes Gregory Goodridge came on for Chris Brandon and then Mansfield wasted an opportunity from a free kick.  Bedeau and Goodridge created chances after decent lively runs on 86 minutes but the final touch was still lacking.  With a minute left on the clock Marcus Richardson put a beautiful pass to David Graham who shot well but Kevin Pilkington was aware and made a great save to save his club from losing the game. It wasn't all over though, as Dearden had to save well in the very last minute to keep the game equal.  A good Torquay performance is the simple verdict.


Stagsnet Man of the Match:  Adam Barrett

STAGS RATINGS by Jeff Barnes
Pilkington 7 Handled well throughout and a fantastic save late in the game saved a point.
Hassell 7 Was everywhere as usual but is missing someone outside him when he moves forward.
Pemberton 6 Must take some responsibility for not getting Corden more in the game.
Robinson 7 Very solid game, intercepted well and kept it simple.
Barrett 8 Looked strong and mobile and back to his best, hope we keep him!
Corden 6 Got some decent crosses in during the first half but out of the game in the second half apart from a free kick which just cleared the angle of post and bar.
Disley 5 Looks to be short on confidence and gave the ball away too often when moving forward which lost us chances and put us under pressure.
Murray 6 No space to shine but competed well, lost in the no mans land between winger/midfield/forward.
Williamson 7 Usual skills on show but would be more dangerous further up the field.
Bradley 6 Normal bustling aggression but poor first touch and missed the chance of the match in the first half, heading wide from five yards out.
Greenacre 6 Can't buy a goal at the moment, scuffed his only chance wide. Needs to score any kind of goal to get him back on track.
Kelly 6 (for Bradley, 70) Took up some good positions and could have won all three points
at the death when a stronger shot would have beaten the diving keeper.
White 6 (for Greenacre, 78) Replaced Greenacre to the fury of some travelling fans. One soft header and a failure to connect to a sharp cross in the six yard box were his only contribution really.
Subs Not Used: Bingham, Sellars, Reddington.