Nogan 44, Parkin 53, Proctor 67   Murray 39
Saturday 13th April 2002 - Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance:  5, 460
Where on earth do you start writing about this game? The only words that come to mind are 'travesty of justice'. The Stags lost a game they needed to win, and lost it 3-1, and yet Stags had 24 goal attempts to the home side's 7. And in fact I can only remember 5 of the home side's chances. The corner count was equally revealing: 13 for Stags to 3 for York. Rarely does an away side dominate a game like this, but defeat can be put down to a mixture of very bad luck in front of goal, and a couple of mistakes at the back which were punished.  Allen Tankard retained his place at left back after playing the second half on Tuesday night, while Lee Williamson replaced Craig Disley in central midfield.

Stags dominated the opening half for 44 minutes. Stags came closest when Reddington thundered a header against the bar from a corner, and soon afterwards White played a super-though ball into the box for Murray, but Murray flicked his shot inches wide. Sellars also had a couple of free-kicks, bending one just over and having another well-saved. The home side did absolutely nothing at all, though former Stags loanee and pint-sized defender Scott Jones sent a free-kick from fully 35 yards straight at Pilkngton.  On 39 minutes, Stags at last took the lead. Murray picked up the ball 25 yards out and smacked a low drive right into the bottom left hand corner of the net. It was a cracking goal and rich justice for the Stags. But a minute before half time the Stags were completely stunned by an equaliser.  From York's first corner, the ball was floated high to the far post. The ball was in the air so long that Pilkington had an age to punch it clear but decided to leave it, allowing Nogan a free header from just 2 yards. His header looked goal-bound and Reddington, in a vain attempt to clear it, got the final touch. It was a terrible time to concede a goal and left Stags fans cursing at half time.

Half time 1-1

Stags started the second half on top again, but fell behind on 53 minutes.  A long punt over the top found Barrett in a one-on-one trying to hold off home striker Jon Parkin. Barrett lost possession and allowed Parkin to lob Pilkington from 15 yards. Within minutes Sellars had another free-kick and amazingly smacked it against the bar with home keeper Fettis beaten. It was the third consecutive match that Sellars had struck a free kick against the woodwork. As the ball bounced down, a header (possibly from Tankard) was somehow scrambled off the line as it looked destined for the back of the net. Then Andy White did well to break through the home defence and give himself a free shot at goal from 18 yards. But his effort was weak and Fettis was able to make a save low down to his right.  On 67 minutes, the scoreline became farcical. Proctor broke clear of the defence following another punt forward, but from my position he looked a yard offside (video evidence will probably clear up that one). Proctor didn't  wait for a flag and glided forward before smacking a beautiful right-foot shot across Pilkington and just inside the far post. It was a cracking finish and showed just exactly what Stags are missing from failing to sign him on deadline day. Stags brought on Kelly  and then Disley, and continued to pour forward creating chance after chance. It would take too long to list all of them but there more balls cleared of the line, more goalmouth scrambles, at least 2 excellent saves from Fettis, notably from a terrific Murray long range curler, and corner after the corner.  Proctor had York's fifth chance of the game late on when he broke clear of the defence again, but this time fired just wide.

Stags can count themselves so unlucky, but also have to focus on cutting out individual errors at the back. Last Tuesday night, Cheltenham boss Cotterill claimed his side were unlucky to lose. They weren't actually as Stags just about deserved the points, but if that was unlucky, how do you start to describe this? At the end of the game, Stags fans were choked but raised a standing ovation for their heroes as they realised they had simply been unlucky.  It's not all over. Cheltenham need 2 points from their last 2 games, away to Carlisle on Tuesday and Plymouth on Saturday. If they fail to win at Carlisle then Stags will go into the final Saturday in a similar position to exactly 10 years ago, where Stags will need to win, and hope that Cheltenham lose (10 years ago it was Blackpool). I do fancy Cheltenham to lose at Plymouth, so Stags fans will be glued to teletext or internet commentary on Tuesday night. Come on Carlisle!!  If Stags do end up in the play-offs, they will at least go there on the back of some much-improved performances, giving more cause for hope.

Man of the Match: Adam Murray

Report by Martin Shaw


Pilkington 5 Had very little to do, but should have come for the first half corner that conceded the opening goal.
Hassell 7 Another good game, defended well and drove the side forward well.
Tankard 7 Defended solidly. The defence looks more steady with him in the side.
Reddington 6 Generally under little pressure, and did ok. So unlucky with a header against the crossbar.
Barrett 5 Horrible mistake for the second goal. Was not put under much pressure throughout the game.
Corden 5 Still not at his best, seems to be low on confidence.
Williamson 7 Played well in midfield.
Murray 8 Battled really well in midfield. Scored a great goal and unlucky not to get a couple more.
Sellars 7 Looked dangerous on numerous occasions. Unlucky again not to score from a free-kick against the woodwork, for 3rd consecutive game.
Greenacre 6 Won plenty of possession but didn't look sharp in front of goal.
White 7 Again caused problems for the opposition defence. But should have scored when clean through in the second half.
Kelly 6 (for Barrett, 68) 6 Did ok as Stags poured forward in the last 20 minutes.
Disley 6 (for Williamson, 79) 6 Looked sharp for the last 10 minutes.
Subs Not Used: Bingham, Clarke, Pemberton.