Friday 23rd November 2001 - Kick-off 7.45pm
Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 4, 877
by Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Stags continued their unbeaten run with a 93rd minute equaliser at Field Mill, after a night of frustration. Lowly York had taken the lead through a terrible defensive error by the usually dependable captain Les Robinson on 74 minutes, but injury ravaged Stags rescued a point thanks to Craig Disley's close range thunderbolt.
Hassell was ruled out through injury and replaced by Asher, whilst on loan Piper kept his place after an impressive debut at Bristol Rovers, at the expense of Bradley who had only returned to training on Thursday after 2 weeks out. Williamson played the full 90 minutes despite not being fully fit, a point I overheard his dad talking about as we filed out of the West Stand, and later confirmed in post match interviews by Stuart Watkiss. Watkiss noted that Williamson certainly would not have played if Stags had had a bigger squad. Barrett was also not match fit, and had to be replaced at half time.
The first half was very quiet, indeed it was hard to note an incident worthy of mention in the opening 20 minutes. York had two first half opportunities to score and were particularly unlucky when Cooper struck the post with a 20 yard deflected shot that had beaten Pilkington on 27 minutes. Indeed without the deflection, the ball could easily has nestled in the net. Stags best chance fell to the injured Williamson, after terrific play by Piper. Piper beat his man on the right wing and produced a great cross from a tight angle, which was well-controlled by Greenacre who set up a free shot for Williamson, but the Stags young midfielder sliced his shot inches wide. Too often Stags, usually through Asher, pumped high balls into the York box which were easily cleared by the big defenders.
Stags had their best spell of the game early in the second half as the flowing football returned, albeit briefly. But there was a lack of clearcut chances though Disley was denied by a brilliant save from Fettis on 52 minutes after he headed powerfully towards goal from a cross. The game soon returned to a frustrating stalemate, not helped by York's timewasting tactics, most notably of the irritating full back Richardson. It seemed the game would be heading for a dull 0-0 draw, when York were gifted a goal. It really looked as though York would not score if the teams played until midnight, but a harmless ball down the middle was back-headed by Robinson towards his keeper Pilkington and fell woefully short allowing Lee Nogan to nip in. Nogan's first shot was well saved by Pilkington, but the striker picked up the rebound to easily score. It was the first goal the Stags had conceded for nearly 4 games and was a real choker for the Stags. We now know how the Carlisle fans would have felt 2 weeks earlier. Stags brought on Bradley for a quiet Corden but in truth they did not look like bagging an equaliser. Three minutes of injury time were added on, and in the final of those minutes Asher crossed, the ball fell for Lawrence, whose cross was dropped by York keeper Fettis at the feet of Craig Disley who quickly slammed the loose ball into the roof of the net from 6 yards.
So at the end we were very grateful to pick up a point, which moves us above Rochdale and into second place. This was a below par performance against a very poor side, but Stags were clearly carrying players with injuries and it is to Williamson's credit for example that he was able to scrap it out for the 90 minutes. Difficult to pick a man of the match in such a lacklustre display, but Matt Piper just about deserves it for looking lively on his home debut.
Man of the Match: Matt Piper
Report by Martin Shaw
|Pilkington||7||Looking confident on crosses; generally had little to do and looked comfortable|
|Asher||6||Competent defensive display, though lacked sparkle going forward|
|Tankard||7||Defended well and tried to get things going forward|
|Barrett||6||Solid enough though turned out to be unfit|
|Robinson||5||Some good tackles but one defensive error gifted York their goal|
|Lawrence||6||Did his defensive duties well, but lacked inspiration going forward|
|Disley||6||Didn't command the midfield, but kept going and rewarded with late goal|
|Williamson||6||Looked well below his best, later explained by carrying an injury|
|Greenacre||6||A few good touches but looked unusually quiet|
|Piper||7||His pace caused the York defenders problems|
|Reddington||7||for Barrett (45) - Good return to the side in the second half|
|Bradley||6||for Corden (75) - Little opportunity to make an impression|
|Subs Not Used: White, Jervis, Bingham|