Plymouth 3 Mansfield 0

by Martin Shaw at Home Park

Attendance (approx) 4400


Stags comfortably beaten


After the euphoria of the win against Brentford, this was a terribly

disappointing performance and defeat by Mansfield at wet and windy Plymouth.

Early in the season, the Stags had comfortably seen off Plymouth at Field

Mill, but at Home Park it was the Stags who were comfortably beaten.


The terrible weather reported in the south-west made me think the game would

be in doubt, so I made phonecalls to Home Park on the Friday afternoon and

early on Saturday morning to check the situation. Each time I was told the

rain had been heavy but the pitch was fine. So I set out from home in

Guildford at 9.30 and drove 50 miles to Reading Station where, after yet

another phonecall to the ground to check the situation, I picked up the

11.00 train to Plymouth. The train journey was quick considering the

distance. Also the weather was sunny, so by 1.40 when I arrived at Plymouth

station I was sure the game would go ahead. It is less than a mile to Home

Park so I decided to walk which took probably less than 20 minutes.


Home Park has the aura of a large ground and this is borne out by the recent

attendance of 17,000 against Derby in the FA Cup. I decided to sit in the

visitors seating due to my dislike of watching from behind the goal. The

visitors seating is at one end of the main stand (to the right of the TV

gantry position) and is at the same end of the ground as the visitors

terrace. The Stags following was very much down on recent games due to the

long distance, with my estimate being 140 (110 on the terrace and 30 in the

seating). The terrace was not covered and those who braved it got very wet

during several hailstorms in the first half. In the main stand I at least

stayed dry and had an excellent panoramic view from high up at the back of

the stand.


Before the game started the announcer mentioned that Stags fan Chris Taylor

was attending his 700th away game. This is a remarkable effort and it was

nice that it was acknowledged to the whole ground. Then to mark Tony Ford’s

record-breaking performance, the two teams formed a guard of honour when

Ford ran on the pitch. It was a terrific moment which drew a standing

ovation from the whole ground, and which no doubt will be featured many

times on TV.


The opening 10 minutes of the game was very quiet with no action of any

note. The weather was alternating between sunshine and hailstorms but then

suddenly the game burst into a life. A cross from the left hand side into

the Stags box seemed to be caught by the wind and drifted over the Stags

defenders but a Plymouth player attacked the ball and with a diving header

forced Ian Bowling into a world class save to tip the ball away. Fortunately

for the Stags, Dwight Marshall was just unable to get to the ball from

Bowling’s save and it went out for a corner. But the Stags luck didn’t hold

and within seconds Plymouth had taken the lead. Once again a cross from the

left was missed by the Stags defence and Marshall was left with a free

header to easily beat Bowling.


Again the match entered a quiet period, but on 25 minutes a shot from Tallon

straight at the Plymouth keeper from outside the box started a period of

Stags pressure which lasted for nearly 20 minutes. There was a succession of

chances: a weak header off target by Tony Lormor, another Lormor header off

target from a tremendous Ford cross, a Peacock shot on the turn tipped round

the post by the keeper. Then a mistake by a Plymouth defender let in Lormor

for a one-on-one with the keeper but the Stags striker shot straight at him

and the danger was cleared. Shortly afterwards a header from Mark Peters was

well-saved as the hail came heavier.


But two minutes from half-time Stags paid the ultimate penalty for the

missed chances. In a rare Plymouth break, and as part of a very good

Plymouth move, Hargreaves broke down the left and crossed for Marshall who

was again left unmarked to head the second goal. It was a sickening blow,

but still there was time for another Stags chance as Steve Harper sent an

excellent effort just wide of the post on the half-volley.


At half time I was asked by a Plymouth fan if I was a journalist as he had

seen me making some notes. I told him I was writing a report for the Stags

Supporters internet site (SSIB) and he asked me for the address which I

provided to him. So if you are reading this, we hope you like the site!


Within a minute of the re-start, Peters took the ball off a Plymouth

attacker’s toe on the edge of the Stags box and tried to clear but nearly

succeeded in scoring an own goal, with Bowling just managing to get a leg to

the ball to clear it. But just as with the first goal, a near miss for

Plymouth was immediately followed by a Plymouth goal. It seemed an unlucky

goal as a shot from Hargreaves seemed to be saved by Bowling but somehow

rebounded into the net. It reminded me of Stags winner against Peterborough.

After the game in an interview on local radio, Dwight Marshall said he had

tried to claim the goal as he told the referee he had “got a whisker to it”.

But the referee had told him there was more chance of it being credited to

himself (the referee) than to the Plymouth striker!!


That third goal really killed off the Stags and the game entered another

quiet period. On 55 minutes Lee Williams and Iyesden Christie replaced the

ineffective Kerr and Walker. There were one or two half chances for the

Stags including a Lormor shot deflected wide and a Peacock glancing header

wide from a Ford cross. But these were isolated chances and the Stags had

the air of a beaten side throughout the second half. In fact this was summed

up eight minutes from time when a Lee Peacock free-kick from 20 yards

ballooned miles over the bar bringing howls of derision from the home fans.

Before the game had re-started, Peacock was substituted as if manager Steve

Parkin was trying to make a point. Stuart Ryder replaced him allowing John

Schofield to move into midfield.


Mansfield rallied in the closing moments in search of a consolation, and

there were 2 more chances for Harper with shots from the left hand side, one

straight at the keeper and one over the bar, and Christie created a good

chance for himself but just failed in trying to chip the keeper from 20

yards as the keeper caught it at full stretch. But it was never going to

make any difference and soon the Stags players were showing their

appreciation to the travelling fans who had made the long trip.


It was a desperately disappointing result although the margin of defeat was

probably rough on the Stags. But once again Mansfield came unstuck on a

bobbly pitch. Plymouth looked a competent side who could yet make a charge

for the promotion places, and in Dwight Marshall they clearly had the

overall man of the match.


Not many Stags players distinguished themselves. Tony Lormor worked hard up

front and Christie was lively as substitute. Lee Peacock had a poor game

initially up front and later in midfield, and the rest of the midfield

failed to take a grip of the game for long enough periods. The central

defence of Peters, Hackett and Schofield was especially at fault in

conceding poor goals. Wing backs Ford and Harper had some joy going

forward - Ford put in some good crosses and Harper was unlucky with a couple

of shots. But my man of the match for Mansfield was Ian Bowling, whose

handling of crosses was immaculate in difficult conditions and who could not

be blamed for any of the goals. He also made one or two good saves,

especially just before Plymouth’s opening goal.


After the game, Tony Ford was interviewed on local radio Plymouth Sound, and

admitted the Stags got the defeat they deserved, and stressed the need to

get back to winning ways at home to Rotherham. That game now becomes an even

more vital game for the Stags as the need to put on a good display for the

television audience is coupled with the need for vital promotion points.


On the long journey home I found little to cheer myself in defeat, and wrote

this report for the SSIB website and Follow The Yellow Brick Road fanzine,

arriving home at 10.30pm.


Bowling 8

Ford 6

Harper 6

Peters 5

Schofield 5

Hackett 5

Walker 6

Kerr 5

Tallon 6

Lormor 7

Peacock 5


Williams 6

Christie 7

Ryder 6