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
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.