Peterborough United 1 Mansfield Town 0
By Martin Shaw at London Road, for SSIIB website
Mansfield made two changes from the team that beat York, with David Linighan returning from injury to replace Leigh Bromby, and David Kerr coming in for Michael Sisson who had been playing recently through an injury. The absence of Bromby was a mystery to Stags fans at the game, who speculated that he may have returned to Sheffield Wednesday.
Once again the game was played in a strong wind, and Peterborough had the wind behind the backs in the first half. The home side made a powerful start. In the opening minutes, former Wimbledon striker Andy Clarke broke clear of his marker Asher to crash a shot across Thompson`s goal and the keeper was grateful to see the ball scrape the outside of the post and go wide. Andy Clarke had another chance shortly afterwards when Asher was slow pushing up off his line and played the centre forward onside. But Clarke`s free header was straight into the arms of Thompson. Other than these 2 chances, Posh failed to take advantage of the wind and it was Mansfield who dominated the remaining 35 minutes of the half. The astute Blake had a superb first half and realising the potential danger of Andy Clarke, was often seen helping out youngster Asher to dampen the threat of the pacey striker. Time after time, Blake also won the ball in midfield and David Kerr returning to the side also won a number of challenges as the Stags took a grip of midfield.
Just as it seemed that the teams would go in level at half time, Posh took the lead when, from an in-swinging corner, former Forest and Chesterfield striker Jason (Pineapple) Lee headed the ball in from 3 yards. It was a soft goal to concede and Glyn Thompson should have been disappointed that he hadn`t claimed the ball. So Stags went in 1-0 down at half time, having been the better side in the first half but with the promise of the wind behind their backs in the second.
Stags have used the wind behind them to good effect in recent games, but on this occasion, luck was against them as the wind completely dropped in the second half. Stags appeared to have a good claim for a penalty turned down when a Posh defender handled the ball but it was ignored by the referee who generally had a poor game. Then Lee Williams created a good chance for himself cutting in from the right wing and beating two players, but shot over the bar when well-placed. In truth, however, the Stags faded badly and after that, never really looked like getting an equaliser. Indeed it was the home side who came closest to scoring with a succession of corners that caused mayhem in the Mansfield box. From one corner, Linighan did supremely well to clear a goalbound effort of the line. As the game entered the final ten minutes, Posh created further chances as Stags pushed forward bringing on striker Boulding for the ineffective David Kerr in midfield. Andy Clarke came closest for the home side, striking the post again with a 15 yard drive, and there were other shots from the home side but they failed to make the game safe. The game ended in disappointment for the Stags fans and on the second half showing., they could not in truth complain about the result.
David Linighan made a good return from injury looking solid at the back alongside the ever-dependable Andrews and young Alistair Asher who coped admirably with the threat of Andy Clarke. Lee Williams had a good game against his former club on the right, and Andy Roscoe continued his good form down the left hand side. In midfield, Mark Blake was outstanding in the first half running the midfield and got my vote for Man of the Match. Darrell Clarke had a quieter game than usual but Stags really missed the pace and determination of Michael Sisson as his replacement David Kerr looked slow and relatively immobile despite winning a good couple of challenges in the first half. Up front both Lormor and Greenacre appeared to be less than fully fit and Greenacre especially had a poor game. Late on, Boulding replaced Kerr but failed to make any impression. Glyn Thompson`s handling was good as usual but he was not as commanding in the box as in previous games and may have been at fault for not claiming the corner that led to the only goal.
The home crowd were quiet throughout and the 500 or so travelling Stags fans made plenty of noise but were unable to raise the team.
A very disappointing result which now leaves Stags trailing Posh by three points and Posh having 2 games in hand. Stags have a tough looking game at home to Halifax coming up and need to pick up the points to avoid falling further away from the play-off zone.
Man of the match: Mark Blake
Thompson 6, Asher 7, Linighan 7, Andrews 7, Williams 7, Roscoe 7,
Kerr 5, Blake 8, Clarke 6, Lormor 6, Greenacre 5.
Sub: Boulding (for Kerr, 77 minutes)
Subs not used: Tye, Allardyce, Disley, Cowling.