POOR DEFENDING LETS BRAVE STAGS DOWN YET AGAIN
Bristol City 5 - 2 Mansfield Town
Peacock 13, Murray 32, 51, 80, Carey 70 Disley 37, Butler 61 (og)
Attendance: 12,013 (approx 250 from Mansfield)
Defeat for Stags at Bristol City this afternoon left Stags on the brink of relegation. Wins for Stockport, Port Vale and Huddersfield (all of whom scored late winners) left Stags 6 points adrift the of safety zone. It now looks like Stags will need 52 points if they are to avoid relegation.
Stagsnet player ratings now in the Match Centre.
Scott Murray's hat-trick for Bristol City helped them to a 5-2 win over Mansfield Town.
Lee Peacock's header and Murray's first clinical strike put City 2-0 up after 32 minutes, only for Craig Disley to give Mansfield hope with a solo effort after 36 minutes.
Murray broke away to net his second goal after 51 minutes but Tony Butler's headed own goal kept things interesting until strikes from Louis Carey (70) and Murray (81) gave City a thrilling victory.
Mansfield looked relegation material thanks to their leaky defence, but caused City problems going forward.
There were chances galore at both ends as the teams did their best to repeat the scoreline of the reverse fixture at Field Mill earlier in the season - won 5-4 by City.
Seven bookings completed an all-action 90 minutes which kept City strongly in the hunt for promotion.
Another goal feast leaves Stags on precipice
Stags' Second Division future hangs by a thread after a 5-2 defeat by promotion-chasing Bristol City at Ashton Gate this afternoon.
When City won 5-4 at Field Mill in November it all but ended Stuart Watkiss' reign as manager.
And this latest five-goal salvo by City in another thrilling encounter has all but ended Mansfield's survival hopes.
They now need to win three and draw one of the last four games which is unlikely given this was their fourth successive defeat.
City were cockahoop after winning the LDV Vans Trophy in Cardiff and the 12,013 crowd were in party mood.
Stags did play their part in the spectacle, refusing to lie down, twice pulling back to 2-1 and 3-2 from two-goal deficits.
But most teams have struggled to live with the Robins' pace and passing movements this season and they thoroughly deserved this result.
Mansfield went with one striker in Junior Mendes with Iyseden Christie relegated to the bench and midfielder Neil MacKenzie starting for only the third time under Keith Curle's management.
Thankfully controversial referee Paul Taylor did not spoil the second half.
But, in the wake of his eight yellow and three red cards at Stags v Oldham and subsequent Appeal hearings last month he still managed to show seven yellow cards, was booed off at half-time by the home fans, City forced to take off skipper Tommy Doherty after only 24 minutes before he was sent off after a fifth minute yellow for what appeared a clash of heads with Rhys Day.
City stroked the ball around with authority in the early stages and should have taken a ninth minute lead when Scott Murray broke on the right and crossed towards an unmarked Christian Roberts.
But eight yards from goal, he completely missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.
However, it only took another three minutes for the Robins to break through.
Brian Tinnion crossed from the left and Lee Peacock stole in unchallenged to plant a firm header past Kevin Pilkington from five yards.
Murray then outjumped Adam Eaton at the far post to head just over while Murray's first touch let him down badly as it rolled to Pilkington after a great through ball from Tinnion.
Stags were offering little in return with Neil MacKenzie having a shot charged down on 23 minutes and Junior Mendes beating two defenders and firing inches over from 18 yards a minute later.
But the second goal City were threatening arrived on 32 minutes.
Eaton seemed to stumble slightly as he tried to cut out a Roberts through ball and it ran on to a grateful Murray who made no mistake in accepting the gift as he slotted past Pilkington.
A hiding looked on the cards at this stage. But Stags suddenly found a lifeline out the blue four minutes later.
MacKenzie fed a neat through ball for Craig Disley to chase. And as the City defence parted invitingly he ran on and jinked his way past the fallen keeper to roll into an empty net.
Mansfield had a scare a minute later as Pilkington hesitated to come for Tinnion's dangerous through ball and Murray nipped in to slot home.But their celebrations were cut short by an offside flag as Stags reached half-time without further damage and putting together some neat passing movements of their own.
Eaton was clearly struggling with his hernia problem and was replaced by Matt Gadsby for the second half.
Disley had a gilt-edged chance to level within four minutes of the restart.
Lee Williamson cut open the home defence with a razor-sharp pass to Disley's feet eight yards from goal.
But Tony Butler's challenge did just enough to put him off as he poked his finish wide of the goal.
Stags were punished for that miss within two minutes as City broke down the right and Roberts sent Murray on his way, outpacing Rhys Day before tucking away his 24th goal of the season.
Peacock should have made it four shortly afterwards as he got on the end of Murray's cross to the near post but put his finish the wrong side of the upright.
Top scorer Iyseden Christie replaced Tom Curtis on 55 minutes as Stags went two up front in an attempt to get back into the contest.
And they did just that six minutes later with a little help from home defender Tony Butler.
Gadsby found Disley inside the box on the right and he lobbed the ball into the centre where Butler's backheader looped over his own keeper into the net.
Murray should have regained their two-goal advantage when he raced past Bobby Hassell only to see Pilkington bravely smother his finish.
The Mansfield keeper again came to their rescue two minutes later as he superbly tipped over Tinnion's rasping left foot volley.
Stags took off MacKenzie to send Andy White up front with Christie and moved Mendes to wide right.
But City struck a decisive blow on 70 minutes.
Full back Louis Carey picked up possession 40 yards from goal and was allowed to accelerate unchallenged as he went straight through the yellow ranks to slot past Pilkington for an unlikely goal.
Peacock found himself in the clear shortly after and tried to lob Pilkington only to see the keeper stretch high and grab the ball.
Mendes shot tamely at Steve Phillips and Disley put a poor header wide as Stags looked for a way back.
But they were leaving themselves open at the back with City looking dangerous with every counter attack.
Hassell hammered successive free kicks from 25 yards and 18 yards into the home wall.
And as City cleared from the second of those to Murray on the halfway line he skipped away and showed the Mansfield defence a clean pair of heels before tucking his third goal of the afternoon past Pilkington nine minutes from time.
Aaron Brown somehow bundled a great chance wide of the far post with Peacock inches away from touching home after dreadful defending.
Pilkington again denied Peacock at the death with another great tip-over from a header.
Top scorer Iyseden Christie was dropped today and John Gannon said: "Iyseden has not been at it for the last five or six games.
"We made our feelings clear to him when we spoke a few weeks ago. It's not about him not scoring goals, it was just his general workrate was below par. Maybe it's just been a long season for him."
Adam Eaton's season could be over as he came off at half-time in agony with his hernia problem.
"He has done well to carry on. In our situation we asked him to play and he could do no more," said Gannon
"You could see he was having problems in his movement and the lad was in pain. He battled on for the cause and we couldn't ask any more of him."
Latest | April 2003