SUPER STAGS SO UNLUCKY AFTER LATE DRAMA
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 Sunderland
Kyle og 88
Artell og 17, Kyle 90+3
Att: 5,665 (916 from Sunderland)
Stagsnet report by Martin Shaw
Mansfield Town put on a super show at Field Mill this evening but were beaten by an injury time goal against First Division Sunderland in the first round of the Carling Cup.
Mansfield made one change form the team that lost at Kidderminster on Saturday, with Junior Mendes replacing the injured Colin Larkin. Larkin's hamstring injury has returned and will be a worry for Stags fans. Sunderland included a host of household names, and there was one especially familiar face with Matt Piper returning to the ground where he played on loan during the Stags promotion season.
It was the visitors who started stronger and Piper came within a whisker of scoring inside the first 20 seconds, but he shot wide from a good position. Then on 10 minutes Marcus Stewart shot just past Pilkington's post after some good play. But on 14 minutes the Stags were so close to taking the lead. Wayne Corden took a free-kick from 25 yards and bent in a beauty that was perfectly placed and looked to be creeping inside the post, until Mart Poom produced a world-class save to tip it around the post. It was Corden's second magnificent free-kick in 2 games. From the corner, Dimech had a clear shooting chance but shot well wide with his right foot. Then 2 minutes later Mendes had a shot blocked.
But on 17 minutes, disaster struck as Sunderland took the lead through an own goal. A corner came over into the 6 yard box; Pilkington didn't come for it, and the ball flicked off the top of unlucky Dave Artell's head and into the net.
On 22 minutes the Stags should have been awarded a penalty when Stewart clearly handballed from Corden's cross. The guilty look on Stewart's face told a story but the referee thought otherwise. A minute later, this time the ref did give a handball, just outside the box, and Corden's free-kick was deflected wide. Another minute after that, Dimech had a side-footed shot that was again well-saved by Poom.
On the half hour Christie made a good break down the right and managed to play the ball across for Mendes, but in truth it was too far behind Mendes, and he did well to get in a shot that was just over the bar. On 42 minutes, Mendes had a great run showing tremendous pace, but his finish was very weak, straight at Poom.
At half-time the Stags could reflect on a good performance, but with a lack of cutting edge, and just too many crosses were too close to Poom. Mansfield had had 8 attempts to Sunderland's 3, showing the home side's domination.
Half time 0-1
On 51 minutes, Jamie Clarke had a good opportunity following a corner but scuffed his shot. On 58 minutes, there was a surprise when Corden, who had looked dangerous all night, was replaced by Neil MacKenzie, who had not even been on the bench on Saturday. Two minutes later a great break involving Mendes and Christie finished with Williamson having a shot deflected inches wide. Midway through the half, the visitors suddenly had a glut of chances as first Kilbane shot wide after a superb run, and then Stewart, Kyle and Thornton all missed chances. Then great wingplay by Piper created a chance for Stewart, but his header came back off the inside of the post and Pilkington did well to keep it out. It was noticeable that this chance followed MacKenzie having given the ball away in a moment of indiscipline (his second such mistake in a few minutes). A minute later, Williamson had a shot blocked at the other end. Down by the corner flag near the tunnel, Gray had 2 lunges at Stags players, and having already been booked, should have seen red, but incredibly referee Paul Taylor awarded the free kick in Gray's favour.
After 77 minutes, there was a scramble in the Sunderland box and the Stags were now putting the visitors under pressure again, after the brief purple patch from the visitors. Following the scramble, Artell had a shot blocked. Two minutes later, Christie received a bang on the neck and was replaced by Andy White. On 83 minutes, MacKenzie had a shot blocked when he should have done better, following good play from Mendes. After 86 minutes, Day replaced the hard-working Curtis and immediately went up front. It paid almost immediate dividends as Hassell put in a long throw. It was headed on by Day, to Andy White whose shot was deflected into the net by Kyle, with Artell and Day both looking to pounce on the loose ball. It was everything the Stags deserved.
But there was to be a cruel end for the super Stags in the third minute of injury time, with extra time seemingly looming. More tremendous wing-play from Piper set up a chance which was well-fiished by Kyle from 10 yards, giving Pilkington no chance. There was no time for the Stags to claw it back again and so Sunderland snatched an undeserved victory.
Overall this was a super performance from the plucky and hard-working Stags, and the goal attempt count of 17 for the Stags to 7 to Sunderland tells its own the story. After the game, Sunderland keeper Poom, who was clearly man of the match, paid tribute to the Stags performance. It was hard luck for Mansfield that twice in succession the man of the match has been the opposition keeper. Keith Curle said in his (rare) post-match interview that his team had been magnificent and had given everything.
Man of the Match: Lee Williamson (though could have gone to any of 8 players).
Pilkington 6 Surprisingly quiet evening. Should have come for the cross on the first goal. Did well to hold onto Stewart's header against the post.
Hassell 7 Good game. Looking back to his best.
Dimech 7 Another very impressive game. Very mobile.
Artell 6 Unlucky with the own goal. Defended solidly.
Clarke 7 Defended well, and distribution was better than at Kidderminster.
Lawrence 7 Looked classy on the ball. Got some rough treatment from Gray.
Curtis 7 Hugely improved from Saturday. Worked very hard and won several balls in midfield.
Williamson 7 Great work rate and good distribution.
Corden 7 Wonderful free-kick that was brilliantly saved by Poom. Some great wing play and showed some classy touches. But crossing was too often too close to Poom.
Mendes 7 Showed good pace throughout the game.
Christie 6 A little too quiet. Needs a goal to give him confidence.
MacKenzie (for Corden, 58) 6 Gave the ball away twice in dangerous positions. Dallied too long when he had a scoring chance.
A.White (for Christie, 79) - Got stuck in and showed good strength, which led to the goal.
Day (for Curtis, 86) - Sent on to go up front. Good flick on for the goal.
Not used: JWhite, Disley.
Referee: Paul Taylor 5 Handled the game reasonably, though should have sent off Gray, and should have awarded the Stags a first half penalty.
Latest | August 2003