STAGS RUN SOUTHEND RAGGED AS CHRISTIE NETS 3
Southend United 0 - 3 Mansfield Town
Christie 43, 50, 90.
See Match Centre for a Stagsnet match report and pictures from Roots Hall.
Mansfield Town certainly liked to be beside the seaside today as their trip to Southend saw them record their first win of the season with a sparkling Iyseden Christie hat-trick. The fact they kept a clean sheet, also the first of the season, at the other end was another huge bonus.
And at last the penny seemed to have dropped about being professional near the end as the visitors played keep-ball following those two costly late goals conceded in their previous two matches.
This was a glossy display on a cloudy and humid afternoon on the Essex coast with Mansfield dominating throughout, particularly in the second half.
The first half was an unexciting affair with few chances and Stags just about edging the possession and rarely looking in trouble.
Christie broke the deadlock three minutes from the interval. And from his second goal on 51 minutes there was only one side in it as Southend struggled to even get out their own half.
Stags boss Keith Curle made wholesale changes as he looked for his first win of the season.
Colin Larkin shrugged off his back injury to return up front in place of Andy White.
Tony Vaughan (ankle) was also passed fit for his first start since signing for the club in the summer and he replaced Jamie Clarke at left back.
Liam Lawrence, dropped last Saturday after being spotted nightclubbing on a Thursday night, was handed a recall, replacing Junior Mendes on the right, and gave an energetic display that showed just what Stags had missed last week.
Luke Dimech, suffering from a knee injury after playing for Malta in Luxembourg in midweek, was absent which gave Rhys Day his first start of the season.
And in the centre of midfield Neil MacKenzie was given his first start of the campaign with an ankle injury ruling out Tom Curtis.
Southend provided the first threat in the fourth minute when Stags failed to clear a free kick. Mark Warren mis-hit his shot and it was going well wide before Leon Cort met it with a header that flew just over the crossbar.
Michael Husbands then produced an exciting burst down the left, beating two defenders and getting into the box before being halted by a superb tackle from Dave Artell.
It was a tentative start with few real chances though on 18 minutes United keeper Carl Emberson had to race from his goal to beat Iyseden Christie to a Lawrence through ball.
Corden was annoyed when defender Duncan Jupp gave him a nudge in the back as the ball ran out of play two minutes later and the Stags winger responded by kicking the ball at Jupp which earned him the afternoon's first yellow card.
Emberson had his first save to make on 23 minutes when MacKenzie played a one-two with Larkin and then delayed his shot to beat another defender on the 18-yard line, finally shooting low but straight at the keeper.
Husbands had been struggling to shake off the effects of that superb Artell debut and on 27 minutes made way for Southend new boy Leon Constantine to make his debut.
Southend produced the first move of real quality of a game of little excitement so far on the half-hour. Mark Gower found Kevin Maher whose cross was met with a fine diving header by Drewe Broughton which beat Pilkington and the post, though an offside flag would have ruled out a goal anyway.
A half clearance dropped to MacKenzie on 33 minutes and he crashed a 20-yard volley over the top.
United threatened again when Leke Odunsi won a tackle with Lee Williamson 20 yards from goal and rifled a shot off the outside of his right foot over the top.
Stags hit back with their best chance so far on 37 minutes. Corden's left wing cross found Artell's head just six yards from goal but the defender could not get over the ball and his header flew over the top.
Broughton was afforded far too much space in the box on 40 minutes and Stags were lucky he just failed, at full stretch, to get a boot on Jim Corbett's long cross from the left.
The game badly needed a goal. And Christie produced it just three minutes from the break.
Hassell crossed from the left towards the near post where Christie planted a header low into the bottom right hand corner from seven yards.
Southend opened the second half on the attack and Pilkington had to drop onto a dangerous low Corbett cross within 41 seconds.
United forced their first corner of the afternoon and, when it was cleared to Gower, his cross found Cort who guided a header well wide.
Vaughan had angry words for Gower after he had tumbled in the box under the defender's challenge looking for a penalty.
Stags then grabbed a crucial second goal on 51 minutes with Christie again the hero.
Emberson tried to gather a Lawrence corner but could only help it on to the far post where Day headed across the face of goal where Christie headed in from almost on the line.
Lawrence came close to an audacious third a minute later when, spotting Emberson off his line, he tried his luck from 15 yards inside the Southend half and, with the keeper backpeddling helplessly, the ball only just missed the target.
Christie was booked on 55 minutes for reacting angrily to a Cort challenge.
Pilkington was lucky when a Gower free kick took a deflection off the defensive wall and left him wrong-footed with the ball going wide of the other post for a corner.
But Christie came close to his hat-trick on the hour when he chased an up and under and won the challenge with Emberson. And, with the keeper helpless, his low finish was cleared off the line by Cort.
Cort almost pulled one back at the other end from a Maher corner when his header came off Artell in front of goal to force a fine reaction save from Pilkington.
Maher was booked for a late challenge on Hassell on 62 and two minutes later United withdrew Corbett and Odunsi, replacing them with Wilson and Nightingale for a last throw of the dice.
Pilkington was back in action on 65 as a half-cleared corner reached Maher 20 yards out who looked up and curled a fabulous effort towards the top right hand corner which the keeper had to stretch fully to keep out.
Vaughan needed treatment after colliding with a post but was able to continue.
Stags broke dangerously on 69 minutes after a loose pass and Larkin raced on before chipping into the path of Christie on the left. But the ball just wouldn't come down in time for him and he hooked it well over.
Defender Alex John-Baptiste, being watched by scouts from Preston, was a surprise change in midfield for MacKenzie on 71 minutes.
Larkin came desperately close on 77 minutes after Williamson had touched on Hassell's pass. Emberson raced off his line and Larkin just beat him to the ball and nudged it over his head only to see it drop narrowly over the bar.
Pilkington was fortunate when he failed to claim Southend's sixth corner and went crashing to the ground, the defence managing to clear before the referee allowed the keeper to receive treatment.
Warren was booked on 83 for flattening Christie from behind and Curle used the stoppage to replace Larkin with Mendes.
A well-weighted pass from Lawrence released Christie five minutes from the end and he shrugged off his marker before firing wide of the far post from 20 yards.
For once Stags retained the ball near the end, intelligently keeping it by the corner flag.
Mendes should have made it 3-0 on 87 as he ran onto Christie's clever pass with the defence in a mess and rounded the keeper. With the goal at his mercy his finish was somehow scrambled off the line by Jupp.
But it was 3-0 and a Christie hat-trick on 90 minutes when the striker turned sharply and got in a shot which took a wicked deflection off the helpless Cort and left Embersen with no chance as it span into the net.
In stoppage time Broughton dragged a good chance wide from 12 yards to sum up Southend's miserable afternoon.
At the final whistle the Stags team went down to their ecstatic 300-strong following to take the applause for an afternoon's work well done.
SOUTHEND: Emberson, Jupp, Stuart, Cort, Warren, Gower, Maher, Broughton, Corbett (Nightingale 64mins), Husbands (Constantine 27mins), Odunsi (Wilson 64mins). Subs not used: Robinson, McSweeney.
STAGS: Pilkington, Larkin (Mendes 83mins), Corden, Artell, Christie, Hassell, Vaughan, Mackenzie (John-Baptiste 71mins), Lawrence, Day, Williamson. Subs not used: J. White, A. White, Clarke.
CHAD - Curle hails his 'seaside stars'
Delighted Stags boss Keith Curle paid tribute to his side's superb display at Southend and declared: "It's been coming."
Iyseden Christie's hat-trick fired them to a well deserved 3-0 success at Roots Hall and Curle said: "The performances have been there in the first three games but not the results. But we knew were were going in the right direction.
"The difference today was that we took our chances. We didn't cut them open that much but we had three good chances and found the net three times.
"Being a defender I also like coming off with no goals against us. But most importantly we looked like a threat today.
"The whole team was absolutely magnificent. I have tried to instill in the players that we do well together as a team and if we won't we all suffer.
"It was a solid display and we tried to play attractive adventurous football. I am very proud of them. The level of commitment and application I want has been there in every game so far but this time we got the result we deserved as well."
Stags now prepare to face Scunthorpe United at Field Mill on Tuesday (7.45pm).
BBC Report: Iyseden Christie's hat-trick earned Mansfield a comfortable victory at Southend - their first win of the season.
Keith Curle's side, who were relegated from the Second Division last season, took the lead just before half-time when the former Leyton Orient man headed in a cross from defender Bobby Hassell to score his first goal of the season. The 26-year-old doubled his team's advantage six minutes after the break, nodding in a David Artell, cross and Christie completed his hat-trick in injury time, driving the ball into the roof of Carl Emberson's net.
Southend have not won since the opening day of the campaign, and Steve Wignall's side never looked likely to get back into the game.
The home side were guilty of not taking their chances and a Leon Cort header also forced a good save from Mansfield goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington.
Southend: Emberson, Jupp, Cort, Warren, Stuart, Gower, Maher, Odunsi, Corbett, Husbands, Broughton. Subs: Robinson, Wilson, McSweeney, Nightingale, Constantine.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Hassell, Artell, Day, Vaughan, Lawrence, MacKenzie, Williamson, Corden, Larkin, Christie. Subs: Baptiste, Jason White, Mendes, Clarke, Andy White.
Referee: C Penton (Sussex)
Latest | August 2003