MORE REPORTS ON STAGS WIN
The Cobblers looked to get back to winning ways against the free scoring Stags and at the same time protect their unbeaten record at Sixfields. The Nottinghamshire side's last win in Northampton was back in 1994, which was the last ever game at the County Ground.
Ian Sampson returned to the Cobblers line up in place of Luke Chambers and Greg Lincoln came in for the flu ridden Martine Reeves. This forced Paul Trollope into an unorthodox left midfield role.
The Cobblers started the game very tentatively as the Stags imposed themselves with pace and power. The main threat was coming from right winger Liam Lawrence, subject of transfer interest from Rotherham United. Not to be outdone, Josh Low also looked on his game as he made an early run and his cross was headed behind.
On 5 minutes, the experienced Cobblers right back Des Lyttle made what Alan Hansen would describe as a schoolboy error. He played the ball back to Lee Harper in the Cobblers goal far too short, Mansfield striker Iyseden Christie was near the penalty area and he ran on to the stray pass and found the back of the net to gift the Stags the lead.
The goal rattled the Cobblers and on 10 minutes, midfielder Lee Williamson went on a breakaway run and hit wide from 25 yards. Finally, the Cobblers found their feet and Josh Low was again looking a danger to the nervous Mansfield defence. He made a run forward and crossed the ball towards the goal, Martin Smith off balance fluffed his shot. The ball was not cleared and it came to Paul Trollope who scored a goal - a drop goal. The Welsh International would have been a star if he was playing Rugby, unfortunately for the Cobblers it would have helped if the ball was 10 metres lower.
Trollope was looking clearly uncomfortable playing in left midfield, he did manage a cross which found Greg Lincoln on a forward run. Lincoln headed the ball wide of the goal, it was to sum up the afternoon for the Cobblers. Again, Josh Low was able to make a forward run, but the end product was clearly lacking. You have to feel sorry for Low as at times it appeared he was forced to shoot due to lack of free bodies in the area.
The Stags clearly had pace to burn and when they broke it looked ominous for the Cobblers especially as linesman Mr Martin seemed unable to recognise that Junior Mendes had strayed offside. Play was allowed to continue and Mendes passed to the onrushing Liam Lawrence who shot straight at Lee Harper.
The only real bite in the Cobblers midfield was coming from Lincoln. Clearly, chomping at the bit he was always there to make a pass and one was superbly played to Low - who stormed down the wing only for his attempted cross to be charged down by Tom Curtis for another corner. A typical pattern was to unfold - the corners were never the best - but did trouble the Stags and it seemed almost every one led to shouts of handball. "Select" Referee Rob Styles laughed off all of them. In his first game in nearly a whole month, he seemed unable to spot obvious fouls by the Stags and was starting to infuriate the Cobblers crowd.
Also infuriating the crowd was the lack of end product in the Cobblers side - Mansfield goalkeeper Pilkington could have brought a book to read as Paul Trollope managed to fire a shot so wide it went off for a throw in. Of course, he may have been trying to get a line out. So much for the improved playing service at the Saints Rugby training centre, it seems to make our players think they play with the oval ball.
There was not much else to report as the half petered out. Apart from the hapless linesman on the East Stand getting a decision right. This was met by the ironic cheers of the Cobblers crowd - and the linesman in order to make the point held his flag as if he was a waxwork.
HALF TIME COBBLERS 0 MANSFIELD 1
Calderwood sent the Cobblers out early for the second half and it seemed to work well - but the Stags always looked a threat on the break and Christie after breaking down the right shot at Lee Harper. The Cobblers then forced a string of corners, but despite a few mad scrambles, the ball was never really going to head towards the goal.
On 57 minutes , the Cobblers had the ball in the net. Richard Walker who had been standing in an offside position was tracking back as Paul Trollope passed forward. Walker burst forward and fired the ball home - seconds earlier though he had been flagged offside. After his hapless performance in the first half, the assistant on that side has obviously gone the other way on his offside flagging.
The Cobblers were looking more creative, but were lacking any killer instinct. The number of bodies going forward were added to when the off-form Trollope was replaced by Marc Richards on
Such play was obviously needed, but it was playing into the Stags hands. A break away attack was not dealt with and it ended when a Mansfield player ended up on the floor in the area, after denying countless Cobblers appeals, Styles remembered he had an arm and a whistle and pointed to the spot on 66 minutes. Stags midfielder Liam Lawrence made no mistake and sent Harper the wrong way.
The Cobblers then seemed to drop their heads, another penalty appeal was turned down after a pull on Richard Walker. The introduction of Derek Asamoah did little to help the now badly disjointed Cobblers side. It came no surprise on 79 minutes, when Mansfield went 3-0 up. Lawrence broke down the right and like Low had been doing crossed. The difference was that Craig Disley was here to put the ball home. This resulted in mass exodus and not a lot else to report other than a few more scares.
The torture was ended by the hapless Styles, who seemed unaware of his assistant and the rules of football. The doom is back over Sixfields, just 12 days after the high of Swansea, Colin Calderwood has to pick up his side quickly or the prospect of a "Super Mare" against non leaguers Weston could be on the cards.
Harper 7 Not much to do - not to blame for the goals
Lyttle 5 Appalling mistake for the first goal - very much off form
Sampson 7 Played with fire in his belly.
Willmott 6 Gave away the "the penalty"
Sadler 6 Trollope gave him no support.
Low 7 8 for starting product, end product lacking.
Hargreaves 5 Gave the ball away too many times.
Trollope 5 Out of depth on the left, appalling shooting, needs a spell in the stiffs.
Lincoln 8 One of a few Cobblers players to come out with any credit. Should be given a run.
Walker 5 Not really at the races.
M Smith 5 A rare off day for Smudger.
Richards 6 Tried his best - badly needs something to fall for him.
Asamoah 6 A few runs, but too little, too late.
Chambers Not on long enough
THE REF - ROB STYLES
0 - If he is one of the top 20 refs in the country, then god help the likes of Manchester United.
THE LAST WORD
Back again to the poor performances of old, just what is wrong with them (the players)?
Ananova: Northampton 0 Mansfield 3
Mansfield extended their unbeaten run to six games with a comfortable 3-0 success at Northampton.
But Northampton contributed to their own downfall, gifting Mansfield goals in either half while failing to test visiting keeper Kevin Pilkington.
Iyseden Christie capitalised on a error by Des Lyttle to fire Mansfield ahead and he should have doubled the Stags' advantage midway through the half, but he shot tamely at Lee Harper.
In between, Paul Trollope fired over and Greg Lincoln headed wide after some neat build-up play from Northampton.
But the visitors sealed the win from the spot through top scorer Liam Lawrence, before Craig Disley made it three late on after another defensive mix-up.
7 Goal Attempts 12
1 On target 7
6 Off target 5
0 Woodwork 0
10 Corners 3
7 Fouls 9
2 Offside 2
Sixfields success for Stags
Mansfield Town kept up the pressure at the top of Division Three with another comprehensive away victory today, winning 3-0 at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium.
That moved Stags up into third spot, breathing down the necks of Oxford and Doncaster.
Iyseden Christie marked his recall to the first team with the first goal after only five minutes.
Stags then survived some spells of Cobblers pressure but defended so stoutly that the home side did not manage a single shot on target all afternoon.
Stags battled and dug in before netting the all-important second from the penalty spot on 65 minutes, Lawrence tucking away his fifth spot kick success of the campaign after Junior Mendes had been brought down.
It was all Mansfield after that and they could have had more than the lone Craig Disley strike 10 minutes from time, created by the tireless Lee Williamson, who had an outstanding afternoon.
Josh Low looked an outstanding prospect for the home side, managed by former Stags star Colin Calderwood. But he couldn't do it all on his own and his influence down the right eventually faded against Stags' brick wall defending.
The heavy morning rain had ceased before kick-off though the wind was still strong and swirling.
The team sheet showed first team returns for striker Christie and midfielder Craig Disley, Christie partnering Junior Mendes up front, and Disley slotting in on the left of midfield.
Wayne Corden and Colin Larkin dropped to the bench.
Stags were given a tremendous greeting from the 1,160 visiting fans behind the goal with every away seat taken up for this all-ticket clash which attracted a 5,019 attendance in total.
Stags put themselves in early trouble by giving the ball away and Pilkington had to gather Day's sliced clearance from Low's cross.
The visitors swept up field down the right and Disley's low ball in was blocked before it could reach Christie, Stags having to settle for a corner.
However, Mansfield edged in front after only five minutes with an element of good fortune.
Lyttle's attempted clearance hit team mate Sampson and rolled into the path of Christie. He let fly with a right footed shot from just inside the box which also took a deflection en route into the net.
Tempers flared shortly after as the tackles flew in on the Mansfield left and players ran in as Hargreaves and Williamson squared up. Premiership referee Rob Styles sensibly lectured both with no cards shown.
A scything move cut the Cobblers open down the middle on 10 minutes as Lawrence played a one-two with Christie before releasing Williamson who saw his 25-yard finish pass wide of the right hand post.
Northampton attacked down the Mansfield left with Curtis clearing Low's first cross back to him. He drilled the ball back in again and it struck Vaughan's hand in the box but was ruled ball to hand, despite home protests.
Shortly afterwards a Trollope cross was met with a downwards header from Lincoln six yards out which dropped wide.
A long ball into the Northampton box from the right dropped invitingly for Mendes eight yards from goal. But Sampson got bravely in the way of his powerful finish.
In Mansfield's next raid, Disley just couldn't quite get on the end of a low Mendes cross while , after a kind bounce seconds later, Christie was offered a brief sight of goal with Harper well off his line but could only curl a finish into his arms.
Smith turned well and tried to put Walker in the clear with a near reverse pass but Pilkington was alert to the danger and off his line to gather.
The Cobblers forced a couple of corners which Stags successfully defended.
But it was Mansfield who almost extended their lead on 36 minutes after winning a free kick 15 yards into the Northampton half.
Williamson floated it in and Day managed to get on the end of it with a glancing header seven yards from goal that brought a save out of Harper.
Soon after, the keeper had to race out his ox to clear ahead of Disley and Mendes as the home defence was caught square.
There was another big call from the home fans for a penalty as Stags struggled to clear a corner and the ball was blocked by Hassell's chest.
But, despite slowly but surely edging the lion's share of possession as the half wore on, the Cobblers still had not managed a shot on target and Hargreaves' wild 25-yard effort well over in first half stoppage time summed up their goal threat so far.
Cobblers began the second half with two successive corners for no reward.
Neat interplay on the edge of the Northampton box saw a Curtis pass put in Christie. The angle was not good to the right of the six yard box and he tried to drill it across but Harper gathered at the second attempt.
Northampton replied with two more corners. From the second, Mansfield broke quickly and Mendes spun and tried to put Disley in space. Unfortunately Christie cut the pass out and then blasted his finish well over
An offside flag thwarted Low as he broke through seconds later. At this stage the home side withdrew midfielder Trollope and sent on striker Richards.
Stags again broke quickly from another home corner and Mendes and Christie went two on two with the home defence, Christie eventually tackled. The ball was returned to Christie and he crossed hard and low across the box with no one there to capitalise.
But the second goal arrived on 65 minutes as Williamson knocked a clearance back into the box ahead of Mendes. The striker latched onto the ball but was upended from behind by Willmott.
There were no complaints as Mr Styles pointed to the spot and no mistakes as Lawrence stepped up to send Harper the wrong way and tuck the ball low just inside the keeper's left hand post.
In the driving seat with a two-gaol cushion, manager Curle decided to withdraw striker Christie and put on midfielder MacKenzie.
Another swift Mansfield counter saw MacKenzie and Mendes break away but a hand appeared to prevent MacKenzie's pass reach his team mate and, although the assistant spotted it, he was over-ruled by the referee who waved play on.
Yet another break saw Disley only have to square to Lawrence but had his pass cut out 18 yards from goal.
The Cobblers made another change on 75 minutes with Asamoah replacing the fading Lincoln.
Breathtaking foot work by Williamson saw him beat two opponents 20 yards from goal before sending a tame finish at Harper.
Chambers came on for former Forest star Lyttle with Chambers for the last 11 minutes.
But a minute later Mansfield grabbed a match-clinching third. Williamson held the ball up on the right of the box, teasing before drilling it low through a sea of players to the far post where Disley touched it over the line.
By now the home side were pushing everything forward and Stags looked dangerous on the break. And from another counter, Lawrence pulled the ball back into MacKenzie's path for a first time shot that passed narrowly wide
Larkin replaced Mendes for the last seven minutes and almost netted on 86 with a firm header on Lawrence's cross that went just over the top.
AA slick, destructive performance by promotion-chasing Mansfield broke the Cobblers hearts.
The Stags are the country's leading scorers and have now hit 20 in their last 6 matches. Finishing power was the difference against a Northampton side whose final ball frequently let them down.
Northampton could hardly afford to shoot themselves in the foot in the way they gifted Mansfield a fourth minute lead. But a sloppy back pass by Des Lyttle hit Ian Sampson on the foot and fell kindly for Iyseden Christie who made no mistake.
Visiting goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington was a virtual spectator, hardly making a significant save in the whole match and Lee Williamson could have stretched the visitors lead at the other end only to fire wide after a surging run, while a second blunder from Lyttle almost let Christie in once more.
Mansfield stretched their lead in the 65th minute when their pace on the counter attack again caused the problems, and this time Junior Mendes was tripped from behind by Christopher Willmott to give them a penalty which Liam Lawrence converted for his tenth goal of the season.
The points were sealed ten minutes from time when a poor clearance by Luke Chambers was seized upon by Williamson and his low cross was touched home at the far post by Craig Disley.
Stags boss Keith Curle said; "This is one more step along the journey which I have spoken about. To say I am delighted with the result today is an understatement.
"The one thing we have got in this side is pace. We made tactical changes today with Craig Disley coming in to counter the attacking threat of Josh Low. We also had Tom Curtis as a 'sitting' midfield player, but every time I looked up he was in their box."
Evening Post website:
STAGS WIN WITH ROOM TO SPARE
Northampton Town 0 v 3 Mansfield Town
High-flying Mansfield won at a canter at Sixfields with goals from Iyseden Christie, Liam Lawrence and Craig Disley.
Mansfield were off to a dream start as they looked to top the division, Christie's left-footed drive giving them the lead in the fifth minute.
With Mansfield on top, Lee Williamson nearly doubled the lead from 25 yards, while keeper Lee Harper had to deny Christie a second goal with a good save.
Christie led the way for the visitors as they pushed for a second goal, and midway through the second-half, they finally scored it.
Lawrence, a transfer target for Rotherham, scored his tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot after Chris Willmott fouled Junior Mendes.
Disley rounded off Mansfield's win with a close-range finish from Williamson's cross and despite Northampton's attempts to grab a consolation, the visitors held firm.
Latest | November 2003