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Archived News from January 2004

28th January 2004 15:39

Evening Post

Stags boss Keith Curle said he is not worried about the goals drying up in recent weeks.

Curle is happy with the performances of his strikers and with the number of chances being created and is confident the goals will come.

He said: "There is no need for the supporters to worry because the quality is there in the strikers we have at the club.

"We did not get the run of the ball up front and I think some of our play in the final third could have been simplified.

"But we did create chances and we kept a clean sheet, so we have to be positive.

"And we again demonstrated how we can defend as a team, from the front to the back."

Curle also praised Liam Lawrence for his performance and youngster Jake Buxton, who started his third match on the bounce.

Curle said: "Liam did very well and when he is on form he shines in Division Three.

"And Jake was outstanding. He was up against a very good player and I thought he coped very well with it."

Curle was also delighted to hear that 931 Mansfield fans braved the cold to make the trip - and accounted for almost a third of the crowd.

He added: "They were absolutely magnificent, what more can you say. They all deserve a massive pat on the back and we appreciate their support."
Evening Post

After two weeks of speculation surrounding Liam Lawrence's future at Mansfield, the fans had wondered if they had seen the last of the midfielder in the Stags colours.

But last night, after being dropped against Leyton Orient and missing through suspension against Southend, he was back in the amber and blue.

He responded to his reinstatement by giving his all from the off, demonstrating he meant every word when he said he never gives less than 110% when playing for the Stags.

But with rumours that Rotherham manager Ronnie Moore was in the crowd, Lawrence wanted to prove what all the hype was about.

And although he was in the thick of the action from the off, the 22-year-old was left cursing himself as he wasted two good chances to make his mark in the first half.

First, on ten minutes, he and Iyseden Christie got in each other's way when goalkeeper Tom Evans flapped at a cross and Lawrence struck a weak, left-footed shot wide from six yards out.

Later in the half he raced on to a Christie through ball only to pull his shot wide of goal from the right before lying on the floor, holding his head in disbelief.

But his two chances were just part of the endless stream of efforts on goal created by both sides throughout the game, leaving every supporter in the stadium bewildered as to how such a thrilling, end-to-end encounter could finish without a goal.

Both sides came out on the attack and after some frustrating and patchy performances of late, Mansfield were looking a real threat going forward and carving out opportunities in front of goal.

The struggle to put the ball in the net does throw up a concern, although the defence once again looked strong, keeping their fifth clean sheet in eight league matches.

It is a great record considering last season's miserable displays at the back and one that has helped push them up into the automatic promotion spots.

The goals, however, have dried up and questions are being asked of the strikers, but the work rate and commitment is there for all to see.

In the opening period Mansfield had the better of the chances, two from Lawrence and one from Bobby Hassell, when the full-back latched on to a Neil MacKenzie through ball but his strike came back off the post and Junior Mendes was denied on the rebound.

But in the second 45 minutes, Scunthorpe picked up their performance and created a string of chances.

Cleveland Taylor hit a post after getting in behind the Stags defence and went close twice more soon after, striking over the bar on both occasions.

During the second half, both sides had good penalty shouts turned down by referee George Cain and Luke Dimech was lucky not to have got his marching orders when he appeared to tug back Steve Torpey who was clean through on goal early in the half.

Mansfield then had a few good chances when MacKenzie drilled just wide from the edge of the box before substitute Colin Larkin struck a half volley from 20-yards-out, only to see it tipped wide by Evans. Then Christie failed to convert a cross with his header.

The snow held off until ten minutes to go when it started to fall heavily. And in that time the home side piled on the pressure, with Kevin Pilkington saving brilliantly from Andy Parton before saving from Taylor and keeping out a deflected cross by his own midfielder, Tom Curtis.

And in injury time, Scunthorpe left-back Kevin Sharp curled in a superb 25-yard effort, only to see it crash back off the bar.

In the end, a share of the points was a fair result.
CHAD report
MANSFIELD Town's fifth clean sheet in eight league games edged them into the top three automatic promotion spots in a thrilling game at Scunthorpe last night.
Quite how this one finished goalless is a mystery, with the sides having enough good chances to run up double figures between them.

Stags were much improved in the first half and wasted a string of gilt-edged chances. But the home side stepped up a gear after the break, forcing 10 corners to add to their first half five but, although they twice hit the woodwork, they couldn't find a way through against a side that had slammed them 5-0 at Field Mill earlier in the season.

Mansfield's away following of 931 provided almost a third of the Glanford Park gate of 3,113 and, despite having to endure an uncomfortable finish, will have been well satisfied with what they saw.

Stags made three changes from the weekend with Liam Lawrence, Bobby Hassell and Tom Curtis straight back into the side after one-game bans at the expense of Tony Vaughan (rib injury), Craig Disley (back injury) and Alex John-Baptiste, who dropped to the bench.

The visitors made a positive start with successive corners in the first two minutes and Buxton having a header deflected just wide from the first.

Scunthorpe replied with two flag kicks of their own as Bolton loanee Taylor began to show his pace down the right. From the second corner Hayes rose at the far post but guided his header wide.

Moments later Taylor tried to slip Hayes clear down the centre but the ball thankfully ran on to Pilkington before he could reach it.

But on nine minutes Stags had their first real chance as Mendes squared the ball to Christie in the box and, with the keeper racing off his line, Christie was there first to poke the ball wide of an inviting target from 15 yards.

A minute later they visitors wasted an even better chance. Keeper Evans spilled a Corden cross at the feet of Lawrence, Unfortunately he and Christie got in each other's way and Lawrence eventually scuffed a shot wide from five yards before remonstrating with his team mate.

Lawrence played a quick one-two with Christie before sending a dipping 20-yarder over the top on 22 minutes.
Hearts were in Mansfield mouths when Pilkington dropped a long Sharp cross with Torpey and Hayes both unable to capitalise before the keeper managed to grab it and hang on.

Then a Hassell through ball, intended for Mendes, saw the striker hesitate a fraction too long, and the keeper gathered.

Torpey had a great chance on 37 minutes when a long ball forward from Barwick ran on invitingly and his finish was scuffed straight at Pilkington.

Stags then came even closer. Hassell let fly from 20 yards and, as his shot cannoned back off the keeper's left post, Mendes followed up from close range only to see Evans turn it wide for a corner.

The visitors wasted a fourth golden chance of the half on 40 minutes. United gave the ball away cheaply and Christie's through ball for Lawrence was perfect. But, from seven yards as the keeper advanced, Lawrence poked his finish past the keeper and inches wide of the gaping goal.

A cross-cum-shot by Hayes then just cleared the Mansfield crossbar from a tight angle near the end of a thoroughly entertaining first 45 minutes.

Scunthorpe were furious on 48 minutes when the referee ignored their claims that Dimech had handled in his one-on-one race with Torpey to reach a long through ball.

Taylor then took a hopeful tumble in the box but Mr Cain remained unimpressed.
The home side then won four corners, the third seeing Pilkington unable to hold on and Byrne shooting the loose ball goal wards from 12 yards only to see it deflect wide off Curtis with the keeper helpless.

Mansfield's first move of note in the half came on the hour and ended with Buxton drilling a low ball across the face of goal with no one able to get on the end.

Stags made a change up front on 68 with Larkin sent on to pep things up in place of Mendes.
Hayes headed over from Irons' 12th corner of the night while MacKenzie was inches wide with a low first time shot from 20 yards as United tried to clear their lines from Corden's cross.

Scunthorpe came even closer on 73 as Taylor ran on to Torpey's flick and rifled a low shot against the post. The ball eventually went for a corner which saw MacKenzie block a blistering far post volley by Beagrie.

Stags had a penalty claim turned down when Graves looked to have shoved Larkin in the back. Then the substitute forced Evans to turn a low shot round his near post.

The chances continued to flow as Taylor shot just over from 20 yards for Scunthorpe before Christie headed well wide from a Corden cross.

Hayes fired over from 20 yards just before being replaced by Barton as the long anticipated snow finally began to fall on Glanford Park.

There was uproar as substitute Parton immediately fell in the box under Dimech's challenge but the impressive Mr Cain got it spot on as he waved play on.

Three minutes from time Pilkington came to Mansfield's rescue as he smotherd a close range effort from Parton after a free kick was flicked into his path.

Two minutes later the keeper was down smartly to stop Curtis slicing Parsons' low cross into his own net.
And shortly after he was down again to keep out a low Taylor drive.
And in stoppage time Sharp fizzed a 25-yard blast against the crossbar with Pilkington beaten.

SCUNTHORPE: Evans, Stanton, Sharp, Byrne, Sparrow, Graves, Hayes (Parton 81), Torpey, Beagrie, Barwick, Taylor. Subs not used: Ridley, Kilford, Kell, Smith.

STAGS: Pilkington, Mendes (Larkin 68), Curtis, MacKenzie, Day, Buxton, Corden (A. White 86), Lawrence, Dimech, Christie, Hassell. Subs: J. White, John-Baptiste, Artell.

REFEREE: George Cain of Bootle.

Scunthorpe United 0 Mansfield Town 0
By Gary Horner

Again the Iron failed to score as United were held to a 0-0 draw by Mansfield, but it wasnt for lack of trying as the woodwork was tested twice as the Iron looked for the 3 points needed to save the season..
After a dreadful first half for both teams, with the exception of Lawrence hitting the post it looked like being another dire performance for the Iron with the visitors being dragged down to the same level, again Taylor doing most of the running for a lack luster Iron attack, before I skip to the second half just a mention on the state of the Ref + Assistants, we always go one about how poor they are but in all honesty I have never seen so many clear cut decisions go the wrong way, just incase you think I'm biased most of them favoured Scunny, with the odd exception i.e. the penalty decision against Parton in the second half.
Into the second half then after another presumed bollocking from Mr. Laws, why doesn't he do it before the game starts as United seemed to step up a gear, but the Stags looked dangerous on the counter with Lawrence, Christie and Mendes looking menacing on the ball, but United kept going with Taylor taunting the opposition down the right surely the Iron were bound to score.
Both Keepers had trouble keeping hold of the ball, Evans in the first half allowing Lawrence an easy opportunity which somehow was fluffed pat the post and Torpey at the other end again unable to find the ball after the keeper had dropped it under pressure.
Taylor came close to scoring for the Iron, a great run followed by a viscous shot from just inside the area rebounded off the post.
United then began to push forward with good chances coming to Hayes, who showed why he's out of form with his constant lashing of the ball over the bar.
On came Parton for Hayes and had looked as though he gave United a chance with a cert penalty only for the hapless Ref to signal play on, to be fair to Mansfield they had a good shout a short time earlier.
With the minutes closing in the ball came to Sharp who let go with a shot that rebound of the bar with the keeper well beaten.
As the white curtain of snow came down at Glanford Park so did the curtain for promotion, with 3113 attending the game with a good away following from Mansfield, most United fans realised the battle was over long before today.
So 0-0 was the score and it just wasn't Scunny night, kinda sums up the season aswell.
With the next four teams to play all vying promotion it's gonna be a long cold February


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