SPORT FIRST REPORT
Sport First match report:
By Warren Barner
Transcribed by Carole
LIAM LAWRENCE inspired Mansfield to a well-deserved victory at York to get his side's automatic promotion hopes back on track.
Lawrence was at the heart of midfield and lit up a high-tempo game with a sensational strike, and then delivered the free-kick from which Richard Pacquette opened his account for Town.
Stags' manager Keith Curle believes Lawrence is returning to his best now that talk of a potential move to Rotherham has died down.
Curle said: “It was probably what the game was crying out for, that little bit of quality that Liam has got.
“Liam's back and focused. It hasn't been easy for him and it has not been something that has been taken lightly because we understand the anxieties that Liam has had.”
Lawrence opened the scoring with a thunderous left-footed 25-yard strike, which flew into Mark Ovendale's top right-hand corner after 29 minutes.
Town should have had the game wrapped up by half-time, but were twice denied by City goalkeeper Ovendale.
Craig Disley's looping header was superbly clawed away from underneath the crossbar by the City keeper.
City player-boss Chris Brass then blundered to let in Wayne Corden, but Ovendale made a smart save low to his right and Pacquette blazed the loose ball over the bar with the goal gaping.
The striker atoned for his miss by extending Mansfield's lead in the 53rd minute with his first goal since signing on loan from QPR.
Lawrence delivered a free-kick in from the right and Pacquette sent a powerful header crashing in off the angle of crossbar and post. City were handed a lifeline eight minutes later when keeper Kevin Pilkington sent a poor clearance straight to the seat of Lee Nogan. The Minstermen's player-coach struck the ball first time over the head of the Stags' keeper from 45 yards to get City back into the game.
The goal gave City the impetus and they could have equalised when Justin Walker flashed an effort wide from the edge of the area, while substitute Darren Edmondson was sent clear by Nogan, but was let down by a poor first touch.
But Mansfield finished the game strongly as substitute Colin Larkin wasted a couple of good chances, while Ovendale made another brilliant save to keep out a fierce strike from Corden.
Brass admitted his team had been outplayed, but refused to admit his side's play-off chances are over, despite now being as close to the relegation places as they are to the top seven. He said: “Mansfield just edged us. Until the 65th minute they wanted it a little bit more than us, and that's not right.”
Brass, who has signed a three-year extension to his current deal, said: “We've still got a fighting chance. Why be negative? We look forward-we never look back and that's the way we'll always be. We've got an opportunity to bounce back on Tuesday against Lincoln.”
York City ……………… Mansfield Town
43-----------Possession %---- 57
5-----------Shots on Target----12
6------------Shots off Target---5
Latest | February 2004