SECOND HALF COLLAPSE AS STAGS ARE CRUSHED
Lincoln City 4-1 Mansfield Town
Fletcher 55, 68, Green 70, Yeo 89.
Lawrence pen 35.
Att 6,034 (1735 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at Sincil Bank
Mansfield Town fell to a crushing 4-1 defeat at Lincoln City this afternoon thanks to a terrible second half display and conceding 3 goals in 15 minutes. The Stags led 1-0 at half-time but simply stopped playing in the second half and there was an air of inevitability that goals were conceded.
Visit the Match centre for Stagsnet player ratings and match report.
Lincoln left Mansfield's defence in tatters as they destroyed their promotion rivals with a superb second half display.
The Stags looked to be in control after taking a first half lead from the penalty spot.
But they collapsed after the break in the face of a Lincoln onslaught and the game was decided in a 16 minute spell in which the Imps slammed home three goals.
Mansfield began confidently but wasted a excellent 16th minute chance when midfielder Tom Curtis shot wide of an empty net.
Rhys Day had a header tipped over by Lincoln keeper Alan Marriott.
Then Iyseden Christie got the ball in the net only for his effort to be ruled out for offside. Town finally broke the deadlock in the 36th minute with a spot kick from Liam Lawrence after the highly rated midfielder was chopped in the box.
Second half was a different story once Gary Fletcher netted his 13th goal of the season to put City level.
Fletcher quickly added a second when he beat three defenders before firing home from 25 yards.
Lincoln put the result beyond doubt in the 71st minute when Francis Green was sent clear of the Town defence and lobbed his shot over keeper Kevin Pilkington.
Lincoln's new central defender Jamie McCombe struck the bar before City grabbed their fourth goal in the final minute. The Mansfield defence was caught out and Simon Yeo went clear to score.
Mansfield Manager Keith Curle said afterwards: "In the second half our back four looked as if it had never played together. We've got a soft centre and when the chips were down we just didn't have enough. Lincoln exposed us at the back and in midfield and made us pay." Lincoln Manager Keith Alexander said "I thought we were unlucky to go in behind at half time. But we are always likely to score as we play with three men up front. It was an excellent victory."
SECOND HALF SURRENDER FOR STAGS
MANSFIELD Town crumbled to a 4-1 defeat in their big six-pointer at Lincoln City this afternoon as the Imps produced a superb second half fightback.
Stags led 1-0 at the break through a Liam Lawrence penalty kick on 36 minutes and, apart from when Gary Fletcher struck a post, rarely looked in danger.
But City were level within 10 minutes of the restart through Fletcher.
And they then stung Stags with two quickfire goals from Fletcher (69) and Francis Green (70) before Simon Yeo rubbed salt in the wounds with a fourth a minute from time.
It was a tame surrender and a massive disappointment for the huge army of fans who made the journey from Mansfield, providing 1,735 of the 6,034 gate.
"It was a very poor second half and now I have to get the lads' confidence and focus back for Tuesday," said manager Keith Curle.
"It looked like we had put a completely different 11 players out in the second half.
"We knew what to expect from Lincoln and I told the lads at half time that if we went on the back foot they would be in our faces.
"The back four looked like strangers. They started playing as individuals instead of a unit.
"In the second half Lincoln have had five shots and scored four goals. We certainly missed Luke Dimech's pace and awareness. And individual errors cost us. As a team we seem to have a soft centre when the chips are down."
However, Curle refused to believe an automatic promotion spot was now beyond his side.
"It is still attainable as there will be plenty of twists and turns before the end of the season," he said.
"I will have the lads in tomorrow to prepare for Tuesday and I want to see them get this result and second half performance out of their system as soon as possible."
Mansfield made two changes with Tom Curtis given a starting place in midfield and Lee Williamson relegated to the bench.
Also, Dave Artell came into the centre of defence after his one-game ban in place of Luke Dimech, who was also serving a one match suspension.
Lincoln gave debuts to two of their three new players. Defender Jamie McCombe was signed from Scunthorpe while winger Kevin Ellison was beginning his month's loan from Stockport County.
Their other new face, Kevin Sandwith, a defender signed for £10,000 from Halifax Town, has to make do with a place on the bench.
The skies darkened shortly before kick-off and the heavens opened which made the surface slippy. But the match kicked off in bright sunshine.
City got themselves in a terrible tangle trying to clear a Corden cross on three minutes but eventually managed to hoof the ball high into the Community Stand.
But there was uproar at the other end a minute later as Pilkington picked up a Hassell backpass 16 yards from goal. Lincoln players tried to wrestle the ball from the keeper who was protesting it had come off a Lincoln player en route.
The referee eventually calmed things down and Sedgemore touched the ball to Gain whose shot cannoned off a defender for a corner.
City forced another corner shortly after which was cleared to Ellison who mis-hit his attempted finish.
Stags cleared a third corner but then survived two excellent chances for the home side in as many minutes.
Pilkington came for a harmless-looking ball in from the right but Richardson got there first to flick the ball over the keeper's head. However, it was never going to reach goal and Artell was able to clear.
A superb run from Fletcher then saw him trick his way past Day for a clear shot at goal and, with Pilkington beaten, was unlucky to see the ball cannon back off the upright.
Stags, penned in their half for much of the first 15 minutes, were almost gifted a goal on 16 minutes when a poor kick out by keeper Marriott reached Curtis who, from 35 yards out, tried first time for the empty net and didn't miss by much.
The Imps responded with two more corner kicks, Ellison heading tamely wide at the far post from the second of those, taken by former Stags man Sedgemore.
The early pace of the game had died down somewhat though City did threaten again on 25 minutes when Richardson turned strongly on the left and crossed for Bailey to head over.
Stagts forced a save out of Marriott for the first time on 29 minutes as Day looped a header goal wards after getting on the end of a long Lawrence free kick, the keeper touching it over for Mansfield's first corner.
The visitors thought they had grabbed the lead two minutes later.
Hassell's long throw from the right was headed goalwards by Day where Christie hooked it high into the net with a close range volley.
But celebrations were cut short by an offside flag against Christie.
Marriott was fortunate 10 minutes from the interval when he spilled a Corden cross with three Stags players in his vicinity and still managed to recover.
But Stags were ahead on 36 minutes thanks to Lawrence's 10th penalty success of the season.
A clever reverse pass from Christie, under guard from two defenders, slipped Lawrence into the box. Lawrence took it on, beat one man but, was sent sprawling by the challenge of Fletcher with Lincoln fuming that the Stags man had played for the penalty.
Nevertheless, Lawrence stepped up to send Marriott the wrong way from the spot, tucking it away low inside the right hand post.
Lawrence needed treatment after a tackle shortly afterwards and limped back on after Stags had seen their second corner cleared.
City won another corner of their own which Ellison bent in towards the near post and Pilkington just managed to stop it creeping in by turning it round at the last minute. The second corner saw Pilkington punch away and Corden complete the clearance as Mansfield reached half-time in the driving seat.
Bloomer replaced Bailey for the Imps for the second half.
The half began very cagily for both sides.
It took Lincoln eight minutes to force two quick corners. And from the second of those they were level.
The ball was cleared out to Ellison who ran in to fire goalwards from 18 yards. D'Jaffo blocked just in front of goal but Fletcher reacted quickly to loft the loose ball high into the net from close range.
Suddenly Lincoln and their fans had come to life and Mansfield had to survive another flag kick.
Corden almost managed to get Christie through with a lofted ball only to be thwarted by a late offside flag.
Sedgemore was cautioned on 64 minutes for a late tackle on Disley.
D'Jaffo tried to tee up Christie just outside the box but his finish lacked power and was straight at Marriott.
Lincoln stormed up field to win a corner which Mansfield laboured to get clear.
But the Stags were then shattered by two Lincoln goals in as many minutes.
The Imps suddenly found themselves ahead with a goal out the blue on 69 minutes.
Fletcher was allowed to run with the ball, looked up, and let fly with a tremendous low shot that beat Pilkington's fingertips and nestled in the net off the inside of the far post.
From the kick-off Lincoln hoisted the ball forwards again and Richardson helped it on towards goal. Pilkington had made the decision to leave his line and go for the ball but was caught in no man's land as Green got there first and lobbed the ball over him into the empty net.
Curle sent on Larkin as an extra striker for the rattled visitors, sacrificing Corden, and soon after Artell headed wide of the far post from a Lawrence free kick.
A long curling cross from the left by Ellison threatened to sneak in at the far post and Pilkington had to claw it round at the last minute.
Yeo replaced goal hero Green for the last 14 minutes for Lincoln while, on 80 minutes, Mansfield changed target man with Andy White on for D'Jaffo.
Lawrence was booked a minute later for delaying a Lincoln free kick and the ball was marched forward 10 yards when he protested.
Christie jumped well to meet a Lawrence free kick on 81 minutes but his header flew over the bar.
City took the chance to give Liburd a late outing in place of Gain as disappointed Stags fans began to pour out the stadium with six minutes still remaining.
Sedgemore played a one-two before pumping the ball across to Yeo and the substitute shot wide of the far post.
City came even closer two minutes from time after Day had conceded a corner. It was eventually cleared as far as McCombe who rattled the crossbar with his attempted finish.
But the fourth goal did arrive on 89 minutes. Bloomer helped the ball forwards and, with Pilkington again off his line, this time it was Yeo who helped the ball over him into the unguarded net.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added but there was no way back for the shellshocked Stags by now.
Latest | March 2004