REPORT FROM DARLO FAN SITE AND FROM FOOTBALL FIRST
Darlo 1 Mansfield 0
By Scott Thornberry
Player Of The Season contender Matthew Clarke popped up to head home his fourth of the season. But Macclesfield and Carlisle also managed a win with Rochdale only picking up a point at Scunny.
Make no bones about it, this was a must win game for Darlo. With the pressure mounting at the bottom the need to start picking up points. With only five games left after today then the more points on the board the better the trip will be to Scunthorpe on May 8th.
Hodgson was forced into making a few changes to the squad before kick off. Craig Liddle missed the game through injury. Instead of bringing in McGurk Hodgy opted for Brian Close as Centre back with Clark Keltie making a rare start in the centre of midfield. Danny Graham also got the nod over Neil Teggart alongside Barry (offside) Conlon.
With Darlo fighting for points at the bottom Mansfield desperately needed the points to keep up their fight for the third automatic promotion position. With the likes of Lawrence, Mendez and Larkin in the side it was going to be a massive task for The Quakers.
Straight from kick off Darlo had the Stags back on their hind legs and it looked as though a few still had remnants of broken poppadoms in their eyes. Only three minutes were on the clock when Darlo were awarded their first corner. Mark Convery sent over a lovely deep ball and Barry Conlon rose high to head towards goal. Up popped Pilkington in the Stags goal to finger tip the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner it was the same combination. Convery swung over the ball and this time Conlon's header was out of Pilington's reach. But it trickled just inches wide.
On 7 minutes Darlo went agonizingly close again. Controlling the game completely it was a rather fortuitous chance which was created. The ball was crossed in and a scrap went on near the penalty box for the ball. Danny Graham got a toe to it and it rolled past the keeper. But it hit the outside of the post and out for a goalkick.
Graham was not to wait much longer for his next chance. A lovely defence splitting pass found it's way to Graham. He had a clear run on goal and all the time in the world to compose himself. He did everything correct and sent his shot across goal and out of reach of Pilkington. Unbelievably the ball this time hit the post and rebounded back towards the penalty area where it was cleared to safety.
Mansfield were trying to get into the game and their first meaningful chance came on the 15 minute mark. Wayne Corden saw his effort from outside the box palmed over the bar by Price.
On 20 minutes the woodwork got another battering. Barry Conlon connected his head to the ball and this time his shot rattled the crossbar. Could these missed chances be regretted at the full time whistle?
For the final 15-20 minutes of the first half Mansfield started to get their act together and managed to get a few of their shots rattling the goalposts.
It was certainly all action and looking back on it now it was very entertaining stuff. Mansfield's Colin Larking saw his header from a superb Lawrence pass hit the post. Michael Price must have had a premonition that Larking was to shoot as he dived to try and save the shot about 2 minutes before he took it.
On 42 minutes Cordern saw his shot bounce over the tumbling Price and hit the post. A real let off for The Quakers.
Half time and it was 3-2 to Darlo in the hitting the woodwork stakes. But with some superb chances early on and Mansfield now starting to play football things did not look promising.
4 minutes into the second half and Darlo took an amazing lead. Mark Convery sent over a corner which was only half cleared. Infact the ball ended up high in the air. With it dropping in keeper territory the obligatory ref's whistle for a foul on the keeper was expected. A crowd of Darlo players went for the ball along with Pilkington. Matt Clarke was first there and his header went over the line to give The Quakers the lead.
Darlo nearly doubled their lead through Clark Keltie. Another corner wasn't dealt with well and the ball fell to Keltie just inside the box. He sent in a low rasping drive but Pilkington was a match to it and kicked the ball out for another corner.
The closest Mansfield came to scoring was when Rhys Days sent a powerful close range header over the bar on 58 minutes.
On 71 minutes a slightly amusing incident happened. Neil Maddison was substituted and the closest player to him was Mark Convery. He passed him the captains armband and it was straight on the Cons bicep quicker than you can say EH. But he might have made the record of being Darlo's shortest captain, and I mean that in two ways. Short as in height and short as in time. Because five minutes later Convery was substituted much to his dismay, he was enjoying ordering the lads about. The armband then went to bloody Clark Keltie. What is it with these hairstyles? Maybe I am not a one to talk I know but with Clarke, Keltie, Highes and Pearson we must have some of the worst styled players in the league.
With the minutes ticking by it looked like we could realistically win this bugger. With 90 minutes gone the fourth official held up the board to say that 3 minutes of extra time was to be played. Fair enough I accept that so Uncovered's official timekeeper, Big Phil, started his stopwatch to see whether the full three minutes would be played. It was then that the rage started. With five minutes, I repeat FIVE minutes on the clock the ref was still playing. I admit I made myself vocal and I just can't work out why my voice goes slightly feminine when I scream, but I made my feelings known. The referee blew his whistle and the crowd rejoiced. But hell know, the ref thought he would be cocky and book a Mansfield player for obstructing a goal kick. From the resulting goalick he blew the whistle and the wait was over. Three precious points.
8 Goal Attempts 10
7 On target 5
1 Off target 4
3 Woodwork 2
6 Corners 7
10 Fouls 11
3 Offside 5
Football First match report:
By Thomas Dawlish
transcribed by Carole
Matt'll do nicely for strugglers:
DARLINGTON picked up three valuable points in their battle to get away from the relegation scrap at the bottom of the league and the promotion chasing Stags were shell-shocked at the start as the host laid siege to Kevin Pilkington's goal.
After only three minutes Pilkington came to his side's rescue when he acrobatically finger tipped a towering header from Barry Conlon over the bar and, from the corner kick, another Conlon header was inches wide of the target.
Darlington were unfortunate in the seventh minute when Danny Graham, on loan from Middlesbrough, struck a post with Pilkington beaten and then, seconds later, Graham broke free inside the penalty area and saw his shot beat the keeper but strike the opposite upright.
The visitors survived and began to show some neat touches themselves when Junior Mendes found Wayne Corden on the left flank and Darlington Keeper Michael Price dived full length to push Corden's effort away from goal in the 14th minute.
Struggling Darlington hit back again in the 20th minute when another Conlon header struck the cross bar from Ryan Valentine's cross.
Mendes then saw a 15-yard drive turned away by Price as the end-to-end action continued.
After their early problems Mansfield began to settle and they took a grip of the game. In the 35th minute, the visitors struck the woodwork themselves when Colin Larkin headed against a post.
As the half drew to a close the visitors ended with a late surge. Wayne Corden fired narrowly wide in the 42ns minute and then Darlington keeper Price did well to keep out a long range effort from Lee Williamson.
The home side took the lead in the 48th minute, when a Mark Convery corner was only half cleared and defender Matt Clarke was first to react to the loose ball as he headed in from close range.
Mansfield went close to an equaliser when Price fumbled a Neil MacKenzie shot in the 52nd minute, but the keeper claimed the ball at the second attempt. In the 55th minute, Darlington almost doubled their advantage when midfielder Clarke Kelte fired goalwards only to see Stags keeper Pilkington clear the ball with his feet.
Three minutes later, the visitors should have claimed a deserved equaliser when defender Rhys Day rose highest inside the area but failed to find the net from a close-range header. After the game Darlington manager David Hodgson remained philosophical about his side's chances of retaining their League status when he said: “We are looking for at least 50 points to guarantee our safety. But when we reach that target we'll probably make it 53.
“These three points were essential and we got a good start in the game. We continued to play well at times and then not so well at other times. But that's expected because we are scrapping for everything.”
Mansfield boss Keith Curle said: “It wasn't the result we wanted but sometimes, when teams are scrapping for their lives, they pull off a bit of a shock. I can't criticise my side although we didn't do the simple things for long enough during the game.”
Darlington………… Mansfield Town
42-----------Possession %---- 58
4------------Shots on Target---8
3------------Shots off Target---7
Latest | April 2004