STAGS LEAD 2-0 AT HALF-TIME
Martin Shaw & Jeff Barnes at Sixfields
Northampton Town 0 - 2 Mansfield Town
Day 40, Mendes 67.
6,960 (1250 from Mansfield)
Super Mansfield turned in an excellent display at Sixfields this afternoon to take a 2-0 lead back to Field Mill for the second leg of this Division 3 play-off semi-final on Thursday. After the Cobblers had dominated early on, Rhys Day put the Stags in front just before half-time to steady the nerves, and Junior Mendes a second midway through the second half, as the Stags dominated the second half.
Man of Match: Kevin Pilkington & Bobby Hassell. We can't separate them.
Stagsnet report now in the Match centre.
Stags have one foot in Cardiff final
MANSFIELD Town are on the verge of a place in the Third Division play-off final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium after a spirited 2-0 win in the first leg of the semi-final at Northampton this afternoon.
And the super Stags can now expect a sell-out crowd at Field Mill to see if they can complete the task in the second leg on Thursday night.
Last week's home defeat by Northampton was quickly forgotten as Stags produced the good when it really mattered.
Marc Richards wasted a hat-trick of chances for the Cobblers before Rhys Day headed Stags into an interval lead on 40 minutes.
Then Kevin Pilkington produced his second crucial stop of the day to deny Rob Ullathorne before Junior Mendes wrapped things up on 67 minutes.
To rub salt into their wounds, Northampton also had Ashley Westwood sent off in stoppage time for bringing down Colin Larkin as he went clear on goal.
But Rhys Day had escaped with a yellow card for a similar offence early in the game, although Derek Asamoah was in a wider position.
Manager Keith Curle, while naturally delighted with the outcome, warned: "I have too much respect for Colin Calderwood as a manager and as a person to think the tie is now dead.
"Yes we got a great result and have a two-goal advantage. But we still have to go out there on Thursday and perform and ensure we get the right result.
"We will be up and at them. As a team we play better on the front foot and that will be the mindset of the players."
Stags made two changes from the side beaten 2-1 at home by the Cobblers the previous weekend.
Bobby Hassell returned to right back in place of Jamie Clarke while Craig Disley made up at a five-man midfield at the expense of Colin Larkin who dropped to the bench.
Northampton were without the suspended Eric Sabin, Asamoah replacing him up front for the home side.
The afternoon began in carnival atmosphere with a capacity crowd and bright sunshine.
Northampton were first to have a shy at goal with Asamoah dipping a shot over from 25 yards with little over a minute on the clock.
The Cobblers then won a corner which Smith took. The ball was cleared back to his feet and he volleyed it goal wards but Pilkington was not going to be beaten from such a tight angle.
Corden won a free kick on the left which he sent in towards the near post. Mendes got a flicke backhander on it which was on target but found the keeper perfectly placed.
There were jeers from the home fans when Disley was caught offside after good work from Curtis and Corden and, in trying to net after the whistle, missed the target from six yards.
A poor clearance from Harper in the home goal went to Williamson. But he was well wide with his quick attempt on the inviting goal.
Mendes then wrestled his way between two opponents and sent a cutting ball through to Corden whose first time attempt to side foot home was tame and at Harper.
Mansfield hearts were in their mouths on eight minutes as Asamoah tried to go clear past Curtis and was brought down.
The home fans were screaming for a red card but the referee decided a yellow would suffice.
Mansfield had finally settled after the hectic opening and began to string some chances.
A Hassell free kick found the head of Day who forced Harper to save.
A minute later Corden checked in from the left and curled a superb effort just over the far angle from the edge of the box.
Asamoah caused problems with a low ball in from the right which Smith completely missed and then Ullathorne fired low at goal where Hassell got in a good block.
The home side then enjoyed a spell of pressure and Pilkington made the afternoon's first real save when Asamoah held off john-Baptiste in the six yard box and poked a low shot on target which Pilkington just managed to get a hand to and John-Baptiste completed the clearance as the bal ran agonisingly loose.
A ball in from the left by Ullathorne found Richards in a central position. He controlled the ball with his first touch and then whipped a spectacular over head effort just wide.
A minute later it was Richards again who tried to break on the left but his final shot was mis-hit and easy for Pilkington.
Stags won their first corner on 24 minutes which was a wicked inswinger by Corden that Harper clutched on his goal line.
Richards was guilty of wasting a glorious opportunity on 28 minutes.
Asamoah was again the provider as he sent in a low ball to his feet from the right. John-Baptiste was behind him but Richards turned him sweetly only to fire straight at Pilkington with the goal at his mercy from seven yards.
Shortly after Richards cued up Hargreaves outside the box and he was over with his first time shot.
Northampton again wasted a golden chance on the half-hour. Low was allowed to cut in between Corden and Eaton on the right far too easily and he drilled a low ball across the face of goal which Smith slid towards but was just unable to reach to turn over the line.
The Cobblers created more danger as Richards swapped passes with Asamoah but blazed a promising chance well over.
Stags won another corner which was cleared. Then Mendes did well to turn Westwood but fired well over from 18 yards.
John-Baptiste conceded a free kick on the right which Richards pulled back to Trollope for a low 20-yard shot. It flew into a crowd of players and Pilkington did just enough to put off Asamoha as the striker stretched to touch the ball out for a goal kick.
Mansfield then broke the deadlock five minutes from the interval.
Lawrence sent in a free kick which saw Day make space to bury a free header from five yards.
A minute from the break Trollope was booked for jumping into the back of Curtis as they challenged for a high ball.
But Stags went into the interval with that crucial lead intact.
Pilkington confidently clutched the home side's first corner of the second half.
And from that he threw the ball out to Hassell whose long ball over the top immediately put Mendes in on goal. Harper left his line and tried to close Mendes down and was a relieved man as the striker got there first and lifted the ball over him and the empty net.
Both sides went to the touchline for drinks while Lawrence had treatment for a head injury after a challenge from Willmott.
Lawrence was roundly booed by the home fans on the restart as was Mendes after a clash with keeper Harper which looked to have seen the keeper handle just out his box.
But Mendes set up Stags' next move as he sent Williamson down the right. His low cross came back out to Curtis who shot goal wards. It was controlled by Disley who got in an effort which Harper did well to save.
But Stags had a huge let-off on 61 minutes when Asamoah put over a cross from the by-line which found Ullathorne unmarked at the far post. His stooping header looked a goal all the way. But Pilkington somehow got his body in the way and Hassell hooked the ball clear off the goal line.
Both sides made changes with Richards replaced by Youngs for the home side and MacKenzie on for John-Baptiste for Stags.
The youngster had picked up a slight calf strain and was withdrawn immediately. Williamson went to right back and Hassell into the centre to try to combat the speed of Asamoah.
Stags grabbed the all-important second goal on 67 minutes. Lawrence's pass sent Mendes in on goal from the right and his fierce low shot was turned aside at the near post by Harper.
But when Lawrence's corner was cleared to Curtis just outside the box, the midfielder drilled in low at goal and Harper could only parry but not hold on, allowing Mendes the simplest of pokes home from close range to make it 2-0.
With 15 minutes left Northampton made a double swap with Taylor on for Smith and Reid on for Sampson.
Two minutes later Larkin replaced Disley for the visitors.
There was brief danger when Ullathorne found Asamoah on the dge of the box. But he turned and blazed well over.
Stags defended a free kick and a corner in the closing stages and also brought on D'Jaffo to give Mendes a rest for the last seven minutes.
Hargreaves nodded a Westwood ball over the bar while Larkin was close to getting a vital touch on a Corden cross at the other end.
As the home side pressed in stoppage time, MacKenzie won the ball in midfield to instigate a break which eventually saw him shoot wide after having to ball returned to him by Corden.
There was still time for late drama as Day got in a superb defensive header towards Corden who instantly sent Larkin on his way with a high ball forward.
Larkin had got goalside of defender Westwood who brought him down just outside the box.
The red card was produced for the defender before Corden curled the kick well over.
But it mattered not as the final whistle saw Stags with one foot in the final.
NORTHAMPTON: Harper, Westwood, Willmott, Richards (Youngs 61mins), Low, Trollope, Ullathorne, Sampson (Reid 75mins), Smith (Taylor 75mins), Hargreaves, Asamoah. Subs not used: Thompson, Reeves.
STAGS: Pilkington, Eaton, Curtis, Day, Lawrence, Disley (Larkin 77mins), Corden, Hassell, John-Baptiste (MacKenzie 63mins), Mendes (D'Jaffo 83mins), Williamson. Subs not used: J. White, Artell.
REFEREE: Michael Jones of Cheshire.
SCORERS: Stags - Day 40mins, Mendes 67mins.
CAUTIONS: Northampton - Trollope 44mins (foul on Curtis). Stags - Day 8mins (foul on Asamoah), D'Jaffo 90mins (deliberate handball).
DISMISSAL: Northampton - Westwood 90mins ('professional foul' on Larkin).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Bobby Hassell.
Latest | May 2004