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Archived News from May 2004

31st May 2004 23:22

Evening Post website

Mansfield 0 v 0 Huddersfield (aet, Huddersfield win 4-1 on pens)
Mansfield boss Keith Curle defended his decision not to practise penalties after his Stags saw their Division Two ambitions wiped out in a heartbreaking shoot out.

Wayne Corden and Liam Lawrence missed Town's first two spot-kicks - while Huddersfield netted all four of their efforts to clinch promotion in the cruellest of fashions.

And Curle admitted: "We didn't practise penalties before the game, it's very difficult trying to recreate that atmosphere.

"A lot of people can take penalties in training and score goals but it's a different proposition on big occasions like this."

There was nothing to choose between the sides during the game and the Stags nearly snatched it when Colin Larkin fired home only to see the linesman rule the ball had gone out in the build up.

And Curle added: "I didn't think it would go to penalties, I went into the game thinking we'd win - if I didn't I wouldn't have come here in the first place."

Huddersfield manager Peter Jackson insisted he had nothing to prove after guiding his side straight back to Division Two after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Mansfield in the Third Division play-off final.

Jackson is in his second stint in charge of the Terriers after taking over last summer following the club's second relegation in three years.

The club have also been in administration, but times were much easier before Jackson was sacked in 1999 to make way for Steve Bruce despite taking the club to ninth place in Division One.

He said: "I had nothing to prove. I proved I was a good manager first time round and I finished ninth. I was sacked but I'm not bitter and twisted about it.

"It's important not to look back. I'm positive and I want the club to move forward and we can do that now."

Jackson now has the chance to continue his club's improvement in Division Two after Lee Fowler's spot-kick sealed a tense 4-1 shoot-out victory.

The teams could not be separated during 120 minutes with both sides squandering chance after chance.

The Stags had won their semi-final on penalties but both Wayne Corden and Liam Lawrence missed their spot-kicks, while the Terriers slotted all four.

"We took our penalties extremely well," added Jackson.

"It takes a lot of nerve in the circumstances to actually stand up and take a penalty.

"All I said (before the penalties) was I was really proud of what we had done this season and for them to just try and hit the target with your penalties.

"It was important we scored the first one and (after Corden's miss) we were well on top.

"Steve Yates was taking the fifth and thank God we didn't need him! I feel sorry for (Mansfield manager) Keith Curle and his team because it is a horrible way to go out but I'm thrilled to bits with what we've achieved."

The Terriers picked themselves off the floor after finishing fourth, having needed a win from their final two matches of the season against Mansfield and Cheltenham.

Defeat against the Stags and a draw against Cheltenham saw them miss out on third and automatic promotion.

"After the Cheltenham game we were all disappointed and to come here and win on penalties is a tremendous feeling," added Jackson.

Stags boss Curle refused to criticise Corden and Lawrence after their misses.

Left-winger Corden's effort was well saved by Paul Rachubka, while Lawrence tried a deft lob, which bounced onto the bar and over.

But Curle said: "They're young men, this is a big occasion. People get nervous, maybe a little bit of indecision comes into their mind.

"Players make decisions on the day about what they're going to do and they stand by them, I'll stand by them."

The Stags boss praised his players and did not blame the officials after a Colin Larkin effort was ruled out because the ball had crossed the goalline in the build-up.

"Apparently the linesman said the ball was out of play. We're not going to go away from today talking about officials. When officials make a decision, it's an honest one.

"There are a lot of young men in the dressing room that are down and my job is to pick them up. I've started that process already.

"The first thing I said to them was that I was very proud of them, individually and collectively."
Curle salutes players
BBC website

Keith Curle hailed his players after they lost on penalties in their play-off final with Huddersfield.
"I'm proud of them individually and collectively. They have to learn what made them good players this year and they have to build on that," he said.

"I've no complaints about the people who stood up and took the penalties, it's a nervy occasion for them.

"As a spectacle, it was magnificent. As a football manager, I'm devastated. I have to this into a positive."

Curle paid tribute to the Terriers, who bounced back to Division Two at the first attempt.

"Credit to Huddersfield, Peter Jackson and Terry Yorath, they've got a fantastic football club," he said.


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