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STAGS 2-0 LEEDS UNITED
22nd July 2004 1:26


Mansfield Town 2 - 0 Leeds United
Corden 71, Larkin 75.

Attendance: 5,294 (1308 from Leeds)

Report by Rob Wheldon

The Stags began with a very strong line-up, which included on trial former Derby and Chesterfield striker Marvin Robinson, who partnered Derek Asamoah in attack. Dave Artell came in at centre half with Rhys Day playing an hour last night and Luke Dimech dropping to the bench. There was no place in the side for Tom Curtis. Leeds brought a full strength side which included numerous internationals both in the starting eleven and on the bench.

The Stags began strongly and within a couple of minutes had the first attempt on goal. What is already becoming a trade mark right wing cross from McNiven was met by the head of Asamoah but Leeds keeper Carson saved easily. On ten minutes, the keeper was forced into a much better save. Adam Murray produced a perfect through ball for Asamoah to latch on to, but his shot was saved by the legs of the advancing Carson. A minute later Eaton got forward on the left, put in a fine cross which Robinson headed straight at Carson. Next Murray from the right put in a dangerous low cross which Robinson only just failed to latch on to. On 15 minutes the Stags felt they should have had a penalty. Asamoah broke through the defence and had his shirt tugged and was then hauled down - referee Paul Danson, not the most popular referee in these parts, waved play-on. The Stags midfield dominated the match and controlled possession for long spells, Alex Neil in particular catching the eye with some splendid passing and Adam Murray proving the key player he could be for us this season. Just past the half hour Murray again was instrumental in a Stags move, his clever pass to Neil gave the Stags midfielder the chance to shoot, it was deflected but fell into the path of Robinson who failed to connect cleanly with his shot and Carson saved easily. The Stags were almost made to pay for the missed chances, with Ricketts at least 5 yards offside, the ball was played wide as Leeds broke through, the cross found Ricketts, who naturally was still well ahead of the Stags defence, but he sliced his shot well wide. It was a classic demonstration of the confusion over the offside law as Ricketts was quite clearly gaining an advantage from being in an offside position, even though the ball was played wide of him. At half time the Stags made one change, Larkin replacing Robinson, who did enough to suggest that with a little more match practice, he could be a useful addition to the squad.

The Stags started the 2nd half as they did the first, Murray found Neil on the left, his low cross found Assamoah whose side foot shot flew well wide. A few minutes later McNiven, getting forward as often as he could, cut inside and hit a low left foot shot straight at Carson. The match was interrupted for a short period as Leeds supporters thought it would be very clever and funny to keep the ball every time it flew past their goal, in fact, given the complete dominance the Stags held in the game, it was quite often that the ball was in the North Stand in the 2nd half!! Murray took a knock on 57 minutes and was immediately replaced by Mackenzie. Larkin then burst into action, quick feet saw him leave Duberry for dead but his low shot was again saved by Carson. As it looked like the Stags dominance would go unrewarded, on 71 minutes they took the lead with a stunning goal from Wayne Corden. Cutting in from the right Corden from 25 yards unleashed a swerving left footed shot which left Carson helpless and flew into the top right hand corner of his goal. Buoyed by the goal the Stags pushed forwards even more and added a 2nd on 75 minutes. Larkin picked the ball up on the edge of the area, beat his defender with some fine skill and then deftly, with the outside of his right foot, slotted the ball past Carson - a great finish. Just monutes later Larkin almost added a third with a great strike which struck the upright, Carson may well have got a finger-tip to the shot. The last 15 minutes still saw the Stags dominate, keeping possession for long spells and allowing the outstanding Neil and McNiven to be replaced to standing ovations.

Yes this was only a pre-season game, yes Leeds are building a new side, but this was very, very impressive from the Stags, who themselves are rebuilding. Alex John-Baptiste was faultless at the back, once again belying his tender years and confirming him as probably the best prospect to come from the youth team for decades. New signings Adam Murray, Alex Neil and Scott McNiven impressed greatly and Asamoah showed what a threat his pace could prove - though I believe he could be better used in a wide position. Which leads me to Larkin, who looked every bit the 20 plus goal striker we need.

Ratings: Pilkington 8, McNiven 9, Baptiste 10, Artell 8, Eaton 8, Neil 9, Murray 9, Corden 8, Williamson 9, Asamoah 8, Robinson 7. Subs: Larkin 9, Heron 7, Mackenzie 7, Buxton 7, Dimech 8.

Pilkington, McNiven (Buxton 79), Artell, John-Baptiste, Eaton, Neil (Dimech 79), Williamson, Murray (McKenzie 57), Corden, Asamoah (Heron 71), Robinson (Larkin 46).

 

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