STAGS WIN 2-0 AT BATH
Bath City 0-2 Mansfield Town
Att: 287 (approx 30 from Mansfield)
Report by Michael Norwood, Ex Editor DejaVu
In sweltering heat, the Stags got a good work out in preperation for the upcoming season, and with most of the starting 11 playing an hour or more, we got a general idea of what the starting line up will be for the opening game with Bristol Rovers. The game had been delayed by 10 minutes due to a huge 20 mile tailback on the M5, leaving the Stags players very little time to do any warm up.
A 4-4-2 formation was in place, with a centre back pairing of Baptise and Artell, with a forward line up of trialist Joe O'Neill and Colin Larkin. The games first chance fell to Wayne Cordon on just 4 minutes, when well placed he blasted over from just outside the 6 yard box following good work from Larkin who had drifted out wide, indeed Larkin nearly put the Stags in front himself just two minutes later when he headed just wide from an Eaton cross. Bath City in their Notts County type struped shirt won the games first corner on seven minutes but it came to nothing. Pilkington was called into action shortly after though when the impressive Williams forced him into a good low save from a shot from the edge of the area. It was then that Bath had their best spell of the game, and on eleven minutes Stephens clipped the post when well placed with a header. This seemed to be a wake up call for the Stags who quickly took control of the match. It was evident even at the early stages of the game that the Stags right wing was looking non existant though, something which needs to be looked at, as balls were played to that area with no one covering or hogging the right touch line, Larkin was forced out wide on a number of occasions in order to cover the position. Stags first corner came on 17 minutes, and when the home side cleared, the ball found its way out to the left where Williamson's cross found its way to Larkin on the far post, whose half volley slammed against the post. Joe O'Neill was out to impress, and seemed to be forging a good understanding with Larkin throughout the half, it was he who set up Cordon who again unfortunately shot over, then O'Neil himself had 2 good opportunities to put the Stags in front before the half hour mark, but saw the efforts end up in the keepers hands. He made his mark on the game on 31 minutes though, following a Cordon cross that wasn't cleared, Williamson headed down and O'Neill turned sharply to volley home from 10 yards. Players had to take on a lot of water during the first period, indeed the small Mansfield following had to do the same. Bath came close to equalizing on the stroke of half time as Tivedale forced Pilkington into a full stretched save to tip a 25 yard effort over the bar, and there was just enough time for Eaton to nearly add the to the Stags lead at the other end as he volleyed straight at the keeper.
Half Time 1-0
Keith Curle made two substitutions at half time, Artell and Baptise were replaced by Rhys Day and Luke Dimech, Curle obviously wanting to try out different combinations at centre back. The home side made 6 changes at the break, confusing everyone as they appeared in the same numbers of those who departed. O'Neill had the 2nd halfs first chance when he headed a MacKenzie cross straight at the home keeper. Larkin who looks so much sharper at the moment created a chance out of nothing shortly after, after turning quickly,he took on two defenders beating them with pace, and forcing the keeper to come out and smother the ball as he beared down on goal. The stags were in total control by now, O'Neill showed the same sort of skill Larkin had done minutes earlier, by cutting into the box, but no one was on the end of his excellent work. With nearly an hour gone Eaton made way for Buxton and Asamoah came on for Cordon. The substitutions were then made at regular intervals, as soon after these, Pilkington made way for Langford, Larkin for Callum Lloyd and Williamson came off for Tom Curle. Asamoah went up front with O'Neill, and his pace was frightening the hell out of the Bath back line, who were backing of him every time he had the ball at his feet. After a quick sprint down the left, it was Asamoah who set Curle up on the edge of the area, but the home keeper was down sharpley to smother the shot. The impressive O'Neill made way for Danny Herron, who looked to get his head down and run at defenders every time he had the ball. On 74 minutes the Stags wrapped the game up, a long punt over the top found Asamoah, who superbly latched on, turned his defender and fired into the net at the near post, a very fine finish from the pacy frontman. Jake Buxton made use of the wide open spaces in front of him, and got some decent crosses into the area, one of which found Asamoah, who saw the keeper save smartly, and when the rebound found its way to MacKenZie on the edge of the area, the home keeper made a superb tip over from the curling effort from the Stags midfielder. The last 10 minutes of the game was a tame and long drawn out affair, but given the soring heat, was expected.
A good natured and honest friendly and a good work out for the team, one area does concern me slightly, and that is the right wing position, we wasn't sure if MacKenzie was patrolling that area or not, as he likes to drift in and spray his passes around from the middle of the Park. O'Neill looked very impressive and linked up well with Larkin, and it was O'Neill who we gave out man of the match to. The side overall is now in good shape, and after worrrying who would be in the squad, we now have enough about us to make a good start to the season.
Team : Pilkington, McNiven, Eaton, Curtis, Baptise, Artell, Williamson, MacKensie, Larkin, O'Neill, Cordon
Subs : Day, Dimech, Buxton, Asamoah, Langford, Lloyd, Curle(T), Herron
Photos by Mike Norwood here (cut & paste the link into your browser) -->
Bath-time cruise for Mansfield
MANSFIELD Town cruised to a 2-0 success in sweltering heat
at non-League Bath City this afternoon.
New trialist, Preston striker Joe O'Neill, and recent
signing Derek Asamoah found the net and the only
disappointment was that they didn't score more from the
wealth of chances created.
On a scorching hot, sunny afternoon, O'Neill made his debut
up front alongside Larkin and showed glimpses of high
promise in his 70 minutes on the field.
Curtis, Williamson, MacKenzie and Corden formed the midfield
while the defence comprised Eaton, Artell, John-Baptiste and
Bath City included former Notts County and Bristol City star
Gary Owers, former Coventry City 'Flying Postman' John
Williams and former Scotland ace Joe Jordan's son, Tom.
Kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes after some of the Stags
squad had been held up in motorway jams.
And Stags almost took a quick lead. O'Neill's chest-down
didn't reach Larkin. But Coupe panicked and hit the loose
ball straight to Corden who cut inside one man before
blazing over from 12 yards.
On six minutes Larkin sent a header inches wide of the far
post from an excellent Eaton cross.
Williams began to find his range and, after firing wide of
the near post, on 10 minutes his low 20-yard shot forced
Pilkington into his first save.
Williams then sent a ball to the near post where Tweddle
headed wide under pressure from two defenders and
MacKenzie then went on a loping run for the Stags. Picking
the ball up near the centre circle, he beat one man and then
sent a disappointing low shot well wide.
Mansfield continued to press and on 16 minutes Larkin had to
stretch to reach a Williamson cross from the left and could
only volley his finish against the post from six yards.
Then Corden was well over from 20 yards.
Bath struggled to clear their lines on 24 minutes and the
ball eventually rolled to O'Neill who stabbed it goal wards
from seven yards but the wrong side of the post.
Mansfield again should have netted on 29 minutes after
Larkin found O'Neill who sent a superb ball into Corden's
path. But, after beating one defender, he wanted too long
and the ball was eventually stolen off his toe by Coupe.
O'Neill got to the loose ball but his effort was blocked and
keeper Shuttlewood eventually dropped on the loose ball
before the frustrated Corden could get there.
But the goal did arrive on 31 minutes for the visitors.
Corden crossed from the left towards Williamson. He won the
ball in the air and knocked it on towards O'Neill who, from
eight yards, was allowed to hook a bundled volley into the
Five minutes from the break Corden sent a square ball inside
to MacKenzie who let fly with a low 25-yard shot that went
wide of the right hand post.
But on 43 minutes Tweddle unleashed a 30-yard shot out the
blue which dipped inches over Pilkington's crossbar.
Back came Stags and when a McNiven cross was cleared as far
as Eaton jut outside the box, he warmed Shuttlewood's hands
with a firm shot on target that the keeper had to parry.
Mansfield began the second half with Day and Dimech in the
centre of defence in place of Artell and John-Baptiste while
the home side made five changes of their own in the
In the opening seconds O'Neill sent a header straight at
Shuttlewood from almost on the penalty spot.
A moment of magic from O'Neill saw him trick his way past
two defenders on the by-line before pulling the ball back
into space, unable to find a yellow shirt.
On the hour Asamoah replaced Corden and Buxton came on for
A flowing Mansfield move down the left ended with Larkin
forcing Shuttlewood to turn his 20 yard shot round the base
of his near post.
Shortly after, Larkin's first touch let him down at the near
post when MacKenzie's cross found him in space.
Then Asamoah's pace took him to the by-line. His cross
picked out O'Neill who turned and set up Larkin. But he
blasted disappointingly over from close range.
That was his last action as Larkin was replaced by Curle on
63 minutes while Williamson was replaced by Lloyd.
Curle soon forced a save from Shuttlewood as he directed a
square pass from Asamoah on goal with a sidefooted finish.
A scramble following a Bath corner saw Jordan try a cheeky
backheel that Pilkington was firmly behind.
Mansfield broke quickly and Asamoah cut in from the left
before curling wide of the far post from a good position.
On 70 minutes O'Neill came off, to be replaced by Herron.
Asamoah had another brief sight of goal and fired straight
at the keeper.
But Asamoah finally found the net on 76 minutes. He ran to
the by-lline of the left, checked back inside Jones and then
somehow squeezed the ball between keeper and near post.
Curle found himself some space on 78 minutes and sent an
ambitious shot well over the top from long range.
Mansfield continued to pile on the pressure and, after
Asamoah had forced Shuttlewood into a save from Buxton's
pass, the ball eventually came out to MacKenzie who tried
lever lob that Shuttlewood just managed to fingertip over
Herron was next on target from 20 yards as Shuttlewood again
was comfortably placed as he was in the last minute to keep
out MacKenzie's curling 25 yard free kick.
team: Shuttlewood, Jones, Power (Lamacraft 45), Coupe (Monelle 45), Jordan (Trought 80), Ford (c) (Rollo 45), Benefield, Owers, Tweddle (Hulbert 45), Williams, Stevens (Milton 45). subs not used: none
officials: G Beale (Taunton), N Fry (Chard), V Cannella (High Littleton)
Latest | August 2004