REPORTS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
STAGS FAIL TO GRAB TEN-MAN LIFELINE
Oxford United 1 v 0 Mansfield Town
A Player from each side was sent off as Mansfield slumped to their second League Two defeat of the season at the Kassam Stadium last night.
Trailing to veteran striker Tommy Mooney's first-half strike, Stags were handed a lifeline four minutes after the break when Leo Roget was red carded for chopping down Derek Asamoah.
But the extra man advantage lasted just 26 minutes, before Lee Williamson was given his marching orders for a similar challenge on the impressive Chris Hackett.
Mooney, whose goal added to his 33rd birthday celebrations, proved too hot to handle for the Stags defence, which struggled at times to cope with the threat of the ex-Derby frontman, strike partner Lee Bradbury and wing star Hackett.
But Mansfield did improve after the break and Neil MacKenzie's introduction at half-time had a significant impact. And, after replacing the injured Adam Eaton, MacKenzie may well have earned himself a place in the starting line-up at Chester on Saturday.
The former Blackpool man was full of energy in the centre of the park and, with Wayne Corden posing a threat on the left flank, Stags created a string of second half opportunities. But it wasn't to be.
Mansfield were under the cosh as early as the seventh minute as Bradbury got free of the defence, and it needed a smart stop from Kevin Pilkington to keep the scoreline blank.
Chances came and went at both ends but with Mooney, Bradbury and Hackett pulling the Mansfield defence in different directions, the better first-half chances were falling to the home side.
Mooney shot wide then, after Colin Larkin had squandered a chance at the other end, Oxford took the lead in the 36th minute. Hackett crossed from the right and Mooney poked in at the far post.
With Eaton struggling after taking a knock defending a corner, Curle introduced MacKenzie for the second half, with Lee Williamson slotting in at left back.
And Mansfield had all but the first four minutes of the second half to find an equaliser against ten men.
Roget, who had already been booked, was shown a straight red for a professional foul after scything down Asamoah just outside the box.
The sending off lifted Mansfield's spirits. But, even with MacKenzie buzzing in midfield and Alex Neil setting up attacks from deep, Stags were unable to take advantage.
For all of Mansfield's enthusiasm, Oxford were containing well and creating chances of their own, even when Keith Curle introduced a third striker in Joe O'Neill.
A great pass from MacKenzie presented Larkin with a chance, only for Chris Tardif to palm his shot away, then a wild challenge on Hackett left West Midlands referee Trevor Parkes no option but to show a second yellow to Williamson.
Curle introduced Rhys Day and his attempts to salvage a point meant big gaps were being exposed in midfield - and Oxford fans were baying for a penalty when Hackett went tumbling inside the box under pressure from Alex John-Baptiste.
But Oxford held firm as Stags applied some late pressure and the home fans left the ground happy after registering their first win this season.
Stags suffer second defeat
MANSFIELD Town suffered their second defeat in five days on an evening of high frustration with a 1-0 setback at Oxford United tonight.
After losing Saturday's season curtain-raiser at home to Bristol Rovers last weekend, Mansfield found themselves trailing to a Tommy Mooney goal at half-time.
Leo Roget's dismissal for the home side on 49 minutes was a massive boost for the Stags.
But, despite dominating possession and creating chances, they were unable to make the extra man count and even blew that one-man advantage within 26 minutes when Lee Williamson was red-carded for his second bookable offence of the night on 76 minutes.
Even at 10-a-side Stags were still the dominant force and even finished with defender Rhys Day on up front.
But they couldn't find a way through as the night belonged to Mooney to mark his 33rd birthday in style.
Mansfield must now go to Chester City on Saturday looking for their first point and their first goal of the new campaign.
Stags' starting XI were unchanged from the side which lost the opening game to Bristol Rovers on Saturday, though midfielder MacKenzie replaced Tate on the bench and fit-again reserve keeper White took the place of youngster Langford.
In the first raid, Hackett broke quickly for the home side after a superb throw-out by keeper Tardif who had just gathered a Corden free kick. But an offside flag foiled the home side as Hackett found Mooney.
But a mistake by Artell almost let Oxford in on seven minutes. The Stags defender failed to cut out a through ball from Roget which saw Bradbury go clear. But Pilkington did well to parry his finish.
Oxford threatened again on 16 minutes as Roget headed a Hackett free kick narrowly wide.
But Mansfield carved out their first chance a minute later as McNiven got to the bye-line and crossed to the near post where Larkin sent a glancing header across the face of goal.
Williamson, already warned for one foul, was booked on 20 minutes for felling Wanless near the centre circle.
Oxford won the night's first corner on 22 minutes but had to wait while Eaton received attention for a knock. A combination of first Murray and then Neil got the flag kick away at the second attempt.
Roget was shown a yellow card three minutes later after chopping down Murray.
Oxford had the ball in the net on 26 minutes as a blocked Mooney shot span invitingly into the path of Hackett. He duly rounded the stranded Pilkington and netted but was deemed offside and Mansfield could breath again.
Mooney got away a shot on the turn from 16 yards which wasn't far wide. And seconds later Wolleaston led the charge down the centre before releasing Hackett on the right. He crossed hard and low towards the incoming Mooney but the big striker was a fraction too late in arriving and could only divert the bal the wrong side of the post.
Stags' best chance arrived on 35 minutes as a quick, flowing move down the centre saw Williamson release Murray who took the ball on before squaring to Larkin on the right.
The Stags striker, who had hardly had a kick all night so far, cut beautifully inside Robinson but curled a finish well over the far angle.
Then disaster struck at the other end as Oxford cut Stags to shreds with the opening goal.
Hackett exchanged passes with Bradbury on the right and then raced on and sent in a low cross.
Mooney was outnumbered by Artell and McNiven but was allowed to stretch a leg between them to beat Pilkington from just outside the six yard box.
Lifted, the home side had the Stags defence in a panic again a minute later as a succession of failed attempts to clear ended with a calm header back to his keeper from Artell.
Stags had a brief moment of hope when Neil got into space just outside the Oxford box. But he waited before shooting and Roget was able to get in the block.
Mansfield then forced two successive corners - their first of the night - just before the break without profit.
And in stoppage time they came desperately close to an equaliser.
Murray ran at the home defence before finding Asamoah to his right. For the first time all game the striker showed his talents as he nipped past Robinson and crossed hard and low across the face of goal, Corden sliding in a fraction of a second too late to get there at the far post.
Brown replaced Wanless for Oxford at the break while MacKenzie came on for Stags, replacing Eaton with Williamson going to left back and MacKenzie into central midfield.
Stags were given a huge boost within four minutes of the restart when Oxford were reduced to 10 men.
MacKenzie hooked a high ball forwards and Asamoah looked to have got the better of last defender Roget before being fouled.
Roget had already been booked anyway but a straight red was produced.
From the eventual free kick, Corden saw his effort take a deflection and force a late save from Tardif. And from that corner by Corden, John-Baptiste headed just over.
Oxford made a change with Molyneux replacing Parker.
The home side forced a corner and, shortly after, came close when a neat move saw Wolleaston chip to the far post where Mooney found the sidenetting.
Mansfield came forward again and Asamoah, now being booed by the home fans on every touch, ran between two defenders and set up Larkin whose first time blast was blocked by Molyneux 12 yards from goal.
The ball ran to McNiven on the right who sent over a cross that Murray couldn't get over and his header went over the bar.
Tardif came to Oxford's rescue on 64 minutes with a superb save.
McNiven found MacKenzie who controlled and then drilled a superb 20-yard shot on target which forced Tardif to turn aside one-handed with a dive to his right.
Seconds later MacKenzie, so hungry to impress after being left out the 16 on Saturday, dribbled past two opponents before seeing his finish blocked.
A break down the left for the home side ended with Bradbury curling well over.
Otherwise Mansfield were making the extra man count and looking dangerous.
Curle threw O'Neill into the action on 70 minutes in place of Neil to give Stags a three-man attack as they searched desperately for the equaliser.
Two minutes later they really should have been level. MacKenzie swapped passes with Williamson before chipping the perfect ball into Larkin's path.
There was no offside flag and he looked a certain scorer only to see Tardif's fingertips clawed away his low finish.
Corden sent the corner across and Artell headed just over as Mansfield's frustration grew.
The sides were then evened up on 75 minutes as Williamson was sent off for Mansfield.
Already booked, he brought down Hackett in full flight and was walking to the tunnel before referee Trevor Parkes had raised the red card.
Brown was booked for tripping Larkin 10 minutes from time. The free kick was rolled into MacKenzie's path and from 25 yards he was inches wide with his low shot.
Day was sent on as a centre forward in place of Asamoah on 81 minutes and almost immediately Corden set him up with a first time shot from 18 yards which produced a defender's finish as it sailed wide.
Keeper Tardif was booked for taking too long over the goal kick.
It was all Mansfield, but United broke away on 85 minutes with Hackett cueing up Bradbury for a shot he blazed over to the home supporters' groans.
Hackett went down in the Mansfield box as he tried to outpace John-Baptiste and was rightly booked for diving.
Stags threw everything at the home goal in the closing stages and, amazingly Mackay headed off the line twice within the last minute to deny a curling finish from Larkin, after he had cut inside, and then, from the corner, a close range O'Neill header.
Hackett was withdrawn in stoppage time to bring on Basham and take the sting out of Mansfield's momentum.
And there was a further hold-up as MacKenzie required treatment.
But it only delayed the inevitable as the whistle blew in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Tommy Mooney's goal gave Oxford victory in an eventful clash with Mansfield.
Chris Hackett crossed for Mooney to score before the break, but soon after the restart Oxford's Leo Roget was sent off for a foul on Derek Asamoah.
The Stags poured forward and only some superb saves from U's keeper Chris Tardif - and three goal-line clearances - kept Oxford in front.
But Mansfield's Lee Williamson then saw red for a second booking and the U's eventually survived comfortably.
BIRTHDAY BOY SINKS STAGS
by James Pearson , skysports.com
Tommy Mooney, on his 33rd birthday, scored the goal that maintained Oxford United's 100 percent start to the season with a 1-0 win over Mansfield Town.
The U's started in bright fashion, however journeyman striker Lee Bradbury spurned an early chance to open the scoring for the home side with Kevin Pilkington making the save.
Mansfield were trying to forge opportunities of their own, but Colin Larkin and Derek Asamoah were proving ineffective and rarely threatened in the visitors' attack.
Moments after Mooney missed a good chance to break the deadlock the birthday boy was on hand to net his first goal for his new club after 36 minutes following his summer switch from Swindon following an excellent cross from the right.
Things turned soured for the home side after the break when Oxford found themselves down a man just minutes in when Leo Roget brought down Asamoah, who was adjudged to be in a goal scoring opportunity, and was shown a straight red card.
Mansfield's hopes of getting back into the contest were hindered late on when they were reduced to 10-men when Lee Williamson was sent off for collecting his second yellow card following a rash challenge.
Despite the open space with both teams down a man Mansfield failed to find an equaliser and crashed to another defeat leaving the side pointless from their two contests.
Latest | August 2004