REPORTS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
Stags 0 Preston NE 4
THREE first half goals, two in the first nine minutes, ensured there would be no upset for Championship side Preston North End as the delayed Carling Cup tie finally took place at field Mill last night.
Stags had four successive home wins behind them, and Preston had not won away since January.
But the visitors who, like Stags, were missing several players with injury, deserved their win, and a trip to Leicester in the second round.
For Stags, more important is the mouth-watering trip to League Two leaders Scunthorpe United this Saturday, where manager Keith Curle will be hoping to get some or all of his injured players back.
Stags were forced into three changes with Jake Buxton and Derek Asamoah out with knocks from Saturday and Scott McNiven off ill.
In came Murray, Dimech - for his first start of the season - and Day, with Dimech slotting in at right back and Alex John-Baptiste filling the left back berth.
Teenagers Danny Heron and Callum Lloyd made up the numbers on the bench while Preston loanee Joe O'Neill was not involved.
Preston also had their problems with nine players out injured and a further three out on loan. Nevertheless they kicked off with six internationals on show.
The evening began with a perfectly-observed minute's silence for the late Brian Clough.
Stags, with a strong wind against them, made the worst possible start as they found themselves two goals down inside only nine minutes.
The first came from North End's first corner. Floated in by Lewis, it was met by a firm header by Cresswell, once on loan at Field Mill, which gave Pilkington no chance.
Worse was to come on nine minutes. Stags conceded a free kick 30 yards out which was fired at the advancing Murray. Referee Mr Prosser decided Murray had encroached and booked him.
Murray protested and the free kick was marched forward 10 yards from where Alexander superbly curled a low finish round the right hand side of the wall and inside Pilkington's left hand post.
There was more danger as Pilkington had to leave his box and head clear ahead of Cresswell.
Lewis joined Murray in the book for delaying a Mansfield free kick on 21 minutes.
Cresswell might have added a third five minutes later but headed wide from a good position at the far post after meeting a Lewis cross.
But it was 3-0 on 31 minutes. Alexander's forward ball found Daley who ran at John-Baptiste, turning him one way, then the other before lashing a superb low finish just inside the far post from 10 yards.
O'Neill tried an audacious dipping shot from 35 yards two minutes later which only just cleared the crossbar.
On 36 minutes Preston won a free kick 20 yards out which Alexander curled and saw it clip the far angle as it passed over.
It took Stags 41 minutes to create a chance as MacKenzie pulled back a free kick from near the right corner flag towards Murray who blazed over.
Stags changed things round at the break with Curtis withdrawn and Tate brought on to give Stags a second striker.
And Stags almost pulled one back on 47 minutes as Dimech's long free kick was guided narrowly wide by Day's header.
Tate had waited all season to get a decent spell on the field to show what he could do.
But he picked up a knock within six minutes and was a despondent figure as he limped off to be replaced by teenage debutant Heron.
From their first corner, Stags caused chaos with Preston struggling to clear their lines and Corden and Neil having shots blocked before the ball was put behind for a second corner.
Preston should have added to their tally on 65 minutes when the referee's assistant flaggeed for handball against Artell in the box.
A penalty was awarded which Alexander tucked just out of the reach of Pilkington's fingertips inside the left hand post.
But Mr Prosser had spotted a Preston player encroaching and ordered a re-take.
Alexander went for the came corner but this time Pilkington reached it with a superb dive to turn the kick aside and the ball was eventually scrambled clear.
Preston keeper Lonergan had a rare taste of the action as he ran to the edge of his box to punch a long ball off the head of the incoming Larkin. The ball reached Heron who shot instinctively at goal but straight into Lonergan's hands.
Smith was booked for a foul on Artell on 73 minutes, followed three minutes later by O'Neil for bringing down Murray.
Smith was inches wide of the far post with a low shot from the left of the Mansfield box on 74 minutes.
Larkin came the closest that Stags had managed all night 11 minutes from time with a close range header that beat Lonergan but struck the base of the post.
Preston rounded off the night on 84 minutes when Lewis reached the by-line and pulled the ball back for substitute Lynch to tuck away a low finish for number four.
But the visitors' night was soured as Mr Prosser decided Lewis was over-celebrating and, having already booked him, showed him a red card.
STAGS: Pilkington, Dimech, Day, John-Baptiste, Artell, Corden, Neil, Curtis (Tate h/t, Heron 51), MacKenzie, Murray, Larkin. Subs not used: White, Curle, Lloyd.
PRESTON: Lonergan, Alexander, O'Neil (McCormack 90), Etuhu, Davidson, Mawene, Davis, Lewis, Smith (Lynch 82), Daley (Jackson 80), Cresswell. Subs not used: Ward, Lyng.
REFEREE: Phil Prosser of West Yorks.
SCORERS: Preston - Cresswell 3; Alexander 9; Daley 31; Lynch 84.
CAUTIONS: Stags - Murray 9 (unsporting conduct); Preston - Lewis 21 (unsporting conduct); Smith 73 (foul on Artell); O'Neil 76 (foul on Murray).
DISMISSAL: Preston - Lewis 85 (over-celebrating, second bookable)
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Luke Dimech
STAGS OUT OF CARLING CUP
Mansfield Town 0 v 4 Preston North End
Goals from Richard Cresswell, Graham Alexander, Omar Daley and Simon Lynch gave Preston a 4-0 victory at Mansfield in the first round of the Carling Cup.
North End got off to a flier and were two goals up within 10 minutes of the start, and they never looked back to secure their place in round two.
It could have been even more with Alexander hitting the post and having a penalty kick saved, although Eddie Lewis was shown the red card late on.
With barely two minutes on the clock Cresswell opened the scoring with a fine header into the top corner after Lewis had swung over the corner from the left.
Five minutes later, Lewis was felled by Tom Curtis just outside the area and Alexander made them pay with a right-foot strike into the bottom corner.
The goal will have come as particularly frustrating for Stags manager Keith Curle as the original free-kick was awarded fully 30 yards out, only to be moved 10 yards nearer after Adam Murray's reluctance to retreat the necessary distance.
The visitors maintained their grip on the game and Cresswell had two more decent chances to put the game beyond Town in the first half hour.
After 25 minutes he headed wide after a good cross from Callum Davidson, while two minutes later he again could not find the target, this time with a curler from distance.
The home side were finding it difficult to string anything together in North End territory, and the visitors went further ahead on 31 minutes through Daley on his debut.
Daley fired home right-footed from the edge of the area after good work from Claude Davis and Alexander to put the game beyond Town before the interval.
There was still time for Alexander to hit the woodwork with another free-kick before the half-time whistle as Preston showed their divisional superiority.
The home side started the second half with a bang as they sought to give themselves a lifeline, Neil MacKenzie and Wayne Corden both trying their luck from distance to no avail.
They were given heart after 65 minutes when Kevin Pilkington made a fine penalty save to deny Alexander, who had scored from his initial spot kick but ordered to retake it for encroachment, after Rhys Day has been penalised for handball.
They could not muster a consolation, with Danny Herron's effort from 35 yards hardly troubling Andy Lonergan.
North End rounded off a good night's work six minutes from time when Lynch fired home into the bottom corner, although it was slightly tempered by Lewis being shown the red card for a second bookable offence.
CURLE ADMITS STAGS HAVE THEMSELVES TO BLAME
Mansfield Town 0 v 4 Preston North End
Mansfield boss Keith Curle admitted his side did themselves no favours as they were hammered 4-0 at home to Preston in the first round of the Carling Cup.
Richard Cresswell, Graham Alexander, Omar Daley and Simon Lynch all got in on the act as Coca-Cola Championship side Preston showed little mercy against their League Two hosts.
The two teams had been set to meet last month but a hazardous chemical leak near the stadium meant the game was postponed.
And for Curle, the game was not worth the wait.
"When you give a very good team a two goal start in nine minutes it's always going to be an uphill battle.
"At half-time all I could ask of players was to go out there and restore some pride. I was looking at their faces to see if anyone was going to hide.
"All credit to them, they went out there, and they had a go and restored some credibility. Everyone wanted the ball and tried to play some football."
Without wanting to make excuses, Curle admitted his strongest side had not been available to him.
"We were down to the bare bones with injuries and with the wind against us in the first half it was difficult circumstances for us.
"I was disappointed with the goals we conceded and we will analyse them.
"But our priority is promotion and I hope we will have some if not all our injured players back for Scunthorpe on Saturday.
Preston caretaker manager Billy Davies said: "This is a difficult ground to come to and without a doubt it was potential banana skin as Mansfield have some very good players.
"With the windy conditions as well I thought it was a very professional job and excellent performance.
"It was important to get off to a good start and we deserved it with some excellent play and two good goals.
"We knew it would be difficult with the wind in the second half but we finished with a clean sheet and a good away result so I was delighted for the fans."
Alexander's strike came from the spot, as his penalty had to be re-taken.
"I don't think we should have had to retake the penalty. We shouldn't be punished for putting it in the net," said Davies.
American midfielder Eddie Lewis received his marching orders in a bizarre incident involving the crowd, and Davies was happy to give his opinion of events: "As for the sending-off, I was absolutely astounded.
"My interpretation was that Eddie Lewis crossed the ball and his momentum just took him towards the fans.
"To say he ran towards the fans is total nonsense and this decision should be looked at. Common sense has to be used."
Match Stats (Stags/Preston)
7 Goal Attempts 10
4 On Target 5
2 Off Target 4
1 Hit Woodwork 1
4 Offsides 5
2 Corners 1
10 Fouls 14
Preston official site:
Ten-man North End even had the luxury to miss a penalty as they set up a second round clash with Leicester City in a fortnight with a 4-0 win over Mansfield Town with the goals from Cresswell, Alexander, a goal from Omar Daley on his full debut and Simon Lynch but this was tempered by a red card to Eddie Lewis for celebrating!
North End are led out - in all white - by referee Phil Prosser (who last officiated PNE in the 3-3 away thriller at Sunderland last season) into a much changed Field Mill from the last visit in 1996.
Before kick-off a minute's silence is held to pay respects to former Nottingham Forest boss Brian Clough who sadly passed away the day before - something of a legend in these parts.
Yet another huddle by the opposition before the home side kicked off towards the North End fans in the Phoenix Stand. North End had good possession in the opening exchanges and were certainly a bigger side in terms of size.
A corner in the third minute...
GOAL!! Eddie Lewis curled the ball over and Richard Cresswell rose highest and headed home from 15 yards out looping over the keeper into the top left hand corner (3) - that height proved effective!
Cresswell had been on loan at Field Mill, making it even more special for his fourth goal of the season - just the start they wanted.
Another set piece as Lewis is brought down 30 yards out in a left hand channel. Adam Murray is booked for not being 10 yards away and the free kick is moved to the edge of the box...
GOAL!! Graham Alexander curls the ball right footed brilliantly around the wall and into the bottom right hand corner (9).
19 minutes and the Stags keeper is needed to come out and head away after Cresswell runs through onto Davis' lofted ball over the home defence, a good clearance by Kevin Pilkington (19)
Eddie Lewis is booked for shooting after the whistle had gone for offside (21) and then dribbling the ball away.
Another Cresswell header in the 26th minute and not far wide again as Callum Davidson put over an excellent left wing ball into the wind which was billowing round Field Mill.
GOAL!! Omar Daley marks his debut with a stunning goal. Graham Alexander picked up the ball from Daley's knockdown after Claude Davis' sweeping 60 yard crossfield ball. The Scottish full-back played a perfectly weighted ball inside the Stags defence and Daley carried his run forward and beat one man before drawing back and slotting past Pilkington into the bottom right hand corner from 15 yards (32).
Lewis is brought down right on the edge of the box by Dimech in the 35th minute. Graham Alexander took it right footed and this time he hit the angle of post and bar!
Two minutes of first half stoppage time comes to an end with a very satisfactory first half for Billy Davies side.
Tate on for Curtis at half-time for the home side to try and add some height and power up front but no sooner is he on than he is off with an injury with Heron replacing him (51).
Lewis races down the left and whisks over a brilliant pacy cross and Cresswell through himself at it looking for another headed goal but collided with the post with his left arm.
Lonergan palms away a ball that had got caught on the wind and Mansfield win a corner which Mawene has to head oput. A second from Neil is overhit and North End are happy to see it go out.
Mansfield have changed from trying to play a passing game to go for a long ball tactic, not a bad plan in the strong winds.
Some excellent football by the Lilywhites with Omar Daley running at the heart of the Mansfield defence and then finsing Smith. The Ulsterman's cross was deep, but Eddie Lewis couldn't quite turn it home at the back post (56).
3,028 inside Field Mill for a cracking PNE performance away from home.
PENALTY! Adam Murray is ajudged to have handled in the box...
Scored, but to be taken again for encroachment...
Saved, Alexander went the same way into the bottom left hand corner but Pilkington dived and palmed it away very harsh from Mr Posser.
Andy Smith is booked (72) for a foul on David Artell.
Two minutes later and Smith almost opened his PNE account with a cross-come-shot from the left hand channel but his ball across the face of goal was just out for a goalkick, with Etuhu almost putting it in a tthe back post.
A foul and a booking for Brian O'Neil on 76 minutes for a foul on Murray.
Heron gets up and hits the post with a flying header from a right wing cross, flashing away form the bottom right hand post (79).
Omar Daley is replaced by Mark Jackson with ten minutes to go (80) and two minutes later Simon Lynch replaces Andy Smith (82).
GOAL!! A brilliant fourth from North End as Eddie Lewis got down the left and got to the by-line and pulled it back to the penalty spot to Simon Lynch who slotted beautifully home into the bottom right hand corner a move where almost every North End player touched the ball (84).
RED CARD! Lewis is sent off, getting a yellow card for celebrating, giving a high five to one person in the crowd - which means he'll miss the game at the weekend - absolute disgrace and no common sense whatsoever from Phil Prosser (85).
At the start of the five minutes of stoppage time Alan McCormack replaced Brian O'Neil.
PNE line-up: Lonergan, Alexander (Capt), Davidson, Mawene, Davis; Daley (Jackson, 80), Lewis, O'Neil (McCormack, 90), Etuhu; Cresswell, Smith (Lynch, 82). Subs not used: Ward, Lyng.
Mansfield Town line-up: Pilkington, Dimech, Day, Artell, John-Baptiste, Curtis (Tate, 46 (Heron, 52)), MacKenzie, Neil, Corden, Larkin, Murray. Subs: Lloyd, T Curle, White.
Mansfield 0 PNE 4
North End's twice-delayed First Round Carling Cup tie ended in a comfortable 4-0 win at Field Mill. Goals from Cresswell, Alexander, Daley and Lynch gave PNE the win - but the ref was busy too, ruling out an Alexander penalty goal and sending Eddie Lewis off.
PNE hadn't won an away game since January but that dismal run finally came to an end in style.
Mansfield might not be in the same class as Sunderland but an away win of any sort has been a long time coming.
And PNE got out of the blocks fast - Cresswell heading the first goal after just three minutes.
Within ten minutes the lead was doubled as Graham Alexander curled in a free-kick.
And before half time the victory was sealed. Omar Daley - making his full debut, along with Andy Smith and Callum Davidson - scored a well taken goal to put the result beyond doubt.
PNE looked likely to get a fourth goal halfway through the second period when North End were awarded a penalty.
Alexander tucked the spot-kick away, but the ref spotted Cresswell encroaching, and ordered a retake.
After a decision like that, it was no surprise when Mansfield keeper saved the second effort.
And it wasn't the last controversial moment that Mr Prosser was to be involved with.
With ten minutes to go, Lewis got away down the left and centred the ball for sub Simon Lynch to slot the ball home with his first touch.
Lewis appeared to celebrate with a fan in the crowd - and was promptly shown a second yellow card for the 'offence'!
We have seen some stupid refereeing decisions over the last few years but this was one of the worst.
It meant that a successful evening ended on a sour note, although Billy Davies has said he will appeal against the decision.
Let's hope that, for once, common sense might prevail. But 'common sense' and 'referees' aren't words that often go together...
Latest | September 2004