POOR STAGS BEATEN BY VERY AVERAGE CHELTENHAM
Cheltenham Town 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Guinan 45+1, Devaney 87.
Att: 2706 (approx 300 from Mansfield, our estimate)
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Whaddon Road
Mansfield Town came crashing down to earth with a huge bump after the euphoria of stuffing Notts County at the weekend. The Stags started very brightly in the opening half hour, with Alex Neil providing important width on the right, but fell away badly after he went off injured, and allowed an average looking Cheltenham Town side back into the game and two soft goals at the end of each half were enough to earn the points. The Stags had plenty of possession but created very few clearcut chances all evening and in the end deserved nothing from the game.
Stagsnet report now in the Match Centre
Match stats (Robins/Stags) from Press Association:
8 Goal Attempts 10
6 On Target 5
2 Off Target 5
0 Hit Woodwork 0
7 Offsides 2
10 Corners 5
7 Fouls 12
Chirpy Robins sink Stags
IT WAS almost inevitably 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' for Mansfield when they followed Saturday's thrilling win over Notts County with a 2-0 defeat at struggling Cheltenham last night.
Steve Guinan's header in first half stoppage time gave the Robins the edge before Martin Devaney sealed the points direct from a corner three minutes from time.
The victory continued the Robins' revival, taking their unbeaten league run to five games, while Stags now face a tough trip to Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.
Stags, once again, could have gone top if results had gone for them, but despite controlling much of the possession they failed to create anything like the wealth of chances they managed on Saturday.
Both Stags and Cheltenham retained the starting line-ups that brought them their victories on Saturday.
Day headed an early McNiven free kick just wide but the offside flag was quickly up.
Cheltenham's first attack saw Day in quickly to tackle Melligan in the box as he ran for a flick-on. That conceded the first of two corners in the eighth minute, the first punched away by Pilkington, the second headed clear by Artell.
A minute later Neil sent Asamoah into space and the nimble-footed striker sidestepped one challenge before lashing a low shot wide from 20 yards.
The first 15 minutes were comfortably controlled by the visitors, playing their neat trademark football.
A big kick downfield by keeper Higgs almost put Guinan in behind the defence. But a long leg stretched out by Artell saw him brilliantly hook the ball off the Robins striker's toes.
Good work by Ipoua, shrugging off two defenders, saw him find Asamoah. When he couldn't get a shot away he rolled a pass towards McNiven but his first time effort was well off target.
Melligan called Pilkington into action on 24 minutes with a shot from a tight angle on the left. But the keeper always had his near post covered and blocked easily.
Cheltenham's fourth corner of the night, conceded after a mix-up between Pilkington and Day, was held up while Neil received attention for a fierce, but fair, tackle by McCann.
Clearing that, Stags tried to break through Asamoah. But his pass to Larkin was too near the keeper.
Higgs spilled a powerful Neil cross from the right on the half-hour but no Stags player was near enough to punish him.
Pilkington was fortunate when his clearance struck the incoming Melligan and rebounded back past him and the empty net for a goal kick.
Finnigan was booked on 33 minutes for pulling back Ipoua.
Guinan then managed to evade two defenders in the box but Murray's challenge was enough to force him to finish wide.
The first genuine goal chance of the night finally arrived on 35 minutes. McCann picked out Vincent running into the left of the Mansfield box and his curling right-footed finish across Pilkington brought out a superb save, turning it wide for another corner.
Neil had played on in discomfort but finally limped off on 39 minutes to be replaced by MacKenzie.
A disappointing half looked to be petering out into a 0-0 deadlock.
But Stags were caught napping as the game entered the one minute of stoppage time in similar fashion to the late winner at Swansea.
Vincent was allowed to get in a long cross from the left wing and Guinan stole in to bury a header from five yards at the far post.
And there was still time for Mansfield to produce their first real threat of the half as MacKenzie's cross to the near post saw Asamoah get in a looping header which Higgs did well to claw away as it threatened to drop under the bar.
The second half began with a hold-up for treatment for Day and Devaney after the pair flew into a tackle.
Then there was a caution for McNiven for bringing down Devaney on 49 minutes. While play was stopped the limping Day was replaced by Dimech and Larkin pushed up as a third striker as Mansfield sought a foothold in the game.
Stags then defended two successive Robins corners before creating a chance of their own as Murray and Asamoah linked to provide Mackenzie with a brief close range chance which was blocked.
Artell then headed the subsequent corner wide at the far post.
Stags were looking livelier now and a good run by MacKenzie down the right saw him cut inside and shoot, Brough getting in the block.
The visitors began to step up the pressure and pin Cheltenham back in their own half.
But the defence stood firm, Murray firing low and wide from Ipoua's flick while Asamoah scuffed a chance tamely at Higgs after neat footwork by MacKenzie.
Another period of pressure saw a scramble in which Murray found himself right in front of goal with the ball, but Higgs was too close and was able to smother the midfielder's finish.
With 15 minutes remaining manager Curle went for broke, sacrificing defender Woodman to send on a fourth striker in O'Neill. And within three minutes he almost did the trick as his 20-yard effort was deflected inches wide for the first of two consecutive corners.
The final minutes were backs to the wall stuff for the Robins, with Mansfield throwing everything at them without reward.
Instead, it was the Robins who found the net direct from an 87th-minute corner to wrap up victory.
Devaney curled a low flag kick in from the left which sneaked inside the near post where Wilson claimed to get a touch.
But Wilson was booked for removing his shirt to celebrate and the ground announcer awarded the goal to Devaney.
Late desperate efforts saw Murray fire over and MacKenzie force a near post save from Higgs.
CHELTENHAM: Higgs, Victory, Duff, Brough, Devaney, Finnigan, Guinan (Spencer 75), McCann, Gill, Vincent (Wilson 73), Melligan (Bird 90). Subs not used: Brown, Fyfe.
STAGS: Pilkington, McNiven, Curtis, Day (Dimech 49), Woodman (O'Neill 75), Neil (MacKenzie 39), Murray, Larkin, Asamoah, Artell, Ipoua. Subs not used: Corden, White.
REFEREE: Brian Curson of Leicestershire.
SCORERS: Cheltenham - Guinan 45; Devaney 87.
CAUTIONS: Cheltenham - Finnigan 33 (foul on Ipoua); Spencer 82 (foul on Larkin); Wilson 87 (inappropriate goal celebration). Mansfield - McNiven 49 (foul on Devaney); Murray 80 (dissent).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Neil MacKenzie.
Latest | October 2004