EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
A goal on 41 minutes by the experienced, Mike Sheron proved enough to make it a demoralising two defeats in five days for The Stags against Macclesfield Town.
Stags, who in midweek had crashed 4-0 in the LDV at the hands of The Silkmen, were desperate to record a win and keep pace with Coca Cola League 2 pacesetters but it proved to be another frustrating afternoon at Field Mill.
Keith Curle made a number of changes but the expected onslaught never really materialized leaving the majority inside Field Mill annoyed at yet another disappointing outcome.
Brian Horton's Macclesfield Town team at times defended desperately but in the end completed the classic smash and grab away victory.
The first half saw Mansfield Town struggle to complete the simple things. Too often a pass was over-hit or there was lack of movement throughout. This was obviously good news to The Silkmen who grew more and more in confidence the more the home side struggled.
In a half of little chances for either side, it was the visitors who threatened first when the dangerous Matthew Tipton hit the post after five minutes. With Stags struggling to create even half chances, the only scare to Alan Fettis in the Silkmen's goal came from an effort from Derek Asamoah that flew over the crossbar.
On 41 minutes, with Mansfield looking to try and break down the resolute visitors rear guard, Macclesfield struck and struck in real style. Jon Parkin, who had twice netted in midweek for The Silkmen hustled and bustled and played a perfect ball for the Macc left wing back, Graham Potter, he then sent in an inch-perfect cross onto the experienced head of striker, Mike Sheron who from 8 yards neatly headed home. It was a great breakaway goal and left Stags boss, Keith Curle with major job to do in the half time break to get his side to not only dictate the 2nd half, but to also come back from a goal behind.
He began by making two changes as Guy Ipoua and Neil MacKenzie were introduced at the start of the half for Dimech and Corden.
The effect was instantaneous as Mansfield surged forward in wave after wave in a dominating but strangely ineffective style. Macclesfield were defending with everything they had got and even though at times, it looked decidedly desperate, it did prove effective in stemming The Stags ambitions to get back into the game.
Stags forced a total of 6 corners in the 2nd 45 minutes but they all came to nothing. It was evident that Stags did indeed deserve something for their efforts but as the half wore on, the feeling that it wasn't going to be Mansfield's day became more and more obvious.
Curle threw on O'Neill with twelve minutes to go hoping that the tall striker would finally get of the mark for Mansfield but he proved ineffective.
The final whistle blew to scenes of derision from the terraces whilst the Macclesfield players celebrated what was for them, a massive result.
This coming Saturday The Stags entertain Coca Cola League 1 side, Colchester United in the 1st Round of the FA Cup. With The Stags only scoring 1 goal in their last five games, Keith Curle will be desperate for an upturn in fortune and a break from League action just may be the tonic he needs to reinstall some much needed confidence into his side. The U's boast two wins and four draws from their travels this season and sit in 15th place in League 1 but have not won in their last six outings.
STAGS PROVE A DAMP SQUIB...
Evening Post, 08 November 2004
Mansfield Town 0 v 1 Macclesfield Town
There were a few rockets in the Mansfield dressing room at half-time after a dire 45 minutes against Macclesfield.
The trouble is, that although Keith Curle lit the touchpaper, the fireworks were faulty.
Something is wrong with the Stags at the moment.
They look a shadow of the side which recorded successive 4-1 wins against Yeovil and Northampton earlier in the season.
Curle demanded promotion from his players at the beginning of the campaign.
And despite starting with a couple of defeats, the plan seemed to be working.
But the Stags are lame - and it's not clear what the problem is or how to fix it. It's a worrying dilemma for Curle.
His side have managed just one victory inside 90 minutes in 11 games, since the 1-0 home success against Rochdale almost two months ago.
Mansfield have only one win in eight League Two matches to their name and have failed to register a victory since the 3-1 triumph against Notts County on October 16.
One clue to the poor run is in the goals tally in recent weeks.
The Stags have scored just once in five games and, on Saturday, they failed to notch at home for a second weekend running, as they extended their run of matches without a goal to three.
They have found the target in just four of their last 11 games - and Colin Larkin's form has suffered accordingly.
The Irishman has failed to find the net since his goal against County and his run is as bad as Mansfield's, with just that one effort to show from his last 11 games.
The Larkin and Parkin striker contest was won hands down by the gargantuan Macclesfield striker on Saturday.
Larkin hardly got a look in, but League Two hotshot Jon Parkin was a constant threat as the visitors produced a highly professional display for their second win in a week against Mansfield.
Curle said after the midweek defeat that his players are better than opposition manager Brian Horton's.
That may be the case, but the League Two table does not lie.
And, even if Curle's players are among the best in the division, there is no getting away from the fact that the Stags' current form is poor.
The result left Mansfield, who were sitting pretty a few weeks ago, in 12th place.
The stark reality for Stags fans is that their side are now only three points ahead of the last side they managed to beat in the section, local rivals and League Two strugglers Notts County, and a full nine points adrift of leaders Scunthorpe.
Some supporters are already losing interest - and belief that the side can go one better than last season and clinch promotion.
After 5,000-plus crowds at Field Mill for the games against Bristol Rovers, Northampton, Lincoln and Notts County, the 3,816 which saw Saturday's contest was the lowest home attendance for a League Two game this season.
Curle's half-time words and personnel changes did produce enough of a spark for an improvement in the second half - with Neil MacKenzie's enthusiastic contribution standing out as one of the few highlights of the afternoon.
But it all amounted to a flicker rather than a bonfire as Macclesfield deservedly bagged three points, courtesy of Mike Sheron's far-post header late in the first period, to end Mansfield's unbeaten home league run which stretched since their opening-day defeat.
Many more performances like this and it will be a long, hard winter for Curle and his players.
If they don't improve in the coming months, promotion will become nothing more than a pipe dream for the Stags.
STRIKER GLOOMY AFTER LOAN SPELL
Evening Post, 08 November 2004
Joe O'neill admits he was disappointed not to have featured more in his three-month loan spell with Mansfield.
But the striker says he enjoyed his time at Field Mill.
"It's been a good club to play for," said O"Neill, who returned to Preston for training today.
"I haven"t had as much time on the pitch as I would have liked. I"ve come on as sub in most games. I would have liked to have started a few more but the team have been doing all right so I can"t really complain."
BOSS SET FOR CUP STRUGGLE
Evening Post, 08 November 2004
Keith Curle has only 14 fit players available for Saturday's FA Cup clash with Colchester.
But the Stags boss hopes to sign a new striker from a higher division club, this week.
Derek Asamoah and Colin Larkin are the only two front-men available for the first-round encounter with Phil Parkinson's outfit at Field Mill.
On-loan Guy Ipoua and Craig Woodman will not be involved as their clubs do not want them cup-tied, and Joe O'Neill's loan is not being extended.
Chris Tate has been released, although he can train with the club as he recovers from an ankle injury, and Adam Eaton has been ruled out until next year with a hip problem.
Rhys Day could be available but that still leaves Curle with only 15 seniors available - including reserve keeper Jason White.
Curle hoped to sign a striker in time for the game - and looks set to bring in more loan players.
"It was made apparent at the start of the season that we were going to have to use the loan system as and when required and we've tried to use it diligently," he said.
"The likelihood is that before the end of the season we will be taking other people on loan.
"We need a striker. I've been looking for the past three weeks.
"We're in the final stages with one player. We made a bid which was initially turned down, but we're still hopeful.
"Ideally if we get the right quality player we'd like to bring him in permanently, but we'll only bring in the right people at the right time. They've got to be of the right calibre."
Curle praised Preston man O'Neill for his three months at Field Mill - and hinted he wants to make Woodman's loan a permanent switch.
He will make a decision on Ipoua this week.
"With Craig, it depends on Bristol City. He has proved he's a good player who can cope adequately at this level.
"I've got to have a conversation with Guy this week - he's unavailable for the FA Cup game and that would have been his last game for us."
Curle will demand a much-improved display from his players against Colchester after what he described as an "unacceptable" first 45 minutes against Macclesfield.
"The players looked tentative in the first half. There was no urgency and we didn't play the game at the right tempo," he said.
"We've got players who can sparkle but we looked a yard short."
HORTON USES CURLE JIBE TO GOOD EFFECT
Evening Post, 08 November 2004
Brian Horton says Macclesfield"s second successive win against Mansfield has set his side up nicely for their FA Cup first-round trip to Alfreton on Saturday.
"We scored a great goal," said the Silkmen's long-serving manager.
"It was a great move and a wonderful ball in for the goal -it was good enough to win any game."
Horton believes his side were worthy winners.
"In the second half we had to stick in there. They made some changes and threw another attacker on and we had to stand our corner and weather it a bit.
"But we were still dangerous on the break and I thought our system worked well. The lads worked very hard."
The triumphant manager says Keith Curl'"s words after Macclesfield"s midweek win against Mansfield helped inspire his side.
After the Stags' 4-0 humbling in last week's LDV Vans Trophy tie, Curle said that he had a better set of players than Macclesfield.
"We had a few words about it," admitted Horton. "Sometimes it's best not to say things. I played the same side as I did on Tuesday and they looked good.
"We asked the front three to defend when we didn't have the ball and they were dangerous on the break.
"There were one or two who got bumps and bruises but if you defend the way we did that will happen."
Horton was impressed with match-winner Mike Sheron.
"He's lively and has a touch of class about him. The front three are dangerous and as good as there is in this league.
"That was a nice way to finish in the league for a couple of weeks."
DAY AIMS TO PLAY IN CUP
Evening Post, 06 November 2004
Rhys Day is hoping to be fit for next Saturday's FA Cup clash with Colchester.
"I've torn a few ankle ligaments and have got severe bruising, but I'm back running now," said the Mansfield defender.
"I should be training again this week. I'm hoping to play in a reserve game on Wednesday and if I get through that OK I'm hoping I can be involved at the weekend."
Latest | November 2004