SUPER STAGS TOPPLE LEADERS
Mansfield Town 1 - 0 Scunthorpe United
Attendance: 5315 (1053 from Scunthorpe)
SUPER STAGS TOPPLE LEADERS
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Mansfield ended the festive period on a real high with their third win in 4 games to knock leaders Scunthorpe off their perch. The Stags were tremendous in a one-sided first half and were unlucky just to have Adam Murray's goal to show for it. After the break, Scunthorpe came into the game very strongly and created a number of long range chances but the Stags defence and midfield remained strong and the Stags deservedly held out for a 1-0 win.
Man of the Match: Luke Dimech
Stagsnet player ratings now in the Match Centre.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn :
A goal on 19 minutes from Midfield dynamo, Adam Murray proved enough for Mansfield Town to defeat table topping Scunthorpe United at Field Mill on Monday.
It proved a perfect start to 2005 at Field Mill for a Stags side that have now won three out of their last five Coca Cola League 2 games and sit just four points behind a Play off position.
The 2-1 defeat away at Northampton Town proved the only downside to a period of games that has finally got The Stags season well and truly back on track. Since the frustrating 0-0 draw at Field Mill against Rushden & Diamonds on December 11th, Caretaker Boss, Carlton Palmer has got to be more than pleased with the points return from his new look Mansfield side.
Successive away victories around the Christmas period at Shrewsbury Town and at 4th placed, Southend United gave players and supporters alike a massive boost, and despite losing on new years day at Northampton Town, the victory over league leaders, Scunthorpe United will no doubt further bolster the confidence in and around Field Mill.
With no game this coming weekend due to The Stags exit and Swansea City progression in this season's FA Cup, Carlton's men have a lengthy rest before taking on relegation threatened Cambridge United at Field Mill (11th January).
Five games, just one defeat, four clean sheets and a points return of 10 from a possible 15 means that after one of the most turbulent periods in the Football Clubs history, 2005 looks to be bright and the prospect of a surge up the Coca Cola League 2 table is now possible.
Top of the table Scunthorpe arrived at Field Mill fresh from a surprising 1-0 home defeat against Darlington and in the first 45 minutes looked lacking of idea's, perhaps the prospect of the visit to Premiership League leaders, Chelsea was having an effect? But take nothing away from a Mansfield Town side that never let their opponents settle and battled for each and every ball.
The Stags dominated the whole of the 1st half and deservedly took the lead on 19 minutes through the hard working, Adam Murray. Good work by Wayne Corden on the left saw the wingman nudge the ball to Murray, who took the ball on the inside before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 23 yards that swerved and beat the desperate dive of Paul Musselwhite to nestle into the left hand side of the Scunthorpe goal and send the majority of the holiday crowd inside Field Mill wild with delight.
The Stags continued to dominate with Richie Barker and the returning, Colin Larkin linking up well and posing problems to the Iron back four, whilst The Stags faced little trouble from the wayward shooting Michael Rankine and largely disappointing, Paul Hayes.
The 2nd half proved a different story as The Iron came out from the blocks eager to get back into the game. Veteran, Peter Beagrie was seeing plenty of the ball but The Stags defended on block and denied United the opportunity. When they did get through the Mansfield rearguard Keeper, Kevin Pilkington proved a more than capable last line as he denied both Rankine and Cliff Byrne.
As Scunthorpe United pushed and pushed for an equaliser, gaps began to appear and United had to be grateful to two decent saves from Musselwhite from Stags 2nd half substitute, Simon Brown.
The last 10 minutes of the game saw the home crowd really rally behind their side and for the first time since Carlton Palmer took Caretaker charge of The Stags, the players left the field at the end of the game to a rousing and well deserved reception.
Palmer was pleased with the display,
“That's 10 points out of the last 15 and I am delighted with the boys, they were fantastic today
Palmer was also happy with the home support,
"I have to say a big thank you to our supporters today as well as they were absolutely magnificent."
Things are certainly looking up at Field Mill and 2005 could well see Mansfield Town making a challenge for promotion.
Observer Man of the Match – Adam Murray. (Worked hard throughout and took his goal well.)
Match stats (Stags/Iron)
11 Goal Attempts 13
8 On Target 4
3 Off Target 9
0 Hit Woodwork 0
4 Offsides 3
3 Corners 3
16 Fouls 12
report from BBC.co.uk
Mansfield 1-0 Scunthorpe
Adam Murray's third goal of the season was enough to see Mansfield upset high-flying Scunthorpe at Field Mill.
The winning goal came in the 19th minute after Wayne Corden's cut-back allowed Murray to smash the ball home from 20 yards out.
The visitors rallied and controlled most of the match with Michael Rankine threatening on several occasions.
The last 10 minutes was end-to-end stuff with both sides missing chances before the whistle saw the Stags home.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Buxton, Baptiste, Dimech, Neil, Corden, Murray, McLachlan, Warne, Barker, Larkin (Brown 65).
Subs Not Used: White, Lloyd, Maxwell, Kitamirike.
Booked: Dimech, Warne, Corden.
Goals: Murray 19.
Scunthorpe: Musselwhite, Sharp, Jackson, Byrne, Ridley, Beagrie, Baraclough, Kell, Sparrow (Taylor 60), Rankine, Hayes (Parton 74).
Subs Not Used: Williams, Barwick, Evans.
Ref: M Fletcher (Worcestershire).
Murray knocks Scunthorpe off top spot
STAGS 1 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 0
ADAM Murray's lone goal shot down League Two leaders Scunthorpe United at Field Mill this afternoon which let Yeovil Town take over top spot.
Stags were good value for their lead on 19 minutes when Murray smashed home a low shot from 20 yards.
But The Iron - without a win in their previous three games - hit back strongly in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
Stags were forced to defend deeply for much of the second half with keeper Kevin Pilkington making excellent saves to deny Michael Rankine and Cliff Byrne.
Substitute Simon Brown had two late chances to seal the points on the break for Mansfield as the visitors threw everything forward, but Paul Musselwhite denied him on both occasions to take a nail biting game right down to the wire.
It was caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer's long overdue first home win in charge and followed up Mansfield's excellent point at Scunthorpe earlier this season.
"That's 10 points out of the last 15 and I am delighted with the boys - they were fantastic today," said Palmer.
"We must have the best defensive record in the league recently - there is a real resolve about us.
"Sometimes we need to slow it down and show more composure. But that will come. The players have a belief and trust what I am telling them as they know I have played at the highest level.
"Everyone was a bit down after Saturday when we felt we were dealt an injustice at Northampton with the sending-off.
"But we worked very hard today and in the end their keeper made two outstanding saves near the end while Kevin Pilkington has not had a lot to do.
"I have to say a big thank you to our supporters today as well as they were absolutely magnificent."
Stags made four changes from the side beaten at Northampton on Saturday.
Tom Curtis (ankle) was ruled out injured, Derek Asamoah was serving his controversial suspension from Saturday's red card, and both Simon Brown and Joel Kitamirike were dropped to the bench.
In came Fraser McLachlan, Wayne Corden, Colin Larkin and Alex Neil.
Scunthorpe, looking to recover from that shock home defeat by Darlington on Saturday - their first in 12 matches - were also struck by injuries and suspension.
The Iron arrived without three of their back four from the weekend with Andy Crosby and Nathan Stanton injured and Andy Butler suspended.
Neil Teggart, on loan from Sunderland, was dropped to the bench but took ill before the game and had to be replaced by Andy Parton.
Into the starting eleven came Mark Jackson, Kevin Sharp, Cliff Byrne and Michael Rankine.
After a minute's silence for the tsunami victims, Ridley's early ball in was flicked by Rankine's header at goal and dropped comfortably into Pilkington's arms.
Mansfield's first attempt was a low 18 yard shot from Wane that lacked enough pace to trouble Musselwhite on seven minutes.
A Corden cross saw Larkin try a superb first time flicked effort off the outside of his foot which Musselwhite did well to tip over, though an offside flag would have ruled it out anyway.
Neil then put a dangerous Sparrow cross out for a corner at the far post which Stags cleared at the second attempt.
Barker required treatment for a bang on the nose.
Shortly after the game restarted, Rankine hooked a hopeful effort on the turn well over from 30 yards.
But Mansfield swept ahead on 19 minutes. Corden teased two defenders on the left of the box before feeding a low ball back towards Murray. Some 20 yards from goal he struck a sweet low shot that swerved away from Musselwhite and inside the right hand post.
Two minutes later Corden let fly from 25 yards with a powerful shot that found the side netting.
The referee allowed two Scunthorpe fouls to go unpunished with Stags still in possession, the move ending with Larkin shooting just wide.
United's first real opportunity came on 33 minutes when Beagrie was allowed to knock Ridley's free kick across the Stags box where Rankine stroked a first time finish wide.
John-Baptiste tried a cheeky 45 yard lob which flew over in reply.
Warne came even closer after excellent control by Barker on he 18 yard line saw him cue up Warne for a low shot which flashed wide of the far post.
Kell went off with a head injury and eventually returned with a bandaged head, a shirt with no name or number on it and shorts with a different number on them!
Hayes was afforded sight of the Mansfield goal and blazed a shot over the bar on 38 minutes.
McLachlan had to limp off after a knock but, with Maxwell stripped and ready for his debut, McLachlan elected to carry on.
The visitors turned the screw as half-time approached and one spell of pressure ended with Hayes finding Kell for a low first time shot wide of goal.
Stags were relieved to hear the half-time whistle with Scunthorpe just starting to get a grip for the first time all afternoon.
United almost levelled inside the first minute of the second half. Pilkington was rooted to his line as a free kick was flicked towards goal. Up leapt Rankine to head goalwards from six yards but Pilkington produced an excellent save to turn it away.
Rankine then almost burst clear onto a through ball but was shepherded wide well by Neil coming across to cover.
The visitors' pressure continued as the Iron forced a corner which Buxton headed clear.
Beagrie managed to wriggle free from the attentions of Warne and Neil but screwed a shot well wide from 20 yards.
On 58 minutes Scunthorpe won a free kick centrally some 25 yards from goal which Baraclough curled low round the wall and only narrowly wide of Pilkington's right hand post.
Sparrow was replaced by Taylor on the hour and within seconds Rankine's shot on the turn was only inches wide.
Dimech saw the afternoon's first yellow card for a foul on 62 minutes.
The pressure continued on Mansfield and Beagrie scraped the top of the bar with a vicious dipper from 30 yards.
Stags sent on Brown for Larkin in a bid to try to get back into the action.
Parton then came on for Hayes on 74 minutes.
Neil's throw-in from the right sent Warne to the by-line, but he drilled the ball across the face of goal with no one able to get a touch.
Warne was booked for a foul on Beagrie as Stags held on with seven minutes to go. Beagrie sent the free kick over towards Byrne whose close range header was well saved by Pilkington.
Brown then should have buried the visitors with a rare Stags chance on 84. Corden's perfect through ball slotted him in the clear but Musselwhite got his legs in the way of the finish from 12 yards.
A minute later Musselwhite saved again as Murray got on the end of a clearance with a superb low shot from 18 yards that the keeper got down to at his near post.
Stags survived another scramble as the clock ticked down.
Corden was booked for another desperate foul on 88 and, from a short taken free kick, Beagrie curled a shot straight at the keeper.
Brown again almost sealed it in stoppage time when he controlled a clearance with four defenders around him and made space for a good shot which Musselwhite turned aside with one hand diving to his left.
The frustrated Sharp was booked for dissent as the game entered the last of the three minutes of time added on.
The final whistle brought huge cheers from the home crowd who had given their side some of the best home support for a long time.
However, Scunthorpe boss Brian Laws couldn't believe his side had lost and said: "The last 48 hours have been very difficult for us.
"But it was quite unjust we took nothing from that game. We deserved something out of it.
"Their goal was awful and should have been saved, but credit to Paul Musselwhite for pulling off two second half saves to keep us in it when we were chasing the game and susceptible to a counter attack.
"We have frightened the lives out of Mansfield today and they will look at this as a fortunate three points. They didn't deserve them.
"There was only one team in it in the second half apart from their hooves up the park as they were defending so deep because we were hurting them.
"I am pleased we showed we have some strength in depth by the performances of the lads who came in today. But our two results this weekend do not show the effort and commitment we have given. We just need a couple of goals."
Stags players now take a hard-earned couple of days rest before starting preparations for their next game - at home to Cambridge United on Tuesday week.
Mansfield Town's caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer celebrated his first home victory to knock League Two leaders Scunthorpe off top spot as the Iron's miserable Christmas continued.
A first-half strike by Adam Murray secured Mansfield's first home win in five games and left the Iron with just two points from their four festive games.
Despite dominating the last hour Scunthorpe forced just two saves from home keeper Kevin Pilkington - and only three fine late stops by his opposite number Paul Musselwhite denied Mansfield a more emphatic victory in a thrilling finish.
Musselwhite was left floundering in the 19th minute as Mansfield turned their early superiority into a goal. Wayne Corden pulled the ball back from the left wing and Murray's 20-yard drive swerved into the bottom corner past the diving keeper.
Two minutes later Corden flashed a 25-yard drive into the side-netting and then Colin Larkin also shot wide as the home side threatened to run riot.
In the 32nd minute, on a rare counter-attack, Scunthorpe should have levelled, the unmarked Michael Rankine scuffing his shot from Peter Beagrie's clever knockdown.
The chance sparked the visitors into life and Paul Hayes then blasted over from an acute angle after a quick turn.
The Iron continued to dominate at the start of the second half, Pilkington's fingertips stopping Rankine's close-range header.
In the 58th minute former Stag Ian Baraclough curled a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide.
Two minutes later Rankine drove past the post after wriggling clear of his marker as Mansfield were forced to defend in depth.
Beagrie curled a long-range effort past the upright and then, eight minutes from time, Cliff Byrne's close-range header was well held by the diving Pilkington - Scunthorpe's last chance to rescue a point.
30 seconds later Mansfield wasted a chance to make it 2-0 when Corden released Simon Brown only for the home debutante to shoot straight at the keeper.
Moments later Murray's piledriver through a crowded penalty area was well held by the diving Musselwhite.
And in stoppage time Musselwhite again kept Scunthorpe in the game, beating away a fierce shot from Brown.
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