VERY POOR STAGS BEATEN IN LAST MINUTE
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 Cheltenham Town
Larkin pen 73. Devaney 61, Finnigan 89
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
The Stags slumped to their first home defeat of 2005 when a late strike from Cheltenham Town's John Finnigan won the game for the visitors at a windswept Field Mill last weekend.
The Stags had fell behind to a well taken goal by Martin Devaney on 61 minutes, but a penalty converted by Colin Larkin on 73 minutes brought The Stags level, only for Stags' chance of gaining ground on the play off pack to be thwarted by Finnigan's late winner.
Both sides had entered the game on the back of two wins, but the windy conditions proved a leveller with neither side managing to control the game in a first half almost devoid of clear cut chances.
Stags started with a front partnership of goalscoring hero, Richie Barker and Colin Larkin, Derek Asamoah who had been feeling unwell, was on the bench.
Following the mid-week dismissal of Simon Brown, Caretaker Boss, Carlton Palmer gave a full debut to Goma Lambu.
The conditions were conspiring to ruin what should have been a decent game from two of the Division's form sides as a mixture of wind, driving rain and bright sunshine limited the capabilities of both sets of players.
It wasn't until the 20-minute mark before Stags posed a real threat to the visitors' goal, with a snap shot by midfielder, Tom Curtis.
Nine minutes later, following a good move involving Lambu and Barker, Colin Larkin should have done better, but after turning well, hit a weak shot towards The Robins goal. Moments later Curtis let fire, but he was frustrated to see Shane Higgs in the Cheltenham goal in a perfect position to make a save.
As the half time break approached, Barker rose to head towards goal but his effort went wide, the big Stags striker taking a knock in the process.
Stags started the 2nd half by replacing Lambu with Derek Asamoah, but it was the visitors who adapted better to the conditions, this time playing with the wind, The Robins almost took the lead but McCann's powerful low shot was well turned away by the outstretched hand of Kevin Pilkington. Moments later a well-worked corner was taken shot and headed narrowly wide by the experienced, Jamie Victory.
Stags were struggling to make any real inroads but on 51 minutes, Jake Buxton was unlucky to see his 25 yard power-drive flash narrowly wide.
Cheltenham came mightily close to taking the lead on 56 minutes but Pilkington brilliantly saved Wilson's near post effort. Moments later a cross by Spencer was almost turned into his own net by Alex Neil, the ball going inches by the post and out for a corner.
The breakthrough came on 61 minutes and came out of nothing. Martin Devaney turned and shot from 25 yards, his effort going in of the near side post with Pilkington comprehensively beaten.
Mansfield almost drew level on 67 minutes but Barker saw his effort cleared from the line by McCann, John-Baptiste hitting the follow up effort wide.
On 73 minutes, Stags were back in the game. Jamie Victory was penalised for upending Asamoah in the box and up stepped Colin Larkin to bring The Stags level, despite a valiant attempt by Higgs who got a hand to the ball but failed to keep it out of the net. It was Larkin's first goal since scoring against Notts County in mid-October.
Barker brilliantly found Rundle in space in the area but the Stags wingman's attempt was deflected wide.
On 82 minutes, Cheltenham Town sent on Odejayi and he was to play an important part in what proved to be the game winner. A short corner in the last minute was played to Odejayi and his low ball from the touchline found Finnigan who blasted the ball into the net to shatter the hearts of the Stags faithful and to give Cheltenham their third win on the trot.
It was a massive disappointment to lose the game for a Stags side who had in midweek beaten Swansea City and before the game had been just one point behind their opponents.
This weekend Stags travel to Bury hoping to get back to winning ways. The Shakers who sit in 18th place in Coca Cola League 2 have only won once in their last thirteen games and drew 2-2 away at Boston United last weekend.
Observer Man of the match – Richie Barker.
Robins Threaten A Play Off Place
In winds that would have suited the art of windsurfing rather than football, the Robins overcame Mansfield Town at Field Mill and moved to within a point of the play off places.
Cheltenham looked good value for the win and although the Robins have played more games than the two sides immediately above them, the possibility of reaching the play offs is now a very real one if the results of late can be kept up.
Cheltenham found it hard to break down the Mansfield defence in the early exchanges, in fact it was the 25th minute before there was anything like a real shot that was to be had, and that came from John Finnigan from the edge of the area and went high over the bar.
Mansfield hit back with efforts from Colin Larkin and John Curtis, but nothing good enough to beat Higgs and when Curtis managed to get his second attempt in, he found Gavin Caines in the way and he was able to clear.
In the second half Cheltenham decided to test Pilkington in the Mansfield goal on a couple of occasions and the keeper passed with good saves, the first came when McCann fired in a low drive from 20 yards which the keeper got down well to save. He made an even better save soon after when a Spencer cross was met my Wilson at the far post with a volley on goal, but somehow the keeper managed to keep the ball out.
Just before Cheltenham went in front McCann saw an effort blocked and then came the breakthrough. Good build up play saw the ball eventually fall for Devaney some 20 odd yards from goal, he was being marked but managed to turn and get in a shot that curled and went in off the post.
Mansfield responded with Higgs trying to deal with Rundle corner that resulted in a Barker effort being cleared off the line by McCann before Baptiste fired wide.
Mansfield pulled themselves back into the game on 72 minutes when a mistimed tackle by Jamie Victory on Derek Asamoah saw the ref point to the spot. Larkin took it and blasted a low drive into the bottom left corner of the net.
With ten minutes of the game left Higgs had to make a smart save when he tipped a Rundle effort around the post
Ward exchanged Guinan for Odejayi and a minute later Spence fired in a shot from distance that went wide of the post. He also went wide with a header after getting on the end of a Devaney cross. Then it was Spence who turned provider when he sent over a cross that was headed down by Ky to Finnegan on the edge of the area who battered the ball into the net, giving Pilkington little chance of seeing the ball pass him, let alone save it.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Neil, John-Baptiste, Buxton, Jelleyman, Lambu (Asamoah 46), Curtis, Murray, Rundle, Larkin, Barker.
Subs not used: White, McIntosh, MacLachlan, Smeltz.
Robins: Higgs, Gill, Caines, Duff, Victory, Wilson, Finnigan, McCann, Devaney, Guinan (Odejayi 82), Spencer.
Subs not used: Brown, Taylor, Bird, Vincent.
Match stats (Stags/Robins)
9 Goal Attempts 10
5 On Target 5
4 Off Target 5
0 Hit Woodwork 0
0 Offsides 4
4 Corners 7
12 Fouls 13
Football First match report:
By John Lomas
transcribed by carole
Finn' finishes it
JOHN FINNIGAN was the last minute hero for Cheltenham as both they and revitalised Mansfield tried to make it three wins on the trot at windswept Field Mill.
The blustery conditions dominated and spoiled a poor first half with few real chances for either side.
But it was Cheltenham who deservedly snatched the lead after 61 minutes.
Home keeper Kevin Pilkington had already produced two fine saves to thwart Grant McCann and Brian Wilson.
But Martin Devaney turned sharply 25 yards from goal and squeezed home a low shot off the inside of the near post.
After 73 minutes Robins' defender Jamie Victory brought down Derek Asamoah in the box and up stepped Colin Larkin to bag his first goal in four months from the penalty spot.
But it was the visitors who had the final say, as substitute Kayode Odejayi pulled a low-ball back from the by-line and Finnegan met it with an unstoppable finish.
Delighted Robins boss John Ward said: “The conditions were difficult for both sides and it probably wasn't as entertaining as it might have been, but both sides tried their best to entertain on the day.
“It was nice to win it in those conditions away from home, and I thought we played the conditions and Mansfield Town very well all afternoon.
Mansfield caretaker manager Carlton Palmer added: “It was a great opportunity today but if you can't do the basic things, starting with working hard, then you won't win football matches.”
Mansfield Town………Cheltenham Town
49-----------Possession %---- 51
5------------Shots on Target---5
5------------Shots off Target---5
Mansfield were stung by a last-gasp strike as John Finnigan earned Cheltenham victory at Field Mill.
Martin Devaney broke the deadlock midway through the second half when his effort was helped home by the inside of the post to put the visitors ahead.
But Colin Larkin stepped up to convert a penalty for the Stags, for the first time this season after Jamie Victory brought down Derek Asamoah
But with just a minute to go Finnigan crashed the ball home to seal the win.
Stags 1 Cheltenham Town 2
MANSFIELD Town had the wind taken out their sails by a late John Finnigan winner for Cheltenham Town at Field Mill this afternoon.
On an afternoon when the powerful winds dominated the action, Stags had not played well but still managed to come from behind with a Colin Larkin penalty.
It looked to be a well-earned point until Finnigan popped up to blaze home the 89th minute winner to give the visitors their third straight win.
After those superb wins over Notts County and Swansea City, the Stags looked jaded and struggled to use the wind to their advantage in a first half ravaged by high winds, bright sunshine and heavy showers.
The Robins then showed them the way after the break, scoring twice and creating several other good chances and Stags had few complaints about the result, despite the winner coming so late.
Stags caretaker boss Carlton Palmer said: "It was a great opportunity today but if you can't do the basic things, starting with working hard, then you won't win football matches.
"I was disappointed with both their goals, in fact it was a disappointing day all-round. We just have to put that one in the drawer now and get on with it.
"I was always concerned about this game after the efforts of the two wins earlier this week. To be honest there were some tired bodies out there.
"Over 90 minutes we didn't deserve anything out the game. No disrespect to Cheltenham but they were not the best side we've faced this season by any stretch.
"But they scored twice, forced some outstanding saves out of Kevin Pilkington and deserved to win. If it had stayed 1-1 it would have been a fortuitous point for us."
Stags, with Simon Brown joining Luke Dimech serving a suspension, brought in winger Goma Lambu for his Mansfield Town debut - a long-awaited reward for several months training with the club after being released by Millwall.
Striker Colin Larkin also replaced Derek Asamoah in the starting line-up.
Grant McCann returned for the Robins after a three-game ban while Damian Spencer returned up front after on-loan Steve Gillespie returned to Bristol City.
The strong wind was behind the Stags as they kicked off attacking the Quarry Lane Stand, up against a Cheltenham side employing five across the back.
That was emphasised when a Pilkington kick and a John-Baptiste free kick both sailed far too long.
Because of the conditions, the early exchanges were inevitably scrappy.
When a defender's clearance was knocked back towards goal by Curtis on 20 minutes it was the nearest we'd come to a shot or a chance in a largely turgid start to the game.
On 25 minutes the visitors forced their second corner, taken by McCann. He pulled it back towards Finnigan whose first time strike flew well over the top.
Larkin might have done better on 29 minutes when a neat move involving Lambu and Barker saw the ball slipped in for Larkin who turned well but sent a tame shot straight at Higgs.
A minute later Curtis tested Higgs from 25 yards but found the keeper perfectly positioned.
Stags forced their first corner on 35 minutes, but Murray turned the ball well over when it was cleared to him 16 yards from goal.
Rundle curled Stags' second corner straight into Higgs' hands as the interval approached.
Barker headed just wide from a Rundle cross in stoppage time, taking a kick as he did so and requiring treatment.
The Robins then had a swift attack in which McCann found Spencer in space. But the striker's poor first touch allowed John-Baptiste time to get in and shepherd the ball out to safety.
Asamoah replaced Lambu for the second half
Cheltenham almost snatched a lead within two minutes. Spencer cut the ball inside from the right and McCann sent in a powerful low shot. Pilkington saw it late and managed to readjust before turning it round the post.
A second corner followed and when it was taken short, McCann's cross was headed narrowly wide by Victory.
On 51 minutes a clearance reached Buxton 25 yards from goal who met it with a powerful first time shot that wasn't too far wide of goal.
The Robins came even closer on 56 minutes. Guinan's clever touch off his heel set Spencer on a run. And he picked out Wilson at the far post who was foiled by a great save from Pilkington to keep out his finish on his near post.
A wind-assisted breakaway saw Spencer cross low to the near post where Neil almost found his own net, poking the ball inches wide of the post for a corner.
The breakthrough arrived for the Robins on 61 minutes and it came from nowhere.
Devaney was in possession on the left some 25 yards from goal. And he simply turned and curled a low finish that found the net off the inside of the near post.
Stags were almost level on 67 minutes as Higgs failed to collect Rundle's corner and Barker turned the ball on goal only to see McCann clear off the line and John-Baptiste bundle the follow-up wide.
The visitors came close again on 70 minutes when Guinan headed just wide from a Devaney cross.
But Stags were level on 73 minutes from the penalty spot. Victory brought down Asamoah just inside the box.
Up stepped Larkin and, although Higgs guessed the right way to dive and got a hand to it, Larkin's kick was too powerful and still found the back of the net.
It was Stags' first penalty success of the season and under-fire Larkin's first goal since 16th October.
A superb cross field ball from Barker found Rundle in acres of space. And his low shot looked goal bound but took a deflection wide for a corner.
Odejayi replaced Guinan up front for Cheltenham for the last eight minutes.
Neil was robbed in possession by Spencer on the edge of the box. But the big striker curled a finish wide.
Stags looked to have at least a hard-earned point in the bag. But there was a sting in the tail.
A short corner saw sub Odejayi pull a low ball back from the by-line towards Finnigan who crashed a sweet 16-yard finish past a helpless Pilkington.
It was yet another disappointing result against one of Mansfield's bogey sides and Robins boss John Ward said: "The conditions were difficult for both sides and it probably wasn't as entertaining as it might have been, but both sides tried their best to entertain on the day.
"It was nice to win it in those conditions away from home and I thought we played the conditions and Mansfield Town very well all afternoon.
"I thought we had done well against the wind in the first half and we then dominated the second half, made a lot of chances and scored two good goals.
"It just shows the confidence in the club that even in the last minute away from home we were pushing people on."
Midfielder John Finnigan cracked in a last minute winner to hand Cheltenham a vital 2-1 win against fellow play-off hopefuls Mansfield at Field Mill.
Finnigan raced on to a clever lay-off from substitute Kayode Odejayi and rammed in a 25-yard drive to stretch Cheltenham's winning run to three games and end Mansfield's own two-match winning sequence.
Mansfield thought they had earned a point when Colin Larkin's 73rd minute penalty, the striker's first goal for four months, cancelled out Martin Devaney's 61st minute curling drive.
But Cheltenham, who adapted better to the gale force wind, had the final say just moments after keeper Shane Higgs had kept them in the game with a diving save to deny Adam Rundle.
Mansfield caretaker manager Carlton Palmer had sprung a surprise before kick-off when he gave a debut to diminutive wing man Goma Lambu. But the former Millwall player had little chance to impress in a turgid opening 20 minutes dominated by the weather.
The home side, backed by the very strong wind, finally created a chance in the 25th minute when good work by Lambu and Richie Barker released Larkin, but he shot tamely at Higgs.
Tom Curtis twice and Adam Murray also went close and in first half injury time Barker, looking for his third goal in a week, headed Rundle's deep cross narrowly wide.
Two minutes into the second half Mansfield keeper Kevin Pilkington was finally forced into action, diving low to his right to palm away a Grant McCann swerving shot.
Cheltenham, now with the gusty wind at their backs, went close again just 30 seconds later when Jamie Victory glanced a McCann corner into the side netting.
In the 55th minute Pilkington acrobatically beat away Brian Wilson's far post finish before the almost incessant Cheltenham pressure finally paid dividends.
There looked to be no danger when Devaney picked up the ball outside of the area on 61 minutes, however, he unleashed a curling effort around an oncoming defender and in off the post to stun the home side.
In the 67th minute McCann scrambled a Barker shot off the line, but Mansfield did level six minutes later when substitute Derek Asamoah was sent tumbling in the area by Victory and Larkin converted the penalty.
Latest | February 2005