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Archived News from April 2005

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18th April 2005 13:15


NEW BOY HAPPY
Evening Post, 18 April 2005
Jason White was happy with his performance on his full league debut.

"I think it went well," said the Stags keeper. "I had a bit of a shaky start but after the first 15 minutes I settled down and I thought I played well.

"I had a few corners and crosses to deal with. There wasn't anything too strenuous but what I did do, I thought I did well.

"I didn't really know what to expect or how the crowd would be with me but they were fantastic.

"I just want to build on what I did on Saturday and put in some good performances between now and the end of the season - and build on it again for next season.

"I thought the communication with the defence went well. I've played behind Bap for a long time and Rhys, when I've played for the reserves, so it wasn't totally alien for me."

PALMER: WE DESERVED IT
Evening Post, 18 April 2005
Boss Carlton Palmer said his side were worth three points, despite needing a stoppage-time goal to rescue one.

"I thought we were the better side throughout and we should have won the game," said the Stags boss.

"I was disappointed with their goal. We knew what to expect from them but we got done by a long ball.

"Up until then, we were the better side. We created chances. Performances equal results. They had a good spell but we dug in.

"I don't think Darlington deserved anything from the game.

"We're a good young side but we want to get fitter so we are the fittest side in the division next year.

"We're doing a pre-season now and I was delighted with the way we passed the ball. It was a good performance."

On Jason White, Palmer said: "I thought he was excellent. He dealt with crosses well and made one great save.

"He can kick the ball a long way and it enables the back four to squeeze up."

Darlington manager Dave Hodgson said: "We felt we had three points in the bag. It was a massive disappointment not to win the game. We played well for the majority of the 90 minutes."

NEXT TIME STAGS WILL BE SO YOUNG AT HEART
Evening Post, 18 April 2005
Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Darlington

If Stags are looking for a new shirt sponsor in the near future, Young's would be an appropriate name to display.

The average age of the Mansfield Town starting 11 dropped with Jason White making his full league debut as a replacement for experienced goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington.

He was given a warm welcome by the Field Mill tannoy announcer, who curiously knocked a couple of years off his true age of 21 when introducing him to the fans.

By the end of the game, striker Richie Barker must have felt like a Mansfield old boy making a guest appearance for the Stags youth team, even though his 29 years hardly make him a veteran.

With three games left and nothing to play for, the result was not important.

But what is significant is that Carlton Palmer is using the end-of-season run-in as an opportunity for his young team to gel.

The young guns are gaining experience with every game they play.

In their very early 20s, White and midfielder Fraser McLachlan were senior pros compared to some of the fresh-faced youngsters on show for Stags.

And it's easy to forget that Alex John-Baptiste and Jake Buxton, now experienced players, are among the promising crop of very young stars Palmer is working with.

The starting line-up included teenage midfielders Callum Lloyd, Giles Coke and Adam Rundle - with 18-year-old Danny Heron introduced as a late substitute.

Rhys Day, Alex Neil, Simon Brown and Gareth Jelleyman made up a very youthful side.

In addition to building a squad he hopes will be good enough to challenge for promotion next term, Palmer is also thinking in business terms.

He knows that if he can nurture his young players in the right way, he will have a lot of in-demand talent at his disposal.

It was an eventful afternoon for Day.

He wasted an opportunity to give Stags the lead in the opening two minutes with a poor penalty but made amends with a stoppage-time header to prevent a second successive defeat.

But if the game was about an individual player as far as Stags fans were concerned, it was White.

His only moment which even vaguely resembled an error was in the second half, when he took his time over a clearance.

When he did eventually take a swing at the ball, it struck Darlington goalscorer Clyde Wijnhard - but rebounded back to White.

The keeper enjoyed a good game. He was competent and confident and hardly put a foot - or hand - wrong for the entire 90 minutes.

One of the reasons Darlington failed to prosper from corners was White's positioning and catching.

He made one good stop with his feet - and raced off his line late on to prevent substitute Akpo Sodje doubling the visitors' advantage.

Of the two keepers on show, he looked much safer than his opposite number Sam Russell.

No fault was attached to White for Darlington's goal - he was well positioned when Wijnhard was allowed to slot home unmarked at the far post.

And Pilkington would probably be first to admit that his kicking is not as good as White's, a point Palmer was quick to pick up on after the game.

On Saturday's evidence, Pilkington's reign as first-choice stopper is under threat.

Pilkington's experience still gives him the edge but White has had to settle for a place on the bench for long enough - and he was keen to let Palmer know that he is by no means content just to make up the numbers.

He didn't let anyone down and it's clear that he is already a fans' favourite.

Both men have said they want to sign new contracts and Palmer wants them to sign.

It looks likely the two will be Mansfield's first and second- choice keepers next season - what seems less obvious now is which player will be in pole position at the start of the campaign.

Three more appearances like Saturday's before the season's end and White will present Palmer with an interesting problem.

As for the result, a point was no more than Mansfield deserved.

The home side played some good football and the likes of Coke, Rundle and Lloyd made some telling contributions.

The entertainment level was more akin to some of Mansfield's recent away displays - and the home fans got behind their side.

They witnessed a battling performance, with Coke and McLachlan never afraid to put a tackle in.

And there was even a Terry Butcher moment from John-Baptiste, who changed into his second shirt of the day after a bang on his nose left the first blood-stained.

Mark Roach's Stags man of the match: Jason White.
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darlofc.co.uk

Mansfield Town 1 Darlington 1
By Danny King

Danny King reports in for the last time this season after he witnessed Darlo throw away two vital points. With results going our way elsewhere we are still in the play offs and now have a two point gap over Northampton Town.
Inside the first minute at Field Mill, Adam Rundle almost apologetically stumbled in the penalty area to win the home side a penalty. But 93 minutes later, despite a disappointing last minute leveller from the Stags, Quakers look more likely than ever to follow the lead of their former winger and almost apologetically stumble into the play-offs.

Baby-faced Rundle's cheeks were even more red than usual as he threw himself to the ground after the merest hint of a trailing leg from Ryan Valentine, an embarrassed grin on his face as he picked himself up.

And should Quakers make the top seven, they too will have cause to feel mightily relieved and perhaps even a tad diffident. But despite splashing out big bucks on Andy Kirk, Northampton seem even less capable of stringing together a run of results than we are, while Wycombe's late run appears to have come just too late.

Of course, there are still three games left and nine points to play for, but with Northampton and Wycombe both losing, what seemed like a disappointing point come 4.45pm (later than that actually, so deep into injury time was the goal) suddenly became a step closer to the play-offs. Had we held on and won this game, of course, we'd have been four points clear and even we'd have struggled to throw away that lead.

But a draw was probably the fairest results, despite the heartbreaking circumstances in which three points became one. Quakers were rarely exceptional but performed fairly well against a Mansfield side who Carlton Palmer seems to have got back on the right lines. With several young players, perhaps his resemblance to former kids' TV favourite Pob earns him huge respect in the dressing room and gets the best out of his side, but either way they didn't look a bad team.

Hodgy opted for the 4-4-2 formation which fans have been crying out for all season – albeit probably more out of necessity than choice with so many injuries to centre-backs – and Darlo produced a more balanced performance than of late. Ryan Valentine and Joe Kendrick were both brought in from the cold to play as full-backs, while Curtis Fleming was partnered by new boy Matthew Bates. Neil Wainwright-wright-wright was on the right and Bobby Petta started on the left-wing, with Matty Appleby and Stephen Thomas in the centre of midfield. Alun Armstrong came back from injury to partner Clyde. A lot of changes from the defeat at Cambridge, that's for sure.


Chris Hughes, Ian Clark, Adrian Webster and Craig Russell were not even in the squad at all, although Chris Hughes looked quite happy eating an ice cream he bought from outside the ground. But just seconds into the game, Rundle appeared to be on ice as he went down, seeming much keener to throw himself to the ground than he is to sign a contract at Mansfield, or indeed anywhere. Referee Trevor Parkes was equally eager to point to the spot, and their number five Rhys Day stepped up to take it.

But with Sam Russell in goal, you always believe he might just save a spot-kick, and he guessed the right way to parry the admittedly poor effort from 12 yards. A massive save which brought back memories of an equally early and equally important Andy Collett penalty save down at Cheltenham at around this stage in the 2000 play-off season.

It brought the 500-odd Darlo fans to life but alas not the game, which was fairly drab to begin with although young Rundle – still only 20 but with his fourth club – posing a threat despite being booed each time he touched the ball. He got a few crosses in and won several free-kicks, while Stags' other winger Simon Brown also looked vaguely threatening, but they didn't have much punch up-front and most of the first-half seemed to consist of Darlo passing the ball around in defence, interjected by the odd burst up the wing by Wainwright or occasionally Petta.

Mansfield had a young goalkeeper making his league debut and disappointingly he had little to do in the first 45 minutes except catch the odd cross. But the same could be said for Russell other than his penalty save, although he was spraying some great balls out from goal-kicks.


Half-time saw the appearance of some cheerleaders remiscent of the Darlo Divas who sashayed about with little organisation or style, much like our performance at Cambridge. It also gave Darlo fans the chance to sample what must have been some of the division's most expensive food – perhaps how they intend to raise the money for Rundle's contract? But even at £2.60 for a burger, they probably won't get enough cash to keep Rundle's dad happy.

To be fair to the South Shields-born midfield mercenary, his first half performance had earnt him a cut of the pie profits but the second half saw Ryan Valentine come into his own and start marking him out of the game. Matthew Bates was also improving as the game went on, not only winning headers and making tackles but also trying to play the ball out of defence and making surges up the pitch.

But with two defensive midfielders in Appleby and Thomas – and with Thomas still not looking sharp – while Petta spent most of the game wandering around hands on hips or jogging around in his mono-paced style, where was the creativity going to come from? The answer came shortly after the hour mark, and it was the same answer that it has been so often down the years – Neil Wainwright.

The white-legged winger may not have enjoyed his best season so far, his inconsistency mirroring that of the team, but he his contribution to the opener was vintage Wainwright. Racing onto a fantastic raking ball from the back by Master Bates, his first touch was exemplary. His second took him past a defender and as he reached the bye-line, he produced an excellent cut-back to present Wijnhard with the simple task of grabbing his second in two games from about a yard.

That made him Quakers' top scorer this season and he may have his critics at times but the Dutchman has a hunger to score goals that some of his team-mates seem to be lacking. And whatever anybody says – and despite an annoying penchant for being offside in this game – he is one of our hardest working players.

The goal seemed to give Darlo impetus as, rather than sit back on a lead like we've done so many times, we started to look capable of getting a second. Matty Appleby went off, presumably with an injury, to be replaced by Brian Close, and then Petta was replaced by St Juste, presumably because he once again wasn't actually contributing anything much to the side. Sodje came on for Armstrong as well, and managed to run the ball out of play for no apparent reason as his legs went off on a different tangent to his brain with about his first touch, but he also won a few headers.

Armstrong hadn't really done anything so despite his lack of any real football ability, Sodje was an improvement and Quakers could have added a couple more. Mansfield's young 'keeper, called Jason White but no relation to the former Darlo loanee, first made a good save with his legs from Wijnhard, and then the Dutch destroyer shot just wide from a narrow angle after more good work from Wainwright.

At the other end, Adam Rundle had a shot blocked and then showed superb technique to lash the rebound powerfully towards goal, but Russell made a great parry. The 'keeper had earlier been lucky to escape his sixth booking of the season when he got involved in a slight scuffle following a foul and then typically pointless reaction from Close, and had also sliced a couple of clearances, but showed the form that will probably make him player of the season with that save.

As the game neared its final stages, Darlo began to do their party piece of taking the ball towards the corners and then losing it almost immediately. It's one thing doing that when it will stick, but with us it never does. Nonetheless, as the ref signalled four minutes of injury time, it seemed as though we may hold on for another away win.

But in the third minute of injury time, disaster struck. A Rundle corner was put behind for another flag-kick, which the same player floated in and Day – the guy who'd had his penalty saved 92 minutes earlier – powered home. It was hard to tell from our spot behind the opposite goal who had been supposed to pick up Day, but judging by his reaction to the goal, it may well have been big Sodje.

Quakers barely had time to restart the game before the final whistle was blown. Just as they had at Northampton earlier in the season, Darlo had squandered two points in the last minute by failing to deal with a corner. But then came news of the results of the teams around us. Two points lost, yes – but this could just turn out to be the point that sees us gatecrash a play-off place.

After the game Assistant boss Mark Proctor spoke to Radio Cleveland and said that they were disappointed to lose two points in injury time but remained upbeat. "Obviously the last few seconds of the game when we thought we've got the three points in the bag, but lets be honest fellas you know you never thought we going to get off Scott free did you? We make things very, very difficult for ourselves don't we and obviously it is a massive disappointment at the moment.

"But on the plus side I thought we played ever so well for the majority of the ninety minutes, it was a massive improvement on last week but ultimately someone being unprofessional in the eighteen yard box from a set play has cost us a goal which we warned them about at half time. We thought possibly the only way they were going to break us down was from a rash tackle from one of our players in the defending third or from a set play and it proved to be costly."


Player Ratings

Sam Russell – 7 – excellent penalty save and good handling, kicking was a bit of a mixed bag though.

Ryan Valentine – 7 – dealt well with threat of Rundle, hopefully he'll stay in the side now.

Joe Kendick – 6 – some shaky moments but that's no surprise after his long absence. Definitely adds balance to the side.

Curtis Fleming – 7 – great reading of the game and some cool defending.


Matthew Bates - Man Of The Match


Matthew Bates – 8 – got better and better as game went on – good in the air and can play the ball out of defence.

Neil Wainwright – 7 – hard-working display and caused problems for Mansfield defence throughout, great work for the goal.

Matty Appleby – 6 – started the game superbly as he ran midfield but influence waned. (sub Brian Close – 5 – main contribution was a couple of fouls)

Stephen Thomas – 5 – still looks off the pace – works hard but is always chasing and rarely seems to get there.

Bobby Petta – 5 – after a committed display at Cambridge last week, went back to looking largely disinterested and had no real influence on the game. (sub Jason St Juste – 6 – keen and eager and a couple of good runs)

Alun Armstrong – 5 – a peripheral figure, when he's not scoring he's not doing much else. (sub Sodje – 5 – won a couple of headers but also managed to look ungainly on the ball and was the late goal his fault?)

Clyde Wijnhard – 7 – an example to our other so-called 'Galaticos' – worked hard, some great balls and hungry enough to get in that box and score.

Final score - Field Mill Ground Attendance: 3,569

Mansfield 1 - 1 Darlington
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Observer report by Steve Hartshorn

DAY STUNS QUAKERS TO EARN STAGS A POINT

Rhys Day earned The Stags a share of the spoils against Play Off chasing Darlington with a dramatic late equaliser at Field Mill last weekend.

It seemed as if Day would become the villain of the piece after missing a first minute penalty, especially when the visitors took the lead on 66 minutes with a simple tap in for Clyde Winjhard, but Day got on the end of a Rundle corner kick two minutes into stoppage time to become the hero and gain Mansfield a deserved point.

Following a training ground injury to custodian Kevin Pilkington, Stags boss, Carlton Palmer gave a full league debut to Jason White and the young keeper gave a confident and assured display.

Stags, eager to get back to winning ways after their heavy defeat against Yeovil Town where given a perfect opportunity when after only 25 seconds Neil Wainwright upended Adam Rundle in the area and Stags were awarded a spot kick. However, whereas last weekend Day was successful, this time he was left cursing as his poor penalty was saved by Sam Russell in the Quakers goal.

After the escape from the missed penalty, the visitors, themselves desperate to bounce back from the previous weeks shock defeat against bottom of the table, Cambridge United began to mount pressure on The Stags goal winning a succession of corners. However their only real threat from the opening period came from a well worked free kick, which resulted in left back Joe Kendrick firing just over White's crossbar.

Stags came back and following a dangerous run by Alex Neil, Lloyd scooped the ball over the bar. Richie Barker was beginning to make an impact on the game with a powerful shot from a free kick that went well wide and following a cross by Rundle, Barker headed over.

Neil Wainwright created the next opening when his low cross was met by Alun Armstrong but his effort sailed just over the angle.

Stags captain, Alex John-Baptiste took a blow to the nose and had to leave the field to get attention and to change his shirt during which Jason White was forced to make his first real save of the game when Thomas shot towards goal.

The Quakers had been testing the patience of Referee Parkes all afternoon with a series of fouls one of which pushed him a little too far and forced him to produce the first yellow card of the encounter; Neil Wainwright the recipient.

Wainwright was again the centre of attention when he got on the end of a pass from Winjhard to slot the ball home. However, the linesman's flag was already raised and the goal was ruled out.

On 51 minutes, Darlington received their second booking of the game when Steven Thomas had his name taken for a foul on Rundle. Neil took the kick laying the ball off to Rundle who first shot was blocked and his second attempt well saved by Russell.

The visitors took the lead on 66 minutes with a goal of simplicity. A fine ball from Bates set Wainwright free down The Stags left hand side, his low cross avoided White and with The Stags defence on the back foot, Quakers striker, Clyde Winjhard was left with the simple task of tapping in from close range.

The Quakers keeper, Russell his hit a back pass straight to Richie Barker, but the Stags big striker failed to find the back of the net, Russell saving well at his near post.

Both Managers made a number of changes and both side continued to create chances. Winjhard and Close for the visitors and Rundle with a tame header for Mansfield.

Minutes from the end, White reacted well to save at the feet of Quakers substitute Jason St'Juste.

However deep into added on time, Stags forced a number of corners and from the last found the equaliser they had been searching for. Rundle sent over the kick where Day rose to powerfully head the ball home to spark wild celebrations on the terraces and on the pitch. The Darlington players were clearly distraught and at the final whistle many of them dropped to their knees.

This weekend The Stags face the tricky trip to Moss Rose, the home of promotion chasing, Macclesfield Town. Earlier on in the season Stags were hammered 4-0 in the LDV Vans at Moss Rose and days later, beaten 1-0 at Field Mill. Last weekend Macclesfield lost 2-0 away at fellow promotion hopefuls, Lincoln City and so will be eager to get their promotion bandwagon back on track. Whilst Mansfield, with nothing to play for, will be hoping to cause an upset.

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