BORING DIAMONDS BAFFLE POOR STAGS
Evening Post, 10 August 2005
Chinese torture is legendary. There is one with a tap dripping onto a person's forehead, eventually driving him mad and forcing him into a confession.
And it was an excruciatingly, frustrating and at times agonising night for Stags fans, players and injured manager Carlton Palmer, as Rushden's plan to bore their opponents into submission paid off.
If a film camera had been trained on the supporters, it might have looked as if they were watching a tennis match. The ball was continually pumped from one end to the other. The direction of heads would gradually switch back the other way, before rapidly returning as the Diamonds defenders took it in turns to see how far downfield they could clear.
Except that as well as looking from left to right, then left again, and so on, the fans also looked up, then down, then up again with painful regularity.
If some of the Mansfield faithful woke up with a pain in the neck that is certainly what the visitors were as far as the Stags were concerned.
Part of Rushden"s master plan involved packing their players in two defensive blocks of four, then hoofing the ball upfield as soon as it came anywhere near the goal.
It was dull and destructive - but it was effective though they still needed a good performance from keeper Jamie Young to secure the win.
Young pulled off a stunning save to deny Matthew Tipton in the first half and another impressive stop to keep out Adam Rundle"s effort in the second.
His late block kept out Simon Brown"s powerful effort and there was still time for one more save from Richie Barker's deflected effort in stoppage time.
Then, as if that wasn"t bad enough for Palmer, it got even more frustrating for him as he took exception to Rushden"s loud dressing room celebrations.
The match stats reveal a few of the facts which typified Rushden"s game plan. They committed 21 fouls - the first inside the opening minute and a total of eight in the first 16 minutes - and were caught offside once.
Curiously, the only booking of the night was for a foul by Fraser McLachlan, in the 82nd minute.
Mansfield are one point better off than they were at this stage last season. Had they capitalised on their early dominance, the tally could have been even greater.
Ultimately, the 4-3-3 formation and the second half switch to 4-4-2 didn"t work for Mansfield.
But the three-pronged attack looked like it might produce an early goal.
Richie Barker and Matthew Dawson came close during a bright opening spell in windy conditions, then the lively Tipton was denied in spectacular fashion.
Adam Birchall shot over, Barker fired wide, Gus Uhlenbeek"s 25-yard strike was saved and Dawson was off target as Stags poked and prodded but couldn"t find a killer blow while the proverbial bus was parked in front of the Rushden goal.
Then came the game"s decisive moment. The impressive David Bell, a livewire in midfield, sent a corner low and short to Graham Allen while a team-mate performed a blocking move on Barker, and Allen"s first time strike found the back of the net.
It went from bad to worse as Jon-Olav Hjelde failed to appear for the second half with a dead leg. Palmer was without the suspended Alex John-Baptiste, the injured Des Walker and Kyle Jacobs, recovering after surgery, at Stockport, and his squad has been cut by his own absence with a groin strain and now Hjelde is a doubt for Saturday's clash with Torquay.
Stags toiled in vain in the second half, finishing the match with nine shots on target and six off compared to Rushden's four on target and seven off.
But it wasn"t to be - and the fans" excitement has been tempered by the harsh reality of one point from two games.
Mansfield Town0 v 1Rushden and Diamonds
Rushden & Diamonds Official Site
Report by Rich Beeby.
Rushden and Diamonds claimed their first league win on the road since last October's triumph at Shrewsbury as they showed true character to overcome a determined Mansfield side.
Graham Allen's goal a minute before the break was enough to separate the two sides, although Jamie Young was forced to make a string of saves between the posts to guarantee the deserved win.
Rushden and Diamonds Manager Barry Hunter made one enforced change to his starting line-up as Diamonds made the visit to Field Mill.Dave Savage's calf injury meant that new loan signing Ashley Nicholls was able to make his debut on the day he joined the club on a 3 month spell from Cambridge United.Nicholls started in the centre with David Bell moving back to the right wing having temporarily moved to the centre in Saturday's game.
Mansfield made a storming start to the game and almost went ahead inside the opening two minutes.Jamie Young was unable to collect from a Gareth Jelleyman right-wing corner allowing Adam Birchall to fire a low shot, which Greg Pearson hastily cleared off the line, at the far post.
Young had to save superbly to deny Matthew Tipton a goal from his strong, angled drive, on ten minutes as The Stags continued to dominate, with Diamonds struggling to make any headway in the game early on.
In response to the early onslaught Diamonds saw Neil McCafferty's long, looming ball find Greg Pearson who used his pace to get behind the Stags defence but could only fire into the side netting, with little in support, after 14 minutes.
Young saved at the second attempt from Adam Birchall's close range dinked shot on 16 minutes as Mansfield relentlessly pressed, although this did begin to calm as Diamonds stoutly stuck to their task.
Marcus Kelly blazed his shot over the Mansfield crossbar after 30 minutes after a far post clearance from a David Bell corner whilst at the other end Gus Uhlenbeek tested the reactions of Young once more.
As the first half drew to a close Stags saw Stephen Dawson fire his shot from a squared ball across the box, narrowly wide of Young's left hand post, on 35 minutes.
Diamonds finally managed to dose down the chances peppered on their goal and forced several chances of their own before half-time.
Following three consecutive Stags corners Diamonds hit back on the break superbly, with David Bell bursting through the centre of the pitch before firing a strong shot, from the edges of the box, which Pressman diverted wide for a corner, on 40 minutes.Seconds later Gulliver saw his 25 yard shot fire narrowly wide of Pressman's left post.
With the game appearing to be going into the break goalless the Diamonds sneaked what at that time could be considered a lucky lead following a David Bell right-wing corner, on 44 minutes.Bell played the corner low towards the 6 yard box where Graham Allen was able to pounce to fire home at the near post past a helpless Pressman, much to the admiration of his team mates and the loyal Diamonds support behind Pressman's goal.
Mansfield made a change at the start of the second half bringing on Jake Buxton for Jon Hjelde but it was Diamonds who bossed the opening stages.
Bell fired over the bar from a Kelly free-kick, on 52 minutes.Two minutes later Simon Brown came on for Gus Uhlenbeek as The Stags made their second change.
Mansfield missed a glorious chance to equalise on 58 minutes when Barker set off Birchall to race clear of the Diamonds defence; however the striker could only fire directly at Young who was more than equal to his shot.
With Mansfield struggling to equal their first half performance, Carlton Palmer made his final change with Adam Rundle replacing Tipton, on 64 minutes.
Within a minute of the change Mansfield forced Young into a fine save as he smartly denied Fraser McLachlan's 18 yard strike.Diamonds made a change on 68 minutes as Pearson was replaced by Jason Taylor, to vary the Diamonds attacking options.
Jelleyman struck a curling left-footed free-kick into the hands of Young, who saved at the far post, on 72 minutes before a low Chillingworth strike from 25 yards had Pressman stooping low to save, at the other end.
Diamonds were in dominant mood in the second period and came close to doubling their lead when Pressman had to tip over Gulliver's header from a Chillingworth ball, on 75 minutes.Young though had to be lively and saved low to deny Rundle on the break after Dawson's superb run and lay off, immediately following the Diamonds attack.
McLachlan worked his way into the referee's book after halting the run of Chillingworth on 81 minutes.Chillingworth was racing towards goal following a fine burst through the centre and lay off by Kelly; disappointingly Bell could only strike the resultant free-kick at the wall.
With Diamonds desperate to hold onto their lead and wanting to run down the clock Magnus Okuonghae was brought on for Chillingworth on 84 minutes, seconds after the change Diamonds saw Young save well after it looked like Brown had struck the equaliser from close range for Mansfield following a throw.
With four minutes of time added on at the end of the game Diamonds threw men back to hang on amid the inevitable late bid from Mansfield to steal a point.Barker's deflected 25 yard free-kick was saved low to Young's right and Birchall's right-wing cross flashed across the face of the goal but Mansfield could not force a dramatic late equaliser.
Diamonds delight at the final whistle was clear to see.This first League win on the road since last October will come as a massive boost to Barry Hunter and his team, and with a trip fast approaching to Macclesfield on Saturday there is a perfect opportunity for Hunter's men to build where they left off at Field Mill.
Pressman, Peers, Jelleyman, Uhlenbeek (Brown 54), Day, Dawson, Tipton (Rundle 64), Barker, Birchall, McLachlan, Hjelde (Buxton 46).Subs not used: Lloyd, Rundle, Beardsley, Brown.
Rushden and Diamonds:
Young, Gulliver, Hawkins, Allen, Gier, Pearson (Taylor 68), Bell, Chillingworth (Okuonghae 84) Nicholls, McCafferty, Kelly.Subs not used: Woodman, Wark, Grainger.
Referee: Mr N Swarbrick
Goals: Allen 44
Bookings: McLachlan 81
Attendance: 3402 (243 away)
Diamonds Man of the Match: Jamie Young (Fine saves, always alert.One of many strong performances.)
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