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STAGS LOSE TO CITY SLICKERS
Chester City 3 Mansfield Town 1
Blundell (2, 60) Lowe (80). Baptiste (67)
Attendance – 3.079
The most eagerly awaited contest of the season so far ended in abject misery for Mansfield Town as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chester City last Friday.
Chester, managed by former Stags boss, Keith Curle and containing four ex-Stags players in their starting line up bettered their opponents in every part of the field. The defeat, Stags fourth in just seven league starts, leaves the Field Mill club in a lowly 20th place in Coca Cola League 2.
It was the first time Curle had come up against The Stags since his dismissal and his new side could not have got off to a better start when after a first minute corner, Ben Davies crossed and striker, Gregg Blundell stooped to head in from close range.
It was just the start Carlton Palmer must have dreaded and was yet another goal conceded by the Stags from a set piece situation.
It was almost two a few minutes later when Blundell returned the compliment, this time though, Davies was inches wide with his effort from eight yards.
It took Mansfield until the 26th minute before they posed any kind of threat to the City goal, Jelleyman heading over after Alex John-Baptiste's effort had been blocked.
City should have added a second on 36 minutes when Kevin Pressman inexplicably dropped a simple cross from Regan with the dangerous Blundell in close attendance. Thankfully Pressman redeemed himself saving Blundell's effort but could do nothing about Ryan Lowe's return, which struck the woodwork; finally, Davies hit the ball wide.
Stags ended the half on a bright note when fine play between Coke and Uhlenbeek saw the ball reach Brown in the area, the Stags striker turned neatly but flashed his effort wide of goal.
The 2nd half was only minutes old when Coke brought the best out of Mackenzie in the Chester goal, the keeper getting down well to parry away the effort.
Chester though were still looking dangerous, Branch bringing a blocking save out of Pressman and following a low cross, Lowe smashed the ball into the side netting.
City grabbed their 2nd of the night on the hour mark. City captain, Michael Branch sent over a tantalizing cross that beat Pressman but was met by the head of Gregg Blundell who made no mistake from 6 yards.
Stags boss, Palmer made two changes, bringing on Dawson and Rundle for Talbot and Coke.
On 67 minutes, Mansfield were seemingly back in the game when a jinking run and cross by Adam Rundle was powerfully headed home by Baptiste. Ironically The Stags were finally showing some enterprise but it had taken until the home side were two goals up before doing so!
Jake Buxton was replaced by Hjelde as the game erupted into life with both sides going full out for goal. Branch who had been a thorn in the Stags side all night, lobbed an effort inches wide, whilst at the other end, Rundle should have done better but flashed his first time shot wide of the keepers right hand post.
Mansfield were in desperate search of an equaliser but on 80 minutes were caught on the break as City scored a game killing third. Drummond setting up Ryan Lowe for a confident finish.
The wind had been taken out of the Mansfield sails as the home side went in search of a 4th, encouraged by a goal-hungry home following who were enjoying seeing their side climb to second place in the League table.
The final whistle was greeted with glee on three sides of the ground, whilst the Mansfield fans shuffled away in a mood of doom and gloom.
Afterwards, Chester Manager, Keith Curle could not hide his delight,
"That was very satisfying. Our performance level, effort and commitment were superb.”
Stags Manager, Carlton Palmer was less impressed,
"We were poor - end of story. I thought we were second best all over the park and there are no excuses for it.”
This weekend Mansfield take on Darlington at Field Mill. The Quakers sit in 4th place in League 2, just three points away from leaders, Notts County.
MacKenzie, Branch (Bertos 90), Davis (Walker 90), Regan, Blundell (Richardson 90), Dimech, Lowe, Curtis, Drummond, Artell, McNiven
Subs not used; Vaughan, Bolland.
Pressman, Peers, Jelleyman, Day, Baptiste, Uhlenbeek, Barker, Buxton (Hjelde 68), Talbot (Rundle 64), Coke (Dawson 64), Brown
Subs not used; White, Lloyd.
Bookings; Chester – Artell 20 minutes, Mansfield – Hjelde 90+ minutes.
OBSERVER Man of the Match – Alex John Baptiste
Referee - M Fletcher (Worcestershire).
VICTORY IS SWEET FOR EX-BOSS
Evening Post, 03 September 2005
It was Keith Curle's night to celebrate after his Chester City team beat his former club.
It was the first time he had been up against Mansfield Town since his acrimonious departure last November - he is still pursuing a High Court action against them.
So it was a sweet victory for him against a Stags side that did not really get into gear until after they went 2-0 down to Greg Blundell"s header and second goal on the hour.
But after Alex John-Baptiste had pulled one back to give Mansfield hope, Ryan Lowe delivered a crushing blow with Chester"s third against the run-of-play.
Unbeaten Chester, who had four ex-Stags players in their side, rocked Mansfield with a goal after only 80 seconds when Blundell headed them in front.
Despite the distance between the clubs, with so many old faces and a real anticipation on the terraces, this one had all the feel of a local derby.
The Stags line-up once again saw five changes with Dawson and Hjelde relegated to the bench, Chris Beardsley out injured, Fraser McLachlan left out of the 16 and Adam Birchall on Welsh U21 international duty.
Day and Buxton came in to play in the centre of defence with Peers at right back.
Coke returned to central midfield and Jelleyman to the left wing ahead of fit-again Rundle.
The home side won a corner which saw Davies take it short, exchange passes and cross to the far post where a diving Blundell headed it into the net.
Davies might have made it 2-0 soon after but, unmarked from eight yards out, turned Blundell"s cross wide of goal. Then Davies bent a free kick round the Mansfield wall and into the side netting.
Artell, on 20 minutes, was shown a yellow card for stepping across Brown as the young winger tried to get away down the left.
MacKenzie did have a save to make from Barker's 32nd minute header, but it lacked power and never looked like beating him.
Stags had a big let-off on 36 minutes after a blunder from Pressman. He spilled an easy cross from Regan at the feet of Blundell. The striker looked a certain scorer but Pressman got a hand in the way.
Lowe then tried to cross the loose ball, saw it come back off the crossbar and Stags could breathe again as Davies finally bundled it wide at the far post.
Brown was also just wide on the turn at the other end on 42 minutes after Coke's pass found him in the box as Chester went in a goal to the good.
Coke almost levelled two minutes after the break with a well-struck low shot that brought a good parry out of MacKenzie.
Pressman twice had to save from Lowe in as many minutes.
First he had to keep out Lowe's finish after the Chester man had burst into the right of the box. And soon after he turned away a well-drilled 20 yard free kick.
Lowe was again the menace on 58 as he controlled Branch's low cross to the near post but only found the side netting.
But two minutes later it was 2-0. Branch's right-wing cross went over Pressman's fingertips and Blundell buried a close range header for his second.
Stags immediately sent on Dawson and Rundle for Coke and Talbot but Davies almost increased Chester's lead with a low 20-yard shot that only just beat the far post.
However, Rundle made his mark with a cross on 67 minutes that saw John-Baptiste bury a six-yard header to give Mansfield a lifeline.
Branch saw a lobbed effort only just miss and, seconds later, Rundle should have done better at the other end when he fired a first-time blast wide.
Stags piled on the pressure and forced a string of corners but Chester rocked them with a third goal ten minutes from time. Branch's cross was touched by Drummond into the path of Low who beat Pressman with a well-aimed shot
Chester 3 Stags 1, Palmer considers his future
KEITH Curle left Chester City's Saunders Honda Stadium last night with a big grin on his face while Stags boss Carlton Palmer said he would be considering his future over the weekend.
This was the big hotly-anticipated clash of ex-Stags boss Curle and his former employers who he is still taking through the High Courts over his dismissal last year.
A bruising thriller was expected and demanded by the fans - but Stags went behind after only 80 seconds and meekly surrendered, springing into real action only when 2-0 down.
Palmer was mortified by the display and said: "We were poor - end of story. I thought we were second best all over the park and there are no excuses for it.
"It was an embarrassment and if that's the best display I can get out of an XI that I put out then there has to be a problem somewhere.
"They are a young side but I expect more from them than that and I will now go away over the weekend, talk to my girlfriend and the chairman and decide what to do.
"I feel very let down by my players and it gets you down as a manager.
"We spent two days practising defending restarts this week and yet we concede one after less than two minutes. What more can I do?
"To be fair there wasn't much in it in the first half. But second half Chester ran out worthy winners in the end."
However, Curle grinned: "That was very satisfying. Our performance level, effort and commitment were superb.
"Though we didn't say much in the dressing room. the lads knew it was a very important game for me and the ex-Stags players.
"We didn't make much of the Mansfield connection but there was a definite undercurrent in the dressing room.
"It was a real occasion and we have come together as a team tonight.
"I think I swelled the crowd myself tonight with family and friends - people who stick by me through thick and thin and believe in me like I believe in myself and my players."
City remain unbeaten after their six games and are now second, only three points behind Notts County with a game in hand. But Stags have only won once in their seven starts and have now slumped to 19th.
Palmer had made five changes to the side beaten by Notts County in Monday's local derby.
Out went Dawson and Hjelde (both relegated to the bench), Adam Birchall (international duty), Chris Beardsley (broken leg) and Fraser McLachlan (left out).
In came Jelleyman, Day, Buxton, Coke and Peers.
Palmer began the game sitting in the directors' box with Curle down on the touchline.
Stags conceded a corner in the opening minute when Peers' clearance cannoned off Davies and back towards goal.
Peers conceded the corner and from that Chester swept into the lead with just 80 seconds on the watch.
Davies played a one-two for a short corner before curling the ball to the far post where Blundell buried a close range stooping header.
On four minutes it could have been two as Davies met Blundell's right wing cross with a first time touch that sent it inches wide from eight yards.
Five minutes later Curtis was well off target with a poor volley from a headed clearance.
Stags won a corner but Jelleyman's kick was easily headed away at the near post on 13 minutes.
On 18 minutes Davies curled a 20 yard free kick into the Mansfield side netting.
Artell was booked on 20 minutes after obstructing Brown who was trying to go clear down the left.
Coke jumped with MacKenzie on 26 minutes which saw the keeper fail to collect and the ball run loose. John-Baptiste's low shot was blocked and the ball ballooned up for Jelleyman to head over the bar.
City forced a second corner on 30 minutes. But Artell's attempt to head Davies' kick back across goal saw it go harmlessly out of play.
At the other end a scramble in the Chester box saw Barker get a head on Jelleyman's cross. But, although MacKenzie had to make a save, it was always a comfortable one.
Chester should have gone further ahead on 36 minutes when Pressman dropped Regan's cross right in front of goal with Blundell lurking.
But he redeemed himself by getting in the way of the striker's close range finish and then could only hold his breath as Lowe flicked the ball across goal where it struck the bar and Davies, at the far post, finally put it wide of the target.
Stags put together one of their best moves of the half on 42 when crisp passing from Uhlenbeek and Coke saw the ball threaded to Brown in the box and the youngster turned sharply to fire wide of goal.
Stags were not really threatening the Chester goal. But at least they had begun to make a game of it as half-time arrived with Blundell's goal the difference.
Within two minutes of the restart, Coke brought a good saver out of MacKenzie, diving to his right to parry Coke's sweet, low drive.
Talbot was booked soon after for a late tackle on Branch on the by-line.
Chester threatened again when Branch raced into the box on the right and tried to beat Pressman at his near post, but the keeper got his body in the way.
A minute later Pressman had to save from the same player from a fierce 20 yards free kick.
MacKenzie punched clear Mansfield's second corner as Stags tried to find a way back.
But Lowe threatened again as he blasted Branch's low cross into the side netting.
However, Pressman was beaten again on the hour. Branch threw over a superb cross from the right which sailed over the keeper and Blundell rose to power home his header from six yards.
Stags made a double change with Dawson replacing Talbot and Rundle on for Coke, Jelleyman dropping to left back.
Davies was inches wide from 20 yards to the left of the box as Chester threatened again.
But Stags were back in the match on 67 minutes thank to John-Baptiste. The youngster made no mistake with a close range header from Rundle's pinpoint cross from left and suddenly it was game on.
Hjelde replaced Buxton in the Mansfield defence who were happy to see Lowe drag a 25 yard shot well wide of goal.
Both sides had chances as the excitement hotted up. Branch teased the Mansfield defence before lifting a lobbed finish just wide of the angle. Then Rundle sliced a shot wide at the other end.
Mansfield were now buzzing and forced three corners.
But they were stung by a third Chester goal against the run of play on 80 minutes.
Drummond laid Branch's cross invitingly in front of Lowe who sent a perfect finish just inside the far post.
The referee waved play on after a Peers foul but Drummond was well off target from distance with an ambitious shot as the night ended in misery for the visiting fans.
Report by Rob Ashcroft.
Photography by Frazer Bird.
September 2nd 2005,
Saunders Honda Stadium, Chester Attendance: 3,079
Chester City 3 - 1 Mansfield Town
Match report Coca-Cola League 2
Chester City maintained their unbeaten start to the season with an outstanding victory over Mansfield Town, their first home victory of the campaign and they kicked off with a sensational start to Keith Curle's Stag night at the Saunders Honda Stadium. Clearly fired up by the former Stags boss, Chester had the ball in the net Within 110 seconds. From a corner, Ben Davies played a short one two before finding Gregg Blundell at the far post to head home from close range and leave Mansfield shell-shocked. City were never relented and came close seconds later with chance from Blundell and Branch. Gus Uhlenbeek tried to break through a stern City rearguard on countless occasions, but City were well organised at the back, soaking up the pressure when it came their way. At the other end City earned a free kick in the 17th minute, coming close again through a Ben Davies' 25 yarder into the side netting. The Stags managed a good effort on 25 with the lively Alex Baptiste being a handful for the City defence, beating off his marker he rasped his drive narrowly wide of the far post.
City continued to enjoy the lions share of possession. On the half hour mark a Rhys Day block forced another City corner, but Ben Davies couldn't replicate the success of City's second minute set piece move, booting the ball too far past the back post only to see it headed away from danger. Mansfield pushed forward two minutes later with Richard Barker saved low by Chris MacKenzie. Experience goalkeeper Kevin Pressman was spared his blushes when he nearly gifted the Blues a second goal. Gregg Blundell's initial shot was spilled by the former Sheffield Wednesday stalwart. Blundell flicked the ball onto the crossbar from an acute angle before Ben Davies shot wide. The Stags retaliated but failed to take advantage of a good chance when Simon Brown beat off Davies inside the City area, his efforts were wasted only managing to fire the ball into MacKenzie's side netting.
Half Time: Chester City 1 Mansfield Town 0
With the Blues shooting towards the home terrace, the game sprung to life with City coming close straight from kick off before Giles Coke drilled the great ball low, but MacKenzie pulled off a good save to deny the Stags an equaliser. Ryan Lowe tussled for possession with Jake Buxton inside the Stags area on 52, beating his marker Lowe belted the ball home, only to see his effort rebound off the legs of Pressman. A minute later Lowe forced another good block by Pressman, earning the Blues a corner. Davies delivered only for Barker to hoof the ball away to give his team mates a quick breather. It wasn't long before Lowe carved another chance, played into the area by Branch, Lowe rounded the Mansfield defence but lost his footing, firing into the side netting. Their persistence paid off on the hour mark and the goal they had been threatening for so long finally came. City doubled their advantage thanks to good work down the right flank by Branch, crossing the ball perfectly for Gregg Blundell to fire the ball home.
City could have easily made it 3-0 soon afterwards when Ben Davies found himself in acres of space, just outside the area he rasped the ball narrowly wide of the far post but Mansfield gave themselves a chance of getting back into this game when they snatched a goal back on 67 with a sublime Alex Baptiste header after he connected from a left flank cross. Lowe had chances to push Chester clear, attempting to set Branch up and then beating Gareth Jellyman on to see his shot miss the target. Both sides had chances as the excitement hotted up. Michael Branch capped arguably his best Chester City performance with a superb jinxing run around the Stags defence before chipping the ball over Pressman only to see it fall agonisingly close to the left upright.
The Blues never gave up and their outstanding workrate ethic reaped dividends when City's striking threesome combined for the goal of the game. Playing exceptionally well, Branch crossed the ball to Blundell, in a well worked moved Blundell layed the ball into the path of Lowe who planted the ball home with an unstoppable strike from ten yards out.
Full Time: Chester City 3 Mansfield Town 1
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