JECKYLL & HYDE STAGS DROP INTO RELEGATION ZONE
Mansfield Town 2 - 3 Wycombe Wanderers
Barker 66 pen, Brown 75. Betsy 1, 15, 43.
Attendance: 3237 (326 from Wycombe)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Mansfield Town's dreadful league form continued at Field Mill this afternoon with another defeat, this time against unbeaten Wycombe Wanderers. It was a game of two halves as the Stags were completely overrun in the first half to trail 3-0, but battled back with goals from Barker and Brown, and in the end nearly nicked a point. The defeat left the Stags in the relegation zone for the first time since automatic relegation to the conference was introduced, save for a four game spell at the start of the 1999/2000 season.
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Steve Hartshorn's report for the Observer:
STAGS DROP INTO RELEGATION ZONE
Mansfield Town 2 Wycombe Wanderers 3
Barker 66 pen, Brown 75. Betsy 1, 15, 43
Second half goals from Richie Barker and Simon Brown proved too little for The Stags to earn a share of the spoils after Wycombe Wanderers had stormed into a 3-0 half time lead at Field Mill last weekend.
In a Jeckyll and Hyde performance, The Stags slipped to their 6th defeat in ten games leaving the Club in the Coca Cola League 2 relegation zone.
Peter Shirtliff, taking caretaker charge of The Stags for the first time in the league went with the same starting line up that had performed heroics in the midweek win over Championship side, Southampton in the Carling Cup.
However, Wanderers, who still remain unbeaten in the league, shocked Field Mill to its roots when Midfielder, Kevin Betsy scored after only one minute. Experienced striker Tommy Mooney crossed in from the left and after Mansfield failed to clear efficiently, Betsy was on hand to drive the ball home.
Stags were struggling to cope with the visitors front line with the pace and ability of the much talked about Nathan Tyson causing a multitude of problems, but it was Kevin Betsy who once again came to the fore to score Wanderer's 2nd goal of the game on 15 minutes. After being played the ball by Bloomfield, Betsy brilliantly avoided two desperate challenges in the Stags area before calmly slotting the ball home with a deadly finish that gave Pressman no chance whatsoever.
Stags were visibly shocked but had real claims for a penalty on 25 minutes. Birchall, who had once again started up front alongside Richie Barker, fed the ball towards his striking partner and it looked to all bar the Referee that Wanderers keeper, Frank Talia took the Stags captains legs from behind. Nothing was given much to the annoyance of Barker who was clearly aggrieved at the decision.
Stags were beginning to find a foothold in the game and finally began to cause a little concern for the visitors defence with both Birchall and Coke both having chances.
Those two combined once more on 43 minutes, this time though after being fed the ball by Coke, Birchall fired straight at Talia. It was from Talia's clearance that the visitors scored their third. Bloomfield fed the ball to Betsy who provided another clam finish. It completed his hat trick and gave boss, Shirtliff and his Stags side a massive mountain to climb in the second 45 minutes.
To try and get back into the game, Shirtliff introduced Uhlenbeek and Dawson at the start of the 2nd period in place of Talbot and McLachlan.
The visitors began the half how they had finished the first by causing Stags problems with both Mooney and Betsy going close to adding a fourth.
On 64 minutes Betsy's cross was headed onto his own bar by Gavin Peers, ironically just one minute later The Stags had gained a much-needed foothold in the game. A swift one-touch move by The Stags found Brown in the area but he was upended by Danny Senda. Barker stepped up and fired in his 2nd goal of the season.
The home crowd, who seemingly had settled down to another disappointing defeat, all of sudden found their voices and The Stags responded with a spring in their step. Dawson's cross only inches away from the head of Barker.
With 15 minutes to go, Stags pulled another goal back. Coke fired in but all Talia could do was parry the ball towards the prowling Brown, who from a tight angle slotted in his 5th of the season.
It was a grandstand finish as the visitors resorted to hoofing the ball clear of danger with obvious desperation. Jelleyman forced Talia to punch clear a stinging effort before with four minutes left, going off for Rundle.
Rundle crossed for Day, but The Stags defenders header clipped the woodwork. With three minutes of added on time on the clock, Rundle did well to work himself a bit of space, but his effort flew into the grateful arms of Talia.
Stags travel to Macclesfield on Tuesday evening before making the difficult trip to Leyton Orient next weekend.
Pressman, Peers, Jelleyman(Rundle 86), Day, John-Baptiste, Barker, Birchall, Talbot (Dawson 45), Coke, McLachlan(Uhlenbeek 45), Brown.
Subs not used; Buxton, Littlejohn
Talia, Senda, Easton, Oakes, Johnson, Williamson, Betsy, Lee, Bloomfield(Stonebridge 68), Tyson(Dixon 84), Mooney.
Subs not used; Martin, Williams, Torres.
Referee – Mr J Moss (West Yorkshire)
Attendance – 3,237 (326 Visiting Support)
Observer Man of the match – Simon Brown.
A very well taken Kevin Betsy hat trick in the first half was enough to earn Wanderers three points in yet another frantic League Two encounter at Field Mill.
The Blues burst out of the blocks at Mansfield and immediately took the game to the home side with countless pressure and flowing football reminiscent of the opening 45 minutes against Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.
But like that game,a second half fight back from the Stags saw goals from Richie Barker and Simon Brown reduce the deficit in a nail biting finish.
It was tense, there's no doubt about it but for Wycombe to have taken anything but three points from this fixture would have been unjust.
For the first time in the league since Bury, Wanderers capitalised on their lead and took chances when in the past they may have squandered them.
And Betsy was the man to make the most of some excellent approach play from a Blues midfield that dictated proceedings in the initial stages of the game.
The first goal coudn't have come sooner. Just as both sides were drawing breath from the Kick Off, a swift Wycombe break saw Tyson expertly hold the ball up an lay it off for strike partner Tommy Mooney on the left hand side.
He lofted in a first time cross and with Matt Bloomfield and Betsy both lurking in the area, Rhys Day failed to clear and it eventually broke for the former Oldham midfielder who slotted underneath Kevin Pressman.
Tyson continued to threaten and on more than one occasion did he get the better of his marker Alex John Baptiste. Both players have been tipped for a big future in the game but judging on this performance it's the Blues striker who was more worthy of the praise.
On more than one occasion did he elude Baptiste and deliver balls across the six yard box that caused problems amongst the Stags rearguard.
Rob Lee, brought back into the side following Joe Burnell's withdrawal due to a back injury, was also on top form and in a subtle holding role that complimented the attacking verve of Stefan Oakes, Blomfield and of course, Betsy.
His ball was the next to catch out day but unfortunately Mooney could only direct his header wide of the post.
That didn't matter though as four minutes later it was two. Again Bloomfield was involved, this time slipping a ball that sliced through the Mansfield defence.
But when it looked as though Day was comfortable, the pace of Betsy saw him get there first and in the most impudent of manners, he cooly dummied his way across Baptiste and Peers before crashing past Pressman.
Incidentally, the goal had come as a result of another counter attack after the home side had a worthy penalty appeal turned down.
Former Blues loanee Adam Birchall had tried to play Richie Barker in and as Frank Talia dived at the striker's feet, he seemed to impede him.
However, referee Mr Moss waved play on and they say that through the course of season decisions even themselves up, a phrase that the Aussie keeper would no doubt support after the events at Stockport two weeks previously.
Mansfield tried in vain to respond midway through the first half but despite shots from Birchall and Giles Coke, their efforts came to no avail.
Indeed, even when Wanderers were missing the target it was in more spectacular fashion, especially when Oakes lined up a 30 yarder on 39 minutes that had Pressman sprawling across his goal.
And it was from another break that Betsy secured his hat trick. Coke, who had scored the goal that dumped Southampton out of the Carling Cup in midweek, found space just outside the area and in a lovely disguised pass, set Birchall up with an opportunity to grab a much needed lifeline before the break.
The 20 year old striker drove his effort straight at Talia though and from the resulting kick, Wanderers were three up.
It was almost a carbon copy of the second goal as Bloomfield tucked Betsy in who, after taking a touch, neatly slotted home his hat trick in off the post right on the stroke of half time.
There was even time for one more chance when Tyson tested Pressman, a shot that the ex-Premiership shot stopper was equal to.
After the interval, Peter Shirtliff introduced Gus Uhlenbeek and Stephen Dawson in a shake up that saw Birchall move to the left hand side of midfield and the troublesome Simon Brown converted into attack.
For the first twenty minutes of the half it hadn't seemed to make much of a difference though as Wycombe carried on where they'd left off.
Tyson was again thwarted by Pressman on 52 minutes after the unstoppable Bloomfield had created another opening and Betsy repeatedly let loose on the right side of midfield, taking on anything and anyone that came his way.
The Mansfield defence had bucked their ideas up since the break however and after Peers had blocked Mooney's effort, Day was alert to cut out Betsy's cheeky ball to play Tyson in.
On 65 minutes the game took a strange twist when it was Wycombe's turn to be caught on the break.
After Peers had rattled his own crossbar following Betsy's cross, the home side paced up the opposite end and won a penalty, courtesy of a Danny Senda challenge on Brown.
Barker converted the penalty and from that moment the Blues struggled to recreate the form that had seen them comfortably in the drivers seat for the majority of the contest.
For ten minutes later, the score was suddenly 3-2. Coke was beginning to get more of the ball in the centre of the park and after unleashing a vicious drive that Talia brilliantly parried, Brown was on hand to fumble in the rebound.
Gareth Jelleyman came close with a curling volley on 77 minutes and as the game neared the end, Mansfield were camped inside the Blues half.
In the dying moments Day hit the outside of the post with a header and then substitute Adam Rundle could have made more with two opportunities but Wycombe held firm and celebrated a victory that pushed them up to 2nd place in League Two.
High-flying Wycombe stretched the only unbeaten record in the Football League to 10 matches and plunge managerless Mansfield into the League Two relegation zone following a 3-2 win at Field Mill.
Experienced midfielder Kevin Betsy was the hero with a first half hat-trick as the Stags, under care-taker boss Peter Shirtliff, never threatened to pick up only their second win of the season
Wycombe, in total contrast to the inept home side, shook off any hangover from their midweek 8-3 Carling Cup mauling against Aston Villa to pass their way to an impressive victory and leave Shirtliff's hopes of getting the manager's job at Field Mill in tatters.
Wycombe, without midfield battler Joe Purnell, were grateful to see hot-shot Nathan Tyson shake off a dead leg picked up in the trouncing by Aston Villa. Veteran Rob Lee and Betsy also returned from injury.
And it was Betsy who made an immediate impact with the opening goal inside the first minute. Mansfield failed miserably to clear a Matt Bloomfield cross and then gave Betsy, unmarked inside the area, plenty of time to turn and shoot into the net.
The goal understandably knocked the Stags out of their stride and Rob Lee, from long range, and Tommy Mooney with a header almost added to the visitors' lead.
But in the 15th minute Betsy struck again as the home defence, concentrating too much on marking Tyson and Mooney, allowed the experienced midfielder to double Wycombe's lead. Betsy collected another neat Bloomfield pass before side-stepping his way past two defenders and beating keeper Kevin Pressman from eight yards.
Mansfield's only hope of a quick reply was rejected by the referee midway through the first half when he waved away loud penalty appeals after Frank Talia clearly hauled down Richie Barker.
Giles Coke from long range and then Adam Birchall from 15 yards also went close to giving the home side a lifeline just before half-time.
But when Talia held Birchall's shot, Wycombe broke quickly and Betsy was gifted possession on the edge of the area, before firing in off the post to complete his treble.
The Stags were given a lifeline in the 65th minute when Danny Senda hauled down Simon Brown in the area and Barker converted the penalty.
The goal suddenly gave the home side hope and 15 minutes from time Brown tapped in after Talia parried Coke's fierce drive.
Then, five minutes from time, Rhys Day almost completed an unlikely fightback, but his header from Birchall's cross hit the post.
Mansfield 2-3 Wycombe
Kevin Betsy's first-half hat-trick maintained Wycombe's unbeaten start to the season at Mansfield.
The Stags got off to a shocking start when they failed to clear Tommy Mooney's cross leaving Betsy to slot home from five yards.
He made it 2-0 when he rounded two defenders and shot past Kevin Pressman, and the third went in off the post.
Richie Barker's penalty put Mansfield in the game before Simon Brown made it 3-2, following up a parried cross.
Fightback too late as Betsy triple sinks Stags
MANSFIELD TOWN 2 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 3
MANSFIELD Town's battling second half fight-back was not enough to earn them a point after Kevin Betsy's first half hat-trick had left them with a mountain to climb.
Richie Barker and Simon Brown pulled goals back after the break and Rhys Day hit a post near the end in a grandstand finish against the Football League's final remaining unbeaten record.
But caretaker manager Peter Shirtliff's first League game in charge ended in defeat just five days after that superb Carling Cup success over Southampton.
Stags were unchanged for the first time this season - reward to the 11 players who saw off the Saints in midweek.
But within a minute of kick-off they found themselves behind.
Mooney crossed to the far post from the left and, when Stags failed to clear, it was left to Betsy to punish them with a low close range finish.
Barker was well wide from a free kick at the other end two minutes later.
Mooney beat Day in the air at the far post to reach Lee's cross but his header dropped wide of goal.
However, the visitors were two to the good on 15 minutes as Betsy struck again.
This time he was slipped into the box by a pass from Bloomfield and brilliantly weaved past two defenders with great coolness before crashing home an unstoppable finish from seven yards.
The visitors continued to sparkle, but Mansfield were very unlucky not get be awarded a penalty on 25 minutes.
Keeper Talia looked to have brought down Barker from behind as he tried to latch onto Birchall's pass in the box, but nothing was given.
Birchall made space in the Wycombe box soon after but his shot was into the side netting.
Oakes saw his 35 yard blast fly narrowly wide of the angle on 39 minutes while, a minute later, Coke's 25 yard shot just failed to dip quickly enough as it cleared the bar.
Birchall might have pulled one back on 42 minutes when Coke threaded the ball to him in the box. But with time and space he allowed Talia to make a save.
Almost inevitably the Chairboys went straight up field to extend their lead. Again the scorer was Betsy and again the assist went to Bloomfield as his through ball saw Betsy race clear to net off the inside of Pressman's right hand post.
And there was still time for Tyson to force a save from Pressman on his near post before the half-time whistle.
Stags sent on Dawson and Uhlenbeek for the second half, replacing Talbot and McLachlan, with Brown partnering Barker up front and Birchall dropping back to the left midfield slot vacated by Jelleyman who had gone to left back.
Pressman was down at the feet of Tyson as he tried to capitalise on another Bloomfield through ball.
Mooney and Betsy had shots blocked for the visitors while Dawson fired straight at Talia from 25 yards in the 62nd minute.
A low Betsy cross on 64 saw Peers try to turn it over but succeed only in hitting his own crossbar.
But within a minute Stags had a foothold back into the contest from the penalty spot. Catching Wycombe napping with a swift break, Senda brought down Brown in the box to give away the spot kick.
And Barker made no mistake as he smashed it home down the centre.
Suddenly the crowd were alive and Stags began to press with Dawson's cross was only just too high for Barker at the far post.
And what had appeared a lost cause at half-time suddenly looked very different when Brown made it 3-2 on 75,
A glorious flowing Stags move saw Coke's 25 yard shot parried by Talia. But the keeper was helpless as Brown turned to lose ball in from close range.
Talia made a great save to dive full length to his left and punch away Jelleyman's 20 yard rocket.
With four minutes left Stags sent on Rundle for Jelleyman.
And Stags almost levelled a minute later as Rundle's cross saw Day rise to sent a header against the outside of the post.
And in stoppage time Rundle did well to make space for a shot that flew straight at Talia from 18 yards.
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