FIRST NIL-NIL AS STAGS AND POSH DRAW BLANK
Mansfield Town 0 - 0 Peterborough United
Attendance: 3891 (374 from Peterborough)
Pressman writes off Posh chances - Mansfield 0, Posh 0
BOOKINGS: Posh - Burton (adopting aggressive posture). Mansfield - Coke (foul)
REFEREE: M. Thorpe (Yorkshire) 7
ATTENDANCE: 3,891 (374 Posh)
Report by ALAN SWANN | Pictures by PAUL FRANKS
MANSFIELD fielded a goalkeeper who may just have answered one of football's most enduring riddles.
Judging by his appearance Kevin Pressman was the man who ate all the pies, but his massive bulk stood in the way of Posh and the three points they deserved.
Pressman claims he finger-tipped Danny Crow's 20-yard thunderbolt on to the inside of a post in the first half (if true it was a miraculous effort) and after the break he blocked Ryan Semple's well-struck shot after the young winger had been sent scooting clear by Crow's excellent pass.
Not only did the veteran number one stop Semple's shot, but he also had the presence of mind and enough agility to jump up and retrieve the ball just before it crossed the line. No wonder on the final whistle Posh manager Mark Wright was heard wishing for some luck in front of goal.
He may also have been wishing for a decent strike partner for the outstanding Crow. Not for the first time this season the Posh top scorer was likened to Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler by his manager – unfortunately at present Calum Willock is more Sid Owen than Michael Owen.
Posh had other opportunities on a freezing afternoon on a bobbly pitch that had survived a morning pitch inspection, most notably late on when substitutes Trevor Benjamin and Andre Boucaud missed golden chances in the final 10 minutes.
But Benjamin's miss did at least provide some rare cheer on a chilly day as when he snatched his left foot shot wide of a post when clean through he may have been distracted by Mansfield defender Alex John-Baptiste who was chasing him while attempting to dress himself.
John-Baptiste ran fully 20 yards with his shirt pulled over the top of his head after losing a shirt-pulling contest with Benjamin. It was a headless chicken comedy moment on a par with any of Scott Cooksey's many magical Posh efforts.
Mansfield had started the better with top scorer Richard Barker a constant threat. He headed a decent half chance over the crossbar following a quickly taken corner and a Gus Uhlenbeek cross and the pair combined again to set up Adam Rundle at the far post, but a scuffed shot spoilt that Mansfield moment.
Posh held on despite moments of casualness which included a terrible Mark Arber back-pass which Mark Tyler was forced to head clear from under his own crossbar, while Jamie Day spurned the best Posh opportunity midway through the half following a poor headed clearance by London Road old boy Gareth Jelleyman.
Semple thumped the ball goalwards from the edge of the box, Willock touched it on from inside the six-yard line and Jake Buxton's goal-line save landed at Day's feet 10 yards from goal. Unfortunately the youngster's touch was poor and Buxton slid in with a saving tackle.
Day was playing at left wing-back as Posh manager Wright opted for a 3-4-3 formation with Semple supporting Crow and Willock. Semple and Day winning selection over Trevor Benjamin and James Quinn would have drawn gasps of disbelief from Posh fans in the summer, but now it's an automatic selection based on form and desire.
Both sides treated the ball as well as the pitch with suspicion in a first half that Posh bossed more as the minutes ticked by.
The blue-booted Jamie Hand and Shane Huke just about shaded the midfield battle, while Semple enjoyed his tussle with Jelleyman better than the full-back.
After the break Posh were generally on top with Mansfield's best moments restricted to the first and last minutes.
Allan Russell poked Barker's cross horribly wide and Arber slid in to deny the same player after he had robbed Sean St Ledger before Mansfield almost won the match with the final kick of the match.
Substitute Adam Birchall was guilty of an horrific miss after a free-kick had landed at his feet 10 yards form goal. His hurried shot flew over the crossbar when Posh hearts must have been in mouths at the prospect of an undeserved defeat.
And that would have upset Santa Claus who was spotted in the away end. Whether he had any good luck in his sack ready to donate to Posh will be revealed in due course.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
LITTLE SPICE IN POSH ENCOUNTER
Mansfield Town 0 Peterborough United 0
Attendance – 3,891 (374 visitors)
The Stags last game before the busy Xmas period saw Peterborough United leave Field Mill with a share of the spoils in what was Mansfield Town's first 0-0 of the current campaign.
In a fixture played in frosty conditions which made fast flowing football difficult for both sides, Stags Custodian, Kevin Pressman more than played his part with several crucial saves throughout the game.
There was just one change from the Stags side that had come away from Rushden & Diamonds with three points seven days previous, that being Alan Russell in for the injured, Simon Brown.
The visitors, who had drawn five of their previous seven games almost fell behind on 7 minutes when good work by Uhlenbeek and Rundle created a headed chance for Richie Barker, unfortunately the big Stags striker's effort went inches over the bar.
There were little chances being created but Jake Buxton was fortunately on hand on 20 minutes to deny Posh the opener. Semple's effort on goal got a touch on the way towards goal by Willock, but Buxton was on hand to deflect the ball off the line and then reacted well to put in a superb tackle to deny Day as the ball ran loose.
Stags were trying to get a passing game going but at times were guilty of giving away possession. However an inspirational run by Giles Coke almost fashioned an opening goal for The Stags. Coke drifted past three Posh challenges before unleashing a low drive, that although beat Posh keeper, Tyler, agonisingly went wide of the mark.
On 39 minutes, Kevin Pressman came to The Stags rescue, not once but twice. John-Baptiste was caught in possession providing Posh top goalscorer, Crow with a chance of firing at goal. Crow's effort was heading to the top left hand corner until Pressman managed to get a fingertip on the ball, touching it onto the post; the ball fell conveniently again at the feet of Crow but Pressman once more denied him, this time acrobatically turning the ball over the crossbar.
Stags came back but Giles Coke twice wasted good opportunities, firing high and wide on both occasions.
The next chance to fall at the feet of the Stags came when Barker fed Rundle on the left hand side. The Stags wingman danced into the box and fired low and hard where Russell saw his effort fly wide of the mark.
On 66 minutes, Shirtliff changed his line up by introducing Birchall in place of Uhlenbeek and it was Birchall who was instrumental in almost breaking the deadlock. Breaking away from a Peterborough corner, Birchall exchanged passes before shooting wide from 22 yards.
Hearts were in mouths on 73 minutes when Crow flicked on the ball for Semple His effort on goal was blocked by Pressman, but the ball ran loose and was heading for the line, fortunately Pressman reacted well and pounced denying Posh the goal.
On 77 minutes, Stags made a change, Dawson coming on for Russell with Birchall moving up front to partner Barker.
In the last five minutes, Benjamin raced clear but shot horribly wide as the visitors pushed hard for what would have surely been the winner.
It was Stags though who could have won all three points deep into injury time. Arber blocked Buxton's low drive right in front of goal but when the ball dropped to Birchall inside the area, the Stags midfielder blasted over.
The busy Christmas week begins with Mansfield making the short journey to Northampton Town on Boxing Day. The Cobblers sit in 5th place in Coca Cola League 2 and are unbeaten in the league in seven games. Stags follow that with a home game against Bristol Rovers on the 28th, who last weekend lost 1-0 at home to struggling Torquay United. Stags then face the trip to home struggling Oxford United on New Years Eve before the local derby against Lincoln City at Field Mill on January 2nd.
Pressman, Jelleyman, Day, John-Baptiste, Uhlenbeek (Birchall 66), Barker, Buxton, Coke, Rundle, Russell (Dawson 77), D'Laryea.
Subs not used; Peers, White, Hjelde.
Tyler, Holden, Burton, Arber, Willock (Benjamin 67), Ledger, Huke (Boucaud 85), Semple, Day, Crow (Quinn 90+3), Hand.
Subs not used; Plummer, Newton.
Referee – M Thorpe (Suffolk).
Observer Man of the Match – Kevin Pressman.
Stags 0 Posh 0
MANSFIELD Town had to settle for a point in their first goalless draw of the campaign at home to Peterborough this afternoon.
Home keeper Kevin Pressman preserved that point with three fine stops while Jake Buxton also made a goal line clearance.
But Adam Birchall blasted over a last gasp chance that could have added two crucial points to the one in the bag.
It was a poor game played a hard surface due to frost and Stags just couldn't find their fluent passing game and failed to create anywhere near their usual number of chances.
Manager Peter Shirtliff said: "Overall I was happy with a point. It was a decent point and definitely one gained.
"We just didn't do enough in possession of the ball to seriously hurt the opposition.
"We had some good situations but didn't really capitalise. Our final shot or cross were just not good enough. We should have done better in certain situations.
"But I thought we defended well and all the back four played well. We were certainly OK in that department. Peterborough did force a lot of corners, but you will do if you play the way they do.
"The silly thing is we could have won it at the end if Adam Birchall's shot had gone in."
Brown failed to shake off his hamstring problem and was replaced by Russell in the starting line-up for Mansfield.
The game began quietly but Barker almost opened the scoring after only seven minutes when he guided a header inches over after Rundle and Uhlenbeek worked a well rehearsed corner towards him.
Willcock fired tamely wide for Posh on 15 minutes.
But Stags had a let-off five minutes later as Buxton twice came to the rescue. John-Baptiste could only head away as far as Semple who chested the ball down before shooting at goal.
Willock got a touch on the way but Buxton was there on the line to block and then popped up with a superb tackle as Day tried to pounce on the loose ball.
A superb solo run by Coke on 29 minutes saw him ghost past three opponents but, with Tyler beaten, his low 20 yard finish passed just the wrong side of the post.
D'Laryea at least got his effort on target four minutes later but found Tyler perfectly placed to get behind his low shot.
But on 39 minutes it was Pressman who saved Stags with two magnificent saves.
John-Baptiste was caught dallying on the ball in his own box and Crow robbed him before sending in a shot that Pressman just managed to push onto his post by the end of his fingertips.
The ball was still loose and Crow tried to lift it into the net but again Pressman's fingertips came to the rescue, helping it acrobatically over the bar.
Posh almost netted in first half stoppage time from the second of two successive corners. It reached the head of Willock five yards from goal but he crashed his free header down to the pitch and saw Pressman safely behind it as it shot back up at goal.
After Burton has seen a free kick clip the wall and go well wide for the visitors, Stags carved out two good chances, both falling to Coke.
Russell's tenacity won a corner which saw Rundle pick out Day. He headed the ball back to Coke who was too high with his dipping finish.
Then he exchanged passes with D'Laryea but was again too high with his first time blast.
This was better from Mansfield and Barker led Rundle on the left who burst into the box and cross hard and low, Russell turning it just wide of the near post.
Stags sent on Birchall to replace Uhlenbeek on 66 and Posh responded a minute later by taking off Willock and introducing Benjamin.
Stags broke well from yet another Posh corner and Birchall did well to instigate a move that ended with him shooting narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Crow's flick-on on 73 minutes gave Semple a run at goal. But Pressman blocked his low finish although he needed a second bite of the cherry to stop the loose ball rolling over the line.
Stags made another change on 77 as Dawson came on for Russell and Birchall was pushed up front.
Benjamin went clear for the visitors with five minutes left but drilled a low finish horribly wide.
And sub Boucaud almost scored with his first touch seconds later as he headed wide at the far post from Day's cross.
However, it was Stags who came so close to a dramatic late win.
Arber got in the way of Buxton's low shot right in front of goal and when the ball rolled out to Birchall he blazed it over the bar to the relief of the visitors.
REPORT FROM http://www.theposh.co.uk
Peterborough United have now lost just once in 13 league matches after a 0-0 draw at Mansfield Town in the final game before Christmas.
Mark Wright lined up with three centre halves for the clash with the Stags at a chilly Field Mill and the defence were under pressure fairly early in the game with the Stags winning the first corner on six minutes after Uhlenbeek's cross flicked off Day.
Barker headed Uhlenbeek's centre over the crossbar from the resulting short corner as Mansfield made a bright start. A threaded pass from Day picked out Willock in a bit of space on the quarter hour mark, but the striker fired wide of the near post with his left foot.
Posh were inches away from breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes as Semple's shot was directed at goal by Willock, but Buxton cleared it off the line and then the ball fell to Day, he took a heavy touch and the chance was snuffed out.
Giles Coke showed some good close control on 29 minutes as he dribbled past two defenders, but his low shot went wide of the target. D'Laryea tested Tyler with a low effort as the hosts continued to dominate the attacking stakes.
Crow livened up a dour first half on 39 minutes, seeing a superb drive strike the inside of the post before rebounding back into play. The ball found Crow again less than 60 seconds later and his improvised effort was tipped over the bar by Pressman with Willock closing in.
Barker fired a free-kick over the crossbar on the stroke of half-time after an inventive set-piece from the hosts. In first half stoppage time, Pressman denied a down-ward header from Willock as Posh ended the first 45 minutes with a flourish.
Burton saw a free-kick moments after the interval flick off a defender in the wall after incorrectly judging that Crow had been fouled on the edge of the area. Arber produced a fine tackle to deny Barker after the striker had initially done well to shrug off the attentions of St. Ledger.
Coke then flashed a shot wide of the near post after catching hold of his volley following a deep corner kick. Mansfield wasted a good chance to score just after the hour mark as Russell poked wide of the near post after good play down the left by Rundle.
The Stags made the first change of the game as Adam Birchall was introduced into the fray. Posh responded by bringing on Trevor Benjamin for Willock. Birchall drilled a low shot past the far post on 69 minutes as the Stags counter-attacked at pace.
Posh came very close to scoring on 71 minutes as an expert Crow pass picked out Semple, but his powerful shot was saved by Pressman. Crow then saw a curling shot blocked by Day after a good burst and crossfield pass from Huke.
Benjamin squandered a good chance to score on 79 minutes after the striker turned Baptiste who then had the added problem of running with his shirt over his head. Substitute Boucaud headed a Day cross wide moments after his introduction from the bench.
Coke began the first player to be cautioned in stoppage time for a late challenge on Crow. In the last moment, Mansfield nearly scored as a scuffed shot from Coke trickled through St. Ledger's legs before being hacked clear by Arber.
Final Score: Mansfield Town 0-0 Peterborough United
Mansfield Town: Pressman, Jelleyman, Day, John-Baptiste, Uhlenbeek (sub Birchall 66min), Barker, Buxton, Coke, Rundle, Russell (sub Dawson 77min), D' Laryea. Unused subs: Peers, White, Olav-Hjelde.
Posh: Tyler, Holden, Burton, Arber, Willock (sub Benjamin 67min), St. Ledger, Huke (sub Boucaud 84min), Semple, Day, Crow (sub Quinn 90min), Hand. Unused subs: Newton, Plummer.
Referee: Mr M Thorpe
Attendance: 3,891 (374 Posh fans)
Latest | December 2005