DELIGHT FOR STAGS AS DAY STUNS OXFORD
Oxford United 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
Bradbury 37. Day 60, 78
Attendance: 4005 (215 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the Kassam Stadium
Mansfield Town produced their most important victory of the season at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon to recover from 1-0 down thanks to two goals from defender Rhys Day. Day hadn't scored this season and came up with the goods just when they were needed. For 60 minutes, this was a terrible game and it very much looked like the Stags would get nothing out of it, having conceded a goal after 37 minutes due to slack marking. But everything changed when Rhys Day powered home to make it 1-1. The Stags suddenly started to look fluent and it was as though a great release flooded through team when goal went in. Day scored again 11 minutes from time after a great knock down by substitute Richie Barker and the Stags comfortably held on to help erase the horrible memory of giving away two points against Bristol Rovers so late on. This time there were no last minute mistakes; in fact Oxford never really came close to equalising.
Stagsnet player ratings now in the Match Centre.
Day double gives Stags a happy New Year!
TWO Rhys Day headers gave Mansfield Town three crucial points as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Oxford United this afternoon.
Lee Bradbury's 38th minute strike was the difference between the sides at the end of a poor first half of football with very little to excite the crowd.
But the game was clearly there for the taking if either side could raise their game. And that is precisely what Mansfield Town did.
Kevin Pressman was a virtual spectator for much of the second half as Day pounced on 61 minutes and 79 minutes to turn the game on its head and finally give Stags some seasonal cheer.
Delighted Stags boss Peter Shirtliff said: "I thought we played well today. It was our day.
"I said before the game that if they keep believing and keep the same performance levels then they will start winning games.
"I thought we were unlucky not to beat Bristol Rovers in midweek. And today we stood firm near the end and might have won it 3-1 if Giles Coke's touch had been better - though that score might have flattered us.
"I think any side in this division can beat anyone else on a given day. But it is consistency in performance levels that keeps the sides near the top and that is what I have been preaching since day one when I took over.
"I think we are now on course and now I just want enough points to be safe. The longer the season goes on then we can start to think about other things.
"We have another big game at home to Lincoln on Monday and it's there for us.
"Everyone played their part today. I was disappointed with Oxford's goal as I thought it was too easy. After that we picked ourselves up and totally dominated the second half.
"And Rhys Day came up with the goods for us with two good goals. Over the 90 minutes I thought we deserved to win it."
Stags made just one change from the side held 3-3 by Bristol Rovers in midweek.
Teenager Coke was dropped to the bench to give him a bit of a break with Dawson replacing him in midfield.
Brown felt his problem hamstring during training yesterday and wasn't risked while Barker, still struggling with his nerve problem down his leg, made the bench and was to play a vital role later on as sub.
Stags survived a second minute worry as Sabin and Day wrestled just inside the box and Sabin went down, but nothing was given.
Mansfield wasted the game's first corner a minute later and then comfortably defended Oxford's first flag kick on eight minutes as the game made a quiet start.
Two consecutive Stags corners produced nothing soon after.
Pressman had the first save to make on 11 minutes, but Bradbury headed straight at him from Robinson's cross.
A neat move started by Uhlenbeek and helped on by Arnold saw Ashton have to produce a timely tackle to prevent Russell getting a shot away, conceding another corner in the process.
A great run by Hackett saw him get past two challenges in the Mansfield box but , having reached the by-line, he could only poke his cross into the side netting.
On 27 minutes Tardif dived to his right to gather a tame Rundle shot as the half continued to disappoint.
Two minutes later the first real chance arrived as Pressman came out to punch away a Hackett corner but was beaten to it by Stirling who headed powerfully over from eight yards.
In reply Rundle beat two men on the left to get into the box but over-hit his low cross and Uhlenbeek was unable to get there in time to hit the gaping goal.
It was dire stuff but suddenly Oxford broke the deadlock on 38 minutes.
Buxton allowed Basham to get in a low cross towards the six yard box from the left where Day should have intercepted. But he let the ball reach Bradbury who gratefully drilled home a low finish under Pressman.
That stung Stags into life and on 41 minutes Rundle fed Arnold into space on the edge of the box and he forced Tardif to turn aside his low effort.
Oxford struggled to clear the resulting corner and the ball went out as far as Jelleyman who, from 18 yards, was on target with his shot, Tardif safely behind it.
But a poor half of football between two poor sides ended with a slender advantage for Oxford.
Stirling conceded a free kick on the right three minutes after the restart which Rundle flighted in and Arnold jumped superbly to meet but headed over.
Then a Jelleyman free kick was cleared as far as Rundle whose 20 yard effort was on target and straight at Tardif.
This was better and Stags created another chance as Russell helped a ball across the box towards Russell who, with the keeper off his line, managed to lift his finish over him but also the bar.
But the visitors thought the effort took a deflection and were furious when the referee awarded only a goal kick.
Both sides made a change on the hour as Uhlenbeek was withdrawn to give Birchall an outing for Stags and Fitzgerald came on for Oxford in place of Basham.
And a minute later the visitors were level.
Rundle put over an outswinging corner from the left and Day met it with a decisive header from five yards which gave Tardif no chance.
Rundle tried an audacious chip from 35 yards with Tardif off his line but was wide.
Barker came on to great cheers in place of Russell on 65.
The first yellow card was shown to Mansell on 71 minutes after a midfield tussle threatened to overheat with four players involved.
Birchall burst into the Oxford box from the right but was soon crowded out and laid the ball off to Buxton who was well over with his first time pop from 20 yards.
But Day struck again with 11 minutes to go. Dawson's free kick was headed on by Barker across the six yard box and Day was there at the far post to bury a close range header.
Coke came on for Arnold as the visitors looked to tighten up for the expected push from the home side.
And Fitzgerald was desperately unlucky to see a shot from 15 yards take a deflection and spin wide of the post with Pressman beaten.
Oxford took a final chance on 83 minutes with a double substitution, Roget and Roach on for Hackett and Sabin.
Home pressure brought three late corners and hearts in mouths for the 215 away fans in the 4,005 crowd.
Stags might have sealed in in stoppage time on the break as Birchall sent Rundle down the left and his cross found Coke in acres of space with only Tardif to beat. But his first touch let him down and his subsequent dive earned his a yellow card.
But it didn't matter as the final whistle brought three precious points to end 2005 on a high.
Report from official Oxford United site:
Oxford Utd 1 (Bradbury 37)
Mansfield 2 (Day 61, 79)
Date : Sat 31 Dec 2005
Kick Off : 15:00
Venue : The Kassam Stadium
Attendance : 4005
Comp : Coca-Cola Football League Two
Referee : Darren Drysdale
New Year's Eve was ruined by the Day before as Mansfield's Rhys Day scored with two second half headers to condemn United to defeat at the Kassam Stadium. Leading through a goal from Lee Bradbury, United faded in the second period and saw The Stags celebrate their party early.
United boss Brian Talbot made just one change to the team that finished the match against Notts County with Bradbury replacing Mark E'Beyer on the left wing.Chris Hargreaves missed out due to injury, but Leo Roget recovered from illness and was on the bench.
With the game at Peterborough cancelled, it was important for United to keep the momentum of the Boxing Day win against Notts County going and they started brightly and as early as the 3rd minute had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Eric Sabin broke clear and appeared to be bundled over by three Mansfield defenders, but the referee waved away the protests.
It was a promising start, which almost got better in the 8th minute but Kevin Pressman did well to claw away a Bradbury cross from danger as the United forwards looked to finish Bradbury's good build up play.The same two players were involved just two minutes later, but this time the big keeper did not have to work as hard, as Bradbury was unable to generate sufficient power in his header from a good Matt Robinson cross to trouble Pressman.
It was obvious even at this early stage of the match that the United players were full of confidence, were closing down the play well and were looking very dangerous every time they attacked.Basham and Sabin in particular were looking sharp, another sign that this was Oxford's most potent attacking partnership.
It was not all United though and they got a warning in the 20th minute when Jude Stirling did well to block Jonathon D'Laryea's effort, but in truth it was the home side that were looking the more likely side to open the scoring at this stage of the match although Tardif did well to save from Adam Rundle in the 27th minute.
Normal service was resumed in the 28th minute when Stirling saw a free header sail over the bar from a Hackett corner and the only thing missing from a good United performance was the elusive first goal.The fans did not have to wait too long though for in the 38th minute United scored.
Good play from United saw the ball at Basham's feet down the left and the striker did well to hold up play and cross into the box where Bradbury did well to make space for his shot with a wonderful first touch and blasted the ball under Pressman to give United a deserved lead.
United needed to consolidate and not lose concentration but Tardif had to be at his best in the 40th minute to push away a 25 yard Nathan Arnold effort and then had his fingers stung by a Gareth Jelleyman thunderbolt just 30 seconds later as the Stags pushed for a first half equalizer.It would have been tough on United after a good first half performance. Mansfield are a team that have just started to string a number of good results together, but after the two scares, United held out to the break and would be very happy with their first half display.
In truth they'd dominated, , with Mansell and Quinn once again excellent in the middle and Ashton commanding at the back, while The Stags had only really looked potent at set pieces, wherethey showed plenty of invention. They'd also helped us all by listing their team in a descriptive manner: Pressman, Jellyman&
The veteran former Sheffield Wednesday keeper had only a Sabin volley to field in the opening ten minutes of the second half, with The U's struggling to find a decent final ball to end some neat approach play. The hard working Basham made way for loan star Scott Fitzgerald on the hour, but before United could adjust to the change they found themselves pegged back.
Set pieces have been their undoing on so many occasions this season, and on 61 minutes they conceded from another as Adam Rundle sent in a left wing corner that was perfectly met by centre half Rhys Day, rising in splendid isolation to head home from ten yards.
It was a poor goal to concede, but the visitors had lifted themselves after the break and United were no longer playing with the swagger that they'd shown in the opening period. They needed something to lift them, and on 69 minutes Jon Ashton nearly provided that as he broke up a Mansfield attack and then ran forty yards with the ball to the edge of the area, only for his final ball to Sabin to let him down.
It failed to ignite United, although it woke up the away fans who suddenly found a banner to wave in protest at their chairman, demanding the Mansfield Million back. Which was nice.
There was still little danger of either side finding a winner, but then out of nowhere came a free kick for The Stags, awarded for a foul by Mansell. The dead ball was still a long way from goal, but when Dawson floated it in it was Day again who reacted first as Richie Barker headed across goal, and the centre back duly powered another header past the helpless Tardif.
Quite how United were behind is beyond us, but with time running out Brian Talbot played his last hand by sending on Roget and Roach for Stirling and Hackett. There was pressure late on, and a Willmott header from a corner was cleared just in front of the line as United tried everything for an equaliser.
Sadly one wouldn't come, and as we leave 2005 behind United will be looking for consistency if they are to achieve anything in 2006.
Uhlenbeek (Birchall 60)
Russell (Barker 65)
Arnold (Coke 81)
Subs Not used:
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