ANOTHER HOME DRAW FOR STAGS
Mansfield Town 0 - 0 Lincoln City
Attendance: 4946 (1345 from Lincoln)
IMPS LOOK STEELY IN DEFENCE
Lincs Echo, 03 January 2006
It didn't feel right not seeing those famous yellow socks in the Field Mill dugout yesterday.
But while Keith Alexander and his most-recognised piece of wardrobe attire were out of sight, they were definitely not out of mind.
The City boss was absent from duty after being 'put on leave', along with assistant Gary Simpson, just hours before the crucial Stags clash.
It threw City's preparations into chaos, with no explanation offered as to why the decision had been taken by the club's board.
All it succeeded in doing was ensuring the fans took their eye off Mansfield to speculate about their manager's tenure at Sincil Bank.
Thankfully, caretaker boss John Schofield, who is in temporary charge while Alexander's future is sorted out, managed to keep the players' eyes on the ball.
Their steely performance at Field Mill would have made their absent leader proud and they deserve credit, given the chaotic preparations.
Although they created just one clear-cut chance, they never looked in danger of losing, which was important given the circumstances.
You could not blame the players if their minds had been elsewhere, but they stuck to the task in hand.
However, it was not all doom and gloom for the loyal 1,345 travellers from Lincoln.
Striker Simon Yeo returned to the line-up after re-signing for the club two weeks ago and produced an encouraging display on his debut.
Had he been a bit more fortunate with a header which hit the post, he could have taken some of the headlines saved for Alexander.
His pace was always an option for Lincoln and he knew when to play the pass or go for a shot.
From the off, Yeo - back after a spell in New Zealand - was involved as he helped City win their first corner in the seventh minute, when he burst clear of the Stags' defence to play in Colin Cryan.
The defender struck a lovely first-time cross, which was palmed behind by Kevin Pressman, but Keates' corner came to nothing.
Four minutes later, the striker then struck an ambitious volley which failed to trouble Pressman.
For all of Lincoln's efforts in going forward, it was Mansfield who created the best chance in the 18th minute.
Stephen Dawson got down the right and put in a great cross for Adam Rundle. His shot beat Alan Marriott, but not Gareth McAuley standing back on the line.
The ball fell invitingly for Nathan Arnold, who blasted a shot over the bar as Marriott raced out of his goal and was injured for his troubles.
Two minutes later, a wonderful piece of control from Arnold saw him send in a 20-yard strike, which took a deflection and sailed straight into Marriott's grateful arms.
Yeo's pace was always an outlet for the Imps and his speed won Lincoln a free-kick in the 28th minute when he was fouled by John Olav Hlejde.
Keates stepped up to take the kick and bent a terrific shot around the wall, which Pressman beat away for a corner.
Kerr trotted over to take the resulting flag-kick, which found McCombe unmarked at the near post. But he could only head over.
Seven minutes before half-time good play from Rundle, coming inside from the left, saw him slip a simple ball to Jonathan D'laryea.
He sidestepped the challenge of Keates, before drilling a low shot wide of Marriott's upright.
Neither side made any changes at the beginning of the second half as City started well.
However, it was the Stags who should have taken the lead in the 53rd minute.
A great run from Rundle, down the left, saw him cut inside two challenges before sprinting into the City box.
Arnold screamed for the pull-back, but sliced his shot straight to Dawson at the back post.
With the goal at his mercy, his control was poor and the ball ran out for a goal-kick.
At the other end, a clever turn from Marvin Robinson, inside the box, looked to have fooled Rhys Day.
The striker went down in the box to immediate calls for a penalty from City's fans, but referee Clive Oliver waved play-on.
A good flick by Robinson then fell kindly in the box for Keates. But his first-time strike smashed off Jake Buxton and went for a corner.
City were given a let-off in the 63rd minute when Dawson beat Mayo with a clever turn on the right. He rolled the ball into Baptiste who could only shoot into the side-netting.
Another good run from Rundle saw him play in Dawson, but his cross was headed well wide by the well-placed D'laryea.
With 15 minutes to go, Buxton's run forward on the left saw him fire in a powerful right-foot shot which Marriott managed to claim at the second attempt.
Moments later, Day nearly put the Stags ahead with a terrific strike from the edge of the box, which whistled just wide of the post.
City had still not really created a clear-cut chance to take the lead, but they did have a golden opportunity with seven minutes left.
Robinson was fouled by Hjelde 30-yards from goal with Keates taking responsibility for the free-kick.
His vicious strike brought an excellent stop from Pressman who parried the ball into the air to Yeo, whose header hit the post.
With a minute left, a surging run from Coke played in Gus Uhlenbeek whose cross just evaded substitute Richard Barker at the far post.
But had that gone in it would have been a cruel injustice on Lincoln, who ensured a sad day for the supporters was not increased with a another derby defeat.
SCORELESS END TO FESTIVE PERIOD
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
Mansfield Town 0 Lincoln City 0
Attendance – 4,946. (Visitors 1,345).
Mansfield Town were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Lincoln City on Monday meaning that the festive period yielded just five points from a possible twelve.
The busy 4 game schedule saw The Stags win one, lose one and draw two, leaving Mansfield still in the bottom half of the Coca Cola League 2 table, but incredibly only seven points behind a play off place.
It was really a case of what could have been for Peter Shirtliff's side who if they had put away their chances at home to Lincoln City and had defended till the last kick against Bristol Rovers, would have been looking forward to next weekend's Cup game at Newcastle United in a healthy 14th place instead of 19th and just one point behind neighbours, Notts County.
Shirtliff made two changes for the starting line up against Lincoln City to the side that had come away from Oxford United with all three points, bringing in Giles Coke in for Uhlenbeek and Hjelde in for the suspended, Gareth Jelleyman.
City, who had given 'Leave' to manager, Keith Alexanda on the morning of the game were looking to register their first win in four and started with an adventurous 4-3-3 formation. However, adventurous it was not as City reverted to their well-known long-ball tactics and almost for the entire 90 minutes, avoided any midfield play.
Stags started with Russell and Arnold as a front two paring with Barker again starting on the bench, however the giant centre halves from Lincoln coped admirably with anything Mansfield through at them.
The first half was almost devoid of any real clear-cut goalscoring chances from either side. The best for Mansfield came on 18 minutes when Rundle found space in the area but saw his shot cleared off the line by McAuley, he and Marriott were on hand to put off Russell who put the rebound over the crossbar.
Nathan Arnold, who had netted his first career goal in the dramatic 3-3 draw with Bristol Rovers, almost added to his tally with a curling drive from 20 yards that had Marriott getting safely behind.
City were causing problems from their set-plays and Pressman had to be alert when Dean Keates tested him, The Stags keeper punching the ball away from danger.
On 39 minutes, good work from Rundle created a chance for D'Laryea but The Stags midfielder dragged his effort wide of the mark.
On 52 minutes Stags should have broken the deadlock. A fine ball from Buxton freed Rundle who had space on the left hand side, Rundle pulled the ball back to Russell who didn't make proper contact the ball then broke to Dawson who off-balance got an attempt in at goal, but Marriott did enough and the chance was gone.
Yeo threatened but Buxton put in a timely block to concede a corner kick, which Robinson almost put away at the far post.
Stags reacted and good work from Dawson created a chance for John-Baptiste, unfortunately the Stags defenders effort was deflected and went into the side netting.
The Stags were pushing hard for the breakthrough, Buxton letting fly from distance, whilst the visitors were mainly hoping to cause trouble on the break. Day was the next to go close for Mansfield, but his vicious drive flew inches wide of the right hand post with Marriott beaten.
On 82 minutes, Man of the match, Kevin Pressman rolled back the years as he saved Keates powerful long-range free kick. The loose ball fell to Yeo, but the returning City centre forward could only head the ball onto the post.
The last chance of the game came when a brilliant curling cross from Gus Uhlenbeek found Richie Barker but The Stags striker's diving header was just off the mark.
Next weekend almost 5,000 Mansfield supporters will be making the journey up to St James' Park, home of Premiership Newcastle United. The Geordies who this week learned that Michael Owen would be out for sometime will be eager to eliminate plucky Coca Cola League 2 side, Mansfield from the FA Cup and begin their only real remaining chance of silverware this season. However, Stags will be hoping to cause a major upset in what would be one of the greatest days in the clubs history.
Pressman, Day, John-Baptiste, Dawson (Uhlenbeek 73), Buxton, Coke, Rundle, Hjelde, Russell (Barker 57), Arnold (Birchall 61), D'Laryea.
Subs not used; Talbot, White.
Marriott, McAuley, Mayo, Cryan, McCombe, Foster, Keates, Yeo, Hughes (Mettam 78), Robinson, Kerr.
Subs not used; Asamoah, Frecklington, Ryan, Brown.
Referee – Mr C Oliver.
Observer Man of the match – Kevin Pressman.
Stags stalemate as defences are on top
EXCELLENT defending from both sides brought the inevitable 0-0 draw when Lincoln City visited Mansfield Town this afternoon.
City, in crisis off the field, might have snatched all three points as Kevin Pressman twice had to pull off good saves from excellent Dean Keates free kicks while Simon Yeo headed against the post.
But it was the home side, lifted by that win at Oxford, who dominated for long periods and Adam Rundle was unlucky when Gareth McAuley cleared his first half effort off the line.
Rhys Day, Allan Russell, Stephen Dawson and, Jonathan D'Laryea and Richie Barker all went close, Russell wastng two really good openings.
But, in the end, the stalemate left Stags with five points from the 12 over the hectic Festive period.
"I am reasonably pleased with that," said manager Peter Shirtliff.
"It could have been more. But we have been unlucky at times and some of those players are running on empty right now as it has been a busy period.
"The game was a bit ugly at times. To be fair if we could have passed the ball a bit better to shown more composure in the final third then we would probably have gone on to win the game.
"If we could have got the ball down we could have caused them more problems. But it's not that easy when they are continually pumping the ball up in the air."
There were two changes to the Stags side that won at Oxford on Saturday.
With Gareth Jelleyman serving a one-game ban, Shirtliff shuffled his defence, moving Buxton to left back, John-Baptiste to right back and bringing in Hjelde to partner Day in the centre.
Coke returned to the side in midfield with Uhlenbeek dropped to the bench and Dawson pushed out to the right of midfield.
Lincoln suffered a pre-match bombshell with manager and former Stag Keith Alexander given 'leave' after a board meeting and another former Stags player, youth team coach John Schofield, put in charge.
But their former hot shot striker Yeo was given international clearance in time to return from New Zealand.
Little happened in the early exchanges though Stags laboured to clear the visitors' first corner.
The game finally produced a shot on target after 11 minutes as Yeo controlled and tried his luck from 30 yards but never looked like beating Pressman.
But Stags almost broke through on 18 minutes. Dawson cross low into the box and Rundle got away a low shot that beat Marriot but McAuley was there to clear off the line and a combination of McAuley and Marriott prevented Russell being able to net the follow-up.
Marriott required lengthy treatment after that challenge.
Soon after the game restarted, Arnold tried a swerving shot from almost 30 yards which Marriott was safely behind.
Pressman was called into action at the other end on the half-hour, throwing himself to his right to punch away a superb free kick from Keates which looked destined for the net under the angle.
And McCombe headed over from the resulting corner.
On 39 minutes Rundle drew two defenders to him on the left of the box before squaring the ball to D'Laryea who sidestepped one challenge before pulling a low shot narrowly wide.
Keates had a volley charged down and, as Stags tried to break, John-Baptiste was fouled by Hughes, bringing the game's first booking.
Mansfield might have gone ahead seven minutes into the second half. Buxton fed the overlapping Rundle who raced into the box and pulled back an inviting low cross. Russell had first stab at it but couldn't direct it and the ball ran to Dawson at the far post who wanted too long to get an effort away and finally, off balance, poked the ball harmlessly wide.
Robinson went down in the box under Day's late challenge but City did not ask for a penalty and the referee waved play on anyway.
Yeo guided a stooping header over from a Keates free kick shortly afterwards.
There were huge cheers from home fans on 57 minutes as leading scorer Barker replaced Russell.
But it was Yeo again who threatened as Buxton blocked his snapshot at the expense of a corner which Keates curled in and almost crept in at the far post where Robinson couldn't get the vital touch.
Stags had a new strike partnership on the hour as Birchall came on for Arnold.
A good move down the right saw Dawson hold off a challenge and play a pass to John-Baptiste whose first time stab deflected into the side netting.
On 69 minutes Rundle went on an energetic run down the centre before finding Dawson on the right. His cross picked out D'Laryea but he couldn't get his firm header on target.
For the visitors Keates had a powerful low shot superbly blocked by Hjelde and Foster blazed the loose ball well over the top.
Uhlenbeek took over down the right in place of Dawson for the last 17 minutes.
Marriott was behind Buxton's hopeful 35 yard blast before Mettam made his Lincoln debut in place of Hughes.
On 79 minutes Uhlenbeek's long throw fell for Day who drilled inches wide from 18 yards.
But Lincoln came even closer on 82 as Keates' glorious 35 yard free kick was palmed aside by Pressman and Yeo headed the loose ball against the near post.
Yeo was booked soon after for dissent after punching the ball away in disgust at a decision.
Barker almost snatched it in the last minute for Mansfield as he met Uhlenbeek's drilled cross with a diving header at the far post that passed wide.
Lincoln survived three minutes of high pressure stoppage time as Stags piled on the pressure.
John Schofield said afterwards:" I thanked all the players afterwards as I thought they gave me everything they had got under the circumstances.
"It has been a very difficult day as you can imagine. The gaffer has no bigger friend in that dressing room than me.
"The gaffer called me this morning to say he had been called into a meeting. Then I got a call at 11am asking me to take charge today.
"Everyone was shocked but we have got through today and now we will have to see what tomorrow brings.
"I have given the lads a couple of days off and they will report Thursday and we'll take it from there.
"I will carry on as if I am in charge on Saturday until I hear otherwise."
Mansfield Town 0 Lincoln City 0
The Imps and Mansfield Town battled out a goalless draw on Bank Holiday Monday as the Coca-Cola League 2 at Field Mill match ended all square at 0-0.
Stags' Kevin Pressman was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, twice denying keeping out Dean Keates from a couple of free-kicks. The second of these saw Simon Yeo - back in a City shirt after a five-month spell in New Zealand - head against the woodwork and that proved to be the nearest that either side came to breaking the deadlock.
Mansfield's best chance came when Stephen Dawson slipped over an the wrong time with his eventual effort from six yards going wide courtesy of Alan Marriott's gloves.
report by John Vickers at Field Mill:
The main talking point around Field Mill as the teams warmed up for this Coca-Cola League 2 encounter was the announcement earlier in the day from Chairman of the Board Steff Wright stating that manager Keith Alexander and his assistant Gary Simpson has been "put on leave" four hours before kick-off.
As a result, First Team Coach John Schofield was in charge of team affairs and he was forced to make one change to the side that started the New Year's Eve game against Darlington.
That change saw Simon Yeo - whose clearance from NZ Knights was only finalised on New Year's Day - come in for loanee Richard Logan who has been recalled by Peterborough United.
It was a pleasant Bank Holiday as the two teams emerged from the tunnel, with the Imps, skippered again by Jamie McCombe in the absence of the injured Paul Morgan, donned in their away strip of black shirts, red shorts and black socks. They were up against a Mansfield side donned in their traditional yellow and blue.
Referee Clive Oliver got proceedings underway with City backed by what looked to be well over 1,000 travelling fans who were making themselves well heard behind Alan Marriott's goal.
It was a lively, yet cagey, start to the game with Mansfield keen to press the Imps when City gained possession - a block on Colin Cryan by Adam Rundle being the prime example in the second minute.
When the Imps did manage to break clear, a break from Jeff Hughes down the leftr saw him square the ball to Simon Yeo who saw his effort go wide. Although the referee indicated a corner he was over-ruled by his assistant, who indicated that the ball went straight out of play rather than clipping the feet of Jon-Olav Hjelde.
A cross from Cryan - after the ball was laid into his path by Yeo - forced Stags' 'keeper Kevin Pressman to tip the ball over his bar. Dean Keates' corner was half-cleared as far as Jamie McCombe who saw his netbound volley headed clear as Marvin Robinson ghosted in at the far post.
At the other end, a Rundle cross which clipped Cryan's shins saw the home side win their first corner, but this was subsequently played straight of play direct from the kick.
An offside flag against Yeo - the first on his return to the Club following his six-month foray to New Zealand curtailed a Lincoln move forward in the 13th minute. At the other end, a great block by Gareth McAuley saw him keep out a goalbound drive from Adam Rundle.
When the loose ball ran free, some brave goalkeeping by Alan Marriott at the feet of Allan Russell forced the Mansfield man to fire the ball over. There was a worrying sight though after the referee gave a goal-kick with Marriott motionless on the deck.
The Imps' custodian was down for a good couple of minutes receiving treatment from Michael Waitt before being able to resume play. A deflected drive from Nathan Arnold shortly after the restart saw Marriott do well to readjust his footwork in order to hold the ball.
City responded by forcing their second corner shortly after the midway point in the half but Kerr's delivery was poor with the ball nestling straight in the side netting. Shortly afterwards, Yeo was inches away from capilatising on a weak back pass but Hjelde was able to sneak in and whip the ball from the Lincoln man's feet.
A foul on Yeo by Hjelde saw referee Oliver award the Imps a free-kick 25 yards from goal in the 29th minute and from the set-piece Dean Keates forced Kevin Pressman to punch the ball behind at full stretch with the ball seemingly destined for the top corner. Jamie McCombe headed over from the resultant flag-kick.
Mansfield won their second corner 10th minute from the break but the Imps' defence were alert and cleared the quick delivery and they had to be on their toes again when Kerr was harshly adjudged to have blocked Jake Buxton. Once City cleared their lines, Jonathan D'Laryea dragged an effort well wide.
Shortly after a Cryan cross met by the flying foot of Keates only for the Mansfield defence to get in a timely block, Jeff Hughes picked up a yellow card for a mistimed challenge on Alex-John Baptiste.
Just before the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of three minutes were to be added, a foul on Marvin Robinson by Hjelde gave the Imps a chance from a free-kick but nothing was forthcoming.
Seconds later Jamie McCombe required treatment following a clash with Russell with the Imps' skipper none to happy once he managed to regain his feet. Referee Oliver decided that no further punishment apart from the free-kick was required and it wasn't long before he blew for the break.
HT: MANSFIELD 0 IMPS 0
Neither side made any changes during the break so it was a case of as you were as the Imps got the second period underway, attacking the end behind which saw their travelling support.
The Imps were pushed on to the back foot in the early stages of the second half but stood firm and dealt well with the threat before forcing a number of throw-ins down their right to ease the pressure.
It wasn't long before the Imps were pushed back again though and it took a slip from Stephen Dawson to save their defensive blushes. Adam Rundle broke free down the left, cut into the box and dragged the ball across the box. It eventually fell to Dawson on the edge of the six-yard box but his slip saw his eventual effort go well wide, although referee Oliver deemed that Alan Marriott got a touch before the ball went behind.
This suddenly brought the game to life with Marvin Robinson going down in the box only for Mr Oliver to decide that Hjelde had won the ball fairly. Shortly afterwards Yeo flicked a Keates' free-kick over the bar as the Imps pressed forward again.
In the 57th minute, Allan Russell was withdrawn in place of Richard Barker who received a rapturous reception as he lined up in a straight swap up front. His first contribution was to elbow Jamie McCombe to hand City a free-kick.
Just before Dean Keates had a shot on target blocked and deflected wide by Jake Buxton, the Stags made a second change with Adam Birchall replacing Nathan Arnold. Keates' corner just evaded the flying Marvin Robinson who ended up in the net with the ball going out for a goal-kick.
At the other end a fine interception from Foster denied Baptiste a chance on goal whilst City's response saw Robinson sneak into an offside position as the Imps pushed forward again.
Midway though the second half high feet by Jamie McCombe on Stephen Dawson gave the Stags a chance from a free-kick but Luke Foster rose well to clear his lines and the game remained all square as it entered its final quarter.
The Imps replied with Simon Yeo winning a corner on the left but Kerr's delivery was punched clear by Pressman. Shortly afterwards both Yeo and Keates had efforts blocked before Foster cleared the stand from 30 yards.
Gus Uhlenbeek came on for Stephen Dawson as the home side made their third and final switch in the 73rd minute and before he touched the ball, Barker made it five corners apiece. Paul Mayo cleared the danger at the second attempt.
At the other end a dangerous centre from Keates forced the home side to slice the ball behind for a Lincoln corner but Keates' flag-kick sailed straight out, although the Imps' fans appealed for another corner as it appeared to be helped behind by Pressman.
John Schofield brought off Jeff Hughes in the 78th minute with teenage striker Leon Mettam coming on in his place for his full City debut. Centre back Rhys Day fired wide for the hosts as they looked to break the deadlock just after this change.
A free-kick to City a good 35 yards from goal gave Dean Keates to set his sights and he came mightily close to repeating his feat at Bury earlier in the season. Keates blasted the ball goalwards only for Pressman to dive at full stretch to keep the ball out. Simon Yeo saw his follow up header come back off the woodwork to add to the frustration.
Yeo saw yellow for dissent after punching the ball away after being penalised for hand ball in the Mansfield box and at the other end Keates was forced to backtrack to divert Uhlenbeek's centre behind.
In the final minute Uhlenbeek sent a low cross into the danger area which Barker header well wide whilst seconds later Colin Cryan was ruled to have dragged Rundle to the ground on the Mansfield left. Jamie McCombe headed the free-kick clear at the near post.
An additional three minutes were indicated by the Fourth Official and midway through those, some hesitation from Birchall allowed the Imps to clear their lines with the substitute wasting the chance when the ball fell to his feet on the edge of the box.
With the additional minutes up, the hosts had a chance from a free-kick but when the ball was played into the danger area after the initial ball was cleared, a timely header from Cryan ensured that the Imps' sheet remained clean.
FT: MANSFIELD 0 IMPS 0
Leon METTAM (for HUGHES 78)
Bookings: HUGHES (43), YEO (86)
Richard BARKER (for RUSSELL 57)
Adam BIRCHALL (for ARNOLD 60)
Gus UHLENBEEK (for DAWSON 73)
Referee: Clive Oliver (Northumberland)
Assistants: Rob Steans & Jason Tyas
Fourth Official: Alan Greaves
Attendance: 4,946 (1,345 City supporters)
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