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REPORTS FROM THE NATIONALS
8th January 2006 21:48


The Sunday Times, January 08, 2006
Newcastle 1 Mansfield 0: Souness saved by Shearer
Paul Forsyth at St James' Park

IT WILL go down in history as the day Alan Shearer equalled Jackie Milburn's goalscoring record, but it might have been remembered for more dramatic reasons. Had the striker not come up with his 200th goal for Newcastle late in yesterday's FA Cup third-round tie, his team would have been subjected to the humiliation of a replay against lowly Mansfield.
It was also Shearer's 21st FA Cup goal for the club, which moves him to within two of Milburn's total in the same competition. Newcastle won the trophy three times when the miner from Ashington led their attack, but there is little prospect of another such triumph this season. For long spells yesterday they were unsettled by their League Two opponents, who succumbed with only 10 minutes left.



If Newcastle's performance was poor, the goal was everything Shearer had hoped for: at St James' Park, in front of the Gallowgate end, with his family watching. After neat work by Nolberto Solano, Alberto Luque back-heeled into the path of his captain, who swept home a low shot. He later revealed the landmark had been reached on the eve of his mother's 60th birthday.

“To see my name up there beside Jackie Milburn is a great honour,” said Shearer. “It ranks alongside anything I have achieved in football.”

It means that Newcastle survive, but their manager may not be so fortunate. With renewed speculation that he is to be dismissed this week, the last thing Graeme Souness needed was another hapless display. His team were lethargic for much of the first half and despite upping the tempo after the interval, created few clear chances against a side ranked 88th in the English league.

Roared on by 5,500 travelling supporters, Mansfield were strong and confident. Durham-born Adam Rundle, who spent five years with Newcastle as a schoolboy, looked particularly comfortable. His menacing breaks from midfield unsettled the home team, who could easily have been a goal down at half-time.

On one occasion, when the 21-year-old had carried the ball as far as the penalty area, the ball broke invitingly to Richie Barker. The Mansfield captain's crisp shot was beaten away by Shay Given, who was about to find himself with more work than he was entitled to expect. Several times more, Mansfield threatened to score, a fair reflection of their possession.

Solano was the only source of encouragement for Newcastle. As well as having a goalbound effort blocked by Alex Baptiste, the midfielder's threaded pass to Luque deserved better than the Spaniard's shot into the side-netting.

Neither of those attempts were nearly so threatening as that which tested Given early in the second half. In a sweeping move that showed Mansfield's confidence, Gus Uhlenbeek's cross was dummied by Allan Russell, leaving Rundle to rattle a low shot at the bottom corner. Only Given's instinctive parry prevented a goal.

Although Newcastle had the good grace to respond with a degree of effort, the culmination of which was a Stephen Carr volley that whistled over the bar, an apathy had long since enveloped the home crowd.

Luque's curling free kick dipped over the bar, and when Kevin Pressman blocked a shot by substitute Michael Chopra near the end, it was a reminder of how quiet the goalkeeper had been. The 39-year-old former Sheffield Wednesday player had conceded eight the last time he visited St James' Park, but that save, in the 75th minute, was the first he had to make yesterday. Neither he nor his teammates deserved what followed..


STAR MAN: Adam Rundle (Mansfield)

Player ratings. Newcastle: Given 7, Carr 6 (Ramage 58min, 5), Bramble 5, Boumsong 5, Babayaro 5, Brittain 5 (Chopra 64min, 5), Clark 6, N'Zogbia 5, Solano 7, Shearer 8, Luque 5 (O'Brien 86min, 4)

Mansfield: Pressman 6, Buxton 7, Day 7, Baptiste 7, Jelleyman 6, Uhlenbeek 7 (Arnold 79min, 5), Dawson 7, Coke 6, Rundle 8, Barker 7 (Birchall 72min, 5), Russell 6

Scorer: Newcastle: Shearer 80

Referee: A D'Urso

Attendance: 41,459

-----------
The People:
8 January 2006
SHEAR JOY CAN'T HIDE THE AWFUL TRUTH
Newcastle 1 Mansfield 0
Martin Hardy
IN the history books it will show that this was the day that Alan Shearer equalled Jackie Milburn's club record of scoring 200 goals for Newcastle United.

It will recognise this as the day when Shearer immortalised himself into Tyneside folklore.

In years to come, grandparents will tell youngsters of the Geordie Talisman, the son of a sheet metal worker, who carried a football club for a decade.

They will talk of his strength, his determination, his sheer bloody-mindedness to score goals no matter how woeful the team was around him.

They will speak of the bravery Shearer showed to fight back from injuries that would have ended the careers of lesser men.

They will talk of the love he showed to his home town club to turn down Manchester United when they were at the very peak of their powers. Twice.

None however, should ever make mention of this game. Ever. It is perhaps churlish to suggest the 90 minutes that saw Newcastle sneak into the FA Cup fourth round mirror Shearer's career in a black and white shirt. But it did' disappointment spared by the greatest goalscorer of his generation.


Milburn's record of scoring 200 goals for the Magpies has stood since 1957. That it deserved a better occasion to be equalled is unquestionable. St James' Park, the ground that puts up the 'full house' signs every week in the Premiership, was not even full when Shearer strode to rescue his club, this game and his manager with the swing of one historic boot.


Newcastle were awful. Actually, they weren't that good.


For 79 minutes St James' Park laboured under the notion that these two teams were from the same division. That is harsh. On Mansfield, who deserved the glory of a replay that their brave, spirited showing merited.


But there is a reason why Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd does not break a breath when asked who has been the greatest signing of his 14 years in the St James' Park boardroom. Two words: Alan Shearer. Even at £15million way back in 1996.


He has carried this football club through each of the many crises that seem to lurk around every corner.


Yesterday, another was looming.


The jeers that rang around St James' Park at half-time were almost apathetic. It was what the players deserved. Quite how a team that cost £44m could not even muster a shot at Kevin Pressman is anyone's guess.


But for 45 minutes they could not find a way to penetrate a side from down in League Two that was put together for next to nothing. It wasn't until nine minutes into the second-half that the 39-year-old was finally called into serious action, dealing with a looping Shearer header.


When these two came face to face six-and-a-half years ago at St James' Park, Shearer smashed five past the then Sheffield Wednesday keeper.


That he has been left fishing around for scraps says everything.


As St James' Park collectively sighed under the weight of apparent impending failure and Mansfield's vociferous fans were bracing themselves for a replay at Field Mill, history came.


Albert Luque of all people was the man to open the door for Shearer to take his stride into the record books, cleverly backheeling a ball into the path of the Newcastle No.9, eight yards from goal.


Shearer typically did not break stride before smashing home a right-footed shot that flew beyond Pressman's right hand.


The FA Cup is Shearer's last hooray For Newcastle to lift it will take a footballing miracle. But it is a one in a million chance he deserves to see come to fruition.


NEWCASTLE: Given 7 - Carr 6 (Ramage, 57mins, 6), Bramble 6, Boumsong 5, Babayaro 6 - Brittain 6 (Chopra, 63mins, 5), Clark 6, N'Zogbia 6, Solano 6 -*SHEARER 8, Luque 6 (O'Brien, 85mins).


MANSFIELD: Pressman 6 - Buxton 7, *DAY 9, Baptiste 8, Jelleyman 7 - Uhlenbeek 6 (Arnold, 78mins), Dawson 7, Coke 7, Rundle 8 - Barker 7, Russell 7 (Birchall, 72mins, 6). Ref: A D'Urso 7.
---------
Sunday Mirror:
HEAR RELIEF
FA CUP SPECIAL Super Al equals club record to thwart
brave Mansfield
By Brian Mcnally

NEWCASTLE 1

Shearer 80

MANSFIELD 0

IT took an historic goal from Alan Shearer to break
the hearts of magnificent Mansfield.

Shearer's 200th first-team goal for Newcastle equalled
Jackie Milburn's record career tally and justified the
Toon skipper's decision to postpone his retirement.

But, despite the scenes of wild jubilation that
engulfed St James' Park after the strike, it couldn't
disguise the fact that Newcastle didn't deserve to win
on a day when the minnows excelled.

Advertisement
click here!!

The word on Tyneside is that Souness needs to win the
FA Cup to save his job.

But on the evidence of this ragged display against the
Division Two strugglers, Souness is going to need a
lot of luck.

The Premiership side, assembled at a cost of £44
million, were embarrassed for long periods by a team
of journeymen with hardly a transfer fee between them.

Newcastle were awful until the closing stages and
could have had no complaints if Mansfield had gone
ahead in a first half they completely dominated.

Mansfield, roared on by their 5,500 travelling fans,
made the brighter start and caused Newcastle all kinds
of early problems.

It was difficult to identify which side were the
Premiership outfit and which in the fourth level of
English football as Mansfield played slick, attacking
football way beyond their station.

Most of the first-half chances fell to the visitors,
who had Gus Uhlenbeek in commanding midfield form.

The Surinam schemer was behind all their best moves
and might have had a couple of goals on another day.

Newcastle were made to play second fiddle from the
start as Mansfield made all the early running.

A teasing ball from Stephen Dawson found a gap in the
home defence that allowed Mansfield skipper Richie
Barker to bear down on the home goal.

But Magpies keeper Shay Given was off his line quickly
to save at Barker's feet.

Mansfield again went close on 17 minutes when Given
had to go down smartly to keep out a rasping drive
from Allan Russell.

Five minutes later Giles Coke had another good effort
for the impressive visitors that flew narrowly wide.

Then on 32 minutes Uhlenbeek raced on to a short free
kick to curl a shot inches wide as Given scrambled
across his line.

Mansfield's superiority was embarrassing as they
restricted Newcastle to a few first-half chances. The
disappointing Albert Luque smashed a drive into the
side netting, before Lee Clark belted the ball over
the top.

Clark again failed to hit the target when he was
played in by Nolberto Solano and then the Peruvian had
an effort blocked.

Newcastle needed Given to be at his best on 46 minutes
after Mansfield carved them apart with a glorious move
when Uhlenbeek's cross from the right was met first
time by Paul Rundle, who was thwarted by an excellent
save from Given.

Newcastle could have gone ahead on 49 minutes when
Stephen Carr found himself in space on the right, but
he hammered his drive well over the top.

As the game wore on Mansfield began to run out of
steam and Newcastle were able to pin them back. But
for all their increased possession and territorial
advantage the Magpies still found chances hard to come
by.

Luque went closest after 72 minutes when he fired a
25-yard free kick just over the top. Mansfield keeper
Kevin Pressman made a great save to keep out a clever
flick from substitute Michael Chopra after excellent
work by Charles N'Zogbia.

And when the goal eventually came - 10 minutes from
time - it was no surprise that it was that man Shearer
who got it. Solano began the move and his pass was
helped on by Luque. The ball fell invitingly to
Shearer six yards out and he buried it.

It was a memorable moment for the former England
captain and the home crowd went wild with joy.

But it was tough on Mansfield, who had played so
attractively in the first half and defended gallantly
after the break.

It has been another troubled week on Tyneside, but
Shearer's late strike has at least given Souness some
breathing space. Afterwards the manager hailed Shearer
for his record-equalling goal, saying:"It's a truly
incredible achievement. I think it's harder to score
goals in the modern game than it was when Jackie
Milburn set the record.

"I persuaded him to change his mind about retiring
because I was working with him every day and I didn't
see a man who was ready to pack in.

"But it wil be Alan who decides if he will go on after
this season."

BBC pundit Gavin Peacock is the only Newcastle player
ever to have scored previously against Mansfield. He
scored both goals in a narrow 2-1 win in a two-legged
League Cup tie in 1992.

MAN OF THE MATCH

GUS UHLENBEEK

A revelation with his touch and non-stop industry.
Could have scored a couple of goals on another day.

RATINGS

NEWCASTLE: Given 8, Carr 6 (Ramage 6), Boumsong 6,
Bramble 6, Babayaro 6, Brittain 5 (Chopra 5), Clark 7,
N'Zogbia 6, Solano 6, Shearer 7, Luque 5 (O'Brien 4).

MANSFIELD: Pressman 6, Buxton 7, Day 6, Baptiste 7,
Jellyman 6, UHLENBEEK 9 (Arnold 5), Dawson 7, Coke 7,
Rundle 8, Russell 7 (Birchall 6), Barker 8.

MANAGERS: Souness 6' Shirtliff 7

REFEREE: A D'Urso 7
-------------
INDEPENDENT

Newcastle Utd 1 Mansfield Town 0: Shearer 'honoured' to join the Milburn 200 club
By Simon Turnbull at St James' Park
Published: 08 January 2006
Just when it seemed that Graeme Souness might be in danger of lapsing into the past tense at St James' Park, it was his captain and - for the time being, at least - his saviour who was history.

With a stab of his right boot in the goalmouth at the Gallowgate End, where he used to stand and worship Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer dispersed 80 minutes of mounting resentment against his manager, broke Mansfield Town's highly spirited FA Cup challenge, and joined Jackie Milburn as the all-time record goalscorer for Newcastle United - if, that is, you ignore the 38 goals that Wor Jackie bagged in war-time football after joining the black-and-whites for a £10 signing-on fee and giving his mother half of it to spend on a new dress.

Ten years after Keegan signed him for £15m from Blackburn, Shearer had his 200th goal for his home-town club, dedicating it to his watching mother, Anne, on the eve of her 60th birthday.

The veteran striker has carried his goals to Newcastle but, unlike Milburn, a three-times FA Cup winner with the Magpies in the 1950s, he has yet to bring a trophy back to Tyneside.

Just five more wins in this season's FA Cup and the 35-year-old would have some silverware to parade at his farewell party come May. "Hey, stranger things have happened," Souness mused. Not that the Toon Army will hold their breath about the prospect of glimpsing a trophy tied up in black and white ribbons.

Having seen their team largely outplayed and outfought by a team standing 88th in the pecking order of English football, they will be more expectant of sighting a squadron of porkers over the Tyne. Then again, "The flying pig" - as Kevin Pressman was cruelly christened in his Premiership days - was in airborne action at St James' yesterday.

Not that the 38-year-old had as much to do as he had for Sheffield Wednesday in an 8-0 defeat on the same ground in 1999. Shearer hit five past Pressman that afternoon. But the one he managed yesterday might just have saved his manager's bacon.

"My first reaction was relief that we'd got through," Shearer said. "It's an honour to be up there with a great name like Jackie Milburn. I was brought here for £15m to score goals but never in a million years did I think I'd be up there with Jackie.

"Unfortunately, I never met him but I have met his family. He was a man of the people and no one has a bad word to say about him. It has to be right up there with everything else I've achieved - and to do it here, in the FA Cup, which meant so much to Jackie, and at St James' Park, at the Gallowgate End, in front of my family... It's my mother's 60th birthday tomorrow."

It was an indictment of Newcastle's stuttering play yesterday that it took them 75 minutes to test Pressman seriously. Until Michael Chopra had a first-time shot brilliantly parried, the goalmouth action was restricted to the other end, where Alan Russell and Adam Rundle drew fine diving saves from Shay Given.

The Toon Army were getting restless, jeering when the Mansfield fans chanted: "There's only one Graeme Souness".

Then, with 10 minutes left, Nolberto Solano slid the ball into the Mansfield box, Albert Luque back-heeled it and Shearer cocked the trigger of his right foot. The rest is already history.

Just when it seemed that Graeme Souness might be in danger of lapsing into the past tense at St James' Park, it was his captain and - for the time being, at least - his saviour who was history.

With a stab of his right boot in the goalmouth at the Gallowgate End, where he used to stand and worship Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer dispersed 80 minutes of mounting resentment against his manager, broke Mansfield Town's highly spirited FA Cup challenge, and joined Jackie Milburn as the all-time record goalscorer for Newcastle United - if, that is, you ignore the 38 goals that Wor Jackie bagged in war-time football after joining the black-and-whites for a £10 signing-on fee and giving his mother half of it to spend on a new dress.

Ten years after Keegan signed him for £15m from Blackburn, Shearer had his 200th goal for his home-town club, dedicating it to his watching mother, Anne, on the eve of her 60th birthday.

The veteran striker has carried his goals to Newcastle but, unlike Milburn, a three-times FA Cup winner with the Magpies in the 1950s, he has yet to bring a trophy back to Tyneside.

Just five more wins in this season's FA Cup and the 35-year-old would have some silverware to parade at his farewell party come May. "Hey, stranger things have happened," Souness mused. Not that the Toon Army will hold their breath about the prospect of glimpsing a trophy tied up in black and white ribbons.

Having seen their team largely outplayed and outfought by a team standing 88th in the pecking order of English football, they will be more expectant of sighting a squadron of porkers over the Tyne. Then again, "The flying pig" - as Kevin Pressman was cruelly christened in his Premiership days - was in airborne action at St James' yesterday.
Not that the 38-year-old had as much to do as he had for Sheffield Wednesday in an 8-0 defeat on the same ground in 1999. Shearer hit five past Pressman that afternoon. But the one he managed yesterday might just have saved his manager's bacon.

"My first reaction was relief that we'd got through," Shearer said. "It's an honour to be up there with a great name like Jackie Milburn. I was brought here for £15m to score goals but never in a million years did I think I'd be up there with Jackie.

"Unfortunately, I never met him but I have met his family. He was a man of the people and no one has a bad word to say about him. It has to be right up there with everything else I've achieved - and to do it here, in the FA Cup, which meant so much to Jackie, and at St James' Park, at the Gallowgate End, in front of my family... It's my mother's 60th birthday tomorrow."

It was an indictment of Newcastle's stuttering play yesterday that it took them 75 minutes to test Pressman seriously. Until Michael Chopra had a first-time shot brilliantly parried, the goalmouth action was restricted to the other end, where Alan Russell and Adam Rundle drew fine diving saves from Shay Given.

The Toon Army were getting restless, jeering when the Mansfield fans chanted: "There's only one Graeme Souness".

Then, with 10 minutes left, Nolberto Solano slid the ball into the Mansfield box, Albert Luque back-heeled it and Shearer cocked the trigger of his right foot. The rest is already history.
----------
Sunday Telegraph:

Single chance brings record for Shearer
By Les Ward
(Filed: 08/01/2006)

Newcastle (0) 1 Mansfield Town (0) 0

Alan Shearer equalled Jackie Milburn's record with his 200th goal for the club in the closing stages of an FA Cup tie that had previously brought him nothing except frustration.

The striker was a peripheral figure for most of a tie that threatened to heap further embarrassment on their manager Graeme Souness, whose future at the club remains in doubt after this performance.

Newcastle were outplayed and even outclassed for long periods by a Mansfield side whose 20th position in League Two suggests that their division must be laden with quality.

Newcastle might have had seven internationals on the pitch, but Mansfield had all the game's most influential players, notably Adam Rundle, once a youth team player at St James' Park.

But, as so often, Shearer was the man who captured the headlines with a typically decisive finish after Albert Luque backheeled the ball into his path.

Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff said: "Alan Shearer is just awesome. It's a great record and he's a magnificent pro. I'm just sick that their one chance fell to him."

Souness said: "It will take a while for what he has achieved to sink in because he's not the sort of man who thinks about records going into a game.

"It was always going to happen one day and it's a truly incredible achievement. Getting goals is harder now than when Jackie set the record and I don't see anybody ever matching him. I'm just glad that he decided to stay and continue playing this season."

The goal ensured a win that was essential for Souness. "We were determined not to become a shock and succeeded," he said. "The third round is always very special and it was a close encounter. Mansfield equipped themselves very well and made us work hard for our victory. Shay Given had to make two good saves, but we started pushing them back towards their own goal in the second half.

"I felt the longer it went on that we were going to get a goal, but I knew it wouldn't be easy because big teams are always under pressure in this round."

Mansfield were right to be bitterly disappointed because they survived an awkward opening before taking control against a team unnerved by their recent poor run and the continuing debate over Souness's future.

Luque wasted an early chance when he fired into the side netting and Newcastle had to wait a long time before threatening Kevin Pressman's goal again.

In contrast, Mansfield were lively and inventive from the moment that Allan Russell tested keeper Shay Given with a long-range effort in the 18th minute.

Rundle, Gus Uhlenbeek and impressive midfield teenager Giles Coke all found space for shots that were worrying close to Given's goal, while the keeper had to make another splendid save from Rundle soon after the interval. It was their final threat and Stephen Carr and Michael Chopra almost punished them before Shearer had the last word.

Shirtliff said: "We're disappointed because my players were excellent today, but the longer it went on, the more attacks they produced. We are not dejected, because we played very well in the first half, passed the ball well and rattled them.

"I don't know whether it was tiredness or the fact that Newcastle upped the tempo, but they put us under a bit of pressure.

"I couldn't have asked for more from my players. They have been fantastic all afternoon. If we could have maintained our first-half performance, you never know what would have happened. In the end, perhaps they just had that extra bit of quality.

"Goals change games and it wasn't to be. I'm still extremely pleased and hopefully our young players will see that as a benchmark for the future."

-------------
The Observer
Newcastle 1 - 0 Mansfield

John Wardle

Alan Shearer did far more than just equal Jackie Milburn's club goalscoring record when he drove in the winner after 80 minutes of an FA Cup tie that exposed all the problems at Newcastle United. The 200th goal of Shearer's 10-year stay here diverted all the attention away from speculation about Graeme Souness's future and, despite the player's praise for Mansfield, it also overshadowed a splendid performance by a team in twentieth place in League Two.

However, the Mansfield manager, Peter Shirtliff, led the praise for Shearer. "He is just awesome," he said. "It's a great record and he's a magnificent pro. I'm just sick that their one chance fell to him."
In truth, Newcastle did create one other opportunity when Michael Chopra's close-range shot was saved by Mansfield's 38-year-old goalkeeper Kevin Pressman. Otherwise, all the danger was created by an enterprising Mansfield side who forced the Newcastle keeper Shay Given to make two fine saves from Adam Rundle and Allan Russell.

Rundle and Giles Coke also went close to a goal on a day when a defeat would surely have made Souness's position untenable. Instead, the Newcastle manager was able to concentrate on Shearer.

Souness said: "It will take a while for what he has achieved to sink in because he's not the sort of man who thinks about records going into a game.

"It was always going to happen one day and it's a truly incredible achievement. Getting goals is harder now than when Jackie set the record and I don't see anybody ever matching him."

Jeered by their supporters at the end of the first-half, Newcastle improved marginally as Mansfield tired later in the game, setting the scene for Shearer's memorable moment. "It was a close encounter," admitted Souness. "Mansfield acquitted themselves very well. I felt the longer it went on that we were going to get a goal, but I knew it wouldn't be easy because big teams are always under pressure in this round."

-------------
Sunday Sun (North-East newspaper)
Nobody should have raised a glass higher for Alan Shearer last night than Graeme Souness.

For if Jackie Milburn's record had not gone the journey yesterday, the Newcastle manager might well have.

Until Shearer brought his 200 up with 10 minutes left of his 389th appearance for United, it was not easy to envisage Souness being around for his 390th.

So desperate had been Newcastle's collective struggle before Shearer reached his personal milestone.

If the goal was emphatic - a thumping finish from barely six yards - the Magpies' performance was anything but.

Indeed, but for Shay Given, blood rather than champagne might have flowed down the Tyne last night.

His sharp first-half save from Allan Russell, and an even better stop from Adam Rundle early in the second period, denied Mansfield a shock, but deserved, lead - and kept a restless crowd from revolt.

And even as the Stags - only one of whom cost a transfer fee - tired in the final half-hour, Newcastle struggled to make their supposed class tell.

Even allowing for an injury list which meant a first senior start for Martin Brittain in a makeshift midfield, this was no advert for the Premiership.

Kevin Pressman and his incredible expanding waistline were never extended during a dismal first half which belonged to the visitors.

And even during United's late siege, one save from Michael Chopra was the extent of the veteran goalkeeper's exertions other than to pick Shearer's shot out of his net.

Credit to Mansfield, who did themselves and their division proud with some fine football, particularly before the break.

Granted, the afternoon started ugly - visiting skipper Richie Barker lunging late and pointlessly at Given after the keeper had beaten him to the ball.

But once they had sensed they were anything but second best, Mansfield began to press and probe with conviction as well as hope.

Given had to be on his mettle low down to his left to keep out Russell's fierce 18th-minute strike.

The impressive Giles Coke then had the front to sell Shearer a dummy on the edge of the United box, albeit before wasting the shooting chance it gave him.

And Gus Uhlenbeek was unlucky to see his 32nd-minute effort from the edge of the box fly just wide.

By contrast, Newcastle's work was so ragged that it fully justified the chant of "Premiership? You're having a laugh" from the away end.

Shearer's only early sniff of a record was a free-kick deflected harmlessly wide - the skipper left unserviced and unhappy in the opening period.

Charles N'Zogbia at least showed willing in blazing over from 25 yards as half-time approached.

But the Stags went into the break on the up - Russell having half a shout for a penalty against Jean-Alain Boumsong, then Jake Buxton going within inches of forcing home Gareth Jelleyman's cross.

And they went even closer to a shock lead just seconds after the restart.

Uhlenbeek's right-wing cross was allowed to reach Rundle, whose well-struck shot forced a superb save - low down to his right - from Given.

Soon afterwards, Steve Carr - in his first game for getting on for three months - trundled forward, played a one-two of sorts with Albert Luque and volleyed over the bar.

It was the full-back's final contribution before making way for Peter Ramage.

Shearer then at least forced Pressman into a save - again, of sorts - with a looping header.

And the skipper had every right to be angry when his 63rd-minute cross, delivered at the end of a bustling run to the byline, was cleared unchallenged by Buxton.

Shearer had a new partner when Chopra replaced Brittain, pushing Luque onto the left wing and allowing Nobby Solano to switch flanks.

And the move, as well as maintaining the gradual shift in momentum of a half in which Mansfield were increasingly happy to draw ranks, almost paid off well before Shearer's historic strike.

From N'Zogbia's low cross, Chopra connected crisply with a near-post volley, only for Pressman - knowingly or not - to keep it out. It was a famous moment for the flying pig, who might or might not have reached the free-kick which Luque had curled just over his bar a few minutes earlier.

But Pressman would have needed to have been the size of a bus to prevent Shearer from making history.

And it was a moment when class - embarrassingly absent until then - finally told.

Solano's measured pass picked out Luque's run into the box, and seemingly begged for the Spaniard - who had an in and out game - to shoot himself.

Instead, he produced a backheel which eluded Titus Bramble but ran perfectly for Shearer to charge on to and bury right-footed low to Pressman's right.

Cue wild celebrations completely out of step with all that had gone before.

Few landmarks have come as a greater relief - not least for a manager who yet again saw his side's failings glossed over by a more newsworthy distraction.

But roll on round four - and goal 201 for Shearer - all the same.
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