DISASTER AS BARKER OFF & STAGS LOSE TO OLD BOYS
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 Chester City
Reet 51. McNiven 54, Asamoah 69.
Barker sent off 66.
Att: 3219 (128 from Chester)
12 Goal Attempts 7
7 On Target 4
5 Off Target 3
0 Hit Woodwork 0
2 Offsides 2
7 Corners 6
12 Fouls 10
Stags 1 Chester 2
TWO former Stags found the net and home skipper Richie Barker was sent off as former boss Keith Curle made a triumphant return to Field Mill last night.
With seven straight League defeats behind them, the visitors, packed with ex-Stags and with a manager still involved in legal action against Mansfield over his sacking last season, found themselves trailing to Danny Reet's second goal in four days, scored on 51 minutes.
Scott McNiven levelled within three minutes with a screamer from 18 yards and as tempers frayed and cards were produced, the usually genial Barker saw two yellows in as many minutes to leave the home side short-handed.
The second yellow was for a challenge on Ben Davies who did seem to make a meal of what was certainly a foul but possibly not worth the card.
Asamoah then rubbed salt in the wounds by popping up with a headed winner on 69 minutes, although Adam Birchall did rattle the Chester crossbar nine minutes from time.
It was an icy cold night with a hard pitch that players often struggled to keep their balance on.
Stags were unchanged from the side which won on Saturday though Brown was on the bench after returning to training following an improvement in his hamstring injury.
Chester began with five former Stags - McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Curtis and Asamoah with another, Corden, on their bench.
Gillet was cleared to play in Chester's goal after the FA overturned his weekend red card.
Asamoah forced a first minute save from Pressman as Chester began well. Stags didn't clear Davies' free kick properly and the ball fell to Asamoah who stabbed a shot on target which Pressman turned round his near post.
Artell got a head on the ensuing corner but Stags managed to finally clear.
Stags went forward and a low Reet cross was cleared while soon after Coke was well over with a first time shot.
Lowe had a firm shot blocked after getting on the end of a familiar long McNiven throw for the visitors.
Then Dimech got in a good block as Reet tried to get away a shot on the turn eight yards from goal from Buxton's pass.
This was better from Mansfield and on 22 minutes Reet fired just wide of the near post after Barker had slipped him into the right hand side of the box.
Then Barker's reverse pass to Uhlenbeek saw him send the ball beyond the far post where Reet, from an impossible angle, could only find the side netting.
Chester replied with a Blundell header glanced wide from Davies' cross.
A well-worked free kick from 25 yards on the half-hour saw Gillet behind Barker's eventual drive.
Then a Rundle corner was cleared to Coke on the edge of the box but he volleyed well wide.
However, Chester should have gone ahead a minute from the break. Hjelde's headed clearance only dropped as far as Lowe who was running in towards the penalty spot and he blazed wide first time with Pressman at his mercy.
Chester created the first danger of the second half when Buxton conceded the corner as Drummond tried to get the cross in.
That was sent over the back post where Artell's header was headed off the line by John-Baptiste and Drummond's follow-up header was headed off the line by Barker in a dramatic double escape.
And Stags had the perfect answer with the opening goal on 51 minutes.
Chester struggled to clear a home corner and Coke fed Rundle wide on the left. He drilled it first time hard and low across the face of goal and Reet was there at the far post to turn home his second goal in four days.
But Chester were level within three minutes through former Stags McNiven. The full back played a one-two just outside the box before beating Pressman all ends up with a rocket shot.
Almost immediately Dawson was just over with a ferocious shot from 18 yards for the Stags.
Asamoah should have then put Chester in front as Lowe pulled the ball back from the right by-line and the former Stags striker got there first but poked the ball wide from six yards.
A scuffle ensued between Hjelde and Drummond before play could restart and both players were yellow-carded.
Tempers continued to fray and when Curtis tried to delay a Mansfield free kick he and Barker ended up in a shoving match that saw two more yellows.
However, more significantly Barker was in big trouble two minutes later as Davies went down under his challenge and the second booking saw the inevitable red follow.
By now players were squaring up and the home crowd were screaming at Davies, feeling he had over-reacted.
Shirtliff decided to send on Russell for Reet.
But the night took another bad turn on 69 minutes as Asamoah headed the visitors in front.
A contentious free kick was awarded 30 yards from goal and Davies sent it into the box where the diminutive Asamoah was allowed to get in a looping header that dropped under the far angle.
Dawson was narrowly wide with a low effort from Buxton's square pass just outside the penalty area.
There were more boos as Asamoah pulled up and went down. But he limped off and was replaced by Vaughan.
Birchall almost levelled nine minutes from time from Brown's clever pass but saw his shot from a tight angle beat Gillet but cannon back off the crossbar.
Coke was only just wide with a stab after a scramble and in stoppage time Gillet made a superb save to deny Dawson after Birchall had pulled the ball back into his path.
STAGS: Pressman, Jelleyman, John-Baptiste, Dawson, Uhlenbeek (Brown 73), Barker, Buxton, Coke, Rundle (Birchall 73), Hjelde, Reet (Russell 68). Subs not used: White, Lloyd.
CHESTER: Gillet, Curtis, McNiven, Artell, Blundell (Richardson 82), Dimech, Regan, Lowe (Branch 90), Davies, Drummond, Asamoah (Vaughan 78). Subs not used: Corden, Walker.
REFEREE: Keith Hill of Herts.
SCORERS: Mansfield - Reet 51. Chester - McNiven 54; Asamoah 59.
CAUTIONS: Mansfield - Hjelde 59 (unsporting); Barker 64 (unsporting). Chester - Blundell 59 (unsporting); Curtis 64 (unsporting).
SENT OFF: Mansfield - Barker 66 (foul on Davies, second cautionable).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen Dawson
Chester boss Keith Curle returned in triumph to the club that sacked him 15 months earlier as City ended a run of seven successive league defeats.
The match - finely poised at 1-1 - was transformed in the 66th minute when Mansfield striker Richie Barker was sent off.
Barker was dismissed for his second yellow card after Ben Davies appeared to over-react to the forward's challenge.
Just three minutes later Chester took full advantage as former Stags striker Derek Asamoah flicked in Davies' free-kick.
In a thrilling finish Mansfield substitute Adam Birchall rattled the bar, Giles Coke's injury time drive flew narrowly wide and Stephen Dawson's last gasp piledriver was tipped away for a corner as the home side searched for a leveller.
Freezing conditions made life difficult for the Stags class of 2006 against a side labelled the Stags class of 2005.
Curle had brought six players from Mansfield's team last season back to Field Mill as struggling City looked to end Mansfield's six-match unbeaten home run.
City should have taken the lead inside the first 60 seconds as Mansfield failed to clear a Davies free-kick and Asamoah's volley was turned away by Kevin Pressman.
A minute before the interval Ryan Lowe squandered the best chance of the first half by blazing wide of an empty net.
Sixty seconds into the second half Chester forced two goalline clearances at a corner with Barker and Alex Baptiste denying Asamoah and Stewart Drummond.
Those clearances proved vital six minutes later when Danny Reet gave the Stags the lead as he turned in an Adam Rundle cross.
But within two minutes Scott McNiven thumped Chester level with a 25-yard drive as the match finally came alive.
Barker's rising 20-yard drive almost restored Mansfield's lead 30 seconds later, while at the other end Asamoah poked wide from six yards.
But he made no mistake with the winner in the 69th minute to the delight of Curle.
Two evenly matched sides played out a hard fought game this evening in Nottinghamshire. The first half ended honours even after an opening period of Chester dominance gave way to the Stags pushing forwards later in the half. The second half in contrast fell Citys ways, inevitably after going a goal behind. Luck was on their side for once, with a the woodwork assisting Gillet at one end whilst McNiven ansd Asamoah brought the points home in front of the travelling City fans.
Chester had a good chance in the opening minute of play. Ben Davies took a free kick in the right hand channel which was initially cleared but came back in to Asamoah whose 6 yard shot forced a good save from Pressman to push the ball past his right hand post for a corner. Davies took the corner but it was cleared without goalmouth incident.
Chester were pushing forwards well and a move involving Lowe Blundell and Davies resulted in a corner for the Blues in the 8th minute. Once again though the Mansfield defence headed clear.
There was a moment of danger for City in the 14th minute when Uhlenbeek in the right hand channel crossed a high ball into the middle for Danny Reet. Luke Dimech was there though for City to block his shot.
Midway through the half the Stags started finding their game and dangerman Danny Reet received a good ball in the right hand channel but found Gillet alert as ever to block his shot. Minutes later though and more pressure from the Stags saw Barker attempting to lob the ball over Gillet at an acute angle. He was off target though and the ball fell to Danny Reet only feet from goal and right on the touchline, however he ended up finding the side netting rather than the goal to the relief of the away fans behind the goal.
It was the home side in control of the game by this point and a neat set piece from a free kick on 30 minutes saw the ball played out to Barker with a clear line of site around the wall. Gillet was well placed though and made a fairly routine save from Barker's shot.
Mansfield won a corner 5 minutes before the break when Giles Coke sent Adam Rundle on a good run down the left hand side, forcing McNiven to intervene. The corner was headed clear by City but only as far as Coke who fired in a shot which went well wide.
City should have taken the lead on 43 minutes after a misunderstanding in the Mansfield defence allowed Lowe to steal the ball and fire in a powerful volley. His shot was way off target though, sailing high and right of goal.
Chester started the second half well with a corner in the 46th minute. Ben Davies played it short but it was played back to him and he sent a high cross towards the far post. How Mansfield kept the ball out is a miracle, first John-Baptiste blocked an Artell header then a second effort from Drummond was also somehow cleared off the line.
Mansfield were still getting forward well too and took the lead in the 51st minute. Giles Coke fed the ball out to Adam Rundle in the left hand channel. He in turn played a perfectly weighted pass towards the box where Danny Reet ran on to it and fired it home from close range.
City came straight back at Mansfield though with a superb equaliser only 3 minutes later. Scott McNiven played a neat one-two with Gregg Blundell and fired the ball home from 25 yards out in front of the delighted City travelling support.
Mansfield were reduced to ten men in 66 minutes following two quick yellow cards for Richard Barker, both for dissent. Minutes later, city took the lead. It came from a free kick in the right hand channel from Ben Davies, which was directed goalwards by Asamoah with a first touch header from close range giving Pressman no chance.
The Stags should have equalised on 82 minutes when substitute Adam Birchall managged to wrong-foot Gillet and fire an unchallenged ball towards goal. It seemed to defy the laws of physics though, coming off both the underside of the crossbar and the left hand post before drifting wide.
City were trying to stall the game and play out for a 2-1 win but they didn't get it all their own way. Giles Coke could have brought the home side level right on the 90 minute mark, shooting goalwards from a Buxton cross. Then in injury time Stephen Dawson fired in a superb 30 yard shot which seriously tested Gillet. The Chester shot-stopper mananged to parry the ball away at full stretch along the goal line.
So City end their barren run with a good win against Keith Curle's former side. The side have found renewed confidence from somewhere at last, starting at Bristol on Saturday and finally, finally, bringing home the points on a cold Tuesday evening in Nottinghamshire. Good work, City.
STAGS OLD BOYS HAVE LAST LAUGH
EVENING POST, 25 January 2006
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 Chester City
WHEN Mansfield Town fans gleefully chanted ''Curley, Curley what's the score?'' with 51 minutes played last night, they must have thought they were going to get one over on their former manager.
They had just watched Mansfield take a 1-0 lead with a strike from Danny Reet, thereby hitting the hopes of ex-Stags boss Keith Curle on his first return to Field Mill.
But little did they know, the former England player and his Chester side would have the last laugh.
The Mansfield goal was the start of an incredible spell of 18 minutes that saw the game turned on its head.
In between the controversial sending off of Stags skipper Richie Barker, Chester broke the home fans' hearts with two goals to steal the points.
And you know it just had to be two of the five former Mansfield players in the City line-up that did the damage.
First, right-back Scott McNiven rifled home a spectacular 25-yard drive that stunned the Stags just three minutes after they had gone ahead.
Then, when Peter Shirtliff's side were down to ten men, Derek Asamoah - probably the smallest player on the pitch - grabbed what proved to be the winner in the 69th minute with a looping header over Kevin Pressman.
But it was the performance of referee Keith Hill that was the single biggest talking point at full-time.
He will certainly not be top of Shirtliff's Christmas card list and he was roundly booed from the pitch at the end for dismissing Barker for two yellow cards.
The Stags striker was first booked for pushing Tom Curtis as he tried to take a quick free-kick in the 64th minute.
Then, just a minute later, the referee had his card out again when Ben Davies collapsed under Barker's challenge.
There was no doubt that the second incident deserved to bring Chester a free-kick, but it seemed no more than that.
Hill thought otherwise and the punishment undeniably changed the course of the game.
Had the Stags been at full strength for 90 minutes, they would have fancied their chances to go on and win the match - despite McNiven's goal.
Down a player, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for them and a brave late surge ultimately proved in vain.
Yet Mansfield, with a little more luck, might still have taken a point.
Substitute Adam Birchall struck a terrific shot following fellow substitute Simon Brown's pass but his luck was out as the ball came back off the bar.
Stephen Dawson was also denied in the dying seconds by a fine save from Chester keeper Stephane Gillet, who was only given the nod to play at the 11th hour after his sending off at Bristol Rovers on Saturday was rescinded on appeal.
The first half had started with little sign of what was to come as Shirtliff had the rare opportunity of being able to field an unchanged starting line-up.
Neither side were able to impose any kind of authority on the game and play was, for the large part, scrappy.
Too often Mansfield gave the ball away in promising positions, and the delivery from out wide, a common failing in recent weeks, was again below par.
The visitors had the clearest two openings of the opening period, but Pressman saved well from Asamoah's first-minute snapshot while Ryan Lowe volleyed wide.
Another scare at the start of the second half saw Barker and then Alex John-Baptiste clear off the line from Dave Artell and Stuart Drummond.
Mansfield claimed the opener as Giles Coke released Adam Rundle and the winger's pinpoint centre was swept in by Reet. That was to be the high point as the visitors' unexpected victory brought an end to a run of seven straight league defeats.
For the Stags it was the latest setback in their bid to find consistency - just when it seemed they might have turned the corner.
At least the game did see the welcome return of Brown, who was so devastating in tandem with Barker before his hamstring injury.
He seemed to show no ill effects from his brief spell on the pitch.
The Stags now have to pick themselves up for the visit to play-off chasers Darlington on Saturday.
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