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Mansfield 1-0 Cobblers
DEFLATED COBBLERS DUMBFOUNDED BY "GOAL" DECISION IN STAGS DEFEAT
By Simon Sidwell
Northampton fell to their first successive defeat of the campaign as mid-table Mansfield strode to victory after Richard Barker's powerful header. But the talk of the match surrounded Sean Dyche's disallowed goal which blantantly cleared the line - no rub of the green yet again for Town.
Northampton were again left wondering what would have been if a key decision had been correctly given, when Sean Dyche's effort was ruled not to have crossed the line, leaving Mansfield free to net through Richard Barker's second half header and take the points.
The defeat serves yet another unwarranted body blow, especially as the Cobblers show the sort of form that backs up their league position, yet the knack of scoring seems to have deserted Northampton just when they need it most - and end up being punished at the other end.
However, referee Armstrong and his assistant effectively turned the game in Mansfield's favour when they cost the Cobblers a valuable half time lead. Martin Smith's corner was partially headed away before Dyche cracked a 15 yarder off the bar and down. Video replays on Sky Sports 'Football League Review' suggest the ball definitely crossed the line by a foot.
Even Stags boss Peter Shirtliff admitted he thought it had crossed the line, and judging by the celebrations so did Town. But the assistant ruled out the "goal", once again leaving an excellent first half performance with scant reward and goalless.
Colin Calderwood attempted to deflect attention of the incident, but feels Town have to help themselves in this situation. "Martin Smith is convinced that the ball crossed the line. We thought it was in - the linesman said no so that is the end of it."
"It's another kick in the teeth for us but we are still in there fighting as other results have been kind to us. As we have said before it's all well and good the other results going for us but we have to help ourselves." added CC.
Just as CC knows, goals must win matches, and Andy Kirk was guilty of missing opportunities he would be disappointed not to put away - Pressman dealing with both his first half efforts. If the Cobblers could net that first half goal, confidence would high enough to carry off the win.
That theory was proved right and Mansfield struck midway through the second period to seal the three points - even though Shirtliff feels this is not enough to kick his Stags onto a late challenge for the Play-Off spots. Gus Uhlenbeek's pinpoint cross was met by the rising Barker to give a static Harper no chance as it nestled high into the net.
KING RICHARD HITS GOAL 22 IN STAGS VICTORY
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
Mansfield Town 1 Northampton Town 0
Attendance – 3.985 Visitor's 945.
The Stags extended their unbeaten run to eight games when goal 22 of the season by hotshot striker, Richard Barker proved enough to beat promotion hopefuls, Northampton Town at Field Mill.
The Stags though had to defend a first half battering from a Cobblers side eager to get back to winning ways following their home defeat to league leaders, Carlisle United the previous week.
As early as the 9th minute, the visitor's should have been ahead. A disastrous back-pass by Stephen Dawson was seized upon by the dangerous Andy Kirk, but when faced with Kevin Pressman in the Stags goal, the Cobblers striker rushed his effort and Pressman saved well. From the resulting corner, Pressman dropped the ball and was grateful to Gareth Jelleyman being on hand to clear the ball from the goal line.
The best Stags could offer was a curling shot from Laurence Wilson that was saved with ease by Cobblers Keeper, Lee Harper.
As the visitor's pushed for the opening goal, with the wind at their advantage, Pressman was again called into action, this time to deny, Dyche.
Jess was next to threaten but his long-range shot was tipped over the crossbar by the over-worked Pressman.
On 39 minutes, The Cobblers were denied what many thought was a perfect goal. Pressman failed to hold onto a corner and as the ball dropped, Dyche unleashed an unstoppable close range volley that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down on the line and away. The Cobblers players turned away in celebration, clearly thinking the ball had indeed crossed the line but the Referee and his assistant would have none of it and waved away the claims. Afterwards, Cobblers boss and former Stags player, Colin Calderwood said, "The players thought it was well over and so did John Deehan sat in the stands. But the video evidence is inconclusive. The angle doesn't give a clear view and there were too many bodies to see clearly."
Stags Boss, Peter Shirtliff also thought that it was a goal, "I do have to be honest and I think that the ball was in. In my experience, when the ball bounces out like that it means it has gone over the line."
If the first half was Northampton's, the 2nd half belong to Mansfield. Laurence Wilson first to go close for Stags, but his effort fly high and wide.
Richard Barker was on the end of a fine flowing Stags move, but shot wide of the mark when expected to do much better.
However, the hotshot Stags front man made no mistake on 64 minutes when he scored his 22nd of a very productive season. Giles Coke, who had earlier replaced Dawson, played a brilliant cross-field ball into the path of Gus Uhlenbeek who jinked away and crossed from the right hand side to where Barker coming in from the left hand side of the area, beat the Cobblers defence to powerfully head home, giving Harper no chance whatsoever.
The visitors tried to respond and Martin Smith was unlucky to see his dipping drive just go over the crossbar. Lowe also had an effort but shot over from a tight angle.
The final whistle was greeted by load cheers from the home crowd and the look of sheer disappointment from the Cobblers players, who for the first time this season had lost two successive games. At this point of the season it was a superb win for Mansfield and a demoralizing defeat for Northampton. Is there enough games left for The Stags to reach the play off's? In a league where the top teams are more than capable of losing to those at the bottom, anything could happen.
Stags boss, Peter Shirtliff would not be drawn on the issue, "We will take each game as it comes."
This weekend Stags travel to Bristol Rovers hoping to extend their unbeaten run and so further climb the Coca Cola League 2 table. Rovers will be hoping to get back to winning ways after losing 1-0 last weekend at Shrewsbury Town.
Pressman, Jelleyman, D'Laryea, Baptiste, Dawson (Coke 60), Uhlenbeek, Barker, Buxton, Hjelde, Wilson, Reet (Brown 60).
Subs not used; Day, Birchall, White.
Harper, Crowe, Chambers, Doig, Kirk, Lowe (McGleish 68), Jess, Dyche, Smith (Bojic 74), Hand (Hunt 68), Lee.
Subs not used; Bunn, Gilligan.
Referee – Mr P Armstrong.
Observer Man of the Match – Richard Barker
Latest | March 2006