MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
MORE MISERY FOR UNLUCKY STAGS
EVENING POST, 13 September 2006
Hartlepool United 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
JUST as in their previous away match at Wycombe that also ended in defeat, the Stags left Hartlepool feeling a little hard done by - but for different reasons.
In losing 1-0 in Bucks almost two weeks ago, Mansfield felt they deserved better after being unlucky to hit the crossbar twice.
At Victoria Park last night their frustration was aimed at the match officials.
With the Stags piling forward in search of an equaliser to Joel Porter's 77th-minute opener, substitute Danny Reet was hauled down in the area by Michael Nelson.
It looked a certain penalty. In fact, ex-Stags hero Tony Kenworthy - working in the press box - felt it was a stonewall spot kick and added that a free-kick would have been given anywhere else on the pitch.
An equaliser for the Stags at that point could have seen them go on to secure a valuable point or even mount a bid for victory.
Instead, referee Mike Haywood's decision to wave away the claims served only to demoralise the away players - already without skipper Richard Barker who had to go off with 20 minutes to go - and Pools wrapped up the three points in stoppage time with a deflected second of the night from Porter.
But despite Mansfield's sense of frustration, there was little doubt that Hartlepool deserved their success. Even though the visitors had a decent spell at the start of the second half, they were unable to open up the home defence and were limited to a string of long-range attempts.
Hartlepool, under Danny Wilson, got the ball down and attempted to play it around. That meant, at times, they left themselves open to the counter in committing players forward.
That should have been the signal for Mansfield to click into top gear as they did against Hereford at Field Mill.
But it was Hartlepool who looked the most likely to make the breakthrough.
For the most part Mansfield defended very well, especially in the centre where Jake Buxton and Alex John-Baptiste were pillars of strength. And when they were caught off guard, Jason White pulled off some top-drawer saves to keep them in it.
Having said that, all three players would have been annoyed with the way Pools went in front. A cross from Antony Sweeney from the left appeared not hard enough to find James Brown but no Mansfield player could clear the danger and as the ball ricocheted off Brown it dropped straight to Porter who found the right-hand corner from 12 yards.
It was the same man who made sure for the home side when his shot from just outside the box cannoned off Brown and beyond White's despairing dive.
Yet things might have been very different if Stags had taken what turned out to be their best opportunity of the night after just two minutes.
After Hartlepool gave the ball away in midfield, Matt Hamshaw threaded the ball through to Barker in the area but in trying to place the ball into the corner he shot straight at Dimitrios Konstantopoulos. With Michael Boulding pushed up into attack to partner Barker and Adam Birchall brought in on the left side of midfield Stags might have hoped to kick on from there.
But it was the hosts who bossed the rest of the half.
Hartlepool Utd 2, Mansfield Town 0
By Arthur Pickering, The Journal
The Hartlepool revival is gathering pace, thanks to Joel Porter, writes Arthur Pickering.
The striker has started the last two games on the bench, but the Aussie striker found his scoring touch at last.
He gave Pool the lead soon after going on and finishing the game with an injury time spectacular.
Hartlepool should have been ahead by half-time, but were foiled by Town keeper Jason White and their own finishing.
After Mansfield's Richie Barker posted a second-minute warning with a shot that Dimi Konstantopoulos saved well, Pool took control and pressed forward almost non-stop.
At times their passing let them down, but White's first good save came on 17 minutes when he had to change direction to hold on to a James Brown header after Willie Boland's right-wing cross.
Two minutes later the keeper did well to save twice at the feet of the inrushing Matty Robson, but he was beaten at last on 41 minutes … only to be saved by the post.
Darren Williams' ball down the right gave Brown the chance to cut inside, his skill creating a chance he looked like taking until his great shot cannoned back to safety off the post.
It looked as if White was going to stand between Hartlepool and victory in the second half, too, the keeper making a brilliant one-handed save from Brown on 72 minutes.
But Porter had gone on 10 minutes earlier, and after being on for 15 minutes he grabbed the breakthrough.
He pushed a good ball to the fringe of the area, where Brown held it up and the Aussie striker continued his run, pinched possession and guided his 12-yard shot into the bottom corner.
Pool had to battle to keep Mansfield quiet in the last few minutes, but Porter popped up in injury time with a brilliant finish to show that his earlier strike was no fluke.
Latest | September 2006