STAGS LOSE AGAIN
Torquay United 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 2660 (322 from Mansfield)
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Torquay United 1 Stags 0
MANSFIELD Town suffered their fourth defeat in five League games as Jamie Ward grabbed the only goal of the game at Torquay United this afternoon.
It was an improved display on their midweek defeat at Hartlepool but they just couldn't find a way past home keeper Nathan Abbey.
Michael Boulding and Matt Hamshaw had good first half chances as the Stags looked to be edging the half.
But Ward made the most of a loose ball in the visitors' box on 37 minutes to net against the run of play and Stags struggled to create much of note after the break until near the end when two or three opportunities fell for Richie Barker who was unable to take them.
Now they must turn lift themselves to face Premiership leaders Portsmouth in the Carling Cup at home on Tuesday night.
Disappointed Stags boss Peter Shirtliff said: "I thought we were poor in their box today and we didn't really make things happen.
"It was a poor game early on and then they got a break in our box from a hotly disputed free kick and scored.
"We had the same situation where we had the same sort of break from a free kick in their box but the keeper saved it. That just about sums the game up.
"Apart from Hamshaw and Boulding early on I don't think we created another chance until near the death.
"We never really looked like scoring. But we have got to get on with it and once they start realising what they have got to and start competing and being stronger then we have chance of getting a few results.
"I was disappointed with our determination and aggression in their box which was non-existent.
"We have got a few knocks and bruises as well as players feeling sorry for themselves and I am not interested in the Portsmouth game right now."
On the disputed free kick, he added: "I don't know what the referee was playing at.
"He turned round and thought the ball was in play but it never was. Giles was never going to take it so he rolled it to Alan Sheehan. The kick hadn't been taken."
Stags made two changes from the side beaten at Hartlepool with Dawson and Birchall replaced by Coke and Reet.
Skipper Barker was passed fit to play after the head and foot injuries he suffered in midweek. But Simon Brown was again absent with his dead leg.
Jelleyman was named among the substitutes after recovering from his knee injury.
Boulding was moved back out onto the left of midfield with Coke coming into the centre and Reet partnering Barker up front for his first start of the season.
The early stages were scrappy though Reet did have a poor shot deflect wide for a corner in the seventh minute.
But in the 10th minute White stretched for a Hill cross and spilled it, thankfully no one able to take advantage for the home side.
Thorpe then headed wide from the home side's third corner in the 17th minute.
A minute later the visitors almost took the lead as Barker's pass found Hamshaw to his right in the box in acres of space. But, as he got in his shot, Reed did just enough to get a challenge in and the ball span wide for a corner off the defender's leg.
Stags came close again on 26 minutes as Mullins' right wing cross picked out Boulding in the middle and he sent a powerful header straight at keeper Abbey.
Soon after Boulding got his head on another cross at the far post but it was deflected wide and the referee decided to award a goal kick instead of the expected corner.
Mansfield were clearly on top at this stage but were rocked on their heels by a home goal on 37 minutes.
Sheehan prepared to take a Stags free kick but a row blew up when the referee pointed out the kick was Torquay's as players argued and shoved.
And from that controversial free kick, the ball dropped into the Stags box for a furious scramble that ended with the diminutive Ward slamming the loose ball high into the far corner from six yards out.
Stags replied with two corners as they quickly looked for a way back.
In stoppage time Mansell bent a 25 yard shot wide of the visitors' goal as Stags went in a little unlucky to be trailing.
Ward caused problems for the Stags in the opening minutes of the second half as he spun sharply away from John-Baptiste's attentions from a tight angle and lashed the ball across the face of goal.
Ward also nearly got on the end of a flick as John-Baptiste slid in to hook away as the ball seemed to be heading for the keeper's arms.
A strong challenge by Thorpe on Coke in the box sent the Stags man sprawling but there were no protests from the visitors as play was waved on.
On 62 minutes Stags made a double switch with Jelleyman replacing Boulding on the left of midfield and Dawson taking over from Coke in the middle of the park.
Neither side had really looked like scoring in the second half until the 68th minute when Evans' flick saw Mansell try a dipping volley that only just cleared the Mansfield crossbar from the edge of the box.
On 69 minutes Beardsley came on for Reet to try to pep up the Stags attack.
Barker might have done better on 71 minutes when he headed well wide from eight yards after getting on the end of a Dawson cross from the left.
McPhee replaced the lively Ward on 72 for the home side.
And he almost grabbed a goal but headed narrowly over on 77 from Murray's right wing free kick.
Sheehan was well wide with a low 25 yard from a half clearance as time began to run out on the Stags.
And White was bravely down at McPhee's feet as he burst past John-Baptiste in the box with Stags caught pushing forward.
Barker finally forced the first real save of the half from Abbey five minutes from time as Buxton flicked on a Hamshaw corner - his 11th of the game - and Barker headed at goal only to see Abbey's safe hands pluck it out the air.
Almost immediately Torquay broke downfield and McPhee hurried a lob over the bar when he might have done better from 15 yards.
In the final minute Barker again came desperately close as Buxton headed on a free kick into the box and Barker's finish was smothered at close range by Abbey.
The home fans were furious when it was announced four minutes of stoppage time were to be played. But they hung on without too much of a problem to take the points.
Latest | September 2006