AWFUL STAGS LOSE AT HOME YET AGAIN
Mansfield Town 0 - 1 Bristol Rovers
Attendance: 2392 (317 from Bristol Rovers)
More home misery for Mansfield
MANSFIELD TOWN 0 BRISTOL ROVERS 1
THERE was more home misery for Mansfield Town this afternoon as they lost at Field Mill for the third successive game.
Another lacklustre display saw Bristol Rovers claim three more points for their Play-off push, thanks to Steve Elliott's 35th minute strike.
But Stags rarely looked like find their net as they went a fifth game without a win.
Admittedly, Stags are missing five injured key players and had a young side out with some playing out of position.
But Stags boss Billy Dearden would have wanted to see more fight from his players, particularly in a dire first half in which they failed to create a chance.
At least they caused Rovers a few problems after the break but never really tested keeper Steve Phillips.
The decisive moment came when former Stags star Craig Disley somehow fired an easy chance against the crossbar from only five yards on 35 minutes before Elliott got him off the hook as he guided home the rebound.
Injury-ravaged Stags were missing five key players with Jake Buxton and Jon D'Laryea having undergone surgery this week to join Jon Hjelde, Stephen Dawson, and the long-term injured Coke in the treatment room.
The Stags side showed three changes from that which started at Wrexham.
Injured duo Dawson and Hjelde were replaced by Sleath and Charlton with Michael Boulding dropping to the bench to join brother Rory, Arnold coming in to play left wing.
With reserve keeper Carl Muggleton away playing in a Masters tournament in Dubai, there was no keeper on a bench which included 18-year-old youth team skipper Kitchen.
Mansfield began in enterprising fashion and Sleath put an early crossing opportunity too near the keeper while Hinton did well to prevent Brown breaking clear onto a long header forward by Jelleyman.
Haldane looked hopefully at referee Mr Lee after going down under Charlton's challenge in the box.
Stags won a corner when a blast from Arnold was blocked and keeper Phillips was safely down on John-Baptiste's far post header from Hamshaw's flag kick. Though required some treatment afterwards after being caught by a stray foot.
The game became scrappy though Hamshaw did provide a moment's hope when he skipped round two challenges before seeing a shot blocked.
Lambert was allowed to get a close range header onto a Jacobson free kick on 19 minutes but it was always straight at White.
Hamshaw got a foot in the way of Campbell's low shot as Rovers took their first corner short and Mansfield then made hard work of clearing the danger before Jacobson finally blazed well over.
Walker tried to lift a shot over White from 20 yards but was also well over.
At the other end Hodge fed Gritton but he pulled his low shot wide in what was becoming a real yawn of a first half with virtually no goalmouth thriller in the first half hour.
Lambert turned well in the box on Rovers' next raid but Jelleyman was there to block his low shot for a corner.
A Campbell free kick caused chaos in the box as White failed to claim it and it bounced around dangerously.
But, seconds after that let-off Rovers were ahead on 35 minutes.
A long throw-in in from the left bounced in the box and Disley looked a certain scorer against his old club. But he somehow hit the crossbar from five yards with the goal at his mercy.
However, his embarrassment was spared as Elliott hooked the follow-up into the net with the home defenders rooted.
Disley did not join the celebrations as he brooded over his initial miss.
It could have been 2-0 within a minute as a low Walker shot saw White wrong-footed but able to kick the ball away at the last minute.
Home frustration grew and Sleath was lectured for a foul while Gritton again produced a tame finish after a promising run.
Charlton was again fortunate after another robust challenge on Haldane in the box saw the Rovers winger go down.
Rovers wee really starting to buzz now and Lambert might have done better with a far post header from their fourth corner.
For the third successive home game there were boos as the lacklustre home side left the field a goal behind.
The anonymous Sleath was taken off at half time, Conlon coming on to partner Gritton up front.
Brown dropped back to right wing and Hamshaw moved across into central midfield.
But it was the visitors who came close first as Disley hit a pass to Haldane who let fly from 20 yards with a shot that missed by inches.
Stags did force two corners, Jacobson heading the first over his own bar and the second passing wide off the top of Conlon's head.
Brown brought possibly the first real applause of the afternoon from the home fans on 57 minutes as he wriggled past Disley on the by-line and put the ball across the face of goal where both Gritton and Conlon failed to get the vital touch.
An offside flag was up before Walker looped the ball over White soon after.
But one of the best moved of the game on 59 minutes saw Disley's final ball put Walker into the box and his finish beat White but went just the wrong side of the far post.
Hodge did well to win the ball on the left but immediately gave it away to Campbell who flashed a quick shot over the bar.
Hamshaw did have Phillips diving full length to his left on 66 minutes as he hit a shot from 30 yards on the half-volley, but it was always curling just wide.
A long clearance down the centre found Walker 25 yards out on 71 minutes and his attempt to catch White off his line ended with the ball dropping onto the roof of the net.
With time running out, Dearden made a double change on 73 minutes, sending on the Boulding brothers Michael and Rory in place of Brown and Gritton.
Within seconds Hodge sliced a volley wide from a scramble.
There was more danger at the other end as Campbell beat White to the all and lifted it over him. But it lacked pace and John-Baptiste was easily able to intercept before it reached the goal.
A good run by Michael Boulding saw him go past two in the box but Elliott got in a block as he tried to finish.
Michael Boulding had another effort blocked soon after and then curled a shot wide of the far post in stoppage time.
There was still time for a low Hodge shot to take a deflection wide for a corner but it was all too little too late.
Latest | April 2007