STAGS CAN CONCENTRATE ON LEAGUE AFTER OLDHAMDEFEAT
Oldham Athletic 4 - 1 Mansfield Town
Kilkenny 19, Kalala 27, Smalley 82, Davies 86. Mullins 72
Attendance: 3155 (213 from Mansfield)
Carling Cup Round 1
14 August 2007
EVENING POST REPORT:
Oldham Athletic 4 Mansfield Town 1
ENCOURAGING is not a word commonly associated with a 4-1 defeat. But it could certainly be applied to Mansfield's performance in their Carling Cup exit at Boundary Park.
John Sheridan's Oldham side were, as expected, comfortable winners, and progressed to the second round where they will now hope to draw one of the Premiership big boys.
But the game was not decided until the final ten minutes and for much of the tie, Mansfield provided their League One hosts with a stiff test.
After the promising draw at Brentford on Saturday, what the travelling Mansfield fans wanted to see was their side follow it up with another positive display.
And they certainly got that - even if the scoreline was not to their liking.
It was not a surprise to see Oldham control possession for long parts and play the ball around in a style not dissimilar to their manager in his heyday. But Billy Dearden's men battled determinedly and made it harder work for the Latics than they might have envisaged.
Oldham held the upper hand in two key respects - and that made all the difference.
Their finishing and approach play were far superior to your average League Two side. Then there was the individual brilliance of Craig Davies, who stood out as the best player on the pitch by a mile.
He had a hand in almost everything good that the hosts did and it is easy to see why he has three full caps for Wales - and why Sheridan was so keen to bring him in this summer from Italian side Verona.
Things might have been different had the Stags capitalised on a bright start, but once Oldham went in front after 20 minutes, it was always going to be tough. Mansfield never gave it up made the home side fight all the way when it would have been easy for them to go under.
The Stags made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 at Brentford with Alex John-Baptiste (back), Matt Hamshaw (toe) and Jason White (knee) all rested because of slight niggles.
They were replaced respectively at right-back, right-midfield and in goal by Johnny Mullins, Nathan Arnold and Carl Muggleton.
Early Mansfield opportunities fell to Arnold, who mis-kicked at the vital moment, McAliskey, who fired over the top after some neat footwork and Arnold again, who stung the hands of Mark Crossley after a mistake from Neal Eardley.
But it was Oldham who went in front from their first real shot on goal and, like on Saturday, it was from a set-piece. Michael Ricketts attacked Andy Liddell's right-wing cross and though his effort was blocked, Neil Kilkenny, following up, smashed home from 12 yards.
Just after the midway point of the half, Lee Bell might have equalised when he fired just wide of the right-hand post.
But, in the 27th minute, the Latics doubled their advantage when JP Kalala fired in after Muggleton was unable to hold a hard, low cross by Davies.
Just before the break, ex-England international Ricketts almost made it 3-0 when he headed a deep cross from Stuart Giddings narrowly wide.
After the restart, Muggleton made a decent save to block a powerful Ricketts header. But just as the game seemed to be drifting to an inevitable conclusion, the Stags scored in the 72nd minute.
Oldham failed to deal with a right-wing corner and as skipper Jake Buxton fired the ball back into the danger area, Mullins diverted the ball home with a firm header.
Suddenly, Mansfield looked capable of taking the game into extra-time and when substitute Rory Boulding got to the right byline in the 82nd minute, an accurate cross might have yielded a leveller.
As it was, Oldham cut out the delivery, broke quickly through Davies and scored a third, thanks to Deane Smalley's tap in.
Davies then scored the goal his evening's work had deserved and that meant a competitive game looked like a thrashing.
But Stags fans who were not in Greater Manchester should not be deceived. Mansfield were not disgraced in defeat and it should be remembered Oldham are hoping to mount a League One promotion challenge this season.
A Carling Cup run may be out of the question for another year, If Mansfield can play to the level they have in their first two games of 2007-08 they are well capable of beating Lincoln on Saturday.
And if that transpires, then the memory of this defeat will soon be forgotten
Oldham Athletic 4 Mansfield Town 1
By John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town's Carling Cup adventure ended at the first hurdle, despite a brave battle at League One Oldham Athletic.
Stags had created the better chances before the Latics stung them with two goals inside seven minutes midway through the first half.
But the visitors steadied the ship and a John Mullins header 18 minutes from time had home nerves back on edge until substitute Deane Smalley sealed the Latics' passage to the second round on 82 minutes, Craig Davies rubbing salt in the wounds with a fourth on 85 minutes.
After two good seasons in the Carling Cup this result was a disappointment for Mansfield but the final margin did not do the visitors' efforts justice.
The starting line-up saw three changes from the team that drew 1-1 in Saturday's opener at Brentford.
Alex John-Baptiste is still feeling the effects of tonsillitis while Matt Hamshaw has an infected toe. So in came Mullins and Arnold as straight swaps.
Muggleton was also given an outing in goal in place of White.
Stags almost made the perfect start. They won a second minute free kick which Martin floated to the back post, Mullins laid back across the box and Arnold, in a good position, sliced his kick.
Good tackles in the Oldham box then halted Boulding and McAliskey in succession as the visitors pressed hard in the early stages.
Kilkenny was hopelessly wide with a speculative effort from 30 yards for Oldham, but within seconds McAliskey was much closer for Mansfield as he danced inside two defenders with superb footwork before rifling just over.
A shaky piece of defending by Eardley allowed Arnold to dispossess him and get away a powerful shot on target which Crossley pushed up into the air to take the sting out of it before catching it at the second attempt.
Oldham finally stepped up a gear with three more corners. And they grabbed a 20th minute lead from the third of those.
Liddle curled it over and Ricketts' initial attempt was blocked only for the ball to run to Kilkenny who, from 15 yards, crashed home a right footed finish low inside Muggleton's right hand post.
Six minutes later Bell might have squared it up. Oldham could only clear McIntosh's dinked ball into the box as far as the former Crewe midfielder, who controlled on his chest just inside the area before lashing a finish disappointingly wide.
The punishment was not long in coming as Oldham broke down the right within 60 seconds and Davies drilled in a powerful low shot which Muggleton blocked at his near post but could not hold on to and the alert Kalala picked up the pieces from close range to slam home the loose ball.
Having had the better chances and seeing the Latics bury their only two on-target efforts, Mansfield could feel a little aggrieved to be 2-0 behind at this stage.
Crossley took no chances as he turned over a dipping 30 yard Bell free kick.
Then a brilliant run down the left by Davies saw him beat four opponents before finishing tamely at Muggleton but still earning a big ovation.
Dawson hooked a volley straight at Crossley as Mansfield sought a way back into the contest.
Home fans were incensed when McAliskey dived into a tackle on Gregan and escaped with a lecture, but the big man was in the book to great cheers from the home fans seconds later after delaying a Thompson free kick by sticking out a hand as he tried to throw.
A lovely hanging cross to the far post by Giddings invited a header from Ricketts which he put wide as Oldham went in 2-0 to the good.
Neither Boulding not Martin could get a head on a dangerous cross whipped in from the right by Arnold soon after the break.
But the electric Davies should have made it 3-0 on 55 minutes as he turned McIntosh inside out 40 yards from goal and raced away from him and Buxton only to slot his finish wide of the far post with only Muggleton to beat.
Billy Dearden decided to make a double switch on the hour, Rory Boulding joining brother Michael up front in place of McAliskey and Sleath on for Arnold in midfield.
On 63 minutes Davies again tried to turn McIntosh but was this time held and pulled and a deserved yellow card was produced.
Muggleton made a superb far post save to keep out a Ricketts header from Liddle's free kick, unaware a whistle was about to blow for a foul.
On 69 minutes Mansfield won a free kick centrally 30 yards from goal. In Hamshaw's absence central defender McIntosh stepped up and curled an excellent kick inches wide of Crossley's right post.
But Stags were back in the hunt on 72 minutes. A half cleared corner saw Buxton lash the ball goalwards and Mullins get a crucial head on it from close range to beat Crossley.
It should have all been over on 81 minutes as Stags pushed forward they were caught on the break with Taylor seeing his low finish beat Muggleton and come back off the far post only for Smalley, only on the field for 60 seconds, to somehow sidefoot wide of the empty net.
However, the embarrassed Smalley was all smiles again within a minute as Stags were again caught pushing forward and this time Davies accelerated down the left, looked up and set up a simple tap in for the delighted substitute.
Davies grabbed a deserved goal to crown a man of the match performance on 85 minutes when he was allowed space on the left of the box and drilled a low finish past Muggleton, but it gave the scoreline an unfair lop-sided feel.
OLDHAM: Crossley, Bardley, Thompson, Gregan, Giddings, Liddell, Kalala (Taylor 71), Allott, Kilkenny (McDonald 81), Davies, Ricketts (Smalley 80). Subs not used: Wolfenden, Bell.
STAGS: Muggleton, Mullins, Jelleyman, Bell, Dawson, Buxton, McIntosh, Arnold, Martin (Sleath 60), McAliskey (R. Boulding 60), M. Boulding. Subs not used: White, Wood, Reet.
REFEREE: Steve Bratt (West Midlands).
GOALS: Oldham - Kilkenny 20; Kalala 27; Smalley 82; Davies 85. Stags: Mullins 72.
CAUTIONS: Oldham - Gragan 14 (body-check on McAliskey). Stags - McAliskey 37 (unsporting conduct); McIntosh 63 (foul on Davies).
Stags man of the match: Lee Bell
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