FEEBLE STAGS TAUGHT LESSON BY IMPRESSIVE IMPS
Mansfield Town 1 - 3 Lincoln City
Boulding pen 35. Dodds 2, McIntosh og 36, Stallard 54.
Att 3357 (620 from Lincoln)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
After the positive display at Brentford last Saturday, the Stags came crashing down this afternoon with a shocking second half display to gift Lincoln City 3 points at Field Mill this afternoon. The Stags were caught out by a goal inside two minutes, but generally played well in the first half, and thoroughly deserved a 35th minute equaliser when Boulding was brought down in the box and got up to convert the penalty. But within 30 seconds, sloppy defending allowed the Imps to retake the lead. A third goal, brilliantly executed by Stallard on 54 minutes, was followed by some of the worst football I can remember from a Stags team, who looked totally inept and Lincoln could have added another three goals after that. Very depressing.
Man of the Match: McAliskey
Stagsnet player ratings now in the Match Centre.
Evening Post report:
Alex John-Baptiste described it as the Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome.
His manager Billy Dearden simply called it unacceptable.
But whichever way you look at it - the Stags' two league games so far encapsulate everything that has been good and bad about the club in recent years.
The 1-1 draw at Brentford was excellent. While Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Lincoln, and the 4-1 Carling Cup turnover at Oldham, only reveal what a depressing start to the season it's been for Dearden.
Few expect his threadbare squad to challenge for the play-offs this term - but if their lamentable second-half performance is anything to go by, it will be a season of struggle at Field Mill.
That the 3-1 score line flattered the home side says everything about an afternoon that left players and manager alike at a loss to describe what went wrong.
Where to begin?
John Schofield's side might have scored six as they carved Mansfield open time and again with incisive passing and penetrating runs - and it was only last-gasp defending at times which kept the scores respectable.
In response, Mansfield were reduced to shooting from distance - in the case of Mickey Boulding and Stephen Dawson, to some effect - but they rarely got close enough to the Lincoln goal to consistently trouble goalkeeper Alan Marriott.
What a contrast to their hugely heartening opening day performance at Brentford, where they were unfortunate to share the spoils against Terry Butcher's promotion-fancied outfit.
Then it was the Stags who were full of attacking impetus and ideas, with Boulding's strike a skinny return on a plethora of chances.
The striker's second goal of the season on Saturday, came from the penalty spot - and you felt an unopposed effort from 12 yards was the only way Mansfield would get on the score sheet.
Under Dearden, and Peter Shirtliff before him, Mansfield have tantalised and tormented in equal measure.
Capable of odds-spinning performances that suggest they can challenge for the play-offs, all too often their good work is undermined by a lack of consistency. The concern for Dearden is that - while Lincoln have long been a bogey team - this was precisely the sort of match in which his side usually thrive - when they are the underdogs.
Though Schofield's team had been on the back of two tannings in their opening couple of games of the season - losing 4-0 to Shrewsbury and 4-1 to Doncaster - they are still one of the fancied sides in League Two.
And they showed exactly why with Dany N'Guessan, in particular, showing glimpses of a rare talent.
Mansfield in contrast looked devoid of the penetration the Frenchman offered Lincoln.
And while John McAliskey's malleable gate was easy on the eye and Boulding's hot-potato act in the final third made him an irritant to defenders, on too many occasions there was no end product to promising build-up work.
The big problem for Dearden though was a defensive display of such incompetence that it breathed confidence even into an opposition that had conceded eight goals in two games going into the match.
Louis Dodds was afforded VIP treatment when ushered through after only two minutes to put Lincoln ahead.
And after Boulding's spot-kick deservedly restored parity for Mansfield, N'Guessan was immediately allowed to put the visitors back in front with a goal that, from a defensive point of view, stank from start to finish.
From the ease with which he was allowed to advance down the left and cut into the box without challenge - to the flailing leg of Martin McIntosh that inadvertently deflected the cross-cum-shot past Jason White, it was car-crash football.
The execution of Mark Stallard's strike in the second half might have oozed class - but the manner in which Lee Bell relinquished possession in the build-up to the goal did not.
"We all know the performance wasn't good enough," said Baptiste. "Clearly if you give teams a two-goal head start, you're going to lose games.
"The first two goals were very disappointing. The third goal was a good finish, but if you look at all the goals we've had the ball - so if you make mistakes you are going to get punished.
"Maybe he got past me too easily for the second goal and the first goal he's run right through. We need to eradicate the errors because we played well other than the goals.
"It's Jekyll and Hyde. One minute we're brilliant and think we're world beaters and then the next minute we come crashing down. It's consistency. We need to work on that and realise we're not as good as we think we are.
"It's so annoying. On our day we can beat anyone in this league, but it is no good having a good game one week and a bad one the next. We're going to end up in the same position as we did last year."
Many more performances like Saturday's and even that could be a stretch.
Dominant City topple sorry Mansfield
By Nathan Jackson August 18 2007
Lincoln City won their first game of the season against a very poor Mansfield side. City were ahead within the first 90 seconds before eventually running out as 3-1 winners. A good all-around performance from the Imps with goals from Dodds, N'Guessan and Stallard catapaulting City from 24th in the table to 9th position, and now the season most definitely starts here. City started the game off in their new away strip consisting off white shirts and socks, both with a red trim, and plain red shorts. Mansfield won a quick free kick but wasted it. Marriott kicked the resulting goalkick upfield and Frecklington grabbed the ball, he quickly played a through-ball to Louis Dodds. The attacking midfielder out-ran the defenders and slotted into the net past a hapless White.
Mansfield were quick to respond with lanky McAliskey caused Moses to concede a corner, but Nat Brown rose highest to head the ball away. McIntosh failed to test Marriott from long range before Alan Marriott, celebrating the birth of his first child on Friday, caught a head from Boulding.
City won a corner but the Imps couldn't take advantage of White's flapping at the ball. Martin volleyed over for the hosts. McIntosh was almost then forced into an own goal after he headed Amoo's cross very slightly wide of the post. Frecklington was then grounded and had a goalbound Louis Dodds effort hit him before Mansfield took the ball down the other end and won a penalty when Boulding made the most of a challenge from Green and the Stags were awarded a penalty.
Boulding himself stepped up for the penalty, the fourth penalty that Mansfield have had against the Imps at Field Mill in the last 4 seasons, and like two of the others he slotted it passed Marriott and it appeared as though City were now going to struggle to regain the lead.
That struggle lasted less than a minute as virtually straight from kick off N'Guessan took the ball onto the left wing and sent a ball into the box. It took a deflection off of McIntosh and decieved White before entering the net less than 30 seconds after it had been entering City's net at the other end.
It was now all City as the Mansfield players were clearly shaken by this topsy-turvy spell of the match and City came close to making it 3-1 at Forrester's header was taken wide. Forrester then found Stallard on the right but before the striker could shoot he was flagged offside and the first half ended with City winning 2-1.
The second half started pretty much the same with N'Guessan picking out Dodds, he lobbed it to Forrester but his attempted chip over White landed on the top of the net. The former Bristol Rovers striker was again involved 8 minutes into the second half when he played a very clever through ball to Stallard and the former Shrewsbury men bent in a shot towards the back post and it went in off of the post. He and virtually the rest of the squad ran towards the City fans and now it just seemed a question of how many the Imps would get against a very weak and breakable Mansfield side.
Forrester again tried to play Stallard in but the offside flag stopped Mark from having a chance to make it 4-1. City were dominating the play and creating several chances but none were really going on target and in a desperate bid to save the game, Billy Dearden replaced Bell and Martin with Sleath and Arnold.
Forrester again tried to chip White but the ball landed on the roof of the net again. Warlow then came on, replacing the impressive Dodds and within a minute he had played in Forrester, but the striker could only shoot fairly wide of the target.
A rare Mansfield attack saw Marriott tip a long range Boulding effort over the net. Paul Green thought he had made it four when his shot went passed White but Buxton was covering and cleared the chance off the line. The rare sight of Amoo in the box almost resulted in his first goal since the game at Peterbroough, but his shot hit the side netting.
Warlow was the next to be frustrated as his shot took a deflection off a defender and from the corner, Frecklington shot over from 25 yards. Ollie Ryan made his first cameo of the season as he replaced Stallard, Kerr replaced Frecklington a minute later.
No more chances were created as City cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win
Reaction to the Mansfield victory
By Nathan Jackson August 19 2007
It's about time we put in a commendable performance, City haven't played well in a single game since March but new talent and one of the old guard changed everything around. After a poor opening 2 games we have finally got our season under way and it also saw a successful return to the way we used to play decent football, and it opened up the Stags defence many times. Firstly, let me just start by saying that as good as this performance was we won't come up against a side as poor as Mansfield anytime soon. I predicted them to finish bottom a while back and their performance today justifies my selection process for who will relegated. They barely troubled a defence that had been leakier than a sieve and any team that doesn't create decent chances will probably go down.
One of the reasons they didn't create chances was Adie Moses. His absense towards the end of last season coincided with our defence falling to pieces and I specifically highlighted this after the 5-3 defeat to Bristol Rovers in the Playoffs. His steady head and general command of the area often went unnoticed last season but if he can remain injury free then I am sure our defence will finally stop leaking as many goals as it has done recently.
It is hard to pick out other players individually for praise because this victory was a team effort, but Jamie Hand deserves a lot of recognition for putting in a solid performance on his debut. Sitting just in front of defence (The same job that Kerr is supposed to do apparantly) helped the backline out when they were occasionally in trouble and Kerr will do well to get back into the squad on the back of Hand's first performance.
N'Guessan put in easily his best performance in a City shirt and because of him we gave Mansfield a slap in the face after they scored instantly. Playing down the left he put in a hell of a lot more effort than Jeff Hughes ever did (not the hardest thing in the world to overcome) and if he can replicate that kind of performanceevery week then we're laughing.
Finally, today proved that you shouldn't break Stallard and Forrester up. Together they are deadly but seperately they aren't effective. They linked up well and Forrester was unlucky not to score his second of the season, however, Stallard's goal was pure class and already a contentder for finish of the season.
There's not a lot else for me to say really, there's nothing really worth ranting about this week. So hopefully we can achieve a similar performance against Accrington Stanley next week, but if they're anywhere near as bad as Mansfield were then we're going to be laughing
Mansfield Town 1 Lincoln City 3, Saturday, 18th August 2007
By John Lomas
IT was a miserable first home game of the season for Mansfield Town at Field Mill today as the Lincoln City 'hoodoo' struck again.
The Imps had lost their first two games of the season, conceding four goals in each.
But they have not lost at Field Mill for six years and rarely looked like doing so today after Louis Dodds gave them the lead as early as the second minute.
Michael Boulding did level matters from the penalty spot on 36 minutes.
But Martin McIntosh diverted a low Danny N'Guessan cross into his own net within 60 seconds to give them an undeserved interval lead and then, crucially, Mark Stallard grabbed a killer third goal nine minutes into the second half.
Home heads dropped after that as the Stags' performance fell flat and it could have been worse had Jamie Forrester's superb lob not landed on the roof of the net while Jake Buxton had to clear off the line as Paul Green tried to finish.
Stags welcomed back all three players who missed the midweek Carling Cup defeat at Oldham.
Keeper White, defender John-Baptiste and winger Hamshaw were back from injury as Stags started with the same team which began the season at Brentford last weekend.
McAliskey was inches away from getting a decisive foot onto a Hamshaw free kick at the far post as Stags began well.
But from Marriott's long clearance the visitors snatched a shock second minute lead.
Dodds latched onto the kick down the centre and just inside the box, as both Martin and John-Baptiste slid in to challenge, he managed to poke a low right-footed finish past White.
Brown nodded well wide from an Amoo free kick in City's next raid.
Lincoln continued to give away free kicks and from 28 yards McIntosh forced Marriott to tip over his crossbar.
McIntosh tested the keeper again, this time with an ambitious low attempt from almost 40 yards which Marriott managed to grab at the second attempt as he fumbled the first off the wet surface.
A flowing Stags move ended with Hamshaw helping the ball on to Dawson who, under pressure, at least got in a poked shot which was easy for Marriott to gather.
Martin hooked a first time effort over the top from 20 yards after more Mansfield pressure.
On 25 minutes a Stags corner was cleared to Martin who crashed a dipping shot inches over as the home side continued to dominate.
McIntosh was fortunate three minuets later when he headed an Amoo cross inches wide of his own goal.
But Mansfield were rewarded for their pressure on 36 minutes when Boulding levelled from the penalty spot.
Martin chipped the ball towards goal and Green clearly nudged Boulding as he tried to get a head on it.
Green was booked and Boulding took responsibility for the kick, burying it powerfully to Marriott's left.
However, while the home fans were still celebrating, Lincoln retook the lead out of the blue.
N'Guessan found space inside the box to the left of goal and drilled in a dangerous low cross-cum-shot which took a deflection off the legs of the unfortunate McIntosh and into the net.
Bell was on target from 30 yards on 40 minutes and two minutes later Dawson found the side netting from a similar distance with Marriott at full stretch.
But the Imps were somehow ahead at the break.
Dawson had a shot blocked by Green early in the second half.
But it was Lincoln who extended their lead on 54 minutes.
Stags were in full attack in the middle of the park with Bell. But he was short of passing options as he looked up and was caught in possession as Forrester robbed him and raced forward.
He fed Stallard to his left just inside the box and the ex Notts County hit man curled a delightful finish round White and off the inside of the far post.
Frecklington showed great skill to trick his way between two opponents and was immediately brought down by a frustrated Hamshaw, earning him a yellow card.
Mansfield were looking flat and Dearden tried to pep things up with a double swap on 67 minutes. Martin and Bell were withdrawn, Arnold and Sleath going on.
However, Stags were almost caught on the break again as Forrester tried to lob White only to see his finish land on the roof of the net.
Forrester was also inches wide soon after, turning Buxton and getting in a low shot narrowly wide of the far post.
On 75 minutes Boulding's 25 yard blast was tipped over by the alert Marriott as Stags laboured for a way back into the contest.
City almost bagged a fourth when, with McIntosh down injured in the box, play went on Green drilled in a low shot which Buxton kicked off the goal line.
City finished the stronger and Warlow had a shot blocked by John-Baptiste while Frecklington was not too far over with a long range effort.
Boulding might have grabbed a stoppage time consolation but planted a free header wide from Hamshaw's right wing corner.
Now the Stags face a trip to League new boys Morecambe next Saturday still searching for their first win of the season.
STAGS: White, John-Baptiste, Buxton, McIntosh, Jelleyman, Hamshaw, Bell (Sleath 67), Dawson, Martin (Arnold 67), McAliskey, M. Boulding. Subs not used: Muggleton, Mullins, Reet.
LINCOLN: Marriott, Amoo, Green, Moses, Brown, Hand, Frecklington, Dodds (Warlow 71), Stallard (Ryan 87), Forrester, N. Guessan. Subs not used: Wright, Kerr, Watt.
REFEREE: Mike Oliver.
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