Mansfield Town 0 Chesterfield 2
Payne 39, Davies 54.
Attendance: 7,258 (1,693 from Chesterfield)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Stags produced a truly awful display in the big local derby against the Spireites at Field Mill this morning. Mansfield started well enough in the opening 15 minutes and Sellars nearly scored from a free-kick, but after that Mansfield played badly throughout the side and were convincingly beaten. Chesterfield were first to loose balls and appeared to have more desire for the victory.
There was a major surprise in the Mansfield line-up as MacKenzie was dropped to the subs bench. Considering his performances in the previous games, this seemed an extraordinary decision. Probably the reasoning was to give a more attacking formation with Sellars, Lawrence and Corden chosen, but given Stags lack of steel at the back, it appeared strange. New signing Mark Lever replaced Reddington for his debut. Mansfield lined up with a 3-4-1-2 formation with Sellars sitting just behind the front two.
Stags started brightly and were awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal in the opening stages, even though it appeared Larkin had simply fallen over rather than been fouled. Sellars took the kick and put it inches over the bar, with former Stags loan keeper Muggleton well beaten. Andy White nearly scored a freak goal as his cross-cum-shot fooled Muggleton, who was out of position, but the ball sailed just over the angle of bar and post. Stags looked good in the opening 15 minutes but sloppiness started to creep into the Stags play as too many passes went astray and possession was surrendered. Particularly at fault was Lawrence who lost the ball numerous times when trying to dribble past the opposition. Chesterfield were getting on top and they went close twice. Firstly a simple ball into the Stags box evaded everyone and Reeves nipped in at the far post. With only Pilkington to beat he somehow put his shot over the bar from 6 yards. Then a shot from Innes from 18 yards was deflected inches wide of the Stags post with Pilkington wrong-footed. Stags weren't being put under real pressure but the defence still managed to look exposed and the policy of not putting someone at right-back was still causing endless problems.
On 39 minutes Stags went behind. A ball was played over the top and former Stags loan striker Glyn Hurst got away from Lever and was bearing down on goal. Lever cynically brought Hurst down and as the whole ground waited for the red card, the referee amazingly produced a yellow. It was tough luck on the Spireites but they still made Stags pay immediately as, from the free-kick, taken from about 25 yards, Steve Payne smashed a low hard drive through the wall and into the bottom right hand corner.
Half time 0-1
Stags were clearly missing a dominant force in midfield and I was again amazed that MacKenzie didn't immediately replace the out-of-form Lawrence at the break. But Watkiss persisted with the same formation and Stags play got even worse. Stags never threatened at all to get back into the game, apart from a couple of isolated incidents, notably when Larkin made a chance for himself and shot inches past the post.
Chesterfield extended their lead in fortunate circumstances on 54 minutes. Hurst broke into the Stags box but clearly used his hand to control the ball. The referee missed the incident and the loose ball fell for Gareth Davies who side footed high into the net giving Pilkington no chance.
MacKenzie at last came on for the ineffective Sellars and started to take a grip of the midfield. Chances were few and far between for either side. A rare Stags chance fell for Neil Moore who he headed wide from a cross. At the other end a Chesterfield player curled a left footed shot towards the top right hand corner of the net, but Pilkington produced a magnificent save to tip the ball around for a corner.
As the game moved into the final 10 minutes, Stags at last exerted a little pressure. Substitute Christie looked lively and was unlucky to see his looping header well saved by Muggleton. At the other end, Hurst broke clear of the defence and with only Pilkington to beat pushed his shot just the wrong side of the post. It was an terrible miss but it hardly seemed to matter for the Spireites, who knew they had done enough for a comfortable victory. Just before the end, Stags miserable luck with injuries to defenders continued as Jervis, who had been the pick of the defence, went down with an injured ankle and was replaced by Reddington. After the game, Watkiss said he wasn't yet sure how serious the injury was.
Stags have to regroup very quickly before Monday afternoon's trip to Stockport. There will have to be a drastic improvement if the side is to return home with anything. Stags desperately need the services of full-backs Hassell and Tankard, though it appears unlikely that they will be fit for Monday. Indeed if Jervis is also unfit then the problems will be even worse. Presumably young Jamie Clarke would be thrust into the side if Jervis was still injured.
Man of the match: Craig Disley.
Pilkington 6 One magnificent save, but surprisingly few other saves to make. Shots either went in or went wide.
Moore 6 Often exposed by the Stags policy of 3 at the back. Looked good in the air, but out of position trying to cover right back as well as centre of defence.
Lever 6 Did ok. Not really tested in the air. Lucky not to be sent off for the foul that led to the first goal.
Jervis 7 Did well at left back.
Disley 7 Tried to push the side forward, without much help.
Corden 5 Poor game. Tried his luck with a few shots but couldn't reproduce his magic from Wycombe.
Lawrence 4 Nightmare game. Consistently lost the ball. Was unable to dribble the ball without losing control.
Williamson 5 Poor by his own standards.
Sellars 5 Unlucky with an early free kick. But failed to show the class we know he possesses.
Larkin 6 Not given enough service though battled hard.
AWhite 6 Ineffective on the day.
MacKenzie (for Sellars, 55mins) 7 Why didn't he start? Looked good when he came on.
Christie (for AWhite, 62) 7 Lively and unlucky not to score.
Reddington (for Jervis, 80) 6.
Subs not used: Bingham, Bradley.
Ref: M. Clattenburg
Latest | August 2002