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31/December/2007 15:57:00


Paul Mullin is two yards offside as he knocks in Stanley's first goal. Photo lancashiretelegraph.co.uk



lancashiretelegraph.co.uk
Match analysis: Mansfield Town 1 Accrington Stanley 2
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ON THE MARK: Striker Paul Mullin sends the Reds into the lead at Field Mill with a cool second-half finish
Accrington Stanley ended 2007 in the same way they started it - with three points away from home and a grandstand finish.

On January 1st, the team on the receiving end were Wrexham, and on December 29th, Mansfield Town were put to the sword at Field Mill.

Stanley were out to prove that they were Kings of the road as they aimed for back-to-back away victories for the first time since March 2006.

Boss John Coleman kept faith with the side that beat Grimsby on Boxing Day to face the injury-hit Stags.

But it was the home side who started brightest, with Stanley goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin pressed into action in the third minute.

The prolific Michael Boulding beat the offside trap to race onto a long ball down the left channel and fire a shot towards Dunbavin's near post.

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But the former Shrewsbury man was alert, and turned the ball behind.

Swirling wind and drizzle meant that the game was short on quality, but both sides did create chances.

Reds striker Roscoe Dsane surprised Carl Muggleton with a snapshot from the edge of the box on 19 minutes, but the keeper collected at the second time of asking after fumbling the first effort.

Immediately, Boulding threatened again as he cut inside Leam Richardson in the inside left position and got a low shot away from the edge of the box, only to see Dunbavin comfortably collect.

Dsane was involved in Stanley's next chance as he dispossessed a defender and crossed from the right on 24 minutes.

A Mansfield player got a touch at the near post and helped the ball on to the edge of the six-yard box, where Muggleton and Jay Harris contested it.

The Stanley midfielder got the touch, but could only guide the ball into the body of the goalkeeper.

The home side should have taken the lead four minutes from the break, but Dunbavin ensured that his goal remained unbreached with a fine double save.

Nathan Arnold beat Phil Edwards down the Mansfield right to get into the box and pull the trigger from a tight angle.

Dunbavin parried, and the ball looped up onto the head of Jonathan D'Laryea, but he too could find no way past the Stanley number 25.

A second rebound fell to Matthew Hamshaw, who inexplicably blazed over from three yards.

The half ended with Arnold breaking away again down the right, only to see his run ended by an excellent tackle from the commanding Mark Roberts.

In the second period, it was Stanley on the offensive as they began to exert some real pressure on the Mansfield goal.

Harris tested Muggleton two minutes from the hour mark, and the Stags were thankful to their goalkeeper again a minute later. Paul Mullin's right wing cross evaded everyone in the centre and fell to John Miles at the back post.

He connected with it perfectly to strike the ball goalwards, but was left still waiting to open his Stanley account as Muggleton brilliantly turned it behind.

On 70 minutes, the former Stoke shot-stopper was called into action again to make a great save from the impressive Harris.

But his resistance was broken five minutes later as Stanley scored a controversial opener.

A Harris shot from the right side of the penalty box was parried away by Muggleton towards Paul Mullin in a suspiciously offside-looking position at the far post.

The striker slid the ball into the unguarded net and the assistant's flag stayed down, prompting scenes of jubilation from those in red and consternation from the home contingent.

The lead could have been greater soon after when substitute Billy Dennehy saw Muggleton turn his left foot shot from outside the box around the post and the same player could only find the side netting from just inside the Stags half with the keeper well off his line.

But the second goal did come in the second minute of stoppage time from the penalty spot.

Defender Martin McIntosh stuck out a leg as Harris advanced into the box and brought down the Stanley number eight.

Referee Gavin Ward pointed to the spot and showed McIntosh a second yellow card, followed swiftly by a red.

Not even a touch from Muggleton could keep out Andy Procter's powerful kick and the midfielder was left celebrating his eighth goal of the season.

The penalty became all the more crucial when the Stags grabbed a consolation immediately from the restart. Simon Brown crossed for fellow substitute Ian Holmes to poke home, but any thoughts of a comeback were ended by the full time whistle just moments later.


Ian Holmes told the Evening Post website that a significant drop in the level of performance by Mansfield brought about their downfall against Accrington: "It was massively disappointing because when you beat a side like Peterborough the confidence is high and you hope to take that into the next game. So this was a shock to the system. But the work-rate and mental attitude wasn't there and we were a bit sloppy on the ball.
"The fact it was the first time we have lost in six matches at home, and the first time we have conceded in that time, makes it even more disappointing. I think Jells was having a good game and helped set up a few chances for us. But after he went off the game changed and they started pushing on to us more and got the goal to go in front.
"It was great to get my first League goal, it was just a pity it wasn't an equaliser or a winner. It was a good ball in from Browny, low and hard and all I had to do was guide it in."
Full interview and story at http://www.thisismansfieldtown.co.uk


http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk
Coleman lauds rock Roberts
Comment
JOHN Coleman hailed defender Mark Roberts following Accrington Stanley's 2-1 victory over lowly Mansfield Town.

Paul Mullin and Andy Procter were both on target for the second time in four days as Stanley followed up their Boxing Day League Two win at Grimsby Town.

But Reds boss Coleman was quick to praise his side's defensive display, epitomised by a strong performance from centre-back Roberts.

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"We defended really, really well. I thought Mark Roberts was outstanding," said Coleman "The others weren't far behind him, but he shone and over the last couple of games, he's got back to the form of the start of the season when we were doing so well.

"Hopefully, it won't end here and he can build on that."

Coleman added: "There was a lot of great performances and if you go away from home and win, you've done well. To do it twice on the bounce is particularly pleasing."



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