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SUPERB STAGS JUST BEATEN
28th January 2008 21:39


Mansfield Town 0 - 2 Middlesbrough
Dong-Gook 17, Buxton 86 o.g.
Attendance: 6258 (1364 from Middlesbrough)

A superb, gutsy performance from Mansfield was not quite enough to cause an upset against Premiership Middlesbrough in FA Cup Round 4 on Saturday lunchtime. In front of a massive worldwide TV audience, many Stags players put in outstanding performances and for 20 minutes early in the second half, the performance had the national TV commentators absolutely purring.

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BBC online report:
Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough

Dong-Gook Lee claimed only his second goal of the season
Middlesbrough edged into the fifth round of the FA Cup after being pushed hard by a valiant Mansfield side.
Dong-Gook Lee steered into the bottom corner on 15 minutes after the Stags failed to clear Adam Johnson's corner.

Mansfield battled throughout with Michael Boulding smashing the bar from 25 yards and Mark Schwarzer saving well a minute later from his looped header.

But three minutes from the end, skipper Jake Buxton diverted George Boateng's clipped cross into his own net.


Interview: Mansfield boss Billy Dearden
Interview: Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate
Report: Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough

The lowest-ranked league club still in the FA Cup deserved at least a replay from this tie and will rue their inability to create more chances for Boulding.

Boro themselves failed to fashion many clear-cut opportunities, but after a scrappy opening 15 minutes, they went ahead after a mix-up in the Stags defence.

606: DEBATE
Should Robert Huth have been sent off?

Mansfield failed to deal with Johnson's corner, and while David Wheeter's shot was blocked, they could not keep out Lee's effort that was comfortably dispatched into the bottom corner.

The blustery conditions meant an aerial bombardment was out of the equation, but early on at least, the hosts were more than adept along the ground, displaying an encouraging spell of passing.

But with little service to lone striker Boulding, Mansfield's chances were heavily restricted.

Boulding - who has scored more goals this season than the entire Boro starting line-up - took it upon himself to find an equaliser and the striker created two excellent chances inside a minute.

First, he rattled the bar from 25 yards after a foraging run from midfield, and from the resulting corner, he leaped to force Schwarzer into a fine full-stretch save.

Lee missed a glorious chance to put the game beyond Mansfield shortly before the break when he somehow headed Jeremie Aliadiere's cross well wide when it looked easier to score.

Mansfield ruffled the visitors throughout much of the second half with Robert Huth - lucky to be on the field after crunching into Boulding - forced into mistakes by the same lively striker.

Boro threw on first-teamers Boateng, Mido and Stewart Downing as boss Gareth Southgate saw his lacklustre team come under heavy pressure.

The hosts grew in confidence and, inspired by Matthew Hamshaw's running and delivery, their endeavour deserved an equaliser.

But the elusive clear chance failed to materialise and Buxton's own goal on 87 minutes ended Mansfield's hopes.

Boateng's clipped cross would have fallen to Downing, but the Stags captain got ahead of him, only to divert the ball into his own net.

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BBC online live report:
PLAYER RATER
Mansfield's Michael Boulding is your top man with 8.37 - not bad for a man on the losing side, while Boro defender Roberth Huth (3.35) is not forgiven for his horror challenge in the first half.

1425: "We knew it would be tough coming here. Credit to Mansfield, they've given us a hell of a game - we're pleased to get through."
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate

1422: FULL-TIME Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough
The Stags' FA Cup adventure comes to an end and never did the phrase "focus on the league" carry as much importance as it does for them. Boro go through to the fifth round but will have to play much better than this.

1420: "Mansfield can be proud of what they've done today. They've worked their socks off but didn't get something when they had their spells of pressure. It doesn't make sense where they are in League Two (23rd)."
Martin Keown on BBC One

1415: GOAL Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough
Cruel luck for the League Two underdogs. George Boateng's cross is headed into his own net by captain Jake Buxton and that's game set and match against Michael Boulding and co. See what I've done there?

1413: Michael Boulding blots his tremendous copybook by blasting wastefully wide. Time is running out for the brave Stags.

1411: "Remind me what league Mansfield are in. We'd have qualified for the Euros if we'd have picked England from just div 2 and 3! Bring back Mike Bassett!
Pug Gooner via text

1402: Mansfield make two changes, bringing on John McAliskey and Nathan Arnold for Simon Brown and Lee Bell. They've gone off the boil a bit but it's still set up for a grandstand finish.

1400: Middlesbrough finally have a clear break with Julio Arca in acres of space down the left but his attempted through-ball is woefully long. It's been desperate stuff at times for the Teesside outfit.

1359: Another change for Boro, with Mido back after a 14-game injury absence for goalscorer Dong-Gook Lee.

1356 "I find it difficult at times to spot the Premier League side in terms of play and in the awful fouls that have been enacted. How on earth has Huth stayed on?"
vicvdb on 606


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1354: Word seems to be spreading in town about how well the hosts are playing - youngsters are climbing up trees trying to get a view.

1353: An indication of how much pressure Boro are under in this game comes with the introduction of England winger Stewart Downing for Adam Johnson. Mansfield have played them off the park in the second half.

1351: A group of fans are wearing T-shirts urging the Stags' unpopular owner Keith Haslam to sell up. He hasn't been to many games - his last appearance before today was in September. Surely, he'll have been impressed with what he's seen on the pitch?

1350: These teams are 78 places apart but you wouldn't know it based on what we've seen so far. Whatever they serve at the Fox and Goose in Wigley (see 1158) I want some of it.

1344: Lee Cattermole dives in to a challenge on Stephen Dawson and is correctly booked. It's all Mansfield at the moment but you feel they need to get something soon to show for it.

1340: Matt Hamshaw crosses to Michael Boulding but he can't get his effort in on target. This is a proper Cup tie.

1338: A huge roar as Mansfield win their first corner of the second-half. Boro eventually clear, but there is a sense of expectation among the home fans. They certainly do not think this tie is over yet.

1334: And the second half begins...

PLAYER RATER UPDATE
The Michael Boulding love affair is back on! He's leapt to the top of the pile, and leads the way on 7.88...

Rate the players
1332: The players make their way out on to the pitch. George Boateng is on for Boro, replacing Emanuel Pogatetz.

PLAYER RATER
A mixed bag of results from you, with Boro's Lee Cattermole leading the way with 7.25. Despite this live text commentary's ongoing love affair with Mansfield's Michael Boulding, the forward has only managed 6.00 so far.

Rate the players
1322: "Great game so far, very even match. That Huth challenge was awful but highly amusing to watch."
Scubar2k8 on 606


Join the debate on 606

1317: HALF-TIME Mansfield 0-1 Middlesbrough
Dong-Gook Lee's strike separates the teams but it could have been a different story had Michael Boulding's fierce strike not been kept out by Mark Schwarzer, while Boro's Robert Huth is lucky to still be on the pitch (see 1257). Mind you, Lee should have had a second.

1316: Mark Schwarzer makes a hash of a clearance but fortunately for him and Boro no Mansfield player can get to the swirling ball when it lands.

1312: What a load of balls! Quite literally. Some miscreant delays proceedings by lobbing over extra balls. Tremendous.

1307: Dong-Gook Lee misses an absolute sitter by miles. Jeremie Aliadiere again does some great work on the right and crosses to the Korean, whose header is embarrassingly off target. That should have been game over.

1306: "He looked like a Premier League striker there."
Martin Keown joins my Michael Boulding Fan Club on BBC One

1305: You can't keep Michael Boulding out of this text commentary. He surges clear down the middle and unleashes a 25-yard thunderbolt which Mark Schwarzer brilliantly tips on to the bar and over for a corner. From the set-piece the Mansfield number 11 - yes you know who - powers in a header which the Boro keeper keeps out superbly. Game on!

1303: I've just discovered Michael Boulding's younger brother Rory is also a striker on Mansfield's books. I'll stop stalking their family now.

1259: Talented lot those Bouldings. While Michael flies choppers and smashes cross-court backhands over the net, his sister is a singer-songwriter whose first album New Red Dress comes out next month.

1257: Robert Huth tackles Michael Boulding and karate kicks him in the stomach with his follow-through. Should have been a red but referee Steve Tanner oddly decides to show him a yellow! Massive let-off there for the Premier League team and their German defender.

1252: Jeremie Aliadiere bursts down the right and squares the ball to Julio Arca, who fires wide. Could have been curtains this early on for the Stags there.

1250: Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer hacks clear when the ball is held up in the wind and Michael Boulding prepares to pounce. Boulding, by the way, is a qualified helicopter pilot and former tennis pro.

1247: GOAL Mansfield 0-1 Middlesbrough
A goalmouth scramble ends with Dong-Gook Lee stabbing the ball home. Not the start we neutrals wanted to be honest. Let's see what the Stags are made of.

1242: "Good morning from Brasil where the weather is hot, the beer is cold and the women... well the women can almost make you forget the footie... almost!.Having great fun here trying to get the locals to pronounce Havant and Waterlooville"
lostinbrasil on 606


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1240: Mansfield's 39-year-old keeper Carl Muggleton finally gets a touch of the ball. It's not been a thriller so far, but plenty of time to go...



1230: Middlesbrough get the afternoon under way. Bring the Cupsets on!

1229: Boro are without the injured Jonathan Woodgate today. He has apparently turned down a move to Tottenham and we understand he is in advanced talks with his former club Newcastle.



1211: TEAM NEWS Boro boss Gareth Southgate leaves Stewart Downing and George Boateng on the bench, while Tuncay Sanli and Gary O'Neil miss out, but Fabio Rochemback comes back in. Mansfield name the team which started against Darlington last week.

Mansfield: Muggleton, Martin, Jelleyman, Buxton, Mullins, Brown, Dawson, D'Laryea, Bell, Hamshaw, Michael Boulding.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Pogatetz, Huth, Wheater, Young, Cattermole, Arca, Rochemback, Johnson, Aliadiere, Lee.

1158: Field Mill is where it all gets going, when League Two Mansfield take on Middlesbrough in the hope of reaching the fifth round for the first time since 1975. I like the way their boss Billy Dearden prepares his men for cup ties: an eight-mile walk in the Derbyshire Dales, followed by a pub lunch at the Fox and Goose in Wigley. I might suggest it to my gaffer.
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