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Archived News from January 2008

NATIONAL NEWSPAPER REPORTS
28th January 2008 14:20


The Guardian
Middlesbrough's ascendancy compounds Mansfield turmoil
Richard Rae at Field Mill
Monday January 28, 2008

Of the many contrasts evident at Field Mill, arguably the most marked was that between the owners of the respective clubs. Sitting in the stand we had Middlesbrough's Steve Gibson, a self-made wealthy man certainly, but one whose financial commitment to his club is legendary. Skulking around one of the exits, clearly trying to avoid being seen, was Keith Haslam, the man who many Stags supporters argue has taken Mansfield Town to the brink of ruin.
It is a matter of record that Haslam, against whose ownership of the club the supporters have been campaigning for years, has taken hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the club in interest-free loans, much of which has been "written off", as well as a hefty salary. He had said he wasn't going to turn up on Saturday, but there he was, in the company of former manager and friend Carlton Palmer, trying to avoid questions.
In the circumstances, the protest which interrupted the game for a minute or two - a couple of dozen old footballs kicked over the closed west stand on to the pitch - seemed relatively mild, and for Town's manager, Billy Dearden, to claim it might have affected his team when they were on top was misleading. Once the Korean striker Lee Dong-gook had prodded the opener after Mansfield had failed to clear an Adam Johnson corner, there was no real sense the Stags might be able to turn the game around, although they worked hard and intelligently in their attempt, before Jake Buxton turned George Boateng's late cross-shot into his own net.

Things might have been different if Michael Boulding had not seen Boro's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer push his 22-yard first-half drive on to the top of the crossbar, before clawing away his header from the subsequent corner, but for the most part Robert Huth and David Wheater dealt effectively with Mansfield's attempts to play, or on occasion batter, their way through. Huth's readiness to mix it might have seen the German defender red-carded in the first half, when he left his foot in on Boulding after clearing the ball, but most of the post-match questions were directed towards the Boro manager, Gareth Southgate, and concerned the future of various players.

Jonathan Woodgate, he said, would be allowed to move on if the player didn't want to be part of what Middlesbrough were trying to do, but Stewart Downing had been told, by both himself and Gibson, that he would not be sold. The club is still talking to Heerenveen about the Brazilian striker Afonso Alves, but their respective valuations were getting closer.

Man of the match Robert Huth (Middlesbrough)

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The Times
January 28, 2008

Gareth Southgate shelters from storm with Lee Dong Gook
Mansfield 0 Middlesbrough 2
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate
Jason Mellor at Field Mill
Having boasted beforehand of their greater capacity for drink, Middlesbrough duly crashed a Stag party. However, contrary to cynical predictions, they were not the ones left naked and tied to a lamppost, so to speak.

A tortuous journey south, buffeted by gales that left their route peppered with overturned lorries, prepared them for a turbulent afternoon in the Nottinghamshire coalfields. It was one that they navigated safely, with the odd mishap induced by opponents who belied their precarious position as the second-worst side in the Football League to ensure their pride, if not their continued participation in the competition, remained intact.

A club riven by civil war, Mansfield Town boast only one home win since mid-November, but they ceased internal hostilities to keep the result in doubt until three minutes from the end, when Jake Buxton, with Stewart Downing waiting to complete the task had the Mansfield captain not accomplished it, turned George Boateng's cross into his own net.

With barely a lamppost in the town not adorned with a terse invitation for Keith Haslam to relinquish control of the club, a phalanx of footballs launched over a stand roof on to the pitch in front of the live television cameras in the second half was the latest protest in the 12-month campaign to oust Mansfield's unpopular owner. “It was ridiculous,” Billy Dearden, the manager, said. “It broke up our momentum and there are better ways to protest.”

At that point, Mansfield were attempting to restore parity after Lee Dong Gook, the South Korea forward, pounced on a weak punch from Carl Muggleton at a corner to break the deadlock. Twice in the space of 60 first-half seconds they almost managed it, Michael Boulding, their leading scorer, forcing fine saves from Mark Schwarzer, the first with the aid of the crossbar.

Lee, who is yet to score a Barclays Premier League goal after 12 months, may prefer an away tie in this afternoon's fifth-round draw. A return of two cup goals is scant justification of Gareth Southgate's faith and the forward is unlikely to have his contract renewed this summer. “Home games are more difficult for me,” he said. “Sometimes the crowd boo me and it's hard to deal with. It's become a burden.”

Dearden hopes for “a few bob” for new faces from Mansfield's run in the competition. Southgate — he joked that he would not be averse to copying his opposite number's pre-match Cup ritual of a bracing moor-top walk, with the exception that the swift post-yomp half would in Middlesbrough's case be replaced by pints — has rather more ambitious spending plans.

Ross McCormack, the Motherwell forward, is in talks about a move, while a club-record £10 million bid to sign Afonso Alves, the Heerenveen and Brazil forward, continues to move at a glacial pace. Southgate said: “Our respective valuations are getting closer and we're confident we can move it forward in the next 24 hours.”

Part of Afonso's fee will be funded by the £7.5 million sale of Jonathan Woodgate to Tottenham Hotspur, although for the time being the prospect of the defender being joined through the exit by Downing has been ended. Southgate said: “I don't want to speculate on Jonathan, but Stewart's not for sale. Myself and the chairman have told him he's very much part of our future.”

Mansfield (4-4-2) C Muggleton 5 J Mullins 6 J Buxton 7 G Jelleyman 7 D Martin Y 5 M Hamshaw 7 L Bell 7 S Dawson 6 J D'Laryea 7 S Brown 3 M Boulding 8. Substitutes: J McAliskey (for Brown, 73min), N Arnold (for Bell, 73). Not used: J White, I Holmes, C Wood. Next: Lincoln City (a)

Middlesbrough (4-3-3) M Schwarzer 7 L Young 7 R Huth Y 7 D Wheater 7 E Pogatetz 7 L Cattermole Y 6 F Rochemback 8 J Arca 6 J Aliadière 5 Lee Dong Gook 6 A Johnson 5. Substitutes: G Boateng 6 (for Pogatetz, 46), S Downing 6 (for Johnson, 65), Mido (for Lee, 72). Not used: R Turnbull, C Riggott. Next: Wigan Athletic (h)

Referee S Tanner
Attendance 6,258

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News of the World
Mansfield 0 M'brough 2
BORO REAP REWARD

By DAVID HARRISON at Field Mill

A SENSE of doom and fear will have gripped the Middlesbrough squad when the Grim Reaper greeted their arrival at Field Mill.

Did this mean death and damnation for their FA Cup hopes at the graveyard of their dreams of reaching Wembley?

No, it was in fact a demonstrator, in full Reaper regalia, protesting against the man Mansfield fans regard as the devil himself, club owner Keith Haslam.

"Invest the FA Cup money in the club and keep me away" was the slogan written large across his chest, though the whereabouts of Haslam was not immediately evident.

It was that kind of bizarre day.

Mansfield's supporters used the cup tie as a propaganda platform to air their grievances as well as to seize the chance to back their team's bid to cause one of the upsets of the round.

The protestors were out in force before and during the game and made their impact in a strange fashion when they twice interrupted the action.

When a barrage of footballs were booted over the empty Bishop Street Stand — condemned as unsafe a couple of seasons ago — just before the break and again in the second half, the game had to be temporarily halted for the pitch to be cleared.

Stags boss Billy Dearden thought those unusual "invasions" may have cost his team.

He said: "The fans have a right to protest but I was disappointed with that."

"They have been protesting for a long time here and they want Mr Haslam out. But that wasn't the right way to do it because it broke up the game when we were on top."

The breaks in play came as a relief to Boro.

Despite taking a 17th-minute lead through Dong Gook Lee, they had to endure serious pressure from their League Two opponents.

Mansfield showed they needed no help of outside interference from the demonstrators to bolster their cause.

The Stags were more than capable of making life extremely uncomfortable for the Premier League visitors who lived dangerously on the edge of their early lead for most of the game.

It should have been avoided with keeper Carl Muggleton impeded as he flapped at Adam Johnson's corner, leaving Lee to score from close range.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate said: "I don't think we played as fluently as we can but they pushed us all the way and gave it everything."

Having side-stepped the threat of the Reaper, Boro had to call upon Lady Luck.

Twice within the space of a minute in the first half, Mansfield striker Michael Boulding hit virtually the same spot on the crossbar.

His 20-yard shot was touched on to and over the woodwork by keeper Mark Schwarzer and, from the corner, his header was similarly denied.

In his previous life as a junior tennis player, Boulding was a room-mate with Tim Henman and, just like his pal, the Stags striker was destined to be the Nearly Man yesterday.

So too were his team-mates. They so nearly won a penalty when Simon Brown appeared to be tripped in the box by Julio Arca.

And they nearly avoided the unfairness of a second Boro goal when skipper Jake Buxton forced the ball into his own net trying to clear George Boateng's cross-shot.

Nearly wasn't quite good enough but they sent 6,258 fans home content.

Their bank manager, too, will be happy with the estimated £500,000 raised from the FA Cup run.

Dearden said: "I hope we will see some of the money and we can bring in players. We do need more bodies."

The Grim Reaper would probably welcome a few of those as well. But he will be just as happy with the cash windfall, provided Mr Haslam agrees to invest it where it belongs.

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Sunday Telegraph
Boro's defense too much for Mansfield Town
By Patrick Barclay at Field Mill
Last Updated: 2:16am GMT 27/01/2008
Mansfield (0) 0 Middlesbrough (1) 2

Although less impressive than when overcoming Bristol City of the Championship in the third round, Middlesbrough made a competent job of seeing off League Two's second-bottom team, who, had they performed like this against Accrington, Wycombe and Darlington in their three previous home games, would surely not have lost all three.

Bill Dearden's side can take heart into their renewed fight for Football League survival, for, after a first half in which they spent too much energy utterly failing to put Boro off with wild tackles, Mansfield performed with channelled spirit and no little enterprise. It was just not enough against a Premier League defence; their attempts kept foundering on the twin rocks of Robert Huth and David Wheater, who, at this level, had the air of an unbeatable partnership.


Korea move: Dong-Gook Lee breaks the deadlock
Dearden had mixed feelings about the post-match plaudits. "People say they can't understand why we are where we are," he declared, "but there's a simple reason and we have to do something about it. We have to start winning matches. When we play to our potential, we can give anyone a game."

Middlesbrough's Gareth Southgate joined in the praise for Mansfield - "they pushed us all the way" - and for his own defence. "We weren't as fluid as we might have been," he conceded.

Yet they soon had the Stags at bay and, for half the match, the difference of 78 league places was starkly apparent; Boro were not only the more skilful but bigger, stronger and faster. But then the influence of the Cup began to exert itself and, during the second half, the Mansfield support were able to ooh and aah and keep warm by applauding the home players' creditable, if unsuccessful, efforts to break down Wheater and Huth.

Middlesbrough took the lead through the South Korean striker Dong-Gook Lee, who had been given a rare outing at the expense of Tuncay. Everything about the goal was untidy until Lee intervened. Carl Muggleton punched a corner unconvincingly under pressure, Wheater's miscued shot bobbled off a defender - but Lee almost visibly composed himself before stroking the ball past the keeper. Lee was not otherwise as effective as his partner, Jeremie Aliadiere, whose cross he almost comically headed off target; his attempt on goal went in such a sharply opposite direction that it looked more like a textbook clearance.

Only briefly did Mansfield threaten before the interval. This was when their leading scorer, Michael Boulding, cut in to dip a left-footer against the crossbar and, within less than a minute, obliged Mark Schwarzer to claw away a header. Upon the resumption they were much improved and the midfield work of Stephen Dawson helped Matthew Hamshaw to plough a productive furrow down the right. Had Hamshaw picked out Simon Brown rather than Boulding, who was marked at the near post, or had Boulding not been thwarted by Huth as he tried to sidefoot John Mullins's cross over the line, an equaliser might have materialised. But Middlesbrough held out and near the end a cross from the substitute George Boateng was inadvertently headed into the net by the home captain, Jake Buxton.

Man of the match: Stephen Dawson (Mansfield)
The 22-year-old midfielder was full of endeavour

Match details

Mansfield Town: Muggleton, Martin, Jelleyman, Buxton, Mullins, Brown (McAliskey 73), Dawson, D'Laryea, Bell (Arnold 73), Hamshaw, Michael Boulding.
Subs: White, Holmes, Wood.
Booked: Martin.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Pogatetz (Boateng 46), Huth, Wheater, Young, Cattermole, Arca, Rochemback, Johnson (Downing 65), Aliadiere, Lee (Mido 71).
Subs: Turnbull, Riggott.
Booked: Huth, Cattermole.
Goals: Lee 17, Buxton 87 og.
Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset).

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The Sunday Times
January 27, 2008

Boro edge home
Mansfield 0 Middlesbro 2

Richard Rae at Field Mill
Mansfield Town have never been a particularly lucky football club, and it would be unfortunate if their impressive efforts yesterday were brushed aside in the palaver surrounding the possible transfer of Jonathan Woodgate from Middlesbrough to Spurs, or wherever the former England centre-half ends up.

This was a day for centre-halves. When a freezing wind is swirling around a pitch that takes a long stud and a hostile crowd is roaring a team of journeymen on to heights unimagined against opposition from their own level, you need the big men at the back to roll up their sleeves. Fortunately for Middlesbrough, Robert Huth and David Wheater were prepared to do that, getting stuck in with a commitment to the cause that spoke volumes for their characters.

If Woodgate is on his way, the Boro manager's relaxed demeanour may have been an indication of his confidence in the incumbents. But how hard they were made to work. Michael Boulding, a former junior tennis player who once roomed with Tim Henman, has also promised much as a footballer during his time, without ever making the breakthrough his talent and pace suggested he might. Town's canny old manager, Billy Dearden, has converted Boulding from a winger to a striker, and the way he played yesterday confirmed Dearden knows what he's about.

With Stephen Dawson prompting cleverly in midfield, and support from Matt Hamshaw and Simon Brown cutting in from the flanks, Boulding worked Huth and Wheater without pause. What he didn't have, however, was luck.

Boro had opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Lee Bell had got in Carl Muggleton's way as the goalkeeper attempted to punch clear from a corner. The ball bounced down, and though Wheater mis-kicked, it fell nicely into the path of Dong-Gook Lee, who poked home from about five yards. It was a rare positive contribution from the Korean, whose struggles to look the part were often embarrassing.

Mansfield refused to be disheartened, and twice in a minute came within the width of the woodwork of equalising. First, a quickly taken throw-in caught Boro napping and Boulding outpaced Wheater before firing in a drive that Mark Schwarzer, the Boro goalkeeper, touched over the crossbar. From the resulting corner Boulding, having pulled away from his markers, looped a header that looked to have beaten Schwarzer before coming back off the bar, though replays suggested the Australian again got something on it.

The Premier League side should have gone into the break two goals clear when Jeremie Aliadiere, who gave Dan Martin a torrid afternoon, skinned the full-back, drew Muggleton and picked out Lee with a cross that simply had to be guided into the empty net. The Korean's lack of technique, as his attempted header screwed yards wide, was lamentable.

The second half was a battle in every sense, the challenges flying in on both sides. Dearden pushed Brown up front alongside Boulding, and with Julio Arca having to drop to full-back to cover for the injured Emanuel Pogatetz, Middlesbrough showed signs of wobbling.

Neither side had created much in the way of clear-cut chances, though, when a late Boro break by Aliadiere ended with George Boateng crossing from the right, and Town skipper Jake Buxton turning the ball into his own net from almost on his own line. Had he not done so, Stewart Downing would have applied the finish.

“They know they've been in a game,” said Dearden, who had to watch in frustration - Town were on top at the time - when the game was halted for a minute or two while footballs rained down on to the pitch from behind the closed west stand, a gesture of protest against club owner Keith Haslam.

“I am proud of the lads although I am disappointed at the two goals we conceded. In the second half we pinned them in a bit but we must learn from our mistakes, especially when defending from set pieces.”

Darden is hoping at least some of the money made during the FA Cup run - Mansfield are the only non-Premier League-club to have appeared on live television twice this season – will be made available to strengthen his squad for the fight to stay in the league [Mansfield are 23rd of 24 teams in League Two]. Middlesbrough have money to spend, whether you include the £8m they will receive from the sale of Woodgate or not.

“We knew it would be a difficult test because it is tough at these grounds,” Southgate said. “I am pleased with the way we approached it and getting our first goal settled us down.

“Although it was very windy, our goalkeeper and central defenders coped with it very well. We could have played better but the main thing is that we got through. Credit to Mansfield because they were never going to give up, and they did not.”

Player ratings: Mansfield Town: Muggleton 6, Mullins 7, Buxton 7, Jelleyman 7, Martin 3, Hamshaw 7, Bell 6 (Arnold 73min), Dawson 8, D Laryea 7, Brown 7 (McAliskey 73min), Boulding 8
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer 5, Young 5, Huth 8, Wheater 7, Pogatetz 5 (Boateng 46min), Arca 6, Rochemback 4, Cattermole 6, Johnson 5 (Downing 65min), Lee 4 (Mido 71min), Aliadiere 6

Star man: Robert Huth (Middlesbrough)

Yellow cards: Middlesbrough: Huth, Cattermole Mansfield: Martin

Referee: S Tanner

Attendance: 6,258

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Independent on Sunday
Mansfield Town 0 Middlesbrough 2: Lee finds scoring touch at last as errors spoil Mansfield's day

Dearden's side let down by defensive slips after matching lofty Middlesbrough

By Steve Tongue at Field Mill
Sunday, 27 January 2008

Mansfield Town's leading goalscorer and most valuable player Michael Boulding, a former professional tennis player, had compared his team's task to facing Roger Federer. Even the Swiss master loses occasionally, as Novak Djokovic proved in Melbourne, but as in tennis an opponent 78 places higher in the rankings tends to come through on the day.

Yesterday, Mansfield suffered the equivalent of a service break after a bright opening and might have pulled it back, but in the end were unable to prevent the seeds progressing.

For a side bottom-but-one of the Football League and therefore in danger of dropping out of it for the first time in their existence, however, the Town showed up remarkably well. Boulding, with 15 goals this season in a struggling team, ran like a true Stag and Stephen Dawson was an energetic midfielder. Unfortunately there were two crucial lapses in defence that gifted goals to a Middlesbrough side who have scored fewer of them than any Premier League team except Derby. Those mistakes tempered the satisfaction of Billy Dearden – at 63, second oldest manager around to Sir Alex Ferguson – who said: "All in all I'm quite pleased with some aspects of our game but I'm very disappointed with the goals we conceded."

Gareth Southgate was just grateful to have seen two go in, especially as the first came from his Korean striker Lee Dong-gook, who has yet to hit the mark in more than 20 League games.

Tuncay Sanli, having livened up the forward line recently, was rested but Mido returned as a second-half substitute for a first appearance since October and the prolific Brazilian Afonso Alves may yet be signed from Heerenveen. Jonathan Woodgate seems likely to depart to Tottenham Hotspur but the evidence is that Middlesbrough would do well served by selling a defender to buy an attacker.

This was a proper FA Cup tie in pitting a Mansfield team that cost a princely £50,000 against opposition with half a dozen players whose acquisition forced that most supportive of chairmen, Steve Gibson, to write a cheque with seven figures on it. At the beginning and end of the first half and for much of the second, the chasm seemed bridgeable. Unfortunately, the home side lost concentration at a bad time, after 15 minutes in which Middlesbrough had looked unsettled by a series of vigorous challenges and flummoxed by the strong wind.

When the visitors finally won a corner, the 39-year-old goalkeeper Carl Muggleton could only prod it out; David Wheater mis-hit his shot but it skewed off a defender to Lee, who knocked in only his second goal in 27 games. Twice Town came close to equalising within a minute. A quick throw-in on the right caught Emanuel Pogatetz out of position and Boulding's strong drive was just touched on to the crossbar by Mark Schwarzer. Before the resulting corner was cleared, the goalkeeper made an equally good one-handed save from Boulding's header.

Middlesbrough suffered unexpectedly badly from having to take off Pogatetz with an ankle injury at half-time and for half an hour Julio Arca, dropping to left-back, was given a runaround. Matthew Hamshaw regularly went past him but he found no one to take advantage of his crosses.

The Premier League side created almost nothing at the other end until, with three minutes to play, a good move spread the play from left to right and George Boateng's cross was headed into his own goal by the unfortunate home captain Jake Buxton. Game, set and match.
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The Observer
Lee's rare strike leaves strugglers to count the cash

Jamie Jackson at Field Mill
Sunday January 27, 2008

Mansfield fans were busy booting balls over the condemned Bishop Street Stand, while one was dressed as the Grim Reaper with the message 'Invest Cup money in keeping me away' emblazoned on his sackcloth. Despite the distractions caused by protests against owner Keith Haslam, this was an entertaining match that the League's 91st club did their best to win. But class told, as a rare goal from Lee Dong-Gook and a late header into his own net from home captain Jake Buxton gave Middlesbrough victory.

While Mansfield battle for survival, Gareth Southgate enjoys Premier League resources, allowing him to leave Stewart Downing and George Boateng on the bench. 'I wanted to rest some players while retaining some continuity,' the Middlesbrough manager explained. 'I don't actually feel pressure in the Cup because it offers something away from the possible pressures of the League. All you can do is try and win.'
Lee, one of the fringe players, opened the scoring after 17 minutes, the South Korean doubling his tally for the club. Middlesbrough won the first two corners of the match and from the second Adam Johnson's delivery was given a weak punch by Carl Muggleton, Mansfield's 39-year-old keeper. It allowed David Wheater a shot from close in that rebounded off John Mullins for Lee to net.

Haslam vowed in September never to attend a home match because of the acrimony over a £583,449 loan one of his companies are yet to repay to the club. But he turned up with old friend Carlton Palmer and, though he would not have enjoyed that goal, the almost £400,000 raised from this Cup run 'has stabilised the club', according to chief executive Stephen Booth, who is also looking for a buyer for Town.

Mansfield had their moments in the first period and were excellent after the break. The run before half time from Michael Boulding - the day's best player - from inside his half and past a fast-reversing Boro defence was finished with the shot it deserved. Unfortunately for Boulding, it was tipped on to the bar by Mark Schwarzer and went for a corner. 'That would have been a typical, dipping FA Cup goal,' Southgate said with some relief.

His counterpart, Billy Dearden, said: 'I thought we did OK. But I'm disappointed how we conceded both goals. Any manager will tell you - from a corner for the first, and then on our own free-kick, in their half, is not good.'

That second came in the 87th minute. A quiet Jérémie Aliadière collected the ball then moved into opposition territory, before passing to Fábio Rochemback. Smart footwork and a pass to Boateng, a half-time substitute, followed. His cross from the right was headed in by Buxton. That was a shame, because Dearden's team had emerged after the break to play as if they believed at least a goal was possible.

Downing was finally introduced in the 65th minute and offered one classy pass before fading, like his team-mates. The winger, though, 'is not for sale', Southgate said, regarding a player again interesting Spurs. The stance on Jonathan Woodgate is much softer. 'He has to decide if he wants to be part of what we're trying to achieve. If not, he can go with our blessing.'

Booth is confident Town will be sold in the preferred timescale and that 'hopefully it will be to local interests. But I can't rule anything out'. The ill feeling may persist, though. 'Remember the Life of Brian?' he said. 'All those various factions - well, what we have here are single-issue parties. And I'm not sure if once Keith and the loan is gone, they'll even be happy then.'

Man of the match

Michael Boulding An afternoon to remember for the wiry striker. He gave Boro problems throughout, with a willingness to run straight at their defence or down the flanks, and was unlucky to see his menacing effort in the first half hit the bar. At least he now has a tale for the pub.

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Mail on Sunday
Mansfield raise the bar but Boro hit the target
Mansfield 0 Middlesbrough 2
By JOHN HELM
They still talk in these parts about the day Mansfield mugged a West Ham team including World Cup heroes Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. Middlesbrough, however, were not about to get caught in that trap.

Humiliation would have been heaped on Gareth Southgate's team if they had lost to a club who have never spent more than £150,000 on a player, have won only five League games all season and have a group of fans who have been protesting against owner Keith Haslam for 12 months.

As on all occasions of this nature, the underdog needs to start well but it was Boro who banished thoughts of Cup shock at the hands of a club lying 91st in the League. Adam Johnson's corner was sent towards goal by David Wheater and Korean striker Dong-Gook Lee hammered it low past 39- year-old Carl Muggleton.

Mansfield would have gone in level at the break with a touch more fortune for their leading scorer, Michael Boulding. Tim Henman's former flatmate, who quit the tennis circuit for a career in professional football, made a thrilling 25-yard dash and his shot clipped Mark Schwarzer's fingernails on the way to crashing out off the crossbar. Incredibly, from the resultant corner, Boulding looped a header against the same portion of the quivering frame.

that has been in the lower divisions for 30 years and hadn't played at this stage of the FA Cup since losing to Wimbledon's Crazy Gang two decades ago.

Lee should have killed off the contest but lost his bearings to put a header embarrassingly wide from a perfect Jeremie Aliadiere set-up but the clinching goal came as home fans got excited about the threat from a free-kick of their own.

Dan Martin's weak delivery gifted the ball to Stewart Downing, who broke away and found George Boateng, whose cross was put into his own net by Jake Buxton.

Boro boss Southgate was critical of the way his players gave themselves a tougher task than they should have had. "We caused ourselves a few problems and made it harder for ourselves, but credit to Mansfield, who pushed us all the way. We had to roll up our sleeves."

Although his side gave one of their most committed performances of the season, Mansfield boss Bill Deardon was upset at the nature of the opposition's goals.

"We did OK but we didn't get the ball away for the first goal and then a poor free-kick of our own led to their second. We are where we are in the League for a reason."


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Guardian Online
Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough
Lee 17, Buxton o.g 87

Josh Widdicombe
Saturday January 26, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Preamble: After a third round of upsets Field Mill hosts the first of today's fourth round fixtures and, if everything goes to plan, Gareth Southgate will be playing the fall-guy in another hilarious chapter of the FA Cup 2008. Mansfield have done it before, albeit in 1969, when they beat West Ham 3-0 in front of 21,117 at Field Mill, a game that had been postponed five times. Don't bank on such sepia-toned romance today.

What no Havant and Waterlooville? Due the BBC picking their televised fixtures before Havant beat Swansea in their third round replay they have plumped for Mansfield as their token underdogs for the day. So, while Gary Lineker puts his collection of 'have and Havant' puns in the box marked 'never again to see the light of day', we will have to make do with this slightly less ill-matched (or romantic, depending on your disposition) tie. Still, at least there's more chance of an upset.
Or perhaps not. While Middlesbrough are just the sort of Premier League team who could make very heavy work of a trip to a lower league foe, Mansfield - as anyone who saw their second round tie with Harrogate Railway will attest - are a pretty wretched side themselves. They sit second bottom of League Two and have lost their last three at home.

Place your bets The bookies are offering 8-1 on Mansfield, with Boro at 2-5. Me? I reckon Boro will struggle for about an hour before grabbing a couple of scrappy and ill-deserved goals. 2-0.

The Teams are in: Mansfield: Muggleton, Martin, Jelleyman, Buxton, Mullins, Brown, Dawson, D'Laryea, Bell, Hamshaw, Michael Boulding. Subs: White, McAliskey, Arnold, Holmes, Wood.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Pogatetz, Huth, Wheater, Young, Cattermole, Arca, Rochemback, Johnson, Aliadiere, Lee. Subs: Turnbull, Riggott, Boateng, Mido, Downing.

Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset)

BBC: Logan, Dixon, Palmer. It's weakened teams like this that are destroying magic of the FA Cup.

So, no Jonathan Woodgate and Stewart Downing starting for Boro. Woodgate is busy deciding between Spurs or Newcastle. Downing is most certainly not, apparently he's just not needed.

And we're off A false start and then Boro get us underway and Huth has to head clear. Hamshaw then has possibly the worst shot in the history of the FA Cup, slicing it very, very tamely wide.

2 mins Mansfield are very, very direct. In combination with a strong wind, this could be problematic for Boro.

4 mins A horrible scything tackle on Rochemback from Dawson but no card, the free-kick bobbles about a bit in area but that's about that. Also, didn't Mansfield manager Bill Dearden used to be called Billy?

7 mins Jelleyman intercepts a good ball from Johnson and Mansfield breath out, they're pushing Boro at a pretty frantic pace at the moment. Boro seem to be quite calm about the whole thing though. "They say centre backs are ugly creatures, but good grief have you ever seen such an ugly centre back partnership as Boro's Huth and Wheater?" Writes Mark Taylor. Bruce and Pallister?

9 mins Hamshaw gets some space on the right and knocks it in for Boulding but he can't do anything with it. Arca nips past a couple of players before falling on his back as he tries to shoot.

12 mins Up and under to the left. Up and under to the right. "Is there a more convincing proof of global warming than the FA Cup? In the not so distant past, matches like this would be played out (after three postponements) on a frozen pitch from which the snow had been cleared (still visible piled up over the touchlines), by players from whom steam was rising and with an orange ball. Not any more... alas," ponders Gary Naylor. Well it is very, very windy, Gary.

14 mins Luke Young overlaps on the right but his first touch goes 30 yards and out for a goal-kick. Not really worth running all that way if that's all you can do, Luke. Mansfield are holding firm here.

GOAL! Mansfield 0-1 Middlesbrough (Lee 17) First corner of the game to Middlesbrough. Johnson whips it straight onto the head of D'Laryea on the near post. Another corner and it is weakly punched by Muggleton, who is obstructed by his defender Bell. Wheater mis-hits a shot. It falls to Lee and he tucks it away.

19 mins Mansfield apply some pressure and a ball over the top almost falls to Boulding after holding up in the wind but Schwarzer manages to clear.

21 mins Mansfield's first corner is played short, it comes to Bell on the edge of the area but he fires into the stand behind the goal. Up the other end Aliadiere gets to the touchline and cuts it back for Arca to put wide.

23 mins Half-hearted appeals for a penalty after Huth climbs on Boulding but that was never going to be given. Arca hits a shot straight into Buxton's midrift. Good block, though he could hardly have got out of the way.

27 mins Huth misjudges a clearence and instead sends his studs straight and hard into Michael Boulding's stomach. He gets booked but it should, maybe, perhaps, on another day etc. have been red.

30 mins Johnson fires the ball across the area but Mullins clears it well. Rochemback's whipped corner is then headed wide by Huth and Mansfield escape.

32 mins Martin knocks in a free-kick from the left but it doesn't beat the first man. The difference between the teams seems to mainly be found in the quality of set-pieces at the moment.

35 mins Michael Boulding runs at Huth and shoots from distance. Schwarzer does well to tip it onto the bar and over. Then from the corner Boulding's header strikes the bar again. So close, twice. "Rochemback won't have to worry about the wind. What are they feeding him? He's the size of a house," says Mark Taylor, who is picking on the physical problems of the Middlesbrough team one-by-one.

37 mins Arca threads the ball through to Alliadiere. He commits Muggleton before cutting it back to Lee, who contrives to head the ball wide of an open goal. That would have killed it off.

40 mins Bell has a strike from 30 yards when he should have played Boulding in. Unsurprisingly, it spins harmlessly wide.

42 mins There are footballs raining in from behind one of the stands, about seven or so in a row. The crowd love it but the players aren't so impressed. Hoodlum youths or the romance of the cup? You decide

Peeeeep! Schwarzer miskicks terribly but he gets lucky and it falls to Wheater to head back to him. Simon Brown gets free but he is too slow and Huth catches up with him. And that's half-time. Mansfield aren't out of this at all.

"'He commits Muggleton' (37th minute). Sounds like something that would attract forty years in an oubliette at a mediaeval Assize," says Gary Naylor (of course) and I'm not going to argue.

Substitution Boateng for Pogatetz. Arca will move to left-back, I presume. Well, pundit Martin Keown does.

We're off again And Wheater stretches to head at goal but can't quite reach it.

47 mins Boro corner and Lee's shot is blocked. Boro have come out firing here and Mansfield are just holding on at the moment.

50 mins Brown tries to feed in Boulding but it is underhit and Arca intercepts it. Corner to Mansfield which comes back out to Hamshaw, his cross doesn't quite drop for anyone and comes to nothing. There is no reason Mansfield can't score here.

51 mins Hamshaw gets in behind Arca and plays it across but Huth slides ahead of Boulding.

53 mins Wheater slices away a desperate clearence as Boro cling on. Mansfield really deserve a goal, after Boro's initial rush after half-time they have taken control.

55 mins Dawson plays it to Brown who knocks it past Arca and runs into the Boro defender's leg before falling over. The penalty claims couldn't be richer if they were turning up awkwardly at Newcastle games in a replica shirt before buying tequila for all the fans in a local bar after the match. A booking for Cattermole as Boro panic further.

58 mins Robert Huth puts his hand in Michael Boulding's face as they chase for the ball but for some odd reason Steve Tanner doesn't see anything wrong.

60 mins Alliadiere, who has looked good against the second-bottom team in the football league, beats his man and gets it in to Lee but he loses possession.

62 mins Wheater lets the ball through his legs but Huth scrambles it clear. Dawson then puts in a wonderful cross but there is no one there to finish it. The footballs are back, kids today, eh? Oh, apparently it is a protest against Mansfield owner Keith Haslem, I couldn't possibly comment on that.

64 mins Corner to Mansfield, who are all over Middlebrough. Cleared by Luke Young. A matter of time, I'm telling you.

65 mins Downing is on for Johnson.

67 mins "Harry Potter fans will tell you that you shouldn't expect any magic from Muggleton today," arfs George Templeton, giving JK Rowling some much needed publicity for her flagging franchise.

69 mins It's all got a bit scrappy. Downing sets Cattermole free on the right but his cross is blocked by Martin.

71 mins Mido, with either a poor beard or very good stubble, replaces Lee for Boro.

73 mins Hamshaw hits a terrible free-kick which is cleared and suddenly Boro are three on one. But Arca overhits the pass and a golden chance to kill-off the game disappears. Subs for Mansfield: Arnold and McAliskey (who is HUGE) for Brown and Bell.

75 mins Hamshaw gets space on the right but Arca gets back to stop him, surely Mansfield are going to get a clear-cut chance soon.

78 mins Nothing to see here at the moment, all gone a bit scrappy.

80 mins Mansfield need to take control again. The game has descended in a lazy stereotype of lower-league football. Talking of lazy (seamless) the ball almost breaks to Mido in the Mansfield box. But it doesn't.

83 mins Sorry if it looks like I'm not reporting anything, but there really is absolutely nothing happening. Rochemback kicks it out of play, there you go, that's your highlight.

85 mins Alliadiere beats Martin on the halfway-line and is brought down with an absolutely perfect rugby tackle. A very enjoyable booking. Boulding shoots from distance when he should have crossed and Mansfield are not looking very threatening anymore, I'm sorry to say.

GOAL! Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough () Middlesbrough work it across the Mansfield area and it comes to Boateng on the right. He whips it in and Buxton heads it into his own net. If he didn't Downing would have done it for him. Game over.

89 mins Hamshaw has free-kicks on both sides of the Middlesbrough area in the space of a minute but, as has been the case all day, Middlesbrough clear.

90mins Three mintues of injury time to be played.

Peep peep peeeeeeep! But they come to nothing and that is the end of that. Mansfield can count themselves unlucky not to have got anything out of the game. Middlesbrough are through to the fifth round and I am off to buy a sandwich. Thanks for all your emails, sorry about the ones didn't use. If you haven't had your fix of FA Cup action typed manically from GU Towers then why not join Barry Glendenning for the Saturday Clockwatch from 2.30? I know I will be (company man).

 

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