Mansfield Town 0 QPR 4
Furlong 6, Shittu 48, Gallen 85, Thomson 89.
Attendance: 4,581 (1,231 from QPR)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Stags produced a much improved display against QPR at Field Mill today and were so unlucky to be on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline. Indeed the Stags were clearly the better side in the first half, despite trailing 1-0. But a thumping header from Shittu, who should have been sent off in the first half, put Rangers 2-0 ahead early in the second half. Christie then hit the post for the Stags, but two late goals gave the game a farcical scoreline.
Stuart Watkiss knew he had to do something to change his defence after 18 goals conceded in 3 games. On Friday, he brought in Damien Delaney from Leicester and Peter Clark from Stockport, both on loan. Both players took their place in a 4-man defence with the returning Bobby Hassell at right back, Clark at left back, and Delaney and Moore in the middle. Neil MacKenzie was the player dropped from the midfield, while up front Iyseden Christie replaced the injured Colin Larkin. On the bench, there was a place for Lee Glover, who joined the club on Friday on a pay-as-you-play basis. QPR included experienced strikers Paul Furlong and Kevin Gallen in their line-up
Stags started very brightly in the opening 5 minutes but were behind on just 6 minutes, thanks to a dreadful error by the usually dependable Lee Williamson. Williamson seemed to have plenty of time to clear a right-wing cross from Gallen, but only managed to push the ball back towards his own goal, right into the path of Furlong who turned and hooked a shot into the net from just 6 yards giving Pilkington no chance. It was exactly the start the Stags didn't need. But heads didn't go down and Stags proceeded to dominate the first half playing some very good football in the process. Delaney looked excellent on his debut, winning headers and showing fine distribution with his left foot. Stags looked much more comfortable with a flat back floor. Bobby Hassell showed signs of last season's form though did not appear fully fit. Peter Clark looked comfortable at left back. In midfield Disley and Lawrence were looking dangerous.
Stags had a number of chances to equalise, the best of which fell to Lawrence. He had a couple of shots on target, both powerful and well saved by keeper Royce, and a header that nearly crept in at the far post. Corden had a shot tipped over, and then Andy White had an acrobatic overhead kick, but it lacked power and was straight at the keeper. Christie then put a cross with pace into the box - it seemed the ball must go in, but somehow it stayed out. On 30 minutes, Andy White was scythed down by Shittu but incredibly the referee just lectured the big defender. Within 2 minutes, Christie made a great run at goal down the right, and was brought down by Shittu. This time the referee did produce a yellow card. It was terrible refereeing that Shittu was not sent off for the 2 challenges. There was an amazing escape for Rangers when the keeper saved at Andy White's feet as it seemed he might score.
At the other end, there was little from Rangers, though Furlong broke clear of the defence and had a shot well saved by Pilkington. However from our position in the West Stand, we were perfectly placed to tell that Furlong had been a yard offside. In one other incident there was chaos in the Stags box from a corner when Palmer was left completely unmarked to head back across goal, the ball buzzed around and should have been easy claimed by Pilkington, but he made a mess of it and was lucky to see the ball go out for another corner.
At half time the Stags received a standing ovation for a display that clearly warranted the lead.
A minute into the second half, Stags showed they hadn't learnt a lesson as in a carbon copy moved from the first half. A cross found Palmer unmarked again at the far post, he headed back across goal and for Gallen to power a header goalwards. Pilkington made a great save to turn the ball around for a corner. But from the corner, Stags conceded the sort of goal that has dogged them all season: big Shittu outjumped his marker Andy White to thump home a header from 5 yards. It was in some respects tough luck on the Stags as Shittu should not have been on the pitch.
Stags were not an incisive as the first half, but were so unlucky not to pull a goal back when Christie broke clear of the Rangers defence. Christie's shot beat keeper Royce but somehow came back off the post when it seemed it must go in. You felt it somehow summed up the Stags luck. Stags other best chance came from Disley header that went wide.
In the last five minutes Rangers added 2 more goals to completely flatter them. First Gallen showed his class when he raced on to a through ball, outpaced Neil Moore, and slipped the ball under Pilkington. Then substitute Andy Thomson, who had only been on for a minute, scuffed home a mis-hit shot, from a Langley cross from the byeline.
So another defeat, more goals conceded, and a failure to score in the fourth consecutive match. On the face of it, it looks very bleak. But the team played well today for most of the game, and the defence looked more solid despite the goals conceded. Given a few games, Delaney looks as though he could be dominant, and Hassell needs a couple of games to regain match fitness. While at the other end, given more luck, goals are surely just around the corner.
Man of the match: Damien Delaney.
Pilkington 7 A couple of great saves, though did make a mess of one first half effort.
Hassell 6 Great to see him back. Looked solid, though perhaps not fully fit.
Moore 6 Had a decent game.
Delaney 8 Added a touch a class to central defence. Dominant in the air, and excellent distribution. Reminded me of Leigh Bromby.
PClark 6 Competent at left back.
Lawrence 7 Much improved display. Looked dangerous on numerous occasions. Unlucky not to score.
Disley 7 Good display in midfield. Tireless running, won lots of 50:50 balls.
Williamson 5 Terrible start giving away the goal. Looked out of sorts in the first half, though had a better second half.
Corden 6 Some great skill, especially when trapping long balls, but couldn't find many killer crosses.
Christie 7 Very lively. So unlucky not to score when he hit the post.
AWhite 6 Held the ball up well. Lost his marker for QPR's second goal.
Glover (for AWhite, 68 mins) 6 Made little impression.
JClarke (for Hassell, 73 mins) 6 Did ok at right back.
Subs not used: JWhite, Reddington, MacKenzie.
Ref: G.Laws (Tyne & Wear) 4 The worst referee of the season so far.
Latest | September 2002