DEJECTED STAGS 7 POINTS ADRIFT
Bury 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Scott 10, Rooney 37
Attendance: 2779 (414 from Mansfield)
Date: 24 March 2008
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
ARE STAGS DEAD & BURY-ED
Bury 2 Mansfield Town 0
The Easter programme heaped more misery on relegation threatened Mansfield Town as two successive defeats left the Club in dire straits seven points away from safety and just eight more games to turn their fortunes around.
Saturday's home defeat at the hands of Grimsby Town was followed by a lacklustre performance away at Bury which leaves The Stags in desperate need of all three points in their 'derby-day' clash at neighbours, Notts County next weekend. The Magpies, themselves sitting just above the drop zone will feel a defeat for Mansfield would go a long way in securing their own League Two survival, in a encounter which must rank as the most important game between the two sides in both Club's histories.
The defeat at home to Grimsby meant that Mansfield Town had lost an incredible thirteen League games at Field Mill, but whilst their home record has been so poor, their recent away form offered salvation. The Stags had suffered just one defeat on the road since the turn of the year so although the gloom around Field Mill failed to be lifted, there was high hopes of a decent return from the fixture at Gigg Lane, Bury.
Paul Holland, given two games to prove that he was the right man for the vacant Manager's position, shuffled the pack in an attempt to keep the good run of away form alive. Will Atkinson and Jonathan D'Laryea were dropped to the bench in favour of the experienced Briggs and Wainwright. Bury, themselves fresh from a well-earned draw away at promotion chasing, Hereford United came into the game knowing that a win would go a long way in easing their own relegation worries.
Stags started the brighter, looking to get around the back of the Bury defence, and passing the ball neatly, however as in recent games, there looked little or no punch and it was the home side who almost scored from their first foray into the Mansfield half of the field. The Shakers won a corner on the left hand side and when the ball came over, White missed it but thankfully so did everyone else, luckily Hamshaw was stood on the far post to hack the ball away from right on the goal line.
The good early pressure that Holland's men enjoyed was now fading fast as the home side grew increasingly dangerous with hit-man, Bishop causing all sorts of problems.
On ten minutes, Bury took a deserved lead. A free kick on the right hand side taken by Bennett saw the ball float neatly onto the head of the home side's Captain, Paul Scott who headed the ball into the net giving White no chance whatsoever although to his credit he did get a hand to it.
Stags though responded well and Wainwright's cross only eluded the in rushing, Dawson and Micky Boulding by a matter of inches.
Bury though had clearly gained confidence from their opening goal and was forced to keep out Sodje's goal-bound header.
On 36 minutes, the home side took a two goal lead. Buxton committed a foul just inside the Bury half and when the free kick was taken by Haslam, Bennett flicked it on invitingly into the path of Rooney who made no mistake with a crisp finish from 15 yards. The Stags who had been poor throughout the opening half, walked from the field looking very much a defeated and demoralized side. Their only real effort coming from a snap shot from Boulding that went inches past the post.
Whatever Paul Holland said to the players at half time, looked to have worked as they came out all guns blazing and eager to get a foothold in the game. Nathan Arnold did well to jink his way into the Bury area before pulling the ball back to the edge where Dawson let fly. Unfortunately for the Stags midfielder, his effort smashed against the foot of the post with the keeper nowhere.
No long after, Jelleyman tried a spectacular overhead kick that again came to nothing. The experienced Horlock came on but he was powerless to lift a Stags side that was fast running out of idea's. He did have one effort himself, but fired high over the bar.
As the 2nd half wore on, Bury seemingly slipped into cruse control while Mansfield gradually resigned themselves to another Easter of no return.
Try as they might, Paul Holland's men just couldn't get past the centre half partnership of Sodje and Futcher, whilst up front Bury looked sharp and in Bishop and later Hurst, capable of adding to their total
The final whistle was greeted with heads held low. In their fight for League 2 survival, The Stags players had let themselves down. The corner that all Mansfield fans are hoping for has again gone missing. The trouble is that with only eight more games remaining, The Stags are fast running out of corners to turn.
The next two games for the relegation threatened Club are immense if they are two have any hope of avoiding the drop. Notts County away next weekend is quickly followed by Wrexham at Field Mill the following Tuesday. Anything other than a six point return could signal the end.
REPORT FROM manchestereveningnews.co.uk
PAUL Scott and Adam Rooney struck first-half goals as Bury chalked up a comfortable win to push Mansfield closer to the Conference.
Shakers captain Scott scored in the 10th minute, when he rose to meet Elliott Bennett's free kick and power a header past keeper Jason White, who got a hand to the ball but couldn't keep it out.
White then made a superb save to keep out Efe Sodje's header from a Brian Barry-Murphy corner in the 22nd minute, seconds after Mansfield's Matt Hamshaw had narrowly avoided turning the ball into his own net.
But the second goal did come eight minutes before the interval, and it was a classic. Bennett flicked on Steve Haslam's through ball for Adam Rooney to smash home from 15 yards.
Andy Bishop almost made it three just before the break when he whipped the ball off White's toes, but Mansfield got back to clear.
Stephen Dawson hit the post for the visitors after the interval, but Bury never looked like letting their lead slip.
REPORT FROM PRESS ASSOC:
Mansfield Town are in dire trouble after they turned in a dismal performance at Gigg Lane, going down 2-0 to Bury.
Meanwhile, the hosts all but banished their fears of the drop for good as they coasted to a well-deserved win.
Bury almost got off to a dream start inside the fourth minute. Brian Barry-Murphy's corner-kick swung in towards goal, but Stags' midfielder Matt Hamshaw was on hand to hack the ball off the line at the far post.
Only ten minutes had gone when the hosts did go in front, however. Elliott Bennett floated over a free-kick from the right and up leaped skipper Paul Scott to head comfortably past Jason White.
Mansfield were unlucky minutes later when Stephen Dawson and Michael Boulding just couldn't stretch enough to meet Neil Wainwright's cross, but at the other end Alex John-Baptiste almost turned a Barry-Murphy free-kick into his own net.
The relegation-haunted visitors had been poor throughout the first half, and it was no surprise when Bury doubled their lead on 36 minutes.
Bennett superbly flicked the ball into Adam Rooney's path and his low drive was clinical as the ball fizzed into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
The woodwork came to Bury's rescue three minutes after the restart. Nathan Arnold teed up Dawson and his arrowing effort rebounded back out off the base of a post.
Soon after Gareth Jelleyman saw his acrobatic scissor kick just clear the Bury crossbar.
Mansfield quickly ran out of steam and Scott fired wide from 20 yards, but veteran Stags sub Kevin Horlock tried to respond again as he blasted narrowly over from the edge of the box.
Statistical note on Stags' results over Easter - by Svante Bernhard:
This is the third season running we haven't taken a point in Easter fixtures. Last time we won an Easter game, was a 3-1 at Kidderminster on March 28, 2005. Since then, we've lost ALL Easter Holiday league fixtures. Even in our 2001-02 promotion season, we did not gain a single point over Easter (1-4 defeat at home to Rushden & Diamonds on March 30, 2002, then the 3-5 reverse at Luton on April 1). The last time we have won a home game over Easter holidays, was a 2-0 against Brighton on April 3, 1999.
Compare that to the 1963-64 season when we took six points out of six over the Easter Holidays (3-2 at Bristol City on March 27, 1964, 4-1 at home to Peterborough on March 28, 1964 and 4-0 at home to Bristol City on March 30, 1964). We also took six points out of six over Easter in our 1976-77 Division 3 Championship campaign, like this: 4-1 at Port Vale on April 9, 1977, 2-1 at home to Chesterfield on April 11 and 1-0 at home to Shrewsbury on April 12, 1977.
Team news: Jefferson Louis missed the Easter Monday defeat at Bury after being called up for the Dominican Republic for whom qualifies through his mother's nationality. Louis hopes to feature in the World Cup qualifier against Puerto Rico this week.
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