Oldham Athletic 6 - 1 Mansfield Town
Wijnhard 10, 26 Pen, 36, 70, Corazzin 80, Andrews 84 Pen. Corden 19
Attendance: 5490 (396 from Mansfield)
by Gary Tyldsley at Boundary Park
It was a disappointment to hear that Bobby Hassell had not made the squad for today's game. However, Damien Delaney returned to the starting line-up as Neil Moore's defensive partner in place of Stuart Reddington. This being the only change to the starting eleven from Tuesday meant that Stags adopted the same 4-5-1 formation used against Derby.
The home side made the brighter start and went close in the first 5 minutes. First a free-kick was blazed over and then a Stags clearance rebounded off an Oldham forward and was only a couple of feet wide of Pilkington's right-hand post. Just as it seemed that Stags had weathered the home sides opening efforts disaster struck. Wayne Corden got his bearings totally wrong and played a ball into space behind Peter Clark, leaving the Latics winger to run on and play a perfect ball to the far post which was easily turned home by recent signing Clyde Wijnhard.
The next passage of play was really encouraging from a Stags viewpoint. With little sign of heads dropping, the determination shown in midweek appeared to return and the game was taken to Oldham with a vengeance. On 18 minutes that determination realised its dividend with a first Stags league goal since August 17th at Wycombe. That last league goal was a cracker from Wayne Corden and today's was equally as good. Stags won a free-kick, near the edge of the Oldham box and in a central position, from which Corden left the keeper flapping with a perfectly placed strike into the top corner.
Stags began to get on top at this stage and Damien Delaney went close with another direct free-kick moments later.
The confidence that this created, in both the travelling faithful and also the team, was short-lived as things turned back in favour of the home side on the 25-minute mark. A right-wing corner found its way to the back post and Wijnhard's close range header rebounded off Lawrence who was guarding that post. With the home fans appealing, the referee played on and the ball went out for a throw some moments later. At this stage, with the assistant on the far side still standing with his flag across his chest, the referee went over to consult him. It was clear from the action displayed by the assistant that he felt that an arm had been used to keep the ball out; the referee accepted his view and gave the penalty. It seemed a strange way for the decision to be made, as the assistant was a lot further away than the referee and also on the opposite side of the box. However, Wijnhard converted the spot-kick easily to restore the lead for the home side.
Around 10 minutes later, there was a feeling of “deja-vu”. First, we saw the best direct move of the game by the Stags, Delaney finding Lawrence who cleverly beat the Oldham full-back before playing the ball in for Iyseden Christie. That part of the move seems to sum everything up in a way, not quite in the right spot and Iyseden stretching without being able to apply the right finish. The sense of “having been here before” came only 2 minutes later. Jamie Clarke attempted to play the ball to Neil Mackenzie but played it poorly and immediately put the Stags under pressure. It was inevitable that Oldham would win the ball in this position and, when they did, a quick exchange of passes saw Wijnhard clear in the area to complete a first-half hat-trick.
Half-Time: Oldham 3 Stags 1
The second half was, for the most part, fairly drab and lifeless. The first real action came nearly half an hour into the second period and it put the result beyond doubt. This time a deep cross from the left wing was met with a firm header by Wijnhard to make it 4-1; this was the cue for the first of the travelling Stags fans to leave for home.
Wayne Corden tried to reproduce his stunning free-kick 2 minutes later but only succeeded in lifting the ball over the bar. This proved to be his final contribution of the game as he was replaced by Scott Sellars minutes later.
A formation change occurred with captain Lee Williamson leaving and being replaced by Lee Glover. This had little impact and proved to be a limp throw of the dice prior to a mini collapse in the final 10 minutes.
Oldham won a free-kick halfway inside the Stags half and when Neil Mackenzie spoke out of turn he was promptly booked for dissent. Naturally, the ball was moved forward and Stags poor record with set-pieces was damaged even further when Corazzin met the ball to make it 5-1.
Some five minutes later, Damien Delaney was caught out by Andrews turn of pace and as they raced into the penalty area the Oldham forward was dragged to the floor leaving the referee little option but to point to the spot. It was Andrews himself that took the kick to complete a miserable away-day for the Stags.
The key element of the football today was more to do with taking chances; Oldham took their chances and Stags did not create enough chances.
Now to the points that, for me, are the saddest memories of the day and are also factors that make me feel we are edging closer to a crisis point.
Many Stags fans had left long before the final whistle. Whilst I would not criticise them for that, it is a pointer to the fans confidence beginning to slip away.
Had it just been the fact of Stags fans leaving early then I would not see it as that important. However, the rise in the level of abuse aimed at specific players and the rise in the number who joined in with the “Watkiss out” line is a worrying factor. Add to that an incident where police had to come between Stags fans who were close to some real “in-fighting” and you then begin to wonder how the players are going to be lifted out of this situation. It is true that the manager and his staff have to tackle this problem; it is their job to do so. But the fans have a part to play and if their confidence has dropped this low then it does not bode well for the next few games, ones which could be so important in the context of the remainder of this season.
My Man of the Match: Liam Lawrence
Pilkington: 6 – No real protection but did not have much else to do
J Clarke: 5 – Inexperience showed and one error led to a goal
Moore: 5 – Strikers left alone too much today
Delaney: 5 – Assured on the ball but not close enough to their strikers
P Clark: 5 – Poor first half and slight improvement in second half
Lawrence: 6 – Pick of the outfield players, involved in any good things done today. Unlucky with the penalty award
Disley: 6 – Worked as hard as ever
Williamson: 5 – No tackles, little involvement at times, not doing the captains job
Mackenzie: 6 – Not his best game for us
Corden: 6 – Super free-kick but bad mistake cost us the first goal
Christie: 6 – Some good work first half but faded away later
Sellars: 6 – Looked ready when he came on and showed his quality
Glover: * - Not sure he touched the ball after he came on
J White: not used
A White: not used
Reddington: not used
Latest | September 2002