Northampton Town 2 Mansfield Town 0
Gabbiadini 2 (pen), Trollope 80
Attendance: 5594 (597 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Sixfields
Unlucky Mansfield Town fell to a 2-0 defeat at Northampton Town this afternoon. But a standing ovation at full time from the Stags fans tells its own story, whilst the home fans sheepishly applauded their win.
Stags brought in new keeper Arjan Van Heusden for the injured Pilkington, whilst Iyseden Christie returned from injury to play up front in place of the suspended midfielder Williamson, in a 4-4-2 formation.
The game got off a sensational start when within the first 30 seconds, a ball was played forward into the Stags box. Midfielder Paul Trolloppe clipped the ball past Van Heusden, but had clearly lost control of the ball as he deliberately fell over the new Stags keeper. The referee immediately signalled the penalty which was probably the correct decision. Van Heusden was probably at fault though maybe a little unlucky. Stags fans hearts were in their mouths as the referee reached for his card, but correctly it was only a yellow as it was not a scoring opportunity. Marco Gabbiadini took the kick and scored off the left hand post. Within a couple of minutes Delaney was also booked for a foul on Gabbiadini. Soon afterwards Stags had an escape when Hargeaves rose above Lever and headed against the inside of the same post. But this time, luck was with the Stags as the ball rebounded into Van Heusden's hands. Stags were under the cosh in the opening 10 minutes but soon fought their way back into the game and enjoyed long spells of possession whilst not creating many clearcut chances. Stags were unlucky when a 1:2 at the edge of the box put Christie in a 1-on-1 which he finished coolly but the linesman's flag was already up. Stags put plenty of balls in to the box from the right wing from MacKenzie and Clarke, though Clarke's crosses were poor. MacKenzie, clearly unhappy at being played on the right wing, drifted inside a few times looking for the ball, and had 3 shots from distance, one of which was only just over the bar. Northampton showed little up front after the opening 10 minutes though went close went One drew Van Heusden out of his goal and flashed a low cross across the goal, but Delaney produced a miraculous challenge to clear the ball when Hargreaves seemed certain to score.
Overall Stags were the better side in the first half without looking like scoring.
Mansfield continued the second half as they finished the first, completely on top, cutting the Cobblers defence to shreds time after time. But frustratingly, Stags failed to make the incessant pressure pay and didn't create enough guilt-edged chances. The best chance fell to Christie who had a chance similar to his goal at Luton, but this time he opted for power and fired a yard wide of the right hand post, when he seemed certain to score. Christie also went very close when he got a back header to a cross played forward which he flicked inches wide over the angle with the keeper stranded. There was another close call as Larkin twisting in the box, elected to shoot when a pull back for unmarked Stags players might have been a better option. Larkin also went very close when MacKenzie floated a perfect ball onto his head but the striker put his header a couple of feet past the post. Lever also had a header just wide from a corner.
At this stage, the home fans were slightly on their players' backs but incredibly, the Cobblers got a second goal on 80 minutes in a sucker punch for the Stags. A cross from the right was brilliantly headed down by Gabbiadini into the path of Trolloppe who fired past Van Heusden into the top right corner from 8 yards, giving the keeper no chance.
It was a sickening blow, but emphasised that when you are down, little goes your way. Stags continued to push forward and forced several corners, but now didn't look like scoring.
This was another hammer blow for the Stags as another good performance failed to reap any rewards, and was reminiscent of the defeat at Stockport, albeit fewer clearcut chances were created on this occasion. A word for the Stags fans who were tremendous in their support for the team and it is to be hoped that similar support at home can drive the team to some home wins in the near future.
The game showed that at this level, you need to score when you are on top. You had the impression that if Stags could have scored one, they could have gone on and scored a few. Stags were clearly the better footballing side, but somehow don't have the killer edge to balls into the box and finishing. Larkin is probably still not 100% fit, and worryingly appeared to be limping in the closing minutes. The tactic of playing MacKenzie on the right wing, with Lawrence in the middle was particularly puzzling as both players looked out of position.
There was plenty of hope for the future in the performance but Stags have to start putting points on the board, and quickly.
Man of the match: Damien Delaney.
Van Heusden 6 Nightmare first minute on debut to give away penalty. Had little to do after that.
JClarke 6 Defended ok, but dire distribution.
Moore 6 Competent performance, not under much pressure.
Lever 5 Headed the ball away well generally, but was turned too easily on occasion.
Delaney 8 Two outstanding goalmouth interceptions. Good distribution.
MacKenzie 7 Clearly out of position (in our opinion) but still did well. Always keen for the ball, some incisive passing.
Disley 7 Won several 50:50 balls. Fought well in the midfield.
Lawrence 7 Good game in central midfield. Probably would do better on the wing.
Sellars 6 Crossing not up to usual standard. Set pieces seemed to find their way to defenders' heads.
Larkin 6 Unlucky with a couple of chances. Did ok, but gave the ball away twice in dangerous positions.
Christie 7 Missed Stags best chance; was always a handful for defence.
Corden (for Sellars, 79 mins) - Not on for long enough.
Subs not used: JWhite, Reddington, Holyoak, AWhite,.
Ref: M.Fletcher (Warley) 5 Poor. A real homer.
Booked: Van Heusden (2), Delaney (4), Lever (32), Lawrence (62), Christie (90).
Latest | September 2002