LAST MINUTE PENALTY SEALS WIN FOR STAGS
Rushden & Diamonds 0 - 1 Mansfield Town
Duffy pen 89
Attendance: 1774 (430 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Nene Park
Mansfield Town picked up a tremendous 1-0 win at Rushden & Diamonds this afternoon with a last minute penalty by Rob Duffy after Gary Silk had been blatantly tripped in the box. It hadn't been a classic up to that moment, as the Stags had defended very well throughout without creating many goalscoring opportunities. The penalty exorcised the demons of the Kettering home game when the referee failed to award a kick for a very similar incident on the same player in the 90th minute.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre
Video highlights of the game from StagsWorld freeview, editted by Martin Shaw here.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
LATE DUFFY PENALTY CUTS DOWN DIAMONDS
Rushden & Diamonds 0 Mansfield Town 1.
Rob Duffy's 89th minute penalty gave Mansfield Town a dramatic win away at Rushden & Diamonds to keep alive The Stags' slim hopes of reaching the BSP play off's.
David Holdsworth's men responded well to losing at Oxford seven days previous to record their fifth win in eight games since Holdsworth took up the reigns at Field Mill.
The Diamonds fresh from scoring eleven goals in their previous two games could not break down a resolute Stags defence that were never seriously troubled throughout the entire 90 minutes meaning that the hard-faced, new look Stags rear guard have only conceded twice in 800 minutes of football.
The Stags sit in 12th place in the league table, but a massive 12 points short of the last play off spot currently occupied by Torquay United, but with fresh optimism abound in and around Field Mill no one at the Club, from the top to bottom will be dismissing the idea of Stags making it back into the football league at the first attempt until it is mathematically impossible.
Curtis Woodhouse was not named in the squad as Holdsworth kept his word to former Diamonds manager, Gary Hill to not put the former Diamonds Captain up against his former colleagues. There was a place on the bench for Ryan Williams, fresh from signing an 18 month contract as he pulled on a Stags shirt for the first time since leaving the club in 1997.
Manager Holdsworth went with an attacking 4-4-2 line up with speed and pace down the flanks with Arnold and Blackwood, and Stags made the brighter start when on four minutes, a long free kick from Mayo was headed wide of the mark by centre half, Scott Garner.
Both sides were looking to play neat football but rather than the main men on the field being the attackers it was the defenders who were dictating the proceedings.
The best chance in the opening period for the home side came when Tomlin made space on the edge of the Stags area, but shot well wide of the mark.
On 17 minutes, Nathan Arnold had a pop towards goal but the ball eased the wrong side of the post with the Diamonds keeper untroubled.
At the halfway mark in the first period, Wolleaston cleverly danced his way into the Stags area but was thwarted at the last by a timely challenge by Gary Silk. The Rushden midfielder crashed to the ground with pleading eyes aimed towards the referee, but Mr Duncan waved away any suggestion of a penalty kick.
In the 27th minute, Stags were grateful for a remarkable piece of defending by right back, Gary Silk. Burgess played in Corcoran who raced into the Stags area, thankfully Silk came across to perfectly time a tackle to deny Diamonds a chance at goal.
Finally on 39 minutes the home keeper was forced into action. Roberts having to get down to smother an attempt from O'Connor.
Two minutes later and Corcoran flashed in an effort from fully 30 yards but the ball sailed over the Stags crossbar without having to test Marriott.
The first half ended scoreless with neither goalkeeper having been tested to the maximum.
The 2nd half started pretty much in the same vain with neither side looking dominant in the oppositions final 3rd. The home side deciding that a couple of changes were needed to try and up the tempo.
Just before the hour mark, Diamonds captain, Burgess failed to capitalize on a misplaced header by Duffy as he fired well wide from 20 yards.
Moments later Ryan Williams came on for Mansfield in place of Blackwood to loud cheers from the travelling 400 plus Stags contingent.
Mayo was next to go close when his dipping drive from 30 yards just sailed over the Diamonds crossbar.
Both sides were failing in the final 3rd as the game looked to be heading for a goalless finish.
With 20 minutes of the game to go, Mark Stallard was introduced in place of O'Connor as Holdsworth tried to shuffle his pack into winning action. There was almost an immediate effect when Williams burst into the Diamonds area but his low shot was saved by Roberts.
On 75 minutes the impressive Burgess let go from 25 yards and was unfortunate to see his effort just clear the top of the Stags crossbar.
The home side were in search of what they hoped would be the winning goal. Kelly found himself in space just eight yards from goal, but was denied by a fine save from Marriott which earned Diamonds a corner. From which centre back, Hope rose high enough to meet the ball with his head but again Marriott came to Mansfield's rescue to tip the ball out for another corner.
With six minutes of normal time to go the home side created a great chance to win all three points. A loose ball from Williams set Diamonds off on the break where Arthur's cross was met by the head of Wolleaston but the midfielder only succeeded in planting his free header wide of the goal.
Tomlin's powerful drive took a deflection over and out for another corner as the home side upped the tempo in search of what would have surely been the winning goal but with just 60 seconds to go of normal time, Stags were awarded a blatant penalty kick when Arthur tripped Silk in the area.
Rob Duffy placed the ball on the spot then sent Roberts the wrong way before heading for the 430 Stags fans to join in the celebrations.
The delight was obvious on both the faces of the players and the staff as to a man they all made their way over to the delirious supporters who were celebrating yet another impressive victory for Mansfield.
This weekend Stags take on bottom side Lewes at Field Mill. The East Sussex side are fighting for their BSP lives and will no doubt try to halt the Stags charge up the table.
Observer Man of the match – Not hard to argue with the manager on this one. A steady first half followed by an outstanding 2nd means this weeks award goals to Nathan Arnold who caused a worry to the Diamonds defence each time he had the ball at his feet
Duffy sinks Diamonds
Robert Duffy slotted home a late penalty on his return to Nene Park as Rushden & Diamonds caretaker-boss Justin Edinburgh suffered his first defeat.
He converted following a foul by loan signing Chris Arthur on Gary Silk with just three minutes to go.
It was cruel on Diamonds who had matched Mansfield Town and piled on the pressure, only to be caught out by an individual error to settle a poor game.
Former Diamonds trialist Aaron O'Connor produced the only shot on target during the first half with a low drive which Dale Roberts gathered at the second attempt.
However the home side couldn't create a clear-cut chance with just a couple of moments around the edge of the penalty box.
Captain Andy Burgess' crossfield pass almost released Michael Corcoran until Gary Silk's perfectly-timed tackle and then Neil Cousins failed to take an opportunity of a shot from 15 yards.
Burgess twice missed the target with second-half strikes from 20 yards but it took 75 minutes for ex-Diamonds number one Alan Marriott to make a save.
Curtis Osano fed the ball through for Marcus Kelly who had time to pick his spot, only for Marriott to kick out the shot, and moments later he tipped over Chris Hope's header following Lee Tomlin's corner.
Mansfield left-back Paul Mayo went close from 40 yards and Roberts did well to hold onto substitute Ryan Williams' piledriver.
Arthur came on for his Diamonds debut and almost set up a late winner for Rob Wolleaston who headed wide of the near post.
But it was Arthur's trip on Silk which proved so costly in the end.
Diamonds: Roberts; Osano, Downer, Hope, Robinson; Burgess, Corcoran (sub Beecroft, 56 mins), Wolleaston, Kelly (sub Arthur, 77 mins); Tomlin, Cousins (sub Smith, 49 mins). Subs not used: Day, Rankine.
Mansfield: Marriott; Silk, Garner, Moses, Mayo; Arnold, Somner, D'Laryea, Blackwood (sub Williams, 59 mins); Duffy, O'Connor (sub Stallard, 70 mins). Subs not used: White, Havern, MacKenzie.
Referee: Mr S Duncan.
Goal: Duffy pen (87 mins, 0-1).
Attendance: 1,774 (away fans 430).
Stags striker Duffy has the last laugh
Evening Post report
A MATCH winner would normally take pride of place on the team bus back home – but Rob Duffy didn't need a lift after securing Mansfield Town's victory over his old club Rushden.
Living a stone's throw from Nene Park, the big striker admitted after the game that he could "walk home up the hill in two minutes".
Even so, that short space of time would still be long enough to savour what was surely one of the sweetest goals of his career.
Having come through the ranks with Diamonds, the Welshman then fractured his kneecap in a training ground accident. Duffy never really recovered from that setback in terms of securing a future at Rushden and it was only when he moved to Oxford that he made a real breakthrough at senior level.
So when Mansfield won a penalty with 89 minutes on the watch, there was only ever going to be one man for the job.
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3CA%20HREF%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3Dfffffffcfffffffcfffffffc/AAMSZ%3D452x118/POS%3D/SITE%3DTHISISNOTT/AREA%3DFOOTBALL/SUBAREA%3D/ARTICLE%3D736352/acc_random%3D9392219931/pageid%3D/RS%3D10484.10340.10183.10232.10236.10244.10257.10278.10281.10307.10323.10330.10331.10332.10364.10319.10419.10420.10425.10427.%22%20target%3D%22_new%22%3E%3CIMG%20SRC%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/anmdefaultad.gif%22%20ALT%3D%22%22%20border%3D0%20style%3D%22margin-bottom%3A%200px%3B%22%3E%3C/A%3E%3C/div%3EPrising the ball out of his hands at that point would have been like trying to score a goal against Manchester United in the Premier League.
And the 26-year-old had every right to be confident in his ability from the spot as he sent Dale Roberts the wrong way to spark some wild celebrations behind the goal from Mansfield fans.
But as much as the strike meant to Duffy personally, he recognised it was equally important for his team. Not only did it help Mansfield to three points when only one had looked likely for most of the afternoon, but it also saw the team bounce back from the previous weekend's first defeat, at Oxford, under boss David Holdsworth.
The success was only a second victory over Rushden in eight attempts by the Stags and their third victory in four away games following the appointment of their new manager.
It was once again based on the principles he has quickly instilled in his side – defensive solidity and hard work.
A sixth clean sheet in eight attempts only looked in doubt on a couple of fleeting occasions with the back four and keeper Alan Marriott once again dominant.
And when the chance came to steal the points, after Gary Silk was undeniably brought down in the box by sub Chris Arthur, it was clinically dispatched.
It was the type of performance Mansfield fans have seen so often before, though not usually from their team. In truth the first half was a poor spectacle – in contrast to Mansfield's previous match at the Kassam Stadium – with just one test of either keeper in the first 45 minutes.
That came when Nathan Arnold's vision made a chance for Aaron O'Connor on the left of the box but his angled drive was too close to Roberts, who made the save.
But you wouldn't have known it was a half to forget the way the superb following of Stags fans got behind their team.
The travelling contingent made up almost a quarter of the gate – perhaps spurred on by the fact this was almost a derby game for Mansfield after some of the other trips they have made this season.
There was a feeling the second period could only get better in terms of goalmouth incident – and so it did.
As the match neared its conclusion, it suddenly seemed to open up.
First the excellent Paul Mayo fizzed a 35-yard drive inches over before substitute Ryan Williams – back in a Mansfield shirt for the first time in more than a decade – brought the best out of Roberts with a sweet strike from the edge of the box.
Rushden then launched their own assault on the points and had two chances. Firstly, Marcus Kelly was through one-on-one with Marriott, who kept his cool, narrowed the angle and pulled off a terrific save with his legs.
Then, in the closing stages, Arthur sent over a perfect cross from the right byline only for Rob Wolleaston to head wide from six yards when he should have made the net bulge.
But it was not to be Diamonds' day and Duffy's late strike really rubbed salt into the wound.
This result has now all but guaranteed Mansfield's safety in the Blue Square Premier – something that looked far from certain on Holdsworth's appointment.
It is also likely to start talk once again of a late play-off push with 13 games still left to play.
Realistically, though, with 12 points to make up and several teams between them and the top five, that is not going to happen.
Nevertheless, a sprint to the finish will make Mansfield an attractive club for potential new signings who Holdsworth may have on his summer shopping list.
And if the gaffer can get the players he wants to finish what he has started, the Stags really could be a force to be reckoned with next season.
Latest | March 2009