Mansfield Town 6 Tranmere Rovers 1
Mackenzie 46, Sellars 52, Lawrence 61, Christie 69, 78, Larkin 75. Christie missed pen 83.
Attendance: 3,668 (545 from Tranmere)
by Gary Tyldsley at Field Mill
Today was always going to be an exciting prospect for one little boy - my son Alex was one of the match-day mascots. Little were we to know that it would turn out to be this perfect in terms of being Stags followers.
As soon as I saw the Tranmere team-sheet it seemed that we were going to be up the creek yet again. A team littered with players who have performed at a higher level and, in Simon Haworth, a proven goalscorer. Only if Stags could produce some of the second half show from Northampton would they be in with any sort of chance. At least that would be the reasonable pre-match judgement.
The build up to kick-off was, of course, a little more intense for me today… did I tell you that my boy was a mascot today?
The first-half was one that could be forgotten in a flash. It mirrored the Cheltenham first-half in many ways - much effort but little quality. The game was not helped by the weather, Tranmere taking advantage of a strong wind blowing towards the Quarry Lane End and employing a fairly obvious tactic of knocking the ball up towards the edge of the box and then looking for any loose clearances. The one overriding factor for me was that more often than not, Neil Moore was getting to the ball first and ensuring that the danger was removed.
Stags fell to another set-piece nightmare just before the quarter-hour mark. A right-wing corner found a Rovers head and although the effort was blocked, Alex Hay was on hand to bundle the ball in. Whilst there were a few dissenting voices, there seemed to be more a mood of resignation that we would fall to yet another annoying and frustrating defeat. Whenever we did look anything like dangerous in attack it was generally through Scott Sellars' vision and Iyseden Christie's tenacity.
Half-time: Stags 0 Tranmere 1
Neil MacKenzie was woeful with his shooting last week and gave another example during the first half of today's game. It had been said for several weeks that when he did score, we would remember the goal as a special one. That was proved correct within 50 seconds of the restart - Macca hitting a peach of a shot past the despairing dive of Phil Whitehead.
Just as we had got over the excitement of the first home league goal in what seemed like an eternity, along came another. This time the influential Scott Sellars finding himself totally alone at the far post and only having to make contact with the ball to steer it home. For the first time in nearly 2 months, we are ahead in a league game at Field Mill.
There still appeared to be an air of disbelief and an expectancy that things would soon take a turn for the worst - we have known for many years that following the Stags is never easy!
Ten minutes after taking the lead it got even better and also changed the mood drastically.
Just a minute after Colin Larkin had gone very close with an opportunist shot from outside the box, Stags extended the lead with another super goal. Liam Lawrence is improving with every game at the moment and his contribution today was complemented with an excellent goal. An excellent through ball found Liam's run and he took the ball perfectly in his stride, rounded the keeper and finished confidently to put the Stags 3-1 in front.
Scott Sellars was then replaced by Wayne Corden just before the incident that probably sealed the victory for the now rampant Stags.
Craig Disley showed his usual battling qualities in a tackle with Simon Haworth only to find the opponent in a less than friendly mood. Haworth appeared to strike Disley while they were still together, the referee agreed and promptly sent the Rovers striker for an early shower.
Within 2 minutes, the victory, plus a very welcome 3 points, was put beyond doubt. The increasingly impressive Iyseden Christie bagging his first goal at Field Mill since his return in the summer.
With the players now showing signs of visible relief, we began to see some of the passing game that we know they are capable of.
If you think that was enough excitement for today (remember the boy who was mascot today!) then you are sadly mistaken.
With 30 minutes of the second-half gone, Colin Larkin received a pass about 25 yards from goal. You would be forgiven for thinking that there was little danger as Colin had been fairly quiet throughout this game. He took about 2 paces forward and hit a rocket into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season.
We then only had to wait a further 5 minutes for the next bit of excitement. Iyseden set off on yet another mazy run, unselfishly pulled the ball back for his strike partner but was then on hand when Colin Larkin's effort had been blocked.
The final score was pretty stunning and should have been even worse for the visitors. Yet again, Iyseden Christie was involved and drew a poor challenge from a Rovers defender to win the Stags a penalty. This led to a tiny dispute over the taking of the penalty - Iyseden naturally wanting the chance to take the match-ball and Neil Mackenzie keen to take up the task of regular penalty-taker (this must happen now !!). Maybe taking pity on a goalkeeper who had been hit for six in successive games, Iyseden managed to pull the spot-kick wide of the post.
A great win that must surely lift the spirits of the players, staff and supporters alike. My own personal opinion is that we fully deserved the win but that we have played better in other games season and ended up on the losing side.
So, after failing to score in over 400 league minutes at Field Mill ... we get the “London Bus” theory ... wait long enough and they all come at once! I'll be waiting to hear from our statisticians (that will be you, Martin and Paul!) (- yes we have, last time was Hereford home Boxing Day 1994 - Martin) on the subject of whether we have ever scored 6 in one half before.
I'm not superstitious but this was my girlfriend's second Stags game this season - the other one was away at Luton ... and did I mention the lucky mascot today, my little boy Alex ... where did I leave my lucky pants?
My Man of the Match: Neil Moore
Van Heusden: 6 - Not very busy but did what was required when needed
J Clarke: 6 - Better show from Jamie today.
Lever: 6 - Worked hard against Haworth and won enough in the air.
Moore: 8 -Read the game brilliantly at times and defended superbly.
Delaney: 6 - Steady game but too many long balls in the first half.
MacKenzie: 7 - Quiet start - beautiful goal led to greater influence on the game.
Disley: 6 - Busy as ever.
Lawrence: 7 - Another influential show and a good goal.
Sellars: 7 - Sublime skills, super passing - the key player.
Larkin: 6 - Quiet game but a fantastic goal.
Christie: 8 - Simply brilliant at times today.
Corden (for Sellars, 64 mins): 6 - Did OK.
P Clark (for Disley, 89): Late sub.
Holyoak (for Lever, 90): Late sub.
Not used: JWhite, AWhite.
Latest | October 2002