Peterborough United 0 Mansfield Town 0
Attendance: 5,067 (832 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw, Jeff Barnes and Neil Shaw at London Road
Stags picked up a point from this lunchtime encounter at Peterborough and kept their first clean sheet of the season, at the 14th attempt. But it was really two points dropped as Stags created the better chances and Iyseden Christie missed an absolute sitter late in the game, which would have given the game a more just scoreline.
Stags were unchanged from the 6-1 thrashing of Tranmere, though Tankard returned from injury to the substitutes bench.
The game kicked off at 12.00, on police instruction, but this didn't deter a healthy following of around 850 Stags fans. In the previous 10 visits to London Road, Stags had lost 9 and drawn 1.
Mansfield started the game brightly and were soon on top under leaden skies. MacKenzie crossed well for Moore to head over. Then Sellars placed a cross from the left perfectly onto Christie's head, but the Stags striker made minimal contact and the header floated miserably wide. It was a great early chance wasted. Peterborough's first chance came when Van Heusden scuffed a clearance from a Lever backpass straight at Andy Clarke 25 yards out. The keeper made amends by rushing out from his goal to sweep the ball off Clarke's feet just as he was about to pull the trigger. It turned out to be the home side's only chance of note in the opening 40 minutes. Meanwhile at the other end, Christie had the ball in the net after 25 minutes but it was ruled out for a clear offside.
Stags were well on top and winning the game in midfield without creating too many clearcut chances. However there was a noticeable lack of width from the Stags. Shortly after the disallowed goal, Christie had another great chance. Breaking clear of the defence he seemed to have all the time in the world to beat keeper Tyler, but ended up just lobbing the ball into the grateful keeper's arms. It was another great chance wasted. Stags were nearly gifted a goal when a Peterborough defended scuffed a clearance just past his own post with the keeper beaten.
The home side finished the half strongly with 5 minutes of pressure and a succession of corners. From one of these, it seemed Bradley Allen would score as Farrell's superb in-swinging left-footed corner floated past the statuesque Stags defence and keeper. However the diminuitive ex-QPR striker contrived to head wide from 2 yards when it seemed easier to score. This was a let-off for the Stags and a warning that the home side still presented some danger. A minute later, the long-haired strutting Bullard fired in a testing shot that Van Heusden saved at the foot of the post.
The second half saw the Stags get on top early again. But the first chance fell to Bradley Allen following a corner. Just as the striker was about to shoot from 10 yards, Lever made a superb challenge to clear the ball. Within a minute, MacKenzie made a great run from his own half down the right wing. Having got to the angle of the box he tried to lob the keeper but put the ball wide, when Larkin was well placed for a cross. MacKenzie held his head as he knew he had chosen the wrong option.
The game went through a scrappy phase and was livened up after 65 minutes by the substitutions of Posh strikers Clarke and Allen by Barry Fry to a chorus of boos and “you don't know what you're doing”. This chant was repeated a minute later at referee Ross, when substitute Neale Fenn was booked for diving on the edge of the box after a brush with Disley.
Disley was soon in the action at the other end. A cross into the home box saw Christie try to turn the ball in but keeper Tyler miss-punched the ball away, only as far as Disley, whose looping header from 7 yards dropped agonisingly onto the top of the goal with the keeper stranded on the floor. It was the Stags best chance of the half thus far.
The game had opened up by this stage as both sides went for the win. Farrell got himself into good positions on two occasions but fluffed his lines and then five minutes from time Stags had the easiest chance of the match to win the game. Superb interplay between Larkin and Lawrence saw Christie unmarked on the edge of the 6 yard box. Somehow the ex-Orient striker managed to scoop the ball over the bar to the dismay of the travelling fans, players, and Christie alike. In 3 minutes of injury time, Stags forced 2 corners but neither resulted in a clear chance.
All in all this was a disappointing game which Stags should have won given their possession and better chances created against a very poor and lacklustre Peterborough side.
The satisfaction of keeping a clean sheet was reduced by the feeling that this was two points lost rather than one gained.
After the game, Posh boss Barry Fry said his side were awful from start to finish; he said they couldn't cross, head, pass or anything. We would not disagree with that assessment and on this form, Peterborough will finish below the Stags in the league this season. Fry added that he was disappointed with all his team apart from Sagi Burton. Indeed Burton marked Larkin out of the game and used his body strength and height to good effect.
Stags fans felt that the introduction of more width in the form of Corden and more height in the middle in the shape of Andy White in the closing 15 minutes could have tipped the balance the Stags way. However Watkiss looked like a manager who was happy to keep a point and a clean sheet by keeping a formation that stifled the home side. Had Christie taken one of his numerous chances, the manager's decision would have been exonerated.
Man of the match: Neil Moore.
Van Heusden 6 Bad kick nearly gifted an early but recovered well to save. Little to do after that. Good handing.
JClarke 5 Poor distribution and beaten by Farrell too often.
Moore 7 Won everything in the air and swept up well.
Lever 7 Defended solidly. Good partnership developing with Moore.
Delaney 7 Looked comfortable on the ball. Defended well. Good distribution.
MacKenzie 7 Most of the good moves started with MacKenzie. Looked composed on the ball.
Disley 6 Fought well for the ball, though looked goal-shy.
Lawrence 7 Drove the team forward on numerous occasions. Tackled well.
Sellars 6 Didn't contribute much.
Larkin 6 Tried hard but didn't get much service.
Christie 5 All the chances fell to Christie today. Missed several sitters, and should have won the game.
Subs not used: JWhite, Tankard, Holyoak, Corden, AWhite.
Ref: J.Ross 7 Competent.
Latest | October 2002