DREADFUL DEFENDING COSTS THE STAGS DEAR
Blue Square Premier
AFC Wimbledon 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Elder 2, Taylor 22
Attendance: 3584 (approx 350 from Mansfield)
Date: 16 January 2010
Two dreadful pieces of defending by Mansfield in the first half gifted victory to AFC Wimbledon in the battle of fifth against fourth at Kingsmeadow today. The Wombles new signing Nathan Elder was allowed a free header from close range on 2 minutes to open the scoring, and then he was allowed another free header on 22 minutes to tee up Lewis Taylor who was also unmarked to fire home inside the box. It was shocking defending. The Stags were never able to recover despite creating more chances overall than the home side, and having just as much possession. The Stags had 4 good chances in a purple patch in the first half. Perry missed another great chance early in the second half. Near the end, lively substitute Jake Speight had a goal disallowed (correctly so on review of the DVD), and another substitute new signing Jon Shaw was unlucky to hit the post from a Speight cross. AFC had chances of their own and Marriott had to pull off a couple of good saves. But in the end, that dreadful first half defending was the difference between the two sides as AFC go above us in the league and we only retain a play-off place thanks to other teams having games postponed.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Man of the match: Jake Speight
AFC Wimbledon 2 Stags 0, Saturday, 16th January 2010
By John Lomas
AFC Wimbledon leapfrogged Mansfield into fourth place with two goals in the first 22 minutes of this absorbing clash of the high-flyers at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
The Stags proved equal to the Dons throughout large stretches of this match but were sunk by two sloppy moments of defending and always up against it after allowing Nathan Elder to head home inside the first two minutes.
When Lewis Taylor lashed home the second midway through the half it was all but over though Stags battled hard and with better finishing a bit of luck might have at least set up a grandstand finish.
But the 'curse of the Manager of the Month' for Terry Brown did not materialise as the Wombles' defence stayed tidy and tight, though Jake Speight did have a late effort ruled out for offside, Jon Shaw hit a post and Kyle Perry wasted a couple of good openings.
Stags made two changes with Louis Briscoe and Andy Burgess coming in to play down the flanks, replacing Ryan Williams and departed loanee Lee Morris.
New signing, striker Jon Shaw, had to be content with a place on the bench while the Dons included new signings Danny Blanchett and Nathan Elder but key man Danny Kedwell could only make tyhe bench after injury.
The Kingsmeadow pitch had been cleared of snow by supporters and then taken a morning of heavy rain but had drained surprisingly well.
Before the game Dons manager Terry Brown and keeper Seb Brown were both given the Blue Square Premier Manager of the Month and Player of the Month awards respectively.
After tributes were paid to Batsford from a variety of Dons' old boys, a minute's silence was held before kick-off as the rain came down again.
And within two minutes Stags had allowed Dons the perfect start with hesitant defending.
Poole was allowed time and room on the edge of the box to chip neatly to the far post where Elder rose high to nod an unstoppable finish past a rooted and helpless Marriott.
Soon after Elder was crowded out in the box but fed Taylor to his left whose powerful shot was blocked by Garner's outstretched leg.
Stags then broke upfield down the right through Silk who crossed to Burgess whose dipping effort curled just over the bar.
Duffy headed a Briscoe cross at goal, the keeper grabbing before Silk could get a vital touch.
A cutting pass from Burgess released Briscoe who twisted and turned in the box before his finish was blocked.
But Silk came closer on another raid forward on 12 minutes as Perry's backheel put him in sight of goal where Brown turned his finish round for a corner which was headed wide at the far post by Perry.
A loose pass by Taylor towards his own goal on 15 minutes almost let in Perry. But, one-on-one with Brown he put in a soft finish wide of the keeper which was going wide of goal too and Brown was able to grab the ball ahead of Briscoe as he tried to follow up.
Duffy fired an 18-yard effort straight at Brown a minute later as Stags pushed hard for an equaliser.
On 20 minutes the Dons broke quickly but an offside flag was up before Elder slotted past Marriott into the net with Brough lucky to escape a booking for a very late challenge in the build-up outside the box.
Poole pulled a low effort well wide from 25 yards two minutes later.
But it was 2-0 on 22 minutes and again Stags' defending left something to be desired. Hatton crossed long from the right and Elder was allowed to nod back across goal where Taylor seemed to have an eternity to control and lash a low right-footed finish past Marriott.
Elder almost added a third soon after but his far post diving header was wide.
More skill from Briscoe saw him turn well on the edge of the box and rifle a rising effort over the top.
A far post cross then found poole at the other end and he clevely turned before curling inches wide of the par post.
A Duffy flick almost released Perry but the big striker failed to take the ball in his stride and his first touch took the ball to safety for the home side.
An Elder flick almost put Main away. He was soon crowded out but the ball ran to Hendry who crashed a dipping shot just over in the final minute of the 45.
Jones replaced Garner in the Stags defence for the start of the second half.
The Dons won a corner inside the first minute which was claimed by Marriott.
Soon after Jones won his first challenge with Elder which left the former Brentford man requiring treatment. Jones also took a knock to the head which saw him bandaged up.
While that was happening, Speight was sent on for Stags in place of Burgess.
Perry put another good chance over when he got on the end of a Heckingbottom cross and fired over from eight yards.
Another good turn of pace from Briscoe saw him get to the right by-line but send his cross onto the roof of the net.
Somner's luck ran out when, after several fouls, he was booked for bringing down Hatton on 56 minutes.
Hendry easily got between two defenders on the right before his low, fierce ball into the box came off Jones' knees for a corner which was twice flicked on before Silk eventually cleared at the second time of asking.
Brough then produced a superb tackle in the box to halt Elder just before the big striker pulled the trigger.
Stags almost caught the Dons on the break when Briscoe pulled a low cross behind the last defender from the right as Duffy ran in. But Hatton slid in with a great last ditch tackle.
Mansfield pressed hard and won four successive corners as they looked for a lifeline.
Shaw made a debut on 74 minutes in place of Duffy.
Five minutes from time it was almost 3-0. Jones' poor backpass left Marriott with a rushed clearance to Wellard who, with Marriott well out of goal, tried a long distance lob that had the keeper backpeddling furiously before just being able to tip over for a corner.
On 86 minutes Speight though he had pulled one back as he lifted the ball over the advancing Brown on a break down the centre as Shaw headed on. He looked level but the offside flag was up immediate;y.
Marriott pulled off another great save to thwart Wellard as he came in from the right and fired towards the top corner, the keeper tipping over.
When Stags struggled to clear that the ball eventually fell again to Wellard who blazed well over with a rushed effort.
Stags kept on going to the end and Shaw slid a leg between two defenders to poke the ball against the near post while Hotchkiss screwed a low shot wide.
At the other end Conroy shot straight at Marriott as we entered four minutes of stoppage time.
AFC WIMBLEDON: Brown, Hatton, Judge, Johnson, Blanchett; Taylor, Hendry (Conroy 81), Adjei, Poole (Wellard 74); Elder (Montague 84), Main. Subs not used: Pullem, Kedwell.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Brough, Garner (Jones ht), Heckingbottom; Briscoe, Hotchkiss, Somner, Burgess (Speight 49); Duffy (Shaw 74), Perry. Subs not used: Sandercombe, Williams.
REFEREE: Robert Whitton of Chelmsford.
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Oliver Hotchkiss.
Evening Post report:
AFC Wimbledon 2 Mansfield Town 0
Saturday, January 16, 2010
MANSFIELD Town's 2010 started in disappointing fashion as they were beaten by two first half goals at AFC Wimbledon.
The Stags got off to a disastrous start, conceding a goal from Nathan Elder in only the second minute, and never recovered.
Their biggest problems, particularly in the first half, were at the back as they struggled to get to grips with the powerful Elder and tricky Jon Main.
Lewis Taylor made it 2-0 to the Dons with a slick strike midway through the first half.
Mansfield did create chances themselves and improved their overall performance in the second period.
But it was not enough to prevent the Dons leapfrogging the Stags into fourth place.
Mansfield had the worst possible start, going a goal down in the opening minutes, as they gave Dan Poole too much space and he made them pay.
The former Grays winger picked out Elder with a pinpoint cross from the left and the front man found the left corner with a header to make a dream start on debut.
It needed a last-gasp stop from Scott Garner to prevent the Dons going 2-0 up as Lewis Taylor shot for goal after being fed by Elder.
At the other end, Andy Burgess curled over the top following a right-wing centre by Gary Silk.
In the 12th minute, Burgess released Louis Briscoe into space down the left and he twisted and turned before seeing his drive well blocked.
Soon after, Silk took a back heel from Kyle Perry in his stride but his attempted low finish was diverted into the side netting by Dons' keeper Seb Brown.
From the resulting corner, Perry got in a far post header but was off target.
The chances continued to come for the Stags and as Taylor miscued a back pass, Perry was away.
Under pressure, he scuffed his effort and though Briscoe got there before Brown, the home keeper made a point blank save.
Duffy was the next to have a clear sight of goal as he shot early from 20 yards, but straight into the midriff of Brown.
It was far too easy for Wimbledon to double their lead in the 22nd minute.
Sam Hatton was allowed acres to centre from the right and as Elder headed across goal from the far post, Taylor was allowed time to plant a ten-yard shot beyond Alan Marriott.
Although Mansfield were struggling at the back, they were creating opportunities at the other end and this time Briscoe flashed past the angle after a neat turn.
Wimbledon responded with a right-footed effort from Poole that curved just past the upright.
Mansfield's Duffy then flicked on a long ball to Perry, who would have been in on goal with a better first touch.
In the closing minutes of the half, Will Hendry latched onto Main's pass but couldn't get his drive on target.
Before the game restarted, Luke Jones was introduced for Garner in the centre of the Stags defence.
Mansfield had a golden opportunity to pull a goal back ten minutes into the second period when Paul Heckingbottom crossed for Perry, who volleyed over from eight yards.
Jake Speight was then introduced into the action with Burgess making way.
Matt Somner was the first player into the referee's notebook after fouling Hatton.
As Wimbledon threatened to score a third, Brough made a crucial tackle to halt the progress of Elder.
A swift break from the visitors saw Hatton deny Duffy with a superb sliding challenge as the Welshman shaped to fire home.
After Speight had caused problems, Mansfield had four successive corners but Wimbledon defended them well.
With 16 minutes to go, Jon Shaw came on to make his Stags debut as Duffy left the field.
A misunderstanding between Marriott and James gave substitute Ricky Wellard the chance to nod home from distance.
Fortunately for the Stags, Marriott raced back to tip the midfielder's effort over the top.
Mansfield thought they had set up a tense finale as Speight lobbed home after being released by Perry only to be judged offside.
Marriott then made a top drawer stop in the closing stages to keep out a Wellard drive bound for the top left hand corner.
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