Mansfield Town 0 Huddersfield Town 2
Smith 53, 61
Att 4,998 (1,069 from Huddersfield)
Gary Tyldsley at Field Mill
There was a fresh feeling around Field Mill before kick-off today, undoubtedly due to the combination of the goal-spree in the last home game and the first clean-sheet last week.
Stags started with the same line-up from those last 2 games, with the exception of Damien Delaney after his permanent move to Hull City. With Stuart Watkiss already stating that he would not switch to a “three at the back” system, it opened the door for the promising Mark Hurst to make his full debut at left-back. Allen Tankard would have been the first choice but has yet again broken down in training and will now be missing for another month.
We had been told through the press this week that our visitors are a better side than their league position suggests, something that was clear when they carved out the first chance of the game in only the second minute.
The next quarter of an hour saw a more confident Stags team play some of the better football without creating any clear-cut opportunities. However, it was the visitors who threatened again on the quarter-hour mark and it was only down to a good stop by Arjan Van Heusden that prevented the Terriers taking the lead.
The game was very open and some passages of play saw the ball going from end-to-end with some style. The only thing lacking was a real killer-punch from either side.
It was on the half-hour mark that Stags closest effort came. Scott Sellars put in a great corner from the left and Neil Moore managed to steer his header just past the post.
Huddersfield should have again put themselves in front on 37 minutes, a great move ending with a first time shot going just over the bar. The open nature of this game was summed-up within 60 seconds when Stags put together a move of similar class that ended with Colin Larkin curling a shot high and wide of the North Stand goal.
Half-time: STAGS 0-0 Huddersfield Town
Any hopes of another one-way second half, like the one seen against Tranmere, were dashed just 7 minutes after the restart. Martin Smith latched onto a loose ball just outside the area and progressed unchallenged before rounding the keeper to put the visitors 1-0 in front. It is difficult to say it was undeserved, as they had shown to be a capable outfit in the first-half.
Huddersfield then achieved their next aim of slowing the game down and reducing the chances of any comeback by the Stags. They then put the icing on their own cake by doubling the lead 15 minutes into the half. A cross came in from the right and it was Martin Smith who again took control before finishing well into the far corner. Whilst there did not appear to be many protests, it had looked like the ball struck Smith's hand before he turned and scored.
This signalled the throw-of-the-dice by Stuart Watkiss - Wayne Corden and Lee Williamson replaced Scott Sellars and Neil MacKenzie. The changes were understandable as the Stags had made little progress down either flank all afternoon.
Any efforts that the Stags were making to rebuild their position in this game suffered a big blow just 5 minutes later. A sickening clash of heads left Craig Disley with what was obviously a severe cut and an early exit to the changing rooms on a stretcher. His replacement was Andy White and this saw the Stags switch to a 4-3-3 formation - again, another understandable move as time was now running out.
Big Andy had only been on the field a minute when he was involved in a key moment. It looked pretty clear that a Huddersfield defender climbed all over him in the box and with protests coming from every angle, the referee took a firm stance and made it clear that he felt no offence had been committed.
Lee Williamson marked his return from suspension by promptly picking up a yellow card - although it was not clear whether it came for his first tackle or a bit of “handbags” with an opponent following the award of the free-kick. If it was for the latter then the manager needs to begin the “mentoring” process with Lee and get him back to his best football form.
Stags finished the game with a little flourish that saw a header from Iyseden Christie float harmlessly into the enormous hands of the giant that came to play in goal for Huddersfield today (he is a big bloke!). This was followed by Stags having the last effort of the game, a shot from Colin Larkin that did not really trouble the Terriers keeper.
All-in-all, a disappointing result today but it has to be said that it came against a side who are better than their position suggests. And, despite the resurrection of the vocal criticism from certain occupants of the stands, this was not a particularly bad performance - the main thing it lacked was that killer punch in the opposition penalty area.
Man of the Match: Mark Hurst
Van Heusden: 6 - Not much to do but rounded a bit easily for the first goal
JClarke: 6 - Not a bad display, some good passing mixed with some poor passing
Lever: 6 - Worked hard but absent for the two goals
Moore: 6 - Defended well
Hurst: 7 - Very assured and could make it difficult for others to get this place back
MacKenzie: 5 - Not in the game enough today
Lawrence: 7 - The form player at present
Disley: 6 - Energetic as ever
Sellars: 7 - Cultured passing and put the ball in the right place at times today
Larkin: 6 - Very quiet at times
Christie: 6 - Always in the thick of the action, just lacked the final bit today
Williamson (for MacKenzie, 63 mins) : 6 - Got involved but a silly yellow card picked up
Corden (for Sellars, 63): 6 - Not very effective
AWhite (for Disley, 68 mins): 5 - Ineffective
JWhite: not used
Holyoak: not used
Latest | October 2002