STAGS HAMMERED BY CREWE, AGAIN
Mansfield Town 0 Crewe Alexandra 4
Hulse 4, 14, 59, Jack 62.
Attendance: 1,874 (125 from Crewe)
Pilkington, JClarke, Moore, Holyoak, Hurst, MacKenzie, Williamson, Lawrence, Corden, Larkin, Christie.
Subs: AWhite (for Larkin, 46), Bacon (for Christie, 68), Jake Buxton (for Williamson, 83).
Subs not used: JWhite, Alex Baptiste.
Larkin went off with a hamstring injury at half time, and could be out for a few weeks again.
Jake Buxton made his first team debut.
Bookings: Moore (Moore's 5th booking of the season and we think he will be suspended for the Notts Co game). Ironically Notts County star player Nicky Fenton also picked up a booking and will be suspended for the same game.
Referee: C.Boyeson, Hull.
Stags lost 4-0 at home to Crewe in the LDV Vans trophy in a repeat of the scoreline at home to Blackpool last season. Stags have now conceded 9 goals against Crewe at Field Mill this season.
It was another poor performance from the Stags, who really only played well for 15 minutes at the start of the second half.
Stags 0 Crewe 4
INJURY stricken Mansfield suffered another dose of 'Alex attack' at Field Mill last night as classy Crewe cruised through this LDV Vans tie.
The visitors had won 5-0 in Mansfield on 31st August, and two goals from Rob Hulse in the first 14 minutes put the slick-passing visitors in firm charge last night, Hulse later completing a hat-trick.
Mansfield did steady the ship for a while before two quickfire goals killed them off, and their injury problems mount with Colin Larkin limping off at half time with a pulled hamstring, leaving manager Stuart Watkiss desperate for at least two new faces before Saturday's crunch game at Swindon.
Continuing injury problems saw Watkiss forced to employ a very young back four with Mark Hurst (17) making his second start at left back after Saturday's fine debut.
Danny Holyoak (18) made a full debut alongside Neil Moore, and 20-year-old Jamie Clarke continued to make the right back slot his own.
With eight out injured, including Mark Lever and Craig Disley from Saturday, and Scott Sellars serving a one-game ban, Lee Williamson and Wayne Corden returned to the midfield.
There was also a change in goal where Kevin Pilkington began his comeback from a broken wrist, though Arjan Van Heusden will play his last game at Swindon on Saturday.
Youth team players Jake Buxton (17), and Alex Baptiste (16) were drafted in to make the numbers up on the bench.
The game survived a 6.30pm pitch inspection after a massive downpour, accompanied by thunder and lightning had put it in doubt.
The players' pre-match warm-ups were forced to be moved onto the training pitch behind the West Stand to protect the sodden surface.
Crewe went immediately on the attack and Sorvel had a firm shot blocked inside 20 seconds.
Pilkington then got down well to keep out Lunt's close range free header from Sorvel's cross before MacKenzie went on a good run and forced Bankole to save his low shot - all within the first 90 seconds.
However, the visitors grabbed a fourth minute lead after Brammer won a tackle with Williamson 20 yards into the Mansfield half.
He looked up and stroked the perfect pass for Hulse who rounded Pilkington before slotting home.
Hulse was celebrating his second goal on 14 minutes after Stags conceded a free kick 10 yards outside the box.
Lunt found Sodje who headed back from the by-line, and when Jack's attempted finish was blocked, the ball rolled towards Hulse who made no mistake from eight yards.
A rampaging run from Jack ended with a squared ball to Lunt who saw Pilkington palm over his goalbound curling effort.
Jones then wasted a golden chance for the visitors on 26 when Lunt's pass put him in the clear, only to curl well wide with Pilkington at his mercy.
The Stags finally managed to stem the red tide for a while and did have a half chance when Bankole spilled a Lawrence cross - first Christie and then Lawrence seeing their finishes charged down by defenders.
Moore then headed narrowly over from a Lawrence corner, and shortly afterwards produced a good sliding tackle as Hulse raced into the box looking for his hat-trick.
Corden galloped on to a long punt from Pilkington but his low shot was straight at at Bankole.
Andy White replaced the injured Larkin for the second half.
Crewe then made the first openingwhen Jack robbed Hurst on the right and sent a skidding cross in front of goal inches ahead of the incoming Lunt.
White caught his first sight of goal from MacKenzie's pass on 50 minutes and an unsure Bankole only managed a one-handed block before gathering at the second attempt.
The keeper made another error when he only half stopped Christie's drive, the ball getting under his body and wide for a corner.
Stags forced three corners in the first eight minutes and Corden was too high with a curler towards the top corner as they had Crewe on the back foot for a time.
It was not to last, and a breathtaking burst of electric pace by Jack down the right saw him cross to the near post where Hulse poked out a long leg to complete a hat-trick.
Stags broke upfield from the re-start but from an excellent central position Lawrence finished tamely at the keeper.
It was 4-0 on 62 when a low cross from the left found Lunt who forced a brilliant parry from Pilkington at the near post. Hulse seemed certain to score with the follow-up but it came back off the far post whenre Jack made it third time lucky from point blank range.
Brammer was inches wide while Pilkington saved superbly again from Jones as Crewe continued to turn on the style.
STAGS: Pilkington, Clarke, Moore, Holyoak, MacKenzie, Hurst, Christie (Bacon 68), Williamson (Buxton 83), Lawrence, Larkin (A. White h/t), Corden. Subs not used: J. White, Baptiste.
CREWE: Bankole, Wright, Walker, Lunt (Bell 83), Foster, Brammer, Hulse (Rix 72), Jack (Miles 72), Sorvel, Sodje, Jones. Subs not used: Ince, Yates.
REFEREE: Carl Boyeson of Hull.
SCORERS: Crewe - Hulse 4, 14, 59; Jack 62.
CAUTIONS: Mansfield - Moore 75 (foul on Jones); Holyoak 79 (foul on Brammer).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Pilkington.
Rob Hulse scored a hat-trick as classy Crewe cruised into the LDV Vans Trophy second round with an easy win against injury-hit Mansfield.
The Alex had already won 5-0 in Second Division action at Field Mill this season.
And two goals in the first 14 minutes from Hulse put them in charge of this one, the striker later completing a hat-trick.
Mansfield, with three inexperienced defenders in their back four, fell behind after four minutes when Dave Brammer sent Hulse clear to round the keeper.
It was 2-0 when Hulse finished from eight yards after Rodney Jack's shot had been charged down.
And his hat-trick came in the 59th minute when Jack raced down the right and crossed for Hulse to turn home at the near post.
Mansfield goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington saved brilliantly from Kenny Lunt after 62 minutes.
And Hulse saw his follow-up hit the post before Jack made it third time lucky from close range.
Pilkington, in his first game since returning from a broken wrist, made several excellent saves to prevent further embarrassment.
Evening Post report:
IT'S MEN AGAINST STAGS' BOYS
Mansfield Town 0 v 4 Crewe Alexandra
The first pitch inspection occurred at Field Mill last night and the fact the football rivalled the weather in the miserable stakes must have made many people wonder when the sun is going to shine on Mansfield Town again.
It may have been a defeat in a competition that is meaningless unless you get the chance to play at the Millennium Stadium (and, even then, it's still not Wembley) but there appears to be no let-up in the bad nature of the fortunes of Stuart Watkiss's side are having to endure.
After witnessing Crewe demolish Stags 5-0 less than two months ago, there couldn't have been many followers of the local team expecting a much different story last night, but when the predictable defeat arrived, it did not stop the boos and howls of derision echoing around the sparsely-populated stadium.
It's the familiarity of it all that is becoming particularly grinding.
Stags didn't play well, particularly in the first half. In attack they never really looked like scoring and resembled an outfit that has only managed a goal in two of its seven home games this season.
But, having said that, there were times when the level of performance was better than the defeat against Huddersfield on Saturday and, on occasion, they did look dangerous.
Unfortunately, despite all the high hopes of last season, the progress many of the younger players made and the achievements of clubs like Brighton and Rotherham in leapfrogging Division Two in successive seasons, the Stags are now in the position of having to demonstrate they can live with the best this level has to offer.
At the moment, they can't but it is somewhat unrealistic to expect a back four containing three teenagers to step straight into a game against a striker like Rob Hulse, whose transfer value pushes towards seven figures.
And why should we expect people like Wayne Corden to run rings round a player like Efe Sodje?
It might serve some Stags fans to recall that, while they were queuing for a beer-for-breakfast World Cup experience during the summer, Sodje was out there, playing against England.
And the fact Mansfield Town don't wipe the floor with his team is greeted with calls for the manager's head and moans and groans.
The difference between the two sides was far more complex than just the goals, although I fancy we will go all season at Field Mill without seeing one of the quality of Hulse's hat-trick grabbing volley.
The defeat was not down to tactical naivety or playing people out of position. It was essentially because Crewe had a team made up of better players and the injury-hit Stags were unable to live with them, just as a more senior team was unable to on August 31.
Further injuries to Colin Larkin and Iyseden Christie and a worsening in Bobby Hassell's situation only added further gloom to the occasion but the news that Saturday's opponents Swindon smashed six past Southend cannot instill that much confidence.
There is no escaping the fact that the team is up against it and now desperately need additions of the required standard.
Hopes of a swashbuckling victory over a side of Crewe's quality were always going to be a little unrealistic. Everyone would have felt that when the draw was made.
But young players like Danny Holyoak, who had a pretty impressive debut, Mark Hurst and Jake Buxton could be a force in this team for years to come.
It's about more than a result in a cup competition that, despite all the protestations, no-one really cares about.
It's about pushing together to help the team out of this mess and everyone has got to do their bit if the clouds are going to lift.
Latest | October 2002