MISSED CHANCES AND WOODWORK COST STAGS DEARLY
Blue Square Bet Premier
Rushden & Diamonds 1 - 0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 1480 (351 from Mansfield)
Date: 9 October 2010
by Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain
Mansfield Town dominated the last 75 minutes of this game at Nene Park but were beaten by an early goal after poor defending allowed a chance in the box for Tim Sills. Gary Mills, who had a fine game in open play but who once again was let down by poor delivery from set pieces, had a terrific shot brilliantly saved just before half time. Earlier Luke Medley had found the net but was ruled offside in a debateable decision, and Adam Murray had a shot that troubled the home keeper. In the second half, Medley was through on goal again, this time beating the offside trap, but with only the keeper the beat and with the keeper already committed, Medley fired against the right post - a terrible and costly miss. The Stags were so unlucky on 74 minutes when Rob Duffy smacked a tremendous left footed shot against the bar from 12 yards, following a corner. Rushden created nothing at all after their early goal, and were very fortunate to claim the points. The Stags wasted so many set pieces including free kicks and corners, with Sandwith and Mills both being culpable. The only free kick that threatened was a training ground move on the floor at the end of the first half that resulted in Briscoe firing just over the bar. Every other free kick was hopeless.
Man of the match: Gary Mills
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre.
Evening Post Match report: Rushden and Diamonds 1 Mansfield 0
FRUSTRATED Mansfield Town slipped to their third defeat in four matches as they were left to rue missed chances at Rushden and Diamonds.
Just like against AFC Wimbledon in midweek, the Stags fell a goal behind early on to a Tim Sills strike and were made to chase the game.
David Holdsworth's men struggled to make headway in the first half, but did create several openings in the second period.
However, their luck was out as they struck the woodwork twice and could not find a way through as Diamonds held on.
The result saw the hosts leapfrog Mansfield, relegated the Stags down to seventh place.
Rushden started the game brightly and Sills headed wide of the left-hand post from Curtis Osano's right-wing cross.
Osano then recovered well after mis-controlling in a dangerous area by making a sliding tackle just as Paul Connor was shaping to shoot.
Poor defending from the visitors gave Rushden a good chance to go in front, but Sills headed wide from close in following a long throw.
However the striker, on loan from Stevenage, made no mistake when he got another opportunity in the ninth minute after more slack Mansfield play.
Kevin Sandwith was caught well out of position as Rene Howe streaked away down the right and pulled the back for Sills to smash into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
Mansfield threatened for the first time in the 19th minute. First Luke Medley raced onto Sandwith's ball down the line to cross inches in front of the stretching Connor.
Moments later, Gary Silk picked out Adam Murray whose low, right-footed shot had to be clawed away by Jamie Day, diving to his right.
Mansfield had the ball in the net midway through the first half but Medley's strike, from Steve Foster's through ball, was ruled offside.
At the other end O'Connor's on-target shot on the turn struck Sandwith, who knew little about it as the ball rebounded to safety.
A half-cleared corner saw Jamie Day line up a shot for Rushden only to blaze well wide.
Gary Mills almost had a one-on-one in the 36th minute when he raced onto Connor's flick but a heavy touch gave Joe Day time to race of his line and smother the ball at the midfielder's feet.
On the stroke of half-time, out of nothing, Mills fired a tremendous volley from 25 yards towards the top right-hand corner that was matched by Joe Day's excellent fingertip save at full stretch.
And with seconds of the half remaining, Louis Briscoe's shot from a tight angle deflected just over the bar.
Soon after the restart ex-Stag Aaron O'Connor ran at Chris Smith but eventually shot well wide of the left-hand post.
Rushden tested Mihkel Aksalu when Alan Power lashed a shot on target from the edge of the box that the Estonian debutant held confidently.
Seconds later, Medley should have levelled when Ashley Cain's flick saw the forward through on goal after beating the offside trap.
But though the resulting shot beat Jamie Day, it struck the outside of the post, much to the disappointment of the visiting fans behind the goal.
Mansfield then made a double substitution with Connor and Cain making way for Keigan Parker and Rob Duffy.
The two replacements went up front with Briscoe switching to the right flank and Medley to the left.
Almost immediately, Duffy rose highest to meet Briscoe's right-wing cross but could not keep his header down.
Mills then burst away down the left but his low ball across the box eluded first Parker and then Medley, arriving late at the back post.
The response from the home side saw Power cut into the box and thump in a left-footed shot from a narrow angle that Aksalu pushed away at his near post.
As Mansfield put the pressure on, Duffy's flick was inches too far of Parker who chose not to slide in when it seemed his only chance of getting there.
The Stags hit the frame of the goal for a second time in the 74th minute when a Mills corner was not fully cleared and Duffy thundered a shot against the face of the bar with Joe Day beaten.
Chris Smith got away with a push on Howe that could have resulted in a penalty had it been spotted.
Four minutes from time another sight of goal came and went as Medley picked out Parker who tried to lob the advancing day but lifted his effort wide of goal.
The officials added five minutes of stoppage time, but while Mansfield huffed and puffed, they failed to test Joe Day
Stags slip to defeat in live TV game - Rushden 1 Mansfield Town 0, Saturday 9th October
MANSFIELD Town's first live TV game of the season ended in bitter disappointment as a 1-0 tea-time defeat at Rushden and Diamonds saw the Stags lose a third game in four winless outings – their worst run of the season.
The home side pounced on poor early defending to take a ninth minute lead through Tim Sills in a largely disappointing first half for the TV viewers.
After a poor first half-hour the visitors had the edge for the rest of the game and certainly deserved at least a share of the spoils, Luke Medley firing a golden chance against the post when clear on 53 minutes and sub Rob Duffy rattling the crossbar on 74 minutes.
But, after the midweek home misery of losing 5-2 to AFC Wimbledon, it was all too much for some of the noisy 351 travelling fans who began chanting 'Holdsworth out' and also abused central midfielder Gary Mills.
After the early defensive dithering, Stags recovered to keep Diamonds at bay and Louis Briscoe and Luke Medley were always a threat though Mills and Adam Murray failed to get a grip of central midfield.
Diamonds have now only lost once in seven games and this win saw them leapfrog Mansfield into sixth place with Stags in seventh, already 10 points adrift of Crawley in the cherished top spot.
The Mansfield side showed two changes with keeper Alan Marriott out injured and Adam Smith serving the second of his three-game ban.
Medley came in to partner Connor up front in a conventional 4-4-2 line-up with Estonian international keeper Aksula making his debut on loan from Sheffield United.
Parker returned to the bench as did Istead.
The home side, who also have number one keeper Dale Roberts out injured with a thigh strain, included former Stags striker O'Connor.
Diamonds began on the front foot and Aksalu had to punch away a testing bal from Stuart and the ball was then hoisted back in by Osano and Sills guided a header wide.
Osano's poor control almost gifted a chance to Connor but the defender quickly recovered to slide in with a tackle to win the ball back.
Aksalu was grateful to see a low through ball speed safely into his arms with O'Connor in hot pursuit.
But on eight minutes Stags' defenders were guilty of ballwatching as the ball bounced in from the right and was allowed to reach Sills who should have buried his header with the goal at his mercy but powered it wide.
However, within 30 seconds Sills did find the net after more hesitant defending.
Howe was given space on the right and lifted the ball in where Sills was able to control and ram a finish high into the net from 10 yards.
Stags finally created some real danger on 19 minutes as first a low Medley cross was just too hard for Connor to be able to get there and turn it home and seconds later Murray fired in a low 20 yard show that forced keeper Joe Day to dive full length to his right to block.
On 28 minutes a long ball forward from Foster somehow reached Medley when the home defence had looked favourites to clear and he ran on past the keeper and found the net only to see an offside flag raised.
Sandwith was in the way of an O'Connor blast at the other end as we reached the half-hour mark.
Rushden won their first corner of the game 10 minutes from the break which was cleared as far as Jamie Day who lashed the ball well over the top.
A minute later Connor's flick sent Mills clear with a burst of pace down the middle, but Mills' first touch was not the best and it saw the ball run away from him just enough for Joe Day to leave his line and intercept.
Mills almost produced an equaliser in the last minute of the half as, over 25 yards from goal, he controlled the ball, flicked it up and crashed a curling volley towards the top right corner, Joe Day equal to it at full stretch with a great save.
Seconds later Briscoe tried to beat the keeper at his near post but it deflected wide for the visitors' fifth corner of the half.
Diamonds hung on for the half-time whistle but, after another dreadful start, the Stags were finally asserting themselves on the game and asking questions of the home side.
Robinson replaced the injured Jamie Day for the second half for Rushden.
O'Connor was the first to show with a menacing run down the left before shooting wide of the near post.
Aksalu was always comfortably behind a 20 yard shot from Power as Stags again failed to properly clear their lines.
But on 53 minutes Mansfield should have been level as Cain flicked the ball to Medley who found himself onside with only the keeper to beat only to see the ball strike the foot of the far post.
Holdsworth made a double change on 57 minutes throwing on striker duo Parker and Duffy, withdrawing Cain and Connor, Medley pushing to wide on the left and Briscoe switching to the right.
Immediately Duffy got on the end of a Briscoe cross seven yards from goal but couldn't get over the ball and saw his header sail over.
Duffy then sent Mills away on the right and his ball across goal was unable to find a team mate, Medley unable to turn it home.
Diamonds went downfield and Aksalu had to block an angled drive from Power at his near post.
On 74 minutes Mills sent over corner number seven which bounced out for Duffy on the edge of the box who blasted it against the crossbar.
Chris Smith was lucky not to concede a penalty as he wrestled with Howe and left him on the floor in the box.
With 11 minutes to go Holdsworth sent on Istead for Briscoe which didn't go down well with some of the visiting fans who had been superbly noisy throughout but become increasingly frustrated as the second half had worn on.
Some of their vitriol was directed at Holdsworth but also at midfielder Mills.
Spence was booked for a foul on Smith on 80 minutes.
Four minutes from time Parker almost levelled as Medley picked out his run with a low through ball and, seeing day leaving his line, the Scot tried to lob him but saw the ball also clear the bar.
Another great through ball from Chris Smith again almost got Parker clear but this time the ball struck the striker's hand and the whistle went for a free kick to Rushden.
Diamonds survived another Stags corner in the five minutes of time added on as the visitors threw everything forward.
Osano tried to counter attack but was upended by Chris Smith for a booking with 92 minutes on the watch.
Despite their team's efforts, the away fans now were chanting 'Holdsworth out' and further abuse at Mills.
Robinson was booked in the final minute of stoppage time for tussling with Istead to prevent Stags taking a free kick.
Into a sixth minute of added on time, Mansfield won another corner. But Huke was on hand to head clear and that proved to be the final chance on another disappointing afternoon for Mansfield.
RUSHDEN: Joe Day, Porter, Stuart, Osano, Sills (Spence 65), O'Connor, Howe, Jamie Day (Robinson ht), Power (Charles 83), Johnson, Huke. Subs not out: Key, Corcoran.
STAGS: Aksalu; Silk, C. Smith, Foster, Sandwith; Cain (Parker 57), Murray, Mills, Briscoe (Istead 79); Medley, Connor (Duffy 57). Subs not used: Collett, Stonehouse.
REFEREE: Carl Berry of Surrey.
ATTENDANCE: 1,480 (351 away)
CAUTIONS: Rushden – Spence 80, Robinson 90 (+5). Stags – C. Smith 90 (+2).
Sills strike enough for DiamondsDiamonds 1 Mansfield 0
northantset.co.uk, By Mark Lea, Deputy sports editor
Tim Sills got the early goal to earn three points for Rushden & Diamonds against Mansfield Town in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
The on-loan Stevenage striker headed wide twice before firing home off the underside of the bar when Rene Howe pulled the ball back from the right wing and Max Porter failed to connect at the near post.
Diamonds keeper Joe Day pushed out Adam MurrADVERTISEMENTay's long-range effort and then denied Nene Park youth-team graduate Gary Mills with a couple of attempts in front of the Peter De Banke Terrace.
Day dived at the midfielder's feet and tipped over a 25-yard volley which was heading towards the top corner of the net one minute before the break.
Alan Power's volley was saved at the start of the second half and almost immediately Luke Medley broke free at the other end, only to clip the outside of the far post.
Former Diamonds striker Rob Duffy nodded over and smashed a shot off the bar while another attempt by Power was kept out by Mihkel Aksalu.
Mansfield substitute Keigan Parker lobbed wide after racing past Diamonds skipper Jamie Stuart.
Five minutes of stoppage-time saw Diamonds defend two Mills corners under pressure and they held on for maximum points.
Diamonds: Joe Day; Osano, Huke, Stuart, Jamie Day (sub Robinson, h-t); Porter, Power (sub Charles, 82 mins), Johnson; O'Connor, Sills (sub Spence, 65 mins), Howe. Subs not used: Key, Corcoran.
Mansfield: Aksalu; Silk, Smith, Foster, Sandwith; Cain (sub Parker, 56 mins), Mills, Murray, Briscoe (sub Istead, 78 mins); Connor (sub Duffy, 56 mins), Medley. Subs not used: Collett, Stonehouse.
Referee: Carl Berry.
Goal: Sills (8 mins, 1-0).
Bookings: Spence, Smith (fouls); Robinson (unsporting).
Attendance: 1,480 (away fans 351).
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