DAY INDISCIPLINE COSTS STAGS DEAR
Mansfield Town 1 - 4 Crawley
Parker pen 41. Day sent off 52. Bulman 20, McAllister 70, 90, Tubbs 86.
Attendance: 2615 (102 from Crawley)
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill
The sending off of Rhys Day on 52 minutes for a stupid off the ball incident cost Mansfield Town any chance of beating big-spending Crawley Town at Field Mill. The Stags had more than held their own during an entertaining first half and created four excellent chances to punish Crawley. Crawley took the lead with a terrific volley from Danny Bulman on 20 minutes, but the Stags deservedly drew level on 41 minutes as Keigan Parker converted a penalty after being brought down. But early in the second half, as Crawley were preparing to take a free kick from the edge of the box, Day punched Kyle McFadzean in the chest, seen clearly by the referee, and Day was shown a straight red. After the game, Day apologised to the players, leaving manager Holdsworth fuming over indiscipline. After the sending off, the Stags were totally leaderless, giving the ball repeatedly and inviting pressure from Crawley. It was particularly disappointing to see players like Steve Foster showing no leadership and their was an air of inevitability that Crawley would take the lead, which they did on 70 minutes as the Stags makeshift defence gifted Craig McAllister a free header. Crawley scored twice more in the final four minutes as the Stags crumbled. Credit to Crawley for the way they exposed the ten men of Mansfield and gave an exhibition of how to stretch a depleted side. Their distribution from the back to the wings was accurate causing the Stags multiple problems. The Stags will now be without Rhys Day for three more games, and the loss of the excellent Steve Cook through injury was a major blow as was the hamstring injury to Paul Connor. Indeed the loss of Cook at half time, meant that after the sending off, Holdsworth had to put Silk to centre half where he was never going to be effective, and Briscoe went in at right back, nullifying the Stags attacking options after Briscoe had caused Crawley numerous problems in the first half. This was unlucky for Holdsworth, though a better option may have been to leave Briscoe where he was, leave Silk at right back, and play Duffy at centre half. The Stags have dropped six points outside the play-off zone, in a worrying loss of form with only two pointrs in the six games since we went top with the victory over Eastbourne and the season is following a familiar pattern with the month of October being somewhat disastrous three seasons on the trot. Away games in the league at Kettering and Forest Green in the next fortnight now look like massive games which the Stags need to win to resurrect promotion chances. Before that is a cup game against League Two Torquay where the Stags will look to bounce back and give the fans something to cheer about.
Man of the match: Louis Briscoe
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre.
Day the real villain as ten-man Mansfield lose 4-1 to Crawley
Evening Post report, by Stevie Roden
IT was manager David Holdsworth who took the brunt of the Stags fans' frustration on his broad shoulders as he walked down the tunnel after defeat to Crawley.
A section of supporters chanted for his head, although there was plenty of applause in the stands for the ten men of Mansfield as they left the pitch on Saturday.
What looked to be building into a promising performance and possible three points against high-flying, not to mention big-spending, Crawley, turned into a nightmare.
Despite Crawley's Dannie Bulman thumping an unstoppable volley past Kevin Pilkington against the run of play, the Stags fought back as Keigan Parker won and then converted a penalty three minutes before half time.
The players exited and emerged for the second half to cheers as Field Mill appeared full of positive energy, despite Paul Connor limping off in the first half and injured defender Steve Cook replaced by Gary Silk at half time.
The Stags were more than holding their own. But then Rhys Day aimed a punch into the stomach of former Alfreton defender Kyle McFadzean eight minutes into the second half and was given an instant red card.
Most inside the ground missed the off-the-ball incident, as Crawley were about to fizz in a free kick. But afterwards it was confirmed it was not a harsh sending off. It was an act of stupidity. In terms of Mansfield's hopes from the game, it was suicidal.
The 4-1 scoreline in the results column looks damning. But, as Holdsworth pointed out afterwards, it far from tells the real story.
Yes, the fans had every right to be frustrated – make that very frustrated. A new owner in John Radford has raised expectations, they are desperate for a return to the Football League. Yet this defeat made it six league games without victory.
The pattern of Mansfield struggling to beat the teams at the top of end of the table goes on, which is an obvious concern. But when Holdsworth said there were factors he could not legislate for on Saturday, he was not creating a smokescreen.
As manager, while he took the flak from fans, Day retreated to the sanctuary of the home dressing room.
If anybody should have been facing the vitriol of the supporters, it was the experienced defender. With two promotions from the Conference already under his belt, he knows what it takes to get out of the division. That does not include such unacceptable acts of petulance. His actions in the 53rd minute turned a winnable game, against a side boasting an array of riches, the Chelsea of the Conference, into a losing battle.
The game kicked off with Mansfield making four changes to the side that beat FC Halifax in the FA Cup a week earlier.
With only five loan signings allowed in the match-day 16, Simon Grand was sacrificed with captain Steve Foster returning at the heart of defence. The returning Pilkington came in for the injured Mihkel Aksalu, while Tyrone Thompson replaced Kyle Nix and Peter Vincenti was handed his debut, in place of Rob Duffy.
But after enjoying the best of the play early on, with Vincenti firing over from 12 yards, Crawley took the lead.
It came from the boot of Bulman, as a half cleared header from Day – both players are on loan to their respective clubs from Oxford – fell to him and he crashed a first-time volley into the top corner.
But after Louis Briscoe saw a thunderous shot saved by Michel Kuipers, diving to his near post, the breakthrough came just before half time. A blatant push on Stags' substitute Parker, on for the injured Connor, resulted in the spot-kick that he got up to covert emphatically.
However, what followed shortly after the break was Day's moment of madness that turned the game completely on its head.
Pilkington then twice denied Crawley before he came to Mansfield's rescue with a double save.
First, a long ball down the right put Matt Tubbs in behind the defence but Pilkington saved with his legs at the near post before the ball was swung in to the back stick, where Craig McAllister was denied.
Despite his gallant efforts, the 36-year-old and ten-man Mansfield were finally undone when poor marking allowed McAllister to finish with a header across goal and from that moment, the Stags crumbled.
Substitute Tubbs added a third in the 87th minute and then McAllister grabbed his second after Dean Howell worked the line too easily before pulling back for his team-mate to finish.
It was game over, although in truth, Mansfield were on a hiding to nothing after Day's red card.
When looking to get out of a winless run in the league, the last thing you need is to be a man down against the side that are widely tipped to win promotion into League Two.
Day will learn from his error although, for now, Mansfield must live with the consequences, especially Holdsworth, the one with whom the responsibility falls, unfairly or not.
Red card costs Stags dear against leaders - Mansfield Town 1 v 4 Crawley, Saturday 30th October
A NEEDLESS red card by Rhys Day eight minutes into the second half proved so costly for Stags as classy visitors Crawley Town romped to a 4-1 victory at Field Mill this afternoon.
Stags had come from behind through a Keigan Parker penalty to go in level at half time after a decent first half showing, Crawley taking the lead through a superb Dannie Bulman volley against the run of play.
But once on-loan defender Day thumped Kyle McFadzean in the stomach while waiting for a free kick to be taken, it allowed the visitors to show their class with only four great saves from 'debut'-making keeper Kevin Pilkington keeping them at bay until Craig McAllister made it 2-1 20 minutes from time.
Late goals from Matt Tubbs and then McAllister then rubbed it in as Stags were once again made to pay for indiscipline.
That is now two points from six games for Mansfield and once again there were boos and chants of 'Holdsworth out' at the end from a section of fans.
It didn't help matters that Stags lost defender Steve Cook with a knee injury and striker Paul Connor with a hamstring injury.
The Stags side showed four changes with Pilkington beginning his loan spell in goal in place of the injured Aksalu, skipper Foster back in defence in place of Grand, Thompson replacing Nix in central midfield and Vincenti making his debut up front in place of Duffy.
Grand had to left out to accommodate Vincenti's debut as Stags are only allowed to play five on-loan players at once.
The day began with an Elvis impersonator on the pitch in the Autumn sunshine, leading the crowd in a couple of songs before the action began.
Cook headed away Crawley's second minute corner, Connor completing the clearance when the ball was put straight back in again.
Then Howell saw a shot blocked as Crawley made a positive start.
Crawley keeper Kuipers, who had begin the match in an orange shirt, was then asked to change it to avoid any possible clash with the Stags' shirts and play was held up while he put on a green top.
Murray made a great tackle on Neilson in the box on the visitors' next raid.
But on eight minutes Vincenti almost netted on his debut as a lucky rebound saw the ball bounce into Smith's path and he took it on a few steps before teeing up Vincenti for a shot he skewered wide.
A poor corner from Murray gave Crawley the chance to break but Pilkington was able to gather Howells' eventual low cross.
At the other end a Smith cross was poked out for a corner just before it reached the head of Connor. Taken short, the corner saw Stonehouse fire narrowly over from 18 yards.
This was much better from Mansfield and Briscoe was only just over on the turn from 15 yards.
But the visitors were ahead with a stunning volley from Bulman on 20 minutes.
Under pressure, Day tried to head clear a left wing cross but saw fellow Oxford loanee Bulman meet it on the full with a full-blooded volley that gave Pilkington no chance.
Murray kept his feet as Neilson tried to trip him in full flight and the Crawley man was booked when the ball next went out of play.
Parker came on for the injured Connor on 33 minutes. And a minute later Briscoe powered his way into space before trying to beat Kuipers at his near post with a powerful shot that the keeper turned round for a corner.
McAllister was wide of goal at the other end soon after. And there was more danger when Howell dinked the ball behind the hoe defence to send Rents to the by-line and he sent the ball across the face of goal where it clipped Foster but stayed out the net.
Brodie was furious when he took a boot to the head from Murray while on the floor, but the referee decided it wasn't malicious.
The visitors certainly did and boss Steve Evans made his views plain to the officials at the break.
Crawley then gifted Stags a way back into the game two minutes from the break which they gratefully accepted.
Parker burst into the box on the right and was shoved over by Mills. The referee pointed to the spot and Parker sent Kuipers the wrong way with a confident spot kick.
Stonehouse was booked for tugging Neilsen's shirt ad Day did well to hook clear Masterton's free kick at full stretch.
A poor clearance from Stonehouse in stoppage time offered a shot from 20 yards for Masterton but he miscued well off target.
Both sides replaced their right backs for the second half with Silk on for Cook and Hall on for Wilson.
Brodie was booked for an outrageous dive in the box, looking for a penalty, and, before played resumed, Stags players Thompson and Smith exchanged angry words.
Silk's handball gave Crawley a free kick on the edge of the box on 53 minutes. But, while waiting for the kick to be taken, McFadzean went down in the box and Day was red-carded for a punch to the stomach of the former Alfreton defender. Silk moved to centre half and Briscoe to right back, Vincenti dropping deep.
When the kick was finally taken Plkington did well to block Masterton's powerful on-target effort.
Soon after Pilkington left his line and tried to grab the ball at the feet of Neilsen. But it ran loose and Bulman intelligently tried to lob everyone and into the empty net only to see Pilkington somehow get back and stretch to tip the perfectly-placed ball over.
Bulman was well over from 20 yards as the visitors continued to make their man advantage count.
Stonehouse offered some hope as he cut in from the left into acres of space but was too high with his finish.
Tubbs, who missed the starting line-up with flu, came off the bench for Brodie and immediately drew a few kick from Foster which Masterton drilled into the Stags' wall.
Tubbs was then lucky for striking out at Foster as the ball went upfield, all three officials following the flight of the ball.
Pilkington saved Stags twice inside a few seconds on 69 minutes, first blocking a low Tubbs shot at his near post and then, when Bulman nodded the ball down neatly for McAllister, parrying the Crawley man's finish and grabbing at the second attempt.
But the visitors were ahead on 70 minutes as Howell crossed from the left and McAllister was left unmarked to guide a free header wide of Pilkington from just seven yards.
With 20 minutes left Duffy was thrown on for Vincenti as Stags looked for a lifeline.
And on 80 minutes Murray was so close to connecting with Parker's fine cross from the right but couldn't connect with his diving header.
The Red Devils almost sealed it on 84 minutes as McFadzean got on the end of a Masterton corner but hit the ball into the ground from 10 yards and saw it rear up and over.
Two minutes later Howell was cautioned for time-wasting as Crawley saw down the clock.
But it was all over three minutes from time. Neilsen ran at the home defence before feeding the ball to an unmarked Tubs to his right who calmly sidefooted a deadly finish across Pilkington and inside the far post.
And a minute into stoppage time Stags were torn open as Howell ran to the left by-line as if he had no opponents to negotiate and floated in the perfect cross for McAllister to guide home a header from seven yards.
It was now all too much for the home fans, who had stayed patient and supportive all game, and chants of 'Holdsworth out' were heard for the first time all day.
The final whistle brought the inevitable boos, ending what could have been such a different game had Day not got himself needlessly sent-off.
STAGS: Pilkington; Cook (Silk ht), Foster, Day, Stonehouse; Briscoe, Thompson, Murray; A, Smith; Connor (Parker 33), Vincenti (Duffy 75). Subs: Collett, Nix.
CRAWLEY: Kuipers; Wilson (Hall ht), Mills, McFadzean, Rents; Neilson, Bulman, Masterton (Torres 90+2), Howell; McAllister, Brodie (Tubbs 62). Subs: Jordan, Wright.
REFEREE: Richard West of Leeds.
ATTENDANCE: 2,615 (102 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Pilkington.
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