REPORTS FROM BARNSLEY SITES
MANSFIELD TOWN 1 (White)
THE Reds festive opener turned into a nightmare before Christmas, as Tim Burton would say, as Keith Curle came back to haunt his former employers and mastermind the Stags remarkable second half victory.
Glyn Hodges men started the game well and had the ball in the net inside four minutes as Dean Gorre's cross was headed goalward by Kevin Betsy but the flag went up before Bruce Dyer turned the ball into the goal.
Barnsley got behind the Stags defence again on seven minutes as Betsy played in Gary Jones but the midfielder was denied by an excellent save from former Manchester United keeper Kevin Pilkington.
Mansfield's only reply came in the tenth minute when striker Iyseden Christie turned in the area but Andy Marriott was equal to his weak effort.
The Reds should have been in front on eleven minutes as Pilkington flapped at Paul Gibbs' cross but Betsy scooped the re-bound high over with just the goal to aim at.
Pilkington then redeemed himself a minute later when he pulled off a wonderful save to tip Gorre's low shot around the post. The Stags keeper was again on top form to deny Dyer on 15 minutes and did the same again three minutes later as the striker raced clear onto David Mulligan's excellent pass.
Mansfield threatened rarely as an attacking force by Andy White should have given them a 23rd minute lead with a free header from Wayne Corden's cross as the Reds defence stood and watched the lanky striker.
Gorre forced Pilkington into a stunning diving save with a 20-yard shot a minute later but the referee, Mr A Penn from the West Midlands, decided to give a goal kick.
Mansfield ought to have been reduced to ten men on 28 minutes as Mike Flynn clashed with the petulant Christie. The striker swung an elbow at Flynn and connected with the defenders face but got away completely. If it was in the Premier League the elbow would have been dragged up before the FA's video advisory panel but Christie escaped without punishment.
Mr Penn was again the centre of attention on 34 minutes as Craig Disley tripped Dyer in the area but the official again gave nothing to the Reds.
Barnsley decided to let their football do the talking and Gorre created a good chance for Sheron a minute later but the striker's goal bound header struck Dyer on the line and bounced to safety.
Gorre and Jones went close with long-range efforts before Sheron almost caught out Pilkington with a 30 yard lob on 43 minutes.
The game was turned on its head in stoppage time as Christie raced onto a long, hopeful ball from the back and took an outrageous tumble under a light challenge from Chris Morgan. The referee gave a penalty but justice was done as the striker smashed the kick against the bar.
Whatever Hodges said to his troops at half time had the completely wrong effect as the Reds may have well have stayed in the dressing room.
The visitors pushed forward, getting the winning goal on 50 minutes. A mistake in the Reds midfield presented the ball top White, who ran through unchallenged and finished well into the top corner of the net.
It could have been even worse five minutes later as Disley's ball through again caught the Reds napping and White raced clear once more but was denied by Marriott's smart save.
The home side were simply not at the races at all and were overrun, out fought and outplayed all over the pitch. Hodges finally replaced Mulligan on the hour mark after the full back had endured a torrid time down the right but a switch to a five-man midfield did little as the Stags continued their onslaught.
Substitute Brian O'Callaghan's first action was to play Flynn into trouble and allow Disley to race clean in on goal and only a last-gasp block by Morgan denied the midfielder a certain goal.
Barnsley had two claims for a penalty turned down in the space of a minute shortly after as first Sheron was sent tumbling in the area by Rhys Day and then Bobby Hassell appeared to handle Gibbs' cross in the box. The referee gave nothing on either occasion.
Morgan went close with a header from Gorre's right wing corner on 72 minutes before Sheron saw a low drive blocked away three minutes later.
Mansfield should have extended their lead and totally embarrassed the Reds in the closing minutes as Corden and Larkin had excellent chances as Barnsley looked all at sea at the back and totally without ideas going forward.
BARNSLEY: Marriott, Mulligan (O'Callaghan 61), Gibbs (Fallon 84), Morgan, Flynn, Betsy, Jones, Lumsdon (Neil 75), Gorre, Sheron, Dyer.
Subs: Ghent, Austin.
MANSFIELD: Pilkington, Disley, White (Larkin 70), Lawrence, Christie, Corden, Curle, Hassell, Eaton, Day, Curtis (Williamson 46).
Subs: White, Beardsley, Gadsby.
Tykes can't even beat the bottom side
How come when the players were not gettin paid they actually did turn up for games? And how come when they do get paid they dont seem to? Well, that may seem odd but it was the situation today with bottom side Mansfield Town going home with all three points.
Well basically the equation for this game was: Poor Performance - Poor Result - Reds Lose.
There were three changes made from the Crewe game; Morgan, Betsy and Sheron all coming in for Crooks, Neil and Fallon. This only seemed to reduce the goals being conceded by one though, with the Stags going home victorious with a one goal win.
In the early stages of the first half, Bruce Dyer proved that he STILL hasn't learnt the offside rule. Dean Gorre hit a cross into the area, which Betsy converted with his head. However, the linesman then indicated that the goal would not stand.
About ten minutes later Betsy was the villain. Paul Gibbs crossed the ball into the area, but the Stag's keeper cleared. However, the ball only fell to Betsy - who made a total hash of the finish hitting it, to the wrong side of the post and crossbar.
Later on in the first half was all to do with penalties really. Bruce Dyer could have earned the reds one on about 34 minutes after a foul by Craig Disley - but Mr Penn (who was a total disgrace all throughout the game) refused the claim and allowed play to continue.
Next, the Stag's somehow were awarded a penalty. Chris Morgan was battling with Christie, and then the Mansfield man dived to the floor. A penalty was given (how come we didn't get one?) and the man to take the spot kick was the man who dived, Christie. With all eyes focused on Marriott, Christie hit the crossbar and the rebound found its way into the hands of the former Sunderland man - Marriott.
That was it for this half, so we progress to the second period of the game…
Well us reds fans were hoping that Hodge's team talk would make the strikers finishing a little better. But, that's he exact opposite it did. It looked as though Hodgie had told all the players to just sit back, and let Mansfield walk all over us!
Five minutes after the restart - Mansfield scored. Chris Lumsdon played the ball through to White. White got the ball under control then did a superb finish with the outside of his left boot. When we said Lumsdon played the ball through, this is not a typing error! The ball was in the air and Lumsdon tried to get it under control but volleyed it to the path of White.
With Mansfield dominating, Hodges decided to change his tactics. He switched the formation to 3-5-2 replacing Mulligan with Brian O'Callagham.
This still didn't really change the way the reds performed, Mansfield still dominating the game.
Skipping a few of Mansfield's chances, we move onto what happened for the reds - which wasn't much really! The Stag's seemed to like handballing in the area, but the ref didn't seem to like punishing them for it. This happened on numerous occasions, and totally wound reds fans up.
As the game came to an end, Mansfield had one or two chances that were dealt with by Mike Flynn (who was the man of the match for us) or saved by Andy Marriott. Those two were the only players involved today, as for the rest…you don't want to know if you didn't attend today's game.