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STAGSNET REPORTS
27/December/2002 23:35:55

Two reports/ratings from today's game:
For report by Rob Wheldon, click here.
For report by Martin Shaw, read below.
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Mansfield Town 4 Stockport County 2
Christie 5, Corden 48 (pen), 79, Disley 54.
Day 3 (og), Burgess 17 (pen).
Att. 6,434 (817 from Stockport)

by Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Stags produced a brilliant performance for the final 75 minutes to pulverize Stockport County at Field Mill. The final scoreline of 4-2 did not do justice the Stags superiority, but at least Stags clocked up 4 goals or more for the seventh time this season (and the fifth time in the last 9 games) and hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with the third league win out of three under Keith Curle. It also cemented Stags place as second top scorers in the division.

There was an early shock when, after just 3 minutes, and from a second consecutive corner, Rhys Day headed the ball into his own net. Within 2 minutes, Stags were level. Corden took a short corner to Lawrence. Lawrence returned the ball, Corden beat his marker and got to the bye-line before playing the ball back into the path of the unmarked Lawrence. Lawrence crossed perfectly onto the head of Christie, who headed home from 2 yards. A sublime move. Corden and Lawrence were to create havoc with different corner routines all afternoon.

Within moments Stags so nearly went in front when Rhys Day, trying to atone for his own goal, met a cross at the far post and headed into the side netting.

Stockport were playing good football though themselves and nearly retook the lead a few minutes later. Curle was harshly adjudged to have fouled Beckett on the edge of the box, and whilst Pilkington was on his near post trying to organise the wall, the lively Burgess curled a the free-kick inches wide of the far post. It was a stroke of luck for Pilkington, who should have been more alert to the situation. But moments later, Stockport had a penalty. Beckett, with his back to goal, turned and got past Curle, but went down. It was clever play from Beckett, but as innocuous as the penalty that Christie earned 5 days earlier at Barnsley. Burgess showed Stags how to take a penalty kick and scored easily.

Stockport were looking very dangerous and Burgess was looking like the player who set the division alight last season with Brentford, whilst Beckett was showing that he is probably the second best striker in the division, after Ellington. At that point I thought to myself that Stockport had done more in the opening 15 minutes than they had in the entire 90 at Edgeley Park when they were so lucky to take the 3 points.

But that was it from the visitors. The Stags then simply took over and produced 75 minutes of wonderful football.

Somehow the scoreline stayed the same for the rest of the half. Corden went close 3 times, once firing over from 8 yards on the half-volley, when unmarked.

Half time 1-2

A minute into the second half, Stags won their sixth penalty of the season. Christie broke clear of the defence and powered towards goal. About 8 yards out, his legs were taken from beneath him. It was the clearest penalty you could see, and since only the keeper stood between Christie and the net, it was also the clearest red card offence you could see. But the defender (Clare) got away with a yellow card. Supporters held their breathe. Having missed all 5 attempts from the spot this season, we surely couldn't afford another miss. Up stepped Corden, who had already missed against Stockport, as well as against Bristol City this season. This time, he followed Burgess's lead, and rolled the ball into the left corner of the net, sending the keeper the wrong way. There was massive relieve amongst the large crowd.

In the cold light of day, perhaps Corden will reflect that he should have celebrated with the Stags fans, rather than with the away fans.

A few minutes further on and Stags had a massive stroke of luck. Larkin, on as sub at half time for the injured White, chipped a ball forward into the path of Disley, who was in front of his marker, but not offside he was inside his own half when the ball was played. Disley ran forward, but was being caught up by his marker. It seemed to me that he panicked a bit, and tried to shoot from about 25 yards. He scuffed his kick, which rolled towards keeper Jones very slowly. Jones didn't get his body behind the ball, and a very slight deflection off the surface saw the ball hit Jones and roll past him, just over the line. It was a great moment for the Stags, and I reflected on the irony that Jones had single-handedly kept the Stags out with an inspired display at Edgeley Park.

Stags kept going and missed numerous chances to kill the game, whilst Stockport offered nothing. Hassell got himself into a great position in the box, but declined to shoot when it was the best option. White had made a similar mistake in the first half. Christie had a shot blocked. Other chances came and went.

But on 79 minutes, Corden got his second, and sealed the game. Christie played a fine pass across the edge of the box. Corden composed himself, took his customary step inside, and placed the ball just inside the right hand post. It was a great moment for Corden and was greeted with a huge roar inside Field Mill.

There was to be no repeat of Bristol City as Stags kept the ball skillfully. Indeed Stockport's first chance of the half fell to Beckett in the 89th minute, when Pilkington made a great save.

A super performance from the Stags. The defence now looks much safer, with Hassell and Eaton decisive at full back, and Day and Curle dominant in the centre. Meanwhile the wingers and forwards still look as potent as earlier in the season. Stockport were very poor, apart from the opening 15 minutes, and former Stags Martin Pemberton was completely anonymous.

Man of the Match: Very difficult to choose today. Could almost be any outfield player in a terrific team display. However, for his two goals and brilliant play for the first goal, Wayne Corden just shades it for me.

Pilkington 7 Fairly quiet afternoon, made one great save from Beckett in the final minute.
Hassell 8 Tremendous game at right back. Defended excellent and pushed the team forward well.
Curle 8 Dealt with Beckett superbly; faultless apart from giving away the penalty.
Day 8 Unlucky with the own goal, but dealt with the dangerous Burgess superbly.
Eaton 8 Excellent performance, looks a class act.
Lawrence 8 Continued his outstanding form from the last couple of months. Great cross for the first goal. Now looks even more potent with Hassell behind him.
Curtis 8 Looked fully fit. Excellent in a defensive midfield role. Steadying influence on the whole team.
Disley 8 Back to playing box-to-box. The inclusion of Curtis allows him to push forward more, and produced a high-octane performance. Lucky with his goal.
Corden 8 Excellent. Had three chances to score in the first half, and then scored twice in the second half. Great play for the first goal was typical of a dynamic display down the left wing.
Christie 8 Good header for the first goal, and earned the penalty for the second. Had a couple of other chances. If he could learn to stay onside we could be even more potent.
AWhite 7 The ball stuck to his foot like a magnet in the first half. A couple of great runs, but wasted a couple of crosses from good situations. Injured on the stroke of half time.
Subs:
Larkin (for AWhite, 46 mins) 7 Showed great pace.
Williamson (for Disley, 64) 7 Did well in place of Disley. Steady performance.
Gadsby (for Curtis, 90) -
Subs not used: JWhite, Beardsley.


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