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STAGS TAKE STOCK ON STRIKER SITUATION ON MONDAY
29/December/2002 19:31:58

Stags short in striker department
CHAD website
STAGS may need to bring in a new striker to face bogey side Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road on New Year's Day.
Colin Larkin pulled up with what appeared to be yet another hamstring problem at Brentford today and joins Andy White (ankle) on the injured list.
"With so many games so quickly at this time of year you know it will be the case you pick up injuries and we will have to take stock on Monday," said assistant manager John Gannon.
"If we don't fill the gap from within then we may have to look elsewhere."
Gannon was baffled by Stags' flat start to the game in the 1-0 defeat at Brentford and said: "I can't really explain the way we played first half after that home win over Stockport.
"We were off the pace and a yard slow on everything. They picked up much more ball than us and we just couldn't wait for half-time to come.
"We told the players at half-time that they had seen everything Brentford had to offer and knew what was coming. We pointed out that, at the same time, we had not even got going and at, at 0-0, we were still in the game and needed to turn it round quickly.
"Unfortunately we didn't do that and we didn't set off at the right tempo. It took their goal to spark us into life but it was too little too late.
"We had just enjoyed three tremendous results. But we didn't start right and sometimes it is hard for players to pick it up and start going forward after the tone they had set in the first half.
"We did well in the last 20 minutes, but the question we asked them was why it took that long to get going and cause them problems? It just felt like we had wasted an hour going through the motions.
"We showed we were capable of forcing the play and we had the chances to still get something out of it. Overall I feel this was an opportunity lost for a point or even all three."
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Brentford 1 Stags 0
CHAD website
ONCE again Mansfield Town showed fine battling qualities as they pushed promotion contenders Brentford all the way to the whistle this afternoon.
The shame was that it took a 58th minute goal from Kevin O'Connor to spark Stags into life after a drab first half and they ultimately could not muster up an equaliser.
It was also a shame that Stags did not produce at least one on-target shot to test Bees' youth team keeper Alan Julian on his home League debut.
In the three successive wins under new player-manager Keith Curle, Stags had scored nine times and created a wealth of chances.
But those chances dried up in spectacular fashion at Griffin Park.
Whether it was down to playing away at a side up there in such a tough division, the loss of target man Andy White to injury or the strain of playing so many games over Christmas - whatever the reason or combination of reasons, the first half was the poorest so far under Curle's command.
Brentford have only lost twice at home this season and they are just a point outside the play-off spots.
But on any other day they looked to be a side Stags are capable of beating with much of their repertoire comprising long balls to the big frame of Mark McCammon who gave the visitors' defence a torrid time.
With White ruled out with injury, Colin Larkin came in to partner Iyseden Christie up front in an otherwise unchanged side.
A poor first half from both sides was not helped by the fussy refereeing of Grant Hegley and there were a handful of very dubious offside flags against both sides with the benefit of the doubt going to the defenders every time.
Both sides had an early chance with Adam Eaton dispossessed by McCammon on four minutes, crossing low to Stephen Hunt whose poor first touch thankfully allowed Kevin Pilkington to grab the ball.
Two minutes later Scott Marshall stuck out a leg to divert Christie's flick narrowly wide of his own goal.
Tom Curtis fired over and Rhys Day just failed to reach a Wayne Corden free kick at the far post for Stags while for, Brentford, Ibrahima Sonko powered a free header over from a corner and McCammon headed wide from another flag kick at the near post.
The only other real chance of the half fell to the Bees on 33 minutes when Stags struggled to get the ball clear and Hunt crashed a low 20-yard piledriver into the sidenetting.
Stags were certainly capable of lifting their game another gear or two after the break on recent performances.
But it didn't happen as Brentford started strongly and served a warning on 55 minutes as Hunt turned Bobby Hassell and fired the ball over Pilkington, the ball dropping just wide of the far post.
Stags then lost Larkin with injury which saw the full debut of youth team star striker Chris Beardsley who turned in a gutsy and lively display.
However, on 58 minutes later the Bees grabbed the lead with a scrappy goal from Stags' point of view.
McCammon flicked on a throw-in from the right and O'Connor popped up with a goalbound header from 18 yards that seemed to go through everyone and catch Pilkington off balance.
The run of McCammon in front of him certainly didn't help the keeper as he was unable to claw the ball out the net.
Five minutes later Pilkington dived bravely at the feet of McCammon as he chased a through ball.
Then Day slipped to give Rowan Vine a clear run at goal, though he could not get rid of the hot breath of Curle at his neck and when he finally tried the finish, Pilkington did superbly well to stretch up one-handed and parry the ball round for a corner.
At this point Mansfield suddenly woke up and took a stranglehold on the game.
On 69 minutes their best chance of the game arrived as Liam Lawrence sent over a teasing cross which Christie rose to meet perfectly and then powered over the top.
Craig Disley then picked out Lawrence at the far and he headed back across towards Christie who was again too high with a more difficult chance.
Five minutes from time as Stags pinned Brentford in their own half, Hassell's long throw was flicked on by substitute Danny Bacon and Disley crashed a low finish just wide.
All hell was let loose at the other end as the home side finally managed to produce a threat of their own.
Tackles flew in from both sides on the edge of the Mansfield penalty area with Day finally lunging in with a two-footed effort on Vine.
Day was lucky only to be yellow-carded while Vine, who had already been booked, was a second yellow and subsequent red for his furious reaction to Day as players from both sides raced in and tempers boiled over.
The closing stages were all Mansfield and there was a decent shout for a penalty ignored as the ball was blocked by Matt Somner's leg and then flew up to touch his hand and back down to his feet.
In stoppage time Bacon fed Beardsley who crossed low to Christie, but he couldn't divert the ball on target.
Christie also had a shot blocked as time ran out on Mansfield who were left wondering what might have been if they had started the game in the manner they finished it.
With Brentford visitors to Field Mill on Saturday, 25th January, Stags will certainly have a quick chance to set the record straight.

BRENTFORD: Julian, Dobson, Sonko, Marshall, Somner, O'Connor (Williams 63mins), Fullarton, Evans, Hunt, McCammon, Vine. Subs not used: Marchena, Smith, Tabb, Hughes.
STAGS: Pilkington, Hassell, Curle, Day, Eaton, Lawrence, Curtis (Bacon 84mins), Disley, Corden (Williamson 64mins), Christie, Larkin (Beardsley 57mins). Subs not used: Gadsby, J. White.
REFEREE: Grant Hegley of Bishops Stortford.
ATTENDANCE: 5,844.
SCORER: Brentford O'Connor 58mins.
CAUTIONS: Brentford Fullerton 13mins (foul), Vine 45mins (foul). Stags Disley 45mins (foul), Day 88mins (foul).
DISMISSAL: Brentford Vine 88mins (unsporting behaviour, second bookable ofence).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Bobby Hassell.



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