NEP REPORT/CHRISTIE TO APPEAL?
Many people who were not at Gresty Road yesterday could be excused for looking at the result on the top of this page and believing there was a sense of inevitability about how events turned out. After all, a 2-0 defeat for the Stags against Dario Gradi's promotion-chasing outfit is a logical conclusion after 5-0, 4-0 and 3-0 losses already this season. But such a supposition would not really fit the bill as, anyone who has followed the Stags over the last 12 months will know, Mansfield Town should not really be filed under convention. Yesterday's game was another case in point where they put up an encouraging performance only to find they had nothing to show for their efforts. The basic tale is that Mansfield were presented with opportunities, in particular one for Craig Disley in the first half that will have filled his thoughts for most of the last 12 hours, and they weren't taken, while Crewe managed to find a finish that put them in the box seat and they never surrendered it. While much of the attention will be given to Iyseden Christie's harsh sending off, Stags were still pushing forward and looking dangerous, a man light, against one of the best teams in the division, and that has got to breed confidence as we march into 2003. As an aside, I wonder if there has even been a player booked by one referee and sent off by another in the same game? The officials' performance aside, Stags put their opponents under plenty of pressure but they were just lacking that little bit of a cutting edge which is the difference between being fifth from top and fourth from bottom. But, although the result was disappointing, it was a better team performance than the one at Brentford on Saturday and the decreasing number of Crewe goals is not the only evidence that Keith Curle and his side are moving in the right direction. There may come a time over the subsequent months when Stags fans look back on the Christmas period and see it as a time when they gave themselves a chance and there is little doubt that they are definitely in with a good chance of staying up. For that goal to be achieved, there needs to be more of the same. They are not going to win every remaining game this season but, following this display, they should certainly not approach any match in fear. There were times when they matched one of the best teams Division One has to offer and had them on the back foot before John Miles took advantage of their eagerness to get forward to give the scoreline an inflated appearance. And sometimes, though the results and the finishing may have been a little bit disappointing, the bigger picture has to be introduced into the equation. They proved yesterday that they can live with one of the teams challenging at the other end of the table and now is the time to build on that. A few days rest should do them good with nine days now until their next match Against Wycombe Wanderers and it might be a good opportunity to think that, although four wins would have been nice, six points from the four games over the Christmas period is not a bad return. Of course there is still room for improvement but a continuation of performances like yesterday, coupled with a bit of luck, should mean everyone of an amber-and-blue persuasion approaches the new year in a positive frame of mind. And that includes the playing staff, because they are not letting themselves down by any means.
CHRISTIE APPEAL RESTS ON VIDEO EVIDENCE
Mansfield Town assistant manager John Gannon said he and manager Keith Curle will be looking at a video of Iyseden Christie's sending-off at Crewe yesterday before deciding whether to make an appeal. The Stags' top scorer is set to miss the derby match against Chesterfield on December 18 (correction by Martin - January 18) after referee Steve Bratt, who had replaced Mike Pike during the first half, handed Christie his second booking following an aerial challenge with Steve Foster. Stags fell behind to a Dave Walton goal against a side they had already lost to three times this season and John Miles' second in injury-time gave the score a somewhat flattering appearance.
Gannon said he thought Bratt was harsh to send Christie off and that the referee was too keen to blow for fouls in what was not a dirty game. He said: "It looked very, very harsh from where we were and the referee was very picky about little pushes. It was pretty hard to believe at times. "We will have to look at the video and see if we can make any more of it. "But they were two challenges that, in this day and age, in a man's game, doesn't merit a sending off. "There were no really bad fouls. You are going to get pushing and shoving but that happens in a match. "But no one in the crowd made a meal of the challenge and no one on the pitch was up in arms and we found ourselves down to ten men, which was a huge disappointment. "I don't think Iyseden is that sort of character. He certainly doesn't go around sticking elbows in people's faces. "I thought the decision was a little bit rash but referees have to make these decisions and maybe looking at it again will tell us a little bit more."
The Stags number two was pleased with the effort his side showed against a team that had put 12 goals past them in their last three meetings. Had Craig Disley taken a first-half chance after skying a rebound over when Tom Curtis's shot had hit the post, it could have been a different story, he said. "The scoreline doesn't paint the true picture at all. "Unfortunately, we missed a wonderful chance when the ball came back off the post and Craig was just not able to direct it. "After half-time we were all over Crewe and didn't give them a moment to pass the ball. We rattled them. "We were the team dominating towards the end and you have to take your hat off to the players for the effort and enthusiasm they are showing. "The amount of running they did to chase the game was amazing. They can look back and say they have given a storming effort."