EVENING POST REPORT
LATE WINNER IS TOUGH ON STAGS
Evening Post, 15 February 2003
Matches, and maybe even battles against relegation, can be settled by a couple of coats of paint on a goal-post and such was the case at Layer Road last night.
The euphoria of last week's victory over Notts County was replaced by despair as Adam Eaton watched his shot come back off the post and then Scott McGleish clinched the points for the home side. The fact it happened in the space of a minute was a desperate reminder of how this game can pop up and kick you between the legs.
But, when those 60 seconds have been preceded by 87 others, it makes the disappointment even harder to take.
It wasn't a case of Stags being robbed by any means, although they did have periods in the game when they enjoyed the upper hand.
A draw would have perhaps been a fair result because, on the face of it, Colchester really didn't do enough to merit the three points either.
But, in a relegation dogfight you make your own luck and there is no doubt that the surrender of an opportunity to develop a bit of daylight between themselves and the relegation picture was a body blow for Mansfield.
On the whole, the attack lacked the force that it had against the Magpies and some of the passing was less crisp and misplaced. But, when Colchester attacked, they found the impressive Keith Welch in their way.
He even made a save before Colchester scored the winner.
But it was not an evening when you could pinpoint any great weaknesses, although Keith Curle will have wanted to see his charges give 'keeper Simon Brown and his defenders a bit more of a hard time.
The effort and commitment were there. But they had nothing to show for it and, although the hearty Stags following were desperate to see a points return of some description, that's just the way it goes sometimes.
It was Curle's 12th game in charge, a run that has now seen five wins and five defeats, along with two draws.
Stags are so close to putting in the sort of shows that would produce a run akin to the three victories that launched Curle's league campaign, which could make all the difference.
But, with the ever-increasing likelihood that it is going to go right to the wire, the only way to cope with the disappointment of last night's result is to put it firmly behind them.
They did not play like a side that looked doomed to relegation and neither did their opponents.
They just need to be a little bit more confident and continue having a go, because no supporter would blame them for doing that.
Curle often talks about the fear factor in football and that was a little evident in their Layer Road outing.
They were a bit edgy and were unable to play in the same spirit that they demonstrated when they played Notts County.
Their nerve is definitely going to be tested in the weeks ahead.
But, although it is a clich??, they can only look at it one game at a time, particularly when results swing so dramatically.
But, just as last week's win doesn't mean they are safe, last night's defeat certainly doesn't condemn them either.
A bit of ruthlessness in front of the posts and McGleish's goal would have been a mere consolation.
We can reflect on Eaton going so close, but it wouldn't do us any good.
Picking themselves up and getting on with it is the only course of action to take.
And I'm sure Curle will insist on that.
Latest | February 2003