REPORT FROM HUDDERSFIELD SITE
After taking the lead through another Smith special, Town failed to capitalize on periods of pressure and hold on for the necessary three points, which would have been invaluable in our fight for Division Two survival. If this is to be Town's penultimate game, it was witnessed by just over 7,000 home supporters who offered their encouragement throughout the 90 minutes.
The first five minutes saw both sides enjoying an amount of possession without really creating any clear cut openings. Town already looked to have more guile and ideas than on Saturday with Irons involved in the early attacks. The Town faithful did their best to try and lift the spirits early on against a sizeable and vocal following from Mansfield – indeed, considering the importance of tonight's game (arguably one of the most important fixtures in Town's history) the home stands had plenty of empty seats. But that is nothing against the faithful who attended who, as ever, made their voices heard from the whistle.
Town's first half chance came on 8 minutes when a Smith through ball found Schofield but, under pressure from the Mansfield defence, he just failed to direct his tight-angled lob on target.
Mansfield's first effort on target came on 13 minutes when Wayne Corden hit a 20 yard drive which keeper Senior got down well to save. Corden was again involved minutes later when his left wing cross was half cleared by the Town defence straight into the path of Ben Doane whose first time effort sailed well wide of the target.
The next effort again came from the visitors when Craig Disley created room 20 yards out and struck an effort which failed to trouble Senior.
As the half hour mark approached Town struggled to retain possession and allowed Mansfield to enjoy some territorial advantage, although they failed to create any clear cut chances. Indeed, young Senior showed composure on Mansfield's set-piece, confidently claiming and preventing further danger.
Town forced anxious moments for keeper Welch on 30 minutes when a half clarnace from the Stags' defence fell to Irons who controlled the ball and volleyed goalwards. Unfortunately for Town, Irons' shot deflected off Disley for Town's first corner of the game.
Town's hearts were n their mouths when a corner from Mansfield's left forced a scramble in the Town yard box and skipper Christie looked certain to add to his 19 goals this season, Smith nipped in and pinched the ball off the Mansfield marksman's foot.
On 37 minutes the McAlpine witnessed a good piece of play from Town striker Booth who did well to turn his marker on the half way line before beating Eaton to the ball on the edge of the Stags' penalty area. The Town striker's cross-cum-shot was finger-tipped over the bar by Welch.
Minutes before the break Smith again attempted the spectacular when meeting a Moses cross from the right with a sweet, first-time which, unfortunately for Town, failed to test keeper Welch.
Half-Time: Huddersfield Town 0 Mansfield Town 0
Manager Wadsworth made his first substitution of the evening replacing Dwayne Mattis, who had operated down the right flank for the first 45, for out-and-out right man John Thorrington.
The second half started with great vocal encouragement from the Town support, but it was Mansfield who gained the early advantage with a corner just after the break
However, it was the McAlpine faithful who rose on 50 minutes when a typical Booth flick on half way fed Town's top-scorer Smith down the right. With seemingly no options available, Smith looked up and, from 25 yards, placed a superb curling effort into the bottom right hand corner of the Stags' net. Questions could be asked of keeper Welch who seemed to misjudged the curl, anticipating a goal kick, only to watch in horror as the ball bulged the back of his net.
Town, visibly gaining confidence after the goal, caused further anxious moments in the Stags' defence just before the hour mark. The impressive Schofield initially crossed for the onrushing Booth and then saw his rifled half-volley deflected clear. Scorer Smith was involved minutes later after good hold-up play by Booth who released Town's top scorer but Smith just failed in his attempts to find Thorrington who was in space 6 yards out.
62 minutes saw Mick's second substitute of the evening when Irons was replaced by Heary.
The home fans had their hearts in their mouths once again midway through the half when a cross from the right was sliced clear by loan man Gavin. Keeper Senior scrambling across to his right where the ball shaved his right hand post. All this took place while Town had only ten men on the field after Booth had voluntarily left the pitch to receive treatment and was not allowed to return by a fussy assistant referee, much to the protestations of the whole Town bench.
Town continued to endure nervy spells at the back, but the whole team defended resolutely, throwing themselves in front of numerous shots from the visitors.
Mansfield manager Curle made his first substitution on 70 minutes when he replaced the busy Liam Lawrence with Colin Larkin.
With 15 minutes remaining, Curle made his second change of the evening replacing Ben Doane with Lee Willamson.
Mansfield continued to pressure and Senior was again down quickly to save after Christie turned smartly on the edge of the area and fired a low drive.
Mansfield's second switch of the evening saw them gamble and switch to a back three and virtually play with a front four.
12 minutes from the end, the visitors were awarded a penalty when the referee adjudged the off balance Gavin to have handled in a challenge with Corden. The Stags' player promptly picked himself up and slotted home the equalizer sending Senior the wrong way.
83 minutes saw the first caution of the game when Junior Mendes refused to retreat ten yards for a Town free-kick. The resulting, after being moved forward ten yards, failed to beat the first defender.
Town had a golden opportunity on 86 minutes when Smith flicked on for the onrushing Thorrington who, in space 12 yards out, hit his half volley too close to keeper Welch, who parried well.
With minutes left of normal time, Town saw the third change of the evening when Stead replaced Schofield.
Town forced their sixth corner of the game deep in injury time before which Curle made his final substation replacing Corden with Gadsby. The set-piece brought a half chance for Chris Holland who, unfortunately, just failed to keep his effort down.
Full Time: Huddersfield Town 1 Mansfield Town 1
Latest | March 2003