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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Swansea City
Lawrence 51 (pen). Vaughan sent off 18.
 Robinson 31
Attendance: 4,058 (200 from Swansea)
Date: 23rd March 2004

Stags went into this game with a change of formation from the ill-fated weekend game against Oxford, Craig Disley dropping to the bench to be replaced by Laurent D’Jaffo in the fans favourite 4-4-2 line-up. The positive change was reflected in a change on the bench with Andy White taking the place of Dave Artell amongst the substitutes.

The opening exchanges were encouraging, as the Stags seemed to get out of the blocks quicker than the Swans. The start could have been perfect on 7 minutes but for a Junior Mendes header rebounding off the inside of a post and away to safety. Maybe this should have been a clue to it “being one of those games when things just don’t go your way”. However, the team carried on in the same vein and another super move on the quarter-hour mark could have proved more fruitful. A super through ball from Tom Curtis found Liam Lawrence on the left wing and his low pass across the edge of the box just failed to catch the stride of a lively Junior Mendes.

Within minutes the whole complexion of the game changed. Tony Vaughan launched himself into a reckless two-footed challenge that, fortunately, missed both man and ball. However, the two players then squared up to each other and Vaughan raised his hands giving the referee the only opportunity he needed to show us all that he had a red card in his pocket.

During the same passage of play, Laurent D’Jaffo had pulled up with a leg injury and was then immediately replaced by Lee Williamson. For the restart, Lee took up the left-back spot just vacated by Vaughan. So, our positive 4-4-2 had become a less potent 4-4-1 and with 72 minutes to go there would be a lot of work for the remaining players to do.

Unsurprisingly, Swansea had the upper hand for the next 20 minutes and they were making good use of the extra man. They thought they had the breakthrough on 27 minutes only to see the impressive Alex John-Baptiste clear a goal-bound effort. This was followed by a spectacular long-range effort by Conner that rattled Kevin Pilkingtons crossbar before Robinson finally made the breakthrough for the visitors.

To their credit, the Stags did not let their heads drop and this appeared to be the event that raised the determination level to such a degree that it did not seem to matter that it was 10 against 11.

It only took 3 minutes for the Stags to get their football heads back into gear. Liam Lawrence was put through and his near-post effort was pushed away by the Swans keeper for a Stags corner. From the resulting kick a clearance fell invitingly for Neil Mackenzie, who hit a wonderful volley that cannoned up off the Swansea crossbar to safety.

The only other notable action of the first half was a long-range effort from Wayne Corden that could not find a way past the Swans keeper. This was to prove Cordens last contribution to this game as Colin Larkin replaced him for the restart.

H-T Stags 0 Swansea 1

The second half started where the first half had left off with Stags proving to be the more determined side. Even with a man down, Stags were holding the ball well in midfield and regrouping quickly whenever possession was lost.

It was not easy to carve out any clear chances though and it took a determined piece of play to get the Stags level. Liam Lawrence broke free from a right wing position and as he came across the box, Martinez brought him down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Despite their best gamesmanship, Swansea could not dent Liam’s confidence and he duly despatched the spot-kick for his 18th goal of the season.

It does seem that not a week goes by without the inconsistency of match officials having to be debated. Tonight did little to reduce the regularity of that happening.

Only two minutes had passed since the equalising goal and Liam Lawrence went in hard on Conner and, quite rightly, a free-kick was awarded to Swansea. However, as with the incident in the first half, a player reacted by raising his hands and striking an opponent. The big difference here was that the player who raised his hands was only shown a yellow card. Was it due to a difference in the reputations of the respective players? Or could it be a difference in the reputation of the respective teams? Or maybe it is a difference in the reputation of the respective managers? Whichever it is, the effect is to make spectators believe that the rules change from game to game and also from minute to minute! Of course, it could have been that the referee decided that he did not want the hassle of reporting a red card to the Welsh FA on the basis that they do not take any action over it?!?!

The remainder of the game was played out to a regular pattern with Stags playing some keep-ball in midfield, patiently waiting for any opportunity, and Swansea trying to use a more direct style when they did get possession. It contributed to a great deal of “cancelling each other out” syndrome and, whilst it did not make the game boring, it did limit the real goalscoring opportunities.

While the result was not the ideal one we had hoped for, the performance of the ten men rekindles the hope of a positive end to this campaign. The really big plus points were the performance of Alex John-Baptiste, the absolute non-stop energetic display from Liam Lawrence and the exhibition of how to pass the ball from Neil Mackenzie. Moreover, this was a significantly improved team performance and one that the Stags must build on and take into the weekend clash at Yeovil.

MoM: Neil MacKenzie

Report by: Gary Tyldsley

Line Up:
Pilkington - 7 Good show.
Hassell - 6 Poor first half but much improved after the break.
Day - 7 Not a lot wrong tonight but nearly got caught out near the end.
John-Baptiste - 8 Is this lad really only 17!
Vaughan - 5 Should be experienced enough to stay away from trouble.
Lawrence - 8 Top quality, effort, determination, should be given a piece of the turf as he covered all of it tonight!
Mackenzie - 9 Considering Macca has been out for a while this was a remarkable performance.
Curtis - 8 Excellent game - distribution was top class.
Corden - 6 Sacrificed at half-time (not sure why though?)
D'Jaffo - 5 Injured after 18 minutes - hardly got a touch.
Mendes - 6 Bright start, worked extremely hard - can build on this performance.
Sub Line Up:
Williamson (for D'Jaffo, 19) - 7 Played left-back - brilliant show.
Larkin (for Corden, 46) - 5 Got a lot of the ball but most of the time gave it away cheaply, first touch was poor
Disley (for Curtis, 81) - 6 Got involved as much as possible
Subs not used: JWhite, AWhite.
Opposition Line Up:
Freestone, Byrne, Howard, Tate, Stuart Jones, Martinez, Coates, Britton, Connor, Robinson, Maylett. Subs: O'Leary, Corbisierso, Connolly, Murphy, Pritchard
P.Walton, Northants

Season 03/04 Reports