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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Yeovil Town  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Skiverton 61
 Day 79
Attendance: 6002 (app 300 from Mansfield - 150 in the seats, I counted!, and approx 150 on terrace)
Date: 27th March 2004

Martin Shaw at Huish Park

Mansfield Town earned a vital draw at Huish Park this afternoon, in their first ever league visit to Somerset, to hold on to the final play-off spot.

The Stags made one change from the team that had bravely drawn with Swansea in mid-week, with Disley returning to the midfield in place of injured striker D’Jaffo, in a 4-5-1 formation. Strangely the side was identical to that which played against Yeovil at Field Mill earlier in the season, with the exception of Hassell for Clarke.

The Stags were on the attack in the opening minute as Disley played a fine one-two with Mendes and forced his way into the box, but his shot from close range was blocked for a corner. It immediately reminded me of the Stags last trip to the west country when Disley and Mendes had done so well at Bristol Rovers. There were no further chances in the first quarter of an hour but the Stags were largely on top and playing their super passing game.

On 15 minutes, the Stags were so close to the goal they deserved when a ball was played across the edge of the box to MacKenzie who shaped to shoot right-footed, before dummying a defender and letting fly with his left boot from 20 yards, but the ball crashed off the bar. On 23 minutes, there was danger for the Stags for the first time as the nippy Kevin Gall made a long run towards the Stags box and, with Stags players failing hopelessly to put in a challenge, he put his shot just wide. It was poor defending from the Stags who had looked so solid up until that point. Three minutes later, Disley made a fine run to the bye-line and got in a good cross, but there was no one on the end of it.

On 31 minutes, the nippy Gall got in behind the Stags defence and was running towards goal when Hassell challenged him from behind and, from our good vantage point, he seemed to get the ball as both players fell to the ground. The home players and fans demanded a penalty but the referee waved away the appeals and it seemed the correct decision to me. A minute later, Hassell, perhaps unnerved by the incident, left a back-pass short of Pilkington and a Yeovil player nipped in but was forced wide and the chance was gone to the relief of the Stags full-back. Three minutes later, in an off the ball incident, MacKenzie appeared to push a Yeovil player to the ground and it seemed to me he was very lucky to escape with no card.

On 41 minutes, there was a terrible mistake by MacKenzie, as he lost the ball about 35 yards out from his own goal (for the second time in the half), and the ball was played to the right wing where Johnson floated a cross to the far post, where Gall somehow headed against the post when it seemed easier to score. It was a massive let off for the Stags and a lucky escape for the sloppy MacKenzie.

Half time 0-0

It had been a real half of two quarters with the Stags dominant in the first 20 minutes while the home side had finished the half strongly and 0-0 was a fair scoreline. I took the opportunity at half time to nip down to the touch-line to ask the TV cameraman behind the goal which TV company he was working for. We had a little chat and he told me it was ITV1 HTV West, which will be showing highlights of the game on Sunday lunchtime, so tune in if you have Sky Digital.

At the start of the second half, there was a surprise substitution with Williamson replacing the injured John-Baptiste. Baptiste had been involved in a clash of heads just before the break and was apparently complaining of feeling dizzy and sick. What was surprising was that Artell was on the bench and would have been a straight swap, but Curle explained after the game that he was concerned about the pace of the nippy Gall, so Hassell moved to the centre of defence, with Williamson at right-back.

The Stags again started the half well and after 51 minutes Disley made a fine turn on the corner of the box and floated a cross-shot just wide of the far post. Two minutes later, after an excellent Williamson tackle at the back, Mendes made a good run down the right to the bye-line and got in a low cross which Curtis flicked towards goal, but his shot was saved. Yeovil then enjoyed a spell of pressure without creating any good chances and, against the run of play, on 58 minutes, the Stags had an excellent chance to take the lead. Disley made a great run down the right and played a perfect ball for Corden, who was totally unmarked ten yards out but, disappointingly, he fluffed his shot horribly wide. The action switched straight to the other end and Pilkington did well to come out of his area and head clear.

Moments later, Day blocked a shot and, from a corner, the home side took the lead. The corner was floated high and home skipper Skiverton rose above his marker Williamson (who strangely didn't attempt to jump at all) to place a header into the bottom left hand corner of the net. It sent the home crowd into raptures and, with the Stags lack of goals from open play recently, there was a real worry that the Stags were about to drop out of the play-off places.

The action switched straight to the other end and Mendes put in a cross which Disley couldn’t quite get on the end of. It was to be Disley’s last taste of the action as he was replaced by Larkin on 64 minutes. Within a minute, a quick break by Yeovil saw a good save by Pilkington from a 20 yard shot. Five minutes later, Pilkington did well again when Gall’s cross from the right was met by former Worksop striker Kirk Jackson, whose close range flick was goal bound until Pilkington sat on the ball! Within a minute, they was controversy when home keeper Collis slid out of his box holding onto the ball, to concede a free kick but escaped with no punishment from the referee. The free kick came to nothing but, a minute later, the Stags earned another free kick three yards outside the box. Corden sent in a brilliant curling effort that had me on my feet already celebrating a goal, when Collis somehow stretched to flick it over the bar. It was a wonderful piece of action that typified what was by now excellent end-to-end football.

Beardsley replaced Mendes after 75 minutes and three minutes later, the Stags earned another free-kick, this time about 32 yards from goal. Lawrence, who normally goes for placement rather than power, drilled the ball with power we didn’t know he had, and Collis made a fine save low to his left. The ball fell to Corden on the right who crossed the ball back into the centre and Day headed it powerfully into the back of the net. The Stags players and fans went wild as everyone knew what an important goal this was. Within a minute, the Stags were almost punished for more sloppy play from MacKenzie as he gave the ball away in his own half again, but fortunately Pilkington made a great save from a close range shot. On 86 minutes, Hassell did well to block a shot on the line and the Stags broke straight to the other end where Corden’s cross from the left was headed back across goal by Lawrence for Larkin whose shot was deflected just over the bar. In the final minute, our hearts were in our mouths as there was a scramble in the Stags box and Lawrence somehow deflected a shot over his own bar.

It was a tense end to a wonderful second half, and indeed an excellent match overall. Both sides played very good football and it was interesting on the local radio after the game to hear fans on the phone-in saying that was the best their side had played for a long time. Meanwhile Yeovil boss Gary Johnson agreed it was a terrific game, but thought his side had done enough to deserve victory. I disagree with that and felt that the Stags were well worth their point. Indeed it was probably the best draw the Stags have earned this season. The Stags need to continue with their improved form and will need to be at their best to beat fourth placed Torquay at Field Mill on Tuesday night. Come on you Stags.

Man of the match: Liam Lawrence.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Huish Park

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Some fine saves, though was hesitant on two crosses.
Hassell 7 Lucky to get away with one bad back-pass, but otherwise defended well at full-back and then at centre-half..
Day 7 Defended very well, and scored the vital goal.
John-Baptiste 8 Looked excellent again in the first half, before being injured.
Vaughan 6 Defended ok, and made no mistakes.
Lawrence 8 Excellent once again. Covered so much ground. Is in terrific form at the moment.
Curtis 6 Solid game.
MacKenzie 6 Gave away the ball three times in dangerous positions, though looked good going forward, especially early on.
Corden 6 Brilliant free-kick, and a fine cross for the goal, but missed a sitter, and did little else.
Disley 7 Some good runs from midfield.
Mendes 6 Struggled on his own up front.
Sub Line Up:
Williamson (for John-Baptiste, 46) 8 Fine display at right-back.
Larkin (for Disley, 64) 6 Did ok.
Beardsley (for Mendes, 75) - Made some good runs.
Subs not used: JWhite, Artell.
Opposition Line Up:
Collis, Lockwood, Skiverton, Pluck, El Kholti, Weatherstone, Way, Johnson, Williams, Gall, Jackson.
Subs: Stansfield, Matthews, Lindegaard, Talbott, Northmore.
R.Beeby (Northants) 6 Had a decent game, contrary to the views of the Yeovil fans and manager.

Season 03/04 Reports