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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Cambridge United
Mendes 61.
 Tudor 90(+2).
Attendance: 4,342 (505 from Cambridge)
Date: 3rd April 2004

The Stags lost two valuable points after conceding an injury time equaliser, but it wasn't the nature of the Cambridge equaliser most fans were talking about as they left Field Mill. With the Stags a goal up and a minute to play, substitute Chris Beardsley ran through, the Stags had a 3 on one situation, with both White and Corden completely unmarked to Beardsley's left - surely this was the moment the game would be killed off? Alas Beardsley had clearly been instructed to run the ball into the corner, much to the disgust of the Stags supporters this is exactly what he did. A minute later, Williamson gave away a free kick on the edge of the Stags area and Tudor curled the ball over the wall past Pilkington.

The Stags began with the same side that had beaten Torquay in midweek. The first half was pretty uneventful and in a fairly strong wind (please let it drop before Oxford come on Tuesday, otherwise, they'll not want to play) neither side mastered the conditions. For the Stags, Hassell and Lawrence were combining well together, with the Stags right back pushing forward at every opportunity. The Stags had two real moments of worry, first of all a speculative high left wing cross from former Lincoln full-back Bimson caught the wind, beat Pilkington but rebounded off the woodwork, the ball then coming off Vaughan back towards goal where Pilkington had to be alert to save the rebound. Shortly before half time Pilkington had to be at his best as he acrobatically tipped over a fine 25 yarder from Gutteridge. Otherwise, the excellence of the Stags back four meant Pilkington was untroubled. The Stags best moment came when Larkin neatly found some space in the area, his low cross found Mendes unmarked, but somehow the Stags striker ballooned the ball over the bar. All in all, a disappointing half.

Half Time 0-0

Keith Curle made two changes at half time, Larkin replaced by Andy White, Mackenzie surprisingly replaced by Williamson, many fans would have preferred to have seen Disley as a more attacking option. The Stags almost took the lead just a couple of minutes into the 2nd half. Corden was fouled on the left, Lawrence came over and took a quick free kick to Corden who curled a fine cross-shot which flew past the far post - a corner was given but it looked like the ball actually deflected off Day. At the other end Easter broke through, he reached the ball just before Pilkington but under pressure from a sliding challenge from Baptiste couldn't direct his shot and the ball dribbled wide. The Stags also had a decent shout for a penalty as Hassell broke through into the box and appeared to be tripped, the referee was unimpressed. Just past the hour the Stags took the lead, Mendes latched on to a long kick from Pilkington, shrugged off a challenge and fired the ball low past U's keeper Marshall. This should have been the signal for the Stags to take control, however, rather than seize the initiative, the Stags surrendered it. Cambridge forced a couple of quick corners, the Stags had every players inside their own area and as soon as the ball was cleared back it came again. The midfield were sitting deeper and clearly the Stags were happy to keep it at 1-0 rather than try and get the killer second goal. This was no better illustrated than in the 89th minute, when Beardsley, who had replaced Mendes 5 minutes earlier, broke through just to the left of the centre circle. With completely unmarked White and Corden screaming for the ball in the middle Beardsley dribbled the ball into the corner flag, the fans unhappiness was clear for all to hear!! Beardsley did manage to force a corner, but again the Stags chose to try and waste time, they lost possession and Cambridge poured forward. Williamson needlessly slid in on the edge of the area, failing to make contact with the ball, and Tudor stepped up to curle a fine free kick past Pilkington - a real sickener.

The Stags were marginally the better side, but it is my belief we lost the points due to the negative attitude shown after going a goal up. We have the players to have gone on from that and made the game safe. Time will tell how important the lost two points are, but looking at the league table, those two points would have put us in a splendid position to make a late attempt at automatic promotion. On a more positive note, Alex John-Baptiste again looked a class act, but for me was just shaded for man of the match by his central defensive partner. Are there two better young centre halves in the lower divisions at the moment? I doubt it.

Man of the Match: Rhys Day

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 One great save, good handling and kicking
Hassell 7 Linked well with Lawrence, might have won a penalty
Day 8 Won everything in the air, very solid
Baptiste 8 Another classy display
Vaughan 7 Much better, used the ball better and defended well
Lawrence 7 Good in the 1st half, quiet in the 2nd
Curtis 6 Worked hard but created nothing
MacKenzie 5 Ineffective and failed to impress
Corden 7 Good when he got the ball
Larkin 6 One great move to set Mendes up, first touch generally poor
Mendes 6 Apart from the goal, had an ordinary match
Sub Line Up:
Williamson (for MacKenzie, 46) 5 Silly challenge cost the goal
AWhite (for Larkin, 46) 7 The best of the strikers, a real handful
Beardsley (for Mendes, 84) 5 Ran the ball into the corner, even though he was probably told to, still should have crossed
Subs not used: Artell, Disley.
Opposition Line Up:
Marshall, Goodhind, Murray, Duncan, Angus, Tudor, Bimson, Walker, Guttridge, Robinson, Easter. Subs: Brennan, Fleming, Revell, Bridges, Nicholls.
L.Mason (Lancs) 5 A bit whistle happy

Season 03/04 Reports