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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Boston United  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Balmer 70.
 Larkin 50, OG 59.
Attendance: 3,826 (1311 from Mansfield)
Date: 17th April 2004

Martin Shaw at York Street

A super second half display from improved Mansfield earned a vital win at Boston United this afternoon. The Stags went ahead when Larkin’s shot from a tight angle was deflected in, and they made it 2-0 when Lawrence was about to shoot but defender Ellender took the ball off his toe and planted the ball into his own net. Boston pulled a goal back from 25 yards, and hit the bar late on, but the Stags held on.

The Stags made 4 changes from the team that had been held by Bristol Rovers on Monday, with Hassell replacing Williamson at right back, Vaughan replacing Buxton at left back, MacKenzie replacing Disley in midfield, and Andy White replacing Mendes up front. The Stags were playing in sky blue for possibly the last time, in their first ever competitive visit to York Street.

Boston started the stronger and on 8 minutes it took a brilliant Baptiste tackle to rob Hurst as he broke clear of the defence. The Stags broke straight to the other end and Larkin turned superbly 40 yards from goal. After a run he crossed too Corden who should have been through on goal but just missed the cross. Corden retrieved the ball from the left wing and crossed it back from Curtis to weakly shoot wide.

On 11 minutes there was controversy as a Stags ball over the top of the home defence was handled by Balmer, as Larkin would have been through on goal. The ball still ran to Larkin but now with defenders in front of him and Premiership referee Halsey played advantage. But there was no advantage and Larkin could only shoot wide from distance. Halsey should still have booked or even sent off Balmer (who was later to score), but did nothing.

On 15 minutes Boston had a shot from the edge of the box after the Stags midfield went missing, and it needed a great tip around the post from Pilkington. Eight minutes later Lawrence sprayed a fine ball out to Corden on the left. Corden played the ball back across the pitch for Lawrence, but Lawrence’s left footed shot was low and straight at the keeper. Two minutes later Baptiste was at his brilliant best, clearing a shot off the line after Hurst had been through on goal, and saw his deflected shot heading past Pilkington, towards the net. On 27 minutes, a Corden free kick was parried away by the keeper, only as far as Larkin, who shot first time, but unfortunately straight back at the keeper.

The game went quiet for the rest of the half, with no chances at either end, until right on the stroke of half time, Larkin made space for himself for a left footed shot from the edge of the box, it was well-struck but keeper Bastock saved well, low to his right.

So the half ended scoreless, with fine performances from Baptiste (who seemed to be everywhere, especially providing cover for the disappointing Vaughan) and from Larkin, who was sharp up front.

Half Time 0-0

At the start of the second half. D’Jaffo replaced Andy White. The Stags were then to produce 25 minutes of superb attacking football which was ultimately to earn the 3 points.

On 49 minutes, Larkin got to the bye-line and provided a fine cross for Curtis, whose header cannoned off a defender to MacKenzie who had a snap-shot blocked, and then another shot blocked as the ball came back to him. But within a minute, Larkin got the goal he deserved. From a free-kick for a foul on D’Jaffo, Lawrence quickly played the ball forward for Larkin, he took the ball forward to just short of the bye-line again, and hammered a shot across the box, which deflected off the keeper into the net, to send the hoards of Stags fans behind that goal wild with delight.

Almost immediately the Stags were nearly punished for sloppy play by MacKenzie. He lost the ball on the edge of the box and a Boston player shot towards goal, but Pilkington did superbly to tip the ball around the post. On 56 minutes Boston had a free-kick from 25 yards and it was very interesting to see Lawrence on his line by the post as the kick was taken. If only we’d done that against Cambridge! The kick was ballooned over the bar.

Larkin then went on another great run, though it came to nothing, before, on 58 minutes, Lawrence floated in a fine cross for D’Jaffo, but the big striker somehow managed the head the ball the wrong way.

With the Stags totally in control by now, it was 2-0 a minute later. Larkin made a good run into the box, and his shot was saved by Bastock. It ran free to Lawrence who beat two defenders and tried to get in a shot under a strong challenge, but the ball was put into his net by defender Ellender, past the wrong-footed keeper. It was a goal the Stags attacking play deserved and it seemed the Stags could go on to win by a big margin.

After a quiet 10 minutes with the Stags under no pressure, Williamson replaced MacKenzie, presumably as the Stags didn’t want to take any chances with Macca’s tendency to give the ball away in dangerous situations.

But just a minute later, Boston were back in the game, completely out of the blue. The ball was played across the edge of the Stags box and there was no challenge from anywhere as Balmer sliced a superb shot into the left corner of the net from 20 yards.

On 76 minutes Pilkington came to the rescue as substitute Thomson tried a shot from 40 yards with Pilkington on the edge of his box, but the Stags keeper made a terrific one-handed save.

On 85 minutes, a Boston shot from close range struck the bar. From our position at the far end it was difficult to see what happened, but from the rebound that there was an almighty scramble in the box before the ball was cleared. A minute later, a cross from the right was superbly taken by Pilkington, low down at full stretch.

On 88 minutes, the excellent Larkin was replaced by Disley. A minute later, a Lawrence corner was met by a Day header which was going well wide and fell to D’Jaffo, whose shot was deflected for a corner as the Stags ran the clock down effectively by keeping the ball at the business end. In the first minute of stoppage time, another Lawrence corner was headed over the bar, by D’Jaffo.

Boston failed to create any late chances and the Stags hung on for a richly deserved and absolutely vital three points. A terrific second half performance was the backbone of the win, with outstanding performances from Baptiste in defence, Larkin up front, and Pilkington, who made several crucial saves.

Man of Match: Alex John-Baptiste

Report by: Martin Shaw at York Street

Line Up:
Pilkington 8 Several excellent saves. Top class.
Hassell 7 Defended very well.
John-Baptiste 9 Absolutely magnificent. Even covered the left back position when Vaughan was caught on several occasions. Another goal-line clearance.
Day 7 Defended very well.
Vaughan 5 Very poor. Was often to slow too the ball and had to be rescued by Baptiste several times.
Lawrence 7 Several good corners, and some good passing. Decent game.
Curtis 5 Poor. Covered a lot of ground, but ineffective.
MacKenzie 5 Extremely poor first half. Better in the second half, though one mistake nearly led to a goal.
Corden 6 Did ok on the left, but didn’t get enough of the ball.
AWhite 6 Did ok. Put himself about.
Larkin 8 Excellent. Very sharp and was involved in most things that the Stags did well going forward.
Sub Line Up:
D’Jaffo (for AWhite, 46) 7 Won some good challenges, and earned the free-kick that led to the first goal, though did miss a couple of chances from headers.
Williamson (for MacKenzie, 69) 6 Did ok.
Disley (for Larkin, 88) - .
Subs not used: Artell, Mendes.
Opposition Line Up:
Paul Bastock, Mark Greaves, Stuart Balmer, Paul Ellender, Lee Beevers, Steve Melton, Tom Bennett, David Noble, Danny Thomas, Graeme Jones, Kevan Hurst
Subs: Steve Croudson (GK), Mark Angel, Matthew Hocking, Dene Cropper, Lee Thompson,
MMark Halsey (Lancashire) 5 Premiership referee but too many bad decisions.

Season 03/04 Reports