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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
2 - 3
 Carlisle United
Lawrence 29 pen, 45, (missed penalty 90+3)
 Gray 12, Preece 21, Langmead 66
Attendance: Att 5,361 (996 from Carlisle)
Date: 24th April 2004

The Stags missed a golden opportunity to claim a play-off place by losing at home to bottom club Carlisle United. The match should have been over as a contest by half time, as after falling two goals behind the Stags not only scored two but should and could have had four more. Corden and Lawrence produced two outstanding saves from Carlisle keeper Glennon, Lawrence had a header cleared off the line and Larkin hit the bar when it would have been easier to score. To cap it all off, Liam Lawrence, the outstanding player on the pitch, missed a penalty with the last kick of the game.

The Stags made one change from the side that won at Boston a week earlier, Junior Mendes partnering Colin Larkin in attack, Andy White not even in the 16. Carlisle recalled striker Richie Foran but player-manager Paul Simpson was only fit enough for a place on the bench.

The Stags began brightly and forced the first opening, a low Lawrence cross from the right saw Day attempt an overhead kick but the ball flew well wide. However, with their first meaningful attack the visitors took the lead, an error by Vaughan gave Carlisle the chance to break down the left, the cross was headed over his own bar by Vaughan with Foran waiting to pounce. The danger was not over, from the left wing corner former Stags centre half Kevin Gray rose to head past Pilkington - poor marking from either Day or Vaughan who clearly should have picked up the ex-Stag. The game was fast flowing, the Stags, despite the deficit, were the better side and should have been on level terms just minutes after the Carlisle goal. A great move, which started with Hassell and Lawrence combining to find Mendes inside the area, his low cross was somehow blazed onto the bar by Larkin, just 4 yards out with the goal at his mercy - a terrible miss. Minutes later the Stags pressed forward again, this time on the left through Corden who's perfect cross found Lawrence completely unmarked, his header beat Glennon but was cleared off the line. It appeared it was going to be one of those days and on 21 minutes this fear seemed to be confirmed when Carlisle extended their lead. Carlisle were awarded a free kick about 30 yards from goal, Preece struck the free kick well over the bar, but the referee had noticed Curtis had closed down too quickly, in fact, the Stags player was only a few yards from the ball when it was struck. Curtis was booked, the kick was moved forwards to the edge of the Stags area and at the second attempt Preece fired an unstoppable shot past Pilkington. The Stags pulled a goal back just six minutes later, Lawrence clearly felled by Gray inside the area, near the bye-line. Lawrence cleverly chipped his penalty past Glennon, but referee Mathieson adjudged a Stags player had encroached and ordered a retake, this time Lawrence placed the kick low and hard to the keepers left. The Stags almost drew level on 40 minutes, neat work by Larkin gave Corden the chance to fire a shot, but Glennon pulled off a tremendous save to tip the ball over the bar. Moments later, Lawrence struck a great first time effort but was once more denied by the excellence of the Carlisle keeper. However, the Stags winger, in sensational form, got the Stags level on the stroke of half time, latching on to a through ball from Mendes to poke the ball past the advancing Glennon.

Half-Time 2-2

Often matches which have an open and attacking first half are more dour in the second half, this was certainly the case in this match. From being creative and expansive, especially in wide areas, the Stags became hesitant and lacked any flow. Mackenzie showed good persistance, before firing over the bar, but in truth there were no chances of note until Carlisle once more took the lead. Under no real pressure, Corden played a poor pass across the field, the ball fell between Lawrence and Hassell and both players hesitated, Foran nipped in, got the better of Hassell's challenge and raced into the area, he pulled the ball back to Langmead who was given far too much room before he drilled a low shot past Pilkington. The Stags huffed and puffed but created very little, D'Jaffo, who had replaced Mendes just before the Carlisle goal, won a few flick on's but unlike last week, Larkin just didn't quite get on the end of them. However, the Stags were given a great chance to snatch a point in the final minute of the three minutes injury time. Cown clumsily challenged Lawrence inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot. However, it was to be unlucky 13 as Lawrence, successful in his previous 12 spot kicks this season, saw Glennon save his kick, which in truth was not one of his best.

The Stags were the better side and certainly created the better chances, especially in the 1st half. The home side were particularly strong on the right hand side, from where most of the chances were created - Lawrence and Hassell again proving a potent combination. However, there remains a real lack of quality from the centre of midfield and the three strikers used rarely looked like scoring. Man of the match is once more a very simple choice, despite the missed penalty, Liam Lawrence was involved in everything the Stags did. He scored both Stags goals and won two penalties, he was also involved in the Stags best attacking moments. His crossing, particularly in the 2nd half wasn't up to his usual very high standard, but in general he was head and shoulders above the rest of his team-mates and was quite clearly the top quality player on the pitch. Next weeks trip to Huddersfield is now vital, failure to win means the Stags will have to at least draw their final match at home to Northampton to progress through to the play-offs.

Man of the Match: Liam Lawrence

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 6 Had little to do, handling generally sound
Hassell 7 Pushed forward well in 2nd half
Baptiste 7 Defended well for most of the match
Day 6 Should have at least challenged Gray for the Carlisle opener, otherwise very solid
Vaughan 6 Decent enough defensively, gave nothing in attacking areas
Lawrence 9 Despite the missed penalty, this was a magnificent performance - in attack the Stags were a one-man team
Curtis 5 Constantly passed the ball backwards, created nothing and was at fault for the 2nd goal
Mackenzie 6 Decent first half, almost disappeared in the 2nd
Corden 5 Never beat his man and careless pass lead to the Carlisle winner
Larkin 5 Missed a golden chance and though he looked sharp again, no end product
Mendes 5 Did well to create the Stags equaliser, pretty ineffective otherwise
Sub Line Up:
D'Jaffo (for Mendes, 64) 6 Won a couple of headers
Disley (for Vaughan, 83) 6 Didn't have chance to get into the game - should have replaced either of the central midfielders much earlier
Subs not used: Williamson, Artell, Beardsley
Opposition Line Up:
Glennon, Shelley, Andrews, Gray, Cowan, Murphy, McGill (Arnison 51), Boyd, Farrell (Langmead 60), Preece, Foran. Not Used - McDonagh, Simpson, Duffield.
S Mathieson - 4 - Look at me everyone

Season 03/04 Reports