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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
 Kidderminster Harriers
Larkin 16, 47.
 Roberts 1.
Attendance: 3,859 (255 from Kidderminster)
Date: 21st August 2004

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill


Mansfield earned their first home win of the season thanks to two excellent goals from Colin Larkin and a fine overall second half performance against Kidderminster this afternoon.

The Stags were unchanged from the side that had won at Chester which meant that Rhys Day continued on the bench, along with Lee Williamson, returning from suspension, and Wayne Corden who rarely misses out on the starting line-up at home. Manager Curle opted not to have a keeper on the bench.

There was a shock for the Field Mill faithful within a minute as the Harriers, who had failed to score a goal from open play in 3 games this season, took the lead. A long free-kick from Harriers keeper Danby flew over Jake Buxton, who completely miss-read it, and Stuart Roberts nipped in to chip the ball into the empty net over the advancing Pilkington. Pilkington could not be blamed, but Buxton was clearly badly at fault.

The Stags equalized with their first attempt to play the ball along the floor, on 16 minutes. Mackenzie played in O’Neill who fed the ball to Larkin. Larkin played it back to O'Neill who returned it to him. Larkin ran onto it and slotted a left-footed shot under and across the advancing keeper for an excellent finish.

Four minutes later Buxton was again at fault as he backed off a Kiddie striker and eventually another Kiddie player shot inches wide of Pilkington’s right hand post. On 25 minutes, Murray reminded us of his shooting prowess with a fine effort from 25 yards, which the keeper fumbled and just kept out of the net. On 32 minutes, O’Neill had a rare attempt at goal when he hooked a ball over his shoulder and over the bar.

It was a first half of few chances with both teams looking mediocre, and playing without imagination. The Stags were simply not playing to their strengths and looking to have no shape or pattern to their play. Indeed Asamaoh had barely touched the ball.

Half Time 1-1

The whole atmosphere of the game changed within two minutes of the restart when Larkin scored a superb goal to light-up Field Mill. The goal started with a long kick from Pilkington which O’Neill managed to nudge on and Larkin, with his back to goal, though seemingly two yards offside, acrobatically hooked a volley over the keeper and into the net, rather like Michael Owen’s goal against Portugal in Euro 2004. It was a fantastic finish, but a stroke a luck not to be flagged offside, and it was surprising to me that the Harriers defence did not appeal for the offside. TV evidence suggests that Larkin was indeed offside when O'Neill nudged the ball forward.

On 50 minutes Larkin nearly had a hat-trick when his close-range shot was blocked. On 53 minutes, Larkin broke on the right and fed Asamoah on the penalty spot but the little striker shot over the bar.

There was a major let-off on 57 minutes when Baptiste appeared to bring down Advice-Desruisseaux as he turned inside him in the box, but the referee waved play on. On 63 minutes, Asamoah broke down the right and played a first time cross for MacKenzie but the cross was not quite far enough forward and instead of giving MacKenzie a tap-in, he was left with a 20 yard shot, which the keeper saved well. A minute later Asamoah had a header saved, and then O’Neill scuffed a shot wide. On 68 minutes, MacKenzie had a chance but shot wide on the right. Two minutes later, the Stags had multiple chances inside 30 seconds but somehow the keeper came out on top again. The Stags were all over Kiddie at this stage, and it was incredible that we weren’t further in front.

On 75 minutes, the Stags were reminded that the game was not over as Pilkington was forced to make a good save low down to his left and a minute later a free kick was floated into the Stags box and just wide of Pilkington’s right hand post. On 79 minutes, Asamoah broke into the box and had two chances to score which were blocked and MacKenzie also had a shot blocked by the outstanding keeper Danby.

On 83 minutes, MacKenzie showed us the bad side to his game when he gave away a ball in midfield which allowed the Harriers to break but Pilkington collected the ball at the second attempt. On 88 minutes McNiven broke forward and cut inside and let fly with his left foot which was again well saved. On 90 minutes, Larkin had another chance for his hat-trick when his header seemed to hit the post with Asamoah’s follow-up being blocked. In injury time, Asamoah was through again, but the keeper saved at his feet.

The Stags wound down the clock very effectively and the Harriers weren't able to create any late chances. So Mansfield collected their second win on the trot and leapt into ninth place.

This was a very fine second half performance after the first half left a lot to be desired. Had it not been for a superb performance from Harriers keeper Danby the Stags would have won 4 or 5-1.

Having said that the Stags had two pieces of luck. Firstly Larkin's second goal should have been given offside. Then Harriers had a clear penalty waved away by the referee.

MacKenzie seemed to be enjoying the role of playmaker vacated by Lawrence and looked to be in prime form, though is still prone to giving the ball away too often in dangerous positions. Larkin looks to be full of confidence and could be our 20 goal a season striker if he can stay fit for the season. Today he was superb and unlucky not to claim a hat-trick. Manager Curle believes his squad is stronger than last season with more emphasis on teamwork, which was very evident in the strong second half display. To have Day, Corden and Williamson on the bench, 3 regulars from last season, would seem to auger well for a successful campaign. However it does seem that a big striker is still very much needed, unless O’Neill proves capable of making that position as his own. Today he did ok, especially in his link-up play, but needs to do more and strikers get paid for scoring goals. The first half performance was again a cause for concern, as it had been at Chester, when the Stags looked shapeless and lacking in ideas. But once the Stags went in front on 47 minutes, they looked a different, more confident side.

Man of Match: Colin Larkin

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Good handling and always looked safe. Made two good low saves in the second half.
McNiven 7 Defended well and pushed forward well; came close to his first goal.
John-Baptiste 7 Solid at the back. Showed good pace to keep one foot ahead of the attackers.
Artell 7 Looked very dependable.
Buxton 6 Badly at fault for the early goal when he was caught cold. Looked out of position frequently in the first half. Improved in the second half.
MacKenzie 8 Very good game. Pulled all the strings as the Stags moved forward.
Curtis 7 Industrious in midfield. Won plenty of loose balls. Good defensive cover for the more attacking MacKenzie.
Murray 7 Better performance. Good passing. Substituted when it looked like he may get sent off.
Larkin 9 Two terrific goals and looked sharp from start to finish. Unlucky not to have a hat-trick.
O’Neill 6 Industrious and linked ok. Looks like he needs a goal.
Asamoah 7 Not in the game in the first half. Very dangerous in the second half when he saw more of the ball.
Sub Line Up:
Williamson (for Murray, 71) 6 Filled in well defensively.
Corden (for O’Neill, 71) 6 Did ok.
Subs not used: Day, Neil, Tait.
Opposition Line Up:
Danby, Jenkins, Viveash, Advice-Desruisseaux, Burton, Christiansen, Foster (Rickards 62), Mellon, Keates (Appleby 71), Hatswell, Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Lewis, Gleeson, Russell.
C Boyeson (E Yorkshire) 7 Handled the game very well and sensibly. Gave us a let-off when he didn’t award Kiddie a second half penalty.

Season 04/05 Reports