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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
Larkin 85
Attendance: 4,266 (339 from Rochdale)
Date: 18th September 2004

Martin Shaw at Field Mill


Colin Larkin scored his seventh goal in 7 games to earn the Stags an important three points when he smashed home a close range finish after 85 minutes. The Stags were the better side for 70 minutes against dour Rochdale, but then came under pressure as the visitors went close several times and it took some fine goalkeeping from Kevin Pilkington to keep the score at 0-0 until Larkin struck the late winner.

Mansfield made one change from the side that had picked up 7 points from unchanged 3 matches, with Rhys Day dropping to the bench, Tom Curtis coming into midfield, and Alex-John-Baptiste moving to central defence. Wayne Corden was playing his 200th game for the Stags. Rochdale, managed by Steve Parkin and Tony Ford, included Jamie Clarke in a central midfield role.

There was little action in a dour opening 15 minutes. An early MacKenzie corner was right over everyone, and allowed the visitors to break quickly down the right. The Stags defence were still asleep as Holt crossed for Cash but poor control meant he couldn’t get a shot in. On 13 minutes Pilkington did very well to punch clear from a dangerous situation.

On 19 minutes, with the game now livening up, Asamaoh embarked on a fine run but he couldn’t get a shot in. A minute later, Baptiste defended superbly to deny a threat from Dale on the break. On 21 minutes MacKenzie had a free-kick 40 yards out. He cleverly picked out Larkin with a low through ball, Larkin turned inside, and from a tight angle smashed a shot towards goal that was deflected into the side-netting. There was danger for the Stags on 23 minutes when McNiven left a header back to Pilkington too short and Cash nipped in to get a touch to the ball but the Stags keeper was just able to gather the loose ball.

On 28 minutes, the Stags started to turn up the heat and Larkin’s deflected cross was touched on by Asamaoh towards the top corner of the net, but keeper Edwards tipped the ball past the post.

A minute later there was controversy as MacKenzie’s cross was powered into the top right hand corner of the net from the head of Artell, but was ruled out by the linesman for offside. I didn’t have a perfect view, but it must have been very close. Just a minute after that, Asamoah played Larkin through. Larkin made a brilliant run, cut inside and shot with his left foot just wide of the left post. The Stags were on fire and had created 3 openings in 2 minutes.

On 38 minutes, Corden played Larkin in, the ball ran free to Asamoah and with the keeper on the edge of his box, Asamoah just had to lift the ball into the empty net, but instead he blasted the ball over the bar for a terrible miss. On the stroke of half time, Larkin played Corden through, who in turn superbly found Asamoah. Asamoah ran to the edge of the box, but with just the keeper to beat, shot weakly straight at him.

The Stags had been the better side and created better chances, especially in a cracking final 15 minutes.

Half Time 0-0

Much like the first half, the second half also started in dour fashion. In fact I failed to make a single note until 59 minutes when Corden’s cross found Neill, but the right sided midfielder couldn’t get a shot in. Shortly afterwards, Jamie Clarke moved back into central defence as Dale made an enforced substitution. The Stags had had all the possession in the opening 23 minutes of the half, but failed to create anything as Dale looked truly awful.

But it all changed after 68 minutes as Dale began to get on top. In their first attack since the 23rd minute (a full 45 minutes!), Dale substitute McGivern broke 10 yards clear of the Stags defence and bore down on Pilkington, but the Stags keeper was quick to come of his line and did brilliantly to block the shot. A minute later Murray replaced MacKenzie, but Rochdale were suddenly in a purple patch and on 70 minutes Pilkington made a superb save from close range after Cooksey tried to score. From the resulting corner, Stags fans’ hearts were in their mouths as the ball flew inches over onrushing Dale players and almost immediately Dale had another shot deflected past Pilkington’s post.

On 73 minutes the Stags relieved the pressure by creating a chance of their own, when Neil’s high cross found Corden who’s scissors kick bounced into the ground, up and was well tipped over the bar by Edwards in the Rochdale goal. On 80 minutes a Rochdale corner was headed just wide with Pilkington motionless and well beaten. Three minutes later, Holt wriggled clear of the Stags defence in the box but thankfully shot wide.

But on 85 minutes the Stags got the all-important winner. Corden sprayed a great pass to Asamoah, who in turn found Curtis and then McNiven, and eventually the ball found it’s way to an unmarked Larkin, 10 yards from goal. He had time to steady himself and crash a low drive hard towards the net. It took a deflection of a defender on the way and thundered into the back of the net to spark great celebrations.

Corden was almost immediately replaced by O’Neill, presumably for the lanky strikers ability to hold the ball up well up front.

On 88 minutes there was a scramble in the Stags box which was somehow cleared. Rochdale apparently claimed a penalty for a handball by Curtis, but if there was a handball, I certainly didn’t see it, and I didn’t see any appeals either.

And so the Stags claimed a hard earned three points and on reflection Dale may consider themselves a touch unfortunate. Perhaps a draw would have been fair result. On the other hand Rochdale went an incredible 45 minutes either side of half time barely getting near the Stags penalty box. Colin Larkin and Derek Asamoah looked reasonably sharp up front for the Stags, and Baptiste and McNiven were the pick of the defence, while the midfield contributed little, but my man of the match was Pilkington who made a number of fine saves. For Dale, Jamie Clarke had a good game, especially in central midfield. Absurdly he was booed by a mindless minority in the West Stand.

Man of Match: Kevin Pilkington

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 8 Made some fine crucial saves. Also one fine punch from a cross.
McNiven 7 Did well at right back and going forward.
John-Baptiste 7 Good game back in central defence.
Artell 6 Did ok. Solid.
Buxton 5 I counted four misplaced passes, 3 of which could have put us in trouble. Not at his best.
Neil 6 Failed to create anything.
Curtis 6 Worked hard.
MacKenzie 6 A few creative passes but didn’t contribute enough.
Corden 6 Didn’t see enough of the ball.
Larkin 7 Looked sharp and finished his goal well.
Asamoah 7 Looked dangerous but slightly flattered to deceive.
Sub Line Up:
Murray (for MacKenzie, 69) 6 Still unable to recreate his best form.
O’Neill (for Corden , 86) -
Subs not used: White, Day, Tait.
Opposition Line Up:
Edwards, Goodall, Burgess (Bertos 55), Griffiths, Evans (Tait 87), Cooksey, Jones, Clarke, Brisco, Cash (McGivern 66), Holt.
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Probets.
J.Singh 7 Handled the game well

Season 04/05 Reports