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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Swansea City  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Forbes 88
Attendance: 8868 (112 from Mansfield)
Date: 8th October 2004

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Vetch Field


Mansfield Town were beaten by a last gasp diving header from substitute Adrian Forbes at a rocking Vetch Field this evening. The home side were generally the better side, but it was agony for the Stags to concede the late goal, which allowed the Swans to go top. The Stags were under pressure for much of the game and had to survive many corners and shots from the home side but a fine performance from the back four and Pilkington so nearly earned a precious point. In truth the Stags looked lightweight in midfield and attack where Larkin had the Stags best chance on the hour but was denied by a great save. MacKenzie, Baptiste, Corden and Asamoah all had disappointing games as the Stags were not able to keep possession for long enough spells.

Mansfield made two changes from the side that had drawn with Lincoln, with Day returning in defence, Baptiste moving into midfield at the expense of Curtis, and MacKenzie replacing the suspended Murray.

The Stags made a positive start and could have scored in the opening minute. A free-kick near the corner flag for Mansfield, was followed by a corner, and Larkin stabbed a half chance just over the bar. On 3 minutes, Trundle received the ball near the penalty spot and found time to turn, but Pilkington parried his shot well for a corner. Pilkington caught the resulting corner, under pressure. On 6 minutes, Pilkington fumbled a ball in his box but made a great recovering save. Four minutes later, Trundle showed great skill to juggle the ball on his knee with his back to goal, and turn and shoot wide. On 14 minutes, Baptiste, looking unsteady in midfield, missed a tackle, and Swansea had a shot over the bar. Two minutes later a powerful cross-shot from the left by Ricketts was superbly blocked by Artell and the ball flew just over the bar.

Swansea were having some success down the flanks at this point, and both full-backs were under pressure but handling it quite well. On 17 minutes, a Swansea corner from the left, saw Corden head the cross against the stanchion at his own near post. The Stags were not able to keep possession for long enough in midfield to allow time to play the ball through the channels to the two fast front men, who were left chasing scraps from long balls. There were numerous comments among the small Stags following about the usefulness of a big strong striker to hold the ball up.

On 24 minutes, the Stags had a rare chance when a McNiven free-kick into the Swansea box was punched away by keeper Gueret only as far as Corden 10 yards out who headed the ball back towards goal only for the keeper to catch it high above his head. Having never scored a goal from a header in his career, Corden had come close to headed goals at both ends of the pitch in the space of 7 minutes.

On 26 minutes, McNiven made a great tackle as a Swansea winger was jinking into the Stags box. It had to be timed perfectly otherwise it would have been a penalty. Three minutes later, Swansea took a quick free-kick and blasted the ball at Asamoah before he could possibly have had time to retreat, and the Stags striker was absurdly booked. The referee was at least consistent, as he did the same thing to a Swansea player in the second half.

There was a let-off for the Stags on 40 minutes when the ball found its way to Robinson in acres of space on the left, but he screwed his shot horribly wide. McNiven had got sucked into the middle, allowing Robinson far too much space.

On 42 minutes, there was a superb goal-line clearance by Woodman as the home fans were already celebrating a goal. MacKenzie lost a ball in his own half, and Connor got into the box and knocked a shot past Pilkington. It seemed a certain goal until somehow Woodman came from nowhere to hook the ball clear.

On 44 minutes, Day threw himself at the ball as a Swansea player pulled the trigger and made a great block to concede another corner. As the corner was due to taken, Pilkington and Swansea full-back Austin were involved in an incident. It seemed that Austin pushed Pilkington in the chest for some reason. The referee pulled both players together and diffused the incident. Stags manager Curle was furious and remonstrated with the fourth official, though we could not tell quite what for. In injury time, the Stags finished the half on top, and Baptiste had a shot blocked in the penalty area.

At half time we reflected that we were happy to be at 0-0. The Stags had defended well but overall were lucky to be on level terms given the relative possession, and the number of corners for the home side (ten), as well as the lack of threat from the Stags going forward.

Half time 0-0

On 47 minutes, Maylett shot high over the bar after a quick breakaway. But the Stags started the second half a lot better and were passing better. On 52 minutes, MacKenzie shot straight at the keeper after Day had just failed to connect with a free kick from Woodman. Three minutes later, MacKenzie put the Stags in trouble again, giving the ball away unnecessarily and Robinson shot over the bar. MacKenzie nearly made up for his error shortly afterwards but he shot just wide of the left post from 25 yards.

The Stags were not holding onto the ball well enough and it was just as well that Swansea’s shooting was off target. But on 63 minutes, the Stags came so close to breaking the deadlock. Larkin broke free on the left and with just keeper Gueret to beat, he shot firmly towards the far corner, but the keeper made a superb save. It was a glimpse of why Gueret was the League Two player of the month. Within a minute, Baptiste broke forward on the right, and with a sight of goal, blazed his shot high and wide. MacKenzie was withdrawn, presumably seen as a liability by Curle, and Corden also withdrawn as he had not been in the game enough. Curtis and O’Neill were the substitutes. A minute later, Swansea player Nugent was booked as Artell clearly deliberately blasted a free-kick straight at him. Two minutes later Gueret rushed to the touchline to put the ball out for a throw-in, and immediately picked the ball up and took it back towards his own goal to prevent a quick throw. Stags fans were incensed and the keeper was rightly booked.

On 72 minutes, O’Neill did well to win a free-kick on the left edge of the box. The kick was whipped in hard by Neil, but the keeper just beat Day at the near post to punch for a corner, which came to nothing. Two minutes later, Pilkington saved at the near post from Trundle, and shortly afterwards substitute Nugent headed across goal but no Swansea player was there to turn it in. On 76 minutes, McNiven did well to get back in time to clear a breakaway and the Swans had a shout for a penalty from the corner. The Stags were under severe pressure.

On 78 minutes, a Day back-header from a Stags free-kick was well held under pressure from Gueret. The Stags then had a spell of 10 minutes where they seemed to have weathered the storm.

But disaster struck on 88 minutes. Substitute Leon Britten crossed from the left and another substitute Adrian Forbes threw himself into a header that went across Pilkington and nestled inside the far post. The Vetch Field erupted, but for the Stags players and fans it was a sickening blow. There were no opportunities for the Stags to rescue the game, and it ended three minutes into stoppage time.

It was a bad result, as the Stags went down to defeat after a 6 league game unbeaten run. The Stags did well to survive 14 corners, and the performances of all of the back four were immense, along with Pilkington. Sadly they were let down by poor performances from the midfield and from Asamoah. The Stags have 8 days to recover and they need to show bouncebackability in the big local derby against Notts County.

It was interesting that as the game ended the only Stags players to come over and applaud the fans were Day, Larkin, Pilkington, Artell and McNiven. Interesting in as much as these were the only players to put in good performances, along with Woodman.

Man of Match: Dave Artell

Footnote: The away following of 112 was the lowest Stags away following since away followings have routinely been announced (ie. in the last 2 seasons).

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Vetch Field

Line Up:
Pilkington 8 Some fine saves, notably from Trundle, and coped well with the 14 corners.
McNiven 7 A bit exposed in the first half, but tackled well and tried to link with midfield.
Artell 9 Outstanding in the air, and dealt well with the dangerous Trundle.
Day 8 A fine game in his native Wales. Towering in defence.
Woodman 8 Classy performance including an outstanding goal-line clearance.
Neil 6 The pick of a poor midfield. The Stags best link play came through him.
John-Baptiste 5 Looked very out of place in midfield. Kept losing the ball when trying to be creative.
MacKenzie 5 Gave the ball away too often in his own half.
Corden 6 Didn’t see enough of the ball.
Larkin 7 Looked sharp and denied a possible winner by a great save.
Asamoah 5 Never able to hold onto the ball, and never got past his marker all game.
Sub Line Up:
Curtis (for MacKenzie, 65) 6 Did ok without creating anything.
O’Neill (for Corden, 65) 6 Started well and showed some nice touches.
Subs not used: White, Buxton, TCurle.
Opposition Line Up:
Gueret, Gurney, Tate, Austin, Ricketts, Martinez, O'Leary, Robinson (Britton 66), Maylett (Forbes 75), Connor (Nugent 66), Trundle.
Subs Not Used: Fisken, Fitzgerald.
G Salisbury, Lancashire 8 A fine game, showing good sense, apart from two silly bookings for players not retreating quickly enough at free-kicks.

Season 04/05 Reports