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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Cheltenham Town  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Guinan 45+1, Devaney 87.
Attendance: 2706 (251 from Mansfield)
Date: 19th October 2004

Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Whaddon Road


Mansfield Town came crashing down to earth with a huge bump after the euphoria of stuffing Notts County at the weekend. The Stags started very brightly in the opening half hour, with Alex Neil providing important width on the right, but fell away badly after he went off injured, and allowed an average looking Cheltenham Town side back into the game, and two soft goals, at the end of each half, were enough to earn the points. The Stags had plenty of possession but created very few clearcut chances all evening and in the end deserved nothing from the game.

Mansfield were unchanged from Saturday, which meant no place for Wayne Corden who has had some success in the past at Whaddon Road, and Colin Larkin continued on the left side of midfield.

The Stags started very positively knocking the ball around very nicely in the opening stages. On 2 minutes a free kick from Woodman near the dugout was knocked deep into the box and Day headed forwards, but Larkin was given offside though wouldn’t have reached it anyway. Day was in action at the other end on 8 minutes as he conceded a corner with a great tackle. The Stags played lovely one touch football on 10 minutes as Ipoua played in Larkin who found Asamoah, but the little striker screwed his shot horribly wide left of the goal. Three minutes later Ipoua nearly got onto a through ball, and shortly afterwards Asamoah nearly put Larkin in. The Stags were defending in their own box on 18 minutes as Artell hooked a towering ball away and Neil made a great tackle in his own box. On 21 minutes Asamoah fed Neil who blazed high and wide. A couple of minutes later Cheltenham’s first shot on goal came when Melligan shot at Pilkington from the left hand edge of the box.

There was a nervous moment on 27 minutes as Day tried to shepherd the ball out for a goalkick but an attacker nipped the ball away from him and forced Pilkington to concede a corner at his near post. Pilkington reacted angrily and pushed Day before they theatrically made up before the corner was taken. It was very poor play from Day and was actually the third time in a couple of minutes that the Stags had nearly gifted something to Cheltenham as both Artell and Day had left backpasses too short for comfort.

On 29 minutes Asamoah broke clear on the right but frustratingly didn’t get his cross in. A minute later Murray found Neil on the right who put a great cross in which the keeper Higgs spilled but quickly recovered. On 35 minutes Asamaoh, having a dreadful half, lost the ball inside his own half, and a great ball was played forward to Vincent who tried to curl the ball past Pilkington from 15 yards but the Stags keeper made a magnificent save to tip the ball around his left post. On 38 minutes, Neil limped off having been clattered earlier on and this was to prove a significant moment as the Stags went downhill from here. MacKenzie replaced Neil.

In stoppage time at the end of the half disaster struck. MacKenzie gave the ball away just inside his own half. The ball was played to the left wing where an innocent looking cross from Vincent went to the far post. There were three Stags defenders in attendance: Day, Artell and Woodman, but somehow Guinan had a free header from 4 yards and placed it past Pilkington. One Stags fan who was behind the goal claimed that Woodman was clearly fouled but we could not see that from our position in the stand along the side. There were no appeals from the Stags players, and McNiven showed three fingers to his defensive colleagues as if to say one of you three should have got it.

From the kick-off the Stags went straight to the other end and Mackenzie dinked a superb cross into Asamoah whose flicked header was acrobatically tipped over the bar by keeper Higgs. It was an example of the good and bad of MacKenzie in the space of a minute.

At half time we noted that the Stags had started very confidently but having failed to score seemed to run out of ideas and let the home side very much into the game.

One thing that was noticeable in the opening 45 minutes, up until the goal, was that there was no atmosphere at all. It was unusual to be able to hear the players shouting, from the stand, throughout the half, but that was all to change after the home side took the lead.

Half time 1-0

Early on in the second half Day went down injured near his own corner flag and was soon to be replaced by Dimech, who received taunts of “Gypo” from the home fans. On 52 minutes, Woodman made a good block from a shot, and this was followed by a succession of corners for the home side. On 55 minutes Asamaoh did well crossing from the right to find MacKenzie, who had a chance for a first time shot from 8 yards but took two touches and then his shot was blocked for a corner. From the corner Artell headed wide at the far post.

On 57 minutes MacKenzie embarked on excellent mazy run taking the ball deep into the Cheltenham half and just inside the box and had a shot which was blocked. The Stags had a good spell of possession, like in the first half, but failed to create clearcut chances. On 65 minutes Ipoua did well to tee up Murray for a shot from just outside the box, but he shot horribly wide with his left foot. More nice play by the Stags on 67 minutes just outside the box ended up with a shot from Asamoah that was so weak it only just reached the keeper. On 72 minutes Asamoah whipped in a cross from the left and Murray was so close to getting to it before the keeper, but the keeper made a fine save at his feet. Murray beat the ground in frustration.

O’Neill replaced Woodman on 75 minutes as the Stags went to 3 at the back, with Dimech on the right and McNiven on the left. Within a minute O’Neill nearly had a big impact again as he did on Saturday. This time he turned on the edge of the box and fired a fine shot that took a deflection and went inches wide of the far post. On 77 minutes the ball fizzed around the Cheltenham box but no-one could apply the finishing touch.

On 82 minutes McNiven made a great tackle to prevent a Cheltenham breakaway. A minute later there was another goalmouth flurry in the Cheltenham box but no-one could get a shot in, before Artell weakly stabbed the ball at the keeper.

On 87 minutes Cheltenham grabbed a second goal in strange circumstances. A low corner from the left by Devaney seemed to go straight in at the near post. Immediate reaction was the Pilkington must be to blame, especially when the home fans were soon to chant “dodgy keeper”. It may be that substitute Wilson touched the ball into the net on the line as he threw off his shirt in celebration and was booked for his troubles. Manager Curle would probably also be concerned about the lack of marking at the near post.

A minute later, MacKenzie did well to wriggle into the box and get a shot in but the keeper saved, low down.

So a very disappointing result and the Stags showed their inconsistency following a walloping of Notts County on Saturday. The away form is a cause for great concern given that the Stags have won just once on their travels. In truth, if the Stags are serious about automatic promotion then the away form must improve and teams like Cheltenham, who are clearly a bottom half of the table side, should not be allowed to claim all the points.

Man of Match: Dave Artell

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Whaddon Road

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Had a good game, including a magnificent save in the first half. However has to take some responsibility for the second goal direct from a corner.
McNiven 7 Played well in defence and distributed the ball well.
Artell 8 Dominant in the air and coped well when Day went off.
Day 6 Did ok apart from one mad moment when nearly gifted a goal away. Injured just after half time.
Woodman 7 Did reasonably well at left back.
Neil 7 Did well, providing width, until got injured.
Curtis 5 Did well in the opening 20 minutes but went missing after that.
Murray 5 Tried hard but things just didn’t come off for him.
Larkin 6 Couldn’t get into the game from the left side of midfield. Tried a shot from 30 yards in desperation.
Ipoua 6 Won a few balls but never looked like scoring.
Asamoah 5 Poor. Dreadful control let him down badly on numerous occasions. Had a couple of decent crosses and unlucky with a header at the end of the first half, but had some feeble shots.
Sub Line Up:
MacKenzie (for Neil, 38) 7 Blew hot and cold. Gave the ball away crucially just before the first goal, but seconds later provided a wonderful cross that nearly led to a goal. At least had a couple of shots in the second half.
Dimech (for Day, 48) 6 Did ok and looked solid as Day’s replacement.
O’Neill (for Woodman, 75) 6 Had one shot on the turn that was deflected for a corner.
Subs not used: White, Corden.
Opposition Line Up:
Higgs , Gill , Duff , Brough , Victory , Devaney , Finnigan , Melligan , McCann , Guinan , Vincent
Subs: Wilson , Spencer , Brown , Bird , Fyfe
B Curson, Leicestershire 6 Handled the game ok.

Season 04/05 Reports