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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
0 - 0
Larkin missed pen 6
Attendance: 4147 (283 from Bury)
Date: 30th October 2004

The Stags were unchanged from the side which drew at Wycombe a week earlier. Once more Wayne Corden had to be satisfied with a place on the bench as the Stags continued to try playing a striker in the left midfield role. With Rhys Day ruled out injured Stags manager Keith Curle once again chose Luke Dimech to partner Dave Artell and leave Alex John-Baptiste in midfield.

It was the Stags who started on top and within ten minutes should have been two ahead. Within the opening minutes, after a Woodman free kick bounced around in the area the ball fell to Larkin who hit a powerful low shot against the post. The ball rebounded to Neil who under pressure fired his shot over the bar. Just a few minutes later a great run into the area saw Neil clearly brought down and for once referee Paul Danson actually saw it and gave the spot kick. Sadly for the Stags Larkin's kick, although not a bad one, was excellently saved by Bury keeper Glyn Garner. The visitors were clearly buoyed by these escapes and the rest of the half was a fairly scrappy, even affair. Only Alex Neil impressed in an attacking sense for the Stags, with the midfield looking particularly flat and uninventive. Indeed, Bury came close after a right wing cross was half-volleyed over the bar by Nugent whilst the closest the Stags came was a volley from Tom Curtis which flew well over the bar and a fine long range effort from McNiven which also found a home with the few Bury supporters who had made the trip South.

Half Time 0-0

The Stags badly needed some form of inspiration and within 8 minutes of the restart, the manager made the change. The struggling Ipoua was replaced by Wayne Corden, who many fans believed should have started the game. Instantly the Stags tempo increased and instantly you could see the level of anxiousness rise in the Bury defence. Corden was double marked yet still managed to creat numerous chances. Within a minute of entering the fray he put in a superb cross which fell to Artell on the half volley, sadly the Stags defender could only hit the ball over the bar. In the next attack Corden again tormented his defenders before hitting a superb right foot shot which hit the top of the bar. The third chance came when Corden found Baptiste inside the area, his shot was saved by Garner. To counter the threat, Bury made three quick changes and this seemed to quell the Stags attacks. In fact, it was Bury who almost grabbed the win when Whaley and Nugent both had efforts blocked by the Stags defence. However, the Stags should have secured all three points right at the end, Woodman combined well with Corden and for the first time in the match managed to put in an excellent cross, Artell was free and unmarked on the back post but send his header agonisingly wide.

This was two points dropped and whilst the overall performance was OK, team selection continues to baffle. Leaving the Stags most creative player on the bench might make sense for some of the tougher away fixtures, but at home it is a nonesense. Once Corden came on, the whole tempo of the match changed and the Stags looked a more balanced outfit. Before that, both Larkin and Asamoah had spells on the left and neither really impressed - begging the question why the Stags only natural left sided player is left kicking his heels? The central midfield pairing of Curtis and Baptiste are good defensively but create little, again puzzling that Murray and Mackenzie are left on the bench. On the plus side, Alex Neil had another fine game and is now turining into a very important player for the Stags. It was very odd that he was substituted with ten minutes remaining as he was the outstanding player on the pitch and a clear Man of the Match.

Man of the Match: Alex Neil

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington, 7 Little to do, but what he did was impeccable
McNiven, 7 One fine shot and got forward well
Dimech, 7 Had a good game, but almost gifted Bury a winner near the end
Artell, 7 Also had a good game, but missed a sitter in injury time
Woodman, 7 Cultured game but let down by generally poor crossing
Neil, 9 Industrious and skillful, by far the best of the midfield
John-Baptiste, 6 Not at his best in central midfield, wasted in that position
Curtis, 6 Broke down Bury attacks, but failed to inspire Stags attacks
Ipoua, 5 Ineffective and quite slow at times
Asamoah, 6 Fairly ineffective throughout
Larkin, 6 The Stags main threat, but missed chances and a penalty
Sub Line Up:
Corden (for Ipoua, 53), 8 If proof were needed that he must start, then this was it, creative and inspirational
O'Neill (for Curtis, 82), 5 Second touch was invariably a tackle
MacKenzie (for Neil, 82), 6 Tried to push the Stags on
Opposition Line Up:
Garner, Unsworth, Kennedy, Swailes, Challinor, Woodthorpe, Mattis,
Dunfield, Barry-Murphy, Nugent, Porter. Subs: Whaley, Newby, Flitcroft,
Scott, Barrass.
Paul Danson of Leicestershire - 6 An improvement on previous visits

Season 04/05 Reports