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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
FA Cup Round 1 replay
Colchester United  
4 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Garcia 10, Curtis 14 o.g., Fagan 67 (pen), Williams 90 (pen)
 Neil 87. sent off: John-Baptiste 66
Attendance: 2492 (95 from Mansfield)
Date: 23rd November 2004

Dean Foulkes at Layer Road

A thoroughly convincing scoreline for Colchester United as sorry Stags crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle on a bitterly disappointing night at the dilapidated Layer Road ground. The heavy defeat was not entirely unexpected as the Stags squad didnt have enough bones in it to really even be called a skeleton squad! Already missing the banned Asamoah and seriously ill McNiven, Stags faced this replay without the injured Day and Corden who were on radio duty and young Talbot was ineligible for the game. The journey down on the SSA coach saw just 26 incredibly loyal fans make the trip, certainly a record low since SSA began running the away travel service 3 years ago. However with the current pantomime style goings on at the club, farcical lack of players and the game being such a long way from home midweek, also on a live TV Champions League night and the fact the game was aired live on Mansfield 103.2, the turnout was understandable. Or perhaps it was just because Colchester isn't the most appealing club to visit? Stags were forced into fielding youth teamer Lloyd and by the end of the night we had such names as Herron, Wood and McIntosh wearing the badge of the Stags. How we have got into this situation just a few months after having such a quality squad is beyond belief and is squarely down to the absolute mismanagement of the man at the top. Stags fans have a real passion and pride in our club and even the most diehard fan is struggling to comprehend the current circumstances at Field Mill. Regular Stags players didn't even know the names of their youth team counterparts, but did concede that they had travelled on the official team coach! One thing we all knew is that Stags had to frustrate their League 1 opponents for as long as possible but sadly all hope was lost with the tie effectively over after just 14 minutes. John White put over a decent cross on 10 minutes for Garcia to softly nod the ball towards goal. From our seat at the opposite end of the ground it looked as if the ball should have been saved, but nestled in the net nonetheless with apparant ease. Colchester were spraying the ball around well and another low cross was bundled in by Tom Curtis within 4 minutes of the first goal. What a long night we had in store in a terrible stadium which makes Saltergate look almost reasonable, and so many miles from home. To be fair the Stags never reverted to the long ball and attempted to play football throughout without really creating and danger. The home side were in the comfort zone. Mackenzie showed great skill to create a shooting chance for himself but shot straight at the keeper when 1-2 at the break would have given Stags fans hope.

HT - Colchester 2 Stags 0

When you really wanted the Stags to escape the second half unscathed Adam Murray went down 7 minutes into the half and was taken off on a stretcher. We considered going back to the pub. We stayed. On 67 minutes a ridiculous decision saw Fagan score a penalty and Alex John Baptiste see red. From our position the ball came through just inside the box, Alex beat the U`s player to the ball, home crowd shouted and ref in a good position clearly waved his arms to play on. Amazingly the linesman on his touchline much further away from the referee signalled a penalty and red card. Absolutey scandalous when the ref clearly saw the incident and deemed it not even a foul. Who is supposed to be in charge here? Even the U`s players looked embarrassed. Colchester fans sarcastically began singing Palmer Out. There was absolutely nothing Carlton Palmer could do. Arsene Wenger wouldnt do any better with no backing from the top. Alex Neil offered some consolation by cracking home on 87 for a small crumb of comfort but the referee had to have the last word. This time Garcia was challenged on the edge of the area by Dimech right in front of the previously offending linesman and in a sliding tackle the home player went down. The very close and perfectly positioned linesman gave nothing yet the centrally placed referee gave another penalty. 2 classic cases of how to get both decisions completely wrong. Add this to the bizarre penalty given at Boston when a home player was redcarded yet the side win a pen 3 days earlier and at this point you start to question right from wrong in your own head.

So a strange night which seemed almost surreal. We expected little from the game given the circumstances but after handing a higher league side a 2 goal start within 15 minutes we did not need nor deserve 2 highly controversial decisions which gave the scoreline an unfair look. Having said that we created next to nothing yet again despite some pretty approach play and had no teeth never mind any bite. Add the serious looking Murray injury and another red card and ban and you cannot say we escaped unscathed.

Cup competitions now officially over for the season and how sad that the club has been bled dry squadwise so much that all our cup games have resulted in us fielding weak sides as we cannot afford to risk any slightly injured players as we have no cover. Fans still take holidays off work and pay high prices but against Preston in the Carling Cup and here tonight in the FA Cup, the Stags side were not equipped to compete. No secret was made of the fact we didn't even appear to want to compete in the LDV and its a sad state of affairs for a professional football club apparantly in a good financial situation. Where is the money made from record home average attendances, the Millennium cash and the Lawrence / Williamson fees, not to mention the considerable Sky money made last season. Why has the cash not been invested back into the side? The paying customers of the Stags deserve better.

We left Layer Road to face the four and a half hour journey back a dejected bunch. The players nor manager didnt do much wrong tonight but it was highly visible the confidence in the whole club has gone. Fears are growing that should the wrong decisions be made in the next few days and should no investment in the team happen we could well sink like a stone and more than one person mentioned look what happened to York City. We need new faces and we need them fast.

All players rated as 7. Man of Match has to go to supporters, sorry can`t pick anyone out.

FT - Colchester 4 Stags 1

Report by: Dean Foulkes

Line Up:
K Pilkington, L Dimech, D Artell, A Baptiste, J Buxton, A Neil, N MacKenzie, T Curtis, A Murray, C Lloyd, C Larkin
Sub Line Up:
Heron (for Lloyd, 45)
Wood (for Murray, 52)
McIntosh (for Curtis, 80)
Subs not used: White, Hankey.
Opposition Line Up:
A Davison, S Stockley, P Baldwin, L Chilvers, J White, J Keith, K Watson, R Garcia, G Johnson, C Fagan, G Halford
Subs: G Williams, D Gerken, S Hunt, B Bowditch, B Bowry
K Hill

Season 04/05 Reports