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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
0 - 0
 Rushden & Diamonds
Attendance: 3376 (187 from Rushden)
Date: 11th December 2004

The Stags fielded the same side beaten at Darlington in midweek, with new signing Simon Brown again on the bench and Alex Neil filling in at right back.

The Stags began in confident fashion, belying the terrible run of form that has seen them slip dangerously down the table. However, it was the visitors who had the first, and as it turned out, their only chance of the match. After Buxton had been forced to concede a corner, the Stags failed to clear the set piece and only a great block by Buxton himself prevented Pilkington being called into action. Without creating anything clear cut, the Stags were well on top, the first real chance came just on the quarter hour when Asamoah used his pace to break free but saw Turley save his low shot at the second attempt. Buxton then sent in a dangerous cross from the left which Barker glanced wide as the Stags continued to press. The home side should have been ahead after some excellent work by Corden on the left wing, he struck a perfect low cross to Barker on the far post who saw his shot from just three yards hit Turley and fly wide for a corner. Corden was the Stags main threat in the 1st half, and a trade mark run almost saw him put the Stags ahead, taking the ball down the left he cut inside and unleashed a fine effort which flew just wide. Asamoah was proving a real handful and once again his pace got him clear of the Diamonds defence, however, once again it was Turley who was able to scramble his low shot past the post. The Stags only other moment of worry came when Baptitste and Pilkigton left the ball for each other, but the header from Gulliver was straight into the Stags keepers grateful arms. This had been a pretty one-sided half and the Stags should really have gone in a couple of goals ahead.

Half-Time 0-0

The Stags began the 2nd half as they had finished the first, completely on top but unable to break the deadlock. Barker was again the guilty party as with Diamonds players claiming off-side, he managed to miss his kick from just 6 yards out with the goal at his mercy. Asamoah again tested Turley but again the Diamonds keeper was up to the task and when the Diamonds keeper did make an error from the resultant corner, referee Joe Ross, otherwise having a fine match, came to his resuce and penalised Barker for a foul when clearly Turley had dropped the ball. Indeed, this was the first of an amazing succession of corners, the Stags having 15 in total, but none of which came to anything - had either Dave Artell or Rhys Day been available then I'm sure the Stags would have benefitted from at least one of these set-pieces. The Stags afternoon was summed up ten minutes before time when Asamoah broke free and his cross-shot caused mayhem in the Diamonds area but no Stags player was on hand to tap the ball home. The Stags final effort of note came from the unlikely source of Tom Curtis, whose cross was mis-hit and forced Turley to tip the ball over the bar for the final corner of the match, which like the previous 14, came to nothing.

This was a good performance from the Stags which missed just one vital ingredient, an end product. The side looked well balanced, passed the ball well and certainly got into enough goal-scoring areas without being able to find that finishing touch. Richie Barker, although missing the two best chances, had a fine match leading the strikeforce and on early form, appears to be the sort of striker we have needed for a few years, whilst Wayne Corden provided a real threat on the left after having a number of disappointing games recently. Special mention should go to Luke Dimech, who after being told he wasn't needed, put in another solid display. However, the other player manager Palmer seems keen to get rid of, proved what a mistake that would be - forced to play in an unaccustomed right back role, Alex Neil had a splendid match, both in attack and defensively and was clearly the Stags best player in an overall good display. Finally, it was a major surprise that the manager chose not to give Simon Brown the last 15 minutes or so, with the Stags needing that final push when on top and Warne tiring, it appeared to be the perfect opportunity to make the change.

Man of the Match: Alex Neil

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Almost nothing to do bar one sharp save from a header
Neil 8 Got forward very well and had no trouble defensively
Dimech 7 Had the odd moment, but overall very solid
Baptiste 7 Like Dimech, had little trouble
Buxton 7 Defensively solid but occasionally lacked that bit of quality on the ball
Curtis 7 Usual hard working display
Murray 7 Some exquisite passing at times
Corden 7 The Stags main threat when in possession
Warne 6 Fairly quiet game on the right wing
Asamoah 6 A couple of great runs but his shooting was generally poor
Barker 7 Very strong, looks like he has goals in him, just not today!!
Sub Line Up:
Opposition Line Up:
Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Gier, Gray, Bell (sub Sambrook 55), Burgess,
Broughton, Gulliver, Dove (sub Hay 55), Mulligan.Subs not used: Allen,
Worgan, Taylor.
J Ross 8 - Handled the match very well

Season 04/05 Reports