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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Scunthorpe United
Murray 19
Attendance: 5315 (1053 from Scunthorpe)
Date: 3rd January 2005


Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Mansfield ended the festive period on a real high with their third win in 4 games to knock leaders Scunthorpe off their perch. The Stags were tremendous in a one-sided first half and were unlucky just to have Adam Murray's goal to show for it. After the break, Scunthorpe came into the game very strongly and created a number of long range chances but the Stags defence and midfield remained strong and the Stags deservedly held out for a 1-0 win.

The Stags made 4 changes from the side that lost at Northampton on Saturday. Neil returned at right back in place of Kitamirike; McLachlan came in for the injured Curtis; Corden returned from injury in place of Brown; while Larkin replaced the suspended Asamoah.

The Stags had the better of the opening exchanges and nearly took a ninth minute lead. Corden played a ball in from the left wing to Larkin whose shot with the outside of his right boot clipped the bar (not saved, as reported elsewhere). On 11 minutes Scunthorpe had a rare attack and Sparrow teased Buxton on the right wing before crossing dangerously only for Neil to clear for a corner.

But on 19 minutes the Stags took a deserved lead. Corden did well on the left and played a ball inside to Murray, 23 yards out from goal. Murray steadied himself and clipped a low shot which bounced in front of Musselwhite, and the keeper could only push the ball into the corner of the net. From studying the tape, it looked as though the keeper should have saved it.

A minute later it was so nearly 2-0. Neil took a quick free-kick to Corden on the right. Corden cut inside and sent a powerful left footed shot just past the right post and into the side netting with Musselwhite flapping at thin air. It was such a shame for Corden, who has been a little low on confidence according to caretaker manager Palmer.

On 23 minutes, the rampant Stags put together a brilliant move involving Corden and Neil. before Warne set up Larkin who shot just wide. On 32 minutes a rare Scunthorpe attack saw Rankine, unmarked on the edge of the Stags box, shoot just past the left post. Two minutes later another good Stags move ended with Warne cutting in from the right and shooting past the left post. Then Baptiste tried a shot from 40 yards which sailed fully 15 yards over the bar.

McLachlan took a heavy knock and I noted Pilkington signal to the bench that he wouldn’t be able to continue, but this lad looks pretty tough to me, and despite Maxwell getting ready to come on for his debut, McLachlan eventually carried on.

On 37 minutes, Hayes turned Dimech in the Stags box and shot wide. Scunthorpe started to get possession for the rest of the half and the Stags were grateful for half time.

Half time 1-0

The Stags had been outstanding for 35 minutes, but there were signs in the final 10 minutes of the half that Scunthorpe were coming back into it.

With second half just seconds old, it was nearly 1-1. Poor defending in the Stags box saw a loose ball looping high into the air. Rankine was left with a free header from just inside the 6 yard box, but Pilkington produced a brilliant save. However I thought Pilkington should have claimed the ball before Rankine’s header. In fact I noted at Northampton that Pilkington seems to have lost confidence in the past couple of games in coming for high balls. This was however the only such occasion of this afternoon, in an otherwise impressive display.

On 51 minutes, after a spell of pressure from the visitors, the Stags managed an attack and Larkin had a shot blocked. Four minutes later McLachlan set up Larkin for a shot but he was closed down by a defender. On 57 minutes Scunthorpe were awarded free kick 25 yards from goal, in what I thought was the referee’s first poor decision of the half. Former Stag Ian Baraclough fired the kick around the wall and inches past the left post. Then two minutes later, Rankine, after a good run, shot inches past the right post.

Brown came on for the tiring Larkin who left to great reception on 64. After a quiet period, a throw-in from Neil put Warne in, but with a tight angle, and he could only shoot across the face of goal.

On 83 minutes, Warne was harshly adjudged to fouled Beagrie, and to make matters worse was booked for his efforts. Another rare poor decision by a competent referee. Beagrie took the kick himself and centre half Byrne sent a header straight into a grateful Pilkington’s hands.

A minute later it should have been 2-0 as Brown missed a sitter. Corden played a magnificent pass into the substitute’s path, but with only the keeper to beat from inside the box, he could only shoot against the keeper’s legs. Then a minute after that, Murray was so unlucky not to score, when a ball fell to him right on the edge of the box. Murray sent a snap-shot fizzing towards goal but somehow Musselwhite got to down to save it with an outstretched palm. It was possibly the best save I have seen this season.

On 88 minutes, a free-kick was harshly awarded against Corden 25 yards from goal, and Stags breathed a sigh of relief as Beagrie sent his shot straight at Pilkington.

A minute into the three minutes of stoppage time, we saw an awesome piece of play from young Simon Brown. He ran from around the halfway line beating several defenders on the way, and sent a great shot towards goal which Musselwhite saved well yet again.

There were no further scares for the Stags and the final whistle was greeted with a rapturous reception from the appreciative Field Mill faithful.

Overall this was a very good display from the Stags. Dominant in the first half, with strikers and midfield pushing forward impressively, they dug in during the second half and the defence was simply outstanding, with Dimech once again the pick of the bunch. Not one player was under par or even average. It was refreshing to see all the players fighting for each other as if their lives depended on it, and it is clear that there is a good team spirit at the club at the moment. After the game I saw Paul Warne filling up his car with petrol at the pump next to me at Sainsbury’s and he told me that all the players were really tired after having to dig in during that final 45 minutes.

The Stags have an eight day break before meeting Cambridge at Field Mill in the game re-arranged from Boxing Day. It has been impressive holiday period for the side with 9 points from 4 games, and it could have been even more but for the appalling sending off of Derek Asamoah at Northampton.

Man of the Match: Luke Dimech

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 One brilliant save, and several good saves.
Neil 8 Excellent game at right back, holding the dangerous Beagrie at bay.
John-Baptiste 8 Did very well, as usual.
Dimech 9 Outstanding yet again in central defence.
Buxton 8 Did very well.
Warne 8 Great game.
McLachlan 7 Won lots of 50/50 balls, and did what Keith Curle would call the `ugly side of the game` very well indeed.
Murray 8 After a quiet opening 15 minutes, did really well. Very unlucky not to score again near the end.
Corden 7 Laid on the goal for Murray, and nearly scored a cracker moments later.
Larkin 7 Looked very sharp until tiring in the second half. Very unlucky with a shot against the bar
Barker 8 Held the front line very well, winning lots of headers and laying off some great balls.
Sub Line Up:
Brown (for Larkin 64) 7 At last showed what he can do. Showed fantastic pace in a terrific late run that nearly led to a great goal.
Subs Not Used: White, Kitamirike, Maxwell, Lloyd.
Opposition Line Up:
Musselwhite, Sharp, Jackson, Byrne, Ridley, Beagrie, Baraclough, Kell, Sparrow (Taylor 60), Rankine, Hayes (Parton 74).
Subs Not Used: Williams, Barwick, Evans.
M Fletcher (Worcestershire) 7 Handled the game very well despite a couple of poor decisions in the second half.

Season 04/05 Reports