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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Notts County  
0 - 1
 Mansfield Town
 Barker 20
Attendance: 10,055 (3600 from Mansfield)
Date: 5th February 2005

Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane

Mansfield Town put in a superb away performance to earn a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win at Meadow Lane this afternoon. The Stags were roared on by a magnificent following of 3600 fans and a headed goal by man of the match Richie Barker was enough to win the game, thanks to a an excellent defensive display which limited the Magpies to very few chances.

The Stags brought in Derek Asamoah on the right of midfield, while Shane Smeltz made his first start. Simon Brown was dropped to the bench while Luke Dimech was suspended, so Alex Neil moved back to right back, with Jake Buxton moving into central defence. The Stags included triallist Goma Lambu, who has been training with the club since Keith Curle was in charge. County included the dangerous Mark Stallard, who has rejoined the club on loan, while former Stags loanee Glynn Hurst was surprisingly on the bench.

The Stags emerged to a fantastic reception from the away fans which I estimated was 3,100 at kick off, but which swelled to 3,600. It was Amber Day, organised by SSA, and it was a fine sight to see so much amber in the away end. It was also the Stags 3000th game, which made it extra special.

The game was off to an exciting start in a tremendous atmosphere. In the 4th minute, Rundle put in a fine cross from the left, for Smeltz who swung a leg at it but was 5 yards wide. On 12 minutes, David Pipe sent a cross-shot across goal, but it was just past Pilkington's right post. Three minutes later, Pipe volleyed a shot straight at Pilkington from a tight angle.

There was danger for the Stags on 19 minutes as a high ball into the box was allowed to bounce, and Buxton dallied allowing Gavin Gordon to muscle in and power a header into the side netting. As the net rustled, many home fans thought the ball had gone in. It was the best chance of the game at that point.

But on 20 minutes the Stags were in front. Rundle took a free kick from the left touchline, level with the edge of the penalty area. It was a perfect cross and Barker, who had won everything in the air, rose above the defence, to loop a header over the keeper into the far side of the net. It was an excellent header, though the keeper seemed poorly positioned.

On 25 minutes, Asamoah produced a brilliant tackle by the corner flag to deny Scully a crossing chance. It earned Asamoah an ovation right in front of the massed Stags fans. Three minutes later, Jelleyman chipped a ball forward for himself and volleyed straight at the keeper from just outside the box. A minute later Gavin Gordon leapt above the Stags defence and headed-wide from a throw-in.

On 31 minutes, Rundle put a fine cross in from the left which caused confusion. But the action was straight to the other end and the home side had two chances in a minute, one was well cleared by Buxton, the other was scrambled away. The Stags were suddenly under pressure.

On 34 minutes came the moment of outstanding skill in the game. Murray sent a brilliant ball from the centre circle out to the right wing where Asamaoh motored towards the corner flag before cutting in along the byeline, beating a couple of defenders, getting the ball onto his left foot, though was perhaps slightly off balance as he hammered a shot just over the left angle. It was simply brilliant, and a near repeat of his goal at Shrewsbury.

On 37 minutes, more hesitation by Buxton allowed Gill to storm into the box but Pilkington was alive to it and made a great save at Gill's feet. Three minutes later the Stags put together a great move started by a brilliant Murray tackle, then a fine Curtis ball to Rundle, who in turn found Jelleyman, but unfortunately the Stags left back ran the ball out of play. On 43 minutes Baptiste produced a great tackle to rob Scully as he headed for goal. A minute later Pipe had his third effort of the half, but sliced his shot well wide after cutting inside Jelleyman.

At half time we reflected that the Stags were looking very good and deserved the lead. There had been excellent performances from Barker, Asamoah, Rundle, Murray and Baptiste.

Half time 0-1

On 48 minutes, Smeltz and Ullathorne tangled by the corner flag and it seemed that Ullathorne pushed Smeltz in the face. Indeed the Notts County website reporter next to me immediately said "he'll be off for that" but he escaped without even a booking. On 50 minutes, a ball was played out to Scully on the left and he broke into the box and shot just past the right post. Two minutes later, Asamoah turned a defender and crossed low from the right where Smeltz tried to back-heel it towards goal. The ball was cleared. On 59 minutes, Smeltz was replaced by Brown with Asamoah moving up front. The game entered a quiet period and, on 67 minutes, a free kick was harshly awarded against Baptiste on the right just outside the box. The free kick was taken by County sub Charlie Palmer and flew just over the bar.

On 70 minutes, the Stags created their best chance of the half. There was great play by Rundle as he fed Brown; Brown crossed into the box and Barker sent an overhead kick which was going well wide but fell to Murray who put it back into the middle but the offside flag was raised. On 75 minutes, Bolland played a fine ball forward but Gill met it with a volley that was high and wide.

Two minutes later, there was a heart-stopping moment for the Stags as Baptiste mis-controlled in the box but Pilkington was alert to clear it with his feet. The game was now very tense and, on 85 minutes, Gordon headed over from a free kick harshly awarded against Murray who was even booked.

On 88 minutes, there was a great piece of play by Rundle holding on to the ball at the corner flag. He showed great strength. In the first minute of stoppage time, County had their best chance of equalising as Hurst flicked over the bar following a long throw in. As the game ended, after 3 minutes of stoppage time, the huge Stags following celebrated heartily while Sammy the Stag was ejected for celebrating in front of the County fans.

This was a great win for Mansfield - their first at County since 1958. It was thoroughly deserved and the result of solid defending along with fine performances particularly from Barker, Murray, Rundle and Asamoah. For County, Stallard was very impressive, but otherwise they were poor, a fact even admitted by Radio Nottingham correspondant Colin Slater.

But more importantly, it re-ignites the Stags chances of getting a play-off place, and wins over Swansea and Cheltenham at Field Mill in the next 7 days would really put the Stags into the mixer.

Man of the match: Richie Barker

Report by: Martin Shaw at Meadow Lane

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Quiet afternoon. Good handling throughout and one fine save at the feet of Gill in the first half.
Neil 7 Had to move to right back in a re-shuffled defence. Defended very well.
Buxton 7 Started badly, with hesitation allowing two chances for County, but superb in the second half.
Baptiste 8 Terrific performance throughout.
Jelleyman 7 Good performance at left back.
Asamoah 8 Gave the home side problems all afternoon. So unlucky not to score with one brilliant run that was nearly a carbon copy of his goal at Shrewsbury.
Curtis 7 Did well.
Murray 8 Great game in the centre of midfield.
Rundle 8 Looked an excellent prospect on the left side of midfield. In truth contributed more today than Corden has in total in the past two months. Fine cross for the goal. Showed great strength in holding the ball at the corner flag in the 88th minute.
Smeltz 6 Didn't contribute much.
Barker 9 Won every header, held the ball up well, and scored the vital goal. Immense performance
Sub Line Up:
Brown (for Smeltz, 59) 6 Put in a couple of decent crosses.
Subs not used: White, McIntosh, McLachlan, Lambu.
Opposition Line Up:
Deeney, McFaul, Baudet (Oakes 76), Wilson, Ullathorne (Hurst 88), Pipe, Gill, Bolland, Scully (Palmer 60), Gordon, Stallard.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Williams.
M Dean (Wirral) 8 Handled the game very well. You could tell he was a premiership referee.

Season 04/05 Reports