{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Swansea City
Barker 45+1 (Brown s/o 68)
 (Monk s/o 63)
Attendance: 3,829 (224 away fans)
Date: 8th February 2005

The Stags made just one change from the side which beat local rivals Notts County at the weekend. Shane Smeltz dropped to the bench to be replaced by Simon Brown. Colin Larkin was recalled to the bench, despite earlier in the week being told he was no longer required at the club. For Swansea the dangerous Lee Trundle started up front with recent loan signing and former Stags target Lee Thorpe on the bench. Before the match the SSA presented Kevin Pilkington and Ales-John Baptiste with a trophy to commemorate the Stags 3,000th league match, which was played at Notts County last weekend, but which County had refused to be presented at that game.

Swansea, needing just a point to go top of the table, started confidently and had a couple of early efforts easily dealt with by Pilkington and one low cross from the left by Trundle which just evaded Connor. The Stags first real effort on goal came from an unlikely source, Tom Curtis with an excellent right foot shot which flew just past the post. Early decisions from referee Paul Taylor incensed the Stags fans, but on 12 minutes the home side were grateful for his whistle as Irekpen headed home a left wing cross whilst clearly pushing Jake Buxton. From then on it was an even affair, with constant whistle blowing disrupting any chance the game had to take shape and a series of niggling fouls adding to the animosity between the two sides. The Stags almost took the lead five minutes before the break, Asamoah found himself in space on the edge of the box but instead of shooting laid the ball off to Murray who's goalbound effort deflected off a Swansea foot straight into the arms of Swans keeper Murphy. However, on the stroke of half-time the Stags did take the lead, and quite a goal it was. Rundle cleverly worked himself some space on the left and sent in a hard, low cross which Barker met with a powerful right foot shot high into the net past the helpless Murphy. Just moments later the half time whistle went and probably undeservedly, the Stags went in ahead.

Half-Time 1-0

The Stags had the first attempt of the 2nd half, Barker for the upteenth time winning a header, Asamoah controlled the ball with his back to goal and tried a overhead kick which flew just over the bar. At the other end the dangerous Trundle had a great chance when breaking clear but Buxton did superbly to force the striker wide and his shot from the angle was easily saved by Pilkington. Brown, having a much better 2nd half, then appeared to be fouled by Monk inside the area, the referee gave a free kick just outside much to Brown's disgust, Monk rightly booked. Rundle sent in a very dangerous cross which just eluded Barker. Just a few minutes later Swansea were down to ten men as Monk rather stupidly fouled Brown again and was sent off, given the referee, it was a foolhardy challenge. However, the Stags did not have the man advantage for long. A reckless challenge by Austin gave the Stags a free kick right in the corner where the QLE meets the West Stand - Austin somehow escaped a caution and then Robinson marched towards Brown. My view wasn't great, but the players heads did collide, some fans I have spoken to say it was Brown who feigned a head but, others say it was the Swansea player who should have been sent off - however, it was the Stags man who was red carded, and if he did head-butt the Swansea player, he could have cost the Stags the points. As it happened, the Stags defended well, if a little deep, and Pilkington had little to do for the remainder of the match. Larkin replaced Asamoah as the Stags looked for fresh legs, and near the end the outstanding Barker left to a standing ovation to be replaced by Smeltz. Four added minutes saw the Stags concede a couple of late corners, but as they had been all game, Buxton and Baptiste defended well and Pilkington wasn't tested.

After a rather disjointed 44 minutes, the goal on the stroke of half time was a real boost for the Stags and helped them produce a much improved 2nd half performance. Of real note was the performance of the two young centre halves, who defended superbly and look a real useful partnership, hopefully for many years to come. The referee will get many of the headlines for his whistle and card happy display, but that should not detract from the performance of Richie Barker, who was immense leading the Stags attack.

Man of the Match: Richie Barker

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Fine handling, few saves to make
Neil 7 Continued his excellent form, some fine interceptions
Buxton 8 Tower of strength at the back
Baptiste 8 Forming a fine partnership with Bucko
Jellyman 7 Linked well with Rundle
Brown 6 Was having a decent 2nd half until being sent off
Rundle 7 Excellent work to create the goal and had a good match
Murray 6 Quiet game from Adam
Curtis 6 Worked hard as usual, one good shot
Asamoah 6 One good overhead kick, but not really his night
Barker 10 Absolutely superb display, won headers all night, held the ball up brilliantly, scored a stunning goal and gave 100% - fantastic
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Asamoah, 84) 7 Looked sharp again, one excellent piece of play near the end
Smeltz (for Barker, 90) 6 Brought on right at the end
Opposition Line Up:
Murphy, Tate, Monk, Iriekpen, Austin, Britton, Robinson, Martinez, Anderson (Maylett 60), Connor (Thorpe 60), Trundle.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Corbisiero, Pritchard.
Mr P Taylor - 2 - Once again, had to be the centre of attraction

Season 04/05 Reports