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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
0 - 2
 Mansfield Town
 Murray 38, Rundle 81
Attendance: 2529 (405 from Mansfield)
Date: 19th February 2005

Martin Shaw at Gigg Lane

Goals from Adam Murray and Adam Rundle fired the Stags to a fine 2-0 win at Bury this afternoon. Bury had conceded just 11 goals in 16 home league games but the Stags chose this game to register two goals in a game for only the second time since October 16th.

Mansfield made one change with McLachlan replacing Lambu, while Asamoah remained on the bench. The home side included Bas Savage, on loan from Reading, who was one of the biggest strikers the Stags will have played against for some time. The Stags played in a garish kit of amber shirts with orange shorts, for the first, and we hope only, time. Steve Hartshorn and I, who were commentating for StagsWorld, noted early on that the pitch was in dreadful condition and would make passing and dribbling very difficult.

The first 20 minutes was as scrappy as we’ve seen this season. The first chance of any note fell to the home side on 15 minutes when Flitcroft shot just past the right post from the edge of the box with Pilkington beaten. Moments later Unsworth beat Jelleyman on the right wing and crossed for Newby, whose near-post close-range shot was deflected for a corner.

But the Stags should have been ahead on 22 minutes. Rundle sent a corner from the right into the six yard box. Bizarrely the Bury keeper was rooted to his line and McLachlan was completely unmarked to head it onto the roof of the net, when it seemed easier to score. The Stags had claims for a penalty when Larkin's shot was blocked in the box but the referee wanted none of it. From our position in the press box, it didn’t look a penalty. Shortly afterwards, with the Stags now on top, Neil crossed from the right and Barker headed over the angle. It was the sort of chance you would hope Barker would put away, but to be fair, the cross was perhaps a fraction too high. Then the Stags had two more chances in quick succession in a comedy of errors as first Larkin sliced a shot which fell kindly for Rundle, who sliced his shot into the sparsely populated home end.

The Stags took a deserved lead on 38 minutes. Pilkington’s goal kick found Rundle, who played a terrific ball from the left side, to Murray. Murray let it bounce and then fired a ferocious volley from the edge of the box on the right, across keeper Marriott and it fizzed into the left corner of the net. This was the Adam Murray of old.

As the first half drew to a close, Challinor shot hopelessly over the bar, proving that his long throw is better than his shooting.

Half time 0-1

The Stags were under the cosh in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Murray made a mistake on the edge of his own box allowing Barry-Murphy to get in a shot which was weak and straight at Pilkington. Bury went close a few times, most notably when there was an almighty scramble in the Stags box and somehow the Stags survived. But following that scramble the Stags broke straight to the far end and Murray had a shot from outside the box which was well saved, after good play from Larkin. Then Rundle nearly scored a freak goal on the hour. His cross was nowhere near any Stags player but suddenly it was heading for the top corner until Marriott tipped it over the bar. From the corner, Buxton had a free header which was cleared off the line. The Stags had weathered Bury’s pressure.

After a quiet period Larkin should have sealed it on 78 minutes when he had a one-on-one with the keeper but ran the ball too far and Marriott claimed the ball at his feet. An on-form Colin Larkin would surely have buried this chance even though the bobbly pitch may have been a genuine excuse.

But Mansfield did seal it on 81 minutes. Barker got the ball on the right and squared it to Murray past the keeper, and Murray seemed to back-flick it towards the net where Rundle was unmarked right in front of goal and couldn’t miss from 2 yards. It was right in front of the Stags fans and the players’ celebrations were a sight to behold. The Stags nearly scored again seconds later when Neil’s cross was headed just over his own bar by a Bury defender. After that, nothing of much note happened with no chances at either end as the Stags ended the game very comfortably.

Bury’s defence was all over the place for much of the afternoon as the Stags were delighted to score more than one goal for the first time since Shrewsbury. It was extraordinary that Bury had the best defensive record at home this season before this game - they were awful. In fact Bury were also awful in midfield and up front. The enormous Bas Savage was no more of a threat than Lily Savage. The Stags put in a classic away performance: very strong in defence with Baptiste outstanding; solid in midfield with McLachlan a rock in the centre, and Murray providing the spark going forward, and Rundle very impressive again on the left side of midfield pushing forward.

Tuesday’s game against Wycombe will be more difficult than this. Wycombe have the best away record in the League and with Guppy, Claridge and Nathan Tyson up front, will surely provide more of a threat than Bury. But the Stags need to continue their good run and need to continue picking up points. Come on you Stags!

Man of the match: Alex John-Baptiste

Report by: Martin Shaw at Gigg Lane

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Quiet afternoon. Good handling throughout, claiming every cross.
Neil 7 Defended very well and made some good forward runs.
Buxton 7 One moment of hesitation, but otherwise played very well.
Baptiste 8 Terrific performance throughout.
Jelleyman 7 Good performance at left back.
Larkin 7 Did well in a right wing position. Missed a one-on-one chance in the second half.
McLachlan 7 One misplaced pass and should have scored with a header from a corner early on. Otherwise a faultless performance.
Curtis 6 Did ok, winning several 50:50 balls..
Murray 7 Crucial contributions with a great goal and then setting up the second goal. But actually didn’t have a great game other than that.
Rundle 8 Did very well on the left wing, capped by the second goal when he was in the right place at the right time. Barker 7 Missed a good chance in the first but won most of his headers, including some important ones in his own box.
Sub Line Up:
Asamoah (for Larkin, xx) -
Smeltz (for Barker, 90+1) -
Lloyd (for Murray, 90+2) -
Subs not used: White, Dimech.
Opposition Line Up:
A Marriott, J Fitzgerald, D Challinor, C Woodthorpe, L Unsworth, D Flitcroft, G Harkins, B Barry-Murphy, T Kennedy, B Savage, J Newby
Subs: C Kazim-Richards, S Whaley, D Moore, J Cartledge, G Garner
Andy Hall 5 Several poor decisions, and seemed to miss a probable penalty for the Stags.

Season 04/05 Reports