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Season 04/05 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Leyton Orient  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Alexander 25, 33.
 Lloyd 87.
Attendance: 3,882 (389 from Mansfield)
Date: 7th May 2005

Martin Shaw at Brisbane Road

The Stags were beaten at Leyton Orient this afternoon to drop into the bottom half of the table. The Stags were poor for 75 minutes but an excellent late rally, culminating with a goal on 87 minutes and several late chances to equalize nearly claimed an undeserved point. The Stags finished 13th, the same position as in 2000/2001, and the season was so average that the final goal difference was zero.

Carlton Palmer handed a league debut to young Austin McIntosh, who slotted in at right back. Scott McNiven surprisingly retained his place at left back despite saying in midweek how annoyed he was at how Mansfield had gone about not offering him a new contract. Judging by the chanting of his name during the first half, most fans agreed with McNiven. It was ironic that it was the first time I can recall any fans chanting his name this season. Luke Dimech started in central defence, also playing his final game for the club. Alex Neil was in midfield, and whether he was playing his last game will depend on whether he can negotiate a better contract or accept his current offer. Meanwhile Curtis and Lloyd returned to the starting line-up. Brown joined Barker up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
The game got off to a quiet start, and the first real action came on 8 minutes when Brown put in a good cross which just eluded Barker. Two minutes later Orient’s first corner was taken by the long serving Lockwood. It was an excellent kick, which was headed over. On 12 minutes Brown went down in the box and strong penalty claims were waved away.

On 18 minutes, the Stags had an escape. An Orient cross from the right was headed goalwards by Gary Alexander. White muffed his save as the ball seemed to go through him, but Dimech was alert enough to clear off the line. It was great play from the Maltese international getting the ball away from underneath the bar. Seconds later the Stags had to clear off the line again. It was from the resulting corner, and a header towards goal was hoofed away by Baptiste. On 21 minutes, there was great play by Neil as he beat a defender in the Orient box, but his cross was cleared.

On 23 minutes, an Orient cross from the left floated into the Stags box, and McNiven looked favourite to clear it but Alexander had other ideas and managed to get a header in which was fortunately straight at White. It was poor play by McNiven. The writing was on the wall.

Two minutes later Baptiste did brilliantly to block an effort in the box but the Stags luck ran out seconds later with more poor defending from McNiven. Duncan whipped in a cross from the left and incredibly two Orient players were completely unmarked at the far post, where the Stags’ left back should have been. Alexander was first to it and had his easiest goal of the season as he beat Jason White from close range. It was schoolboy stuff from the Stags.

On 28 minutes Brown broke into the Orient box and went down again. For the second time in the game, the referee waved play on. A minute later Baptiste had to be at his best again to rob Lee Steele as the little Orient striker bore down on goal. On 30 minutes, Rundle played a one-two with Barker and fired wide of the left post, to provide some excitement for the traveling Stags fans, many of whom were in fancy dress.

But it was 2-0 on 33 minutes. Steele got away on the left and crossed to the far post where Alexander was unmarked again and headed home from close range. Where was McNiven again?

On 43 minutes Alexander beat the Stags offside trap and crossed into the middle where Alex Neil did brilliantly to clear from an Orient player. Two minutes into injury time there was nearly a freak goal for the home side as Simpson took a free kick from the halfway line and tried to catch Jason White off his line. The Stags keeper had to peddle backwards and tip the ball over the bar.

At half time we reflected that the Stags had gifted Orient two easy goals with awful defending, and the Stags had been poor all round with the exception of the lively Brown.

Half time 0-0

Day and Coke replaced full backs McNiven and McIntosh at half time. Neil moved to right back and Dimech to left back. On 49 minutes Rundle made a mistake giving the ball away in midfield; Steele broke clear and fired over the bar under pressure from Dimech. Two minutes later there was an extraordinary moment as Jason White belted an 80 yard clearance upfield. The ball sailed just past the left post as the Orient keeper looked bemused. This boy doesn’t half have a powerful kick and should be considered for penalty taking in my opinion.

On 52 minutes, Day made a mistake and left Alexander with a one-on-one from a tight angle, but he failed to complete his hat-trick, shooting towards the far corner flag. Two minutes later, Neil, now at right back, was caught out of position, Lockwood broke down the left and crossed where Dimech was able to clear just past his own post.

On 56 minutes Brown broke clear of the home defence and got to the loose ball at exactly the same time as the Orient keeper but as both players went for the ball, it span away to safety. A minute later, Rundle gave the ball away for the second time in the half; this time on the edge of the box, but he was rescued as an offside flag went up.

McLachlan came on for Neil, with Curtis moving to right back. This sparked a chorus of anti-Palmer abusive chanting from a large section of the away following.

Four minutes after coming on, McLachlan had a chance of a shot but chose to pass out to the right and the danger had passed. Then the Stags had three chances to shoot inside the box, but Coke, Barker and Rundle all failed to pull the trigger. The Stags were looking much more solid defensively with Day looking dominant.

On 73 minutes, the Stags produced their best move of the game. A great Barker ball to the right, saw Curtis then play it inside for Baptiste, who crossed for Brown to flick a header goalwards. It was great stuff and the Orient keeper produced a brilliant save. The ball rebounded to Brown, who fired over the bar from a tight angle.

On 76 minutes Coke fired over from 25 yards, and three minutes later Brown turned well in the box but couldn’t make anything of it. On 83 minutes McLachlan had another shooting chance but didn’t pull the trigger. The ball ran to Brown who went down in the box, but the referee waved play on ... for the third time in the match. On 86 minutes Coke went on a fine run, and crossed into the box; Barker missed it, the ball pinged around and eventually Rundle had a cracking shot from 22 yards tipped over the bar.

From the resulting corner, taken by Curtis from the left, Day headed the ball back across goal and Lloyd stroked the ball into the net at the far post from close range with his right foot to make it 2-1.

It was set up for a grandstand finish. On 89 minutes, McLachlan had a shot cleared off the line, and from the resulting corner, Day had a goalbound effort blocked by one of his own players. A minute into injury time, Brown broke clear of the Orient defence, but the keeper saved. From the corner, the ball came to Barker at the far post, he fired a shot goalwards but somehow the keeper saved brilliantly on the goal-line. Then in the final minute of stoppage time Curtis shot over the bar from the edge of the box.

It was an incredible ending to the game which had the Stags fans roaring their team on. But they were left wondering why the Stags could not produce this sort of form earlier in the game. At the end of the game the Stags players applauded the fans, and Dimech gave his shirt to a supporter as if to say goodbye. McNiven looked emotional as he applauded the fans.

It was clear that many fans felt McNiven had been harshly treated. He obviously did so himself from comments made in the press this week. It was entirely predictable that his head wouldn’t be in the right place today, and this showed with a terrible first half performance that ultimately cost the Stags the game. It was sad that he ended his Stags career like this. We wish him all the best in his future career. I would question the manager’s decision to play him today given the situation.

The end of a traumatic season, and one which many Stags fans couldn’t wait to end. Let’s hope the Stags can bring in a top class striker in the summer to spearhead a promotion charge next season. Come on Stags.

Man of the match: Simon Brown

Report by: Martin Shaw at Brisbane Road

Line Up:
White 6 Did ok despite one mistake.
McIntosh 6 A difficult league debut in a poor defence.
Baptiste 6 Some good challenges but not as solid as usual.
Dimech 6 A brilliant goal-line clearance but none of the defence distinguished themselves.
McNiven 5 Terrible, but understandable in the circumstances.
Neil 6 The player of the season was not at his best.
Curtis 6 Quiet.
Lloyd 6 Anonymous but scored for the third game on the trot to redeem himself.
Rundle 6 Not at his best, but unlucky with a rasping late shot.
Brown 8 Easily the Stags best player. Showed good pace, and very unlucky with one fine header.
Barker 6 Won some decent flick-ons, but not at his best.
Sub Line Up:
Coke (for McIntosh, 45) 6 One good run, and did ok.
Day (for McNiven, 45) 7 Shored up the defence in the second half.
McLachlan (for Neil, 59) 6 Did ok, but should have had a shot on two occasions.
Subs Not Used: Heron, Lonsdale.
Opposition Line Up:
Harrison, Miller, Zakuani, Mackie (Carlisle 50), Lockwood, Barnard, Simpson, McMahon, Duncan (Saah 73), Steele (Echanomi 56), Alexander.
Subs Not Used: Morris, Palmer.
K Stroud (Dorset) 6 Handled the game well. Turned down three penalty appeals by Brown, probably correctly.

Season 04/05 Reports