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Season 05/06 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
 Stockport County
Peers 26, Barker 31.
 Easter 80
Attendance: 2994 (447 from Stockport)
Date: 26 November 2005


Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill

The Stags earned a scrappy win over a dire Stockport side at Field Mill this afternoon, to lift the team out of the dreaded bottom two. The Stags were impressive in the first half and deservedly led 2-0 at the break, but the second half was poor fayre and Stockport’s 80th minute goal, out of the blue, led to a very nervy final 10 minutes.

From the side that played against Bury two weeks ago, the Stags made two changes: Peers replaced Talbot while Dawson replaced the injured Brown. There were other positional changes as Buxton moved from right back to left back, Birchall moved from right midfield to the forward line, with Dawson taking over in right midfield.

Before the game, there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence for Peter Wilson, the Stags goalkeeping coach who so tragically died at Shrewsbury last week, and for George Best, who died on Friday.

The arriving Stags fans were all given a TEAM Mansfield leaflet as part of the growing campaign against the chairman. (For any fans who didn’t get a copy, click here).

The Stags made a terrific all-action start. In the first minute, Rundle broke clear on the left and his cross was deflected into the face of D’Laryea before flying wide of the near post. A minute later, Peers put in a good cross from the right wing which was flicked away by the Stockport defence.

On 5 minutes there was the first Carlton Palmer abuse, which rang out from all around the ground, started it has to be said by the visiting fans. On 6 minutes, Birchall tried a long range effort from 25 yards, which flew over the bar.

On 10 minutes the Stags had a great chance to take the lead. Rundle put in a cross from the left. Barker was on his own in the middle and the ball was headed behind for a corner. Rundle trotted over to take the corner and from it, Peers had a free header which rolled wide of the left post. Two minutes later, the ball bounced nicely for Barker, 22 yards out. He struck a sweet volley, but didn’t get enough height to clear the keeper, who palmed it away for a corner.

After 15 minutes, Stockport had their first and only pressure of the first half, with 3 consecutive corners. From the first, Peers got a good headed clearance; from the second the ball was headed over the bar via a deflection; and from the third Jermaine Easter missed an easy chance, putting the ball wide of Pressman’s right hand post from 7 yards. The Stags broke the spell of pressure on 19 minutes when Rundle’s mazy run into the box teed up Dawson who shot straight at the keeper. On 22 minutes, Barker broke through a tackle in the box, but the Stockport keeper was quick to smother the shot at his right hand post. At this stage we noted that the shape of the Stags team looked wrong with Barker lacking support up front.

On 25 minutes, Mansfield were so unlucky not to take the lead. Coke danced his way around a defender on the edge of the box, and his left foot shot was deflected into the ground and up over the keeper and onto the top of the bar. Coke put his head in his heads, and the West Stand pondered how it didn’t go in.

But from the resulting corner the Stags earned a free kick on the left and from it, took a richly deserved lead. Rundle sent over the kick, finding the head of Peers 6 yards out, whose downward header entered the net in slow motion to the joy of the home fans. The goal celebrations saw all 10 outfield players linking arms in a show of togetherness.

Five minutes later it was 2-0. Barker ran forwards onto a long through ball down the middle from Dawson, which forced the Stockport keeper to come out of his box to clear it. Barker though got there first, knocked it past the keeper, and shot into the empty net.

On 35 minutes, Birchall led a Stags breakaway, but with Dawson screaming for the ball on the right and completely unmarked, Birchall managed the give the ball away. On 39 minutes, Coke showed great close control in the box and dinked a ball to Dawson whose header was deflected wide for a corner.

After 40 minutes, Stockport manager Chris Turner made two tactical changes which had us all thinking back to Carlton Palmer’s last game in charge of the Stags, at Rochdale, when he did a similar thing.

So the Stags were completely in control in the first half and could have been more than 2-0 ahead, with Rundle outstanding, Coke playing a big part and Barker his usual self up front. At the back, Baptiste and Hjelde look a solid pairing yet again, and Pressman was a virtual spectator.

Half time 2-0

The start of the second half became something of a blur for one of your reporters, who was drafted in as a substitute commentator on StagsWorld for the injured Steve Hartshorn. The episode made even more confusing by the sudden break in the ISDN line, meaning that we had to commentate the second half using my mobile phone! (cheque awaited from the Stags chairman).

On 48 minutes, Peers made an awful clearance which was picked up in the centre of the park by Stockport, fed through to their forward, who reached the byeline, crossed, and Pressman tipped it over the bar from the tight angle. On 58 minutes, after 10 minutes of nothingness, Dawson made a break down the right as the Stags attacked for the first time in the half. Three minutes later, more good work from Dawson on the right, as he got in a cross to Birchall on the edge of the six-yard box with his back to goal. Birchall tried to turn but was the ball was cleared. The Stags were getting better at last and the best move of the second half saw Buxton overlap down the left at pace and earn a corner.

On 65 minutes, the ineffective Birchall was replaced by Allan Russell, for his debut, on loan from Macclesfield. More scrappy play continued with no goalmouth action until 74 minutes when Russell won a loose ball allowing Dawson a chance on goal but his shot was tamely wide. A minute later, Rundle shimmied into the box but Dawson could make little of the chance that Barker would have relished. On 78 minutes, Russell had a shot blocked.

But 10 minutes from time, Stockport pulled a goal back that they didn’t deserve. A ball flicked through saw Jermaine Easter haring in on goal, and he did well to get the ball between Pressman’s legs and into the net. At last the 447 Stockport fans had something to cheer and the goal set up a nervy final 10 minutes.

On 82 minutes, new boy Russell had a chance to make himself a hero and end the tension, as he latched onto a lucky bounce, but his shot was well blocked.

As the clock ticked down, the Stags were never really threatened but as we all know, it only takes a second to score a goal. The only other chance of the game came on 87 minutes as a deep cross by Dawson just evaded the in-rushing Rundle. Three extra minutes were signaled, and passed without mishap amid rising tension, as the Stags hung for a vital three points to take them above the visitors and out of the relegation zone.

The Stags clearly deserved the win, mainly thanks to a fine first half performance, when they looked eager for the ball and played flowing football. The second half was a disappointment as the Stags never pressed on and the game became horribly scrappy. When Stockport scored a goal out of the blue it led to a tense final 10 minutes, which shouldn’t have been necessary as the visitors were undeniably woeful and deserved nothing from the game.

The Stags can now focus their attention back to the FA Cup and the televised tie against Grays on Friday night. With only a handful of places separating the two teams in the football pyramid, and Grays’ players reputedly earning considerably more than those of Mansfield , it should be a close game, but the stage is there for the Stags’ flair players like Rundle and Coke, and hopefully Simon Brown, to show the watching millions what they can do! Come on Mansfield.

Man of the Match: Richie Barker (just ahead of Rundle)

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pressman 6 No saves to make; good kicking. Quiet day at the office.
Peers 6 Did well in the air, including the goal, but distribution was poor.
Baptiste 8 Excellent performance; made all the 50:50 balls his own.
Hjelde 7 Good game, won most of his headers. Marked his man very tightly.
Buxton 7 Played well at left back. Improved as the game went on
Dawson 7 Some good crosses but generally quiet.
D’Laryea 6 Not at his best. Won a few balls in midfield.
Coke 6 Good first half, but gave ball away too often in the second half .
Rundle 8 Fantastic start to the game, creating early chances. Didn’t see the ball in the second half.
Birchall 6 As the second striker, didn’t support Barker well enough. Looked a little lost.
Barker 8 Chased hard all game, deserved his goal. Needed more support.
Sub Line Up:
Russell (for Birchall, 65) 7 Nearly scored on his debut. Did well.
Subs not used: White, Day, Talbot, McLachlan.
Opposition Line Up:
Spencer, Robinson, Raynes, Clare, Greenwood, Singh, Briggs (Wolski 40), Boshell (Allen 85), Hamshaw, Bramble (Malcolm 40), Easter.
Subs Not Used: Ikeme, Le Fondre.
M Russell (Hertfordshire) 7 Had a good game, the best for a while in a Stags game. Very unfussy.

Season 05/06 Reports