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Season 05/06 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Rushden & Diamonds  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Dempster 57.
 Brown 19, Coke 50.
Attendance: 2477 (362 from Mansfield)
Date: 10 December 2005


Martin Shaw at Nene Park

Mansfield picked up their first ever win against Rushden & Diamonds this afternoon to secure a vital 3 points against one of League Two’s other strugglers. The win propelled the Stags 5 points outside the relegation zone and with a game in hand. The Stags were on top and were comfortable with a 2-0 lead following goals from Brown and a cracker from Coke, but Rushden’s goal after 57 minutes led a nervy last half hour, as the Stags clung on despite some aerial pressure from the home team.

Jake Buxton returned to the starting line-up, at right back in place of Peers. Meanwhile Rundle, so surprisingly left out at Wrexham, returned in place of Dawson, and Brown came back in for Birchall.

Rushden created the game’s first chance inside the first minute as veteran striker Alun Armstrong sent a back-flick over the bar from Andy Burgess' cross. On 3 minutes, Uhlenbeek shot from 25 yards and the shot seemed to be curling just wide of the right post until keeper Jamie Young tipped it behind. Remarkably the referee gave a goal kick much to the annoyance of the Stags players. After 9 minutes, Rushden midfielder Gary Mills had a shot from the edge of the box but it was blocked on its way to goal. On 11 minutes, the lively O'Grady shot from the edge of the box, it was deflected by a Stags player into the ground and bounced up towards the roof of the net. Pressman looked as though he would collect it, but Baptiste took no chances and headed it over his own bar

But on 19 minutes the Stags took the lead through Simon Brown, and it was thanks to a super cross from Jake Buxton. Brown it was who played Buxton in on the right, Buxton took the ball to the byeline, and put in a perfect cross onto the head of the unmarked Brown, who couldn’t miss with his header from 6 yards. It was a simple goal, well created by the two players.

Moments later, Rundle did very well to get his body shape right and hit a fine shot from just outside the box as the ball was at an awkward height, and the keeper managed to save it at the second attempt. There was some brilliant defending by Buxton a few minutes later as he worked O’Grady wider and wider as the Rushden man tried to get in a shot from the edge of the box.

On 33 minutes it should have been 2-0. Brown found Uhlenbeek down the right, and Uhlenbeek fired in a low cross which was just in front of the unmarked D'Laryea. The ball ran on to Rundle who fired over from a tight angle. It was great play from Mansfield.

On 45 minutes, Brown had to hobble off with a recurrence of his hamstring problems, and was replaced by Russell.

The Stags went in at half time deservedly leading 1-0, and with the home side looking low on confidence, the Stags knowing that getting an early goal in the second half could be crucial.

Half time 0-1

The Stags should have got that second goal on 48 minutes. Russell did very well to power his way down the right wing, and popped in perfect cross to the far post where Rundle rose above his marker, but headed just wide.

But on 50 minutes it was 2-0 and what a brilliant goal it was; possibly the goal of the season. D'Laryea pinged a ball forward to Coke on the edge of the penalty area. Coke had to do really well to control it, and somehow he turned and beat three men in one go, before tucking the ball into the right hand side of the net. It was amazing stuff, and Coke ran into the Stags fans behind the goal to celebrate. The referee decided his celebrations were worth a booking. But never mind, Cokey, because that was an absolutely wonderful goal.

With Rushden looking down and out, the game should have been over. But on the radio commentary, we said that one goal from somewhere for the home team would change everything and so it proved. On 57 minutes, the home team’s outstanding player David Bell sent in a fine corner and Dempster headed towards goal. It seemed to be heading straight for Pressman, but somehow found its way into the net through a crowd of players.

Straight away, Rushden made a double substitution with big striker Drewe Broughton coming on, along with another striker Lee Tomlin. It soon dawned on us that Rushden’s tactic was going to be to pump balls into the box for their big men.

The next chance fell to the Stags as Rundle’s fine corner was headed over the angle of post and bar by Buxton. On 70 minutes, Bell got in a shot low towards the right post, but the improving Pressman did well to get down quickly and made a really good save.

Minutes later there was a candidate for tackle of the season as Coke made a brilliant challenge on the edge of his own box as a Rushden player was just about to shoot. At the other end, on 75 minutes, Russell made a break down the right and crossed for Barker but a Diamonds defender made a great tackle.

On 76 minutes there was a candidate for miss of the season, as the home side had a real chance to equalise. A ball was played into the Stags box by Savage, and Tomlin’s shot was well saved by Pressman, but the loose ball fell to Kelly who ballooned over the bar from 8 yards with no defender in sight. The Stags defence gave the impression of being all over the place.

Dawson replaced Uhlenbeek and soon afterwards the Stags could have sealed the game. Russell, clearly offside as we had a perfect view of it from the commentary box, ran clear of the defence but instead of running towards goal, set off down the right. He crossed for Barker in the middle but the Stags captain was slow and a Rushden defender and the keeper seemed to get their first, though much to the annoyance of the Stags fans behind the goal, a goal-kick was awarded. On 84 minutes, Pressman made another fine save, this time from Broughton's low shot from the edge of the box. The final few minutes were very tense indeed but there were no more chances for either side as the Stags just held on for a vital win. At the final whistle, there were great celebrations from the 362 Stags fans, and the players spent time enjoying the moment with them.

So, a game that started out as very entertaining, ended as a very scrappy and nervy game with Rushden just pumping high balls into the Stags box. As Stags manager Peter Shirtliff said after the game, it wasn’t pretty, but in the end the Stags fans were delighted as the three points were secured. There were some fine performances from the team, notably from Buxton, Baptiste, Coke, Pressman and D’Laryea. The Stags have just one more game before Christmas and it could be a much happier day than we might have thought a few weeks ago as the Stags have taken 15 points from the last 8 league games, as well as winning 2 FA Cups games. Off the pitch, the Haslam banners were out in force with one saying “Keith Loadsamoney Haslam, pay the money back” and another simply saying “Haslam Out”. The Stags chairman will clearly not be allowed to forget that he has broken the law.

Man of the match: Jake Buxton

Report by: Martin Shaw at Nene Park

Line Up:
Pressman 7 An assured afternoon, with some good saves.
Buxton 8 Defended very well and crossed well for the first goal.
Baptiste 8 Another fine game.
Day 6 Did ok but not in his best form.
Jelleyman 6 Had a tough game against the brilliant David Bell.
Uhlenbeek 6 Did ok.
D’Laryea 7 Good game in central midfield, composed on the ball.
Coke 8 A brilliant goal, a brilliant tackle, and an overall good game.
Rundle 7 One or two good crosses; in good form at present.
Barker 6 Fairly quiet; missed a couple of chances.
Brown 7 Did well, and was in the right place for his goal. Went off with a hamstring injury
Sub Line Up:
Russell (for Brown, 45) 7 Did well, looked sharp; linked well with Barker.
Dawson (for Uhlenbeek, 80) -
Subs Not Used: White, Peers, Birchall.
Opposition Line Up:
Young, Gier, Dempster, Gulliver, Burgess, McCafferty, Mills (Kelly 39), Savage, Bell, Armstrong (Tomlin 58), O'Grady (Broughton 59).
Subs Not Used: Okuonghae, Jones.
K Wright (Cambridgeshire) 5 Poor game, but equally bad for both teams.

Season 05/06 Reports