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Season 05/06 Stagsnet Match Report
Coca-Cola League 2
Oxford United  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Bradbury 37
 Day 60, 79
Attendance: 4005 (215 from Mansfield)
Date: 31 December 2005


Report by Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the Kassam Stadium

Mansfield Town produced their most important victory of the season at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon to recover from 1-0 down, thanks to two goals from defender Rhys Day. Day hadn’t scored this season and came up with the goods just when they were needed. For 60 minutes, this was a terrible game and it very much looked like the Stags would get nothing out of it, having conceded a goal after 37 minutes due to slack marking. But everything changed when Rhys Day powered home to make it 1-1. The Stags suddenly started to look fluent and it was as though a great release flooded through team when goal went in. Day scored again 11 minutes from time after a great knock down by substitute Richie Barker and the Stags comfortably held on to help erase the horrible memory of giving away two points against Bristol Rovers so late on. This time there were no last minute mistakes; in fact Oxford never really came close to equalising.

Mansfield made just one change from the side that drew with Bristol Rovers, as Dawson replaced Coke in central midfield. Coke had done his Terry Butcher impression on Wednesday night playing the second half with a headband after an injury. Contrary to expectation, Jelleyman was not suspended, and will instead miss the Lincoln game on Monday.

Oxford were the first to break and claimed a penalty after three minutes when Eric Sabin broke into the box and went down, but the referee correctly said there was no foul. Pressman then made a good save after 8 minutes when Bradbury put in a good cross.

The Stags first chance came on 20 minutes when Arnold played in Russell but it was blocked for a corner.

But on 27 minutes Oxford could have been in front when an Oxford corner was met cleanly by Stirling, who headed over the bar.

On 37 minutes, Oxford were in front, thanks to slow defending from the Stags. Basham got down the left and crossed into the box where Bradbury had far too much time to control the ball, turn, and shoot low past Pressman from 12 yards. The Stags defence were just too slow. We will never know whether the fact that Mansfield played on Wednesday while Oxford didn’t, contributed to the speed of thought in the box.

Two minutes later, the Stags at last started to pick their game up momentarily. Rundle did well to play in Arnold into the box, and the young striker toe-poked an effort towards the left post, but the keeper pushed it away for a corner. Almost immediately, Jelleyman sent in a shot from 25 yards, which the keeper saved above his head.

At half time we reflected that the Stags had been awful in an awful game. And one moment of slack defending had been the difference between the sides.

Half time 1-0

On 49 minutes, Arnold headed over the bar. Four minutes later, Uhlenbeek’s free kick was cleared as far as Rundle, whose low shot was at the keeper. On 58 minutes, Dawson made a great break into the Oxford box but shot over the bar. Birchall replaced Uhlenbeek on the hour, and within seconds the Stags were level.

The goal came from a perfect Rundle corner, from the left, floated away from goal. As it floated into the middle, you could see that only one man was going to get it - that man was Rhys Day, who glided through the air and powered his header into the roof of the net. Day has been prolific in recent seasons with this type of goal, but this was his first of the season.

On 64 minutes, Rundle tried a cheeky chip from 40 yards with the keeper off his line. He put it wide but it was a clever effort. Then Barker came on for the under-performing Russell. Barker has been missed in recent games and it was great to see him back, albeit not perhaps fully fit.

Amongst the 215 travelling Stags fans, a banner suddenly appeared asking the chairman to pay back his loans. It was quickly removed by the Oxford stewards.

I said on Mansfield 103.2 and Stagsworld commentary that the Stags best chance of a winner would come from Rhys Day. On 79 minutes, the Stags were awarded a free kick just inside the Oxford half. My fellow commentator Jason Harrison said he hoped to bring the listeners a goal within the next 10 seconds. Dawson pumped the ball into the box. Barker flicked it down across goal. Day headed towards the left post and it nestled just inside the net. Cue bedlam, unconfined joy. (listen to the commentary here)

Coke replaced Arnold straight away.

You might have expected the Stags to be under huge pressure in the last 11 minutes but it never really materialised. There was one chance when a shot was deflected inches past the past with Pressman wrong-footed. And there was just one other chance as Willmott fired a header from a corner towards goal but it was cleared.

Coke should have sealed the game when the Stags broke in a 3-on-1 situation on 90 minutes. Rundle crossed into the middle, but Coke’s control was rubbish and he ran it through to the keeper. Coke was booked for a his troubles as he fell over the keeper.

At the final whistle (listen to the commentary here) the Stags players and fans were delighted. The scenes of jubilation were a joy to behold. Steven Dawson even took his shirt off and tried to lob it into the crowd. However it landed on the track in front of the stand! Rhys Day deserved his moment of glory, and was man of the match for, well, winning the match. A great three points. Possibly not deserved though the Stags were the better side in the second half after a dire showing in the first. However we don’t care about that after the heartbreak of Wednesday. Bring on Lincoln. Come on you Stags!

Man of the match: Rhys Day

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at the Kassam Stadium

Line Up:
Pressman 7 Another assured display; commanding from crosses.
Buxton 7 Defended well throughout.
Baptiste 7 Very solid, won a lot of balls in the air.
Day 8 Defended well and won the game with two headers.
Jelleyman 7 Did well, shepherded the dangerous Hackett well.
Uhlenbeek 6 Disappointing, though looked good when he got beyond the last man.
D’Laryea 6 Had a poor first half, but better in the second half, doing the simple things well and getting hold of the midfield.
Dawson 7 Chased everything down and worked hard all game.
Rundle 6 Very quiet, though improved in the second half.
Arnold 7 Lively and tricky on the ball. Showed promise.
Russell 5 Dreadful performance. Achieved very little.
Sub Line Up:
Birchall (for Uhlenbeek, 60) 6 Slotted in well.
Barker (for Russell, 65) 7 Header set up the second goal. Didn’t look fully fit but still contributed.
Coke (for Arnold, 80) -
Subs Not Used: White, Hjelde.
Opposition Line Up:
Tardif, Stirling (Roget 83), Willmott, Ashton, Robinson, Bradbury, Quinn, Mansell, Hackett (Roach 83), Basham (Fitzgerald 60), Sabin.
Subs Not Used: Turley, Griffin.
D Drysdale (Lincolnshire) 7 Did ok, though a couple of minor mistakes.

Season 05/06 Reports