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Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
Port Vale  
4 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Cummins 30, 33, <BR>Armstrong 50, Paynter 66.
 Corden 1, Christie 67.
Attendance: 3,880 (512 from Mansfield)
Date: 30th November 2002

The Stags brought in on loan defender Ryhs Day for his debut, replacing Neil Moore, with Mark Lever taking over as Captain. Loanee Colin Little returned from injury to partner top scorer Iyseden Christie in attack, with Colin Larkin dropping to the bench. The Stags were also boosted by the return of last seasons player of the year Bobby Hassell, who was on the bench following a long injury absence.

The Stags got off to the perfect start within the first minute, former Vale winger Wayne Corden firing in a powerful shot from the right hand side of the area. This should have provided a spring board for the Stags to push on, against what looked a fairly ordinary Vale side. However, with the midfield rarely helping the defence the Stags always looked likely to concede soon, the only surprise was that it took half an hour for Vale to get back on level terms. The Stags achilles of conceding from set pieces struck again, when a corner from the Vale left was headed home by Cummings. The Vale midfielder ran into the box unchallenged by any Stags player and with keeper Pilkington beaten to the ball the goal was inevitable. Just three minutes later Vale took the lead and again there was an air of inevitability about it all. Lever was easily turned on the edge of his own area by Paynter who then released Cummins who again had not been tracked by a Stags midfielder and he slid the ball easily past Pilkington. Just before half time Little took a knock to his left leg and was replaced by Colin Larkin.

Half Time: 2-1

The Stags replaced Rhys Day with Bobby Hassell at half time and immediately switched to a flat back four. However, the trouble was always coming down the Stags left, with Jamie Clarke having a nightmare game looking totally lost and seemingly incapable of a defensive tackle. The lively Cummings skipped past Clarke like he wasn't there and powered in a low cross which Armstrong headed in to put the home side 3-1 up. Vale could and should have extended the lead, tearing the Stags apart on their right wing. A fourth goal was looming and it was McPhee whose pass cut through the Stags defence where Paynter was on hand to fire past Pilkington, again from the right hand side of the area. The Stags pulled a goal back almost immediately with a superb curling effort from Iyseden Christie and this signalled the Stas best spell of the match - if they could have got a third goal then Vale would have been rocking, however, chances were wasted and in the end the game finished tamely.

A poor performance from the Stags and whilst the focus of the Stags defensive problems have been on the defenders, today the midfield have to take some responsibility - the first two Vale goals were scored by an unmarked Vale midfielder and someone from the Stags midfield should have been tracking him - indeed throughout the game the defence were put under increasing pressure by midfield players not tracking back and giving the ball away too easily. It's hard to see too many positives, though Bobby Hassell looked excellent on the right, indeed it was noticeable that Vale created virtually nothing down his side of the pitch and lets hope he retains full fitness until the end of the season. Iyseden Christie performed well once more, despite little service, and scored another fine goal. Other than that, there was little cheer from a very, very poor Stags display.

Man of the Match: Iyseden Christie

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington - 5 Should have been more commanding for the corner that lead to the Vale equaliser
Gadsby - 6 Not as comfortable as in previous games
Lever - 5 Started strongly but was turned too easily on several occasions
Day - 5 Never loooked comfortable
JClarke - 3 Completely out of his depth today
Disley - 7 Never stopped working and the only midfield player who gave the defence support
Williamson - 6 Another booking and another average display
Lawrence - 6 Did OK in attack but left Clarke exposed too often
Little - 6 Never really got into the game
Christie - 7 Excellent goal and gave everything despite little service
Corden - 7 Made a very bright start but faded
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Little, 44) 4 - Very poor, first touch was terrible and looks a shadow of the player we saw for Kidderminster
Hassell (for Day, 46) - 7 Excellent return
Subs not used: JWhite, Moore, MacKenzie.
Opposition Line Up:
Mark Goodlad, Sam Collins, Michael Cummins, Steve McPhee, Mark Boyd, Ian Armstrong, Billy Paynter, Phil Charnock, John Durnin, Liam Burns, Ian Brightwell. Subs: Dean Delaney, Sean McClare, Steve Brooker, Paul Byrne, Chris Birchall.
A.Leake, Lancashire

Season 02/03 Reports