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Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
0 - 1
 Mansfield Town
 A. White 50
Attendance: 10,495 (1,211 from Mansfield)
Date: 21st December 2002

The Stags came into the game without injured midfielder Neil Mackenzie, he was replaced by Tom Curtis, a new signing from Portsmouth just a day earlier. Lee Williamson returned from his ban and took a place on the bench alongside Colin Larkin, with Andy White again preferred to partner Iyseden Christie in attack. The Stags were once again backed by a large and vocal away support.

The Stags began nervously and almost fell behind inside 5 minutes, Dyer pouncing on a loose ball to prod home but the goal was disallowed for a clear offside. Pilkington was soon forced into action, saving low to his left to prevent Jones giving the home side a deserved lead just before the 10 minute mark. White broke free on the right in a rare Stags attack, but lacked the pace to get behind the defence, he cut the ball across to Christie whose tame shot was easy for Sutton born Marriott in the Tykes goal. Pilkington just managed to get his finger tips to the ball ahead of Dyer from a dangerous left wing cross, but the ball fell to Betsy who sliced his shot high and wide. Pilkington was again called into action, brilliantly punching clear from Dyer again when the tall striker looked favourite and then just a few minutes later came to the defence's rescue once more rushing out to hammer clear a through ball again destined for Dyer. The Stags were hanging on and should definitely have gone behind mid way through the half when Gorre had a clear shot at goal from 15 yards only to see Pilkington deny him. Gorre then managed to compound his misery when he deflected over a goal bound Dyer header from a left wing corner. A rare Stags break saw Disley race through on the Stags right, the midfielder was bearing down on goal but instead of shooting tried to find Christie with a cross and the chance was gone. On the stroke of half time the Stags were given a great chance to take what would have been an undeserved lead. Christie was through on goal and fell under a challenge from Morgan, the referee pointed to the spot but Morgan escaped with a yellow card when Christie had a clear goalscoring opportunity. It's hard to say from our distance how much contact there was between Morgan and Christie, but if the referee deemed it a foul then Morgan should have been dismissed. It mattered little as the Stags missed their 5th penalty on the trot, Christie firing the ball on to the top of the bar and over. It would have been very harsh on Barnsley had the Stags gone in ahead but when will our side learn to take a penalty - 0 out of 5 clearly isn't good enough.

Half Time: 0-0

The Stags made a telling change at half time, the ineffective Curtis was replaced by Williamson and all of a sudden the Stags were able to keep the ball for longer. In fact, it wasn't entirely out of the blue when the Stags took the lead 5 minutes into the 2nd half - Andy White picked the ball up on the right hand side of the area, beat one player and curled and exquisite shot with the outside of his right foot into the top corner. All of a sudden White had become involved more after a very quiet opening half and almost doubled the Stags lead, his low shot well saved by Marriott. The Stags were now well on top and only a series of missed chances prevented a more comfortable finish. Corden did brilliantly on the left, cut in onto his right foot and as the Stags fans were waiting to celebrate goal saw his shot rebound off Morgan and away for a corner. Williamson then found Christie inside the area, the young midfielder waited for a return ball which would have put him through but Christie's touch wasn't the best and the chance was wasted. At the other end Dyer missed a golden opportunity to bring the sides level, putting a completely free header from 8 yards over the bar. Colin Larkin replaced the tiring White just short of the 70 minute mark as the Stags continued to dominate. A dangerous counter on the left was broken up by a superb Hassell challenge, he then found Williamson who clipped the ball over the defence for Christie to run onto, the Stags striker had Larkin free on the right and tried to find him with a half-volleyed pass but the ball flew straight to Marriott. Near the end, and for the 2nd time in the game Disley broke free but again chose to pass instead of shooting, however, his pass did find Larkin who should have scored but his shot was blocked by a defender. Deep into the four minutes of added time Sheron headed the Tykes last chance wide and the points were on the way back to Nottinghamshire.

A poor first half performance was literally saved from disaster by the brilliance of Kevin Pilkington. The Stags gave away possession far too easily and even squandered yet another penalty - this needs sorting urgently as its just not funny anymore. However, the introduction of Williamson at half time certainly made a difference and the Stags played with more confidence and at times tore the home side apart. A great goal from Andy White and two more good performances from the full backs Eaton and Hassell were major positives. However, Man of the Match for his excellence in the 1st half was Kevin Pilkington.

Man of the Match: Kevin Pilkington

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington - 9 - Kept the Stags in the game 1st half with series of excellent saves
Hassell - 8 - Another fine performance
Day - 7 - Not as assured as last week but like the rest of the side, improved in the 2nd half
Curle - 7 - Like Day struggled 1st half but much more commanding 2nd half
Eaton - 8 - Did a great job marking the Tykes best player on the right
Lawrence - 6 - Average display from Liam, not his usual calm self in possession
Disley - 7 - Poor 1st half but really improved in the 2nd - needs to practice shooting, or at least having a shot!!
Curtis - 5 - Struggled and careless in possession
Corden - 7 - Our most dangerous player 1st half and some excellent crosses 2nd half
Christie - 5 - A bad day at the office for Iyseden, missed penalty and other missed chances
AWhite - 7 - Poor 1st half but great goal capped a much better 2nd half display
Sub Line Up:
Williamson(for Curtis, 46) - 8 - Excellent when he came on and dominated the midfield
Larkin (for AWhite, 69) - 7 - Gave real pace to the Stags attack but missed a great chance to make the points safe
Subs not used: JWhite, Gadsby, Beardsley.
Opposition Line Up:
Marriott, Mulligan (O’Callaghan 61), Gibbs (Fallon 84), Morgan, Flynn, Betsy, Jones, Lumsdon (Neil 75), Gorre, Sheron, Dyer.
Subs: Ghent, Austin.
AM Penn (W Midlands)

Season 02/03 Reports