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Season 07/08 Stagsnet Match Report
FA Cup Round 3
Brighton & Hove Albion  
1 - 2
 Mansfield Town
Revill 22.
 Hamshaw 9, Holmes 45.
Attendance: 5857 (369 from Mansfield)
Date: 5 January 2008


Martin Shaw at Withdean

Magnificent Mansfield Town reached Round 4 of the FA Cup for the first time since 1988 with a deserved 2-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion this afternoon. Without top scorer Mickey Boulding, we all wondered where the goals were going to come from, but this was such a wonderful display that the Stags could afford to miss numerous chances, and it was man of the match Matt Hamshaw who scored a fine early goal, and then young Ian Holmes who finished a move that Stags started from their own corner flag for the goal of the season. If there is a better goal on Match of the Day tonight than the Stags' second, then I can't wait to see it. Hopefully the BBC will be smart enough to show the full move and not just the final couple of passes. The Stags were so good that the home fans and media all agreed that the better side won, and no-one could understand how on earth Mansfield can be in the relegation zone of the entire Football League.

Just to go back to the last time we were in Round 4, 20 years ago, the Stags were at home to the sadly now defunct Wimbledon. The Stags lost 2-1 and Wimbledon went on to win the Cup itself, beating Liverpool in the final. The Stags went out on that day as Wimbledon keeper Dave Beasant saved a penalty from Steve Charles. Years later in his autobiography, Beasant wrote that he knew which way to dive from Charles because he had seen a video of his winning penalty in the Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley a few months earlier. But Beasant had been embarrassed to find out later that in fact that Charles hadn't even played in that game at Wembley and that it was actually Tony Kenworthy!

Anyway, I digress. The performance from Mansfield today had their ecstatic fans, ridiculously housed fully 50 yards behind one goal, literally bouncing up and down with joy. Every player was simply outstanding, seemingly prepared to die for the cause. Stags players threw themselves into challenges to snuff out danger from the home side, but more than anything the passing game that the Stags played was a joy to watch.

The Stags were of course without strikers Mickey Boulding and John McAliskey, and defenders Alex John-Baptiste and Martin McIntosh, all through injury. Ian Holmes started up front alongside Simon Brown.

The Stags were ahead as early as the ninth minute. D'Laryea played in Hamshaw on the right. Hamshaw cut inside, beat a couple of defenders as he ran along the byeline, and shot from a tight angle. His shot must have taken a deflection off keeper Kuipers as it bounced up into the roof of the net. Fantastic start to give the Stags confidence.

On 16 minutes, central defender Guy Butters shot wide when left unmarked from a corner. On 19 minutes, Brown put Holmes through on goal and Holmes should have scored but he shot wide of the left post. The Stags were knocking the ball around the great confidence and it was a joy to watch.

But on 22 minutes the Stags were undeservedly pegged back. Dawson was adjudged to have committed a foul because of high kicking, giving Albion a free kick 35 yards out. The influential diminuitive Dean Cox floated in a beautiful kick that found Alex Revell completely unmarked in the box to head past Muggleton. The Stags had not been watching the league goals on Sky or they would have seen Revill's prowess in the air after his hat-trick on New Years Day.

On 25 minutes, Dawson shot over the bar. On 28 minutes Cox had another chance from a free kick, but this time he tried a shot was went just over the bar.

On 30 minutes, Hamshaw's corner was headed just wide by Buxton. It was great to see the Stags doing better from corners today - earlier on, Hamshaw had tried a corner right to the far post where Buxton had headed back across goal though the danger had then been cleared.

On 39 minutes, Hamshaw embarked on a fantastic run, and his cross just evaded Arnold. On 42 minutes, there was a real let-off for Mansfield when Nicky Forster was through on goal. Forster shot for goal but pulled it wide of the left post with just Muggleton to beat, and Revell, sliding in, just failed to turn it home. On 44 minutes, Hamshaw fed Holmes, who passed to Arnold, but Arnold's curling shot was saved by Kuipers.

But the Stags deservedly regained their lead on 45 minutes. And what a goal it was. D'Laryea started the move on Mansfield's own byeline near the corner flag. Passes to Brown, Hamshaw, Mullins, back to Hamshaw and then Mullins, and Mullins' cross was met by Holmes at the far post to fire into the net. After the game manager Billy Dearden expressed his surprise at the quality of the move.

It crowned a great first half for the Stags, full of super passing, and solid defending with just a couple of exceptions including the Brighton goal itself. D'Laryea seemed back to his best, Dawson was inspirational and Hamshaw was putting in a wonder display.

Half time 1-2

On 50 minutes, Dawson somehow slid a shot in 20 yards and it seemed to be heading for the left corner of the net until Kuipers saved at full stretch.

But for a while the Stags were under the cosh and hanging on as they couldn't keep the ball and kept giving away free kicks in their own half. On 60 minutes, with Dan Martin out of position, full back El-Abd's cross-shot hit the top of the bar. Then from a Cox free kick, Revell's header was at Muggleton.

But the Stags had a wonderful double chance on 65 minutes. D'Laryea fed Holmes whose shot was blocked, and then Brown shot wide.

The rain was now lashing down, taking no pity on the Stags fans who had no cover just about Portsmouth.

The Stags had regained the upper hand by now and were also defending heoicly, as Rory Boulding replaced Holmes on 74 minutes.

On 80 minutes, the Stags had another wonderful double chance to score. Brown's shot from 14 yards seemed destined for the net but was blocked near the line, and immediatley Nathan Arnold's shot was deflected just wide of the right post with Kuipers rooted to the spot.

It was Arnold's last touch as he was replaced by Bell, returning from injury. On 82 minutes, substitute Elder headed down towards goal from a cross from the right and Muggleton made a great save low down.

In the final couple of minutes, Brighton won 3 corners to make it a nervous finish but the Stags ran the clock down superbly getting the ball into the corners expertly.

And so the Stags were worthy winners. But much more importantly, the Stags need to translate this performance into the league, and especially points in the league. Because the situation in the league is dire.

Man of the match: Matt Hamshaw

Report by: Martin Shaw at Withdean

Line Up:
Muggleton 9 Faultless performance, with perfect handling even with a slippery ball.
Mullins 8 Defended well.
Buxton 9 Captain's performance. Some great clearances. Immense.
Jelleyman 7 Did well out of position in central defence.
Martin 8 One terrific early header to avert danger, set him up for a fine display.
Hamshaw 9 Fabulous.
D'Laryea 8 His best game since injury - back to the standard of last season.
Dawson 8 Powered the team forward time and again. Won the midfield battle, alongside D'Laryea.
Arnold 7 Did well on the left wing.
Holmes 8 Won quite a lot of headers and led the line well. Now has 3 goals in very few games.
Brown 7 Much better performance than of late.
Sub Line Up:
R.Boulding (for Holmes, 74) 7 Ran the ball into the corners well.
Bell (for Arnold, 81) - Good to see him back.
Sleath (for Brown, 89) - First time on a Stags winning side.
Subs Not Used: White, Wood.
Opposition Line Up:
Kuipers, Lynch, El-Abd, Cox, Reid, Forster, Butters (Rents 46), Elphick, Robinson (Elder 79), Fraser (Loft 62), Revell. Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Martot.
Richard Beeby (Northamptonshire) 7 Handled the game well.

Season 07/08 Reports