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Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
Crewe Alexandra  
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Walton 60, Miles 90+6
Attendance: 6,931 (751 from Mansfield)
Date: 1st January 2003

The Stags were dealt a big injury blow prior to the game at high flying Crewe, current Player of the Year Bobby Hassell was ruled out with a dead leg, joining strikers Andy White and Colin Larkin on the sidelines. The absence of the two strikers meant Stags boss Keith Curle opted to play Iyseden Christie in a lone striker role, with wide men Wayne Corden and Liam Lawrence in support. Lee Williamson returned to midfield and Matthew Gadsby stepped in at right back. Crewe were without potent strikers Dean Ashton and Rob Hulse.

The Stags began comfortably and probably shaded the opening 20 minutes. However, neither side really got to grips with an uneven playing surface and both sides were guilty of giving possession away rather easily. In fact one highlight was a change in referee, with the original official Pike replaced by the 4th Official Bratt - this not before Pike had booked Christie for virtually nothing, jumping for a header with Walton, any contact was very minimal and Christie was clearly trying to head the ball - it wasn't to be the last dismal decision from two dreadful match officials. Kevin Pilkington remained untested and it was the Stags who created and missed the games best chance just past the half hour. Tom Curtis created himself a chance on the edge of the area and hit an excellent low shot past Ince in the Crewe goal, however, the ball rebounded off the upright but fell straight to the feet of Craig Disley who somehow hit his shot well over the bar from just 6 yards out. It was a glorious chance for the Stags to take what would have been a deserved lead. Jack had the best chance of the half for Crewe racing through but Pilkington came out quickly and smothered the strikers shot.

Half Time: 0-0

Jack became the next name in the new referee's notebook after a late lunge on Williamson, given what was to follow, Jack was fortunate not to be shown a red card from a referee who must have shares in Clintons. The Stags then wasted another glorious opportunity to take the lead, Christie managed to hook the ball past Walton and put himself through on goal. However, his right foot shot failed to test Ince and flew high and wide - a dreadful miss and one that would prove extremely costly. Just a couple of minutes later an unmarked Walton had time to chest the ball down and volley past Pilkington after a right wing corner had found the big centre half on his own. The Stags had shown enough to suggest the game was far from over, but then enter Mr Bratt (surely a mis-spelling). Christie jumped for a header with Foster but was very harshly adjudged to have fouled the defender. What made matters worse is that Bratt deemed the challenge worthy of another booking and couldn't wait to show everyone the shiny red card in his top pocket. A totally scandalous decision that not only had Stags players and supporters furious, but also bemused the Crewe players. The Stags were forced to make changes, Chris Beardsley replaced Liam Lawrence as the Stags kept the one in attack. The game entered and unsettled spell, with the referee making several extraordinary decisions. The Stags made another change in a desperate bid to earn a point, Neil Mackenzie replacing Craig Disley but the Stags really failed to create any further chances despite the later introduction of Danny Bacon. Indeed, it was the home side who looked more likely to score on the counter and it was from one such break, deep into injury time, that the 2nd goal was added, Miles finishing well from Brammers through ball.

A much better performance from the Stags and one worthy of a point. Had it not been for the two dreadful missed chances then it may even have been a game the Stags could have nicked. Any chance the side had of winning a point were effectively ended by another appalling refereeing decision, the sending off of Christie was totally unjustified. The hard, bumpy pitch helped neither side, but clearly the Stags have improved immensely since the drubbings receieved at the hands of Crewe earlier on in the season. Adam Eaton had another excellent game at left back and generally handled the pace of Jack well. Matt Gadsby did well covering for Hassell, though perhaps it was he who should have been marking Walton for the 1st goal. However, for an excellent, battling performance in midfield, Tom Curtis was my man of the match.

Man of the Match: Tom Curtis

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Pilkington - 7 - One good save on an otherwise quiet afternoon
Gadsby - 7 - Defended well but question mark over his positioning for the Crewe opener.
Curle - 7 - Has certainly helped shore up the defences
Day - 7 - Continues his excellent form, very strong in the air
Eaton - 8 - Another impressive display
Lawrence - 6 - Largely ineffective
Williamson - 6 - Did better in the 2nd half but gave the ball away too often
Disley - 6 - Spoiled a very energetic display by missing a sitter
Curtis - 8 - Great tackling and really got stuck in - just what we need
Corden - 6 - Like Lawrence, did very little in the vital last third
Christie - 5 - A bad day for Issy, missed a great chance and sent off, though very harshly.
Sub Line Up:
Beardsley (for Lawrence, 66) - 7 - Looked bright and dangerous
MacKenzie (for Disley, 74) - 6 - Struggled to make an impact with the side down to 10 men
Bacon (for Gadsby, 81) - 6 - Looked sharp but had little chance to make his mark
Subs not used: JWhite, JClarke.
Opposition Line Up:
Ince,Walton,Foster,Wright,Vaughan,Brammer,Tierney ,Rix,Lunt,Jones,Jack.
Subs: Miles,Sodje,Sorvel.
Subs not used: Bankole,Walker.

M.Pike, Cumbria (replaced by S.Bratt during first half) - 3 - Appalling (both of them!!)

Season 02/03 Reports