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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Crawley Town  
2 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Quinn 16, Cook 46.
 Silk 79.
Attendance: 2013 (262 from Mansfield)
Date: 13 September 2008


Martin Shaw at The Broadfield Stadium

The Stags tenure at the top of the league lasted one week only, as they were replaced by today`s victors Crawley Town at the summit of the Conference. Crawley thoroughly deserved their 2-1 success against a disappointing Mansfield side who only came to life in the last 25 minutes after they were 2-0 down. Two bad goalkeeping errors by young Paddy Gamble gifted Crawley their goals but it was a poor display all round by the Stags. Crawley on the other hand were impressive, and rise to the top of the Conference for the first time in their history. It was only when substitute Aaron O'Connor came on that the Stags upped their game, and after Gary Silk's goal on 79 minutes, they were so close to grabbing an equaliser in stoppage time when Somner missed a good chance.

Mansfield made one change, with Robinson in for his first start, in place of O’Connor who hadn’t trained all week. Lee didn’t even travel, still suffering from his ankle injury. Crawley included Adam Quinn, who trained with the Stags in pre-season and who in the lead up to the game had been described by Crawley boss Steve Evans as the reason why Crawley had started the season so well. The game was played in bright sunshine throughout. The Stags played in their all white away kit, though keeper Paddy Gamble played in a Crawley goalkeeping shirt for some reason.

The opening 15 minutes was pretty even. The best chance fell to the Stags when Blackwood played a one-two with Stallard, and elected to try to chip the keeper from 12 yards from a tight angle, giving the keeper an easy save. Blackwood’s better bet would surely have been blasting a low drive.

But on 16 minutes, Crawley were ahead with another horrible error by Gamble. A free kick from the right was floated into the box. It flew straight over Gamble, who got nowhere near it, allowing Quinn to head the ball into an empty net. Clearly Gamble’s error, but the central defenders must shoulder some blame too as they were outjumped by Quinn.

Within a minute the Stags were nearly level from a similar position at the other end. Blackwood’s free kick from level with the edge of the Crawley area, on the right, found Somner at the far post. Somner rose well, but his header was saved low on the line by Crawley keeper Raynor.

On 23 minutes, Gamble made a great save from Forrest. Crawley were now getting right on top and a couple of minutes later, O’Hare made a great tackle to halt a quick Crawley break. Then a great Crawley move, ended with Cook dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box. On 34 minutes, another fine Crawley move this time from one end of the pitch to the other, and finally Pinault shot just wide. On 37 minutes, Gamble made a simply superb save - the best of the season in my opinion, as he tipped Killeen’s shot which was heading for the corner of the net, around for a corner. From the resulting corner. Quinn got on the end of it, and his header was cleared off the line. On 42 minutes, Rents’s cross from the left was headed wide by Cook. Then a minute later Weatherstone shot over. Mansfield were being completely overrun by a rampant Crawley side.

On 44 minutes, Arnold made a fine run in the Crawley box, but his left footed shot was blocked. Then Blackwood made a good run towards the box, but eventually he was outnumbered and lost the ball.

The home team left the pitch to a richly deserved standing ovation. Quinn had been excellent for them showing the Stags what they were missing.

Half time 1-0

Within 30 seconds of the start of the second half the Stags were two down. And it was another calamity on the scale of the goal at York. This time, O’Hare headed the ball back to Gamble. From our position level with the edge of Mansfield's area, it was clear that O'Hare's back pass would have easily reached Gamble had he moved towards the ball to belt it away. Instead he inexplicably started backpeddling, allowing Jamie Cook to run onto the ball, round Gamble and put the ball into the empty net. As Crawley celebrated, O’Hare and Gamble remonstrated with each other, an argument that was to continue for some time, including minutes later when Killeen was down injured for around 4 minutes for Crawley. (Incidentally the referee made a bad error by only adding on 4 minutes at the end of the game).

On 47 minutes, with the Stags clearly rocked, Killeen headed straight at Gamble. Then on 49 minutes, Weatherstone’s cross from the right found Killeen completely unmarked three yards out. Amazingly he fired over the bar, and received a kick for his troubles just after he played the ball. He stayed down and was eventually stretchered off.

The Stags were being completely outplayed. On the hour, O’Connor replaced Robinson who had not impressed. Indeed Robinson had been lucky to escape a second yellow card in the first half after a couple of bad challenges. Meanwhile the Stags other striker, Stallard was onto his fourth shirt of the game, having worn 9, 15, 10 and 12, due to a blood injury. Hopefully the Stags have some good washing powder.

On 61 minutes, the Stags had a lucky break when Silk appeared to bring down Cook in the area after a bad back header from Jeannin, but the referee waved play on. The Stags looked low on confidence and were all over the place.

On 65 minutes, Arnold made a good run and his low shot was saved. Then on 73 minutes, a great Stags move and Jeannin’s cross found Stallard who steadied himself and his powerful shot was brilliantly saved by Raynor. The Stags were looking a completely different side now, thanks to the introduction of O’Connor.

On 79 minutes, it was 2-1. Arnold’s shot from the right was blocked by the keeper. A defender got in the way of the keeper, allowing Silk a free shot to blast the ball into the roof of the net. Few celebrations from Silk or the Stags players as their was still much work to be done. But the Crawley keeper and defender argued with each other, and were to continue their argument after the final whistle, having to be kept apart from Crawley assistant manager Raul Raynor.

On 82 minutes, great play from O’Connor who found Blackwood but just as Blackwood was about to shoot he was tackled. At the other end, O’Hare put in a fine tackle on sub Steve Fletcher. Then on 88 minutes, another Crawley sub, Douglas made a good run, but Gamble did well to save his shot.

On 89 minutes, Silk put in a fabulous cross from the right, but it was headed away. The gilt-edged chance that the Stags craved came 3 minutes into stoppage time. Silk’s cross from the right found Somner who somehow put the ball wide from an unmarked position six yards out, though it looked an awkward chance. In fact Blackwood was behind him and seemed to be better placed, but the chance was gone.

Crawley fans celebrated wildly at the final whistle with the news that their team was top of the table for the first time ever. In truth there was no denying that they deserved it. They were by far the best side the Stags had come up against this season. The Stags will need to be at their best next Saturday to continue the perfect home record, as Cambridge come to Field Mill. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the Match: Aaron O'Connor

Report by: Martin Shaw at Broadfield Stadium

Line Up:
Gamble 4 Mistakes for both goals, but also made a couple of great saves, one described by Steve Evans as world-class.
Silk 7 Some good crosses and took his goal well.
Moses 6 Ok but not at his best.
O'Hare 6 An outstanding tackle in the first half. But not is best game.
Jeannin 6 Not too bad.
Arnold 4 Described by manager McEwan as hopeless today. A suspicion that he was saving himself for the England C game in midweek.
D'Laryea 5 Never got a grip of the midfield.
Somner 5 Missed a good chance in stoppage time. Not a good game.
Blackwood 6 Started well, by faded.
Robinson 5 Failed to take his chance in his first start. Could easily have been sent off.
Stallard 6 Did ok.
Sub Line Up:
O'Connor (for Robinson, 60) 7 Changed the game. Ran at defenders and posed problems.
Subs Not Used: Shaw, McGhee, Hurren, Herriott.
Opposition Line Up:
Rayner, Rents, Quinn, Wilson, Wright, Weatherstone (Thomas 90), Forrest, Bulman, Pinault, Cook (Anton 85), Killeen (Fletcher 52). Subs Not Used: Stevens, Giles.
B Malone (Wiltshire) 7 Decent game

Season 08/09 Reports