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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 3
 Oxford United
Arnold 20.
 Constable 9, Guy 58, Deering 72.
Attendance: 1,553 (109 from Oxford)
Date: 4 December 2008

by Martin Shaw

Mansfield were beaten 3-1 by Oxford on Thursday night at Field Mill in front of the live TV cameras. In an even first half, the Stags were behind when Constable was invited to head home, left unmarked by Jeannin and O'Hare. Arnold equalised with a fabulous free kick after Ahmed was fouled. But more defensive blunders in the second half gifted the victory to Oxford as Gamble, Jeannin and Moses were simply embarrassing at the back for the Stags. There were some good moments for the Stags with impressive play notably from Ahmed and Sinclair, but overall the Stags did not do enough to earn anything from the game and with goals given away like this, they were always going to struggle. Overall a hugely disappointing performance.

The Stags made one change from the side that drew at Weymouth with Nathan Arnold coming back into the starting eleven in place of the disgraced Maxime Chanot. It was thus a return to a 4-3-3 formation. The visitors, with Jim Smith re-installed as the manager for the umpteenth time, included former Stag Adam Murray. The game only went ahead after a lunchtime pitch inspection following heavy overnight rain and, with the Setanta TV cameras on the Bishop Street side of the ground, the 3 new stands looked pitifully empty with only 1,553 fans in the ground, the lowest league gate since September 1996 when 1,505 saw a 0-0 draw with Barnet.

After a quiet start, the first Stags chance came on 8 minutes when D’Laryea shot at keeper Turley, but on 9 minutes, it was 1-0 to the visitors as James Constable was allowed a free header from 6 yards from a Carruthers cross from the left as Jeannin and O’Hare waited for each other to pick the striker up. Constable’s header was deadly and into the left corner of the net but the defending was terrible.

The goal rocked the Stags but they slowly worked their way back in and, on 18 minutes, Arnold made a good run down the left, cut inside and shot just wide of the near post.

But on 20 minutes, it was 1-1. Ahmed was fouled just outside the box on the left. Contact was minimal but it was a foul nevertheless. Arnold stepped up and sent a fabulous shot curling just inside the right post. On 23 minutes, Ahmed had a chance but sent a volley spectacularly wide. On 28 minutes, Lee headed wide from a Jeannin cross following a good passage of play from the Stags. A minute later, Gamble got lucky when his clearance was charged down by Constable and the resulting shot by Jamie Guy was harmlessly wide.

The Stags were now playing some decent stuff and, on 35 minutes, great play from Sinclair, as he got down the right wing and put in a fine cross, which Arnold headed well wide. Then on 40 minutes, D’Laryea bottled a chance for a shot on the edge of the box and, instead, played it wide to Jeannin who shot hopelessly wide.

Half time 1-1.

It had been a reasonable half for the Stags who ended it on top after a dodgy opening.

On 51 minutes, an unbelievable run from Sinclair as he sprinted down the right and then along the bye-line before squaring to D’Laryea whose left footed shot was weak and blocked. Brilliant from Sinclair, but a predictably feeble finish from D’Laryea. On 56 minutes, a great tackle from Moses but then the hapless Jeannin allowed a cross from the right was headed over by Constable.

But two minutes later, it was 2-1 to the visitors. Guy out-sprinted Moses and fired under Gamble from close range.

There was a chance for the Stags to get back into it on 65 minutes when O’Hare’s free kick from deep was superbly headed down by Lee, but Arnold at the far post could not get on the end of it. It needed a striker’s instinct, such as Stallard’s, who had been left on the bench, to bundle it home. On 71 minutes, Ahmed was replaced by O’Connor, sparking spontaneous calls of “ you don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at boss McEwan. This was the second game running that McEwan had removed arguably the best player the match.

Within a minute, the game was over as Oxford added a third in predictably farcical circumstances. Moses nearly lost the ball but then played a backpass to Gamble. Gamble attempted to clear it but only managed to sidefoot it as far as Deering 22 yards out, who sent a shot with possibly a slight deflection back over Gamble and into the roof of the net. Shambolic from Gamble yet again.

On 80 minutes, Lee was replaced by Stallard and, 7 minutes later, Stallard so nearly pulled one back when his shot was deflected and brilliantly tipped wide by Turley. It was so close after some good play by Somner. On 89 minutes, a good turn by Arnold but his shot was straight at the keeper.

And so a defeat for the Stags to leave the side perilously close to the bottom four. Tough times at Field Mill, with a trip to Kidderminster on Tuesday night. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Gary Silk

Report by: Martin Shaw

Line Up:
Gamble 4 Terrible error for third goal (I am starting to lose count of the number he has given away this season), plus another clearance charged down in the first half that he got away with, and a horrible mix up with Moses.
Silk 7 Good game at right back.
Moses 5 Some good tackles, but outpaced for the second goal, partially at fault for third goal, and at fault for a horrible mix up with Gamble.
O'Hare 6 Partially at fault for first goal, along with Jeannin.
Jeannin 3 Barely put a foot right the whole game. Absolutely appalling. I honestly cannot remember a worse performance from a Stags player in 37 years of watching them.
Somner 6 Some good moments.
D'Laryea 6 Please learn to shoot. Otherwise did ok.
Ahmed 7 Fairly impressive. Why on earth was he substituted? Crowd chanted "you don't know what you're doing" when the manager took him off.
Sinclair 7 An outstanding run put a chance on a plate for D'Laryea. Showed good pace and skill throughout.
Lee 6 Won a lot of headers but no one to get on the end of them. Did ok.
Arnold 6 Fabulous goal but gave ball away too often and flattered to deceive. Tried hard, and overall ok.
Sub Line Up:
O'Connor (for Ahmed, 71) - Not able to make an impression.
Stallard (for Lee, 80) - So close to scoring with a deflected effort.
Subs Not Used: Kay, Wood, Hurren.
Opposition Line Up:
Turley, Day, Willmott, Foster, Burnell, Murray, Hutchinson, Trainer, Carruthers (Deering 46), Constable, Guy (Odubade 89). Subs Not Used: Hinchliffe, Haldane, Fisher.
P Curry (Essex) 7 Handled the game effectively

Season 08/09 Reports