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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
1 - 3
 Mansfield Town
Christie 32 pen.
 Sinclair 26, O'Connor 80, Arnold 86.
Attendance: 2,433 (370 officially from Mansfield + approx 80 in main stand)
Date: 26 December 2008

Martin Shaw at Rockingham Road

Mansfield Town turned in their best performance of the season to earn a richly deserved 3-1 win at Kettering on Boxing Day. Emile Sinclair showed incredible pace and good composure to put the Stags in front, but a typical penalty earned and converted by Iyseden Christie pulled the Poppies level in the first half. The Stags had a major let-off when a Kettering header crashed off the underside of the bar and was adjudged not to have crossed the line, but Mansfield adopted a shoot-on-site policy, with Ahmed and Arnold both drawing superb saves onto the crossbar, before Ahmed's shot on 80 minutes was deflected into the path of O'Connor who gleefully fired home unmarked. Then Arnold showed great composure to control a superb Jason Lee knock-down and fire powerfully past the keeper to make it 3-1. It was Kettering’s first defeat by more than one goal all season.

The Stags made one change from the win over Weymouth with joint caretaker manager Adie Moses replaced the injured O'Hare at centre half. Kettering included former Stag Iyseden Christie.

The tone for Kettering’s tactic was set in the first minute with a long throw by Exodus Geohaghon into the Stags box which led to a shot by Christie half-saved by Gamble. More long throws were to follow, the most astonishing of which was two yards from the half way line right into the Stags box, but Hurren proved equal to them regularly heading balls away. On 10 minutes, Gamble had to come out of his area and did very well to clear just ahead of the on-rushing striker. But within moments, the ball was crossed back into the Stags’ box and Hurren was on hand again with a good header away. Within a minute, Gamble came out of his box again to make a clearance but completely missed it and was extremely lucky to get a second go as Christie was not able to take advantage.

On 14 minutes, Sinclair turned on the edge of the box and shot wide of the right post from just outside the box. Shortly afterwards, Ahmed shot wide from 22 yards. On 22 minutes, Kay shot wide from 28 yards and it was very apparent that the Stags had been told to shoot on sight. Kettering created their first moment of danger on 24 minutes when a Wrack cross from the left was headed over the bar by Westcarr who couldn’t get on top of his header.

But on 26 minutes, the Stags took the lead. A ball from the back by Kay went over the head of a Kettering defender on the halfway line, Sinclair collected it just inside the Kettering half and was immediately away from the defenders. Showing great pace he was never going to be caught and when he got just inside the Kettering box, he fired into the bottom left hand corner giving Harper in the Kettering goal no chance. It was a terrific goal, even better than his effort at Weymouth a month ago.

But the Stags couldn’t hold on to the lead and just after the half hour, Christie wriggled and bustled into the Stags box with Moses alongside him. Christie nearly went down giving the appearance of trying to stay on his feet under the challenge from Moses and finally did go down in the box. It looked like a penalty to me even though contact from Moses was minimal. We know from his days at Field Mill that Christie is a master at going down under minimal contact. Christie stepped up to take the penalty and, as Gamble dived to his left, Christie belted it down the middle. Had Gamble stayed put, it would probably have struck him on the nose.

On 38 minutes, Westcarr shot wide. A minute later, in a great break by Kettering, Christie played the ball inside to Solkhon who fired inches past the right post. D’Laryea made a good clearing header from a free kick and, on the stroke of half time, a mistake by Hurren allowed Westcarr to cross along the goal line and it seemed that Solkhon would fire into an empty neck but Silk got the faintest of touches to clear the ball away.

Half time 1-1.

There was a scare for the Stags on 47 minutes as a ball in from the left clearly hit Moses on the arm in the box. The referee waved away loud appeals for a penalty presumably judging that it was ball to hand rather than hand to ball. On 50 minutes, Nathan Arnold got into a position to cross from the right but elected to shoot from a tight angle and his terrific effort was tipped on to the top of the bar by Harper when it seemed to be heading for the top right hand corner. It was an audacious effort from the Stags player indicating a new found confidence. Three minutes later, Ahmed had a great shot from 25 yards which looked a goal all the way until Harper brilliantly stuck out a finger tip and again touched it on to the top of the bar. A minute later, Jeannin shot right footed over the bar from 26 yards. Incredibly just a minute later, Arnold shot over from 30 yards. The Stags had rained in 4 shots in 5 minutes.

On 64 minutes, Arnold crossed from the left and Hurren’s downward header was easily saved. Kettering broke on 66 minutes and Potter shot across the face of goal and wide when Christie was screaming for it at the far post. Two minutes later, the Stags had an incredible escape. Solkhon met a corner from the left with a powerful header from 6 yards which crashed off the underside of the bar and down, possibly over the line, bouncing out again to safety. The crowd bayed for a goal and my immediate reaction was that it was over the line but the referee and his assistant waved play on much to the Stags relief.

On 70 minutes, the Stags created a glorious chance to take the lead. Sinclair made a great run down the left all the way into the box and squared for O’Connor. O’Connor turned and beat his marker and had a free shot from 8 yards which he blasted goalwards left footed, but it was straight at the keeper who saved it. Credit to O’Connor for getting it on target but he should have scored.

The Stags now really turned on the pressure with a succession of corners and there was one great piece of trickery from Ahmed in the box which nearly created a chance.

A Stags goal looked like it was coming and it duly did on 80 minutes. The shoot on sight policy continued - this time it was Ahmed from 25 yards. His shot was scuffed and deflected but ran fortuitously straight into the path of O’Connor who found himself unmarked in the box. O’Connor ran forward and fired powerfully past Harper giving the keeper no chance and sending the Stags fans behind the goal wild. O’Connor was booked for dancing with the corner flag as part of his celebrations.

Lee replaced Sinclair 3 minutes later and on 86 minutes was involved in the third goal. A cross from the right was superbly headed down by Lee into the path of an unmarked Arnold on the right. Arnold took a touch, composed himself and blasted the ball in from close range. It was great composure from Arnold who in the past, might have tried to hit it first time and blasted it into the trees above the Stags fans.

So a great win for the Stags in probably the best performance of the season. Sadly, for the first time this season, there was no video camera to record it. If anyone has any video footage of the goals from perhaps their mobile phone, please get in touch at the email address on the Stagsnet Latest News page or on the message board. The last time I can remember being so disappointed that there was no camera was Boxing Day 1994 when we stuffed Hereford 7-1 with Ian Baraclough's 45 yard free kick.

Man of the match: Emile Sinclair

An ornamental owl sits above the commentary position in the Main Stand at Rockingham Road, with David Jackson sitting underneath it. Photo by Martin Shaw.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Rockingham Road

Line Up:
Gamble 7 Some good saves, mixed in with a terrible moment that he was lucky to get away with.
Silk 7 Solid and highly effective at right back.
Moses 6 Tangled with Christie for the penalty. Otherwise ok.
Hurren 7 Pick of the defence.
Kay 6 Decent game, linked well with Jeannin.
Arnold 8 Took his goal very well. Looked dangerous.
D'Laryea 6 Quietly efficient in defensive midfield role.
Ahmed 8 Quiet first half, but excellent in second half. The Stags really tick when he is playing well.
Jeannin 6 His best performance for a while.
Sinclair 8 Superb goal, and put another on a plate for O'Connor. Terrorised the home defence.
O'Connor 8 Almost anonymous in the first half, but electric in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
Lee (for Sinclair, 83) 7 Came on presumably to shore up the defence in case of long throws, but ended up with a superb assist for the third goal.
Subs Not Used: Herriott, Blackwood, Somner, Kitchen.
Opposition Line Up:
Harper, Bennett (Dempster 83), Geohaghan, Branston, Jaszczun, Potter (Marna 71), Boucaud (Arthur 71), Solkhon, Wrack, Westcarr, Christie.
Subs Not Used: Eaden.
R Fletcher (Derbyshire) 8 Handled the game well. Got the penalty right in my opinion.

Season 08/09 Reports