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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town  
1 - 0
 Crawley Town
Duffy 28
Attendance: 2414 (85 from Crawley)
Date: 17 January 2009


Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

The Stags won their first game managed by David Holdsworth with a wonderfully gritty and resolute rearguard action. A superbly taken goal from newcomer Rob Duffy separated the sides at half time. The Stags had to withstand heavy pressure from Crawley in the second half but their route one football created only one good chance when Pittman struck the bar on 80 minutes and the Stags held out to take the points and send the fans home happy. Alan Marriott in the Stags goal was superb with a thoroughly assured display on his debut including one blinding save from point blank range. Your reporters have not been so excited about a new Stags goalkeeper since the days of Ian Bowling (exclusive audio interview with Marriott to follow late on Saturday night).

Video highlights of the game will be available on StagsWorld freeview on Sunday morning.

Before the game there was a wonderful minute’s applause for Ian Greaves which followed a short eulogy from the club’s chaplain. Greaves was the club’s longest serving manager who took us to Wembley in 1987 for a memorable Freight Rover Trophy victory along with promotion a season earlier.

On a fine, dry, blustery afternoon, manager Holdsworth brought in 4 players to the starting line-up for their debuts: Marriott in goal, Garner in central defence, Briscoe on the right side of midfield, and Duffy up front. Ameobi became the fifth debut-maker when he came on as substitute. All these outfield players were over six foot, giving the side a much more physical look. Crawley themselves had even more of a physical look, with Steve Fletcher, Adam Quinn among others and even their keeper looked a man-mountain.

The Stags had the first chance on 5 minutes when Arnold’s cross from the left was deflected and bounced over Quinn to O’Connor, who turned and in one motion fired a half-volley over the bar. Crawley’s first chance came on 14 minutes with a free kick from Malcolm which was straight at Marriott. A minute later Crawley had a good chance when Fletcher chested a cross down to Chalmers who was in acres of space and sliced a shot just wide of the right post. On 22 minutes Marriott flapped at a cross but the defence was quick to get in a block as a shot came in.

The Stags were in front on 28 minutes in spectacular fashion. Arnold crossed from the right into Duffy who chested the ball down and realizing the defender was not as tight on him as he might have expected, turned and volleyed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net despite the keeper getting a hand to it.

Bulman broke down the left for Crawley on 31 minutes and slid the ball to Weatherstone whose shot was excellently blocked by Jeannin.

On 37 minutes, a brilliant point blank save from Marriott as Pitman’s header from close range seemed destined for the back of the net, until Marriott pushed it over. After the game, Marriott told us that he had to either save it or eat it. Moments later, Malcolm sent a vicious shot into the side netting from a ball that wasn’t cleared properly. On 42 minutes, super play from O’Connor and Silk down the right resulted in Silk’s shot being deflected for a corner. Moments later, Briscoe shot into the side netting from a tight angle. The half ended in frustrating fashion as the Stags won a corner but O’Connor dithered too long and when the final short corner was taken the referee blew the whistle. It was as though we were playing for time.

So the Stags were ahead at the break after an even first half with few chances for either side.

Half time 1-0

The Stags had to make a change on 52 minutes when Jeannin limped off having been clattered at the end of the first half. Kay replaced him in a like for like swap. On 55 minutes, Chalmers went straight through Silk in what looked like a clear red card challenge, but was let off with just a yellow.

A minute later, Arnold’s free kick from 24 yards was a real piledriver but unfortunately straight at the keeper who made a reflex save. We have never seen Arnold hit a shot as hard as that in all his time at Field Mill. Two minutes later Arnold was replaced by Tomi Ameobi. Briscoe moved to the left and Ameobi and Duffy interchangeably played on the right.

Duffy himself went off injured on 73 minutes, to be replaced the returning top scorer Mark Stallard. Two minutes later, a kick from the Crawley keeper was volleyed back by Kay from fully 65 yards in a speculative attempt to catch the keeper off his line. The keeper caught the ball in his box.

Crawley were unlucky on 80 minutes when Pittman’s shot from 10 yards through a crowd of players smacked against the crossbar, and moments later Weatherstone’s shot was straight through to Marriott. The Stags were now under immense pressure with Crawley launching the ball into the Mansfield box at will, with the Stags defending very deep.

The Stags had a rare attack on 84 minutes and Briscoe wasted a golden opportunity to seal victory but shot into the side netting from close range on the left. It was a poor effort.

Crawley now had 6 men up front and on 90 minutes, amid real tension, Marriott saved bravely from Pittman. A generous four minutes of stoppage saw the Stags take the ball into the corners and successfully run the clock down.

The final whistle brought tumultuous applause from the home fans, and as the players left the pitch a jubilant David Holdsworth punched the air repeatedly in the direction of the directors box. His demeanor during the 90 minutes was dignified and confident in complete contrast to his opposite number Steve Evans and his number two Paul Raynor who spent the entire match screaming at their players and the officials in petulant fashion in equal measures.

Man of the match: Alan Marriott - the goalkeeping nightmare is over!

Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

Line Up:
Marriott 9 Flapped at one cross early on, but recovered with a superb display. How many years have we waited for a keeper like this?
Silk 7 Defended well. Distribution poor in first half, but got better.
Garner 7 Fought for everything against the aggressive Fletcher.
Moses 7 Also defended well. Stood up well to the physical stuff from Crawley.
Jeannin 7 Much improved performance. Injured just before the break and didn’t fully recover.
Briscoe 5 Never really got into the game.
D'Laryea 7 Captain, who did very well in a defensive midfield display.
Somner 6 Did ok.
Arnold 6 Good cross for the goal, and one wonderful free kick. But otherwise too quiet.
O'Connor 6 Did well in the first half, but faded badly in the second half lacking a spark.
Duffy 7 Tremendous goal, and worked hard. Went off injured.
Sub Line Up:
Kay (for Jeannin, 52) 7 Fitted in well with a defence heavily under pressure.
Ameobi (for Arnold, 58) 6 No opportunity to attack but did well to hold the ball up.
Stallard (for Duffy, 73) 6 Good to see him back.
Subs Not Used: Whatsize, Burrell.
Opposition Line Up:
Rayner, Wilson, Quinn, Wright, Rents, Weatherstone, Chalmers, Bulman, Malcolm, Pittman, Fletcher. Subs Not Used: Mills, Stevens, Pinault, Carter, Nayee.
J Collins (Wales) 5 Constantly ignored fouls by Quinn in particular. Overall poor.

Season 08/09 Reports