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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Oxford United  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Nelthorpe 60
Attendance: 4618 (251 from Mansfield)
Date: 21 February 2009


Martin Shaw at the Kassam Stadium

Mansfield Town were edged out 1-0 in a tight and exciting game at Oxford United on Saturday afternoon. Oxford had picked up 34 points from their previous 12 home games, and played with a confidence that demonstrated it. But the Stags matched them all the way, giving as good as they got throughout, and were ultimately unfortunate not to share the points. The Stags missed a number of good chances and were undone by a fine goal created by the dangerous James Constable who set it up on a plate for Craig Nelthorpe on the hour.

On a mild and gloriously sunny afternoon, the Stags made two changes from the side that drew with Kettering. Gary Silk returned at right back in place of Scott Gardner who is out for 6 weeks, while Scott Garner returned from suspension in place of Alan O'Hare. Former Stags hero from the 2001/2002 promotion season Adam Murray was in the Oxford side.

On 8 minutes, the Stags were awarded a free kick in the same position as the one from which Nathan Arnold scored in the home game against Oxford. Arnold took the kick this time again but on this occasion it was straight into Turley’s midriff. A minute later, the Stags had another good chance when Briscoe surged into the box and found Duffy who blasted wide of the left post from the edge of the box when he should have done better. The lively Briscoe made another good run a minute later before being dispossessed by three defenders.

It was frantic stuff and on 10 minutes, Constable did well to get past Moses and Mayo to be through on goal against Marriott, but Marriott made himself big and Constable fired straight into his body. Fine work from the Stags custodian but Constable will feel that he should have scored. On 15 minutes, Woodhouse’s free kick into the box fell nicely for Moses whose shot was deflected over the bar.

On 26 minutes, D’Laryea fired in a left footed shot from 22 yards which Turley saved diving low to his left. Briscoe had already gone off injured and was unable to return and so was replaced by O’Connor on 28 minutes. It was a huge shame as Briscoe had started very brightly.

O’Connor was straight into the action as Arnold found him following a good run but O’Connor’s shot was half blocked and straight at Turley.

The Stags had a gilt-edged chance to take the lead on 32 minutes. Duffy headed the ball across goal to set up O’Connor for a free header 4 yards out. It seemed certain O’Connor must score and indeed his header was goal bound but Turley’s reactions were quick and he saved above his head from point blank range. O’Connor surely should have scored and after the game, manager Holdsworth bemoaned the fact that O’Connor had not attempted to head it downwards. Straight to the other end and Marriott made a mess of an Oxford corner from the left allowing it to sail over him but Garner was on hand to head it behind for another corner. Marriott redeemed himself 2 minutes later when he was out quickly to deprive Constable after Farrell’s flicked ball through to him. Chapman fired just over the bar after 39 minutes for the home side, and on 43 minutes Constable beat Moses and shot wide from a good position. The Stags had another chance on 44 minutes when Mayo played a one-two with O’Connor and Mayo shot at goal though his effort was just drifting wide as Turley saved it anyway.

One of the best moves of the season came on 45 minutes as a brilliant cross field ball from Batt found Nelthorpe wide on the left. Nelthorpe cut inside Silk and blasted a shot off Garner’s backside on to the bar and away to safety. It deserved a goal but it would have been rough justice on the Stags to go in behind at half time after an impressive showing. Both teams had attacked well with Constable and Farrell dangerous for the home side with Murray pulling the strings in the middle while for the Stags, Duffy was winning headers in the air, Somner and D’Laryea doing well in the middle and the defence just about holding firm.

Half time 0-0

Arnold had another effort on 47 minutes when his fine shot was well saved by Turley low down to his right. A minute later, Moses was at fault when Farrell got away from him and blasted a sitter over the bar and into the car park from near the penalty spot. At the other end, the Stags went close when Woodhouse’s cross was met with a flicked header from D’Laryea, the ball eventually falling to Arnold who blasted his shot straight at the keeper from a tight angle.

Disaster struck for the Stags on the hour when they were cut open by a fine move. Constable got away from Garner down the right as the young Stags defender fell over and Constable got into the box but instead of trying to beat Marriott in a one on one situation, slid the ball along the edge of the 6 yard box into the path of Nelthorpe who could not miss an open goal.

Blackwood immediately replaced Woodhouse and within 2 minutes, was in the action as he cut inside on the left and his right footed cross was blocked possibly by an Oxford arm but half hearted appeals for a penalty were turned away. On 69 minutes, Farrell was through on goal but Marriott saved well. Then at the other end from Mayo’s cross Arnold should have shot but elected to play the ball across goal for O’Connor whose shot was blocked. A real chance had gone begging.

Duffy had gone hugely off the boil following a crunching challenge with an Oxford player which saw both players down for a couple of minutes earlier in the half. The home fans had booed Duffy’s every touch after that and either the injury or the boos had thrown Duffy off his stride as he was no longer winning balls in the air. He was duly substituted on 74 minutes as MacKenzie was brought into the action.

On 83 minutes, the Stags had an escape when, following a corner, centre back Foster’s header from 8 yards was half saved by Marriott on to the post and away to safety.

On the stroke of 90 minutes, MacKenzie had a chance to make himself a hero as Somner’s cushioned header found him in plenty of space just outside the box but his volleyed effort was three yards over the bar. That was the last chance for the Stags as Oxford wound down time effectively.

This was a decent chance for Mansfield who gave as good as the got but were just edged out in a close encounter.

Man of the match: Louis Briscoe - so disappointing that he had to go off injured.

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Kassam Stadium

Line Up:
Marriott 7 A couple of good saves and generally very solid. When he made a mess of one corner it came as a massive surprise.
Silk 7 Played well in defence and attacked well.
Moses 6 Tough afternoon against Constable and too often lost out. But he was up against one of best strikers in league.
Garner 6 His worst game in a Stags shirt. Started poorly, but got a lot better later on. Still a fantastic prospect.
Mayo 7 Defended well.
Somner 7 Some great defending from a midfield role. Solid throughout.
D'Laryea 7 Did well throughout.
Woodhouse 6 Quiet game.
Arnold 6 Some good interplay with Silk, some good runs and a couple of decent efforts on goal. But also frustrated hugely at times.
Duffy 6 Good first half, winning most of his headers. Got injured early in second half and was booed every time he touched the ball after that as the home fans thought it was a late challenge. Faded badly as a result of injury and possibly booing, and eventually taken off due to injury.
Briscoe 8 Good opening 25 minutes with some fine running at the defence. Disappointing that he had to go off injured.
Sub Line Up:
O'Connor (for Briscoe, 28) 7 Very lively initially. Missed the Stags best chance with a close range header. Had he headed it down instead of up he would probably have scored.
Blackwood (for Woodhouse, 61) 7 Did well, with a couple of fine runs, especially when he turned defender outside then in and cross was blocked.
MacKenzie (for Duffy, 75) - Not involved much, though had chance to become a hero but sent his volley over the bar.
Subs Not Used: White, Havern.
Opposition Line Up:
Turley, Carruthers, Willmott, Foster, Batt, Chapman, Murray, Clist, Nelthorpe (Odubade 75), Constable, Farrell. Subs Not Used: Hinchliffe, Burnell, Clarke, Hutchinson.
J Hopkins (Wickford) 7 Got the major decisions right. Should have booked Constable for constant diving and arguing.

Season 08/09 Reports