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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
2 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Anoruo 9 pen, Crofts 25.
Attendance: 2,401 (166 from Mansfield)
Date: 4 April 2009

Martin Shaw at the Racecourse Ground


Mansfield Town were beaten away from home for the fifth time in six games, at Wrexham this afternoon. It was an awful performance from the Stags, but the game did hinge on two key decisions that both went against Mansfield. Wrexham were awarded a penalty after 9 minutes when the ball touched Scott Garner's hand inside the box, but quite clearly he had slipped over, was off balance, his arm was not outstretched and he could not avoid it. After the game Stags boss Holdsworth described the decision as "rubbish". Even the Wrexham media admitted it was never a penalty. After Wrexham had made it two nil with a header from Crofts following dreadful marking from the Stags, the other key moment of the game came on 38 minutes when Scott Garner cleanly headed home a Nathan Arnold cross, but to everyone's astonishment the linesman flagged for offside. The Stags were terrible after the break and never looked like getting back in the game, having only one decent chance when sub Briscoe was unlucky to see his cracking effort tipped wide by the keeper.

The Stags made four changes from the side mullered by Histon on Tuesday. Gianluca Havern came in for his debut at right back in place of the injured Silk, Mayo returned at left back in place of O’Hare, Somner returned from suspension in place of MacKenzie, and Woodhouse returned from boxing duties in place of O’Connor, in a 4-3-3 formation as described by boss Holdsworth that looked more like 4-5-1 to me. Wrexham came into the game with only one win in eleven and having played only 40 hours earlier on Thursday night in a 1-1 draw with Barrow. Wrexham included Jefferson Louis who scored for the Stags in the crucial game against Wrexham at Field Mill last season, and Ashley Westwood who was sent off against the Stags for Northampton in the play-off semi-final in 2004.

There was an early booking for Wrexham in the first minute when Spann was booked for a bad foul on Mayo. It could easily have been a red.

Wrexham were ahead on 9 minutes when they were awarded a ridiculous penalty. A ball into the box by Spann hit Scott Garner’s as he slipped over. It was clear that Garner had slipped over, and was off balance, plus his arm was not outstretched and he could not avoid it. Anoruo stepped up and sent it down the left of the goal as Marriott dived the other way.

With sunshine now turning to heavy rain, the Stags got into the Wrexham box in a rare raid and Arnold turned, but couldn’t get his shot in. Garner was lucky to escape a booking on 17 minutes when he fouled a Wrexham player on the edge of the box. The free-kick came to nothing. The Stags first chance came on 23 minutes when Arnold knocked a ball down for D’Laryea who shinned his shot over the bar.

It was 2-0 for Wrexham on 25 minutes thanks to some awful defending. Curtis was allowed too much time to cross the ball in from the right and Crofts was completely unmarked at the far post to head the ball down and into the roof of the net giving Marriott no chance. After the game, Holdsworth blamed Havern for failing to pick up Crofts.

Woodhouse, who had been injured in an earlier challenge but has also been booked for a bad challenge himself, limped off after 26 minutes to be replaced by Clare as the Stags switched to 4-2-2. The first half hour had been terrible with both teams giving the ball away frequently but the home side would have been happy with their two goal lead. On 32 minutes, Williams dived over a defender just inside the box and was never going to get a penalty; in fact it was slightly surprising that he wasn’t booked. Wrexham keeper Nielsen made his only mistake of the afternoon on 37 minutes when he dropped a corner but Daryl Clare who picked up the loose ball was unable to get a shot in. Moments later from another corner Arnold had a shot deflected wide.

The second key moment of the game came on 38 minutes. Arnold launched a high ball into the box, Scott Garner easily out jumped the defence and headed cleanly in. It looked such a clear goal that no-one even looked at the linesman who astonishingly had raised his flag.

It was noticeable at this stage that manager Holdsworth was sitting in the dug-out rather than standing on the touchline as normal. He later explained that this was to prevent his from complaining to the officials.

The last chance of the half came on 41 minutes when Taylor curled a fine effort a foot wide of the right post.

It really was a poor first half with two sides badly out of form and misplaced pass after misplaced pass.

Half time 2-0

Surely the Stags would have had a rocket from the manager at half time but it didn’t show and it was Wrexham who made all the running in the second half. In the first minute, Wrexham put in a cross from the left and Jefferson Louis totally miscued a left footed chance. On 51 minutes, another chance for Wrexham when Flynn’s rocket shot hit his own player Spann. Moses was booked after 53 minutes and moments later Ryan Williams limped off to be replaced by Briscoe. Briscoe moved to the left side of midfield with Arnold moving to the right. Moments later Jefferson Louis muscled his way past Moses and shot wide.

On 68 minutes, Garner was lucky to escape a sending off when he went in, studs showing, for a challenge on a Wrexham player. He was lucky it wasn’t a straight red but he did pick up a yellow and given he was lucky to escape a yellow in the first half he was also lucky not to go for two yellows. It actually looked like the referee was going to give him a red when he went for his pocket immediately after the challenge but then didn’t take a card out until several seconds later having obviously had a re-think.

O’Connor replaced the awful Duffy on 61 minutes. On 73 minutes, Louis’ low shot was saved by Marriott low to his right.

At last there was a chance for Mansfield on 74 minutes with great play be Briscoe. He cut inside from the left and fired a powerful right foot shot which was heading just inside the right post until it was excellently tipped round the right post by Nielsen in the Wrexham goal. Moments later a good cross from the right by Arnold was just deflected away as several Stags players looked set to pounce. Baynes had a shot from 40 yards for Wrexham a minute later that was straight at Marriott and then on 77 minutes, great play by Arnold twisting and turning to get past his marker but a typically terrible cross that has blighted his performances in recent games followed. The three minutes from 74 to 77 turned out to be the only minutes of promise from the Stags in the second half.

The final chance of the game came on 87 minutes when Baynes’ free kick was blocked. It came back to him and he shot straight at Marriott.

So a very poor game won by Wrexham who were simply the better of two poor teams. It was disappointing that there was no response by the Stags to a poor first half performance but ultimately two first half refereeing decisions turned the game in Wrexham’s favour.

The honeymoon period is well and truly over for David Holdsworth. It will be important for the Stags to put in an improved display on Tuesday at home to Ebbsfleet. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the match: Gianluca Havern

Report by: Martin Shaw at the Racecourse Ground

Line Up:
Marriott 6 No chance with the goals. Decent game as usual.
Havern 7 Reasonable debut although blamed by Holdsworth for the second goal.
Moses 5 Difficult afternoon.
Garner 6 Involved in the key incidents. Unlucky to give away penalty and unlucky to have goal disallowed. Possibly lucky not to be sent off though.
Mayo 5 Regularly beaten by Spann; too many balls came in from the right wing. Sudden loss of form puts a contract for next season in doubt after a great start to his Stags career.
Arnold 5 Some good runs and one decent ball for the disallowed goal, but mostly disappointing end product.
Somner 5 Won a few good challenges in the middle, but distribution was woeful.
D'Laryea 5 Poor game. Never got a grip of the midfield.
Woodhouse 6 Injured early on and subbed after 26 minutes.
Williams 5 Totally out of sorts, summed up by playing the ball straight into touch several times. No good runs and no killer balls.
Duffy 4 Very poor. Won very few headers and contributed nothing.
Sub Line Up:
Clare (for Woodhouse, 26) 5 Poor game. Did little, in fact, nothing.
Briscoe (for Williams, 53) 6 At least managed a good shot after a decent cut inside.
O'Connor (for Duffy, 69) -
Subs Not Used: White, O'Hare.
Opposition Line Up:
Neilsen, Curtis (Williamson 50), Westwood, Mike Williams, Taylor, Spann (Baynes 62), Fleming, Crofts, Flynn, Anoruo (Fairhurst 75), Louis. Subs Not Used: Collin, Brown.
Richard Fletcher (Belpher) 5 Got the major decision wrong (penalty for Wrexham and Garner disallowed goal) both of which changed the game.

Season 08/09 Reports