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Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
Mansfield Town  
3 - 2
 Notts County
White 52, Mitchell 65, Corden 71
 Stallard 79, 87
Attendance: 8,134 (2,422 from Notts County)
Date: 8th February 2003

A crowd of over 8,000, the Stags biggest gate of the season, turned out to see this crucial relegation local derby and the return of former manager Billy Dearden. The Stags were again without strikers Iyseden Christie and Colin Larkin and so the eleven was the same that started the midweek draw with Brentford. One change was made to the bench, with player-manager Keith Curle naming himself as susbtitute after recovering from a calf strain. County included former Stags defender Ian Barraclough and former Spurs midfielder Darren Caskey.

The game began at a frenetic pace, as would be expected of a derby as important as this one. County made the first glorious chance, Stallard heading wide from 6 yards when completely unmarked. County were dealt a further blow when Allsop went down with what looked like a hamstring injury after just 10 minutes - he was replaced by Paul Heffernan. Barraclough then earned himself the first caution of the game after a foul on Williamson. The Stags did get into their stride and created their best chance of the game just past the 20 minute mark, Andy White did well to wriggle free on the left hand side of the area and his curling shot was only palmed away by Mildenhall straight into the path of Lawrence who blazed his left foot shot well over - the youngster probably had time to have a touch first. In fact, Lawrence was by far the Stags most dangerous player in the opening 45 minutes, time and time again he beat two markers and delivered some fine crosses only to see Richardson deal well with the defensive headers. One Lawrence cross was met by Mildenhall who spilled the ball but Williamson's effort was cleared for a corner. The Stags were now on top, with Curtis excellent in the midfield, winning the battle with Caskey and Bolland. Pilkington was fortunate to escape punishment when he appeared to handle the ball outside the area, it was very close and for a moment it appeared the Stags skipper had lost his bearings, however, the Assistant signalled the ball was just inside the area when the keeper picked it up - from my view it looked as though the keeper was outside the area. Another ball into the area by Lawrence caused more problems for the visitors defence and only a goal line clearance prevented the Stags going ahead, indeed there were claims from some of the Stags players that the ball had in fact crossed the line.

Half Time: 0-0

The Stags were forced into a change at half time, the excellent Lawrence had taken a knock during the first half and was replaced by Craig Disley. County should have taken the lead just five minutes into the 2nd half when Stallard was put clean through but lifted his shot past Pilkington but also past the far post. Immediately, Keith Curle then replaced Matt Gadsby, a surprising substitution as Gadsby had again performed well. Two minutes later and the Stags had the lead. Corden fired a low cross where White was on hand at the far post to steer the ball home. The tiring White was replaced on the hour by youngster Craig Mitchell and within 5 minutes the youngster had increased the Stags lead, firing home an unstoppable shot after being put through by Williamson. The Stags were now rampant and after several near misses added a third on 71 minutes, and what a goal it was. Wayne Corden, the target of a few boos from the County fans after his celebrations of a Stags goal at Meadow Lane earlier in the season, picked the ball up on the left, cut inside and curled a stunning right foot shot into the top corner - a real high class goal like many scored by the winger during his Stags career. Many will wonder what Billy Dearden would have thought after seeing the goal, it was he who brought Corden to the club after being with him at Port Vale. It appeared the game was over, and really it should have been as Mendes twice wasted chances when clean through, the first chance was saved by Mildenhall but the second he failed to get his shot away quicly enough and was tackled by Richardson. County were given some hope with 11 minutes remaining when Stallard volleyed low past Pilkington, but the Stags still looked comfortable. However, this comfort was ended as Stallard grabbed a 2nd with 3 minutes remaining and memories flooded back of Bristol City as the board went up to incredibly signal 5 minutes of added time. However, the Stags, and in particular Mitchell and Williamson, managed to easily survive the added time to record a vital victory and lift the side to 17th in the division.

Some excellent performances, especially for half an hour in the 2nd half when the attacking display was reminiscent of last season. Corden was electric on the left in the 2nd half, County defenders could hardly get near him and Williamson really shone. Rhys Day had another impressive game, as did Gadsby until rather surprisingly taken off. Craig Mitchell was excellent when he came on, he scored a great goal and chased everything and Adam Eaton had another solid game at left back. However, for his tenacity and ball winning, especially in the 1st half, Tom Curtis was my man of the match.

Man of the Match: Tom Curtis

Report by: Rob Wheldon

Line Up:
Kevin Pilkington - 8 - More fine form from Pilks
Ben Doane - 6 - Not his best game, was beaten a few times 2nd half
Matthew Gadsby - 7 - Surprisingly subbed after another impressive display
Rhys Day - 8 - Usual display from Rhys, won every header
Adam Eaton - 7 - Very solid and did well supporting Corden
Liam Lawrence - 7 - Had an excellent first half
Tom Curtis - 8 - Busy and industrious - a great display
Lee Williamson - 7 - A bit quiet first half but vast improvement in the 2nd
Wayne Corden - 8 - Magic at times in the 2nd half and what a goal
Andy White - 7 - Hard working and took his goal well
Junior Mendes - 7 - His pace caused problems but missed some great chances
Sub Line Up:
Disley (for Lawrence 45) - 7 - Did well in the midfield battle
Curle (for Gadsby 51) - 6 - Looked a little rusty
Mitchell (for White 60) - 8 - Made an instant impression and looks like a great prospect

Not Used: Hassell, White (J)
Opposition Line Up:
Notts County: Steve Mildenhall, Simon Ramsden, Craig Ireland, Nick Fenton, Ian Richardson, Paul Bolland (Michael Brough, 72), Darren Caskey, Ian Baraclough, Richard Liburd, Mark Stallard, Danny Allsopp (Paul Heffernan, 10)
Subs: Kevin Nicholson,Richard Holmes, Saul Deeney
R Pearson - 7

Season 02/03 Reports