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Season 0910 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Rushden & Diamonds  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Luke Jones OG 90+2. Tomlin sent off 28.
 Mills sent off 28.
Attendance: 1822 (506 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 September 2009


Martin Shaw at Nene Park

In a strange game at Nene Park, Mansfield were cruelly beaten by a 92nd minute fluke goal as a header that was never going in deflected off Luke Jones and into the top corner of the net. Rushden had started very well in creating an incredible 11 chances to the Stags two, in the opening 27 minutes, with Lee Tomlin smacking the inside of the post. But the game changed on 28 minutes when Stags skipper Gary Mills fouled Tomlin - it was a bad challenge, but that didn't excuse Tomlin getting up and squaring up to Mills and the players appeared to clash heads. The referee immediately sent both players off - the correct decision in my opinion. From that moment, Rushden ran out of ideas, and had only one more half-chance in the entire game, until the last minute fluke. The Stags, while never playing especially well, did look more likely winners in the second half, as Duffy was thwarted by a wonder-save from Nathan Abbey as he had been in the first half, and then Speight looked lively as a substitute late on. The Stags didn't do enough to deserve a win, but seemed to be comfortably holding on for a point until that last minute sickener. Two points from the last 5 games is a very worrying run. However if the Stags could get a victory over Oxford on Tuesday night, with games coming up against Hayes, Barrow and Forest Green, then they would be right on track. It looks like a big night on Tuesday - come on Mansfield.

Mansfield made one change from the side that lost to Stevenage with Blair Sturrock replacing the suspended Kyle Perry. With reserve keeper Tim Sandercombe injured, the Stags had no keeper on the bench. Rushden were unbeaten in their last four games and had scored six at Barrow and five against Grays in the process. Rushden included former Stags striker Aaron O'Connor.

On 3 minutes, Tomlin’s shot was blocked by Silk, straight back to Tomlin whose second shot was deflected just wide of the right post. On 5 minutes, Aaron O’Connor was through on the left and he shot just past the right post. On 8 minutes, great play by Pattison down the right, who chipped a cross and Tomlin met it with a volley into the ground and over the bar. On 9 minutes, Armstrong was too hesitant and Farrell skipped past him and lobbed the onrushing Marriott, thankfully the ball sailed just over the bar. On 10 minutes, a Rushden free kick was played forward and Stewart got in to flick a header straight at Marriott.

It had been an incredible opening 10 minutes from the home side with six good goal scoring chances.

The Stags so nearly took the lead themselves on 11 minutes. Sturrock got in a brilliant cross from the left, Duffy got up superbly at the far post and headed down towards the bottom right hand corner of the net. But the debutante keeper Abbey made a world class save low to his left. Duffy turned away in disbelief.

Rushden were on the attack again on 13 minutes when a free kick was headed back across goal and Farrell headed straight at Marriott. On 17 minutes, good play by Ryan Williams down the left and his left footed cross was a fraction too high for Duffy who could only head it over. Moments later, the Stags were attacking down the left again and Williams played a ball back to Armstrong whose curling cross was fumbled badly by Abbey. Sturrock was first to the loose ball but seemed to be wrong footed and couldn’t get any power into his shot which was easily blocked on the line. On 22 minutes, a brilliant run from Tomlin ended with a fantastic shot which hit the inside of the right post and rebounded behind a motionless Marriott along the line just past the left post and ended up nearly hitting the left corner flag. It was an incredible stroke of luck for the Stags, and for Marriott, who never moved. On 24 minutes, Stags defence was badly at fault again as a free kick forward into the Stags box found Paul Terry, totally unmarked, but he could only loop a header that was easy for Marriott to save. On 26 minutes, a good run by O’Connor down the left and Marriott had to tip his shot into the side netting. A minute later, and Byrne hit a rasping volley from the edge of the box straight at Marriott.

27 minutes gone and Rushden had had an incredible 11 chances to Mansfield’s 2.

The game changed on 28 minutes when the superb Tomlin was badly fouled by Mills. Tomlin got up and stormed at Mills. Both players seemed to put their heads into each others and the referee immediately brandished the red card to both players. From my position, and so far without the benefit of a video replay, it certainly appeared to be the correct decision.

Ryan Williams was immediately sacrificed and replaced by Istead. Istead moved into an attacking midfield role with Sturrock moving to the left side of midfield. On 31 minutes, a bizarre booking for Briscoe who was brought down not once but twice and didn’t appear to show any dissent yet was immediately booked. In the commentary box, we wondered if it was a case of mistaken identity with the player from the wrong team being booked. On 35 minutes, Istead went down in the box but half hearted appeals for a penalty were waved away.

It was the last meaningful action of a first half that saw the rampaging Diamonds cutting the Stags to shreds for 27 minutes, with dual wingers Tomlin on the left and Pattison on the right outstanding and it soon became clear that the sending off of Tomlin and Mills had clearly favoured Mansfield.

Half Time 0-0

On 52 minutes, a controversial moment as Diamonds keeper Abbey handled the ball outside his area as the Stags attacked down the left. Would it be a red card or a yellow? The referee decided it should only be a yellow - probably the right decision in my opinion as it wasn’t an obvious goal scoring opportunity for the Stags.

But the failure to send Abbey off was to prove crucial as he made his second world class save moments later. Sturrock took the resulting free kick and floated it to the far post where Duffy met it brilliantly, thumping a header towards the bottom right hand corner of the net where Abbey made another incredible save in a carbon copy of his first half save. Moments later Briscoe’s powerful corner from the right was met by the flying Luke Jones but he couldn’t direct his header goalwards.

On 55 minutes Rushden had their first attempt at goal since the 27th minute and incredibly it was to be their only attempt before stoppage time, and a tame effort it was as Farrell shot straight at Marriott. On 56 minutes, Silk got in a great cross from the right which Duffy headed over the bar. It was to be Duffy’s last action as he limped off to be replaced by Speight.

Both sides seemed to run completely out of ideas with no more goalscoring opportunities for a further 22 minutes. During this time Nix replaced Sturrock and it was he that had a chance on 80 minutes. Speight rolled a pass to Nix in the box, he seemed to have plenty of time to shoot, but inside went wide and then his low square pass was dreadful and Abbey easily saved low down. A real waste by Nix. A minute later Speight cut inside from the left and fired just over the bar. Then on 85 minutes, a good move by the Stags, ended with a chance for Silk but from 22 yards he fired well wide.

The game was heading towards a tame draw as Rushden never looked like even getting near the Stags goal, let alone breaking the deadlock. But in the cruellest twist of fate, the Diamonds won in the second minute of stoppage time with a total flue. Robinson crossed from the left, substitute Cliff Akurang rose above Armstrong, possibly climbing on his shoulders. His header, which was certainly not going in, deflected off the head of Luke Jones, up and over Marriott and into the top left corner. The Stags players couldn’t believe it and the home players and fans couldn’t believe their luck. There was no way back for the Stags.

Overall this was a disappointing performance from Mansfield. Rushden were completely dominant in the opening half hour before the double sending off. In the second half, Rushden had completely run out of ideas and steam, and were there for the taking, but the Stags lacked a cutting edge, save for the superb header by Duffy. Personally I cannot understand why Daryl Clare didn’t start this game, or even come on as sub, with a point to prove against his former side. Surely he must now be given a chance against Oxford. He is after all the best striker in the history of the Football Conference, and yet he has only started two games this season. Worrying times at Field Mill with just two points from 5 games after such a superb start. As I said, it looks like a big night on Tuesday. Come on you Stags!

Man of the match: Rob Duffy

Report by: Martin Shaw at Nene Park

Line Up:
Marriott 8 Very good game, keeping out so many first half chances, though actually most efforts were straight at him. Superb handling from crosses.
Silk 5 Tormented by Tomlin and had no answer. Did ok after that and made some good challenges in the second half.
Garner 5 Rushden were allowed too many free headers in the first half.
Jones 5 Unlucky with the own goal but none of the defence did well.
Armstrong 5 Given a torrid time in the opening half hour. Quite after that.
Briscoe 5 Didn’t do anywhere near enough.
Mills 4 Terrible tackle on Tomlin and then reacted as did Tomlin to get himself sent off.
Somner 5 Distribution was terrible. Some bad challenges too.
Williams 6 Was looking ok before he was sacrified.
Duffy 8 Two brilliant headers looked like certain goals but were met with world-class saves.
Sturrock 6 Two wonderful crosses for Duffy’s headers. Given some rough treatment by full back Osano. Played too deep in my opinion in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
Istead (for Williams, 29) 5 Ineffective.
Speight (for Duffy, 58) 7 Very lively.
Nix (for Sturrock, 73) - Had one good opportunity but fluffed his lines.
Subs not used: Graham, Clare.
Opposition Line Up:
Abbey, Osano, Downer, Stuart, Robinson, Pattison (Reid 68), Byrne, Terry (Porter 75), Tomlin, O'Connor, Farrell (Akurang 59). Subs Not Used: Roberts, Cousins.
R Joyce (Yorkshire) 5 A difficult game but made some dreadful decisions. Did however get the sendings off and the Abbey handball incident right in my opinion.

Season 0910 Reports