{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
Cardiff City  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Earnshaw 62
Attendance: 13,009 (147 from Mansfield)
Date: 21st March 2003

Welsh Heartbreak For Gritty Stags

The Stags kicked off at Ninian Park in an electric atmosphere, the crowd whipped into a frenzy before kick off with a combination of their vociferous followers and the excellent use of strong and passionate music by the Cardiff DJ which created a very hostile atmosphere for visiting teams.

Sam Hamman has really embraced the Welsh spirit down here and the Welsh anthem was played at full pelt before the game and the use of horror film music really heightened the atmosphere. It was also the first occasion the Stags had played in front of an Arsenal style Jumbotron screen which enabled you to watch the match from a different angle on the big screen as events unfolded which was a new experience for fans and players.

The view was poor with Stags fans penned into a corner to the left of goal with railings and wire mesh separating home and away fans, given the Cardiff fans reputation this seems a ridiculous decision as this happen at very few grounds and it appeared that the whole club likes to live “ on the edge ” with the rivalry being embraced to gee up the home fans and team.

Stags began with the side that began at Huddersfield and made a confident start, knocking the ball about well and resisting the temptation to knock it long without really creating anything. Cardiff oozed confidence and Earnshaw looked particularly dangerous with his electric pace creating situations for himself without the need for any other attributes. You got the feeling he just needed the right ball and he would score. Defensively we looked solid with Day and Eaton teaming up to snuff out any danger and Welch coped admirably with high crosses and had little else to do.
Christie created a couple of half chances for himself when running at the goalkeeper chasing backpasses which gave hope to the travelling followers. From a Corden cross Disley headed goalwards just before the break which was tipped over at stretch by the Cardiff goalkeeper. Halftime approached with no real chances for either side in an interesting contest which was panning out as a precision game of chess rather than a football match. Stags matched Cardiff move for move and there was a general feeling that we have improved so much defensively under Curle. Indeed he has won as many games as he has lost and similar pressure from home sides at places like Oldham, Port Vale etc used to result in a total collapse and shipping of goals but not any more. Stags were still in the game and the huge difference in table places counted for nothing.

Half Time – Cardiff 0 Mansfield 0

Into the second half and natives were getting restless, Cardiff were getting nowhere and Eaton and Day were mopping up everything between them. Corden looked dangerous along with Lawrence but they were starved of service really. Stags fans were then treated to chants of “ Your` Gypo`s Till You Die ”, “ Bounce If You Hate England ” and “ Don`t worry, Swansea`s worse than You ! ”. The claim in their programme that their fans are “ loud but we mean you no harm ” was put to the test then and a Cardiff fan was ejected from the baying hoards !
Substitutions were viewed with massive photos of City players displayed on the Jumbotron and the place just had a big club feel to it, despite the decaying stands.
Unluckily the Stags fell behind to a goal which owed everything to the alertness of Earnshaw. City fans had been chanting “ Earny`s Gonna Get You ” all night and one single through ball played just in between Eaton and Day was seized on by the Cardiff hitman who with two touches was clean through and buried his goal with some class.
We would have got away with this at many other places but the pace of this guy was awesome and what was not really a chance was made into one with his alertness and technique and you just knew that the one move was all he needed, but it was cruel on the Stags as it was their first real opportunity to score and it was took. I suppose that’s why City are up there, defensively they looked solid but once they score it`s effectively game over.

The Stags to their credit stood up to the fight and with a little more quality and less panic from deliveries from Lawrence and Mendes chances could have been carved but in reality the Stags couldn`t penetrate with the possession they had. City fans were screaming for the final whistle a good few minutes before it shrilled so they knew the Stags had given them a game, to quote Mr Curle!

All in all, a disappointing result but not performance which showed the Stags can mix it with the best in Division 2, and would have been good value for a 0-0 but for Earnshaw. Strikers like him don`t miss chances and one clear cut one was good enough to beat the Stags, indeed I can`t remember Welch having a serious save to make, although Earnshaw created several half chances for himself with his control, flick ons and pace. The tannoy DJ said he`d just netted his 39th of the season !!

Anything from this game would have been a bonus, but at the very least consolation could be took that this was a game a few months ago which would have done our goal difference real damage, and having worked so hard to claw it back, a single goal defeat at this club won`t relegate the Stags. There`s obviously stacks of work still to do but any of the 147 amber souls in the pen at Cardiff left full of optimism that Sheffield Wednesday is still a potential destination for next season and we don`t need that map for Yeovil just yet !

Final Score – Cardiff 1 Mansfield Town 0

Man of the match: Rhys Day

Report by: Dean Foulkes

Line Up:
Welch – 7 Excellent handling from crosses. Commanded his box; no chance with the goal
Hassell – 7 Defended well. No chance to get forward
Day – 8 Won everything in the air, committed performance in front of his home town fans
Eaton – 8 Really good performance, didn’t miss anything except one slip for the goal
Doane – 7 Defended well. Backed off a bit too much at times
Mendes – 6 Plenty of energy but didn’t get anywhere
Curtis – 8 Ratted well, got up and down the pitch and did really well
Disley – 7 Made some decent runs and backed up the defence very well. Unlucky with header tipped over the bar
Corden – 6 Skilful touches but didn’t penetrate. Defence snuffed him out
Lawrence – 7 Tried hard, battled well and got stuck in. Didn’t see enough of the ball
Christie – 7 Battled hard, but no chances
Sub Line Up:
Larkin (for Mendes, 70) – 6 Showed a lot of pace but didn’t get the ball
Mitchell (for Corden, 80) -
Williamson (for Doane, 86) --
Not used: Pilkington, Gadsby.
Opposition Line Up:
Sub: Bonner
Subs not used:
G.Hegley, Hertfordshire

Season 02/03 Reports