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Season 02/03 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 2
Mansfield Town  
0 - 1
 O'Callaghan 31
Attendance: Att: 4,873 (1,166 from Barnsley)
Date: 19th April 2003

Stags produced a good performance at Field Mill this afternoon, but were unable to find any sort of killer touch, and went down to a single goal defeat against relegation rivals Barnsley. The result leaves Barnsley 9 points ahead of the Stags and thus the Stags can now probably only catch Chesterfield of the teams outside the bottom four.

Rhys Day was out with a broken jaw, and manager Keith Curle joined him on the injury list with a groin strain. Adam Eaton played despite carrying an injury. There was a recall for Jamie Clarke at right back, with Bobby Hassell moving to left back. Eaton moved to central defence, where he was joined by 16 year old debutante Alex John-Baptiste. Liam Lawrence returned to the right side of midfield following suspension, and Iyseden Christie was recalled. There was a welcome return to the bench for Colin Larkin. Barnsley were without Bruce Dyer but fans favourite Kevin Betsy returned to replace him.

Stags started very brightly and played extremely well for the opening 25 minutes. The ball was knocked around very nicely and Stags looked very comfortable. There were a number of half chances. Christie seemed certain to score from a great Lawrence cross but somehow a Barnsley defender managed to flick the ball away. Then Christie flicked a shot over the bar from a Mendes pass.

Barnsley hadn’t been in the game apart from a Sheron shot over the bar and shot that was deflected wide. But on the half-hour they won a corner from a rare raid into the Stags half. O'Callaghan rose highest and headed high over Pilkington just under the bar. It was hard to see which Stags player should have picked him up and for once it looked like a fine header rather than poor defending.

The goal clearly knocked Stags out of their stride and the game became a bit scrappy for the remainder of the half. Barnsley nearly doubled their lead when Betsy headed just wide with Pilkington strangely deciding to watch it as is rolled past the post.

On the stroke of half time Stags so nearly got the goal their approach play deserved. Corden put in a good cross which Lawrence headed goalwards. Keeper Ghent somehow managed to palm the ball away. The ball looped high in the air but with a mass of players on the line the ball somehow dropped into the grateful keeper’s arms. Stags fans claimed that the ball had crossed the line, but more in hope than expectation. It was hard lines on Lawrence as his performance had deserved a goal

Half time 0-1

Stags again dominated possession in the second half but the final ball tended to be lacking. Lawrence had the best chance when he had a header from a central position 6 yards out, but he couldn’t find the direction and headed straight at the keeper. Earlier, from a Lawrence right wing cross, Christie headed wide. Then Eaton had a shot from 20 yards which flew a couple of yards wide of the left hand post. But these were rare chances and the Stags didn’t look sharp enough up front.

Half way through the second half, Curle gambled by bringing on Williamson for Clarke and leaving just three at the back. John-Baptiste continued to look dominant despite being outnumbered, but the extra man up front didn’t help the Stags cause. Then Larkin replaced the ineffective Mendes, and came close to scoring from a tight angle, but his shot went across the face of goal and wide. In fact it Barnsley who came closest to scoring when Sheron broke clear but Williamson put in a great tackle to dispossess him after he had gone around Pilkington.

There was an air of inevitability in the end as Barnsley held on to claim three vital points that will probably see then safe. Their fans celebrated with gusto. For Stags, it will now need a miracle. Firstly the last 3 games need to be won. That seems highly unlikely given the current lack of cutting edge.

Overall the style of football was pleasing to the eye but the failure to create clearcut chances was desperately frustrating.

The season can now be divided up symmetrically: the first 20 games (under Watkiss) yielded 15 points; the next 3 games (the first 3 under Curle) yielded 9 points; the last 20 games (ie. the last 20 games under Curle) yielded 16 points. Quite simply, the first 20 games and the last 20 games have yielded nowhere near enough points.

Man of the Match: Alex John-Baptiste.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 6 Very little to do.
Clarke 7 Good game at right back.
John-Baptiste 8 Outstanding debut. Won every ball and looked remarkably composed. Handled the dangerous Betsy very well.
Eaton 7 Looked good despite playing with an injury.
Hassell 6 Not in his best run of form at present. Looks short of pace compared to last season. Surprisingly chosen as sponsor’s man of the match
Lawrence 8 Was everywhere. Tremendous performance. Created most of the dangerous moments that the Stags had.
Curtis 7 Won a lot of balls in midfield.
Disley 6 Unable to create anything going forward.
Corden 6 Several corners and crosses, but they were almost always headed clear.
Mendes 5 Simply did nothing, as in other recent home games.
Christie 5 Not in a good run of form, but clearly was trying hard. Nothing fell for him.
Sub Line Up:
Williamson (for Clarke, 68) 7 Did well and nearly created some chances.
Larkin (for Mendes, 81) 6 Good to see him back. Did well to get in a shot from a tight angle that went wide
Mitchell (for Corden, 88) -
Not used: Welch, Buxton.
Opposition Line Up:
Ghent, Austin, Kay, O'Callaghan, Mulligan, Ward, Neil, Lumsdon, Donovan, Sheron, Betsy. Subs: Gorre, Rankin, Gibbs, Fallon, Parry.
C Wilkes (Gloucestershire) 7 Competent performance.

Season 02/03 Reports