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Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Mansfield Town  
4 - 0
 Cheltenham Town
Lawrence pen 7, pen 85, Larkin 45, 52.
Attendance: 4,095 (313 from Cheltenham)
Date: 25th October 2003

Report by Svante Bernhard aka Sweden Stag

The Stags went back to winning ways after beating their main 2001-02 promotion rivals Cheltenham Town 4-0 at Field Mill. For this game, the Robins had two players suspended, goalkeeper Steve Book for a sending-off at Boston a fortnight ago, and defender Mark Yates for accumulating five yellow cards. These absences may have played a part in the result, one may never know. The Cheltenham line-up thus included former West Bromwich goalscoring ace Bob Taylor.
The Stags made some changes to the Torquay game with Iyseden Christie and Tom Curtis being benched. They were replaced by Neil MacKenzie and Rhys Day. Jamie Clarke was not even on the bench and was replaced from start by Colin Larkin.
The game started slowly with no clear-cut chances for either side. Paul Brayson, along with Shaun Higgs the best Cheltenham player, had a good left-foot shot inside the box cleared by Day. Stags responded directly when Larkin was put through by Mendes. Seconds later the Stags were in front. Lawrence was tripped down by Jones inside the penalty box and ref Mathieson from Stockport reacted quickly, pointing to the spot. Seconds later, Lawrence cooly converted the pen for his eighth goal of the season into Higgs' bottom left-hand corner. This was the perfect start the Stags needed.
Then Cheltenham had their best period of the game, winning many 50-50 balls.
Brayson miskicked a good free-kick opportunity and the same man went clear on the right on 16 minutes.Went clear on the right hitting a low drive, flashing past Pilkington's right-hand post.
Four minutes later, a Bob Taylor free-kick put Finnigan in behind Dimech but Artell blocked the opportunity. Finnigan was minutes later on target again when a 25-yard hammer was superbly blocked by a diving Pilkington.
On the half-hour mark, Brayson again shot well from the edge of the box and again Pilkington nullified the chance.
34 minutes into the game, Larkin played in Corden. He held up the ball before cutting inside, unleashing a thunderous shout tipped over the bar by Higgs.
But the Stags were not to be denied much longer. On the stroke of half time, Corden crossed from the left, finding Larkin getting behind his marker before powerfully heading home from a few yards. A good goal that came at a very crucial point of the game.
HT 2-0

Cheltenham had the first attack of the second half when McCann was played in on goal, but his shot was easy prey for Pilkington. Then, on 52 minutes, came the goal that finally put the game beyond Cheltenham's reach. A shocking mistake by Howells who played a back straight into Larkin's feet was capitalized on by the latter. Larkin raced towards goal and powerfully hammered the ball in from the edge of the box. This third goal really took the stuffing out of Cheltenham, who after that, looked a very ordinary side, harmless and totally devoid of ideas, thus being a pale shadow of the Cheltenham side that chased the Stags to the wire two seasons ago.
The Stags now began to dominate completely and had several chances to increase the lead.
Dimech broke down the right from his own half, played in Corden across the face of goal, but somehow Jones managed beat off Mendes.
Williamson had an excellent chance of finding the net striking a long-range effort brilliantly saved by Higgs - on 57 minutes.
Four minutes later, Larkin nearly got his hat-trick. Lawrence laid up the ball inside the path of Larkin, who fired a powerful shot from twelve yards out, superbly blocked by Higgs.
Mendes was then unlucky to hit the cross-bar.
With five minutes left, the Stags were awarded their second penalty of the game. First Lawrence fired a shot from a tight angle cleared off the line by Victory, the ball falling back to Lawrence before being tripped by Jones. Once again Mathieson pointed to the spot.
Again, Lawrence stepped up and hammered the ball to convert the penalty.
All in all, a solid workmanlike Mansfield display that put the losing run to an end. But with other teams around them winning, the Stags are still in sixth position. On the other hand, Cheltenham, still without a manager after Bobby Gould's resignation, were poor and might struggle to get into a mid-table position.
The man of the match award was difficult to make out. It stood between MacKenzie, Larkin and Lawrence. But in the end, Lawrence just made it.
Man of the match: Liam Lawrence.

Report by: Svante Bernhard at Field Mill

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 - Little to do, but must improve his kicking
Dimech 7 - Strong, good and fair tackler
Artell 7 - Did his job well
Day 7 - Good solid return to the team
Vaughan 7 - Better showing than at Plainmoor
Lawrence 9 - All over the park, coolly converted the penalties
MacKenzie 8 - Very good come-back
Williamson 7 - Reasonable game, much better display than at Torquay
Corden 8 - Was in the build-up of both Larkin's goals
Mendes 6 - Marked out of the game, unlucky with a good effort in the end
Larkin 8 - Good display with two decisive well-taken goals
Sub Line Up:
Disley (for Mackenzie, 71) 7 - Started with a good effort
Curtis (for Williamson, 75) 7 - Ran down the clock in the end
Subs not used: JWhite, John-Baptiste, Christie.
Opposition Line Up:
Higgs, Bird, Jones, Michael Duff, Victory, Devaney, Howells, Finnigan, McCann, Taylor, Brayson. Subs: Brough, Spencer, Corbett, Cleverley, Humphries.
S Mathieson (Cheshire) 6. Petty at times but was right about the penalties.

Season 03/04 Reports