Saturday 25th August 2001
Nationwide League Division 3
|Attendance: 3, 105||
Shaw at Whaddon Road
was another pulsating game, full of tension, passion, good football, bad
football, and at last … a win for the Stags. After some fine performances in previous games this season, all that
seemed to be missing was a win, and it finally came at Cheltenham Town, in the
most dramatic of fashions.
Two headed goals from young midfielder Craig Disley, the first goals of
his career, had seemed to put the Stags in complete control. But 2 goals in 4
minutes by the gigantic Julian Alsop brought the game back to 2-2, before
Wayne Corden grabbed a winner in the 90th minute.
Stags generally had the better of the first half, but were lucky to survive when a quickly taken free-kick by Cheltenham flashed inches past the post with Pilkington motionless on 23 minutes. But on 29 minutes, Stags were ahead. Corden got in a great right-foot shot from the edge of the box, which was tipped around the post by former Stags loanee keeper Carl Muggleton. But from the resulting corner on the left, Lawrence and Hassell combined to provide a cross for Craig Disley, 10 yards from goal, to send a header into the top right hand corner of the net. It was a fantastic moment for the Stags youngster. It was so nearly 2-0 on 34 minutes when Greenacre sent in a terrific chip with his left foot from 30 yards, but it flew just over the bar with Muggleton way off his line.
Just a minute into the second half, Disley did make it 2-0 with a near
carbon-copy goal of his first. Lawrence sent over a corner from the right and
Disley met it with a looping header, perfectly placed, high and just inside
the left-hand post. Stags seemed to be in charge, but it was the home side who now took
control and for 30 minutes completely dominated the game, looking like they
would score with every attack. After 62 minutes, Cheltenham pulled a goal back
that in truth had looked inevitable. Tall striker Julian Alsop, just on as
substitute, powered home a header from 6 yards from a cross, with an ease that
made further goals also look inevitable. Indeed it was a sickening feeling
just 3 minutes later when the same player scored with ease again with another
header from about the same distance from another cross.
It seemed just a matter of time before the Stags would be swept away
into an ignominious defeat. But a few missed chances, including two further
headers by the seemingly uncontrollable Alsop, and a shot from the dangerous
veteran Neil Grayson, saw the clock wind down towards 90 minutes. It seemed
that the Stags would escape with a draw that their overall play deserved, but
which seemed unlikely given Cheltenham’s second half domination.
Then in the very last minute of normal time, super Wayne Corden,
collected a ball on the left wing 40 yards out, and galloped his way towards
goal. Teasing his defender, he made space for himself, took aim and he
unleashed a hard, low shot from 18 yards which arrowed its way like a missile
into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. I was perfectly placed in line
with the shot to see that it was only going in one place. Cue bedlam amongst
the Stags players and also amongst the 260 Stags fans behind the goal. Corden
himself ran behind the goal and became buried in a sea of Stags fans.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side, who despite
4 minutes of injury time that came from nowhere, did not manage another effort
at the Stags goal.
So a great, and much-needed first win of the season. It came as a great
relief to Stags fans, and perhaps particularly to Wayne Corden. For in the
previous two games, at home to Southend and Notts County, he had had shots in
injury time that were somehow cleared by the goalkeepers’ legs when it
seemed he must score. But not this time, and what a sweet moment it was for
the player who has looked in truly fabulous form all season, and is at last
realising the potential of the player Billy Dearden brought to Field Mill from
tough call to differentiate between Stags scorers Disley and Corden for my man
of the match. But for his all-round show of skillful football, my vote goes to
of the Match: Wayne Corden.
6 One great save from a shot, but indecisive on crosses, and didn’t command
7 Solid at right back, though sometimes done for pace by the ageing Grayson.
6 Gave the ball away again a few times (for the third consecutive game). Not
settled in this season.
6 Seemed to do ok, but the tall Allsop was allowed 2 goals from headers, and
Allsop also missed several others.
7 His best game in a Stags shirt, solid at left back.
7 Some sloppy passing but positive going forward, and a fine corner for
Disley’s second goal.
6 Solid in central midfield.
8 Two superb headed goals, and generally positive going forward.
8 Another inspirational winner for a player in the best form of his Stags
career. Tremendous skill shown on numerous occasions.
7 Worked hard. Just had two chances to score: a chip just over the bar in the
first half, but first touch let him down in the second half when he was put
through on goal.
6 A couple of headers which went wide, but generally too quiet.
Pemberton (for Lawrence, 71 mins), Bacon (for White, 80 mins)
Not Used: Bingham, Asher, Williams.