Alsop 62, 65   Disley 29, 47, Corden 90

Saturday 25th August 2001

Nationwide League Division 3

Attendance:  3, 105  

Martin Shaw at Whaddon Road

This 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 Port Vale.

A 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 Wayne Corden.

Man of the Match: Wayne Corden.

Pilkington 6 One great save from a shot, but indecisive on crosses, and didn’t command his area.

Hassell 7 Solid at right back, though sometimes done for pace by the ageing Grayson.

Robinson 6 Gave the ball away again a few times (for the third consecutive game). Not settled in this season.

Reddington 6 Seemed to do ok, but the tall Allsop was allowed 2 goals from headers, and Allsop also missed several others.

Tankard 7 His best game in a Stags shirt, solid at left back.

Lawrence 7 Some sloppy passing but positive going forward, and a fine corner for Disley’s second goal.

Williamson 6 Solid in central midfield.

Disley 8 Two superb headed goals, and generally positive going forward.

Corden 8 Another inspirational winner for a player in the best form of his Stags career. Tremendous skill shown on numerous occasions.

Greenacre 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.

White 6 A couple of headers which went wide, but generally too quiet.


Pemberton (for Lawrence, 71 mins), Bacon (for White, 80 mins)

Subs Not Used: Bingham, Asher, Williams.