|RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS||
|Murray 49||Lowe 39, 53, 64 Angell 79|
|Saturday 30th March 2002 - Nationwide League Division 3|
|Attendance: 5, 807|
The Stags were without keeper Kevin Pilkington who served a one game ban after his dismissal at Swansea a fortnight ago - Michael Bingham stepped in for his first league start for the Stags, having previously played an hour at Swansea and in the LDV defeat against Blackpool - sadly youth team keeper Jason White would have been on the bench but after his father was taken ill the Stags had no reserve keeper. David Kelly partnered Chris Greenacre in attack with Shayne Bradley dropping to the bench. On the Diamonds bench was new signing Brett Angell and former Stags defender Mark Peters lined up in the visitors defence. Field Mill was a sea of Amber as the Stags Supporters Association Amber Day had really caught the imagination - as the Stags came out hundreds of balloon's and ticker tape provided quite a dramatic entry.
The visitors made a strong start and Michael Bingham was pressed into action in the first minute, though the save was fairly comfortable from Warldey's long range effort, his handling was impeccable. Moments later Diamonds attacked again though this time Bingham wasn't required as Hall's shot flew well over. It took the Stags 15 minutes to find their feet, with both wide men Corden and Murray struggling to make any impact and Lee Williamson missing the sparkle of earlier in the season. Kelly broke free into the area and seemed to have his shirt pulled, however, the dive by the Stags man was very unconvincing and probably made Premiership referee Mark Halsey's mind up for him and his protests were waved away. The Stags had a fine spell of pressure which almost lead to a goal, Greenacre's close range effort somehow cleared off the line. Williamson then found himself inside the area after a great Hassell run but instead of shooting he dwelt on the ball and was dispossessed. Just as the Stags were on top they were hit with a hammer blow and it came from a dreadful error by want-away defender Adam Barrett. Under little pressure Barrett headed the ball straight at Onandi Lowe who then took the ball past the Stags defender like he wasn't there and blasted an unstoppable shot past Bingham. Going in behind at half time was a little harsh on the Stags.
Half Time: 0-1
Again Diamonds came out of the blocks first and should have extended their lead when a cross from the Stags right was somehow side-footed wide by Hanlon. Buoyed by this let off the Stags then put together their best move of the match which lead to the equaliser, Murray calmly side-footing a low finish off the far post. Sellars then replaced Williamson on 57 minutes, with Murray moving into the middle. However, the Stags could not consolidate on this equaliser and were soon behind again - once more questions have to be asked of the defence, though this time bad luck was also a factor. Robinson's header cannoned off Barrett and fell right into Lowe's path, his finish was again superb and gave Bingham no chance. The Stags threw in White for the ineffective Kelly but three minutes later and the game was all but finished and Lowe again was the beneficiary of yet more poor defending, a right wing free kick allowed to go all the way to the far post where Lowe had the simple task of tapping home - surely someone should have been picking him up, it wasn't as if we hadn't had a warning about him!! White almost connected with a right wing cross and Greenacre hit a first time half volley just wide as the Stags grew desperate, making a final change with Bradley replacing Corden which saw the Stags switch to a 4-3-3 formation. Bradley almost made an immediate impact after a super run by White cut open the Diamonds defence, however, the striker slid his finish past the far post, a bad miss which could have given the Stags hope. However, that hope was finally extinguished when Angell headed home Hall's right wing cross. Lowe was replaced Partridge and rightly given an ovation by Stags fans, it was the best performance by an opposition striker this season at Field Mill.
So the Stags worrying form continues, though they can feel aggrieved at going in behind at half time, there is no doubt Diamonds deserved the points - they were quicker to the ball and altogether a stronger outfit. The Stags rarely competed in the 2nd half and frankly too many players are looking jaded and out of sorts. In particular neither striker performed to the level they are capable, Williamson was a shadow of the player he was just a few weeks ago and the defence is looking very shaky. With just one point from the last four games the Stags have slipped out of the automatic promotion places and look a fair bet for the play-offs. There will have to be a dramatic improvement in form to prevent this season ending at the play-off semi-final stage. On the positive side Michael Bingham made a very impressive full debut and Bobby Hassell was again excellent.
Man of the Match: Bobby Hassell
Report by Rob Wheldon
|Bingham||8||A couple of good saves, excellent kicking and solid handling.|
|Hassell||8||Again the Stags best player, both attacking and defensively.|
|Pemberton||5||Not bad going forward but beaten by Hall throughout.|
|Robinson||5||Still struggling to recapture form from earlier this season - done for pace a couple of times.|
|Barrett||5||Poor error cost 1st goal and roasted by Lowe several times.|
|Corden||5||Barely got the ball.|
|Disley||6||Never stopped running.|
|Murray||7||Much better in the central role given him when Williamson went off - should stay there.|
|Williamson||5||Really struggling at the moment and needs a break - nothing went right for the lad, who has had a super season.|
|Kelly||5||Very disappointing - never held the ball for any period and never looked a threat|
|Greenacre||5||Like Kelly rarely threatened and is a shadow of the player he was pre-Christmas|
|Sellars||6||(for Williamson 57) Some neat tricks and should start at Luton.|
|White||6||(for Kelly 60) One superb run but missed a great headed chance.|
|Bradley||5||(for Corden 75) Missed a great chance.|
|Subs Not Used: Reddington, Asher.|