Northampton Town 1 Mansfield Town 0
By Martin Shaw at Sixfields
29 Apr 2000
Mansfield came into this game not having scored in the last 7 matches and having gained just one point in that time. They had lost 3 of the games by a scoreline of 1-0. By contrast, Northampton had won their last 4 games, without conceding a single goal, and winning 3 of those games 1-0. There seemed only one possible result, and so it proved, as the Cobblers ground out a 1-0 victory.
It was slightly unjust on an improving Mansfield side who had the better of the second half but failed to create enough clear-cut chances.
Stags were unchanged from the side that had narrowly lost to Swansea, with Bobby Mimms retaining his place in goal having just been awarded a one-year contract at Field Mill.
In front of a full house of home fans, and about 300 travelling Stags fans, the game started quietly with few chances. But after 15 minutes, Mimms saved well from a long-range shot, though he couldn`t hold the ball, and Howard`s shot from the rebound seemed destined for the net but was brilliantly blocked by Andrews. Cobblers followed up with a few other long range shots and one header wide, but Stags looked comfortable in defence without creating much themselves.
Stags had two half-hearted penalty appeals waved away: firstly a possible foul on Boulding, and secondly claims for a handball. But Mansfield`s best chance fell to Darrell Clarke on 40 minutes. From 15 yards he lifted a shot over the keeper but it fell agonisingly inches wide of the angle.
Two minutes later, on 42 minutes, and rather out of the blue, Northampton took the lead. Howard played Savage through, and the defence opened up as he was left with a free run on goal. He strode forward a planted a crisp shot past Mimms, unchallenged.
It was a bitter blow for the Stags who amazingly have still only come back once all season from going behind.
In a second half of few chances, Northampton had only one chance to increase their lead. On 52 minutes, tall striker Howard lost his marker Andrews from a cross but planted his free header wide from 6 yards.
Indeed it was Stags who had the better of the play, and generally dominated possession. But the midfield failed to create enough chances and generally Stags did not have enough cutting edge. Boulding had one shot left footed from 20 yards but it was straight at keeper Welch, Northampton`s Player of the Season. Greenacre had a couple of half-chances, and Sisson headed over near the end, but in truth it did not look as though Stags were going to break their goal drought, which now extends to more than 12 hours. In a surprising late substitution, striker Boulding was replaced by Roscoe, with Lee Williams joining Greenacre in attack.
After the game, a relieved home manager Kevin Wilson admitted his side had ground out a result, but rightly pointed out that his keeper Keith Welch had barely been tested.
Stags defence and keeper Bobby Mimms played very well in restricting the home side, but lack of a cutting edge going forward meant it was all in vain. Michael Sisson was the pick of the midfield with Darrell Clarke again failing to display his form from the Rotherham game and limping off injured.
So Mansfield`s spectacular fall from the edge of the play-offs to a position well below mid-table continued. With just one game left of the season, at home to a Plymouth side who now have also lost their chance of making the play-offs, Stags will be hoping to bow out with a bit of a bang. Had Plymouth been in with a chance of the play-offs, they probably would have brought a large following to Field Mill, but now it seems the game is likely to be played in front of a very low crowd.
Man of the Match: Neil Richardson
Mimms 7 Some good saves and generally commanded his box well.
Asher 7 Good game at right back.
Richardson 8 Extremely solid in central defence, and good distribution of the ball.
Andrews 7 Good game.
Garratt 7 Showed promise and generally defended well.
Williams 6 Didn`t really get into the game much. Still looks low on confidence.
Clarke 6 Disappointing once again, though very unlucky with one fine shot inches wide.
Blake 6 One a few tackles in midfield, but didn`t create anything going forward.
Sisson 7 The pick of the midfield but didn`t provide any chances for the forwards.
Greenacre 6 Plenty of effort but not given enough service.
Boulding 6 Showed good pace and had claims for a penalty, but didn`t really look like scoring.
Kerr (for Clarke, 51 minutes) 6 A couple of good touches when he came on, but then looked anonymous.
Williamson (for Blake, 76 minutes) 6 Didn`t really get into the game.
Roscoe (for Boulding, 84 minutes) 6 No chance to do anything.
Subs not used: