Mansfield 4† Shrewsbury 0
This was another cracking Friday night show from the Stags to produce only the second league win of the season, following the success over Peterborough at Field Mill 3 weeks earlier. The Stags produced some quality football, and managed to turn their superiority into victory with 4 goals right out of the top drawer.
Mark Blake failed a late fitness test, and according to Stags assistant manager Mark Kearney, this forced boss Billy Deardenís hand into going with an adventurous 3-4-3 formation that had worked so well in the Worthington Cup second leg victory over Nottingham Forest earlier in the season. This was since he had little choice but to pick young striker Michael Boulding for his first start since the Forest game, and his first ever start in a league game. Stags had an extraordinary lack of experience of the bench, as a result of injuries to more experienced players Tallon, Kerr, Blake and Hassell, and the absence of triallist Camilieri.
The game started slowly and only came to life when the Stags took the lead on 24 minutes. Andy Roscoe fired in a powerful free-kick from near the corner flag, and Lee Peacock stole in ahead of the defenders to get his head to it 5 yards out and give the keeper no chance. Peacock should have added to his tally when Lormor put him clean through, but as the action seemed to stop with everyone seemingly waiting for the offside flag which didnít come, Peacock calmly side-footed the ball wide from 15 yards. As the game approached half-time, the ball fell to Michael Sisson on the edge of the box, with his back to goal. In a flash, he turned and shot, and the ball beat the keeper just inside the left hand post. It was a great goal and it was the speed of Sissonís action that undoubtedly gave the keeper no time to react. Within 2 minutes, a wonderful crossfield pass from Clarke found Lee Williams, 40 yards from goal on the right hand side. He floated a teasing ball into the box where a diving Tony Lormor headed the ball powerful down into the ground and as it bounced up high, it hit the back of the net. It was a wonderful moment for Lormor, as he has been so unlucky all season not to score. He was immediately engulfed by team-mates who were overjoyed at his first goal of the season.
It was a great first half display from the Stags, with the 2 late goals giving them a deserved cushion at the break. Michael Sisson had an excellent half, commanding the midfield and his wonderful goal oozed class to cap the display. Shrewsbury were surprisingly quiet coming on the back on 3 consecutive wins, and had only one effort in the first half, when the diminutive Lee Steeleís shot 10 minutes before half time was superbly handled by the commanding Carl Muggleton in the Stags goal.
Shrewsbury came back into the game strongly in the second half and could even claim to have been marginally on top for 20 minutes. But they were unable to break through a very solid looking Stags defence with Richardson looking excellent, along with Linighan and Asher. Midway through the half Sisson received a whack in the leg, with his foot seemingly stuck in the ground, and it could prove to be a serious injury. After the game, assistant manager Kearney said that the injury had really taken the gloss off an excellent night. It was such a shame for Sisson, who was really in terrific form, and such a shame for the Stags that as players such as Blake, Hassell and Sisson hit top form, they are struck down by injury. With Shrewsbury fighting back hard, it was important for young substitute Disley to get stuck in and follow Sissonís great example. Remarkably, young Disley was booked within 120 seconds of coming on, and went on to be very solid in midfield sniffing out any hint of a Shrewsbury recovery.† After 73 minutes, Stags should have gone 4 ahead. Young striker Michael Boulding who showed an improved display in the second half after a quiet first half, was tugged down by defender Seabury, when in truth it did not look a dangerous decision. The offence was spotted by the assistant referee, while the referee himself did not see the incident. There followed a classic piece of humour from Tony Lormor. Lee Peacock had already grabbed the ball in preparation for the penalty, and Lormor cheekily moved onto the penalty spot and beckoned to Peacock to throw it to him to allow him to add to his first goal of the season. Lormor had a big grin on his face, but Peacock declined Tonyís offer!! Peacockís penalty was firmly struck but was too close to the keeper who made a wonderful save to turn the ball away. Ten minutes later on 85 minutes, Peacock atoned for his miss. A fine move culminated in a powerful drive from Tony Lormor from 25 yards that bounced awkwardly for the keeper off the greasy surface and rebounded out to the grateful Peacock who nipped in just ahead of Boulding to lift the ball over the sprawling keeper into the net. Stags had other chances to score, most notably a Darrell Clarke side-foot over the bar when he should have done better following a fine move. Also Michael Boulding, had one excellent run and turn which bamboozled the defender, but his shot was woeful, going out for a throw-in.† Shrewsbury created some chances during their good spell of 20 minutes, but found Carl Muggleton in good form, especially one tremendous double save, even though the second shot was given offside.
Overall this was a terrific display from the Stags. Sisson was the star of the show, prior to his injury. The whole defence played well, especially Neil Richardson, and Alistair Asher shows a maturity beyond his years. Darrell Clarke showed wonderful distribution from midfield, though often seemed to be a bit behind the pace of the game, and is still short of match fitness. In attack, Tony Lormor held the ball up excellently and so thoroughly deserved his goal. Lee Peacock put on another excellent display in front of QPR manager Gerry Francis and Charlton boss Alan Curbishly. It was a shame his penalty miss prevented his second hat-trick of the season. Michael Boulding had a quiet first half but looked dangerous in the second half.
Mansfield have 2 tricky away games coming up at Swansea and Plymouth, but with performances like this, they know they have nothing to fear in this division.
Man of the match: Michael Sisson.
Asher 7, Linighan 7, Neil Richardson 8,
Williams 7, Sisson 9, Clarke 7, Roscoe 8,
Lormor 9, Peacock 9. Boulding 6.
Disley 7 (for Sisson 67 minutes),
Williamson (for Boulding 88 minutes).
Subs not used: Tye, Allardyce, Bacon.