|18th December 1999|
By Martin Shaw at Underhill
Stags gave a battling performance on a freezing afternoon at Underhill to earn a valuable point, thanks especially to the hard-working defence.
Underhill is one of the few grounds in the country that Stags fans can genuinely say is currently worse than Field Mill. Actually this could be the last trip to the ground for Stags fans. The Bees may only be playing there for a couple more years, and could be promoted to Division 2 this season since prior to this game, Barnet were already 4 points clear at the top of Division 3.
Mansfield made one change from the Cup game against Bury, with Leigh Bromby, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, replacing the injured David Linighan in central defence. Injury kept out striker Danny Bacon, while Andy Roscoe, golden-goal hero against Bury, remained on the bench.
The game started very quietly with not a lot memorable happening in the first 20 minutes. The game livened up as Barnet had a couple of corners that came to nothing and Ken Charlery had a shot just wide. Mansfields first chance came when Lee Williams executed his classic step-over routine to fool the home defender. This gave him room for a cross from the bye-line which was beautifully dummied by Darrell Clarke for Chris Greenacre to shoot, but the ball was blocked as it looked goal-bound and it went out for a corner. Soon afterwards Clarke had a shot wide after more good work by Williams down the right wing. Mark Blake had a shot that went very high and wide and Williams himself had a shot just before half time that went just wide. Barnet also created some chances as the half ended with more action than it started with.
Half time Barnet 0 Mansfield 0.
Early in the second half, a Mansfield player had a goal-bound effort blocked (from the far end of the ground, it was difficult to tell whose shot it was). Then Barnet striker Marlon King made room for himself on the edge of the box and his shot was deflected off Neil Richardson just inches wide of the post with Bowling well beaten. A clever free kick forward from Neil Richardson was headed on by Greenacre for Lormor at the far post. It seemed Lormor must score but somehow a defender managed to get a foot in and clear the ball for a corner.
This turned out to be Stags last chance of a goal as Barnet camped in the Mansfield half for the last 25 minutes. There was a succession of corners several of which nearly led to goals as a header thundered against the bar and shots rained wide. Currie also created an excellent chance for himself but his usually reliable shooting let him down as he skewed the ball wide from 18 yards. Near the end Marlon King had a header at the far post that Bowling saved well down by the post, though Bowling should never have allowed an attacker to be heading the ball from within the 6 yard box.
Full time Barnet 0 Mansfield 0.
All in all this was a great, if slightly lucky, point for the Stags. Barnet had numerous chances in the second half and will count themselves unlucky not to have won.
Stags defence and midfield worked very hard to keep a clean sheet. Richardson and Bromby played particularly well in central defence, and Andrews also played well alongside them. Lee Williams had a good game down the right side and nearly created goals on several occasions. Clarke was the pick of the midfield, but Sisson was disappointing given his excellent form earlier in the season. Blake gave the ball away a lot in midfield, though often did well to win the ball back.
One area of concern was that keeper Ian Bowling refused to claim any balls crossed into the 6 yard box and this led to chance after chance for the home team in the last 25 minutes. Bowling is brave to come back from injury but he must regain his confidence to come off his line for crosses.
Former Stags players Warren Hackett and John Doolan played for Barnet, but were both largely anonymous.
Man of the Match: Leigh Bromby and Neil Richardson
|Stags Match Stats|
|Bowling||5||One good save, but refused to come off his line for crosses and this led to unnecessary pressure in the second half.|
|Williams||7||Fine game down the right wing.|
|Tallon||6||Quiet, but committed as ever.|
|Richardson||8||Very strong in the centre of defence.|
|Bromby||8||Fine debut in central defence, with pace and clean tackling.|
|Andrews||7||Worked well alongside Richardson and Bromby.|
|Blake||6||Gave the ball away too easily, though worked hard and often won balls back|
|Sisson||6||Disappointing after recent excellent displays.|
|Clarke||7||Pick of the midfield. Looked good going forward.|
|Lormor||6||Quiet game. One chance to score but defender beat him to the ball.|
|Unused Subs: Gibson, Cowling, Asher, Roscoe, Kerr.|