Nationwide Division 3

1st April 2000

Mansfield Town   0-1  Barnet
    King 51

Attendance: 1,960

by Martin Shaw at Field Mill


Rarely have I been so disappointed after a game than I was after this one. After the wonderful display at Rotherham and then the shocking performance at Chester and the drab draw against Rochdale, this game against hopelessly out of form Barnet seemed like the ideal opportunity to get Stags` floundering play-off chances back on track. Instead, after a very promising opening 15 minutes, the young Mansfield side served up a spineless performance and fell to a 1-0 defeat in a damp squib of a game.

Mansfield made just one change to their starting line up with Andy Roscoe replacing Andy Evans as Stags reverted to just two men up front. Barnet, with just one win in nine games, included former Field Mill favourite John Doolan in midfield and former subject of the Field Mill boo-boys Warren Hackett on the bench. Hackett was returning from international duty for St. Lucia.

In front of the day`s lowest Division 3 crowd, Mansfield made a quite excellent start and for 15 minutes looked like reproducing the form from Millmoor which, although just 2 weeks ago, already seems like light years ago. There was a host of early chances as Darrell Clarke seemed to have recaptured some form with quick breaks and Greenacre and Boulding looked sharp up front. Stags were about an inch from taking the lead when Michael Boulding drove forward and charged down a clearance which rebounded off him and appeared to be heading for the goal. But Barnet keeper Lee Harrison, rushing backwards, somehow managed acrobatically to tip the ball off the line and away to safety. It was desperately close and may have been over the line but the goal was not given. Other early chances fell to Greenacre and Clarke who were unlucky not to score, particularly Greenacre who saw his goalbound header brilliantly turned around the post by Harrison.

On 14 minutes, experienced defender David Linighan limped out of the action with a hamstring injury which will keep him out of the side for three weeks, to be replaced by young Gavin Bassinder as Stags had to reshuffle their side. But from that moment on, Stags failed to live up to their early promise and Barnet slowly clawed themselves into the game. Barnet themselves nearly grabbed an unexpected lead when, from a Darren Currie free kick into the Stags` 6 yard box, Stags` keeper Glyn Thompson failed to come for the ball leaving Barnet`s Mark Arber to slide in unchallenged. Fortunately he rolled the ball wide of the post. Stags had completely gone to sleep by this stage, but a rising shot from Lee Williams on the stroke of half time just over the bar raised hopes of better things in the second half.

Half time 0-0

Barnet opened the second half more positively and Darren Currie nearly put the visitors in front with a shot from 12 yards that deflected just wide of the post but within 2 minutes, the Bees took an undeserved lead. A right wing corner was headed on at the near post by Charlery, hit the far post, bounced along the line, hit Marlon King and rolled an inch over the line before being clawed away by Gavin Bassinder. The goal was immediately signalled by the referee who was well positioned but such was the margin of victory when one compared this incident with Boulding`s in the first half which may well have crossed the line by the same margin.

Stags` midfield had completely lost the grip of the game; Darrell Clarke was completely anonymous, Mark Blake was not much better and Stags seemed generally to be second to the ball. Up front, Greenacre and Boulding were getting precious little service. In a second half very low on action, substitute Bassinder, who had a very poor game, was himself replaced by striker Andy Evans. Out of the blue, Stags nearly found an equaliser as Chris Greenacre`s solo break ended with a low left foot shot which was magnificently saved by the Barnet keeper.

As the game entered its final few minutes, Stags were presented with a gilt-edged change to equalise as substitute Evans was found completely unmarked in the Barnet 6 yard box but he could only turn his miscued effort into the hands of Harrison. A minute into injury time, Darrell Clarke, in the 6 yard box, headed Blake`s forward ball over the keeper and into the net but it was ruled out for offside. It looked a close decision at the time, and the video evidence adterwards suggested Stags may have been unlucky. Nevertheless Stags` final chance of gaining a point from the game was gone.

Overall, a bitterly disappointing result and, for the last 75 minutes, a poor performance against an equally poor Barnet side. Nevertheless, Stags still created considerably more chances than the visitors (18 compared to 9 for Barnet, with Stags having 10 on target, compared to just 5 for Barnet) and Stags deserved an equal share of the spoils. After the loss of Linighan, the young defence of Asher, Hassell and Andrews played very well with Hassell just gaining my Man of the Match award. The midfield, so sorely missing the injured Michael Sisson, was very poor. Greenacre and Boulding were given little service up front though Greenacre, as always, never gave up the chase. Martin Garratt, on trial until the end of the season after leaving York, came on as left wing back late on, and looked quite positive. Barnet keeper Lee Harrison, who conceded 5 at Field Mill last season, was outstanding with his early saves keeping his side in the game. Had Stags gone ahead in these early stages, I think they would have gone on to win the game by some margin.

After the game, a dejected Stags boss Billy Dearden admitted his side were poor and bemoaned their poor passing. He felt that the early loss of Linighan meant that the young Stags side lacked enough experience with only Blake being very experienced.

Man of the Match : Bobby Hassell

Stags Match Stats
Line Up Rating Remarks
Thompson 7 Looked comfortable and made a couple of decent saves though failed to command his box on a couple of occasions
Asher 7 Good performance, showing great character to return from his shocking game at Chester
Hassell 8 Looks an absolute class player and always comfortable on the ball
Linighan 6 Injured after just 14 minutes
Andrews 7 Solid in defence
Williams 5 Unusually poor distribution and failed to get sufficiently involved
Roscoe 5 Never seemed to get into the game
Clarke 5 Excellent start to the game but then was completely anonymous for 75 minutes
Blake 6 Not up to his usual high standard, misses Sisson alongside him
Greenacre 6 Tried hard as always and unlucky with a couple of efforts
Boulding 6 Good start but failed to show enough in the second half
Bassinder 5 (for Linighan, 14 minutes) Failed to make any impression, and was himself substituted
Evans 5 (for Bassinder, 77 minutes) Looked poor and missed a good chance
Garratt 6 (for Roscoe, 81 minutes) Looked positive going forward, though only on for a few minutes
Unused Subs:   Mimms, Disley.