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Archived News from November 2004

16th November 2004 10:32

Steve Hartshorn's Observer report:
The Stags kept alive their dreams of F.A. Cup glory when, Captain, Alex John-Baptiste brilliantly volleyed home to draw Mansfield level after they had fallen behind to a 25th minute opener from Colchester's Greg Halford.
After a difficult week at Field Mill it was a welcome return to football action as Stags faced Coca Cola League 1 side, Colchester United in the 1st Round of the F.A. Cup.
The Stags with Carlton Palmer and Paul Holland at the helm were forced into several changes with Scott McNiven absent due to the news of possible testicular cancer and Craig Woodman 'Cup tied'. The squad had though been bolstered with the inclusion of on loan signing, Fraser McLachlan from Stockport County.
With both sides in the middle of a poor run of form, it was hardly surprising that the encounter wasn't a classic but The Stags can be rightly pleased by the fact that they more than held their own against opposition from a higher League.
Palmer, who had been asked by Chairman, Keith Haslam to take temporary charge of the team, shocked everyone by changing the Captaincy, the surprise recipient being young star, Alex John-Baptiste who started the game back in the centre of defence and who was clearly The Stags man of the match.
Both teams started the game in the type of mood you would expect from two struggling sides. Both peppered away at each other without causing too much concern to the opposition. United, who on every attempt at going forward, tried to either find the feet of Craig Fagan or the head of lanky striker, Greg Halford offered very little threat to the Mansfield goal whilst the same could be said of The Stags with their loan striker, Colin Larkin.
It was a surprise however when The U's took the lead on 25 minutes, for the goal seemingly came out of nothing. For once Luke Dimech was beaten on the right hand side and when the cross came over it was neatly met by the head of Greg Halford, who's unstoppable effort flew into the top corner of The Stags net.
To Mansfield's credit they didn't let their heads fall and were quickly at the opposition in search of an equaliser. Four minutes and three successive corners later, the Field Mill faithful rose to their feet to celebrate an absolute stunner from Baptiste. The ball had seemingly been headed clear by a frantic looking Colchester defence, however some 30 yards from goal the ball dropped towards the young Stags Captain, who on the volley majestically hammered the ball into the net leaving Dean Gerken in the visitors goal with no chance whatsoever.
In the 2nd half it was The Stags who looked the more likely to score with Colchester again offering very little in the line of goalmouth threats.
If 'lady-luck' had been smiling instead of frowning on Mansfield Town, Stags could have taken the lead, but after a dangerous and surging run by Derek Asamoah, loan signing, Fraser McLachlan was unfortunate to see his attempt cannon off the post.
With the game heading for what seemed a predictable draw, Referee, Mr Prosser decided to add a twist to the proceedings and with 9 minutes to go, sent of Derek Asamoah. The nippy Stags star looked as if he was through on goal, but the ball didn't bounce for him right and in an attempt to retrieve the ball put in a two-footed challenge on U's defender, John White. With the defender writhing on the floor, Prosser was left with little option but to send Asamoah off for an early bath.
Carlton Palmer reacted virtually straight away and put Adam Murray onto the field of play in place of Wayne Corden. This incensed most of the home crowd who barracked Palmer with cries of, “Palmer out!”
The angry mood grew even worse when Palmer later took off Colin Larkin and placed Stags central defender, Rhys Day up front.
The remaining minutes were played to the background of harsh chanting towards Carlton Palmer and Chairman, Keith Haslam as the majority of Stags fans' frustration boiled over.
Stags this weekend make the short journey to Boston United and will be desperately hoping for a positive result to begin their climb back up the coca Cola League 2 table. After that Stags face the daunting trip to Layer Road, Colchester for the reply and the right to travel to Rushden & Diamonds in Round Two.

Observer Man of the match – Alex John-Baptiste
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12:00 - 15 November 2004
Carlton Palmer today criticised fans who booed him during Saturday's game.

"If Keith Curle is not the manager and I'm offered the job I will take it - but I've got nothing to do with what's been going on with Keith Curle and this club," said the former England midfielder.

"It's not my problem, but it will be to everyone's benefit if the matter is sorted out - and I think the chairman is trying to resolve it as quickly as possible.

"I had a call to ask me to come in and I've done my best. Everyone has done what I asked them to do in a professional manner.

"We did enough to win the game and what is going on at the club is nothing to do with me, so to be treated in that manner by the fans is a bit unfair.

"I can understand them being upset about Keith Curle but I got slaughtered for taking off Corden in a tactical swap because we had a man sent off.

"It's ironic how supporters can be. We played a team who are mid-table in League One and I think Pilks had one save to make from 30 yards.

"I'm not sure if they will have seen the Stags play as well as that against higher division opposition. We were the better side and Colchester were happy to get a draw.

"It's a strange situation because I know Keith Curle, but obviously the chairman felt he had to suspend him and that's not my business."

Palmer, who has applied for the vacant manager's job at Shrewsbury, added: "I'm an out-of-work football manager and I want to get back into football.

"I'm disappointed with the fans' reaction towards the end, but that's life.

"It was a difficult situation but the players have been superb.

"They've shown a great attitude and I'm sure they'll get better.

"I was delighted with them and thought we deserved to win. We hit the post and got a lot of crosses in, there was a lot of good play and we had a stone-cold penalty turned down in the first half.

"Baptiste was tremendous, Fraser did well and I was delighted with Tom Curtis.

"If the players stick together and keep working they will get what they deserve at the end of the season.

"I thought the back four was absolutely superb. We worked on playing narrow and tight.

"None of them played badly. I don't like playing that kind of system but I didn't have much choice.

"Baptiste can be a leader - and he led by example."

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12:00 - 15 November 2004
Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Colchester Utd

Carlton Palmer was left in no doubt that he was an unpopular man in the eyes of a large percentage of Stags fans at Field Mill on Saturday.

By the end of Mansfield's FA Cup first round clash with League One Colchester, sections of the home fans were chanting "Palmer out" and booing the man who Stags chairman Keith Haslam has asked to take temporary charge.

Much of that booing appeared to be a reaction from fans who had already made their mind up that Palmer was about to take over from suspended boss Keith Curle on a permanent basis.

And some of those sentiments will have been at least partly based on Palmer's record with Stockport, with many Stags supporters making it clear they did not want a man they perceive to have poor credentials.

Other fans had decided to vote with their feet. Fewer than 3,000 Stags supporters turned up to watch the first-round encounter.

It has been a strange week to be a Mansfield fan. And the reality is that, in the eyes of supporters, Curle's suspension and Palmer's subsequent appointment as caretaker boss overshadowed the infinitely more important issue of Scott McNiven's wait for the results of his biopsy following his operation to have a testicular tumour removed.

Saturday's game had effectively turned into a forum for the home fans to vent their disapproval against Haslam and Palmer.

But, when you stripped away all the off-the-field talking points, you were left with a very good game of football.

Whatever the fans think of Palmer, he was in charge of a Mansfield side which were excellent value for a draw and were, arguably, unlucky not to claim a higher division scalp.

The second half sending off of Derek Asamoah did tarnish the performance a little - but the game was a far superior spectacle to the previous weekend's 1-0 defeat against Macclesfield.

Palmer's decision to take off winger Wayne Corden in a tactical switch late in the game prompted an adverse reaction from home fans.

And they became even more animated when he withdrew Colin Larkin, the only striker left on the pitch, replacing him with defender Rhys Day as Stags' solitary front man for the closing minutes.

It was a curious decision, but Palmer - who stood in the directors' box for the first half - can at least point to the fact that the side earned a place in the hat for the second round.

There was more than one big talking point - none more so than the contribution of Alex John-Baptiste.

Palmer handed the young defender the captain's armband for the day and he responded superbly to his increased responsibility.

But the one moment he will be remembered for most was the goal which ultimately earned Stags a replay.

Colchester appeared to have dealt with the threat from a Stags corner in the 29th minute.

But as the ball dropped to John-Baptiste 30 yards out, he hit a stunning volley which dipped under the crossbar for a goal of the season contender. John-Baptiste appears to thrive on responsibility.

It was no more than Stags deserved. Four minutes earlier, they had fallen behind against the run of play when lanky U's striker Greg Halford was left unmarked to loop a header into the far corner.

The Stags defence coped admirably against the Colchester strikers - although Halford was again given time and space in the second half to send in another header, which didn't miss the target by much.

But on-loan Stockport midfielder Fraser McLachlan, who was handed a start in a 4-5-1 formation, almost won it for the home side - but fired against a post.

Mansfield need more performances like this in League Two if they are to make the jump up a division this term and play League One sides regularly next season.

man of the match: Alex John-Baptiste

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12:00 - 15 November 2004
Alex John-Baptiste admits he thought there was a reasonable chance his long-range strike would miss the target.

"I'm just happy it came off," he said. "Normally in training they just go over the goal.

"I could hear Macca (Neil MacKenzie) shouting for the ball but I thought I might as well have a bash and luckily it paid off.

"Being made captain was a great honour. I'm not the loudest off the pitch and as captain I had more responsibility.

"But I just tried to play my own game for the good of the team.

"I thought we did well. Kevin Pilkington only had one shot to save and that was in the last minute."

John-Baptiste admits there has been a strange atmosphere following Keith Curle's suspension.

"It's been difficult for the players. We've just tried to get our heads down and concentrate on the game - but it's been difficult.

"We played really well. We were unlucky with a few chances and Fraser hit the post - and hopefully we can continue this into the next game."

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12:00 - 15 November 2004
Phil Parkinson admitted Mansfield made life tough for his side.

"It's difficult when you come away from home and the home team plays 4-5-1 and lets you have the ball," said the Colchester manager.

"Carlton Palmer made it hard for us but I thought we could have won the game.

"We controlled it in terms of possession but there was limited goalmouth action.

"I thought Asamoah was their most dangerous player.

"He was a very tricky customer."

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12:00 - 15 November 2004
Referee Phil Prosser says he had no option but to show Derek Asamoah a red card.

"I had an excellent view of the challenge," he said. "He had both feet off the ground, with his studs showing. It was a pretty nasty challenge and it was a clear-cut decision."

But Asamoah said: "His tackle was just as bad. I just went in to protect myself.

"I didn't go in to hurt him. It looked worse than it was.

"There was a little bit of frustration because I thought I was through and the ball didn't bounce kindly for me.

"I wanted to get the ball back as quickly as possibly. If I'd gone in standing up I would have been hurt.

"The player made it look twice as bad by rolling around but I thought I got the ball.

"When you put two feet up you put yourself in trouble, but I thought it was harsh."

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12:00 - 15 November 2004
Stags' unavailability problems meant youth-team player Callum Lloyd was in the squad - and the midfielder says it was a good experience to be involved again, even though he didn't play any part in the game.

"With the loan players going back I was happy to sit on the bench. "I didn't think I would get on, but I was ready for it."


Latest | November 2004