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Archived News from November 2004

30th November 2004 10:59

Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
A stunning finish on 51 minutes from Leyton Orient's, Andy Scott proved enough to make it yet another disheartening afternoon at Field Mill last weekend for a Stags side who have now won only once in their last 9 Coca Cola League 2 outings.
Caretaker Boss, Carlton Palmer introduced two new faces to the Mansfield Town starting line up; Paul Warne who has arrived on a loan deal and centre forward Richie Barker who has signed on a permanent basis. Both players joining the Field Mill outfit from Championship side, Rotherham United.
The Stags who have struggled to score of late were hit a blow when news came through that top goalscorer, Colin Larkin being taken to hospital with a ruptured appendix. This meant what with injuries and suspensions, that Palmer was left with a bench full of youngsters and a starting eleven made of the only players available.
To The Stags credit they worked extremely hard from the off and made their higher placed opponents look woeful and short of forward thinking ideas.
On eight minutes the lively Warne won possession and sent over a cross into the penalty area towards the head of Barker, unfortunately for the debutant, the cross was a little too high for Barker to get any real direction on his effort.
Tommy Curtis, Captain for the day for the suspended, Alex John-Baptiste, was next to threaten the Londoners goal, but his effort flew past the right hand post.
Alex Neil was presented with a chance of getting his second goal in two games on 16 minutes, but after being set up brilliantly by Warne, The Stags midfielder was frustrated to see his well hit shot turned over the crossbar by Lee Harrison in the O's goal.
On 25 minutes, Kevin Pilkington was adjudged to have handled the ball outside the area. Strangely, although Referee, Mr Mathieson awarded Orient the free kick, he did not take any action against The Stags custodian. From the resulting free kick, Pilkington saved well by tipping a header around the post for a corner.
It was Mansfield who were creating the better opportunities with the visitors, who started the game 8 places above The Stags in the league table, looking very much 2nd best.
Thirteen minutes before the half time break; The Stags thought they had taken the lead. Richie Barker neatly headed the ball into the path of Tom Curtis who's shot was saved by the legs of Harrison, as the ball rebounded, Adam Murray was on hand to head it into the net but unfortunately the assistant linesman had already put up his flag and the goal was ruled out for offside.
Any hope that Mansfield would go on in the 2nd half and get the goal their 1st half display deserved was squashed as early as the 51st minute when Orient scored a really well taken goal.
Danger-man, Wayne Carlisle sent over a cross to the left hand side of The Stags penalty area where Andy Scott brilliantly volleyed past Pilkington. The goal was as spectacular as it was disheartening and from then on in Orient played with confidence whilst Mansfield began to find chances very slim.
On 65 minutes Orient almost added to their tally when centre half, Alan White saw his header cleared off the line and Pilkington had to do well to save the follow up.
With 9 minutes to go, Tom Curtis laid the ball back for Adam Murray but his shot was saved by Harrison as Stags desperately tried to force themselves back into the game. Their last chance of salvation came when Paul Warne weaved his way into the O's box but his cross fizzed across the six-yard box with no amber shirt close enough to make contact.
As the game entered added on time, Orient's Lee Barnard hit the side netting.
It again proved another frustrating afternoon as sections of the home support vented their anger towards Carlton Palmer and Chairman, Keith Haslam.
With The Stags losing their FA Cup replay at Colchester United, they have a blank weekend but on Tuesday 7th December face the tricky trip to Darlington, with The Stags desperate for a return of good fortune.
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12:00 - 29 November 2004
Caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer hit back at growing criticism from supporters after the Stags went a ninth game without victory.

Palmer further infuriated fans with his decision to allow midfield favourite Neil MacKenzie to go to Macclesfield Town on loan.

But the former England man, hoping to be given the Mansfield job full-time when a final decision is reached over suspended manager Keith Curle, was in fighting mood.

"I do not have to be here. I could be relaxing at my villa in Portugal," he said.

"I am only doing this because I love football and to help out a friend. I'm not getting paid.

"It is not a good situation here at the moment and it is not helping. It needs resolving quickly.

"But we need the fans to get behind the team. They must realise the whole club needed reshaping. The squad was just not good enough.

"I brought in two quality players yesterday and tried to bring in a third which meant we had just an hour to train. We also have key players missing and once we have everyone back I have great optimism.

"I know fans like Neil MacKenzie but statistics do not lie and, as an attacking midfielder, he has scored just seven goals in 86 games and we have only won 24 of them.

"You cannot play him in a 4-4-2 which is what I want to play. I am getting criticised for letting him go, yet the deal with Macclesfield was set up by Keith Curle before I came here.

"I need to bring better players in and it won't change in 90 minutes, though we didn't deserve to get beaten by Orient.

"I've told the players to get their heads up. The results are not going for us at the moment, but on Saturday we played against a good, well-organised side and more than held our own.

"I thought we were the better side in the first half and the second half was fairly even."

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12:00 - 29 November 2004
Mansfield Town 0 v 1 Leyton Orient

Blink for one moment and you will miss something major happening at Field Mill.

It really is hard to keep up with what is rapidly becoming a soap opera.

The managerial situation is still up in the air, new players keep landing on the doorstep while other regulars have or seem set to leave.

No matter what the legal eagles decide, it seems certain now that Keith Curle is history, despite him still nominally retaining the title of Mansfield Town manager for the time being.

Carlton Palmer's sweeping changes are not something a caretaker-manager would be allowed to make unless he was going to be offered the post permanently. So, it would seem only legal red tape is holding things up.

But in all the confusion, the Stags' faithful are growing increasingly worried... and rightly so.

Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by promotion-chasing Leyton Orient means the stuttering Stags have now gone nine games without a victory.

And despite Palmer giving debuts to two new strikers, Richie Barker and on-loan Paul Warne, 404 minutes of League football have now passed since Derek Asamoah hit the back of the Wycombe net on October 23.

Although the division is very tight, it is disturbing to see the Stags plummet from the top three to a sorry 16th, just seven points off the relegation spots.

The supporters' latest gripe is that terrace favourite Neil MacKenzie has been allowed to go to Macclesfield Town for three months on loan, and his name was chanted on Saturday in between the abuse levelled mostly at chairman Keith Haslam and partly at Palmer.

MacKenzie had enjoyed his two best games in a long time in Palmer's first two games in charge. But Palmer has let him out, stating the deal was originally set up by Curle and that he was unimpressed by the midfielder's overall record during his time at Field Mill.

With Asamoah and Alex John-Baptiste suspended, the club suffered another setback on Friday when leading scorer Colin Larkin was rushed to hospital with appendicitis.

So it was yet another new-look Stags' side that took on an Orient side suffering their worst run of the season - three games without victory.

On a brighter note, in Barker and Warne, Mansfield at last looked like they had strikers with a bit of presence and muscle to complement the speed and guile of Larkin and Asamoah.

The pair shone brightly for the first half-hour as Stags dominated.

They badly needed to find the net in that time but keeper Lee Harrison made superb saves to thwart Alex Neil and Tom Curtis.

Harrison also enjoyed a little luck when Adam Murray's header was ruled offside.

Kevin Pilkington only had the one save to make all afternoon when he acrobatically tipped over a goal-bound Jabo Ibhere header.

But Stags were punished for their lack of cutting edge on 50 minutes when Andy Scott let fly with a net-ripper from outside the left-hand edge of the penalty area that simply screamed across a startled Pilkington and into the far corner.

It was a fitting goal to win a match and, after that, the visitors shut up shop and protected Harrison from having to make any saves more serious than from long-range pot shots.

By now the service and back-up to Barker and Warne had dried up as Orient began to believe in themselves again and showed why they had been up among the leaders all season.

Indeed, were it not for a Murray goal-line clearance and a superb save from Pilkington to keep out Michael Simpson's follow-up, it might all have been over as early as the 65th minute.

But Mansfield failed to produce the rally their fans were willing.

Despite having his hands partially tied, Palmer is determined to solve the crisis by bringing in new faces and, hopefully, getting a little better luck with injuries and suspensions.

Although it looks bad on paper the good thing is that Stags are still only four points off the play-off spots and it is still the right side of Christmas.

If Carlton Palmer is to be appointed, let it be sooner rather than later. At least he will get a chance to keep the season alive.

He has a system and players in mind to play in that system so let him get on with it and see where it takes the Stags.

The current mess is taking the club in only one direction.

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12:00 - 29 November 2004
Midfielder Tom Curtis says the club can take heart from the performance, despite the defeat.

"Things are not going for us at the moment and we know we have got to make things happen ourselves," he said. "We need a goal. Someone has got to be the hero and get their head in there.

"We even had a goal disallowed but we've got Derek Asamoah coming back from suspension and, hopefully, Colin Larkin will be well again soon.

"I am confident we can still get promotion. That's why I signed for Mansfield in the summer.

"It was disappointing to lose on Saturday but we looked a bit stronger and had a more rigid formation. We looked more difficult to beat."

Man of the match Curtis said the players were surprised to hear midfielder Neil MacKenzie had gone to Macclesfield Town on loan.

"We knew nothing about it. Neil is one of our mates, as well as being a good player," he said. "But players move on all the time and you just have to accept it."


Latest | November 2004