AT LAST! LAST MINUTE PENALTY WINS IT
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town 3 - 2 Rushden & Diamonds
Speight 48, 77, Duffy 90 pen. O'Connor 15, Smith 71. Louis sent off 80.
Attendance: 2,031 (178 from Rushden)
Date: 13 April 2010
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
After the bitter disappointment of missing two penalties in the last two minutes to lose to 10-man AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, and the similar disappointment of missing a last minute penalty to lose to 10-man Cambridge last Monday, incredibly the Stags were awarded another last minute penalty against 10-man Rushden last night. The big difference this time was that expert penalty-taker Rob Duffy was on the pitch and he never looked like missing, to earn the Stags an exciting 3-2 win against a side that will be in the play-offs. It was top scorer Duffy's 16th goal of the season. This was only Mansfield's second win of the season in 13 attempts so far against a top 7 side, with one final attempt on Saturday at Oxford.
In front of comfortably the lowest Field Mill league crowd of the season, the Stags were simply terrible in the opening half an hour, looking uncomfortable at the back and with absolutely no cohesion and no idea going forward. Rushden had taken the lead on 15 minutes through Stags old boy Aaron O'Connor's fine strike from 22 yards after the Stags backed off and backed off to give him a free shot. Louis Briscoe's magnificent run on 31 minutes showed the best and worst of Briscoe as he then blazed wildly over, but it did at least provide a spark that seemed to get the Stags going. The second half was a completely different affair. Jake Speight equalised with a brilliant strike from 22 yards on 48 minutes. After Perry headed against the bar on 53 minutes, the Stags had an enormous stroke of luck on 60 minutes when Marriott couldn't hold O'Connor's shot, Akurang picked up the loose ball and took it past Marriott. Akurang went down over Marriott for a clear penalty (it is just as clear a penalty watching it again on the DVD as it was in real time), but the referee booked Akurang for diving. After Speight missed an easy chance on 62 minutes, Rushden re-took the lead on 72 minutes with a great goal from Sam Smith only just on as a substitute who easily beat a leaden-footed Scott Garner before firing home. The Stags equalised for a second time with another great finish from Speight. Nicholas had played a ball back to Marriott from inside the Rushden half(!), Marriott's punt forward evaded everyone and fell for Speight to delicately chip over the keeper from 16 yards. Another former Stag Jefferson Louis was sent off for a second bookable offence (trying to pull down Briscoe's shorts as Briscoe got away from him!) on 80 minutes. On 87 minutes, a glorious chance for the Stags to win it as Briscoe made another terrific run down the right and put in a fantastic cross which looked perfect for Speight to bundle home from 2 yards but somehow Speight missed it, claiming afterwards that it hit a bobble and bounced over his leg. But right on the stroke of 90 minutes, the Stags were awarded a really soft penalty as Nix went down in the box. Unlike the two blatant penalties against AFC Wimbledon that were given and two more blatant penalties in that game that were not given, this was a soft decision as Nix was barely touched if at all, but at last it signified that the Stags rotten luck had changed. Duffy stepped up and converted expertly as he always does (apart from against Grays) to send the Field Mill fans home delighted with a fantastic second half recovery.
Man of the match: Jake Speight
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Old boy Duffy spoils Diamonds' party
By Mark Lea
The celebrations over Rushden & Diamonds' 1,000th first-team fixture were spoiled by a graduate of the youth system at Nene Park.
Substitute Rob Duffy converted a last-gasp penalty to end the unbeaten record at Field Mill as well as the 11-game run which had taken Justin Edinburgh's side into the play-offs.
Aaron O'Connor made a goalscoring return to his former club with a lADVERTISEMENTow 25-yard drive past ex-Diamonds keeper Alan Marriott on 15 minutes.
Having netted twice past Ebbsfleet United at the weekend to secure a play-off place, O'Connor hit the target again.
Jake Speight levelled for Mansfield Town three minutes into the second half following a rare mistake by Diamonds skipper Jamie Stuart.
Super-sub Sam Smith's first league goal of the season was quickly cancelled out by Speight and Duffy's spot-kick won it after Jefferson Louis was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Diamonds had taken control from the start and was no surprise when O'Connor opened the scoring.
He saw another attempt held by Marriott before Mark Byrne rose above Cliff Akurang to nod fractionally wide.
Byrne had a penalty claim for handball rejected when his close-range shot was blocked by Gary Silk who was booked a minute earlier for a late tackle on O'Connor.
It took 25 minutes for Mansfield to even manage a shot on goal and Kyle Perry's weak effort posed no threat following a neat pass from Diamonds legend Andy Burgess.
Louis Briscoe had a much better opportunity after racing clear. But as Dale Roberts narrowed the angle, the Stags winger blasted the ball towards the away supporters instead of the goal.
That was a warning because Diamonds should have at least doubled their advantage before the break thanks to a dynamic display.
Mansfield got back on level terms, though, as Stuart conceded possession cheaply on the edge of the penalty box and Speight fired into the bottom corner.
It nearly got worse for Diamonds when Perry headed against the crossbar just before being replaced by former Duffy.
A controversial moment led to Akurang being booked for diving when he appeared to be brought down by Marriott who had parried a shot from O'Connor.
Moments later Speight lobbed over and then Byrne squandered another clear-cut opportunity at the other end by firing straight at Marriott.
But, three minutes after coming on, Smith blasted into the roof of the net to finish off some lovely link-up play between Byrne and Louis.
However Roberts was beaten again by Speight – who later missed a sitter - and another foul by Louis left Diamonds with 10 men.
Byrne's trip on Kyle Nix allowed Duffy to snatch a last-gasp winner which Mansfield didn't deserve. At least Diamonds can look forward to the play-offs anyway.
Mansfield Town 3 v 2 Rushden and Diamonds, Tuesday 13th April
CHAD.co.uk, By John Lomas
ROB Duffy ended Stags' home misery and penalty hoodoo with a last minute spot kick winner for Stags as they twice came from behind to beat promotion hopefuls Rushden and Diamonds at Field Mill last night.
It was a first home win in six attempts and, incredibly, the third game on the trot that Stags have won a last minute spot kick against 10 men, Diamonds having ex-Stags striker Jefferson Louis dismissed for two yellow cards nine minutes from time.
Stags missed a penalty at Cambridge and two against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, but this time spot king Duffy was on the field and made no mistake.
Before that Jake Speight was the hero with two excellent finishes to twice peg back the visitors.
Diamonds were the best side of a dull first half and led through former Stags striker Aaron O'Connor's 10th minute goal.
But Mansfield went up the gears in a thrilling second half to finally give Stags' suffering home fans something to cheer ahead of Saturday's tough trip to Oxford United.
David Holdsworth once again made changes in a bid to end Mansfield's Town poor recent home run. Dropped were Jon Challinor and Ryan Williams with Kyle Nix and Andy Burgess coming into the midfield to replace them after Saturday's 1-0 home reversal with AFC Wimbledon.
Top scorer Rob Duffy was also back on the bench after illness where there was also a place for 'forgotten man' Stevie Istead.
Diamonds, playing their 1,000th fixture, rested injured pair Craig Farrell and Lee Tomlin, who have slight knocks, having already qualified for the play-offs.
But the visitors' strike force included ex-Stags Jefferson Louis and Aaron O'Connor.
O'Connor had a shot charged down on Diamonds' first raid. Then Nicholas allowed Louis to get past him and send the ball skidding across the six yard box, Burgess turning it out for a corner.
That reached an unmarked Osano at the far post who, from a tight angle, at least forced Marriott to keep out his firm header.
Stags had started slowly though a couple of good tackles by Briscoe and Nicholas at least brought some cheers from the subdued home fans.
Diamond dominated the first quarter of an hour and gained their rewards on 16 minutes when O'Connor found time and room just outside the box and rifled home a powerful low shot which may have caught Marriott off guard or unsighted.
It took the home side 25 minutes to produce a goal attempt, Perry spinning on a pass from Burgess to fire well wide of the target.
O'Connor show Perry how it should be done on the half-hour as he turned neatly 18 yards from goal and drilled in a low on-target effort that Marriot was well-placed to collect.
Briscoe finally gave the crowd something to get excited about as he beat two players 35 yards from goal and raced into the box where, with Osano closing in, he lashed wildly over.
Diamonds threatened again on 39 minutes as Huke's far post cross bent away from Marriot and invitingly for Akurang who headed just wide.
Silk was booked for a lunge on Robinson on 41minutes, but the Diamonds man stayed on his feet and reached the by-line before drilling the ball across the face of goal to no one.
Stuart was to high with his header from the second of two more Rushden corners and there was also a call for a penalty for handball against Silk though he was stuck at point blank range.
Then Briscoe's flick gave Speight a brief sight of goal only for Osano to quickly close him down and force him away.
Before the break Briscoe got in a low cross from the right which Nicholas couldn't control and the ball bounced around dangerously before keeper Roberts dropped on it, taking a painful sliding challenge from Perry for his troubles.
But once again Stags were behind at home and up against it as we reached half-time.
But the visitors' first mistake of the night cost them dearly as Stags levelled within three minutes of the restart.
Keeper Roberts played the ball to Stuart but he wanted two touches and allowed Briscoe to take the ball from him and he found Perry.
Roberts was racing back into position as Perry squared to Speight to his left in space and he rifled home a superb low finish inside the keeper's right hand post.
A deflected Mills shot, from a long Burgess cross, earned Mansfield their first corner of the night.
A second quickly followed which came to Nix who lifted it to the far post where Perry, for the second successive game, headed against the bar, Terry then heading the rebound away.
At last Stags were looking the part and top scorer Duffy was sent on for Perry on 54 minutes.
Nicholas was left in agony after a late tackle from Louis sent him into the advertising hoardings, earning the ex-Stags man a booking.
O'Connor did well to cut inside Silk and fire low at Marriott. The keeper couldn't hold on to the ball but grabbed it at the second time of asking as Akurang fell theatrically over him and asked for a penalty, getting only a booking for simulation instead.
Briscoe's flick to Speight saw the Stags man try to lob the keeper but the ball landed on top of the net.
At the other end Marriott was down smartly to keep out Byrne's low shot.
Istead was given a rare outing on 67 minutes after full back Silk went off injured.
Diamonds made their first change when they sent on Smith on 68 minutes and within four minutes he had bagged himself an excellent solo goal to restore the visitors' lead.
Running at the defence he went past Garner to the right and then smashed an unstoppable high finish past Marriott.
O'Connor looked certain to net a third as he went past two challenges but the ball bounced off his knee to Marriott just as he was about to finish.
Stags almost levelled, but Garner's first time effort was just wide after a Nicholas cross was cleared out towards him.
But Speight was on the mark again on 78 minutes to level the game once more.
It came from route one as a long Marriott clearance bounced in front of Speight who looked up and lobbed Roberts superbly from 12 yards.
Louis' night came to a premature end nine minutes from time as his foul on Briscoe saw his second yellow card and subsequent red.
O'Connor remained a constant threat and almost connected with a low cross at the far post with the goal gaping and then saw a low finish deflect inches wide of the far post.
Speight should have had his hat-trick on 87 minutes as Briscoe ghosted past two defenders and crossed from the right. But right in front of goal with only Roberts to beat, Speight completely missed the ball.
However, there was late penalty drama for the third successive match as Nix was felled by Byrne.
This time Duffy took the kick and slammed it slightly left of centre past Roberts to spark wild celebrations of relief and joy.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Foster, Garner, Nicholas; Briscoe, Mills, Nix, Burgess; Perry, Speight. Subs: Collett, Somner, Duffy, Shaw, Istead.
RUSHDEN: Roberts, Osano, Robinson, Stuart, O'Connor, Pattison, Byrne, Huke, Terry, Akurang, Louis. Subs: Day, Porter, McNamara, Beecroft, Smith.
REFEREE: Jez Simpson of Carnforth.
Match facts: Stags v Rushden
Evening Post (note no report available online)
Mansfield (4-4-2): Marriott, Silk (Istead 67), Garner, Foster, Nicholas, Briscoe, Mills, Nix, Burgess, Speight, Perry (Duffy 54). Subs not used: Collett, Somner, Shaw.
Rushden (4-3-3): Roberts, Huke, Osano, Stuart, Robinson, Pattison, Terry, Byrne, Akurang (Smith 68), Louis, O'Connor. Subs not used: Day, Porter, McNamara, Beecroft.
Referee: Jez Simpson (Lancashire).
Attendance: 2,031 (178 visitors).
Goals: Mansfield: Speight (48, 78), Duffy (90 pen). Rushden: O'Connor (16), Smith (72).
Shots on target: Mansfield 6 Rushden 7.
Shots off target: Mansfield 6 Rushden 3.
Fouls: Mansfield 8 Rushden 10.
Corners: Mansfield 1 Rushden 5.
Offsides: Mansfield 2 Rushden 0.
Bookings: Mansfield 3 (Silk, 41, foul on Robinson; Istead, 73, foul on Terry; Speight, 90, unsporting behaviour) Rushden 1 (Louis, 59, foul on Nicholas; Akurang, 61, unsporting behaviour).
Sendings off: Mansfield 0 Rushden 1 (Louis, 81, second yellow card, foul on Briscoe).
Mansfield's man of the match: Jake Speight. Two goals to take his tally for the season to 14 showed why he is so important to the Mansfield cause.
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