2 February 2001.
Mansfield Town 1 Exeter City 1.
Friday 2 February 2001.
Referee: M Cowburn
Att: 3830 (with 181 City fans)
Match report – Stags Net. (Mansfield Town)
Rob Wheldon at Field Mill
The Stags celebrated the opening of the new West Stand with the visit of strugglers Exeter City, currently 2nd from bottom of the division and in real danger of relegation to the Conference. Stags were once more without Adam Barrett but risked the clearly injured Stuart Hicks in a 4-4-2 formation which saw Bobby Hassell revert to right back and Martin Pemberton in at left back. For Exeter former Stags winger Andy Roscoe had to be content with a place on the bench.
The Stags opened up poorly and Exeter were the better side during the opening exchanges. The visitors almost took the lead on three minutes when Read's close range header thundered against the Stags bar with Mimms beaten. Stags passing was poor and attacks broke down far too easily, Greenacre once more starved of decent service. When Greenacre did finally latch on to a decent Williams pass the Assistant Referee on the far side flagged the Stags marksman off- side. The half continued to be dour,| neither side really threatened until Exeter took the lead just after the half hour mark. A nice ball cut back by Ampadu found Read on the edge of the box, the midfielder knocked the ball goalwards where Flack was stood by the far post to hook the ball home. Having seen a video of the goal, Flack was clearly in an offside position when Read played the ball. Nevertheless, it was no more than Exeter deserved and they held on comfortably to their lead until half time.
Half Time 0-1
Stags made a change at half time with youngster Craig Disley replacing the unimpressive Clarke in the Stags midfield. His introduction brought an immediate change to the game. With Disley now helping the impressive Blake in the Stags midfield chances came thick and fast for the home side. Indeed after just 5 minutes of the second half the Stags were level. Wayne Corden picked the ball up 35 yards from goal, went on a mazy run beating several players, then hit a wonderful 20 yard drive past the helpless Arjan Van Heusden - a terrific goal. From then on it was all Mansfield and somehow Van Heusden kept them at bay with a string of stunning point blank saves. First to test the keeper was Blake who directed a free header straight at the keeper, from the corner Bradley saw his header crash against the bar. Moments later Blake again was strongest in the air and once more Van Heusden was equal to the effort. Bradley was proving a real aerial threat and he twice forced the keeper into more excellent saves. It simply wasn't going to be Bradley's night. On the hour Asher replaced the brave Hicks, clearly struggling throughout with his hamstring injury. Then on 79 minutes Boulding replaced the impressive Bradley, who had done all but score. Late on in injury time Lee Williams had a long range effort drift wide of the far post.
Another disappointing display, especially first half, has seen the Stags remote chances of a play-off place all but disappear. On the positive side Craig Disley was excellent when coming on as a half time substitute and certainly changed the game for the Stags. Shayne Bradley did everything but score and looked a real threat in the air, whilst Les Robinson and Mark Blake continued their good form. A disappointed Bill Dearden said after the match "You can't just play for 45 minutes, it has to be for the full 90. They had a roasting at half- time and, to be fair, responded well and created enough chances to have won comfortably. We didn't get out the blocks at Carlisle last week and we didn't get out the blocks in the first half against Exeter. There is no two ways about it, these results have set us back." Man of the match is a tough one, but Disley did make a huge difference in the 2nd half so I'll give it to him, he must get a decent run in the side ahead of the out of form Clarke.
B Mimms, L Robinson, S Hicks, M Pemberton, B Hassell, D Clarke, W Corden, M Blake, L Williams, C Greenacre, S Bradley.
K Pilkington, C Disley (for Clarke 46), A Asher (for Hicks 60), M Boulding (for Bradley 79), L Lawrence.
EXETER CITY: A Van Heusden, N Whitworth, C Curran, J Campbell, M Rawlinson, G Power, C Roberts, K Ampadu, P Buckle, P Read, S Flack.
SUBSTITUTES: S Fraser, A Roscoe (for Flack 88), M Burrows, G Tomlinson, B McConnell.
Man of the Match:
Craig Disley (Mansfield)
Arjan Van Heusden (Exeter) photo