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Season 2003-2004 : Mansfield Town 0 Yeovil Town 1 : Sat 20th September 2003
Nationwide League Division Three : Mansfield Town 0 Yeovil Town 1
Other reports : Nationwide Football Matters; BBC Sport; StagsNet; MTFC official site; YTFC official site;

Venue: Field Mill
Saturday 20th September 2003, 3pm kick-off.

Conditions:
Ground:

Scorers: Kirk Jackson (42 mins, 0-1)

Attendance: 5,270 (including 445 Glovers)

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Assistant Refs: Trevor Pollard (Suffolk) and Michael Murphy (West Midlands)

Bookings:
Yeovil: Johnson (45 mins, dissent)
Mansfield: Clarke (45 mins, foul), Vaughan (56 mins, handball)

Team Line-Ups

Yeovil Town : (4-4-2)
1. Chris Weale
2. Adam Lockwood 14. Roy O'Brien 5. Colin Pluck 11. Ronnie Bull
20. Gavin Williams 8. Lee Johnson 6. Darren Way 10. Nick Crittenden
9. Kevin Gall 18. Kirk Jackson

Subs: 7. Adam Stansfield (90 mins, for Gall) 13. Steven Collis 12. Hugo Rodrigues 23. Jamie Gosling (90 mins, for Crittenden) 24. Paul Terry (85 mins, for Jackson)

Mansfield Town:
1. Kevin Pilkington 2. Jamie Clarke 6. Tony Vaughan 15. Alex Baptiste 5. Rhys Day 4. Tom Curtis 14. Neil MacKenzie 11. Wayne Corden 7. Liam Lawrence 8. Craig Disley 20. Junior Mendes

Subs: 29. Thomas Curle (90 mins, for Vaughan) 13. Jason White 17. Chris Beardsley (46 mins, for Disley) 18. Craig Mitchell (80 mins, for Clarke) 16. Jake Buxton

Badger's View Of The Game

No real surprises as Gary Johnson's men arrived at Field Mill for their first ever competitive match against Mansfield Town; the sixteen selected was exactly the same as that which travelled to Doncaster on Tuesday. Conversely, Mansfield were coming into the game on the back of a whole host of injury and suspension issues, including former Glovers trialist David Artell, who had received a knock in midweek.

Perhaps the real surprise was the way the Glovers started the game. In the previous three matches, Gary Johnson has adopted a policy of caution to persuade his players to shut out any chances of conceding an early goal. Yet Yeovil really took the game to Mansfield, creating three excellent chances just in the opening couple of minutes.

Lee Johnson took a free kick from the edge of the penalty box, after a Mansfield player handled, but his shot went into the defensive wall. Yet from the half-clearance, Kevin Gall got put through, and he forced a superb fingertip save from Mansfield keeper Kevin Pilkington. From the resulting corner, the ball reached Gavin Williams on the edge of the penalty area, and he rifled a shot that went inches over the bar.

It took the Stags quarter of an hour to get down the other end of the park, and good wing work by Junior Mendes, who was to prove to be Mansfield's most dangerous player, saw the ball cut across the face of the Yeovil penalty area, but Wayne Corden shot into the side-netting.

Despite Yeovil slightly shading the half, it was Mansfield who managed the first glaring miss of the half. A mistake by Ronnie Bull on the half hour mark whilst inside the Mansfield half, saw the Stags gain possession through Liam Lawrence, and his layoff to Mendes saw the quick-footed player draw out Chris Weale from his goal and strike for goal. Somehow the ball came off the far post and Lawrence was running in too quickly to take advantage of an empty net as the rebound zipped straight past him.

Three minutes later, the same player was involved in another great chance for the home side. After falling to the floor in the penalty box following a challenge by Colin Pluck, the striker rolled around in agony ... until a misplaced Yeovil defensive clearance landed at his feet on the corner of the area. Miraculously, Mendes made an instant recovery and drew out Weale once again. But the Yeovil keeper did well to palm the ball further to the touchline and when Mendes finally got room to make his cross, Adam Lockwood was available to force the ball away for a corner, under pressure from Craig Disley.

This was cracking end to end stuff though, and when that corner was cleared, Yeovil raced straight down the other end, and Gavin Williams forced a terrific save out of Kevin Pilkington as his 20 yard drive was forced round for a corner. Straight from that, Nick Crittenden forced another excellent save from Pilkington from the edge of the area for a second corner, to turn the pressure up.

Just when you were starting to wonder how on earth the game was still goalless, Yeovil ensured that it didn't say that way. A Lee Johnson corner caused havoc in the Mansfield penalty box, and the Stags failed to clear their lines. When the ball landed close to the opposite touch-line, a short pull-back was met by Kirk JACKSON who tapped home from six yards out. Ironically up until that point, Jackson had been probably the most anonymous player on the pitch, but that's what strikers are paid for, and he even found time during his celebrations to blow his grandmother a kiss in the stands!

A flurry of bookings ended a five-star quality half, with Lee Johnson the Yeovil player booked in the middle of a midfield battle that almost resembled a rugby scrummage. Somehow, referee Mr Friend's decision was to award a drop ball. Jamie Clarke was the Mansfield player booked straight after when he cynically blocked a Nick Crittenden run. But that short bit of intervention by the match referee should not detract from what had been a superbly entertaining end-to-end first half, with both sides playing their part in some sweet passing football that looked way above the stage on which they were playing.

Half-time: Mansfield Town 0 Yeovil Town 1

It was to be a far more calm and controlled second half, with both teams involved in a game of cat and mouse. Yeovil put numbers behind the ball, and dared Mansfield to push forward and risk the likes of Kevin Gall and Gavin Williams getting them on the break. Gall in particular was causing the Mansfield defence a major headache with his constant snapping at their heels, giving them little time to play the ball out of defence, resulting in one too many long balls being initiated from a team that like to ground pass.

Tony Vaughan was booked for a fairly blatant handball as he blocked a Yeovil winger's run. Mansfield finally threatened the Yeovil goal when after much dithering on the edge of the Yeovil penalty area, the ball fell to Tom Curtis who put in a fierce drive, only for Chris Weale to smother the shot efficiently.

Mansfield were getting forced into more and more mistakes as they drove a succession of balls out for throw-ins and free-kicks. The Glovers simply weren't letting them get an inch of space on the park, and the frustration of the Mansfield players and supporters was beginning to show, as ball after ball was lost in favour of their visitors.

With ten minutes left, Stags manager Keith Curle decided to throw caution to the wind and removed a right-back for a striker in the form of Craig Mitchell as the home side finished the game on a 3-4-3 basis, and this seemed to push the Glovers back ten yards or so, resulting in a nervy end to the game. Mitchell made an immediate impact as he laid the ball off for Neil MacKenzie who shot low and hard from 15 yards, beating Chris Weale as the goal net rippled. The Stags fans celebrated their equaliser ... only to find that the ball had struck the outside of the net and rebounded back off the outside net support. Yeovil's three points were still very much alive.

Mansfield were not quite done yet. Liam Lawrence forced the save of the game out of Chris Weale, and Craig Mitchell followed that up with the miss of the game - scuffing a shot wide of the post from two yards out. Glovers manager Gary Johnson wound down time by making a series of three late substitutions, and somewhat bizarrely Stags manager Keith Curle did the Glovers a favour by making his own change four minutes into injury time when he brought on his son as a late change that could only benefit the Glovers as time ran out.

And so ended what was a terrific win for the Glovers. The most promising aspect of the match was that they stifled and frustrated the team that was the Third Division's top scorers, and degraded their host's game by closing them down. But Mansfield's first half showing explained why they are such a dangerous side, and on that 45 minutes showed why they will almost certainly be up at the right end of the table come next May. That makes Yeovil's win all the more impressive, and they are looking a very solid and professional outfit that can go into the next two home games with bags of confidence.

Badger

MOTM Vote Result:

Player MOTM Score
Nick Crittenden 13 553
Roy O'Brien 4 329
Chris Weale 8 300
Gavin Williams 4 176
Lee Johnson 3 153
Colin Pluck 1 88
Kevin Gall 1 82

Overall match rating: 8.7 / 10
Performance: 8.6
Entertainment: 8.8

34 votes received.

ytfc.motm@ntlworld.com

Full-time: Mansfield Town 0 Yeovil Town 1
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