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Archived News from August 2003

14th August 2003 14:01

BY STEVIE RODEN, Evening Post, 14 August 2003

Stags assistant manager John Gannon today said he had nothing but admiration for his players after their last-gasp defeat against Sunderland.

Mansfield were beaten by a goal in the dying seconds of their Carling Cup tie against the Black Cats as extra-time loomed.

Gannon said he thought the players had got their just rewards with an 88th-minute equaliser but they got caught up in the emotion of pulling the goal back and let their guard down.

"We gave a great performance but got nothing.

"It's heartbreaking because the players put so much effort into the game and got nothing.

"But we will take it on the chin and if we put that much effort and commitment into games it will come right.

"I admire the players for the performance they put in and we have to do that again on Saturday at Leyton Orient."

Stags defender and life-long Sunderland fan Jamie Clarke was gutted to have lost at the death, especially with his friends taunting him from the away end.

The 20-year-old full-back said: "I thought we deserved something out of the game and when we equalised, I thought we could go on to win it.

"I could see my mates who had come down to watch in the Sunderland end, giving us some stick.

"I ignored them as much as I could but they are stopping over tonight so no doubt I'll get some more stick."

The youngster had the perfect chance to put one over the club he supports and silence his friends early in the second half. But as the ball dropped to him at the back post, he miscued his shot.

"I just had too much time to think about it," said Clarke.

"I was thinking more about what I would do if it went in. I should have just headed it first time.

"It was weird, especially at corners when I'd look round to find myself surrounded by players I would usually pay to go and watch."
Evening Post, 14 August 2003

Mansfield Town 1 v 2 Sunderland
This may have been the Carling Cup, but there was a purely bitter taste left in Keith Curle's mouth has he trudged from the dugout after this match.

The Stags boss had just watched his side cap an outstanding performance to equalise just before time, only to see the Black Cats snatch victory in the fourth minute of injury time with what was their first shot on target.

Mick McCarthy's side's opener came through a Dave Artell own goal and Kevin Kyle's strike at the death was the first to be fired between the posts from a Sunderland player all evening, but it proved enough for their first win in months.

But the timing could not have been any crueller for the home side. The Stags players had proved more than a match against a team that was playing in the Premiership last season. The statistics showed it all. They forced 18 corners, had four shots on target and saw six go wide. On top of that, the Field Mill outfit played some excellent football and looked a constant threat going forward.

But, on another day, like in the defeat at Kidderminster last Saturday, the Stags could have had a hatful.

In defeat they have no shame. In parts of the game they dominated and looked a constant threat on the break. Despite the initial dejection of conceding a late goal, everybody in the ground knew the Stags had pulled off a great performance, deserving of much more than a defeat.

And to cause the Sunderland side - which had eight changes following defeat at Nottingham Forest last weekend - such problems will only go to boost the Stags players' confidence going into Saturday's league match with Leyton Orient, which is far more important than the League Cup.

But still it does not get rid of the disappointment the players must have felt at losing a game they honestly thought they could go on and win.

They pulled level on 88 minutes when their perseverance finally paid off. A Liam Lawrence cross from the right caused a goalmouth scramble which turned into a game of pinball, before the ball came off Kevin Kyle and passed Poom, although Stags substitute Andy White claimed he nudged it over the line.

Television replays appeared to show it was an own goal by the Sunderland substitute but before it could be confirmed, Kyle himself rectified his error when he fired home from Matt Piper's cross from the right deep into injury time - his first goal in the right net since last November against Arsenal.

But although Sunderland only had the one chance on target, they did go close on other occasions. Within seconds of the start they almost took the lead when Marcus Stewart played in Piper, on loan with the Stags 18 months ago, but he fired just wide of the post.

And, on ten minutes, Stewart shaved the post after Tore Andre Flo had outpaced Artell. But soon afterwards it was Curle's men who were the more confident, with Luke Dimech and Artell looking solid at the back.

Then, on 14 minutes, Wayne Corden almost reproduced his free-kick heroics from the opening day, but his 25-yard strike was kept out by a fine diving save by Poom to his left.

Sunderland took the lead on 18 minutes when Artell flicked a header into the bottom far corner of his own goal, direct from Sean Thornton's corner on the left.

But then it was all Mansfield as Dimech was first denied by a point blank save from Poom before Junior Mendes struck a shot just over the bar after capitalising on a mistake by Phil Babb.

And before the break Mendes raced clear from the halfway line, but he lost his legs near the end and his shot went straight into Poom's arms.

After the interval the Stags continued their pressure, but Sunderland fan Jamie Clarke fluffed a shot at the back post to nearly put one over his boyhood heroes before Williamson had a shot deflected wide.

The game was being played at a ferocious pace, with some great end-to-end football.

Piper threatened down the right on a couple of occasions, both times flashing dangerous crosses across goal. And Kevin Kilbane wasted a great chance after beating Bobby Hassell on 68 minutes only to hit his shot over the bar.

Stewart then went close to extending the lead when his glancing header came back off the inside of the post and into the arms of Pilkington with 15 minutes left.

Stags' determination paid off with the equaliser on 88 minutes, only to be robbed at the death through Kyle.

But, despite Curle's disappointment at losing out in the last few seconds, everybody at Field Mill knows that if they continue to play like that, it will definitely come.

They look threatening, energetic and are creating chances.

And if they can recreate last night's performance in the league, it is only a matter of time before some teams find themselves on the receiving end of a Mansfield onslaught.


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