D`JAFFO JAFFA PIPS TIGERS
Mansfield Town 1-0 Hull City
Att 6,859 (2307 from Hull)
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill
A powerful header by debutant Laurent D'Jaffo gave the Stags a hard-earned and deserved victory over second placed Hull City at Field Mill today. D'Jaffo headed home from a corner after 69 minutes, shortly after Lee Williamson had missed a great chance. Outstanding performances from Luke Dimech, back in a central defensive role, and Tom Curtis in midfield, were instrumental in earning an important victory.
Stagsnet report now in the Match centre.
Laurent D'Jaffo scored on his debut as Mansfield got their faltering promotion challenge back on track against Hull.
D'Jaffo's winner came midway through the second-half when met he Liam Lawrence's 69th-minute corner with an unstoppable header from six yards.
Hull had their chances, Mansfield goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington blocking Jon Walter's effort after Wayne Cordon had played a back pass too short.
After the break Ben Burgess' powerful shot rattled the Mansfield crossbar.
D'Jaffo is an instant hit
LAURENT D'Jaffo was an instant hero at Field Mill today with the match-winning goal on his debut to shoot down promotion rivals Hull City.
Both sides had struggled for results of late and this was a crucial game for both clubs.
In the end Benin international D'Jaffo headed home from a Liam Lawrence corner on 69 minutes to complete a sweet double over the fading Tigers and make his mark on his Mansfield debut.
First half was even-stevens with few real chances but Hull, who had already rattled the Mansfield crossbar, were looking the side more likely when D'Jaffo struck the match-winner.
Delighted and relieved, Mansfield manager Keith Curle said: "There were two teams out there looking at this game as a springboard for the final run-in.
"It was a result a lot of people needed at this club from the players through to the supporters. It keeps the belief as, after losing three of our last four games, there were a lot of doubting Thomas's around.
"I told my players to go out there and express themselves. I looked each of them in the eye in the changing room before the game to make sure they had no fear.
"It was a very tight game and I never thought there would be a hatful of goals.
"I was pleased to see Laurent get the winner on his debut. He is one of the best headers of the ball I've ever played against and it wasn't an easy finish by any means."
Stags gave a debut to new signing D'Jaffo. Dave Artell served a one-game ban, Luke Dimech and Rhys Day paired in the centre of defence, and Bobby Hassell returned to right back with Jake Buxton on the bench.
Colin Larkin and on-loan Richard Pacquette were the two strikers on the bench with no place for Junior Mendes.
Tom Curtis, having recovered from knee surgery, could only make it as far as the bench as well with Lee Williamson restored to midfield.
Stags could not profit from a second minute corner while Pilkington twice had to race out his box to clear Hull through balls as the game began at a furious pace.
On six minutes Walters nodded down a long cross from the left but Burgess blazed his finish over the bar and, shortly after, Mansfield comfortably cleared City's first corner.
Christie forced the first save from a keeper of the afternoon on 17 minutes when Williamson knocked the ball on for him to chase and Christie shrugged off a defender, turned and fired a low shot straight at Myhill.
But Stags had a let-off on 20 minutes when Corden's poor backpass looked to have put in Walters. Pilkington did well to spread himself right on the edge of the box to block with the away fans screaming that the keeper had handled outside his box.
Marshall and D'Jaffo were lectured for an off the ball incident before play was restarted.
Stags were next to threaten as Disley lost and regained possession in the midfield action and let fly from 35 yards. The shot was on target but Myhill watched it well and comfortably made the save.
D'Jaffo had a real chance a minute later on the half-hour as Lawrence flighted a cross from the right onto his head seven yards out only to see his header fly straight at Myhill.
Delaney needed extensive treatment after coming off the worst in a challenge with Disley.
But Disley ultimately was the one who limped off on 40 minutes, replaced by Curtis.
Hull carved out a chance on 39 minutes as Marshall's over-hit cross was hooked back in by Holt and Walters guided a header wide.
A neat, lengthy passing movement by the home side then ended with Corden sending a weak finish wide.
It took a superb tackle from Day in stoppage time to prevent the visitors edging ahead. A cutting through ball from Lewis sent Walters racing away only for Day to slide in briliantly at the last minute to concede a corner.
Hull replaced the injured Delaney with Hinds for the second half.
Christie was shown the day's first yellow card on 48 minutes for a late challenge on Joseph.
Holt's flick inside to Burgess teed up the striker. But Day's challenge was enough to force Burgess' finish to be tame and at Pilkington.
But the big striker came much closer on 54 minutes as his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and looped over Pilkington before coming back off the crossbar.
Vaughan's name was also added to the referee's notebook for a foul on Price as Hull stepped up the pressure.
Mansfield were struggling to get out their own half and Pilkington had to produce another save on 66 minutes to get behind a powerful Ashbee shot.
But Stags came even closer when Williamson lobbed over an empty net from 20 yards with Myhill out of position following a scramble.
Mansfield then stunned the visitors with the long-awaited opening goal on 69 minutes.
Stags won their second corner of the afternoon on the right which Lawrence sent over and D'Jaffo met it with an unstoppable header from seven yards.
Hull responded with a double substitution, Forrester and France on for Price and Walters.
And Forrester was soon in the action, flicking the ball just wide of the left hand post.
Ashbee was booked for ungentlemanly conduct on 74 minutes.
The visitors were far from finished and Stags had to survive a hectic scramble on 82 minutes, Forrester having a ferocious shot blocked by Vaughan.
Goal hero D'Jaffo was replaced by Pacquette for the last eight minutes.
Hull huffed and puffed through to the end of four minutes of stoppage time without ever really looking capable of testing Pilkington again as Stags clung on to what they had.
Hull boss Peter Taylor was defiant after the game and said: "I remain very positive.
"We still have a dozen matches to go and there is enough football in us to get enough points. I won't panic. "This is still the same team that went on that seven-match run and I know we have enough ability in the club to get us through this little sticky patch.
"It was a difficult pitch and a strong wind and there weren't many great chances for either side. For me the game should have finished level.
"It was two decent teams desperate for a result, two very committed teams, and there was never going to be much time or space to play.
"I was very disappointed to concede from a corner. At corners everyone has a job to do but, unfortunately, one of my players had gone to sleep."
Stags now have a week to prepare for another six-pointer at promotion rivals Lincoln City next Saturday.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Hassell, Vaughan, Dimech, Day, Williamson, Disley, Lawrence, Corden, D'Jaffo, Christie. Subs: White, Curtis, Larkin, Pacquette, Buxton.
Hull: Myhill, Joseph, Thelwell, Ashbee, Price, Marshall, Delaney, Holt, Lewis, Walters, Burgess. Subs: Musselwhite, Forrester, France, Hinds, Green.
Referee: R Pearson (Co Durham)
Latest | March 2004