SPORT FIRST REPORT
Sport First match report:
By John Lomas
Transcribed by Carole
PIECE OF CAKE FOR D'JAFFO
THIS game was a crucial showdown between two sides whose promotion stars had begun to fade in recent weeks.
But it was Mansfield who finished shining brightest as Laurant D'Jaffo stole the limelight with the winning goal on his debut.
Both Mansfield and Hull looked good bets for automatic promotion at Christmas but three defeats in four games for Mansfield and three games without a win for Hull had left both clubs looking nervously over their shoulders.
But on the day, former Sheffield United and Aberdeen striker D'Jaffo, just back from International duty with Benin in the African Nations Cup, made an explosive return to English football when he powerfully headed home Liam Lawrence's 69th minute corner to tame the Tigers.
Relieved Mansfield boss 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 Thomases 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 have ever played against and it wasn't an easy finish by any means.”
Mansfield, who had enjoyed a superb 1-0 win at Hull just before Christmas gave as good as they got in a tense and frantic first half that produced few chances.
Hull then took a grip on the game after the break, and then Burgess almost broke the deadlock with a shot that deflected against the Mansfield crossbar after 54 minutes.
Mansfield then grabbed the lead and the stunned visitors had no answer.
However, Hull manager Peter Taylor said: “We have a dozen matches to go and there is enough football in us to get enough points so 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.”
52----------Possession %---- 48
3-----------Shots on Target---0
1-----------Shots off Target--2
Latest | March 2004