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Archived News from March 2004

8th March 2004 0:14

Report from Tiger chatlist

> This might be getting a touch serious now. The Tigers put in another
> showing today and for 60 minutes lived comfortably with their
> neat-passing foes without making many real chances apart from during a
> early in the second half. But then a soft goal went in, a crazy
> substitution was made and the fizz in the City game went decidedly flat.
> never looked like getting back in the game, despite Mansfield generously
> withdrawing deep into their own half for the last quarter in an apparent
> attempt to give us a sporting chance.
> Peter Taylor persisted largely with the team that fought hard but
> against Lincoln, carding:
> Myhill
> Marshall Joseph Delaney Thelwell
> Price Ashbee Lewis Holt
> Burgess Walters
> All this guff we hear about "Tinker Taylor" really is annoyingly mistaken.
> Taylor made three changes for this match, reintroducing the influential
> fit-again pairing of Ashbee and Price at the expense of Hinds and Green
> latter can count himself unlucky that Junior Lewis has edged him out),
> also replacing the injured Elliott with Holt. All totally common sense
> changes, so what's the problem?
> The City back four generally played OK today, Marshall putting in his
> scary performance so far at right back to quell the usually lively Corden.
> Holt never got a grip on the game, but had one or two useful surges down
> left. Lewis looked a decent enough lower league player, but no better
> Green at either tackling, dribbling or passing - if Junior's wages are as
> steepling as rumour and common sense would have it (he signed a contract
> Leicester while in the Prem) then I hope we are paying only a fraction of
> his total wedge during this loan spell, because he hasn't appreciably
> bettered our squad, simply maintained its standard and added another
> selection dilemma. With Burgess having an off day against the muscular
> Dimech (the Stags' fans and my man of the match) Walters had a pungent,
> odorous game that smelt bad. He stank. I was disappointed that Forrester
> wasn't introduced after 30 minutes, how Taylor kept Jonny Boy out there
> until 68 I can't fathom. Above all else, the team currently screams out
> the return of Allsopp.
> For the Stags the "People's Elbow" was meted out regularly by new signing
> Laurent D'Jaffo, while serial scorer against City Iseyden Christie also
> niggled his way through the match up front. The City-bound Liam Lawrence
> was clearly trying to impress his new boss come the summer, and in trying
> far too hard he had a fairly ineffectual game. An injury to Disley in the
> first half saw veteran Tom Curtis introduced, and he had a very
> 50 minutes up against the restored Ashbee.
> In his programme notes Keith Curle spoke wisely of the need for his side
> "earn the right to play" against high-rolling Hull. With this tenet also
> very much at the forefront of Taylor's game plan, a brutally entertaining
> half ensued with few genuine goalscoring opportunities. The key
> between the team came in attitudes - Mansfield were briefed to launch into
> every tackle, close down the Tigers quickly across the park and harry
> way into possession. City were more thoughtful, as usual, preferring to
> keep the ball and go backwards, rather than squander possession cheaply.
> Marginally, Mansfield's tactic won. Lewis showed two pieces of fine skill
> in the opening minutes and the first half chance was created for Burgess,
> who shot high and wide after Holt and Thelwell combined on the left.
> Mansfield's first goalbound shot took 17 minutes to arrive, as Christie
> turned Joseph inside the box but shot straight at keeper Myhill. Moments
> later Myhill rolled a suicidal pass to Delaney, whom Lawrence dispossessed
> and struck home a lomng range effort, only for the floppy-fringed future
> Tiger to concede a free kick as the ref rather generously adjudged that
> Lawrence had shoved Damo off the ball. With these two events coinciding
> with the arrival near me of a roaringly drunk attention-seeking City
> supporter, my afternoon had taken a turn for the worse.
> Things didn't get better. As the pished bloke stole someone's hat,
> clambered for attention from a camcorder toting PC and bragged loudly
> his sexual exploits, Lewis was caught out 30 yards from goal by Disley,
> fired an early shot that warmed the gloves of our netminder. Proper Boaz.
> Then Lawrence wriggled free of a rather half hearted challenge by Holt and
> swung over a cross that found D'Jaffo unmarked six yards out, but his
> was denied by our keeper, who had chosen the correct place to stand. Boaz
> Selecta. Part of the reason for the lack of an aerial challenge on
> was an injury to Delaney, who was clkearly disorientated by a bang in the
> head sustained after a robust but fair Stag challenge. Damo toughed it
> til half-time, but was withdrawn for Hinds for the second stanza.
> 40 minutes in, Disley also succumbed to injury and the more combative
> stepped onto the field to exert his presence in midfield. Initially this
> influence amounted to hauling back Price as the Welsh wideman broke free
> his defender on halfway, but despite Jason having an unimpeded run in on
> goal the expected yellow card was not brandished. City had attacked the
> Mansfield goal sporadically without working the glass-jawed Pilkington in
> goal, and it was only deep into injury time that our first genuine chance
> came as Burgess showed good strength on halfway before releasing Walters
> down the centre to bear down on goal. As Jon shaped to pull the trigger,
> the pacy Day swept the ball off his toe for a corner that came to nothing.
> Come to think of it, Walters' contribution to this game pretty much came
> nothing this afternoon as well. Give the boy a break and give wee Jamie a
> try.
> After half time high-jinx with "are they/aren't they above the legal age
> consent" cheerleaders, the teams took to the field again and, as we have
> become accustomed to, City upped the tempo and pushed Mansfield back. One
> reason for this was the quelling of Christie, whose threat was diminished
> greatly after he saw yellow for clattering Joseph on half-way. As a long
> free-kick deep into Mansfield territory turned their defence, Holt took
> ball and squared to Burgess in the centre of the goal whose scuffed shot
> straight at Pilkington. Then a brace of corners was won after superb
> battling by Ashbee, culminating in Marshall swinging in a cross and
> seeing a deflected shot loop up onto the crossbar. Vaughan was the next
> see yellow after kicking Price (Jason was later unpunished for clopping
> Vaughan in the face as he went for a high ball). On the hour Walters
> down and robbed the swarthy Dimech, but his shot was blocked and cleared.
> Then Ashbee took the ball from a throw and fired a long range shot in that
> kept low but failed to trouble Pilkington unduly.
> With all that good attacking seeing no reward in terms of goals, a sinking
> "Lincoln" feeling might have been felt by some. This was given weight
> a scramble on the edge of the box resulted in Williamson taking
> but his chipped goal attempt flew narrowly over. A minute later Mansfield
> were awarded a corner and D'Jaffo rose unmarked 8 yards out to steer the
> ball inside the near post for a goal. The lack of any kind of marking was
> utterly shocking, making yet more mockery of Taylor's
> "all-11-back-for-corners" policy - TV evidence today suggested Lewis was
> miscreant who lost his man.
> The instant response by the manager was to withdraw the wretched Walters
> Forrester. So far so good. Quite bizarrely, the other change was to take
> off the influential Price and introduce France. Price was at the heart of
> much of City's good work in the second half, France is still a young boy
> learning his way and the capable Green was left on the bench - so there's
> good reasons why this switch was poorly judged. While Forrester had some
> nice touches and two decent missed chances (one created by France, the
> falling to him after Burgess had a shot blocked), the young winger made
> precious little impact on the game. For the last 15 minutes the Stags sat
> back and soaked it up, and to be honest City never looked like scoring as,
> for the first time in a while, the Tigers' heads seemed to drop as the
> belief drained out of them a little. The final point of note was the
> booking of Ashbee, his tenth of the season (nine yellows plus the yellow
> that pre-empted his red at Bury making ten) meaning he will miss the games
> against Rochdale and Boston - I think.
> Despite three defeats on the spin City are still in second place, but the
> chasing pack are now close by and the Tigers, while not yet anywhere near
> being in crisis, need to start winning soon. In the next six days would
> nice. The forthcoming 5 fixtures (Scunny, Orient, Rochdale, Boston,
> Kidderminster) are nowhere near as arduous as the last five (Mansfield,
> Lincoln, Torquay, Carlisle, York) so a chance to turn the corner has come.
> But the way in which heads dropped late-on yesterday will surely be the
> focus of Taylor's work this week, restoring belief in his team must be the
> number one priority. That, and getting Allsopp fit and picking Stuart
> Green.
> Mike Scott

Mansfield Town 1 Hull City 0
By Cheadle

Guest Reviewer CHEADLE reports on the action, and gives his views, on a game that saw City's games without a win stretch to four....


A Match Report & Assessment by Cheadle

Driving to the match today from leafy Cheshire, I was confident the Amber and Black would be victorious and gain a rare 3 points at Field Mill, as well as revenge for a rather un-deserved reversal at the KC. Now, almost 3 hours after the final whistle, I have rather mixed feelings; disappointment because we lost, concern because of our now rather precarious league position, but also positive thoughts because the performance was far from bad. Indeed I find it ironic how we have, on a number of occasions this season, won games that our play barely deserved, but now seem to lose when our play warrants far more.

Peter Taylor again had a number of important choices to make before naming the eleven starters. Who would replace the illness stricken Elliott. Whether to play Ashbee and Lewis in the centre circle or give Green the nod. Who to drop for the returning Price.

In the end I could not argue with his choices. The back 5 remained unchanged from the Lincoln game, as Myhill, Marshall, Joseph, Delaney and Thelwell. Elliott was replaced by Andy Holt, which is now a familiar tactic of the manager.

Ian Ashbee returned to partner Lewis in the centre circle in order to provide a stiff defense against what is known to be a combative opposition, and Price returned to the right wing in place of Stuart Green, who, perhaps unluckily, sat the game out on the bench.

Up front the partnership of Burgess and Walters also continued from the previous week.

As they lined up, both sides started with a standard 442 formation, on a pitch that looked very bumpy and a made even more difficult by a cold and blustery cross-wind. The massed ranks of City faithful (2,300 in all) crammed into the South Stand with the rather pathetic looking East Stand also full of Tigers, even though that only amounted to around 400 or so fans. During the warm up, which consisted of the usual fare of exercises, keep ball, and trying to force Greenie to head the ball thereby spoiling his coiff, a strange sight met my eyes…….Rodney Trotter was warming up with our lads!! Six foot three, size eleven boots, matchstick legs and absolutely no coordination, no, surely not, it couldn't be our new midfielder; Junior Lewis? Somehow I knew this was going to be a surreal afternoon.

The first half reminded me of the entire game at the KC back in December; two sides not giving each other an inch, but at the same time playing very cautious and defensive football. Neither side created very much with Damien Delaney in imperious form yet again, apart from a lone aberration when he let himself get caught in possession just outside the penalty area, and was fortunate to be awarded a foul in his favour.

D'Jaffo, Mansfield's rather unsubtle and ineffective debutant Centre Forward, had the best chance of the half on 30 minutes, when he should have headed home at the far post following a pinpoint cross from the impressive Liam Lawrence.

City also had their moments, particularly on the stroke of half time when Jon Boy Walters broke clear down the middle following a great through ball from Rodney Trotter, only for their central defender Day to get in a last ditch tackle just as Jon was about to pull the trigger.

Another similarity between the first half and the December match was Mansfield's insistence on using late challenges as an attempt to unsettle our defenders, and again poor refereeing failed to deal with the situation. I lost count of the number of times Delaney and Joseph received elbows and shoulders in the back, following successful clearances, from D'Jaffo and Christie, none of which received redress from the referee.

As the half wore on City wrestled more and more control from the encounter, with the commanding Rodney Trotter increasingly dominating the centre circle. What an enigma that guy is! Forget how awkward he looks, he is bloody effective and has a wonderful knack of retaining possession no matter how many challenges are heaped upon him.

Possibly the worst moment of the half arrived about 10 minutes from the break when a full blooded challenge between Disley and Damien Delaney ended up with both on the deck and requiring attention. Delaney was obviously concussed and needed several minutes to recover his senses, before bravely continuing despite being shaken up.

Half-Time. And to be honest, I wasn't sorry the first period was over. Lots of commitment, lots of "huff and puff", very little control or composure. Our increasing control of proceedings towards the end left me eagerly anticipating the second half when our usual step-up would surely yield a rare victory at Field Mill.

The Second half started with something I've not witnessed at a match before: Local Plod scrapping with the home delinquents! Following a tannoy announcement for the home fans nearest to the away end to sit down, and a subsequent refusal to do so, plod waded in with their size elevens. How embarrassing! The City faithful failed miserably to refrain from wetting themselves!

Back to the game, and the bad news at the re-start was that the always reliable Damien Delaney had failed to give the right answer when asked "How many fingers", and had been replaced by Richard Hinds.

Almost immediately after the kick-off , and for the umpteenth time, Christie came in late on Mark Joseph and at last received the punishment he deserved with the showing of a yellow card.

City started where they had left off and set about attacking with determination. Burgess failed to get any power behind a shot resulting from a Holt nod-down, and Pilkington saved with ease, when he really shouldn't have been given the opportunity.

Then a few minutes later City came the closest yet to scoring. Price and Marshall produced some sharp interplay down the right, culminating in a pass to Burgess who drifted across the penalty area and unleashed a dipping shot that slammed against the bar, with Pilkington beaten.

Following that Price received his reward for his good play by being kicked in the nuts, by Vaughn, who was rightly booked. On another day, and another ref, might have walked.

Then it was Walters turn to be unlucky as City piled on the pressure. Following sharp passing with Price he struggled free to find space in the penalty area for a shot, only to see it charged down by a defender.

It was at this point that I began to think we were going to lose the match. So much domination, so many openings, so little to show for it! Seen it so many times before………"The Sucker Punch"!

The first warning came half way through the second half when a through ball was chased by Joseph and one of their attackers. Myhill chose to come out and after a clash of bodies the ball broke free with Boaz well out of his goal. Fortunately, it fell to Christie who lobbed to ball over everything including the bar when it would have been easier to score………PHEW!

However, the warning had not been heeded and following another break away down the right channel, Mansfield won a corner. Mansfield's "best-player-by-a-country-mile" Liam Lawrence took the corner and J'Affo rose to head goalwards from the penalty spot, and, almost in slow motion, the ball arrowed into the right corner of the net with Myhill having no chance.


Mansfield must have thought all their christmasses had come at once, and, for the second time this season their fans reacted like they had won the cup final………well it was for them, wasn't it?

The Manager immediately rung the changes, replacing Price with Ryan France and Walters with Jamie Forrester. Price was beginning to tire and Walters had looked out of form all afternoon. I must say I was surprised to see France come on, as I would have preferred to see Greenie have a run at their central defenders.

As it was the in-experienced France proved largely ineffectual, being sucked infield instead of hugging the touch-line and supplying crosses for Ben.

Mansfield then did what they obviously practice at great length in training, and began to run the clock down. It came as no real surprise as they started doing it in the first half at the KC. Forrester did his best, darting around, ducking and weaving, but to be honest City had lost their shape with the removal of Price. To their credit though they fought on and 5 minutes from time again came agonisingly close to scoring when the ball bounced around the Mansfield penalty area like a ping-pong, just begging to be stuck away. First, Forrester had a blockbuster charged down 10 yards out. Then the rebound fell to Ben who tried to curl it into the corner and again the effort was blocked by a diving defender. It was to be the last opportunity to gain anything from the match.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, Saturday's performance was OK. We competed well, carved out opportunities, and stopped them from having more than a handful of real chances the whole game. The first half was a stalemate with neither side gaining the upper hand for any significant length of time, but the second was all City. The only thing we lacked was some luck, a calm head in front of goal, and possibly a less committed defensive unit against us. I think Jon Boy Walters is showing a lack of fitness, a lack of confidence and a lack of form, and I would want to see him dropped in preference for Jamie Forrester.

I disagreed with Peter Taylor's choice of substitutes yesterday. Following the goal, I would certainly have replaced Price with Stuart Green rather than France, and I think Green should start against Scunthorpe. Andy Holt rarely seems to do much wrong, but he very rarely offers much either, certainly not as a winger.

Having seen Lewis, now, I would play a 3 man midfield of Ashbee, Green and Lewis with Price free to wander where he likes on the right. If Elliott is fit on Saturday, then I can see Green dropping to the bench again.

What is obvious is that we must start scoring goals. The defence is under tremendous pressure at the moment because they know that if they concede, we will struggle to pull the game around. Allsopp's quick return is now critical.

Notwithstanding all this, I am concerned about the confidence factor. We have just lost 3 games in a row without morale being affected, which is to the player's credit. However, if we fail again against Scunthorpe and/or Orient, will that still be the case? 6 points from our next two home games is a must, if momentum is to be maintained. There is no time left to rebuild confidence.

When does a Blip become a Crisis? Well I think we will know after the Scunthorpe game, that for me is now the most important game of the season.

How much do the players and fans want it?

Let's see next week!

I'm certainly going to be there and I don't expect to leave the KC with my voice in tact, and I hope the rest of Tigernation turns the KC into a cauldron of noise for 90 minutes.


Player Assessment:

Myhill 7 Always assured, and always comes for the ball which defenders like. Nothing much to do all afternoon, but always commanding

Marshall 6 Still not sure about him, he has excellent technical ability but is struggling to come to terms with the physical nature of the Third. Can certainly cross the ball when he gets into position.

Joseph 6 Solid afternoon again with only one real mistake in the second half. Wish he was a bit tougher when up against the likes of Christie though.

Delaney 7 Reliable as usual and destined to be player of the season. Got concussed going in where it hurts, should be no injury worry.

Thelwell 5 Doing a job in a difficult position that is not his choice. Plenty of effort and better than Holt at left back.

Price 6 Wish he'd take people on more often cos he scared the Poo out of them when he did try. Tired after half time and subbed

Ashbee 6 Shouting, glaring, closing-down an absolute must in our midfield despite not being the most talented player. Booked in the second half for God knows what………..ask the Ref.

Lewis 8 For me, the best player on the park although I haven't a clue how he does it with those legs! So influential in the second half that the Mansfield players started to back-off him. He rarely loses the ball in the Centre Circle.

Holt 6 Tried hard, did a job, made no mistakes, contributed little, we need Elliott back asap

Burgess 7 Ran his legs off all day, tried his usual flicks although nobody seemed to keep up with what he was doing. Hit the bar and looked dangerous in the second half.
Walters 5 Poor day. Obviously has little confidence which is hardly surprising playing for Barnsley. Needs a spell in the reserves and on the bench to regain form.

Hinds 7 Came on and again deputised admirably for Delaney. I can't speak highly enough of the lad. Always difficult being a utility player, but he is critical to the squad.

Forrester 6 Hustle and Bustle as usual, and unlucky not to score with his shot. Should definitely get a start against Scunny.


Latest | March 2004