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Archived News from March 2004

24th March 2004 16:29

Curle praises players
Mansfield Town boss Keith Curle praised his players for overcoming the sending off of Tony Vaughan to secure a 1-1 draw against Swansea.
"There was a belief and a desire from the players, not only to win the game, but to put on a performance," Curle told BBC Radio Nottingham.
"It would have been easy for people to go missing when we had a man sent off.
"But there was a togetherness out there and when the players needed it, the supporters were there for them."
Curle hails magnificent Stags
Mansfield Town manager Keith Curle described his players as "magnificent" after they drew 1-1 with Swansea City, despite playing for over 70 minutes with just ten men.
Tony Vaughan was shown a red card just 18 minutes into the match and to make things worse the Swans took the lead on the half-hour mark.
However, the Stags fought back after the interval and Liam Lawrence rifled home a 51st minute penalty to earn a point.
A delighted Curle said: "The players were magnificent and gave a great example of how to play with just ten men, keeping their discipline but also playing some good football."
Curtis annoyed with Swans
Swansea City caretaker boss Alan Curtis was annoyed with his players after they allowed ten-man Mansfield Town to hold them to a 1-1 draw.
The Stags had Tony Vaughan dismissed after just 18 minutes at Field Mill and City exploited their numerical advantage to take the lead through Andy Robinson.
Much to Curtis' disappointment they failed to capitalise on their lead after the break and allowed Liam Lawrence to equalise from the penalty spot and claim a point for Mansfield.
"We needed to start a lot better in the second half and we allowed them back in the game," said the Swans boss.
"The way we started off we just played little tippy-tappy football and the penalty came as a consequence.
"It can be difficult against ten men, but to be fair to Mansfield they played very well in the second half."
Another Stag Red As Swans Get Point
Report By Clive Hughes

Mansfield had yet another player sent off against Swansea but still managed to hold their visitors to a 1-1 draw after a second half penalty conceded by Roberto Martinez. Andy Robinson had given the Swans the lead just past the half hour mark

A few weeks ago this would have been a 6-pointer play-off game, but with our
chance as good as gone, and with the recent events, which Swansea team would turn up tonight. There was talk that Stu Roberts was taken ill on the coach, so with injuries our options were limited.

The opening 10 minutes saw Mansfield much the brighter side, playing some neat football, crisper in the tackles, and plenty of running off the ball. Their approach play looked dangerous but it flattered to deceive, as Rog's goal was not threatened. After the initial burst the Swans settled and came more into the game, playing some very good football, with plenty of swift moves and passes. It was end to end stuff but we were now starting to get the upper hand for the first time. There were quiet a few full blooded tackles going in, mostly by Mansfield. The game did have quite an edge to it and came to boiling point when Coates tried to carry the ball out of defence towards the touch line only to see a late lunging tackle from Vaughan. We don't think he actually make contact but did make Coates to run back 10 yards to confront him. Vaughan raised his hands against Coates and as the usual handbags from other players the ref took Vaughan aside and gave him a straight red. Further pushing and shoving which needed both linesmen on the pitch. The Mansfield number 12 was also lucky that he didn't get a red as he sprinted 20yds to get fully involved. Things threatened to escalate for the next 10mins until the match settled again. On the half hour the Swans took the lead, Robinson went for the by-line did a quick shuffle past a defende rand shot across goal, the ball running across the goal line and helped into the net by a defender. Mansfield did hit the post and the bar and Rog pulled off a couple of excellent saves but for the rest of the half the Swans played some delightful football but didn't have the cutting edge to get a
second to kill the game. Although Connor did have one dipping shot that hit the top of the bar and went over many neat touches and lay offs by Connor kept moves going. As half time approached we started to defend deeply and not clearing our lines making the last 5mins very nervy.

With a man advantage we thought that the team could now build on the first
half showing, but the opposite was to be seen. Mansfield were becoming more
cynical in the tackle going for the man on many occasions in their 'they
will not pass' style. Another flare up sae Connor lucky not to get a red,
but if he had walked were sure another Mansfield player would have as well.
The game was now a full 'blood and thunder' affair with the lightweight
Swans coming off second best. It came as no surprise that Mansfield got an
equaliser, it was just the manner that sticks in the throat. Martinez went
in for a tackle but didn't touch man or ball only to a 'Swan Lake' dive. The
ref was conned and a penalty awarded. Rog dived the right way managed to get
a hand to the ball but it still found its way into the net. We now went into
our usual sit back routine and found it difficult to get out of our half.
Coates was replaced by O'Leary to add fore presence to midfield, but by now
many players looked dead on their feet. From being very mobile in the first
half we were now playing with lead in our boots. There seemed only one
winner but some resolute defending saw us through to a hard earned point.

So a quick sum up. Mansfield looked a useful team and can play football, by
why resort to all the cynical tackles.
We did again take some wrong options again tonight. Although Martinez had an
excellent game, he does want to play a killer ball when a simple pass could
be more affective.
Tate again had a solid game but does give the jitters with the lack of
urgency on occasions.
Robinson did have a few storming runs, but there are options available than
just shooting at goal.
Much has been said about fitness levels. For three quarters of the game we
had a spare man, but it looked the opposite as we visually tired in the
second half.
In all a very good match to watch, where on occasions it looked like the ref
had lost control a couple of yellows might have calmed things down, but it
was a match that was a throw back to when players didn't fall down every
time someone sneezed.

With the right results over the last few weeks this would have been an
excellent result. To be fair it was a good draw but as far as play-offs are
concerned only 3 points would have been good enough.

Report By Friar Jack
Where do I start?

A bit of a Jekyll and Hyde performance by the Swans. In the 1st half, once we worked out that any balls played in the air were easily being mopped up by the Stags defence and kept it on the ground, we looked dangerous and created chances and Robbo took his goal well. Real end to end stuff with 10 man Mansfield breaking really well. Liam Lawrence was outstanding for them and a constant thorn down both of our sides.

Second half we failed to subdue the fired up stags. A debatable penalty was awarded to the dancing Lawrence, but we only had ourselves (and possibly the linesman) to blame. From a fairly safe position on the touchline (the ball appeared to cross the line), Howard and Coates allowing Lawrence any where near the 18 yard box was criminal. From then on it was inevitable that any challenge would result in Lawrence looking for a spot kick.

Things were heating up and after yet another cynical late tackle by the stags, Connor retalliated and should have been off. The ref showed inconsistancy and only gave a yellow card. So it's pobably justice that the penalty shout wasn't given when he was pulled back when through on goal later on.

The most frustrating thing was how we failed to use our man advantage. I lost count of the times Byrne would pass to Maylett run down the line unmarked looking for a return pass, only for Maylett to cut inside taking Byrne out of the attack.

It just appeared that Mansfield's 10 were fitter than our 11. They may have had the momentum from the early goal in the second half, but we seemed second to the ball and failed to close down their attackers effectively. After the promise of the 1st half the 2nd was a let down, but Mansfield should be given credit for that. Overall a draw was fair.

Mansfield clearly are a team with quality throughout and played tonight with tremendous passion and energy(no doubt galvanised by their sending off), but will fail to achieve anything unless they control their reckless challenges. It appears Curle's strategy is to unsettle the opposition by constantly snapping at heals and following through after the ball has been passed. Their form of late may not have been good, but that's no excuse for the dirty play seen tonight.

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Curle hails his courageous 10
KEITH Curle hailed his battling 10 men for a courageous performance that earned a 1-1 home draw with Swansea City last night.
The first clash between these sides back in August produced much controversy with two red cards and a 'mass brawl'.
Last night was just as controversial as Stags had Tony Vaughan sent off after only 19 minutes for a two-handed shove on Jon Coates only for Paul Connor to escape with a yellow card for a similiar offence in the second half.
However, Liam Lawrence's 11th penalty success of the season ensured a deserved share of the spoils after Andy Robinson had put the Swans ahead on 31 minutes.
Curle said: "It was a magnificent performance and I thought there was only one that was going to win it. When Tony was sent off no one wanted to hide and the crowd were superb too.
"I asked the referee at half-time why he had sent Tony off and he said that if you raise your hands to an opponent and make contact then you're off.
"So I asked him at the end why he didn't send off the Swansea lad for the same thing in the second half but he said he had told me that it was making contact with an opponent's face.
"With 11 men I feel sure we would have taken all three points. To lose a man so early meant you spend the next 45 minutes thinking, not about winning, but about making sure you get some response from the players.
"I thought we looked physically the stronger side in the last 20 minutes and I just wondered where these players had been for the last six weeks.
"Neil MacKenzie made a lot of difference on his return. We have missed his brightness and passing ability and he was the spark we needed."
Curle was today waiting on news of an injury to Laurent D'Jaffo.
The big target man managed less than 20 minutes and Curle said: "We will have to wait and see with Laurent.
"If you saw an X-ray of his back it's all pins and plates and if he gets a movement it sets off a chain reaction!"
Curle has until the end of tomorrow's transfer deadline to bring in any new faces for the promotion run-in.
More controversy as Stags battle back
GUTSY Stags battled back for a precious point in another highly controversial clash with Swansea Cith that ended 1-1 at Field Mill last night.
Stags defender Tony Vaughan was sent off as early as the 19th minute for shoving Jon Coates as the sides squard up in what was always going to be a volatile clash.
But when Paul Connor did the same to Liam Lawrence, and much harder, just after half time, the Swansea man escaped with a yellow card.
Swansea grabbged a 31st minute lead through Andy Robinson. But Lawrence levelled for the 10 men from the penalty spot on 51 minutes with his 18th goal of the season.
How important this point proves to be remains to be seen, but Stags, with Neil McKenzie pulling the midfield strings and Lawrence inspirational, thoroughly deserved it.
Mansfield had felt hard done to when they finished with nine men and a 4-1 defeat at Swanse last August. And the decision not to send off Connor again left a sour taste in last night's return.
Manager Keith Curle, having played with one striker against Oxford, brought back D'Jaffo to partner Mendes with Disley dropped to the bench to make way.
Swansea were without strikers Kevin Nugent and Lee Trundle.
Mansfield were fortunate when a perfect through ball from Martinez struck Britton on the back as he tried to run clear.
However, Stags struck the visitors' woodwork on seven minutes from the third of three successive headers.
Day headed the ball on to D'Jaffo whose head found Mendes and his attempted finish hit the keeper's right post before being scrambled away for a corner.
Suitably encouraged Mansfield attacked again and Corden cut inside before curling a 20-yard shot at Freestone in the City goal.
Swansea broke quickly down the right, the move ending with Robinson's low shot from 18 yards bringing the first save from Pilkington.
But the simmering feeling between the sides from their first meeting surfaced again on 19 minutes as Vaughan was sent off.
Coates was unhappy with Vaughan's two-footed lunge on him and the two shoved each other as players from both sides raced in just as they did at the Vetch Field, before the referee held up the red card to the Stags defender for his original challenge and his part in the aftermath.
It was a double blow for Stags for at the same time D'Jaffo was limping towards the dug-out and out of the game with a strain, Williamson replacing him as Stags were left with one striker.
Swansea went straight on the attack and Pilkington did well to dive at Maylett's feet at the edge of the box as he tried to go round him.
Seconds later Britton's swerving shot from 25 yards beat Pilkington but bent wide of the post at the last minute.
Mansfield had another escape when a superb Martinez free kick picked out Jones whose powerful header forced a great reaction save from Pilkington.
Another pinpoint through ball from Martinez then set Connor on his way and his 25 yard blast dipped over Pilkington and hit the crossbar.
The inevitable goal for the visitors wasn't long in coming as a Byrne ball in from the right found Robinson at the far post who, from a difficult angle, got his shot on target and, although Pilkington got a hand to it, he couldn't stop it crossing the line.
Stags tried to hit back immediately and Day's ball forward saw Lawrence race through a square defence and force Freestone into a fine save.
The resulting corner was cleared to the edge of the box where MacKenzie met it with the sweetest of volleys only to see it cannon back off the bar.
Williamson had slotted in at left back with Lawrence switching to the left flank and Corden joining the other two central midfielders.
Pilkington was down well to get a hand to another Maylett blast on 42 minutes.
When a wicked Lawrence cross struck a defender's shins and rolled towards his keeper instead of into his own goal from close range, Stags knew the luck was against them.
It was all Mansfield as the half drew to a close. And a lengthy passing movement ended with Corden letting fly from 20 yards only to see Freestone dive to his right and get a hand on it.
Stags began the second half in industrious fashion and were rewarded with an equaliser within six minutes.
Lawrence cut inside three defenders in brilliant fashion only to have his run ended abruptly by Martinez who brought him down just inside the box.
With 10 penalties under his belt already this season, Lawrence needed no second invitation as he confidently bagged number 11, Freestone guessing the right way but unable to keep it out.
Amazingly Martinez was not booked. Then Coates escaped with just a lecture for a nasty foul on Williamson.
But the best, or worst, was yet to come, as the tackles flew in on 53 minutes, the sides, for the second time on the night all went running in. Connor raced across and, two-handed, shoved Lawrence to the ground.
It was certainly violent conduct and a clear red card offence but incredibly he only saw yellow as the game continued to show shades of the injustice Stags suffered at Swansea.
Coates was inched over from 20 yards as the sides tried to resume football though there was clearly an underlying feeling simmering.
John-Baptiste's foot then took the pace off a low Byrne shot to make it easier for Pilkington.
A Lawrence corner was just too high for everyone 15 minutes from time.
The visitors then made a change with O'Leary replacing Coates.
Robinson tried for a repeat of his first half goal as he turned sharply wide on the left and got the ball on target through a crowd of players only to find Pilkington perfectly in position.
The tireless Lawrence, who has been absolutely everywhere, went on another promising run but was just wide from 20 yards.
Curle tried to pep up his tiring side with fresh legs as Disley replaced Curtis for the final 11 minutes.
Swansea seemed content to sit back for a point as Stags probed. But a quick break saw Pilkington have to slide out his box legs first to prevent Maylett getting in a shot on goal.
STAGS: Pilkington, Hassell, Vaughan, Day, John-Baptiste, Curtis (Disley 79), Lawrence, MacKenzie, D'Jaffo (Williamson 19), Mendes, Corden (Larkin h/t). Subs not used: J. White, A. White.
SWANSEA: Freestone, Byrne, Howard, Tate, Martinez, Britton, Maylett, Robinson, Coates (O'Leary 76), Jones, Connor. Subs not used: Corbisiero, Connout, Murphy, Pritchard.
REFEREE: Peter Walton of Northants.
SCORERS: Stags - Lawrence 51 pen. Swansea - Robinson 31.
CAUTIONS: Swansea - Connor 53 (foul on Lawrence); Maylett 87 (time wasting).
SENT OFF; Stags - Vaughan 19 (violent conduct).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Neil MacKenzie.
New Oxford date for Stags
Mansfield Town's abandoned home game with Oxford United has been rearranged for Tuesday, 6th April with a 7.45pm kick-off.
The first attempt to stage the match was abandoned last Saturday at half-time due to the high winds. The sides were lokced at 0-0.
Stags are offering reduced admission to the rearranged game of £8 adults and £4 concessions (U16s and OAPs).
Season ticket holders will be able to gain admission by producing the relevant ticket stub for the original game from their ticket book.

Evening Post:
Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Swansea City

After a real dip in form and confidence, Keith Curle sat his players down to watch the 5-0 drubbing they dished out to Scunthorpe earlier in the season.

The aim was to restore the belief, passion and determination in players that were once winning for fun and they responded with a display of free-flowing, passing football from start to finish.

So it was unfortunate that Mansfield should only come away with a point. But the fact they battled for more than 70 minutes with ten men after Tony Vaughan was sent off said it all.

He raised his hands after a rash challenge and was shown a red card to the disbelief of the crowd. The Stags felt hard done by after having two players sent off at Swansea earlier in the season and when Paul Connor shoved Liam Lawrence to the floor minutes into the second half, everybody was left amazed that he escaped with just a yellow.

But, instead of dropping their heads, the Stags lifted their game and they dominated the second half.

Lawrence typified the team effort with his non-stop running in the middle. Nobody wanted to hide and everyone was prepared to take responsibility, a stark contrast to the past few weeks.

And Lawrence capped off his display by winning a penalty and converting his 11th of the season to equalise following Andy Robinson's opener in the first half.

His penalties have won many vital points this season, but this performance was about the whole team and watching this game it is hard to believe how poor some of the recent displays have been.

The quality of passing, commitment and defensive play was just as it was at the beginning of the season when Mansfield were frightening opponents off the park.

Neil MacKenzie has been out with a knee injury for a month but his creativity in the centre of midfield gave the team a spark and 18-year-old Alex John-Baptiste was awesome at the back, reading the game like a veteran and winning every tackle and header.

On seven minutes, Stags almost scored when Laurent D'Jaffo flicked on a cross at the near post to Junior Mendes and his header back across goal from ten yards came back off Roger Freestone's right-hand post.

But on 18 minutes Vaughan fouled Jonathon Coates and as the Stags player walked away he was pushed by Coates and retaliated by pushing him back in the face. Vaughan got a straight red and the Swansea player went unpunished.

Swansea picked up the game and midway through the half Leon Britton was denied by Kevin Pilkington before Stuart Jones saw a header hit the post and Paul Connor hit the bar from the edge of the box.

On 31 minutes, Swansea took the lead. Shaun Byrne put the ball in from the right to the opposite side of the box and Robinson pulled it back into the far corner from ten yards.

Stags fought back and Lawrence saw his a half-volley saved by Roger Freestone before MacKenzie unleashed a thunderous volley from 20 yards which rattled the bar.

Mansfield finally got their reward five minutes into the second half. Lawrence picked up the ball on the right and showed great skill to beat three men and cut inside the box before being fouled by Roberto Martinez. But he stepped up and put the penalty into the bottom right-hand corner.

Moments later, Lawrence fouled and Connor retaliated by shoving him to the floor. But the Swansea striker only got a yellow card to the disgust of the Stags dug-out.

Mansfield dominated the second half and Lawrence went close with a 20-yard effort with ten minutes remaining but it went inches wide.

It may only have been a point but everything else about the performance was excellent.

And the Mansfield players left the field to a standing ovation, with the last two months appearing to be behind them. And on this reaction from the players, I'm sure Curle will be considering pulling out the video of the Scunthorpe game again before Saturday's trip to Yeovil.


Latest | March 2004