REPORTS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
Football First match report:
By Dan Bailey
transcribed by carole
Agogo at the double
JUNIOR AGOGO was the two-goal hero as Bristol Rovers brushed off the challenge of last season's play-off finalists Mansfield at Field Mill.
The big striker was the difference between the two sides in a thrilling encounter which provided some entertaining football for both sets of supporters.
The Stags started with five of the players who played in the play-off final at Cardiff, while giving debuts to four of their summer signings.
Rovers, meanwhile, had six new faces and were looking forward to a new era under the guidance of Ian Atkins, who was forced to leave out former Mansfield star Craig Disley through injury.
Rovers looked by far the bigger and more physical side, and were hoping to make that advantage tell with some teasing wide crosses towards the giant Junior Agogo.
Mansfield thought they had taken the lead on 13 minutes, when Derek Asamoah smashed in Colin Larkin's left hand cross, but to his despair the assistant referee flagged for offside.
A 20-yard Campbell effort on 25 minutes saw the game launch into overdrive, with both midfields looking to play the telling pass.
It was Agogo who gave Rovers the lead on the half-hour mark after the big striker set Gibb free on the right who then kindly returned the favour into Agogo's path leaving him to side foot past Pilkington.
Asamoah sent a right-foot shot just wide as Mansfield fought to get back in the game before Larkin, with perhaps the best chance of the half, poked the ball toward goal which Miller bravely parried.
Rovers reverted to the more customary 4-4-2 formation for the second-half, as the visitors hunted for the second goal.
And when Gibb again found acres down the right hand side with full back Adam Eaton nowhere to be seen the Rovers midfielder, in a carbon copy of the first goal, found the incoming Agogo, who fired into the middle of Pilkington's goal.
Mansfield Town………Bristol Rovers
59-----------Possession %---- 41
7------------Shots on Target---11
7------------Shots off Target----7
0------------Hit Woodwork-----1 (we actually hit the woodwork!)
Stags 0 Bristol Rovers 2
New-look Mansfield Town were the victims of a classic smash and grab raid at a sweltering Field Mill.
Just five of the players who lined up at the kick-off of the Play-Off Final defeat just 10 weeks earlier started the opening Coca-Cola League Division 2 fixture - with full back Scott McNiven, midfielders Alex Neil and Adam Murray, and striker Derek Asamoah making their debuts.
That might have been enough to ensure there was no hangover from the heartbreaking defeat . . . but it wasn't.
The Stags looked lively in the opening half hour with the pace of Asamoah, Colin Larkin and Wayne Corden a constant threat.
Asamoah unluckily saw a 13th minute close range tap-in from Larkin's cross ruled out for offside.
Then the little striker's clever flick almost evaded keeper Kevin Miller's dive.
Despite enjoying more of the possession, though, the Srags looked a little vulnerable on the break.
Only a fine late tackle by Dave Artell, a surprise starter ahead of Rhys Day, denied Jamie Forester at the end of a sweeping Rovers break.
But there was no let-off on the half hour. The excellent Stuart Campbell won the ball at a Mansfield free kick and from deep inside his own half Agogo led the breakaway.
The pacy striker eventually released Ali Gibb on the right wing and then raced into the penalty area to turn in Gibb's cross at the far post.
A minute later Larkin might have equalised, but his close range fierce drive was beaten out by Miller.
The Stags won many corners, but rarely threatened an equaliser until Larkin's curling drive two minutes into the second half flew narrowly wide.
Just two minutes later the home side was caught out on another counter attack, Gibb again racing clear after good work by Campbell and Agogo scoring from close range.
With the Stags now piling players forward in search of a way back into the game, Rovers constantly exploited the gaps on the break.
Agogo squandered a hatful of chances to complete a hat-trick and from one miss Paul Trollope rattled the bar.
But the Stags knew it was not going to be their day when Asamoah's 68th minute shot struck the bar.
And to make matters worse, any hopes of a late, late fightback were dashed when Artell headed in Murray's 76th minute corner, only for this 'goal' to be ruled out for pushing.
New loan striker Joe O'Neill, a 52nd minute subsitute, and Chris Tate both came on as the Stags finished with four strikers.
But having to chase the game in soaring temperatures proved to much for the home side.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Pilkington, McNiven, Artell, John-Baptiste, Eaton (Day 86mins), Neil, Williamson (Tate 61mins), Murray, Corden (O'Neill (52mins), Asamoah, Larkin. Subs not used: Langford, Curtis.
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