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Archived News from September 2004

27th September 2004 15:05

Evening Post, 27 September 2004

Keith Curle was happy with his side's display - and believed Mansfield were the better outfit.

"We came here for the three points," said the Stags boss. "It wasn't about trying to contain them.

"We wanted to play our game at our tempo and it was up to Scunthorpe to try to contain us.

"They're a strong unit with good, experienced players in the right areas.

"They've tightened up a lot since last season and we had to be at our best to stretch them, but they will know they've played against a team which is going places."

In front of more than 1,200 travelling Stags fans, the visitors were behind after just 75 seconds.

But Curle was not too concerned about leaking an early goal again.

"It wasn't a case of being caught sleeping. No goalkeeper would have been able to stop that. It's just unfortunate it was in the first couple of minutes," he said.

"But we've got belief and we stamped our authority on the game against a team which was top of the table on merit.

"At half-time I said to the players to just keep playing the way they had been. The first-half performance was excellent.

"The use of the ball and the tempo was superb."

Evening Post, 27 September 2004

Scunthorpe United 1 v 1 Mansfield Town

This was a good game for measuring how genuine the promotion credentials of both sides are.

Stags boss Keith Curle says league tables are not significant at this stage of the season.

But a game between the League Two leaders and the fourth-placed side, ten games into the new campaign, is a suitable contest from which to judge whether either has a realistic chance of going up this term.

On this evidence, both have, although if you had to pick which side would finish above the other at the end of the season based on Saturday's display, it would be Mansfield.

Stags fans can have good reason to be pleased with their side's performance against the top side.

The visitors were very good value for a point and could have won it but, overall, a draw was a fair result.

Mansfield went into the game knowing a win could send them top of the pile.

The draw kept them in the top five, within three points of the summit and extended their unbeaten run to five games.

Any side who wins home games and draws away matches will have a successful campaign and Stags have done that in their past five outings - three home wins, two away draws.

Curle says he is happy with a squad of 18, but he felt the need to add to it on Friday by bringing in left-back Craig Woodman on a month's loan from the manager's former club Bristol City, as cover for Jake Buxton and Adam Eaton.

The defender was in excellent form on his debut and Adam Murray was another to shine after winning back his place.

The midfielder hit the bar with one long-range effort, but his general contribution will have impressed his manager more.

The Stags' tactics included getting the ball wide to Wayne Corden as much as possible.

The left-winger did have his moments, but didn't sparkle in the same way veteran Scunthorpe duo Ian Baraclough and Peter Beagrie did.

Beagrie, the former Everton and Manchester City wide man, showed he still has plenty to offer, with some classy touches.

And it was ex-Stag Baraclough who gave the home side the lead after just 75 seconds with a superb strike into the top right corner, which gave the diving Kevin Pilkington no chance.

But while Murray and Beagrie caught the eye, it was an often unsung hero who came up trumps for the visitors.

Dave Artell is one of only a handful of ever-presents in the Mansfield 11 this season and his solid displays and hard work off the ball are just two of the reasons he has kept Rhys Day out of the side.

And there is always his threat from set pieces. When Artell thumped home a header from Alex Neil's corner in the 70th minute, it was just reward for his and his side's endeavour as they again showed character to come from behind.

The way Artell celebrated and the way his team-mates joined in indicates that the Stags really were up for it, and yet another determined performance suggests they are prepared to battle hard in their bid for promotion this season.

The ability to rescue games after falling behind shows the character this term, but Curle won't be happy with his side's tendency to put themselves in that position.

Conceding early goals is becoming too much of a regular occurrence for comfort.

But the players Curle has selected have, by and large, done the business, with five wins, just one away defeat and two away draws in their past eight outings.

The thin squad could yet be cause for concern, although it hasn't been so far where it matters, in league games.

Chris Tate is out injured, Derek Asamoah is still troubled by a calf problem and Curle did not have a solitary full-back available in the previous game.

Woodman has already shown from his one appearance that he is a capable alternative to Buxton and Eaton.

Curle can't have been comfortable with having only 12 senior players available for last week's Carling Cup clash with Preston, so perhaps it is time for the manager to seriously consider at least one permanent addition to his squad.

He seems content with his lot for now though - and has a list of "stand-by" players he can bring in on loan if needed.

If his judgement of Woodman is anything to go by, Stags won't go too far wrong this season.

Evening Post, 27 September 2004

Adam MURRAY says Mansfield need to stop giving away early goals.

"I don't know why we keep conceding goals early on like that," he said. "I don't think you can put your finger on why it's been happening.

"I think it's just a mixture of a lot of things, but it's killing us.

"It was a great strike though and it was a well-earned point for us."

Murray, who was back in the starting 11 after a spell on the bench, believes Mansfield were the better side and was happy with his own performance.

"We dominated the game and had enough chances to win it," he said.

"If that's the standard of a top-of-the-league side, we've got a good chance of getting automatic promotion.

"It was a very important game so early in the season between two sides at the top of the table.

"We could have won it with the chances we had and the amount of play we had.

"I feel as though I've got to prove to everyone what I can do and so far this season I don't think I've done that.

"But I was happy with my performance and hopefully I can keep my place for the next game."

Evening Post, 27 September 2004

Scunthorpe manager Brian Laws believes Mansfield are on course for promotion.

Laws, who wore a green jumper during Saturday's game as a mark of respect for his old Forest boss Brian Clough, said: "I'm happy with a point.

"Mansfield showed they are a good side and if we finish above them we will have earned an automatic promotion spot.

"It was a hard-fought point and I look at it as a point gained.

"They showed their credentials but it keeps them behind us for a while longer.

"We were on the back foot for about 20 minutes in the second half and when they scored it was a test for us."

Evening Post, 27 September 2004

A Specialist has confirmed striker Chris Tate has sustained multiple ankle ligament damage.

Tate twisted his left ankle in last week's Carling Cup defeat against Preston and it was still swollen when he saw the specialist on Friday.

Tate, who will be out for at least two weeks, said: "I'm just pleased it's not a fracture."

Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph:

They had to work extremely hard for it, but manager Brian Laws was delighted with the point Scunthorpe United picked up as a result of their 1-1 draw with Mansfield on Saturday.

Despite taking the lead through Ian Baraclough with just 75 seconds of the match gone, the Iron spent long spells of the game on the back foot against a Stags team who were easily the strongest side they have come up against this year. Laws had always maintained that this game would be the biggest test of his side's good start to the season and he was pleased to hold on for a draw, even though it was a result that saw them lose the leadership in League Two.

"Mansfield gave us a tough game, but I expected that and I haven't changed my mind on my thoughts that they are going to be a top three side," said the Iron boss, who wore a green jumper while in the dugout as a tribute to his late former Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough.

"Even though we didn't hold on for a win, there were a lot of plusses to come out of the game.

"It was a hard-fought point for us and it's a point that we will probably look at later on in the season and say that it is a very good one.

"We've also shown signs that we can match the best because Mansfield are, without doubt, one of the best in this division this season."

Baraclough's 20-yard curler - his first goal in Scunthorpe colours - was the perfect start for the home side, but they unfortunately could not build on the goal.

Instead they spent most of the rest of the first half and the first 25 minutes of the second trying to contain some attractive and free-flowing Mansfield football.

The Stags were rewarded for their pressure when centre back David Artell powered home a 71st minute header from a corner for a deserved equaliser.

"After starting poorly in our last home game against Chester, we said it was important that we were fast out of the blocks on Saturday," continued Laws.

"I thought that was what we did and in the early stages we put them onto the back foot.

"We were coping very well, but if you let the Mansfield midfield boss you then you've got problems because they move the ball around well.

"Our defence knew they had been in tough game, though I can't recall Mansfield having any real clear-cut chances.

"If a goal was going to come, it looked like it was going to have to be through a set play as we had to concede a few corners because of the pressure. That obviously told in the end.

"We're not conceding goals in open play, most have been from set pieces. But the one in this game was a perfect header from a centre half.

"Andy Butler had handled him (Artell) very well up until that point and he even got the first touch on the ball and thought he had cleared it.

"But unfortunately Artell was right behind him and it has hit his forehead and gone straight into the net."

United thought they had won the game late on when substitute Michael Rankine had the ball in the back of the net five minutes from time.

But his hopes of being the late hero for the second week running were dashed when Cleveland Taylor's cross to the far post was adjudged to have crossed the by-line.

"After they had scored we kicked on again, changed it round and brought Cleveland (Taylor) and (Michael) Rankine on," added Laws.

"All of a sudden we pressed them a bit higher up the field and Rankine's height caused them a few problems.

"It's very difficult to say whether the ball crossed the line or not. You have to rely on the players in those situations and they felt it had not gone out."

Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph:

Scunthorpe United 1 v 1 Mansfield Town
It's not very often that Scunthorpe United have found themselves outplayed this season - but that was certainly the case on Saturday.

For the majority of the 90 minutes at Glanford Park, the Iron were forced to play second fiddle to a Mansfield side who look odds on to be involved in the promotion shake-up come the end of the campaign. Yet the story could have been so different had the home side been able to build on the perfect start they were given when midfield man Ian Baraclough curled home his first goal for the club after just 75 seconds.

Instead it was the Stags who gradually took control of proceedings, although they did not get back on level terms until 19 minutes from time.

While the home side will have been disappointed not to have held on for a victory that would have kept them top of the table, this was, on the face of things, a point gained.

Iron manager Brian Laws said before kick-off that he expected Mansfield to be pushing for promotion by the end of the season and, on this evidence, he won't be far wrong.

Some of the passing and movement from the Stags was excellent and they are easily the best side Scunthorpe have come up against so far this term.

In front two Colin Larkin and Derek Asamoah, Keith Curle's side have a real goal threat and both players worked tirelessly all afternoon.

Yet for all that was to follow, it was the hosts who snatched the lead with a goal out of nothing.

A ball into the box from the right could not be collected by on-loan striker Andy Keogh, but he did manage to knock the ball back to the waiting Baraclough who took one touch to bring it under control before curling a superb left-foot effort into the top corner of the net from 20 yards out.

It silenced the travelling support of well over a thousand and lit the blue touch paper for what was to turn out to be an exciting clash.

Whether the Stags would have sat back and let the Iron come at them had they not conceded such an early strike, only manager Curle knows. But if that had been the case, it would have been a pity.

For some of the football the visitors played was excellent and midfield men Tommy Curtis and Adam Murray both went close with long-range efforts that flew high and wide.

Although the Stags were enjoying most of the possession, Iron goalkeeper Paul Musselwhite had little to do. He was though a mere spectator as a 35-yard chip from Murray bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind with 22 minutes gone.

Mansfield continued to push forward and Curtis failed to hit the target once again, this time after good work from Larkin and Asamoah, and the latter then drilled an effort wide of Musselwhite's left-hand post after beating Iron defender Andy Butler on the edge of the box.

It had been a busy opening 45 minutes for the Scunthorpe defence, and inparticular central duo Butler and Andy Crosby, and things continued in the same vein during the second half.

With the game appearing to pass Richard Kell by for long spells, Iron manager Laws replaced the midfielder with Glasgow Rangers loanee Tom Brighton at the interval, allowing Matt Sparrow to move inside from the right wing.

But it didn't help the home side get a grip on the game and when they did manage to ease the pressure on the back four by pushing the ball up front, it was almost coming straight back to them.

Crosby did well to squeeze away a Wayne Corden cross as the visitors searched for an equaliser before Musselwhite pulled off two good saves to keep the score at 1-0.

First he got down well at full stretch to keep out a driven effort from Murray and then he tipped a deep cross from full-back Scott McNiven behind for a corner despite being put under pressure by Asamoah.

Over 15 minutes of the second period had passed before the home side were really able to get out of their own half and have a pop at goal themselves and when they did Paul Hayes' tame flick header after a Peter Beagrie cross was easily held by Stags 'keeper Kevin Pilkington.

After that it was back to more Mansfield pressure as the visitors finally fought their way back on level terms.

All too often this season what looks to be an otherwise pretty solid Scunthorpe defence has been found wanting at set pieces - and it was to be their downfall again.

With 71 minutes on the clock, McNiven swung in a deep corner from the right and giant centre back Artell rose majestically to power home a header from inside the penalty area.

After scoring, you would have expected the visitors to have gone in search of a winner - but for some reason they seemed to slow down the tempo of their game.

Instead it was the home side who began to look more threatening going forward, but they squandered two good opportunities to regain the lead.

Both were from substitute Cleveland Taylor, who looked lively after coming on immediately after the Stags' equaliser in place of Beagrie.

First he worked his way into a good position just inside the six yard box, but could only blaze his shot over the top when fellow sub Michael Rankine flicked on a ball in from the left.

Then minutes later the 21-year-old dragged an effort high and wide of the target after working his way into the area via a mazy run.

Five minutes from the end United thought they had snatched victory when Rankine bundled the ball into the back of the net at the far post following Taylor's pinpoint cross.

But the Barrow player's hopes of being the Iron's glory man for the second week running were dashed when a referee's assistant judged the ball had crossed the by-line before Taylor could whip it into the middle.

It meant that in the end, Scunthorpe were left to settle for a point. But it's one that could turn out to be vital when the season draws to a close.

Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph:

Mansfield manager Keith Curle claimed he was happy with a point on Saturday, despite the fact that his team dominated.

"I said before the game that we were coming to Scunthorpe for the three points and were going to play our own football," he revealed. "We wanted them to contain us and credit to them, they have a strong unit and they did that for long spells.

"Scunthorpe have got good experienced players in the right areas and have tightened up a lot since last season.

"We had to be at our best to stretch them, but I think they will know that they have come up against a team that is going places.

"It was a bad start for us, but no-one was to blame. It was a top quality strike and I don't think any goalkeeper would have kept it out.

"But we showed belief and we have come to the team that was top of the table on merit and have given them a game.

"I told the lads at half-time just to keep going and they did and we were eventually rewarded with a deserved goal."


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