STAGS HELD BY WYCOMBE
Wycombe Wanderers 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Birchall 60. Asamoah 46.
Att: 4215 (410 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at The Causeway Stadium
Mansfield Town had to settle for a point at a soaking Causeway Stadium this afternoon despite going ahead early in the second half and having chances to secure the points, before Wycombe equalised on the hour. In the final 20 minutes it was the home side who looked more likely to claim the three points and no one could argue that the draw was not a fair result.
The game started in pouring rain and it was to rain for almost the entire 90 minutes. It was noticeable that Stags manager Keith Curle only appeared from the dugout when the rain stopped, a point your Stagsnet reporter, and StagsWorld commentator for the afternoon, put to the Stags boss in the post match press conference. Curle replied with a big smile that he has his Grecian 2000 to think of.
Man of Match: Derek Asamoah
Stagsnet Player ratings now in the Match Centre
Steve Hartshorn's Observer report :
Keith Curle's Mansfield Town had to settle for a share of the spoils at a rain-soaked, Causeway Stadium last weekend. Despite an early 2nd half strike from Stags front man, Derek Asamoah, The Stags failed hold on and a goal on the hour from loan striker, Adam Birchall, drew Tony Adams' Wycombe Wanderers level.
From minute one to minute end, the game was played in pouring rain, which made control of the ball for both sides extremely difficult.
Stags boss, Keith Curle made a number of changes as he searched for the correct formula to get Mansfield Town back on track following their disappointing defeat at Cheltenham in midweek. With Rhys Day out injured, Luke Dimech started in the centre of defence, whilst back into the side came Alex John-Baptiste at the expense of the tactically dropped, Adam Murray.
Wanderers Boss, Tony Adams, who in the week criticised sections of his own crowd for being 'boo-boys' was desperate for his side to get off to a good start however it was the visitors who asked the first questions, forcing the home side on the back foot, whilst the steady looking Luke Dimech easily dealt with the speedy Wanderers centre forward, Nathan Tyson as time after time, Wycombe tried without success to catch out The Stags with a direct long-ball.
On 22 minutes, Stags had a great chance of taking the lead but when in space in the area, Guy Ipoua powerfully headed wide.
Wycombe then came into the game and through Gary Silk pumped in several dangerous crosses towards the head of Ian Stonebridge, fortunately only one caused any concern.
Moments later, The Stags broke with speed but when presented with probably too much time and space, Alex Neil fired straight at the home keeper Frank Talia.
On 39 minutes, the busy Danny Senda had a pop at The Stags goal from 25 yards but his effort flew past Pilkington's right hand post.
As the half drew to a close, the home side created several corners, but The Stags more than held firm.
Whatever Keith Curle said at half time, worked wonders. Just 27 seconds of the 2nd half had passed before The Stags took the lead. A great flicked header by Ipoua found Colin Larkin. The Stags top goalscorer raced into the Wycombe penalty area, drawing the obvious attention of the Wanderers defence, before squaring the ball to his strike partner, Derek Asamoah, who finished from close range.
Stags were on fire, whilst Wycombe, not being allowed any time on the ball, struggled to get out of their own half. Just two minutes after the goal Mansfield could have been two to the good but this time Asamoah's spectacular effort was well saved by Talia.
Stags were pressing for what should have been a game killing second, but when that goal didn't come, the home side grew in heart and began to try to get back in the game.
The goal that Wycombe craved came on 59 minutes. Dave Artell gave away a free kick, which provided a chance for Burnell to fire in a dangerous looking ball into The Stags area. With the Mansfield defence failing to react in time, on loan striker, Adam Birchall stooped to equalise.
Wanderers were now in the ascendancy and were forcing The Stags on the retreat. Thankfully, Man of the match, Luke Dimech held firm and despite some dangerous runs from the livewire, Tyson, never really looked in too much trouble although the striker should have done better on 76 minutes but headed wide.
Wycombe peppered away at The Stags rearguard, Senda hitting a 25 yard effort well wide, but again, The Stags backline were holding firm, although a little shakey at times.
With just 4 minutes to go on the clock, the two Wycombe front men combined once more, but again Stonebridge headed wide when possibly he should have done better.
The final whistle blew with both sides seemingly happy with their point. For Mansfield it was another story on their travels of what could have been, whilst for Wycombe Manager, Tony Adams thought that in some way his side had answered the terrace boo-boys.
This Saturday, Mansfield Town take on Bury at Field Mill (3pm) in the first of two successive Saturday home fixtures. Manager, Keith Curle will be looking for The Stags to continue their impressive home form and keep pace with the Coca Cola League 2 pacesetters.
Observer Man of the match – Luke Dimech.
STAGS HIT BY A SUCKER-PUNCH
Evening Post, 25 October 2004
Wycombe Wanderers 1 v 1 Mansfield Town
Separated by only a single point going into Saturday's encounter, both Keith Curle and Tony Adams will probably have settled for the draw beforehand.
Yet it was difficult to walk away from the Causeway Stadium without the nagging feeling that this was a game Mansfield could, and possibly should, have won.
Despite dominating the opening hour, the Stags had only a goal and two decent efforts on target to show for their endeavour and, when they were caught by a Wycombe sucker-punch on 60 minutes, they almost contrived to allow the home side to land an undeserved knockout blow after a late rally.
Wycombe boss Adams suggested his team needed to battle against "smash-and-grab-sides" like Mansfield who play football which is "not pretty, but effective."
This though paints a false picture of a game which the visitors pretty much bossed throughout, and in fact delivered the only moment of genuine quality 28 seconds into the second-half.
From a throw-in down the left, Guy Ipoua headed into the path of Colin Larkin's charging run forward and the Irishman drove into the box before cutting the ball back for the lively Derek Asamoah to slot home.
It was a wonderfully simple and well-worked goal in which each of the three strikers played a significant role.
Wycombe, by comparison, were all bluster and almost exclusively relied on the pace of Danny Tyson and the out-ball over the top of the Mansfield defence.
Even their goal, a slightly mis-hit Adam Birchall volley past Kevin Pilkington from close range - after Mansfield had failed to deal with Joe Burnell's flighted free-kick - was scrappy.
Wycombe could even have snatched the winner 15 minutes from time when Danny Senda's corner from the left evaded everybody and Stuart Nethercott stole in unmarked at the far post but volleyed across the face of goal when it looked easier to score.
However, in dreadfully greasy conditions tailor-made for pacy strikers, Luke Dimech, in his first league start of the season, generally excelled and dealt admirably with the threat of Tyson.
Despite featuring in a Malta defence which shipped seven goals to Sweden recently, the player's confidence is clearly unaffected and he made his presence felt early on, before going on to punctuate his performance with crucial blocks and tackles.
And with the towering David Artell alongside him, Wycombe had virtually no joy in the final third of the pitch as their threat was restricted to the set-piece.
In comparison, Mansfield strikers Asamoah and Ipoua, with Larkin supporting from his left-midfield role at every opportunity, looked lively throughout, with Asamoah particularly catching the eye.
Hard-working and industrious, Asamoah also showed a willingness to pick up the ball and run at the Wycombe defence, and should have scored a second in the 46th minute. After Larkin had played a dangerous ball into the box, it broke kindly for Asamoah but his volley from eight yards was straight at Frank Talia and he parried to safety.
But although Asamoah was perhaps the most eye-catching performer on show, Larkin proved again why he is absolutely crucial to this Mansfield side.
Despite being forced to go off the pitch for eight minutes early on to receive five stitches following a clash of heads, he competed well in midfield throughout, and got through a power of work to support the front two as often as possible.
It is also to his credit that, when presented with his first sight on goal from an acute angle, the club's top goalscorer showed great awareness and unselfishness not to shoot, but instead square for Asamoah to convert the easier chance.
But this was a Wycombe side that should have been there for the taking.
Booed off the park after drawing 1-1 with Rushden and Diamonds on Tuesday, Adams' defence contained three 19-year-olds, including Millwall loanee Tony Craig, who made his debut and, for 15 minutes in the second-half, the teenagers looked completely at sixes as sevens as Mansfield exerted their first real spell of forceful pressure in the game.
The home side were also unable to deal with the physical threat posed by Mansfield, and both Artell and Ipoua threatened with headers from set-pieces while Alex Neil stung Talia's palms with an effort from the edge of the box.
Wycombe Wanderers 1
Mansfield Town 1
Saturday 23rd October 2004
Football League 'League Two'
Wanderers drew 1-1 at home for the third consecutive time - Mansfield Town being the latest opponents to frustrate Tony Adams' side. On a wet afternoon it was the visitors who took the lead a minute into the second-half when Derek Asamoah slotted home after the Wanderers defence were split by a quick exchange on the Mansfield left. Wycombe forced their way back into the game on the hour mark when Adam Birchall converted from the right side of the penalty area. Team news for Wycombe saw Stuart Nethercott return after his two match ban while new loan signing Tony Craig when straight in at left back after he had signed from Nethercott's former club on Friday morning. Danny Senda overcame a groin strain to play but Clint Easton missed out having required 25 stitches in a gashed knee from the Rushden game. Ian Stonebridge returned to the starting line-up to partner Nathan Tyson up front as Tony Adams looked for a more settled attacking partnership. Wanderers drop to 12th place in the table and are one point behind 7th placed Mansfield and seven points behind new leaders Scunthorpe United.
Overall this was a fairly scrappy affair with conditions under foot not making things easy for the players. After Tyson had flicked a header wide in the 3rd minute from Craig's cross, goalmouth action was limited until the 27th minute when Tyson didn't connect properly with an overhead kick. A flurry of action before the break livened the crowd on a miserable day. First on 37 minutes Birchall slipped the ball across from the left wing to Danny Senda who then switched it to Gary Silk on the opposite wing and the resulting cross to the far post was headed wide by Ian Stonebridge. Moments later at the other end Alex Neil sent in a low shot from right of centre that Frank Talia dived to save and grabbed at the 2nd attempt on the greasy surface. Then from the resulting clearance Stonebridge's lob didn't quite have enough accuracy on it to find the target.
Wanderers had a wake up call within a minute of the restart when Asamoah netted with the Wycombe defence all at sea. The same player almost doubled The Stags lead two minutes later when his snap shot was brilliantly saved by Talia - the Aussie diving to his left to push the ball away.
Birchall's goal on the hour came after a foul on Stonebridge close to the left corner of the Mansfield penalty area. Joe Burnell swung in the free-kick and the Arsenal reserve striker picked his spot with to style to send the ball back into the opposite corner of the Valley End net.
Talia showed his bird handling skills in the 65th minute when he was called upon to collect a distressed Partridge who was getting the biggest cheer of the day for its constant running in midfield. Talia made a more conventional save on 74 minutes, again from the ever dangerous Asamoah but Wycombe went on to dominate the closing stages and could have snatched victory.
Stuart Nethercott slid an effort wide from Senda's left wing cross on 76 minutes and a minute later Birchall's cross from the left was nodded wide by Tyson at the far post. Senda forced a save from Kevin Pilkington in The Stags goal with eight minutes left on the clock with a low shot from just left of midfield, while in the second minute of stoppage time Burnell's free-kick from the left following the the last of numerous fouls on Tyson, went within inches of hitting the target and grabbing a dramatic winner.
Final Score - Wycombe 1 Mansfield 1
Speaking to BBC 3 Counties after the game Tony Adams said he was happy again with the performance and the enery levels put in by his players. Adams was also impressed with his new loan signing from Millwall, commenting "I thought Tony Craig was excellent today. I think he was resillient. I was delighted with the guy's performance and his debut was excellent and he has set the standard now. He kicks it and he's a good defender and for me he did that side of the job very well today. The balance of the team is much better with a left footer there." The Wycombe boss also hinted in the post match press conference that he was looking towards a more settled line-up in the forthcoming games, adding "I need to get foundations laid and I'm not going to do that by changing systems and personnel, it's time to be solid." Wycombe: Talia, Silk, Craig, Williamson, Nethercott, Senda, Burnell, Bloomfield, Birchall, Stonebridge, Tyson - subs not used: Uhlenbeek, Johnson, Ryan, Abbey, Williams
Bookings: Nethercott (foul 11), Silk (foul 83)
This was Gary Silk's fifth yellow card of the season and means he will serve a one match ban versus Yeovil Town on Saturday 6th November.
Scorers: Birchall (60)
Mansfield: Pilkington, McNiven, Woodman, Baptiste, Artell, Neil (sub 86 Corden), Curtis, Dimech, Larkin, Ipoua (sub 67 O'Neill), Asamoah - subs not used White, Buxton, MacKenzie
Scorers: Asamoah (46)
Referee: Ray Olivier Attendance: 4,215 (away end 410)
Wycombe Can Only Manage Mansfield Point
By Ian Baker at Adams Park
Wycombe could only manage a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town, despite being the better side, in a much improved performance. Playing against a very physical Mansfield team, Derek Asamoah scored 40 seconds into the second half before Adam Birchall equalised on the half hour mark.
Except in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, this was a match that Wycombe can count themselves very unfortunate not to win. The Mansfield right back, Dimech, kept Nathan Tyson quiet usually by foul means rather than fair. In one particular incident, Tyson was deliberately elbowed in the face when through on goal. The referee, Ray Olivier should take a long hard look at his performance.
In came Tony Craig, on loan from Millwall at left back, who put in a man of the match performance on debut. Stuart Nethercott came in for Roger Johnson while Ian Stonebridge replaced Zema Abbey up-front. Danny Senda passed a fitness test on a groin injury but would have wished he had sat this one out as his performance was woeful.
Full report to follow.
Official Wycombe site:
Wycombe 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Wanderers began the match in lively fashion following their recent poor run of results when, on 3 minutes, new loanee Tony Craig from Millwall sent a ball in that found Nathan Tyson's head but the striker conspired to send the attempt wide of Kevin Pilkington's upright.
Mansfield, however, looked equal to the Blues' effort level in the opening stages and it required a foul by Stuart Nethercott over on the left on 12 minutes to stop the run of Derek Asamoah from doing some damage.
As the half wore on, niggles became more frequent with Danny Senda and Asamoah in particular involved on several occasions but, in a half with few incidents of note, Wanderers did manage a couple of opportunities.
The first of these saw Tyson set through but, when one-on-one with Pilkington, his lobbed ball rebounded to hit him in the face and bounce away to safety.
Minutes later, Gary Silk put a ball through for Ian Stonebridge, who struck quite well but the shot carried just wide of the upright.
The visitors found themselves with a half-attempt on 38 when Colin Larkin passed to Alex Neil, whose shot was smothered well by Frank Talia in the home goal.
Neither side could quite find the conversion rate required and the first period finished even, albeit goalless.
H/T:Wycombe 0 - Mansfield 0
Whatever Stags' manager Keith Curle said to his team at the break worked.They came out full of renewed optimism and within moments of the kick-off, Larkin raced onto a beautiful ball down the left before crossing behind the Blues' defence for Asamoah to net under Talia for the opener.
Indeed, it could have been two on 47 minutes when the same player this time drew a fine diving save from the big Australian.
The lead didn't last long though as, on the hour mark, Adam Birchall levelled from Joe Burnell's free-kick to breathe some life into the home crowd behind the goal.
Mansfield followed the equaliser with a period of sustained pressure on Talia's goal but the Blues' back line dealt reasonably comfortably with the attempts that peppered their area and prevented further danger.
A substitution on 67 minutes saw Jo O'Neill replace Guy Ipoua as Curle made a bid to reclaim the advantage going into the final 15 minutes.
Wanderers could have taken the lead on 76 minutes when a ball across the face of goal found Nethercott's foot but, instead of finding the target, he sliced the ball back across and wide of the far post and, moments later, Tyson again could have stretched Wanderers in front but he directed his header wide yet again.
Referee Ray Olivier showed his record for giving contentious decisions yet again when he failed to give a blatant foul on Tyson as he was heading goalwards and, just seconds later, blew up for an innocuous challenge by Matt Bloomfield in the centre of the park.
Silk was the next to see yellow and became only the second player in the match to receive the card, a statistic that is perhaps surprising when considering Mr Olivier's record of 34 yellows in 11 games so far this season.
A further change occurred for the Stags on 86, Wayne Corden replacing Neil but it was not enough to break down Wanderers' resolute defence in the closing stages and the sides had to settle for a point each.
F/T:Wycombe 1 - Mansfield 1
Attendance:4215, of which 410 were from Mansfield
Official MOM:Adam Birchall
Website MOM:Adam Birchall
Birchall thwarts stags
Arsenal loanee Adam Birchall gave Wycombe a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw against high-flying Mansfield.
Birchall pounced from close range on the hour after Mansfield had failed to clear Joe Burnell's free kick.
That wiped out Derek Asamoah's goal for Mansfield, which was scored just after the restart - a close-range tap-in after Colin Larkin had raced away onto Guy Ipoua's flick on and intelligently pulled it back.
Mansfield controlled much of the first half possession and it showed as Ipoua powered a header just wide.
Asamoah broke the deadlock and almost added a second in two minutes when home keeper Frank Talia superbly blocked his close-range volley.
Wycombe finished strongly as Stuart Nethercott just failed to tuck away a corner at the far post while Kevin Pilkington managed to grab a low Danny Senda shot at the second attempt.
Stags settle for point at Wycombe
MANSFIELD Town had to settle for a point at a rain-swept Causeway Stadium this afternoon.
Derek Asamoah had shot the Stags ahead within 28 seconds of the second half starting.
But a defensive lapse on the hour allowed Adam Burchill in for the equaliser for Tony Adams' men.
Mansfield dominated the first half though Wycombe had a string of chances just before the break.
The surface was very difficult as the rain continued to lash down throughout and Stags found themselves pinned back in the latter stages where they had to defend stoutly to take the point they deserved.
Manager Keith Curle said: "We started at a high tempo and got ourselves a foothold in the game. The conditions were difficult but both sides tried to play football and I thought it was a good, entertaining game.
"I told my three strikers at half-time that I wanted more from them and straight away all three combined to score the goal.
"I was disappointed with the one we conceded but, apart from that, I thought we dominated possession.
"Overall I was pleased with the result, though when you have been ahead away from home, it always feels like two points dropped."
Stags made two changes with Rhys Day (ankle) out injured and Adam Murray left out. In came Luke Dimech and Alex John-Baptiste.
John-Baptiste played in central midfield and Dimech in the centre of defence.
Alex Neil surprisingly declared himself fit after injuring a knee at Cheltenham in midweek.
Wycombe gave a debut to on-loan Tony Craig from Millwall.
Tyson almost gave Wanderers a third minute lead. He held the ball up superbly before feeding Craig. Craig then chipped the ball back into the box where Tyson had taken up a central position and flicked a back-header over Pilkington but wide of the post.
Mansfield replied with two corners, without profit, and a Neil free kick into the six yard box which Wycombe laboured to clear.
The home tackles were flying in on the wet surface and Larkin had to leave the field with a head wound while Nethercott was cautioned for chopping down Asamoah.
Stags played on for seven minutes with only 10 men until Larkin returned.
Asamoah reacted angrily to another challenge from the abrasive Craig and the referee had to step in as players jostled each other. Asamoah escaped with a lecture.
Another melee blew up a couple of minutes later after a foul by Curtis.
Stags put together a string of passes down the left which eventually saw Woodman cross and Ipoua power a header wide from 15 yards.
Woodman almost gifted the home side a goal on 35 minutes when he allowed Tyson to rob him and race away on goal. But Pilkington did superbly well to come out and slide in with a tackle on the edge of the box which saw the ball bounce off the striker and bounce out for a goal kick.
Silk then sent in a cross from the right which saw Dimech slip to allow Stone bridge a free header from 12 yards which he sent wide.
Stags threatened as Asamoah put Neil into space on the right. But he shot early and straight at Talia.
A minute later Stonebridge turned neatly on the edge of the penalty box and cheekily tried to chip Pilkington but didn't get enough height on it to trouble the keeper.
Senda also pulled a 30 yard shot wide as the game finally began to catch alight.
Wycombe's first corner on 43 minutes saw an in swinger from Senda which Pilkington had to claw off his line for another flag kick. But the half ended goalless.
Stags made a sensational start to the second half when they swept ahead within 28 seconds of the restart.
Ipoua headed on a throw-in which sent Larkin on his way. He cut in from the left and might have shot from a tight angle. Instead he looked up and calmly squared to Asamoah for a tap-in from six yards.
Asamoah almost netted again within two minutes. Wycombe struggled to clear a Woodman free kick and the ball sat up for Asamoah to get in an acrobatic shot which Talia did well to parry.
Wycombe struggled to clear a Mansfield corner which eventually saw Curtis blaze over first time from 20 yards.
Stags enjoyed a spell of pressure in which they really needed another goal.
Instead they were stung by a Wycombe equaliser on the hour.
Mansfield failed to clear Burnell's free kick and the ball bounced invitingly for Burchill to bury his finish from close range.
Shortly afterwards a grouse landed on the pitch and began racing around the pitch and trying to avoid the action.
Eventuallu the referee halted play while the bird was captured by Talia to huge cheers and taken away to safety.
Stags made a switch up front on 67 minutes with O'Neill on for Ipoua.
The home side broke down the left. But, as Tyson went past Dimech, he fired in a low shot that ended up going across goal and out for a throw-in.
On 75 minutes Larkin set up Asamoah for a low shot from 20 yards that forced Talia to get down and save.
Nethercott should have put Wycombe ahead on 77 as a long corner skidded through to him at the far post where he was just unable to get the ball on target.
Senda's low shot saw Pilkington grab it at the second attempt.
Then Silk was booked for bringing down Asamoah.
Wycombe continued to press and Pilkington did well to race out his box and clear ahead of Tyson with a powerful header.
Corden replaced Neil for the last four minutes.
Chairboys manager Tony Adams said: "Apart from the first 10-15 minutes of the second half I thought that was the best we'd been this season.
"We are showing good energy and good tempo but we're just not getting the results at the moment.
"At the start of the second half I think we thought we'd done enough, we'd arrived and were a good team - but you have got to earn that right.
"Mansfield are no better and no worse than the other sides up near the top - they get the ball in there, it's not attractive but it's something you have got to compete with."
Latest | October 2004