IMPRESSIVE STAGS WIN AT KIDDIE
Kidderminster Harriers 1 - 3 Mansfield Town
Rawle 40. Keates missed pen 41
Barker 47, 84, Brown 50
Attendance: 3237 (345 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at Aggborough
Mansfield put in a very fine performance at resurgent Kidderminster this afternoon to come from a goal behind and claim a comfortable 3-1 win. The Stags had the better of the opening 40 minutes but a mistake by Baptiste allowed Mark Rawle to put the Harriers in front. Within a minute Pilkington clatter former Stags Beardsley in the box for a clear penalty. Pilkington was controversially not sent off and Keates missed from the spot. Within 54 minutes of the start of the second half two fine goals from Barker and Brown put the Stags in front amd Barker added a third near the end to earn a deserved victory. However the Stags could reflect that decision not to send off Pilkington and the missed penalty was a rare piece of good luck, in stark contrast to the previous away game at Bristol Rovers.
Stagsnet player ratings and report in the Match Centre
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
The Stags made it four points from the Easter period when two 2nd half goals from Richie Barker and a first Stags goal for Simon Brown helped Mansfield to a 3-1 victory away at Coca Cola League 2 strugglers, Kidderminster Harriers.
Carlton Palmer's men who began the busy holiday period with a 0-0 draw at home to Chester City on Good Friday, edged away from former Manager, Stuart Watkiss' Harriers side in an action packed 2nd half after going into the half time break, one goal down.
Manager, Palmer made just one change from the 16 that had once again disappointed the Field Mill faithful by struggling to break down lowly opposition in Chester City, Daniel Heron making it onto the bench in place of Luke Dimech.
The home side boosted by a fine 2-0 away win at play off challengers, Darlington and one win away from getting out of the dreaded bottom two relegation places began by creating the fist chance of the game in the opening minute but John McGrath shot well wide.
On eight minutes, former Harriers player, Simon Brown found space behind the home defence but they recovered enough to clear the danger.
Stags came close on 12 minutes when Coke fed Neil on the right hand side. Neil's ball into the box was met by Richie Barker but his effort went wide of the goalkeeper's left hand post, however it would not have counted as Barker was in an offside position.
On 23 minutes, The Stags created the best chance of the game, ironically it stemmed from a free kick awarded to Harriers after a foul by Alex John-Baptiste. The free kick was taken but was well punched clear by Pilkington straight to the feet of Adam Rundle who then played a perfect ball over the top of the Kidderminster defence to the feet of Brown. The speedy Stags midfielder raced towards the home goal, but shot straight at Harriers keeper, John Danby.
Brown again went close for Mansfield, but his flicked header dropped wide of the mark with Danby unworried.
As the game reached the half hour mark, Harriers, desperate to get a foothold in the match cleared the ball long towards former Stags centre forward, Chris Beardsley who was in a one on one race with Jake Buxton. The Stags centre half did well to head the ball back to Pilkington despite claims from the home crowd for a foul.
The breakthrough came on 40 minutes and was more Mansfield's own doing rather than creative skill from the home side. Baptiste cleared poorly; Tom Bennett picked up the ball and played a perfect pass into the feet of the unmarked Mark Rawle who advanced into the right hand side of the Stags area before unleashing an unstoppable drive into Kevin Pilkington's top left hand corner.
There was more calamitous defending from The Stags just a minute later when Pilkington collided with Beardsley in the area giving Referee, Lee Probert little option but to award Harriers a spot kick. Fortunately the Referee only saw fit to show Pilkington a yellow card, when many could have given him an early bath. Dean Keates put the ball on the spot but tamely hit his kick wide of Pilkington's left hand post despite the Stags custodian diving the opposite way.
Stags Manager, Carlton Palmer made two changes at the start of the 2nd half, Adam Barrowman and Rhys Day coming on for Callum Lloyd and Alex Neil and Stags reverting to a 4-4-2 formation.
Stags though almost conceded right at the start when attempting to through the ball out, Pilkington inadvertently through the ball behind himself and Beardsley reacted but The Stags defence recovered in time to avert the danger.
The change though worked wonders for Mansfield who just two minutes into the re-start scored a great equaliser. Brown played a perfect ball for the forward running Richie Barker who strode away from his marker to confidently fire the ball home into the keeper's left hand side of the net. It was Richie Barkers eight goal of the season.
On 50 minutes, The Stags were in dreamland. Barker and Brown linked up well again. The big Stags striker finding Brown who rounded the Harriers keeper and gleefully slammed the ball home to give Mansfield a 2-1 lead. Brown's joy at finally scoring his first ever Stags goal was a little spoiled by the Referee, who duly booked Brown for over celebrating with the 345 ecstatic away following.
Just two minutes later and Stags could have had a third. Again Barker and Brown linked up well, Brown crossing for Barrowman who lifted his effort over the keeper, only to see his attempt cleared from the line. The resulting clearance fell to the feet of Brown but from a tight angle, he hammered his shot into the side netting.
On 57 minutes, Watkiss introduced Iyseden Christie into the action to try and gain the Harriers a foothold in the game. Two minutes later and Christie almost did just that, but both his attempts were blocked.
Kidderminster were trying in vain to get on level terms and following more good work by Christie, McGrath found himself free in the Stags area but shot straight at Pilkington.
With 70 minutes on the clock McGrath shot from outside the area, but his powerful effort flew just wide of Pilkington's left hand post.
On 75 minutes, Harriers were denied an equaliser when Beardsley was adjudged to have handled in the build up before Christie put the ball away from close range.
The game was effectively won however on 84 minutes when Barker scored his 2nd and Mansfield's third of the game. A corner by Adam Rundle sailed over to the far post where Barker made no mistake to head the ball into the net.
Stags almost made it four on 89 minutes. Richie Barker crossed the ball into the area where Barrowman flicked a header towards goal but Danby saved it.
This was Mansfield's first ever win in Kidderminster, a result that pushed Stags up to eleventh in coca Cola League 2, but one which see's Stuart Watkiss' side still deep in danger of the dreaded drop.
This weekend Mansfield take on a fading Grimsby Town side. The Mariners beat The Stags 2-0 earlier on in the season but have failed to produce a play off challenge. With just three more home games to go before the end of the season, Carlton Palmer will be eager to see his Mansfield side put on a good display for the Field Mill crowd.
BARKER IS RISING STAR
Evening Post, 29 March 2005
The former Rotherham United man, one of Palmer's first signings, has scored nine goals in his 22 appearances since joining at the end of November.
He has bagged four in his last three games and been one of Mansfield's best players since Palmer took charge.
Barker is the sort of player who will score if he gets the right service and proved again yesterday that he is reliable in a one-on-one situation.
Now Palmer just needs to find someone who can play alongside him - and he could already have the man for the job at his disposal in Colin Larkin.
Barker is Palmer's only fit first-team striker, with on-loan Andrew Barrowman returning to Birmingham City a week early after his substitute appearance at Kidderminster, and Larkin still troubled by a dead leg.
But scoring is not a problem, away from home at least.
That's seven goals in two away games now. Stags are playing better on the road than they are at Field Mill.
That could have something to do with tension at home. With so many youngsters in the side, Stags appear to be playing with a lot more freedom and creativity on the road.
If the anti-Palmer brigade could just accept that the former England man is at the helm and get behind the young players at Field Mill, they might see what travelling fans have enjoyed.
The young guns were in good form again. Simon Brown bagged his first Stags goal during his best performance for Stags, Giles Coke looked good and showed signs that he could have a big impact next season, and Adam Rundle pinged two superb long-range passes to Brown which could both have resulted in goals.
Among the young players on the bench were striker Danny Herron and reserve keeper Jason White, who was poised for his first appearance of the season when Kevin Pilkington clattered into former Stag Chris Beardsley late in the first half.
Even Pilkington admitted he should have seen red not yellow.
But for once, Stags got some luck and, after a poor end to the first half in which they should have conceded a second goal, they cruised to victory after the break.
The first half was poor as a spectacle. Mansfield's defence did well to weather some early pressure from Kidderminster and, although there were some nice touches from the young Stags in the first period, the end product was lacking.
Rundle's stunning long-range diagonal pass should have led to an opening goal for the visitors in the 19th minute.
It landed perfectly for Brown, who timed his run well to get behind the defence, but his effort was blocked by John Danby.
It was a similar story on 31 minutes as Rundle's pass set up Brown again, only for the speedy winger to squander the chance.
With a play-off place all but out of reach, the run-in has taken on the feel of an early pre-season campaign as Palmer takes a good look at players.
And late in the first period, the game really did look like a pre-season friendly as both sides lacked the cutting edge needed for a League Two clash.
On a sunny day, the friendly feel continued as most of the players took a water break on the side of the pitch while Beardsley was receiving treatment.
Then, suddenly, the game burst into life.
Alex John-Baptiste's attempted pass was intercepted and Mark Rawle capitalised to give Harriers a 41st-minute advantage.
A minute later and what should have been a 2-0 advantage against ten men at half-time was a single goal lead against 11.
Pilkington was lucky to be on the pitch when Dean Keates struck his spot-kick, and he was a lucky man again when Keates sent his effort wide of Pilkington's left upright.
Alex Neil was substituted at the break with mild concussion and Callum Lloyd was withdrawn in a tactical move, with Rhys Day and Barrowman slotting in as Palmer switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2.
The switch worked against a poor Kidderminster outfit. But it was a strange day for Pilkington. He made some good saves but almost gifted Kidderminster their second goal two minutes after the break when he threw the ball straight to Beardsley.
The Stags never looked back after Barker equalised with a breakaway strike a minute later.
Brown's pass set him up and Barker, under pressure, slotted low inside the near post for a well taken leveller.
It was 2-1 on 51 minutes. Barker set up Brown who went round Danby before slotting into an empty net.
Simon Weaver's clearance prevented Stags grabbing a third two minutes later, after Brown crossed and Barker chipped the keeper.
Ex-Stags boss Stuart Watkiss introduced former Field Mill striker Iyesden Christie, but the main impression he made on travelling supporters was to have them questioning if he had eaten too many Easter eggs.
On 84 minutes, it was fittingly left to Barker to make it game, set and match.
Man of the match: Richie Barker.
Match stats (Harriers/Stags) from Press Ass.
10 Goal Attempts 8
6 On Target 4
4 Off Target 4
0 Hit Woodwork 0
4 Offsides 8
6 Corners 5
17 Fouls 9
Kidderminster 1-3 Mansfield
Mansfield dented Kidderminster's hopes of beating the drop as they fought back in the second half to seal victory.
Mark Rawle put Harriers ahead but Dean Keates failed to make it 2-0, missing a penalty after Stags keeper Kevin Pilkington fouled Chris Beardsley.
Mansfield equalised when Simon Brown fed Richie Barker after 48 minutes and the roles were reversed minutes later when Brown rounded the keeper to score.
Barker headed home Adam Rundle's corner five minutes from time to seal the win.
Kidderminster Harriers are still in serious relegation trouble after a nightmare second-half display enabled Mansfield Town to end a run of six matches without a win.
Harriers were leading 1-0 at the interval, but allowed The Stags to hit back in dramatic style with two goals from Richie Barker and one from Simon Brown.
It ended disappointed Kidderminster's impressive sequence of six games without defeat.
The game burst into life shortly before half time when Harriers went ahead and then missed a penalty.
They broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when Tom Bennett intercepted a stray pass from Alex Baptiste and laid the ball perfectly into the path of striker Mark Rawle who powered an angled 15-yard drive past helpless keeper Kevin Pilkington.
Pilkington was then the centre of attention a minute later when he brought down Chris Beardsley just inside the box.
Referee Lee Probert immediately pointed to the spot and after Pilkington was shown the yellow card midfielder Dean Keates hit the penalty kick harmlessly wide.
It proved a costly miss for Kidderminister who earlier in the first half had survived a couple of scares.
On nine minutes Adam Rundle was muscled off the ball by Mark Jackson while racing towards goal and then ten minutes later Brown was thwarted by an excellent save by young keeper John Danby.
Brown, who had a spell on loan at Aggborough earlier in the season, also went close on the turn on the strike of half time.
Disaster struck for Kidderminster, however, when Mansfield blasted two goals in three minutes just after the break.
The first, in the 48th minute, was the result of a poor pass by Wayne Hatswell which gave Brown the chance to knock the ball through to Barker who coolly beat Danby.
The Stags then made it 2-1 when Brown beat the offside trap to finish off a chance created by Barker.
Mansfield substitute Andrew Barrowman had an effort knocked off the line by Simon Weaver before Barker killed Kidderminster off in the 85th minute by heading in a corner from Rundle.
Kidderminster Harriers 1 Stags 3ONCE again Mansfield Town turned it on away from home as they came from behind to win 3-1 at relegation-threatened Kidderminster Harriers this afternoon.
It was misery for former Stags manager Stuart Watkiss who knew that victory over his former club might lift Harriers out of the relegation spots after six games unbeaten.
Instead it was Mansfield who enjoyed their first win in seven games with two goals in three minutes early in the second half by Richie Barker and Simon Brown, Barker then adding his second near the end.
But Stags did ride their luck in the first half when, just after going behind, Kevin Pilkington conceded a penalty by bringing down former Stags team mate Chris Beardsley which should have seen him red-carded. Even substitute keeper Jaon White was preparing to get stripped.
Instead, referee Lee Probert - who upset Stags fans with his poor handling of their game at Swansea last season - on this occasion decided to only book Pilkington.
Harriers were furious and then could only watch in horror as Dean Keates sent the spot kick wide as well to rub salt in their wounds.
Stags boss Carlton Palmer, whose side have now won three and drawn two of their last five away matches and netted seven goals in the last two, was happy with the second half fight back.
"We were 1-0 down at half-time even though I thought we were the better side without playing particularly well," he said.
"Simon Brown should have scored a couple of goals.
"But we have been working them hard in training and, with playing Friday, there were understandably some tired legs out there.
"I said at half-time I thought Kidderminster were poor and if we upped the tempo we could win.
"Them missing the penalty was a break for us though I would still have fancied us to get something out the game. And by the letter of the law Kevin Pilkington should have been sent-off.
"Our youngsters showed some heavy legs out there but also showed character and didn't cave in.
"Jake Buxton and Adam Rundle were battling on with injuries while Alex Neil came off with concussion and was sick.
"So the lads will now have a deserved couple of days off.
"I wished Stuart Watkiss all the best. He is a genuinely nice guy who I have spoken to a lot before and since I got the Mansfield job.
"He has taken on a very difficult job there and is working wonders."
Stags were unchanged from the side that drew with Chester on Friday, although young striker Danny Herron replaced Luke Dimech on the bench.
Harriers almost made a stunning start as former Stag Beardsley flicked on Weaver's cross in the first minute and McGrath drilled a low finish across the goal which ended up as a throw-in.
Stags defended a corner but the early exchanges were generally scrappy with both keepers largely spectators.
However, Mansfield should have taken the lead on 19 minutes thanks to a superbly weighted ball over the home defence by Rundle from just inside his own home.
Brown had timed his run well and was away on goal. But keeper Danby stood up well to him and was able to get in the way of his finish.
Brown flicked a header just wide from a free kick soon after.
But the poor standard continued under the bright sunshine and both sides looked pleased to be able to get to the benches and enjoy a drink while Keates was receiving treatment for an injury.
However, Kidderminster finally woke up the stadium with a goal on 41 minutes. John-Baptiste's loose pass was intercepted by Bennett who fed Rawley on the left of the box. And he unleashed a fierce finish that found Mansfield's top right hand corner of the net.
The excitement continued within a minute as Kidderminster won a penalty. Beardsley was brought down in the box by Pilkington.
The keeper escaped with a yellow card and, even though he went the wrong way for the spot kick, Pilkington was a relieved man to see Keates pull the ball wide of the target.
Brown had another chance to get Stags off the mark in first half stoppage time as Barker flick on McNiven's long throw and Brown's low first time shot went just wide.
Before the whistle Stags carved out another chance as Brown mage good progress down the right before finding Lloyd blazed a shot wide.
Palmer made a coule change at the break and went 4-4-2.
Day came on for Neil with Buxton switching to right back.
And striker Barrowman came on to help Barker up front with Lloyd sacrificed from the midfield.
Pilkington caused chaos in the 47th minute when he made a hash of his throw and let the ball loose in the box. But Cozic eventually headed straight at Pilkington from Beardsley's cross.
From that let-off Stags suddenly roared in front with two goals inside three minutes, although before that there were warnings for Beardsley, McNiven and Pilkington after a confrontation in the Stags box.
However, Brown's through ball on 48 minutes sent Barker clear and he showed all his class and experienced with a cool finish to level.
Barker then repaid Brown with a through ball on 51 minutes. And with Harriers looking for an offside flag, Brown calmly rounded Danby before slotting into the empty net - his first goal for the club.
Amazingly it could have been 3-1 two minutes later. Brown again beat the offside trap and knocked the ball across where Barrowman just managed to lift it over Danby only to see Weaver clear off the line.
Beardsley was finally booked for his persistent infringements. Then former Stags star Christie - wearing bright metallic blue boots - replaced Rawle on 57 minutes and within two minutes had a shot charged down by John-Baptiste.
Then Pilkington made a smart save to deny McGrath who had been left in space on the far side of the box.
Russell replaced Cozic for the last 20 minutes and, two minutes later, McGrath was inches wide from 18 yards with a low shot that looked to have Pilkington beaten.
Kidderminster had the ball in the Mansfield net again on 76 minutes. But Beardsley had clearly used his hand as he jumped up with Pilkington before Christie rammed the ball home from close range and Stags could breath again.
Barker's second goal four minutes from time finally sealed the points.
Brown won a corner on the right which Rundle crossed to the far post and Barker steered a downward header into the net from six yards.
Barrowman was offside as he tried to go clear onto a big kick from Pilkington. The striker still found the net after the whistle which earned him a booking.
Barker did well to get in a cross under pressure and Barrowman's glancing header forced a save. Harriers broke straight up field and Buxton had to get a block on Christie's finish as the afternoon ended in heartbreak for Watkiss.
"We have had a great run of late and, hand on heart, I though it was impossible to keep on performing at the level we have been," said Watkiss.
"I half-expected something like this to happen.
"All credit to Mansfield though. They stepped up a gear after the break and deserved their win.
"They out battled us and did to us what we've been doing to other teams of late. Other results were not disastrous to us, though, and we have to make sure this was just a one-off.
"There have been a lot of changes since I was at Mansfield but I knew some of the players like Jake Buxton, Alex John-Baptiste and Callum Lloyd and it was nice to see them again. They are super lads and I wish them nothing but success.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't feel bitter after my sacking at Mansfield. It was a difficult time for me and quite humbling.
"But I wish them well and it is ironic that I still have my flat in Kirkby yet when I was at Mansfield I lived in Wolverhampton.
"The Stags fans were great to me this afternoon and I was very grateful for their reception. I just wish their team had been as generous with their sentiments and allowed us the three points!
"But we were beaten by the better team with a little help from the officials. Even Kevin Pilkington admitted to me that he should have been sent off. Everyone in the ground thought that apart from one man!"
Kidderminster Harriers Official Site:
A MISSED penalty from Dean Keates and a first half lead thrown away was enough to end Harriers' unbeaten run of six games with a defeat to Mansfield at Aggborough.
Harriers made two changes to the side that beat Darlington at the weekend with Stuart Watkiss resting Blair Sturrock in favour of Mark Rawle, and Tom Bennett replacing the suspended Lee Jenkins.
Harriers almost got off to a dream start when an intelligent headed pass from Chris Beardsley found John McGrath in space inside the penalty area. However the Irishman fired his volley across the goalmouth and away to safety.
The visitors had a fantastic opportunity to take the lead when former Harriers man Simon Brown raced clear of the Harriers back line. Faced with just John Danby to beat, he fired a low drive which Danby did well to beat away.
However the deadlock was broken on 41 minutes when Harriers took the lead against the run of play. A neat interception by Tom Bennett allowed him to feed RAWLE into space, and the striker made no mistake with a clinical left footed drive.
Seconds later Harriers had the opportunity to go further ahead when they were awarded a penalty. Beardsley, playing against his former club, latched onto a bouncing ball inside the penalty before being clattered to the floor by Mansfield keeper Kevin Pilkington with the goal at his mercy. Match referee Lee Probert made no hesitation in pointing at the spot but then amazingly only showed a yellow card to the Mansfield shot-stopper.
Keates then stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way but rolled the ball the wrong side of the post.
Half-time: Harriers 1 - 0 Mansfield
Harriers had a great opportunity to add to the score line almost immediately after the re-start when an error by Pilkington allowed Beardsley to win possession inside the Mansfield penalty area. However Beardsley couldn't capitalise and the chance went begging.
However Mansfield pulled level on 48 minutes. Racing clear of Harriers' defence, Richie BARKER took the ball on and fired the ball past Danby despite the best intentions of the back-tracking Wayne Hatswell.
Three minutes later Mansfield added a second. In a similar move that led to Mansfield's first goal BROWN, looking suspiciously offside, raced towards goal before rifling a low drive past Danby at the near post. This was Brown's first goal for Mansfield.
Harriers threw on Iyseden Christie and Simon Russell as they looked to drag themselves back into the game. McGrath was unlucky with an effort that was blocked en-route to goal, whilst the same man saw his volley later fly inches wide of the target minutes later.
Harriers thought they had reduced the deficit with 15 minutes remaining when Christie stabbed the ball over the line from close range. However the referee pulled play back for an alleged foul by Beardsley on Pilkington.
Harriers' hopes of a comeback were crushed with just five minutes when Mansfield added a third. A right wing corner from Adam Rundle found BARKER inside the penalty area and he headed the ball into the back of the net.
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing afternoon as Watkiss battle-weary troops trudged disconsolately from the field. Despite the defeat, Harriers remain only two points behind Rushden and Diamonds and six behind Shrewsbury Town. With six games remaining, it's all still veryt much to play for.
Full-time: Harriers 1 - 3 Mansfield
Kidderminster: Danby, Weaver, Mullins, Jackson, Hatswell (Birch 83), Cozic (Russell 70), Bennett, Keates, McGrath, Beardsley, Rawle (Christie 57).
Subs Not Used: Lewis, Jones.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Neil (Day 45), Buxton, Baptiste, McNiven, Brown, Coke, McLachlan, Lloyd (Barrowman 45), Rundle, Barker.
Subs Not Used: White, McIntosh, Herron.
Att: 3,237 (345 away fans)
Referee: Lee Probert (Gloucestershire).
Latest | March 2005