DAY THE VILLAIN & THE HERO, AS STAGS RESCUE POINT
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Darlington
Day 90+2. Day missed pen 1. Wijnhard 66
Attendance: 3569 (559 from Darlington)
StagsWorld commentary of Stags equaliser:
Match stats (Stags/Darlo)
10 Goal Attempts 8
6 On Target 5
4 Off Target 3
0 Hit Woodwork 0
2 Offsides 8
5 Corners 8
11 Fouls 13
report by Footymad
Mansfield defender Rhys Day went from villain to hero to put a huge dent in Darlington's play-offs hopes.
Day, who had seen his first minute penalty save, headed in an Adam Rundle cross two minutes into injury time to deny Darlington a vital victory.
Veteran striker Clyde Wijnhard looked to have clinched the stuttering Quakers second win in five games in the 66th minute but never say die Mansfield had the final say. The Stags had given a full league debut to 21-year-old keeper Jason White after four years on the bench.
But it was White's opposite number Sam Russell who was first into the action when he saved Day's early penalty after just 25 seconds. Neil Wainwright fouled Rundle but Day's weak spot kick was comfortably saved by the diving keeper.
Ironically seven days earlier Day had converted his first ever Mansfield penalty a few minutes after team-mate Richie Barker missed his penalty in the 5-2 defeat against league leaders Yeovil.
White finally touched the ball in the ninth minute holding on to a couple of dangerous Wainwright crosses before Joseph Kendrick fired over from 20 yards at a well worked free-kick.
Midway through the first half Alun Armstrong deflected another dangerous Wainwright cross narrowly over as Darlington gained the upper hand then white made his first crucial save, clinging on to Steven Thomas' close-range drive.
In the final five minutes of the half, Simon Brown and Rundle had goal-bound shots blocked as Mansfield fought back.
Six minutes into the second half, Rundle was again denied this time by Russell's acrobatic stop.
But in the 66th minute Darlington, who always looked threatening on the break grabbed the lead.
Debutant Matthew Bates picked out Wainwright with a fine curling pass and the winger raced clear before crossing for the unmarked Wijnhard to tap in.
Four minutes later Russell also gifted Mansfield with an equaliser but the keeper redeemed himself for a poor clearance to tip away Barker's fierce closer-range shot.
14 minutes from time debutant White kicked away Wijnhard's poweful 10 yard finish and that fine save proved vital when Day struck two minutes into injury time.
Day is Stags' last gasp hero
AFTER missing an early penalty, Rhys Day ended up the hero with a stoppage time equaliser to earn Stags a deserved 1-1 draw against promotion-chasing Darlington.
But 21-year-old keeper Jason White - making his full League debut at long last in place of the injured Kevin Pilkington - earned man of the match with a commanding display.
The Quakers, with only one win in four previous matches, looked to have got their promotion push back on track with Clyde Wijnhard's 66th minute striker.
They had also had a goal disallowed in first half stoppage time.
But Stags never-say-die attitude earned them a deserved share of the spoils.
"I thought we deserved to win the game. We were the better side throughout, " said Stags boss Carlton Palmer.
"I was disappointed with the goal we conceded - we got done from a straight, long ball. But we missed a penalty and created chances - more then them - and showed great spirit.
"Performances equal results and last week we were done by a refereeing decision. So this week I told them they had to keep that belief.
"We are a good young side and got our just rewards in the end from a set piece. I am working them very hard right now and next season we aim to be the fittest side in the league.
"I was pleased with Jason White's debut. He did everything he had to do, made one great save and did well with crosses."
With regular keeper Kevin Pilkington ruled out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder Stags gave a full League debut to White two and a half years after he made his only other League appearance as a substitute.
Alex Neil had also recovered from a knee injury and replaced Scott McNiven, who dropped to the bench.
Darlington, licking their wounds after defeat by bottom side Cambridge United last week, were boosted by Curtis Fleming overcoming a knee injury and gave a belated debut to on-loan Middlesbrough central defender Matthew Bates.
Stags squandered the chance of a dream start when, after only 25 seconds, Wainwright brought down Rundle to gift Stags a penalty.
Barker had missed one at Yeovil last week while Day had scored one so Day stepped up again.
By now we were in the second minute as his poor kick to the keeper's right saw Russell get across to save to the cheers of the relieved Darlington fans behind the North Stand goal.
Lloyd almost slipped Brown through but he was penalised for fouling the defender.
Darlington won a couple of successive corners and on nine minutes White confidently made his first catch from a right wing cross.
Day headed away a third corner but on 13 minutes he was penalised for a foul on Wijnhard, who went down very easily, some 20 yards from goal.
Darlington produced a neat free kick routine which saw Appleby shape to shoot but the ball was knocked left to Kendrick for a powerful shot that flew inches over White's crossbar.
Neil went on a good run which took him to the edge of the box where Lloyd took over with a scooped finish well over the bar.
Stags won a free kick just outside the box which Barker eventually rifled powerfully wide.
Another free kick saw Neil feed Rundle down the left and his cross found Barker who got under his header and the ball sailed over.
Seconds later Wainwright's low cross from the right found Armstrong at the near post and his met it was a powerful first time strike that flew just over the angle.
Mansfield were temporarily down to 10 men when John-Baptiste got a bang in the face and had to go off with a nosebleed. Barker filled in at centre half while the young skipper was cleaned up and had his shirt changed.
White had his first save to make just before John-Baptiste's return as Wijnhard helped the ball on into the path of Thomas who flashed a shot at goal that White was firmly behind.
The visitors conceded a string of free kicks and the referee's patience ran out when Wainwright hacked down Rundle in full flight and the first yellow card was shown.
White confidently caught Darlington's fourth corner on 40 minutes.
A good burst from Brown down the right saw him cut inside but have his final shot blocked as did Rundle seconds later on the turn after good work from Lloyd.
The visitors finally found the net in stoppage time as Wainwright tucked away Wijnhard's inviting pass, but an offside flag was already up to save Mansfield.
Stags' first corner of the afternoon came three minutes into the second half and was headed out for another straight away.
Thomas was booked on 51 minutes for hacking down Rundle. Neil took the free kick short to Rundle whose first shot was blocked and his follow-up blast was superbly saved by Russell.
More Stags pressure saw McLachlan finally head wide at the far post from a Neil cross.
And there was a let-off for White when Wijnhard blocked his kick but the ball went straight back to the young keeper.
Close replaced Appleby on 59 minutes in the first change of the afternoon.
Tempers flared when Close kicked the ball at Brown on the ground after the youngster had been brought down. Neil became involved as well and, amazingly Brown was lectured as well as Close.
White athletically gathered the visitor's first corner of the second half, their sixth of the game.
But the visitors swept ahead on 66 minutes. A superb ball down the right from Bates set Wainwright free. And he made ground before looking up and playing a low inch-perfect cross past White to leave Wijnhard with a simple close range tap-in.
Two minutes later Russell almost gifted Stags an equaliser as he mis-hit a kick straight to Barker. The Stags striker ran in from an angle and forced a good save at the near post.
Palmer sent on Buxton for Lloyd with Neil pushed into midfield and Buxton at right back. Darlington responded by replacing Petta with St'Juste.
John-Baptiste was out-muscled by Wijnhard in the visitors' next raid. But the big Dutchman sliced a shot well wide.
On 76 minutes he came close again, his low shot blocked by the keeper's feet and his follow-up drilled well wide.
Heron joined the Mansfield attack on 77 minutes, Neil making way for him. Darlington did the same two minutes later as Sodje came on for Armstrong.
A Barker flick-on found Rundle whose tame header was straight towards Russell.
Close brought another save out of White with a 25 yard blast before Buxton was fouled for bringing down St'Juste.
Dimech came on for Coke near the end before White again did well, diving bravely at the feet of St'Juste as he ran at goal.
Stags refused to give up and forced three corners in the four minutes of stoppage time. And from the last of those, in the penultimate minute, they gained their reward.
Rundle hit the flag kick and Day's powerful far post header beat the defender on the line to find the net.
Darlington Official Site:
A cruel late goal denies Quakers a deserved three points at Field Mill.
Darlington's second time at Field Mill so far this season after their LDV adventure was ended back on the same pitch earlier in the season and this time vital points were at stake. Quakers' defeat at Cambridge United last weekend was a blow to the visitors play-off hopes and only by virtue of slip ups from others around them had they retained their seventh place spot in the table. A similar result at Field Mill would perhaps not be so forgiving. Manager Dave Hodgson was forced to reshuffle his pack due to the suspension of Matthew Clarke and bought in Joe Kendrick and Ryan Valentine as he looked to a flat four at the back in a hope of a better defensive performance. In came on loan Matthew Bates and Neil Wainwright made his first appearance since coming from the bench at Grimsby Town as Quakers looked to their wide men to provide ammo for Wijnhard and the returning Armstrong. The main news surrounding Mansfield in the run up to the game was the injury to Kevin Pilkington which meant a start for young Jason White. The rookie shot stopper was making his first appearance since 2002 when he was in between the sticks for the Stag's two nil defeat against Cheltenham.
In side of half a minute Darlington could have gone behind when referee Trevor Parkes, who had not endured himself to Quakers' fans when he officiated the game against Scunthorpe earlier in the season, awarded a spot kick to Mansfield after former Darlington player Rundle appeared to slip in the area. Rhys Day stepped up and Sammy Russell produced a good stop to deny the Stags player, the decision being incredibly harsh on Quakers in the first place. Darlington replied as an Armstrong shot deflected behind for a corner which the visitors quickly turned into their second. Any early jitters youngster White might have were perhaps settled as he made two early claims from crosses. On ten minutes Alun Armstrong played a good defense splitting ball to Wijnhard however Mansfield's Alex Neil managed to do enough to put the Dutchman off. Four minutes later Stephen Thomas' ball from the left channel was headed for Wijnhard who was tripped and Quakers had a free kick within striking range. A neat routine saw Joe Kendrick lash just wide of the angle. A free kick from a similar range on twenty two minutes for the hosts provided Mansfield with their first real opportunity since the spot kick to have a strike on goal which Ritchard Barker crashed wide of Sam Russell's left post. Three minutes later Quakers came within inches of taking the lead. Wijnhard played a good ball out to the right for Wainwright to stride down the flank and deliver a dangerous low ball into the near post which Armstrong sent just over the bar. Just after the half hour mark Matthew Bates played a good ball forward to Wijnhard who flicked out to Thomas for a clear run on goal but under pressure he could only power straight at White. A minute shy of half time Simon Brown got the better of Kendrick and the Mansfield number twelve cut inside only to see Fleming deflect his near post shot away from danger. Just after the board for injury time had gone down at the end of the first period Quakers hit the net, Wijnhard again providing the flick as he played in Wainwright who slotted home. The linesman, Mr Keane, running the line, had other ideas and raised his flag.
The opening forty five minutes had been positive for Quakers with plenty of good flicks in the final third leading to chances but shots had been rather few on the ground. Stephen Thomas became the second player to go in the book for a foul on Rundle down the left flank five minutes into the second half. The free kick led to Rundle himself seeing a shot blocked and then produced a reflex follow up with his left foot after taking the initial shot with his right. Sam Russell had to produce a good block on the line to deny the former Darlington player who had been given a frosty reception after his 'slip' in the first half. On the hour Alun Armstrong almost managed to sneak through onto a Sam Russell kick but White claimed after racing off his line. Twenty minutes into the second half Matthew Bate's accurate balls forward paid dividends as his ball forward found Wainwright in full flow whose first touch was immaculate and his ball even better as it found Wijnhard at the far post who tapped home for the lead. Darlington were given a let off a few moments later when Sam Russell's normally sound kicking let him down and he gifted a shot to Barker. The Darlington keeper redeemed himself with a fine stop but in doing so appeared to roll over the line - admittedly with a helping hand from a Stags player. The linesman intervened and Quakers were off the hook. With fifteen minutes remaining Darlington could have extended their lead if Wijnhard had more support however as he beat Baptise to the ball his only was to shoot and it went wide of the angle. A couple of minutes later Wijnhard had a better opening as Joe Kendrick's ball from the left found Armstrong who wriggled free of his man, perhaps rather fortunately, and the ball found Wijnhard untended out to the right of the box. Young White produced a good low block and the Dutchman's follow up screwed horribly wide. With around twelve minutes left Akpo Sodje replaced Armstrong and his first flick on led to Wainwright being fouled for a free kick down the right. The pair combined with eight minutes left as Wainwright turned his man down the right and set up Sodje however he was beaten to the ball as he set himself to shoot. With moments left till injury time at the end of the ninety Clyde Wijnhard played in Sodje who raced through with his fresh legs only to see White come out and collect at his feet with Sodje taking a knock in the process and having to go off as the final four minutes which were deemed needed by the fourth official were displayed. Deep into injury time the game was turned on its head as Rundle won a corner kick and Mansfield found their equaliser despite Close being on the line.
A cruel twist at the end of the game leaves Quakers with just a point when it should have been all three. Whilst Mansfield enjoyed more of the possession stakes throughout the game until the closing stages Quakers' dangerous balls forward and flick ons always looked the most likely to open a defense up. The superb Matthew Bates did more than his fair share of defending and his balls forward were at times exquisite. Darlington did well to pick themselves up after the early penalty however were perhaps guilty of not getting enough shots in on a rookie keeper who seemed to cope well albeit one who was not tested perhaps enough. The opening should have led to more as Sodje should have made sure late on. In the late stages of the game with Darlington threatening for a second Mansfield looked dead and buried but Darlington never seem to do things the easy way as they failed to cope with a routine corner kick. A massively improved performance and one that should have led to three points but heart wrenchingly for the away fans and the players did not.
Mansfield: White, Neil (Heron 76), Barker, Baptise, Jelleyman, Brown, Day, Lloyd (Buxton 69), McLachlan, Rundle, Coke (Dimech 85). Subs: Buxton, Heron, Lonsdale, McNiven, Dimech.
Darlington: Russell, Valentine, Kendrick, Bates, Fleming, Wainwright, Thomas, Appleby (Close 58), Petta (St Juste 70), Wijnhard, Armstrong (Sodje 78). Subs: Price, Close, Sodje, St Juste, Convery.
Mansfield bookings: Buxton
Darlington bookings: Wainwright, Thomas
Goals: Wijnhard 65th min (1-0), Day 90th min (1-1)
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