MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
Despite dominating for long periods of the game, The Stags travelled back from promotion hunting Macclesfield Town last weekend with nothing to show for their efforts.
The 3-1 scoreline did indeed flatter the home side, who looked anything but promotion favourites, but a short spell of poor defending and a lack of a killer touch in front of goal, cost The Stags dearly.
The game could not have got off to a more worse start for The Stags as on 5 minutes, Alex John-Baptiste was adjudged to have fouled Matthew Tipton and from the resulting free kick, The Silkmen's top goalscorer, Jon Parkin ended a barren spell of six games without a goal to strike home a daisy cutter that eluded Jason White in the Mansfield goal.
Worse news was to follow for The Stags when on 10 minutes, left back, Gareth Jelleyman was forced to leave the field injured following a nasty challenge, Scott McNiven coming on as replacement.
To their credit, The Stags never let their heads fall and proceeded to dominate the game. The home side, who had fallen away from the automatic promotion race recent weeks by only winning one in their last seven looked decidedly nervous and hurried their clearances either out of play or to the feet of a visiting Stag. What Mansfield lacked was the killer touch in front of goal.
Lady luck also seemed to have a grimace on her face instead of a smile as far as The Stags were concerned when after receiving the ball just inside the Silkmen half, Stags midfielder, Giles Coke strode forward unchallenged and unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards. The shot was heading for the bottom right hand corner until Steve Wilson in the Macclesfield goal, got his hands to the ball and pushed it onto the woodwork.
The 2nd half started as the first had ended with Mansfield in the ascendancy but lacking any threatening final penetration, that was until the 56th minute when Callum Lloyd set off on a run towards goal and hit an attempt that looked for all an easy save for Wilson, however the keeper misjudged the ball and fumbled leaving Lloyd to celebrate his 2nd career goal.
Just four minutes later and against the run of play, the home side struck. Parkin raced onto a long ball, cut inside and clipped a perfect cross onto the head of his striking partner, Matthew Tipton, who then glanced the ball into the top left hand corner of Jason White's goal.
The home side were now playing the kind of football that had taken them towards the top of the table.
Four minutes after going 2-1 up, Macclesfield went even further ahead and again it was a case of disappointing defending from Mansfield. A corner was floated over where centre half; Dave Morley rose above the Stags defence to loop a header into the back of the net. From looking like the only side that was going to win the game, The Stags were now facing defeat.
The game was effectively over as a contest. Stags tried in vain to regain a foothold in the game, but the home side never looked in serious danger.
This weekend The Stags face Boston United in their final home game of the season. Boston come into the game fresh from a 3-0 home victory over Kidderminster Harriers, a result that almost certainly means Conference football for Stuart Watkiss' side. The Pilgrims sit in 14th place, level on points with Mansfield. Stags boss, Carlton Palmer will be hoping his side can end their home fixtures for the season with a deserved three points.
'WE TRIED TO BE CLEVER'
Evening Post, 25 April 2005
Stags boss Carlton Palmer could not believe his eyes as his excellent young side again failed to make the most of their dominance.
"I understand we have young, inexperienced players out there," he said.
"But I am disappointed that, after Bristol Rovers, Yeovil Town and Darlington, it's yet another game we have dominated and not won.
"We let them back in it by trying to be too clever.
"After scoring a goal we should consolidate for five minutes or so instead of going all gung-ho. We shot ourselves in the foot again from set pieces.
"We helped our own downfall by giving away silly free-kicks.
"After going behind we were by far the better team.
"Our keeper did not have another shot to save in the first half.
"The stats show we were the better team.
"But goals dictate games and we let them score two headers, the second a free one.
"For all our good play, if you don't defend re-starts you are going to get punished. Obviously there were a lot of positives.
"Giles Coke was outstanding in midfield while Simon Brown had his best game for a while.
"In fact, after being beaten, it was hard to look around that dressing room and tell anyone they had played badly, as they hadn't.
"But we let them score from two set-pieces and our own corners and free-kicks were poor.
"And again we created a load of chances but were not been able to put them away.
"That is a problem I will be addressing in the summer when it will be my job to find us a goalscorer."
YOUNG STAGS LET SILKMEN SLIP
Evening Post, 25 April 2005
Macclesfield Town 3 v 1 Mansfield Town
Better that the Mansfield youngsters let their inexperience show now.
For the second successive away match, a lapse of concentration cost them dear as they lost to the high-flying Silkmen.
But better it happens now than next season, when they could well be mounting a challenge of their own.
With another quality striker to help Richie Barker up front, manager Carlton Palmer knows his side is not a million miles away from something really exciting.
The game certainly highlighted one of Palmer's controversial decisions.
Former Field Mill favourite Neil MacKenzie, released by the boss, started for the Silkmen.
But he could only watch for much of the time as 18-year-old Giles Coke dictated play for Mansfield and, apart from one effort he dragged wide at the near post, his main contribution to the statistics was a yellow card just before the final whistle.
As at Yeovil Town two weeks before, Stags were well in the contest for an hour.
Indeed, at Moss Rose, they looked by far the better side against a jittery outfit whose automatic promotion hopes had been stung by failing to win in six games.
But, as at Yeovil, Stags' seemingly solid defence coughed up two quickfire goals.
With Macclesfield riding so high all season, and having already beaten Mansfield in league and LDV Vans Trophy action, you would have expected Stags to be under the cosh.
They made life hard for themselves when they conceded a soft sixth-minute free-kick that produced a soft goal.
Alex John-Baptiste was penalised for climbing just outside the box. And young keeper Jason White could only watch on horrified as Jon Parkin struck a low free kick through the Mansfield wall and into the area of the goal they were supposed to be protecting.
But instead of letting that blow signal an afternoon of struggle, Stags showed the other side of their youthful game in the Cheshire sunshine.
Despite losing Gareth Jelleymen to injury inside the first ten minutes, they went on to dominate for long periods and did not allow the home side another real shot at goal in the first half.
A neutral would have been hard pushed to know which was the side with something to play for still this season.
Mansfield beavered away, pinning Macclesfield back in their own half with boundless energy.
Coke pulled the strings, Simon Brown and Adam Rundle terrorised the home defence down the flanks, and it seemed only a matter of time before Mansfield levelled.
They had Macclesfield chasing shadows and quietened the home crowd.
But it only served to underline the fact that Palmer is desperately in need of new firepower.
Barker, applauded on his return to his former club, battled manfully as lone striker.
But chances went begging with Coke striking a post and also forcing a save out of Steve Wilson while Rundle saw his blast parried by the keeper.
Brown also forced Wilson into a save on the restart.
But as they pushed forward, Mansfield looked increasingly vulnerable on the break and giant Silkmen striker Parkin almost punished them but found White in his way at the near post.
However, the wait was over on 56 minutes when Callum Lloyd grabbed his second Stags goal, launching a low 20 yard shot that Wilson somehow managed to dive over instead of getting his body behind it. It was little more than Stags deserved and Fraser McLachlan, who had spurned one first half chance, almost added to it when he finished wide from Alex Neil's far-post cross.
But it all turned sour on the hour as Stags were caught on a counter-attack and Parkin's cross picked out Matthew Tipton whose headed finish was deadly.
Within four minutes, a soft third goal ended the contest. From Mark Boyd's right-wing corner, Dave Morley was allowed a free header and he made no mistake with a powerful finish just under the bar.
Soon after White had to save from Kevin McIntyre as the home side found their feet and the home fans their voices at long last.
So Macclesfield kept alive their automatic promotion hopes and made it a triple success over the Stags this season.
Stags let it slip against SilkmenMANSFIELD Town let a deserved point slip away at promotion-chasing Macclesfield Town when they allowed the Silkmen to grab two goals in four second half minutes this afternoon.
Having fallen behind to a soft Jon Parkin free kick after only six minutes, Stags were by far the better team against a nervy home side that hadn't won for six previous games which had seen their automatic promotion chances fade.
And it was no surprise when Callum Lloyd eventually levelled for the visitors on 56 minutes.
But two defensive lapses proved costly as the home side stole victory.
Mansfield were unchanged from the side that drew with Darlington last week with Tom Curtis back on the bench after an ankle operation.
Former Stags midfielder Neil MacKenzie lined-up against his old club for the first time.
And there were big applause from the home fans for former Moss Rose favourite Richie Barker.
Mansfield made a disastrous start as they fell behind out of the blue in the sixth minute.
John-Baptiste had given away a free kick for climbing about eight yards outside the box.
And Parkin watched as his low free kick passed easily through the Mansfield wall and inside the left post with White rooted.
There was a further blow for Stags on 10 minutes as Jelleyman limped off to be replaced by McNiven.
Barker helped on a McNiven throw-in on 12 minutes and McLachlan got on the end of it but couldn't keep his finish down as it rose over the crossbar.
Coke almost conjured an equaliser at the end of a superb run from inside his own half on 18 minutes. He was allowed to continue and get in a low shot which beat the dive of Wilson.
But it hit the keeper's right hand post and Brown's follow-up was blocked.
Coke tested Wilson again from 25 yards in the 25th minute but it proved s comfortable save.
Stags began to dominate possession as the home side seemed content to rest on their lead and soak up the pressure.
Harsley was booked for time wasting as half-time approached with the home fans growing restless with their side's efforts. And Whittaker joined him soon after for fouling Brown.
Wilson got in the way of a powerful 20-yard drive from Rundle on 42 minutes. He couldn't hold onto it but managed to reach the loose ball before Brown could capitalise.
But Stags, for all their dominance, found themselves behind at the break.
Macclesfield made an interval change as Bailey was replaced by Carragher.
Brown tested Wilson with a powerful shot three minutes into the second half which the keeper saved. And within seconds at the other end White had to prevent Parkin netting from a difficult angle with a near post save.
Hesitant defending at the other end again gave Brown sight of goal. But he delayed his shot long enough to allow McIntyre to get in a block.
The long-awaited equaliser finally arrived on 56 minutes and youngster Lloyd doubled his tally for the club.
Allowed to run he let fly with a skidding low shot that beat the dive of Wilson to find the net.
It was little more than they deserved against a home side struggling to make any impression.
MacKenzie had a brief chance at the other end, turning Neil inside out but firing wide.
But the home side suddenly produced a sucker punch on the hour.
Day lost the ball in the centre circle and Stags were suddenly outnumbered. The ball went down the left with Parkin who flighted over a teasing cross that Tipton guided home just under the angle with a perfect header.
It was 3-1 four minutes later as Morley met Boyd's corner with a bullet header that flew under the crossbar and the Stags were reeling.
White managed to half-block a powerful McIntyre blast and was able to grab the loose ball before anyone could pounce on it.
Both sides made changes with Dimech on for McLachlan for Stags and Miles on for Whitaker for the Silkmen.
MacKenzie was booked for a foul three minutes from the end.
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