STAGS PICK UP CRUCIAL WIN AGAINST RUSHDEN
Rushden & Diamonds 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
Dempster 57. Brown 19, Coke 50.
Attendance: 2477 (362 from Mansfield)
Martin Shaw at Nene Park
Mansfield picked up their first ever win against Rushden & Diamonds this afternoon to secure a vital 3 points against one of League Two's other strugglers. The win propelled the Stags 5 points outside the relegation zone and with a game in hand. The Stags were on top and were comfortable with a 2-0 lead following goals from Brown and a cracker from Coke, but Rushden's goal after 57 minutes led a nervy last half an hour, as the Stags clung on despite some aerial pressure from the home team.
Stagsnet player ratings now in the Match Centre.
Man of the match: Jake Buxton
Rushden & Diamonds 1-2 Mansfield
Giles Coke hit the vital second goal for Mansfield as they proved too strong for Rushden & Diamonds in a battle of League Two strugglers.
The Stags crept in front in the 19th minute when Simon Brown headed home a teasing cross from Jake Buxton.
Mansfield increased their lead in the 50th minute as Coke beat two defenders before coolly slotting home.
Rushden pulled one back with John Dempster's powerful header in the 57th minute but failed to find a second.
By Chris Barritt
Rushden & Diamonds 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
Diamonds suffered a third consecutive defeat in a week as two defensive errors handed Mansfield a crucial victory at Nene Park.
Simon Brown headed Mansfield in front before Giles Coke extended the lead with a super strike. John Dempster gave Diamonds hope but it wasn't to be.
Diamonds boss Barry Hunter promised all out attack from the start as his side tried to get back to winning ways following two successive defeats. Diamonds made two changes from the side that lost 4 - 0 at home to Carlisle United in midweek.
Fit again Rob Gier replaced flu victim Peter Hawkins at right back while Jamie Young came into goal for John Ruddy after his recall by Everton.
Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff made two changes from the team that went down 4 - 1 at Wrexham in midweek. Stephen Dawson and Adam Birchall were relegated to the bench giving way to Adam Rundle and Simon Brown.
Within the first minute Diamonds put together their first attack when Alun Armstrong hooked Andy Burgess' cross over the bar. Gus Uhlenbeek then tried his luck from 25 yards for the visitors but the shot curled just wide of Young's left hand post.
A well worked Diamonds move on 9 minutes ended with David Bell's cross coming back to Gary Mills but the midfielder's first time effort was blocked by Chris O'Grady who was tracking back from an offside position.
Two minutes later Alex Baptiste almost conceded a own goal when he tried to intercept O'Grady's shot but fortunately for him the ball went just over the bar. Mills then tried his luck from 30 yards before showing his frustration when his effort went high over the bar.
But on 18 minutes Mansfield took the lead with a simple goal that Diamonds defence would be disappointed to concede. Jake Buxton was given room down the right and when the cross came in Simon Brown was left totally unmarked to head home from 12 yards.
Rundle hit a first time shot which Young saved at the second attempt before the visitors missed a glorious chance to extend their lead on 33 minutes. Uhlenbeek found space down the right and looked up before sending an inch perfect cross to the unmarked Jonathan D'Laryea. However, the midfielder took his eye off the ball with the goal at his mercy and it ran to Rundle who blasted over the bar from an acute angle.
With Diamonds losing the midfield battle, they made a tactical change on 39 minutes bringing on fit again Marcus Kelly for Mills before reverting back to a 4 - 4 -2 formation. On the stroke of half - time, the visitors were forced into making a change of their own when Brown appeared to break down and had to be replaced by Allan Russell.
Diamonds went into half - time knowing that they not only had to improve in midfield but also needed to create far more chances.
Half - Time Rushden & Diamonds 0 - 1 Mansfield Town
Poor defending again almost cost Diamonds another goal on 47 minutes when Russell out muscled John Dempster in the penalty area and Rundle missed the target with a clear header.
That miss did not prove to be crucial when Mansfield went 2 up on 50 minutes. D'Laryea slipped the ball forward to Giles Coke on the edge of the penalty area and he cleverly turned Gier before tucking the ball past Young into the right hand side of the net for a fine opportunist goal.
Diamonds reverted to 3 - 5 - 2 to try and get back into the game and they almost immediately threw themselves a lifeline when they reduced the arrears on 56 minutes. Bell's right wing corner picked out John Dempster who headed through a crowd of players for his third goal of the season.
Diamonds immediately made a double substitution throwing on Drewe Broughton and young Lee Tomlin.
From then on the action came fast and furious with both sides going all out for goals. Buxton flashed a header wide from Rundle's corner while Bell almost capitalised on Tomlin's excellent turn but Kevin Pressman saved well at his near post.
On 76 minutes David Savage set up Tomlin in the penalty area and his shot was superbly stopped by Pressman before Kelly smashed the rebound over the bar.
Five minutes later Russell, looking suspiciously offside, ran clear of the Diamonds defence before finding Barker in the middle but Young bravely saved at the feet of Mansfield's leading scorer.
But time ran out for the home side and they now face a real battle if they are not to get embroiled in another relegation battle.
Rushden & Diamonds: - Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Gary Mills (Marcus Kelly 38), Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), David Bell, Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty, Chris O'Grady (Drewe Broughton 57), Alun Armstrong (Lee Tomlin 57)
Subs Not Used: Ashlee Jones, Magnus Okuonghae,
Mansfield Town: - Kevin Pressman, Gareth Jelleyman, Rhys Day, Alex Baptiste, Gus Uhlenbeek (Stephen Dawson 79), Richard Barker (c), Jake Buxton, Giles Coke, Adam Rundle, Simon Brown (Allan Russell 44), Jonathan D'Laryea
Subs Not Used: Jason White, Gavin Peers, Adam Birchall,
Booked: Mills 30 (Foul) Bell 63 (Unsporting Behaviour)
Referee: Mr K Wright
Attendance: 2,477 (362)
Diamonds Man of the Match: Lee Tomlin
Crucial win for Stags in relegation dogfight
MANSFIELD Town pulled off one of their most important victories of the season so far as they won 2-1 at fellow strugglers Rushden and Diamonds this afternoon.
If Stags had any ambitions of getting out of this relegation dogfight sooner than later then they knew they had to do the business at Nene Park today against a Diamonds side without a win in five games and the lowest goalscorers in the division.
Rushden were also a side that Stags had never beaten since their promotion to the Football League, though Mansfield have been unlucky against them on more than one occasion.
Simon Brown got the big breakthrough with his 19th minute header before his afternoon turned sour as he limped off, presumably with a recurrence of his hamstring injury.
Then Giles Coke's brilliant individual goal on 50 minutes looked to have paved the way for a comfortable second half for Mansfield.
Instead Stags allowed John Dempster to pull one back within seven minutes which gave the Diamonds a huge lift and they spent much of the rest of the game putting Stags under the cosh.
In the end, however, the visitors stood firm with some dogged defending and thoroughly deserved their second away League victory of the campaign.
Rundle and Brown were restored to the Stags starting line-up as Shirtliff went back to his preferred 4-4-2 formation after the 4-1 setback at Wrexham on Tuesday.
Dawson, struggling since Tuesday with a shoulder injury, and Birchall both had to be content with a place on the bench.
Veteran Diamonds striker Armstrong showed his quality in the very first minute as he sent an ambitious backheeled volley over the bar.
Uhlenbeek then had Mansfield's first goal attempt only to see Young make the save and then the referee refuse to give the corner.
The visitors defended stoutly in the face of some early home pressure before grabbing a 19th minute lead.
Buxton got forward to cross from the right and picked out the head of Brown who, from six yards, buried a header for his 10th goal of the season.
Keeper Young then had to get behind a low Rundle shot while D'Laryea was desperately close to getting on the end of a low Uhlenbeek cross right in front of goal. The ball eventually reached Rundle at the far post but he was well over with his finish.
Stags lost goal hero Brown in the final minute of the first half. Only just having shaken off a hamstring strain, the striker pulled up and looked to the bench and he was replaced by on-loan Russell.
Stags almost went further ahead early in the second half as Rundle headed just wide from Russell's cross to the far post.
However, it was 2-0 on 50 minutes with a goal of high quality by young midfielder Coke.
He had three Rushden players around him as he received and controlled a very frim pass from D'Laryea. But he turned them all one way and then the other before slipping between them and beating Young all ends up with a cool finish.
But his celebrations with the away fans behind the goal earned him a yellow card.
Unfortunately Stags offered Rushden a lifeline within seven minutes as Dempster was allowed to head home a Bell corner, thanks to sloppy defending.
Rushden then raised the stakes by taking off strikers Armstrong and O'Grady and sent on fresh legs up front in the guise of Tomlin and Broughton.
But it was Mansfield who came close again as Buxton headed powerfully over from a Rundle corner.
Pressman did have a save to make, however, after Bell tried to beat him at his near post with a low shot.
Then Broughton headed over, via a deflection, from yet another Diamonds corner as the visitors clung on.
Great challenges from Coke and John-Baptiste helped preserve the lead while Kelly was well over from an inviting loose ball after Pressman could only get a hand to Tomlin's firm cross from the right.
Stags sent on Dawson in place of Uhlenbeek for the last 10 minutes.
And the visitors almost netted a clinching third on 82 as Russell found himself in the clear down the right. He spotted Barker racing in and crossed low. But his attempt to finish was smothered by a combination of Young and Gier and Barker wasn't even given the corner.
Pressman was again in action to get behind Broughton's low 18 yard shot as Rushden resumed their bombardment.
Diamonds really piled on the pressure in the three minutes of time added on. But the visitors' defence were solid as a rock with John-Baptiste making several superb clearances.
The celebrations as the players went to the supporters behind the goal at the end said it all on such an important afternoon.
League Paper Match Report:
By Chris Barritt
transcribed by carole
Coke's fizzer of a goal:
A FINE opportunist goal from Giles Coke gave Mansfield three crucial points against their fellow strugglers.
Mansfield boss Peter Shirtliff said: “It was a worth match winner. I thought Giles had lost the ball but, having regained it, he took his goal very well.”
The Stags midfielder had received the ball on the edge of the penalty area when he cleverly turned Rob Gier before tucking the ball past Jamie Young into the corner.
That piece of skill brightened an otherwise poor game.
In the first half, Diamonds failed to test veteran Kevin Pressman while Mansfield had the one chance which they took. Diamond's manager Barry Hunter must be tearing his hair out at recent defensive mishaps, particularly at home.
Jake Buxton was given far too much room down the right and, when the cross came in, Rushden's defence left Simon Brown totally unmarked to head home from 12 yards.
While the first half was totally forgettable, Diamond's woke up only after they were thrown a lifeline. David Bell's corner picked out defender John Dempster who headed through a crowd of players for his third goal of the season.
They threw on 16-year-old striker Lee Tomlin and the youngster almost changed the game. First, his excellent turn set up bell, but Pressman saved well at the near post. Moments later, he ran onto David Savage's fine pass but Pressman again denied the youngster.
Shirtliff said: “I was pleased with the character and style of our victory, but particularly with the resilience shown in the second half. We need to keep it up, though we're bound to expect blips like the one at Wrexham on Tuesday.”
Hunter didn't mince his words after his side's third defeat in a week. “We conceded two silly goals and I've told my defenders they must stick with the basics and deal with what they've got to deal with,” he said. “A lot of things were said afterwards which will remain in the dressing room.”
11……….Shots on Target………….3
6………..Shots off Target…………7
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
COKE GEM SINKS DIAMONDS
Rushden & Diamonds 1 Mansfield Town 2
Dempster 57 Brown 19, Coke 50
Attendance – 2,477 (362 From Mansfield).
A header from Simon Brown and a class finish from Giles Coke proved enough, despite a goal by Dempster to give Stags a vital away win against Rushden & Diamonds last weekend.
It was Mansfield's first success against a Rushden side and a critical victory, which now puts Peter Shirtliff's side five points clear of the Coca Cola League 2's relegation places.
The first chance of the game fell to the experienced feet of Rushden striker, Alun Armstrong but his audacious back heel flew over The Stags crossbar. Stags responded quickly when Uhlenbeek let fly only to see his effort saved by the keeper.
O'Grady was next to threaten for the home side on 11 minutes. His shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and looked to be heading for the top corner, but Alex John-Baptiste stepped in to head the ball out for a corner kick.
On 19 minutes, Stags took the lead. Fine link up play between Man of the match, Jake Buxton and returning striker, Simon Brown saw Buxton head to the bye-line and send in a perfect cross for the unmarked Brown, who from 6 yards neatly placed his header into the net.
Stags almost added a second moments later but Rundle's fine effort was saved at the second attempt by Jamie Young in the Diamonds goal.
On 33 minutes fine play by Uhlenbeek saw The Stags midfielder cross the ball into the box, unfortunately it was just in front of D'Laryea and Rundle from an acute angle fired well over.
Stags were forced to make a change right on half time when Simon Brown was forced to leave the field injured, replaced by Russell.
The 2nd half saw Stags again go close to adding a second, but Rundle headed just wide from Russell's far post cross.
On 50 minutes Stags did score their second and it was a goal of pure quality. Giles Coke received the ball just out side the area, he then turned three defenders inside and out before looking up and coolly slotting the ball into the far corner of the net, giving Young no chance whatsoever. He was though, booked for over exuberant celebrations, a little harsh on the young midfielder who will not score many better goals in his career.
What seemed like being an easy Stags victory was diminished seven minutes later when John Dempster scored for the home side when he reacted the quicker to a David Bell corner to head the ball home.
The home side tried to shake things up by replacing O'Grady and Armstrong with Drewe Broughton and Lee Tomlin but it was Mansfield who were next to threaten when Buxton headed just over from a Rundle corner.
Rushden were desperate to get back into the game, Bell bringing a save out of Pressman and Broughton heading over when he might have done better.
Stags though were defending well as a unit and could have added a third when Russell broke down the right hand side and crossed low for the prowling Barker, good defending though denied the Stags front man his 15th goal of the season.
Broughton was the last to try for a Rushden equaliser but his 20-yard effort was saved by Pressman.
The final whistle blew and The Stags players celebrated with the supporters at the end of what was a vital victory and three points.
This weekend The Stags entertain Peterborough United at Field Mill (3pm) with a further chance of moving up the Coca Cola League 2 table.
Rushden & Diamonds.
Young, Gullier, Mills (Kelly 39), Gier, Savage, Bell, Burgess, Dempster, McCafferty, O'Grady (Broughton 58), Armstrong (Tomlin 58).
Subs not used; Jones, Okuonghae.
Pressman, Jelleyman, Day, Baptiste, Uhlenbeek (Dawson 80), Barker, Buxton, Coke, Rundle, Brown (Russell 44), D'Laryea.
Subs not used; White, Peers, Birchall.
Referee – Mr K Wright (Cambridgeshire).
Observer Man of the match – Jake Buxton.
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