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Archived News from December 2005

30th December 2005 23:39

Mansfield Town and Oxford United were two sides which last term finished in mid-table tedium and similar positions at best will be their lot this term. While the Stags lost their latest away fixture by the only goal of the game at Northampton after a poor display, Oxford beat the Stags' near-neighbours Notts County 3-0 in their latest home clash. But before that, Oxford had lost three home league games in a row and during that period also were kayoed at home in an FA Cup 2nd round replay against Cheltenham, a side they beat away a few days after the dumping-out of the Cup. While the Stags have won two and lost two out of their last four away league games.

And for almost the entire 2003-04 season, the Stags fought with i.e. Oxford United for auto promotion and playoffs places. At the end of that campaign, the clubs experienced mixed fortunes concerning reaching it – and all was decided on May 1. While the Stags finally clinched their playoffs place by stuffing Huddersfield away 3-1, Oxford paid their prize for dreadful away form. Despite scoring all the goals at Macclesfield that day, Oxford lost 2-1 due to TWO own goals and their last chance of reaching the playoffs. Not only the poor away form contributed to Oxford's fate – also a managerial upheaval when it was revealed that Ian Atkins had had talks with Bristol Rovers.

When Mansfield gained their first-ever promotion way back in 1962-63, Oxford United enjoyed their first taste of league soccer. Oxford, who until 1960 were known as Headington United, were elected in place of Accrington Stanley (the old club, not the current one that accounted for two league sides and nearly for a third in last season's FA Cup) which resigned with just two months left of the 1961-62 season in the old fourth. The U's finished their inaugural league campaign in 18th position.

Nevertheless, the clubs won one home game apiece in the 1962-63 season, the Stags 3-2 on December 8, 1962 (Stags goals Morris pen, Askey and Chapman R in front of 7729) and Oxford at their old Manor Ground 3-0 on April 27, 1963.

Away league trips to Oxford have in the past not proved fruitful for the Stags except on two occasions. The first one was early on in the division 3 1976-77 Championship season when the Stags for the first time gained points at all at Oxford by winning 3-0 on September 7, 1976 thanks to goals from Colin Foster, Terry Eccles and Kevin Randall after leading 2-0 at half-time in front of 3822. And the second one was on September 13, 2003, when a late Mackenzie strike secured a 1-1 draw.

The home game in 2003-04 was originally due to be played on March 20, 2004. But it was abandoned at half time, when goal-less, due to strong winds, a very controversial decision. A little more than a fortnight later, the game was replayed with a Stags 3-1 win as a result, a pointer to the end of that season for both sides (Stags goals Mendes, Larkin and Day), all in the first half. This also was the sixth home victory out of previously ten league outings.

Among those is the highest one, achieved in the 1976-77 promotion season.

The home game on February 7, 1977 also ended 3-0 to the Stags in front of 8206 (for many years the Stags played home midweek fixtures on Mondays) – Ernie Moss 2 and one strike from Kevin Bird hit the target – and that was during a period when the Mighty Stags won twelve games out of fourteen between December 18, 1976 and March 8, 1977. In fact, the Stags have scored in ALL previous home league outings against the “U”s – and in all bar three despite losing eight out of ten fixtures at Oxford no matter what ground the “U”s have played on in their league history..

Another memorable victory was the one achieved on February 3, 1968. The Stags enjoyed their best winning run that season – when they stayed up due to the demotion of Peterborough - around the time of that game and a Peter Morris penalty watched by 6111 was enough to clinch the fifth consecutive league win. At that time, Oxford, who three months later were to be division 3 Champions, had failed to win away! They had to wait yet another month, until March 16, 1968, to record their first away win – 1-0 at Grimsby. Must be some kind of record when a club which finishes a FL season as champs has to wait 18 games for the first away win – albeit with nine games being drawn!

Last season, the Stags reserved two of that season's worst league performances for the games against Oxford. Very early that season, the Stags lost 1-0 at Oxford due to a goal from Mooney. In that fixture, each side finished with ten players after red cards. And the home game was easily one of the worst under the reign of Carlton Palmer, and it was lost, too. A late consolation goal, a Colin Larkin penalty wasn't enough as Oxford easily ran out 3-1 winners. But there won't be many Stags players left from the game on March 12, 2005, on New Years' Eve. From the starting line-up then, only four Stags are still around at the club (Day, Jelleyman, Rundle and Barker, also Brown as sub).

The clubs have also met twice in the FA Cup. The first time way back in 1964-65. The season before had Oxford become the first team from the old fourth division to reach the quarter-finals – but in 1964-65 that counted for nothing as the Stags won a 1st round fixture at Manor Ground by the only goal of the game with Hall on target – and the last was in the FA Cup 1st round in 2001-02 when an early Chris Greenacre strike secured a place in the 2nd round. But in fact, Oxford were stuffed in the latter game and the Stags should have won by a higher margin.

The late Gordon Hodgson was transferred from the Stags to Oxford early on in the 1978-79 season but did not play in any of the Stags v Oxford league fixtures that season. But he was in the Oxford side that lost to a first-half Terry Austin strike at Field Mill on September 15, 1979.

... and the teams have yet to play a goal-less league and cup game. But this will be the first time the Stags play a league game on a New Year's Eve since 1994-95, when Barnet was beaten 3-0 at home, this being the last of four straight league victories to a scoreline of 19-5. Also in the 1988-89 season, the Stags won a home league game on New Years' Eve, as the first-ever league fixture between the Stags and Huddersfield was won 1-0. Last time the Stags lost on a New Years' Eve, was during the solitary season in the old Division 2, now called The Championship. The fellow promotees then, Crystal Palace, won a league game at Field Mill on December 31, 1977 to a 3-1 scoreline.

Played for both sides: Keith Cassells, O'Neill Donaldson, Colin Harrington, Arjan van Heusden, Gordon Hodgson, Scott McNiven, Les Robinson, Imre Varadi, Mick Vinter, Neil Whatmore. As Headington United, George Simpson played for both sides.

Played for the Stags, later coach for Oxford: David Coates.

Home: P 10, W 6, D 2, L 2, GF 17, GA 13
Away: P 10, W 1, D 1, L 8, GF 11, GA 21

Season Home Date Away Date

1962-63 3-2 1962-12-08 0-3 1963-04-27 Div 4 (old)
1965-66 1-4 1966-01-01 1-4 1965-10-09 Div 3 (old)
1966-67 1-1 1966-10-08 1-2 1967-02-25 Div 3 (old)
1967-68 1-0 1968-03-02 0-2 1967-09-23 Div 3 (old)
1976-77 3-0 1977-02-07 3-0 1976-09-07 Div 3 (old)
1978-79 1-1 1979-05-14 2-3 1978-09-27 Div 3 (old)
1979-80 1-0 1979-09-15 1-3 1980-02-02 Div 3 (old)
2001-02 2-1 2002-03-09 2-3 2001-12-15 Div 3
2003-04 3-1 2004-04-06 1-1 2003-09-13 Div 3
2004-05 1-3 2005-03-12 0-1 2004-08-10 League Two

FA Cup:

1964-65 1-0 1964-11-14 (at Manor Ground, Oxford)
2001-02 1-0 2001-11-17 (at Field Mill)

Svante Bernhard aka Sweden Stag (pictured, above right)

Details on league and FA Cup games in the 1960's courtesy of the centenary book, player updates courtesy of the history CD


Latest | December 2005