STAGS BEATEN BUT UNLUCKY
Mansfield Town 0 QPR 4
Stags produced a much improved display against QPR at Field Mill today and were so unlucky to be on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline. Indeed the Stags were clearly the better side in the first half, despite trailing 1-0. But a thumping header from Shittu, who should have been sent off in the first half, put Rangers 2-0 ahead early in the second half. Christie hit the post for the Stags but two late goals gave the game a farcical scoreline.
Mansfield's early-season misery continued as they were hammered 4-0 at home by QPR, who recorded their first away win of the season in emphatic style.
The injury-ravaged Stags, who gave debuts to three loan signings, were in contention until late goals by Kevin Gallen after 85 minutes and Andy Thomson after 89 made the scoreline embarrassing.
Paul Furlong had volleyed the visitors ahead after six minutes but a string of excellent saves by goalkeeper Simon Royce was needed to keep Mansfield out.
Dan Shittu scored the second goal three minutes after the break.
Early goals at the start of each half paved the way for Rangers' first away win of the season - and condemned sorry Mansfield to their fourth successive defeat.
The Stags, who drafted in three new players just before kick-off to alleviate their injury crisis, got off to the worst possible start when they fell behind after just six minutes.
Kevin Gallen raced down the right wing and when Lee Williamson made a mess of clearing his cross Paul Furlong pounced, hooking the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Six minutes later Mansfield should have levelled, but after wriggling clear in the area Liam Lawrence saw his low drive pushed around the post by the diving Simon Royce.
In a spirited fightback the home side twice went close to an equaliser in the 16th minute. First Wayne Corden's dipping cross-shot was tipped over by Royce who then reacted quickly to block Andy White's acrobatic overhead kick from the following corner.
Six minutes before half time White was again thwarted by the keeper's bravery when Royce saved at his feet after a jinking run from Iyseden Christie.
Then three minutes before half time Lawrence's terrific snap-shot was well blocked by the busy keeper.
Rangers continued to look dangerous on the break however and Tommy Williams twice went close from long range before Marc Bircham's 30-yard screamer was turned over by Kevin Pilkington's fingertips.
The keeper repeated his heroics a minute into the second half with an excellent reflex save to keep out Gallen's close-range header.
But the keeper had no chance from the resulting corner when the unmarked Danny Shittu powerfully headed in.
Five minutes from time Gallen wrapped up victory for Rangers, racing on to Steve Palmer's clever pass and rolling his finish through the keeper's legs.
A minute from time Mansfield's misery was complete when substitute Andy Thomson scored with his first touch, turning in Richard Langley's cross from the byline.
Stags suffering goes on
A 4-0 home defeat by Queen's Park Rangers was a bitter pill for Stags to swallow.
This game was in stark contrast to the previous week's 5-0 home hammering by Crewe.
On this occasion, Mansfield were in the hunt throughout with only the brilliance of Rangers keeper Simon Royce between them and a happier result.
Two goals in the last five minutes for the Londoners gave the score a false look, though with the number of chances they did have on the day, Stags must learn the importance of finishing at this level as Rangers showed them how.
With eight players still out injured, Scott Sellars suspended and Bobby Hassell pitched in for his first action of the season despite hardly having trained, there was much trepidation on the terraces.
Manager Stuart Watkiss, who refused to face the press at the end of the game, brought in three new faces with debuts at left back for Peter Clark and the centre of defence for Damien Delaney, who shaded man of the match for Stags.
Lee Glover came on as a 68th minute substitute for his debut but could not turn their fortunes around.
Paul Furlong had volleyed Rangers ahead on six minutes.
But the rest of a thrilling half belonged largely to Mansfield with Royce in the way of White's over head effort, two shots from Lawrence and a Wayne Corden curler.
He was also down bravely at the feet of Iyseden Christie and White.
Kevin Pilkington did pull off a good save with his legs to stop Furlong snatching a second in first half stoppage time.
And he saved well from Kevin Gallen just after the break.
But, from that corner, Stags again let themselves down from a set piece as Danny Shittu buried a close range free header.
Mansfield knuckled down and continued to chip away and looked to have got their reward when Christie fired past Royce on 75 minutes only to see the ball come back off the post.
Gallen made it 3-0 on 85 minutes when he tucked the ball between Pilkington's legs from Steve Palmer's through ball and Andy Thomson scored a fourth in his first act as substitute, turning home Richard Langley's cross.
Stags have now conceded 22 gols in seven games and failed to score for 364 minutes. Things can only get better.
Latest | September 2002