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Archived News from February 2003

25th February 2003 20:14

Emotional rollercoaster at Loftus Road
Stags boss Keith Curle went through the whole gamut of emotions as Stags pulled off a magnificent 2-2 draw at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
Trailing 1-0, Iyseden Christie levelled before teenage substitute Andy Jones lasted just nine minutes on his debut as he was dismissed for two bookable offences.
Undeterred, Christie added a second and keeper Keith Welch pulled off a penalty save as Stags headed towards a famous victory.
But Kevin Gallen pounced in stoppage time to salvage a point for Rangers and break Stags' hearts.
“I went through every emotion from delight and total exhilaration to confusion and disbelief,” said Curle.
“I thought we could hold out so it was totally frustrating to concede so late again. Perhaps we should ask referees to just play 89 minutes for us!
“But, overall I was more than pleased with the performance and the result. It was definitely a point gained.
“Some people said we were unlucky. But, to me, I thought we had done very well.The lads did everything I asked of them and were totally professional with total commitment.
“They showed great enthusiasm and great energy - all the attributes I want to see at this football club.
“I also want to say thank you to the supporters. It was a magnificent following and much appreciated by the players. I must apologise that not all the players went across to thank them at the end but some literally could have got that far!
“I think the supporters were as proud as I was of the team. We will make mistakes and have a few disappointing results. But there is no way a team I put out will not give that sort of effort and commitment.
“Having lost points so late agin I did give them the biggest rollicking I had ever given them after the game, though I think it was probably the frustration of Cokchester coming out more than anything.
“But I was then able to pat them on the back as they had generally done magnificently and that is sometimes a good time to be able to have a go at people when they know they have done well.
Perhaps the biggest surpise of the day was the appearance of 17-year-old youth team midfielder Adam Jones on the bench. And he certainly had a day to remember as he came on and went off within nine minutes.
“These things happen and they all happened for him in that short space of time,” said Curle.
“But I told him after the game I guarantee he will get another chance. It is all part of his education, though he was absolutely gutted.
“I have watched him in match action and in training and saw something I liked which I thought I could use at Loftus Road. We were getting over-run down the left so I brought Wayne Corden off and put Adam on.
“There was no malice in the tackle that got him sent off. He is fearless and sees a tackle and likes to get involved. He is also a fast learner. Adam thought he was only going along to make the teas. He didn't know he would be on the bench though we had decided that on Friday.
Iyseden Christie's day certainly got better as it went along on Saturday.
Late for his rendevous with the team coach, he was given a club fine.
But shortly after he was given the captain's armband for the first time and responded with two goals in his first full game since 28th January against Wigan to take his season's tally to 18.
“It was a gamble to give Iyseden the armband but, knowing the type of character he is I thought he would respond well to the challenge which he did,” said Curle.
“He scored twice though Junior Mendes also deserves a mention as he was absolutely superb and ran them ragged.”

Welch signs, but Eaton talks go on
Goalkeeper Keith Welch has signed for the rest of the season after Stags fought off an approach from relegation rivals Huddersfield Town.
But talks are continuing over personal terms with defender Adam Eaton, pictured right, after a fee was agreed with parent club Preston North End to make his loan move permanent.
And Mansfield boss Keith Curle confirmed the Stags Supporters Association had agreed to help fund part of the undisclosed transfer fee, their contribution reported to be £5,000.
“We took Keith Welch on a match to match basis to cover for Kevin Pilkington,” said Curle.
“But he rang me Tuesday to say he had been approached by Huddersfield who were offering him a contract until the end of the season. I asked him for the opportunity to sit down and have a chat and made an offer to him.
“To his credit he agreed to stay with us for less money than Huddersfield were offering which shows his commitment to us. He likes it here. Having been a senior player myself he knows that I know how to treat senior players.”
On Eaton, he added: “Adam is keen to stay here to further his career. I told him he needs to step down a division to get first team football like I did when I was a teenager. We just need to sort out his financial package.
“I am grateful to the SSA for helping out on the fee and showing again their support and commitment to the cause. Money is tight at the moment after paying off so many players' contracts recently, though that will save us in the long term.
“If there is any way I can improve this team I won't be afraid to ask for money if someone can help us.”
Striker Danny Bacon's proposed loan move to non league Nuneaton Borough has broken down.
Borough asked to take the out-of-favour forward on loan on Friday, but later pulled out of the deal after securing the services of two other players. Bacon and boss Curle had been happy for the loan to take place.

Time to halt Latics Run
Mansfield Town have ending Oldham Athletic's remarkable unbeaten away record in their sights this Saturday as they look to settle a score when the Latics visit Field Mill (3pm).

Stags fans have not forgotten that 6-1 thrashing at Boundary Park earlier this season.

And Stags go into this one - the first of three crucial games - on the back of that sensational and unexpected 2-2 draw at Queens Park Rangers last Saturday.

Mansfield have two home games in four days in which to gain vital points - Luton Town are the visitors on Tuesday (7.45pm) - before travelling to bottom club Cheltenham Town on Saturday week.

“These three games provide a great opportunity for us,” said player-manager Keith Curle.
“Oldham come here unbeaten away still so this would be a good time for that record to go.
“People look at two successive home games and the trip to Cheltenham and talk about their importance. The truth is every game is very important now.
“Oldham can play a range of solid formations and don't give much away. They win a lot of games by the odd goal.”

With no new injuries, Stags will be boosted by the return of Andy White, Liam Lawrence and Tom Curtis from injury and Ben Doane, focused again after missing last weekend for his grandmother's funeral.

A very inexperienced Mansfield Town youth team battled hard before going down 3-0 to an older Wigan Athletic in the first Merit League game at Clipstone Welfare last weekend.

Stags could include a couple of new trialists in this afternoon's home Avon Insurance League clash with Hartlepool United at Field Mill (Wednesday, 2pm).

No new date has yet been arranged for last week's postponed reserve clash with Boston United.

An interview with Scott Sellars is among the highlights of Issue 51 of Stags fanzine Follow the Yellow Brick Road which will be on sale in and around Field Mill this Saturday from 1.30pm onwards.

Late Gallen goal stuns brave 10-men Stags
QPR 2 Mansfield Town 2

A LAST minute defensive mix-up cost Mansfield the three points at Loftus Road on Saturday in an eventful game which saw 17-year-old debutant Andy Jones sent off after only nine minutes on the pitch.

The young midfielder entered the fray shortly after Stags equalised in a first half of QPR dominance – but was quickly sent back to the dressing room after picking up two yellow cards.

However, the 10-men battled bravely in the second half and were on the verge of a fabulous victory until a mix-up between Keith Welch and Matthew Gadsby allowed Kevin Gallen to lob into an empty net.

Without suspended trio Liam Lawrence, Andy White and Tom Curtis, along with Ben Doane after a family bereavement, Stags were frequently carved apart in the first half and it was no surprise when Paul Furlong put the home side in front on 20 minutes.

After missing a couple of earlier chances, the former Chelsea striker linked up well with Gallen to fire a low left foot shot into the corner.

Furlong, who was a constant threat to the Stags defence, was the first of a clutch of players who made the referee's book after a rash challenge on Welch, who made a number of fine saves throughout the game.

An unlikely equaliser stunned Rangers on 26 minutes after a teasing Wayne Corden cross from the left found Junior Mendes who headed onto the crossbar.

But the ball rebounded to an unmarked Iyseden Christie who kept his composure to nod the ball home.

That was to be Cordon's last contribution as Mansfield brought on Jones to shore up the midfield – but the youngster was booked within a minute after a foul on Gino Padula.

Jones was lucky not to be booked again on 32 minutes when he handballed and gave away a free-kick – but another foul on Richard Langley brought his second yellow card and made sure his debut was a brief affair.

Langley and Stags' Craig Disley also picked up yellow cards for their part in the melee which followed Jones's sending off.

But Stags quickly recovered from the shock - pushed the dependable Bobby Hassell into midfield – and held on until half time.

And within five minutes of the restart, Keith Curle's men found themselves in front when a Disley pass found Christie, who beat the offside trap and slotted the ball under Rangers keeper Nick Culkin.

The goal sent the large Stags contingent wild, which seemed to revitalise Mansfield who found an extra gear.

Rangers were awarded a controversial penalty on 50 minutes for what seemed to be a fairly innocuous challenge by Gadsby on Furlong.

Player-boss Curle was booked for protesting, but justice was done when Welch saved brilliantly – diving low to his right to keep out Gallen's effort.

Stags could have had a penalty of their own two minutes later when Christie went down near the bye-line but the referee signalled for a goal kick.

Rangers' Padula was booked on 66 minutes for a foul on Mendes, who was causing havoc for the QPR defence with his pace and non-stop effort.

The game evened out in the final 20 minutes which saw chances for both sides. Rhys Day had a header cleared off the line and Christie failed to force the ball home in a goal-mouth scramble.

But as the game went into injury time, all Stags' hard work was undone when Gadsby flicked the ball away from the oncoming Welch on the edge of the box – which fell kindly to Gallen who coolly finished from 18 yards.

The home side - 4-0 winners at Field Mill earlier in the season - then searched for what would have been a cruel winner, but Mansfield held on for a well-deserved point.

Match details

MANSFIELD TOWN: Welch, Hassell, Gadsby, Williamson, Disley, Corden (Jones 26mins), Eaton, Mendes (Mitchell 80mins), Day, Christie, Curle. Subs not used: J. White, Clarke, Beardsley.
Q.P.R.: Culkin, Forbes, Padula (Murphy 68mins), Palmer, Shittu (Carlisle 80mins), Bircham, Langley, Gallen, Bean (Oli 67mins), Griffiths, Furlong. Subs not used: Day, Angell.
REFEREE: Paul Robinson of Hull.
SCORERS:QPR - Furlong 20mins, Gallen 90mins. Stags - Christie 26mins, 49mins.
IN THE BOOK: QPR - Furlong 29mins (foul on Welch), Langley 34mins (dissent), Padula 66mins (foul on Mendes). Stags - Jones 26mins (foul on Padula), Disley 34mins (dissent), Curle 50mins (dissent).
RED CARD: Stags - Jones 34mins (second bookable offence, foul on Langley).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Iyseden Christie.


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