EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
CURLE SEES RED IN REF'S 'OFF-DAY'
BY IAN WILKERSON, Evening Post, 03 March 2003
Mansfield Town 0 V 1 Oldham Athletic
With the number of remaining games ticking down towards single figures, it appears we are at the onset of the conspiracy season.
This effectively entails a series of phone calls to radio discussion programmes that suggest teams at the bottom are the victims of refereeing decisions not going their way.
All too often, it is almost a reflex action of the football fan to blame the man in black whenever things go wrong, but even Oldham manager Iain Dowie admitted that Paul Taylor of Cheshunt had "an off day" at Field Mill on Saturday.
And this is when he is discussing the performance of someone who awarded his team a penalty in the last five minutes to give them the three points.
He was obviously not impressed.
It was unfortunate that a promising game between two sides equally desperate for points was dominated by the official, who booked eight and sent off Stags boss Keith Curle, his central defensive partner Rhys Day and Oldham's David Eyres.
As a closing comment on his performance, refereeing mistakes are frustrating, but all officials make them and they have to be accepted as part of the game. It is more of a worry when an official loses control of the situation and his decisions appear to be governed by which section of the partisan audience manages to shout the loudest.
It was a pretty scrappy affair on the whole, bereft of a killer touch from either side.
Stags often found their shooting was wayward and the visitors were often unable to reach the deeper parts of their opponents' territory as a result of their inability to get to grips with the linesman's flag.
But, as it is so often in such circumstances, it was the side who are battling it out at the top of the table who managed to secure a result and, for the third consecutive game, Stags were left to lick their wounds after conceding a costly late goal.
These are tough things to react to in a positive way because the more frequent the occurrence, the more such a scenario is anticipated and, as a result, it could lead to a feeling that it will not be their year.
But such a situation has yet to be reached and, as has been said all season, the only way to react to setbacks - whether they be the result of individual mistakes, bad luck or debatable decisions - is to get on with the job in hand.
No one who was at the game could suggest Stags do not have battling qualities. They fought for every ball but just couldn't find a way through.
But it is necessary to find that extra bit of verve as quickly as possible and tomorrow's clash with Luton gives them a chance to do just that.
Walking away from Field Mill on Saturday, there seemed a sense among some that the trap door was open just enough to allow the Stags to fall through.
But feeling sorry for themselves is not going to maintain Division Two status in a season that has seen wins over both Chesterfield and Notts County and several players come into the club who can be of real benefit to its future.
Push has come to shove and a united effort is needed to drag the Stags out of the bottom four, with everyone playing their part.
So now cannot be the time for finding excuses and moaning about referees and such like.
Goals and winning matches are what keep a team up and everyone has to have the confidence to believe they are up to the task.
Tomorrow is another day.
GANNON: NO NEED TO PANIC
BY IAN WILKERSON, Evening Post, 03 March 2003
Mansfield Town assistant-manager John Gannon today said there was no need to panic about relegation yet - despite seeing the side slip to a 1-0 defeat at home to high-flying Oldham on Saturday.
Stags are now two points behind fifth-from-bottom Port Vale with 12 games to play, and both player-manager Keith Curle and Rhys Day are facing suspensions, following red cards in the defeat against the Latics. Fitz Hall netted an 86th-minute penalty after Liam Lawrence had fouled Oldham striker Wayne Andrews.
It was the third consecutive game that Stags had conceded a goal in the last few minutes and they will be looking to put that right when they entertain Luton Town tomorrow.
Gannon would not be drawn on the performance of referee Paul Taylor, who also dismissed Oldham's David Eyres, and insisted there was no reason to belief the Stags were doomed to go down.
"Obviously, we are very disappointed. I thought we were the better team for ten versus ten, decisions went against us and we let in another very late goal and it hurts very much.
"In the first half, we were the side who looked to be most promising going forward and we were unlucky on a couple of occasions.
"But we gave it a really good go and we have come out with nothing. "
He said he would not comment on the referee's performance but did say he thought both Stags players were unlucky to be sent off.
Their suspensions will start with the home game against Swindon on March 15, and take in the trips to Huddersfield and Cardiff City.
Curle also picked up his fifth booking of the season in the 2-2 draw at QPR last week and will miss the game against Cheltenham next Saturday. His other four bookings came when he was playing for Barnsley earlier in the season.
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