STAGS BEATEN BY EARNSHAW GOAL
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Cardiff 1 Mansfield 0
Attendance: 13,009 (147 from Mansfield)
Report from http://www.nationwide.co.uk:
Earnshaw strike sinks Stags
Cardiff 1 Mansfield 0
Rob Earnshaw's 30th League goal of the season helped Cardiff City move up to second in the Nationwide Division Two table as the Bluebirds beat relegation-threatened Mansfield Town 1-0 at Ninian Park.
Lennie Lawrence's side have stuttered in their promotion quest recently and they were far from their best against a stubborn Stags side.
The only goal of the goal came in the 62nd minute when Earnshaw beat Keith Welch with a shot from the edge of the penalty area after fine work by Peter Thorne.
Cardiff struggled to create many clear-cut chances against the visitors although they always had the edge.
Alan Mahon fired over the bar in the early stages while at the other end Ben Doane and Iyseden Christie also went close to breaking the deadlock.
Earnshaw also wasted several good first-half chances as the Welsh international looked to add to his impressive goal tally.
In the second half Peter Thorne and Graham Kavanagh went close before Earnshaw's strike.
After the goal the Bluebirds looked likely to extend their lead with Gareth Ainsworth and Mahon having the best chances.
The defeat leaves Keith Curle's side just one point and one place above the relegation zone and the Stags now have just seven games left to ensure they don't make an immediate return to the third division.
Super striker sinks Stags
DESPITE a brave, battling display, Mansfield Town were shot down by Robert Earnshaw's 34th goal of the season as Cardiff moved back into the promotion spots at Ninian Park tonight with a 1-0 victory.
Of all the games they had left, this looked then least likely on paper for Stags to gain precious survival points.
But they made City battle all the way before Earnshaw struck on 62 minutes.
Mansfield twice forced good saves from home keeper Neil Alexander but coudn't find that bit of luck when they needed it most.
Unchanged Stags made a confident start, getting crosses in from both flanks in the first three minutes.
But City produced the first shot of note as Alan Mahon broke into the box and sent a dipping shot over from 16 yards on seven minutes.
The Welsh side got themselves in a mess on 11 minutes when Steve Jenkins rolled a backpass short. Iyseden Christie was onto it in a flash and keeper Neil Alexander had to race out of his box and throw his body in the way of the striker's low finish.
Stags were defending comfortably though they were relieved on 24 minutes when Robert Earnshaw fired wide of the far post after being fed on the right of the box by Mahon.
The visitors replied with a run by Junior Mendes on the right. He found Liam Lawrence inside who passed up ther chance to shoot and held the ball up before cueing up Tom Curtis for a shot that sailed wide.
An ambitious overhead effort from 18 yards by Earnshaw sailed wide on the half-hour for Cardiff after a good cross by Steve Jenkins.
The City goal ace turned sharply two minutes later but was well wide with his sliced finish.
Earnshaw should have done better with two succesive chances when he was given a clear sight of the Mansfield goal.
But he put his first shot in the sidenetting and a minute later was superbly tackled by the outstanding Rhys Day sliding in as he looked set to pull the trigger.
Mahon and Peter Thorne then worked a shooting chance for Graham Kavanagh which he blazed over.
For all their huffing and puffing, City had not managed to get one effort on target.
But Stags produced their second on 41 minutes as Craig Disley rose six yards from goal to get a head onto Corden's hoisted free kick, Alexander forced to tip over.
At the other end Mahon mis-hit his volley as Adam Eaton's header floated invitingly towards him.
And Stags were endebted to Welch just before the break when Thorne put Earnshaw away down the centre and the keeper's legs denied him.
Mansfield were delighted to reach the interval on level terms without conceding.
The Bluebirds won a corner three minutes into the second half from which Kavanagh found Thorne who powered a bullet header just over the top.
Gareth Ainsworth then put in a wicked cross from the right which had Welch at full stretch to clutch at the second attempt.
Christie poked tamely into the sidenetting as Stags threatened briefly at the other end with the home crowd growing ever more restless with their team's failings.
But, with Stags starting to dominate possession, City suddenly snatched the lead on 62 minutes.
Day's attempted long pass gave away possession.And when Eaton sold himseld into a tackle on Thorne that the City man sidestepped, Thorne threaded the perfect ball through to Earnshaw who this time had the goal at his mercy and comfortably beat Welch.
The goal - a real body blow for the Stags - also saw Earnshaw equal the club's all-time League goals in one season record which had stood at 30 goals for the late Stan Richards since 1946/47 season.
Christie did get into a promising position in the six yard box but Spencer Prior produced a fine saving tackle before the Stags man could threaten.
Mansfield elected to send on Colin Larkin for the last 20 minutes in place of Mendes to raise the hopes of the 147 travelling fans in a crowd of 13,009.
City came close again on 73 minutes as Thorne met Ainsworth's cross with a far post volley that flew across the face of goal with Prior unable to get the vital touch almost on the goal line.
Kavanagh then beat Hassell to get to the by-line and cut the ball back for Earnshaw who skied it over the top.
Stags added a third striker to their front line 10 minutes from time when Craig Mitchell came on for Corden.
City also made a change with Mark Bonner coming on for Ainsworth. And he came close within six minutes, heading Kavanagh's corner just wide of the post.
Stags' final throw of the dice came on 86 whe n Ben Doane was replaced by Lee Wiliamson.
But City expertly killed the last few minutes and three minutes of stoppage time.
Now Stags fans face the agony of watching the other scores come in tomorrow to see where this defeat leaves them with two crucial home six-pointers ahead of them.
This game also marked the end of player-manager Keith Curle's four game ban - another boost for the club as the heat turns up.
Latest | March 2003