Mansfield Town 0 v 2 Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town story posted by Andy Dixon on 19/10/2002
Arguably Town's first six-pointer of the season saw them outplay and rightfully beat a lacklustre Mansfield Town in front of a crowd of 4,998 freezing cold football supporters. It was hard to believe that the same team that beat Tranmere Rovers 6-1 at Field Mill was playing the same team that was beaten by Oldham Athletic 4-0 at Boundary Park just a few short weeks ago. However, as the clich? says; 'football is a funny old game'.Mansfield Town 0 v 2 Huddersfield Town

Mick Wadsworth's men earned a vital two-nil victory against relegation counterparts Mansfield in a game that didn't really produce the grit and determination that a side like Mansfield need if they are to escape trouble. Regardless, the terriers continued on the same form that saw them defeat Notts County three-nil at the McAlpine Stadium last weekend.

The opening highlight summed up the course of the afternoon as Town attacked an uninspired Mansfield side which never really troubled Town goalkeeper Scott Bevan all afternoon. Three minutes gone and Simon Baldry played a 'Steven Gerrard-like' 25-yard pass to pick out American-winger John Thorrington who was already running down the right wing as the ball floated over his left shoulder, which he crossed into the box with his first touch, only for last week's two-goal hero Jon Stead to volley his shot over the bar after being pressured by the close attention of a Mansfield defender. Seconds later Stead almost had his second chance of the afternoon as Martin Smith's cross was inches above his head.

After five minutes Mansfield Town had their first attack of the half. Unfortunately from my position behind the Mansfield goal I could not see the player who forced Bevan into making his first save of the day, but I did see that it was Liam Lawrence attacking down the right wing who crossed for his colleague to shoot low. Two minutes later and another dangerous cross from the right flew into Town's penalty area, but Nat Brown had the confidence and presence of mind to chest the ball back towards goal, into the hands of a grateful Bevan.

From Bevan's distribution Town should have been awarded a clear cut penalty. As they broke, Thorrington played a superb through ball to Stead who ran to the touchline and cross the ball beyond goalkeeper Arjan Van Heusden towards the head of Dwayne Mattis. However the intervention of debutante number 23's hand ensured that the ball wouldn't reach the head of the Town midfielder and to the disgust of the loyal travelling terriers referee Mr S. Tomlin did not point to the spot.

Mansfield had the first corner of the match after eleven minutes which was taken by former terrier Scott Sellars. The former Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers midfielder played the ball short to a team-mate who produced a cross that was seemingly too hot for Bevan to handle as he fumbled the ball with first but managed to gather it before any reacting Mansfield strikers could pounce. Seconds later and Sellars was back at the heart of the action as he had his first shot of the afternoon which was low and comfortable for Bevan.

The same passage of play saw Bevan kick the ball up field to Chris Holland who picked out Baldry who evaded a Mansfield full-back and crossed from the right wing towards Stead at the far post. He in turn headed the ball back across goal in the direction of Martin Smith. However Van Heusden claimed the lofted header before Smith could capitalise on what could have been his first chance of the match.

An action packed opening fifteen minutes saw the terriers miss another clear cut opportunity as Stead couldn't finish when he had a one on one with Van Heusden. Although Stead seemed to have all the time in the world he hesitated when he should have smashed the ball towards goal. Instead he opted to place it, but Van Heusden was wise to Stead's decision and saved the effort with his foot. If luck had been with Stead the rebound would have fallen at his feet but unfortunately it landed near a Mansfield defender whomanaged to clear any danger.

A lull in play saw a cold terrier crowd waiting for something to cheer. Their wait was awarded by a Van Heusden clearance which was amusingly sliced straight over the laughably small Bishop Street stand. This stand was literally the same size as the Community Enclosure at the bottom of the Panasonic Stand at the McAlpine and probably held a capacity of about 200 people.

Nonetheless, the highlights soon returned as Brown acrobatically cleared the ball away from the danger area, for Town to break in the form of Smith who ran past two Mansfield players to pass the ball square to Stead who shot low, but straight at Van Heusden. Minutes later and Baldry was barged off the ball by Lawrence who was re-tackled by Baldry, but Lawrence tackled back and fouled Baldry, causing a minor tussle between the pair. However referee Tomlin did not take any action against the Mansfield tough-guy.

After twenty-six minutes Town almost scored but didn't, if you know what I mean. Thorrington attacked down the left and got to the touchline before crossing the ball to the back post where hard-man Lawrence headed the ball towards his own goal! With Van Heusden at full-stretch Lawrence will have breathed a sign of relief as his header went inches wide of the goal.

Half-an-hour gone and Town seemed laid back even though they were not a goal ahead. Marvellous midfield movement saw a string of delightful passes between the quintet of Baldry, Holland, Stead, Smith and Kevin Sharp. A superb piece of flowing football by the terriers was ironically ended when the quintet attempted to introduce Steve Jenkins into the frame, unfortunately Town's captain lost the ball even though he had just been christened the 'Welsh David Beckham'.

Minutes later and Town had another shot on goal, this time in dramatic fashion as Stead once again squandered another promising chance. His acrobatic bicycle overhead volley travelled just wide after Thorrington had created the opportunity. Three minutes later and Stead attacked down the left, cutting the ball back to Mattis who played it into the path of Smith, his shot became Town's closest effort as he drilled the ball through a crowded penalty box only for it to hit the green post behind the goal which helped to hold up the blue and yellow netting.

As half-time approached dark clouds formed above Field Mill, but the prospect of bad weather didn't affect Town's impressive performance. A battling Smith eluded several Mansfield challengers only to shoot against the back of Mansfield captain Neil Moore. The block resulted in a corner which Baldry swung to the far post for Mattis to head on target, but Van Heusden confidently claimed the ball, in a situation where Booth would have thrived on a chance that Mattis could not take advantage of.

The game goaless and as the players left the field the heavens opened to a short torrential downpour which surely made the pitch slightly more testing in the second half. Nevertheless, the skies cleared before the play restarted and Mansfield attacked the away end, therefore causing problems for me as to establishing who should be credited for Town's slick attacking play.

Scott Sellars was notably picked out as the target for most of the Town fan's abuse as they shouted "you're just a Huddersfield Town reject!" However five minutes into the second half and he had his second shot of the game after a spell of Mansfield pressure. His initial corner was headed out for a second corner by Smith, but his second corner was headed back towards him and Sellars cut inside for a hopelessly wide effort on goal.

Surprisingly Town took the lead after 53 minutes as Smith scored his third goal of the season and Town's first away goal since Scott McDonald's goal at Tranmere at the end of August. A throw to an unmarked Smith saw the midfielder/striker run at the Mansfield defence, and the terrier fans rose to their feet, as he cut through them like a warm knife through butter. After going past approximately four Mansfield players he rounded Van Heusden and placed the ball into the right-hand side of the goal. Town were one goal up and seemed too good for the Nottinghamshire hosts.

Nonetheless five minutes later and Mansfield were on the attack. A long and hopeful punt up field saw Mansfield striker Craig Disley chest the ball down into the path of Sellars, who once again shot wide against his former club.

This chance could have seen a revival from Mansfield, however Smith was to put a stop to any thoughts along those lines. His second goal of the game and fourth of the season settled any worries Mick Wadsworth may have had about his men losing the three points they deserved. Our 'Welsh David Beckham' (A.K.A. Steve Jenkins) attacked down the right and delivered a pin-point cross which picked out Smith at the far post who controlled the pass and accurately struck his shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the Mansfield goal. Although Van Heusden dived full-length he couldn't grasp at Smith's effort and Town took a two goal lead on 61 minutes.

Two goals down and needing a miracle Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss made a double substitution which indicated the end of Scott Sellars' afternoon as he was taken off. Four minutes later and Mansfield needed to make their final substitution as Mattis attacked a 50-50 high ball with Disley. Their heads collided and after treatment Mattis continued while Disley was stretchered off to the dismay of Mansfield supporters.

On 72 minutes the first caution of the afternoon saw substitute Lee Williamson entered into the book after a nasty late challenge on Sharp. Two minutes later and Mansfield missed what was probably their best chance of the day as defender Moore unbelievably headed a Lawrence free-kick over the bar from only two yards out after being under minor pressure from Brown.

Three minutes after this Iyseden Christie also had a chance, but his header did nothing but warm the cold hands of an under-worked Bevan. On 86 minutes Christie was again in the mix as he menacingly beared down on goal. However, the rock-solid due of Brown and Jenkins both slid in to prevent the Mansfield attacker from scoring. This added to an inspirational defensive unit which has now kept two clean sheets in a row.

Two minutes later and Colin Larkin had his first notable effort for the home side, yet his attempt, although heading into the top left corner of the goal, was no problems for six-foot six 'keeper Bevan. Four minutes later and Larkin tried to force his way through Town's defence again, but he was no match for Brown or Adie Moses as they both worked the ball away form danger. The final chance of the day came from substitute Andy White, who couldn't even get his free header on target after good work from Lawrence on the right arguably deserved better.

As a town fan I was ecstatic, like everyone else, that Town managed to put that four-nil last away day defeat behind them and beat a team that many would have said should never cause a Town team problems. As a reporter I was glad that I could finally report on a successful performance which saw Town gain a valuable victory which has launched them further up the league and proved that I wasn't a curse after all!

Although not a scintillating performance, the three points were deserved nonetheless. Mick Wadsworth's men must have taken aboard a "defend as a team, attack as a team" strategy which will no doubt transform Town's on the pitch situation. If Town had been beaten, it would have been difficult to contemplate the future as Mansfield would have leapfrogged us and left us in the thick of a relegation battle. But as I said earlier - 'football is a funny old game' and Town are now only 9 points (three wins) off a play-offs place. Can we do it? I optimistically think that we can.


Bevan (7): Second clean sheet in a row and did everything with regard to stopping Mansfield scoring goals well. However, his goal kicks are still poor and can often offer the opposition a chance to attack again.

Jenkins (8): 'Welsh David Beckham' may have ruined the exquisite passing move of the first half, but he more than made up for it later by creating Smith's second goal. He has also been a component in a defence which has kept two clean sheets on the bounce.

Sharp (7): Comfortable in defence and confident in attack. He has soon made the left-back position his own and won over a lot of doubtful fans with his style of play.

Brown (7): The nightmares of Clyde Wijnhard were exorcised in a performance where he completely nullified the threat of Disley and then Larkin to an extent. He has shown good character since Clyde ripped him to pieces three weeks ago and is constantly learning more and more.

Moses (7): Another vital cog in Town's defence added his strength and experience to a back four which hasn't conceded a goal since the Burnley Worthington Cup match.

Mattis (7): Formed a strong partnership with Holland and is surely the future of this club. After establishing a first team place in front of Kenny Irons he acts as the attacking member of the duo.

Holland (8): Town's defensive minded midfielder is a key player in Town's revival. He tackled back well all afternoon and was a close runner for man of the match honours.

Thorrington (7): Although he didn't play the whole game, he was very impressive and attacked down both wings. He was a constant thorn in the Mansfield side, while on the field.

Baldry (6): Attacked well, but didn't tackle back. Happily I can say that he didn't do any of them frustrating step-over moves.

Smith (9): Two goals and a well earned man of the match accolade. He made the first goal from nothing and coolly finished the second. Town's current top goal-scorer for the season will get more and more on his present run of form, if he stays injury free.

Stead (6): Missed a lot of clear cut chances. Therefore he failed to add to his goal-scoring tally that he started last week. Razor sharp finishing is needed and will hopefully come soon.


Schofield (2): Didn't do anything of note after replacing Thorrington.

McDonald (1): Only a few minutes on the field makes me wonder why we have kept him and not shipped him out like we did with Kevin Gallacher. Paul Macari is Town's future - Wadsworth needs to recognise this.

Referee rating:

Mr S. Tomlin (5): Missed a clear cut penalty for Town. Booked only one player. Generally didn't stop play, apart from for serious injuries such as the clash of heads that saw Disley stretchered off.


Mansfield Town:

29. Arjan Van Heusden
12. Jamie Clarke
5. Neil Moore (CAP)
25. Mark Lever
4. Neil MacKenzie (OFF 64)
7. Liam Lawrence
10. Craig Disley (OFF 68)
20. Scott Sellars (OFF 64)
21. Colin Larkin
22. Iyseden Christie
23. Debutante - unfortunately not acknowledged in programme


8. Lee Williamson (ON 64) (YELLOW)
24. Danny Holyoak
30. Jason White
11. Wayne Corden (ON 64)
15. Andy White (ON 68)

Huddersfield Town:

1. Scott Bevan
2. Steve Jenkins (CAP)
22. Kevin Sharp
5. Adie Moses
27. Nat Brown
11. Simon Baldry
33. Dwayne Mattis
6. Chris Holland
10. John Thorrington (OFF 72)
14. Jon Stead (OFF 87)
19. Martin Smith (2 GOALS)


15. Scott McDonald (ON 87)
8. Kenny Irons
20. Thomas Heary
7. Danny Schofield (ON 72)
35. Philip Senior

Attendance: 4,998 (1,069 from Huddersfield)
Half-Time: 0-0


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