A horrible display of ineptitude, from front to back, for ninety minutes. A tactical shambles and a manager who (obviously) no longer wants to be at the club.

Mansfield are a decidedly average side, but you don’t have to turn up when the opposition gift wraps you three goals then shows horrible incompetence when they stumble across opportunites of their own. We look every bit a lower half tier four side, all fluster and bluster with precious little skill or technique. First and foremost this season is about staying in the division, we are nowhere near good enough to think about playoffs.

So in twelve months the manager has turned us from title contenders playing decent football and genuinely aspiring to tier three – to a side looking so inept it’s difficult thinking about anything other than the season petering out into mediocrity and a nervous summer before a proper relegation fight next term.

If only there was a discussion about the manager’s contract scheduled for the next week. We should already have Curle’s replacement lined up to replace him by Saturday – I don’t care about the cup – I care about the guff we serve up week in / week out in the league and giving a new manager half a season to assess the squad properly ahead of a rebuilding job in the summer. Whoever replaces Curle should start with the defence, in over three years Curle has barely improved it…

Bonham – 1 – Hopelessly exposed (sound familiar?) for the first goal, however his efforts for the next two goals were embarrassing. Out of position he made a shocking misjudgment for the second goal, allowing the ball to float softly over him while he flapped helplessly. His attempt to save the third goal was even worse, he was easily beaten by a low daisy cutter which an under 12 keeper should be stopping, let alone a professional. Not good enough.

Miller – 1 – Flipped inside out more often than a pancake, and a defensive horror show which led to the second goal – a professional defender should be dealing with balls dropping to their feet like this. Had a great opportunity to test the Mansfield keeper early in the game but fluffed it. Hard to understand why Brown didn’t start – maybe we’re preparing for life without him…

Grainger – 1 – Great assist for Mansfield’s opening goal. Had time and space on the ball and picked his man out with a perfectly measured through ball. In fairness to him he did sling over a couple of good crosses before the interval – but defensively and positionally he was all at sea. Maybe if he imagined he was playing for the opposition he’d be more effective for us.

Liddle – 2 – Heavens be praised, fewer long aimless Liddle balls today. However he was so anonymous it’s hard to think of anything he contributed. It’s hard to think of any possible reason not to give Liddle a rest and give Ellis an opportunity

Hill – 2 – Put himself about a bit but his communication has evaporated into the ether and he’s at the heart of a defence which is a complete shambles. Every week I see central defenders on opposing sides who look more composed, fitter and are more influential than Hill. I’m sorry, but he’s too old – relying on him long term is a huge mistake.

Parkes – 3* – Probably our best defender on the day but that’s not saying an awful lot, at least he has some technique about him and he tries to get the ball down and pass it to Carlisle players. The disappointing thing is he looks like he’s been training in the pub and pizza shop and his concentration levels vanish from time to time. There’s a player in here, if we had the coaching staff with the ability to bring it out…

Jones – 1 – Busy, but left his brain on the team coach today. Being frantic and manic is no substitute for being composed and patient. In fairness he was probably trying too hard to cover too much ground but his use of the ball was shocking and his positioning questionable. In absolute honesty he needs a genuine midfielder alongside him centrally to help him a little, he suffers from having Lambe and Devitt alongside him in midfield.

Lambe – 1 – Lots of pretty quick feet but no meaningful final ball. Looked like a small boy playing against a team of grown men. This is how it goes – Lambe gets on the ball deep in the half, turns smartly, maybe beats a man and scampers forward – tries to play a one-two or bustle his way into the penalty area – loses possession. It equals an easy afternoon for the opposition defence. It’s a broken record but if you put Lambe on the wing he can then beat his man – get to the goal line with a little space and cross the ball – rather than running down blind alleys all afternoon.

Devitt – 2 – Well taken penalty, but he’s really not a central midfielder – he should be on the opposite wing to Lambe. It’s the same problem for Devitt every game now he’s on the ball a fair amount but in areas of the pitch too deep to cause any damage. He needs to be played genuinely wide and to be brought into play in the final third of the pitch.

Cosgrove – 2 – Won some decent high balls but his all round contribution was weak, especially with the ball on the ground. I’m not sure why he’s still at the club or why he was given a start today? Looked totally off the pace – but when you’ve been sitting on the bench for five months it’s not surprising.

Miller – 1 – When he’s not scoring the occasional spectacular goal, what’s he doing? He’s certainly not performing like a professional footballer. Looks like he’s going through the motions to wind his contract down. Another weak, ineffective forward who’s picking up a wage for doing precisely f all.


Hope – 0 – Enough is enough. Defending against Hope today was like defending against a small child. Put your head down and run aimlessly forward Hallam, that’ll work.

Bennett – 1 – Won the penalty with a surging run into the box which must’ve nearly given him a nosebleed but despite his best efforts the rest of his afternoon was abysmal nonsense – capped by possibly the worst miss I’ve seen on any football field anywhere. One yard out, open goal – you can bring the score back to 2-2 – and you contrive to drop your ar5e and somehow fail to find the net. If ever a player could be compared to a donkey this is perhaps a good example – although in fairness to the donkey it would’ve scored.

O’Sullivan – 0 – Ponced around with his girly gloves for a while, hiding from the ball. I’m not sure why he’s anywhere near our first team his performances have been a disgrace. I’d loan him out to some non-league side somewhere so he can show some form – although I don’t think there’s a club in the country who would take him at the minute.