MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
Flavs says "I'm not guilty"
Southend United goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan claimed the Shrimpers had been undone by a "shocking" refereeing decision following their controversial 1-0 defeat at promotion-pushing Mansfield Town on Saturday.
The Seasiders shot-stopper was harshly adjudged to have brought down Iyseden Christie inside the penalty area - enabling Wayne Corden to cooly convert a hotly-disputed spot-kick in the 12th minute of the match.
But Flahavan was adamant he had not touched the Stags striker.
He said: "Christie was coming through, but I don't think he was in control of the ball. I went down and spread myself just in case he got a shot in, but he decided to fall over. Whether he ran into me or not, I can definitely say I never went into him and it was a shocking decision from the referee."
POINTS ARE ALL THAT MATTERS
Nottingham Evening Post
Mansfield Town 1 v 0 Southend United
Come Saturday May 8, fans will look back at certain games and realise just how important they were to the season.
Hopefully, after the last game against Northampton, the Stags will have clinched promotion.
And at that time, people will forget all about the performances that were far from pretty on the eye, yet still worked wonders.
Cambridge was one match where the team battled as if their lives depended on it - despite having nine men for more than half the game - and stole all three points.
And on Saturday, although in different circumstances, those three points were just as important.
The win was all that mattered.
Following the defeat at Leyton Orient last weekend, and with Lee Williamson, Liam Lawrence, Bobby Hassell, Tom Curtis and Jamie Clarke suspended, Mansfield started the game with a heavily depleted side.
It was vital they bounced back and third from bottom Southend were full of confidence after thrashing Second Division high flyers QPR 4-0 in midweek.
In the end, a dubious penalty won the Stags the match and in the second half they braved the storm as Southend - looking far from a side near the bottom of the league - threw everything at them.
Many came away believing the Stags were lucky to get three points, others unhappy about the performance, their argument that the last four league victories have ended 1-0.
But that is four clean sheets in six matches which is testament to the way Keith Curle has toughened up the rearguard since he arrived.
Alex John-Baptise is just 17- years-old, Jake Buxton a year older and they came into the side in difficult circumstances and did a good job.
Tony Vaughan and Craig Disley both limped off after playing, despite carrying injuries.
Nobody can question the commitment and desire of the players and those three points on Saturday could easily have been lost had those attributes not been shown in abundance.
The fans only had to look at how the players embraced each other at the end.
They knew they had given everything in their fight to come out on top and were proud it had worked.
Football is not always pretty, especially in Division Three, and Saturday was no exception.
But with Doncaster losing and Oxford not playing, it was a vital victory.
The game started off evenly but neither side could find that quality in their final ball.
But on 12 minutes, Iyseden Christie went to ground under a challenge from Southend goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan and the referee pointed to the spot.
Even to the Stags fans it looked dubious, but Wayne Corden stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
The rest of the half was a non-event, Southend's top goalscorer Leon Constantine striking a shot just inches wide shortly before the break and Leon Cort - brother of Wolves-bound Carl - put a header just wide from a corner in first-half stoppage time.
The second 45 minutes belonged to Southend, with Mansfield simply holding on.
The visitors were constantly on the attack but either failed to make that killer ball or were halted in their tracks by some good Mansfield defending.
Mark Gower saw a chance blaze wide before Steven Clark missed an easy chance midway through the half.
Constantine got in behind the Stags defence and raced towards the near post, only to see his low effort come back off the legs of Kevin Pilkington.
But when the ball fell to Clark, unmarked and just 12-yards-out, he mis-kicked his volley and it went out for a throw-in.
Luck played a part as well as some outstanding defending by Luke Dimech, but Mansfield came through with a clean sheet and all three points.
Stags' best chance of the half had fallen to Christie, but after cutting into the box from the right he blasted over.
Southend may be third from bottom but their spirit and overall play suggested otherwise.
The weather - with heavy snow predicted - will determine whether tomorrow night's game at Scunthorpe goes ahead.
CURLE'S PRAISE FOR HIS BATTLERS
Nottingham Evening Post
Mansfield manager Keith Curle admitted it was not pretty, but praised his suspension-ravaged side for coming out with all three points.
With five players suspended, Curle was down to the bare bones but said all his players showed the commitment and determination that was needed to see them through the match.
And he heaped special praise on his defence after they kept their 11th clean sheet of the season.
He said: "We have had to defend as a team and we achieved that.
"We were put under a lot of pressure but we dealt with it and I thought the lads at the back were superb.
"Luke Dimech and Rhys Day stood up to the physical challenge and were prepared to put themselves into the battle and I thought they came out on top.
"We worked very hard for 90 minutes, matching them for desire and application.
"It was not a classic. It was a game where the players had to face up to the ugly side of football, dig in and scrap for the result.
"We had to be switched on both mentally and physically and we achieved that."
The Stags boss knew it was not the best performance but with key players suspended he had to throw other players in at the deep end, including Jake Buxton, 18, at right-back and 17-year-old Alex John-Baptiste in the middle of midfield.
Curle said: "Baptiste did exceptionally well and Buxton had gave a very accomplished second-half performance."
One downside from the match was that Craig Disley and Tony Vaughan both limped off and are doubtful for Tuesday"s clash with Scunthorpe.
Curle said: "They were both not 100% but they were prepared to pull on the shirt and did a great job. Unfortunately they are now a doubt for tomorrow."
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