DISAPPOINTING STAGS FRUSTRATED IN GOALLESS DRAW
Mansfield Town 0 - 0 Bristol Rovers
Att: 4,735 (488 from Bristol Rovers)
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill
A flat display in front of an increasingly frustrated Bank Holiday crowd all but put paid to the Stags ambitions of an automatic promotion place at Field Mill this afternoon. In a game of few chances, the Stags were unlucky to have a goal disallowed in stoppage time, shortly after striking the bar from a free-kick. Meanwhile at the other end the Stags were lucky at the end of the first half when Rovers had a good shout for a penalty.
Stagsnet Report now in the match centre.
Mansfield's promotion dream faded as they were held to a goalless draw.
The Stags began Easter still harbouring automatic promotion hopes, but defeat at Darlington and this setback has left them clinging on to a play-off spot.
Rovers dominated the first half and Mansfield's Kevin Pilkington made a hat-trick of saves from Junior Agogo.
In the second half Mansfield had the better chances as Colin Larkin, Tom Curtis and Jake Buxton came close while Andy White had a goal disallowed.
Stags 0 Bristol Rovers 0
AMBER Day turned black for Stags today as they dropped further vital promotion points at home to Bristol Rovers.
But, amazingly, the automatic promotion dream is still alive, despite only one point out of six over Easter, as other sides also felt the pressure and dropped points.
Stags are sixth but still only four points away from third-placed Huddersfield.
Huddersfield and Oxford both lost while Northampton and Lincoln drew to keep Stags in the hunt.
Stags fans were asked to turn out in as much amber or yellow as possible to give this Bank Holiday Monday fixture a carnival feel.
But it was the blue and white of revitalised Rovers that caught the eye as they made the first half running and wiped away the memories of the 3-0 home tanking Stags gave them earlier in the season.
Mansfield raised it after the break and Jake Buxton hit the bar while Andy White had a goal disallowed in the dying minutes.
But it wasn't to be and Stags now have a week off to prepare for the tough trip to Boston United.
Mansfield's assistant manager John Gannon said: "We've had midweek matches for the last five weeks and, although the lads are very fit, I thought today there were a few tired legs out there.
"Both Easter matches were close affairs. But when we had one disallowed at the end and hit the bar just before that today, it showed we are perhaps not getting the rub of the green.
"Hats off to Bristol Rovers, they are a much more solid team than when we beat them earlier in the season.
"I still believe third spot is possible and all four games we have left are cup finals now.
"What we have to do is make sure we win our next two games to keep us within touching distance of Huddersfield so when we go there that is still a massive game."
Mansfield made two changes from the side which lost 1-0 at Darlington on Saturday.
Bobby Hassell dropped out injured so Buxton came in at left back, Lee Williamson swapping to right back.
Neil MacKenzie was dropped to the bench with a midfield return for Craig Disley.
Rovers created the first danger as Ijah Anderson saw hit shot deflect for a corner which Thorpe headed just wide of the near post.
Ijah Anderson again threatened on five minutes as the home side laboured to get the ball clear and a half-clearance was volleyed wide from 16 yards by Ijah Anderson from a good central position.
It took Mansfield eight minutes to threaten the visitors' goal as Larkin cut in from the left but blasted well wide from 20 yards.
Agogo's deflected shot brought Rovers another corner which drifted harmlessly wide of the far post.
On 16 minutes Agogo tested Pilkington with a fierce drive from the right of the box which the keeper dealt with comfortably on his near post.
Two minutes later a Lescott pass found Agogo again in the box and he turned well to shoot low and force Pilkington to save, diving to his right.
All the chances were going Rovers' way. But Stags almost found a way through on 20 minutes.
A string of passes ended with Disley setting up Mendes on the left of the box. But, with the goal at his mercy, Mendes saw Miller get his legs in the way of his low blast.
Day also sent a tame header straight at Miller after Corden had sent a free kick into the box which Rovers couldn't clear.
Agogo again brought a save from Pilkington on the half-hour as, with two defenders close behind him, he still managed to turn 18 yards out and fire on target, the keeper turning it round his near post.
Mansfield survived two successive Rovers corners and then Pilkington had to dive on the ball at the feet of Ijah Anderson as he tried to race onto Thorpe's through ball.
Still Stags struggled to contain the lively visitors and when John-Baptiste finally poked the ball out the box after a scramble, Gibb was well over with his long range dipping shot.
Rovers threatened again with a break down the left. But, just when Thorpe looked like he might go clear, John-Baptiste raced across with a saving tackle.
A promising run from Larkin, as it all opened up in front of him, ended with a tame shot wide of the far post.
Neat control by Thorpe saw him make space 35 yards from goal and get in a shot on target which Pilkington was always behind.
Rovers were furious when Curtis blatantly brought down Agogo in the box in stoppage time as he tried to turn the Stags midfielder only for the referee to blow for half time instead!
Stags began the second half brightly with a break down the left by Disley after neat footwork from Larkin. He crossed low to the near post where Mendes ran in to pip the keeper to the ball but could only succeed in poking it out for a goal kick.
A Hyde free kick found Barrett in the box. His goalwards header was put over his own bar by Curtis for a corner. Stags struggled to clear that and Thorpe almost got a vital touch as John Anderson put the ball back in.
Gibb was lucky to escape serious injury when he was barged by Curtis on the left touchline and ended up sailing over the concrete surround wall and on the concrete path.
On 64 minutes Gibb got down the right to the by-line and put a dangerous low cross in which Williamson controlled on his own goal line but seemed to take an eternity to finally hook clear.
Mendes was replaced by Andy White with 25 minutes to go.
Mansfield won a corner two minutes later which Lawrence sent in and Day got a close range header which lacked power and was straight at Miller.
A Williamson free kick then found the head of John-Baptiste who, although he managed some power on it, could only watch that one fly at Miller as well.
Both sides made another change for the last quarter of an hour with MacKenzie on for Disley and Haldane on for Agogo
Hyde almost broke through on 76 minutes when a poor header clear from Williamson went straight to him 20 yards from goal. He let fly with a dipping shot that Pilkington had to turn over his bar.
Twigg replaced Ijah Anderson for the last 11 minutes for Rovers.
Mansfield broke quickly six minutes from time as a long ball saw White hold it up superbly before laying off to the incoming Larkin only for Edwards to get in the way with a magnificent block that left him requiring treatment.
Rovers cleared for a throw-in which was headed on by Day and Curtis got in a powerful shit at the second attempt which Miller parried under the angle and clutched at the second attempt.
Mansfield came even closer on 87 minutes as a Corden free kick was headed against the bar by Buxton.
But there was even greater drama at the death. In stoppage time Mansfield had the ball in the net as White jumped with Miller to reach Buxton's left wing cross and pounced at the keeper spilled it. But, after a second's hesitation, the referee ruled White had fouled the keeper and the effort was ruled out.
Latest | April 2004