FANTASTIC STAGS VICTORIOUS
Huddersfield 1 (McAliskey 14)
Mansfield Town 3 (Day 21, Mendes 38, Lawrence 75)
Att: 18,633 (1,745 from Mansfield)
The Stags secured a play-off spot with a stunning 3-1 victory at Huddersfield this afternoon. After falling a goal behind, Rhys Day pulled the Stags level before further goals from Junior Mendes and a 21st of the season for Liam Lawrence secured the points to lift the Stags into 5th place.
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More reports and reaction to follow soon.
Huddersfield 1 Stags 3
MANSFIELD Town clinched a place in this season's Third Division play-offs with a masterful display at Huddersfield Town that spoiled the Terriers' promotion party.
Huddersfield, in front of a season-best 18,633 crowd, could have been promoted if they had beaten Stags and other results had gone their way.
Playing with three strikers, they even went ahead through John McAliskey after only 14 minutes.
But Stags shrugged off their early nerves to turn the game on its head with goals from Rhys Day on 20 minutes and Junior Mendes on 37 minutes.
And, despite some close calls and a brilliant save from Kevin Pilikington to deny Andy Booth, few in the stadium could argue Mansfield were well worth the points after Liam Lawrence had tucked away a third on 75 minutes.
The result left Stags home and dry for a play-off place while Huddersfield have to go to Cheltenham next Saturday to try again to clinch that third automatic promotion place that for so long this season looked like it could go to Mansfield.
Delighted Mansfield boss Keith Curle said: "We played football in the right manner after earning the right to play which you have to do at a place like Huddersfield.
"They have a magnificent stadium and magnificent support but all I could hear eventually were our own supporters who were like a twelfth man to us.
"I was delighted with our performance in the first half. But we've done that before this season and then been accused of not doing it second half. So at half time I demanded we start the second half like a house on fire.
"Before the game I taped off a square in the dressing room and made each player stand nose to nose with me and tell me they believed in their own ability. I like eye contact and when you have16 players believing in their own ability it fills you with confidence.
"We showed a real inner strength to come from behind.
"Now we are focused on the play-offs. Going into the play-offs you need to be in form and have belief as individuals and as a team - we have that."
There was a shock recall for Adam Eaton at left back for only the injury-plagued defender's second start of the season.
Lee Williamson and Craig Disley came into a five-man midfield with Junior Mendes the lone striker - a role in which he shone, despite the baking sunshine.
Out from the side which lost 3-2 at home to Carlisle last weekend were Tony Vaughan, Neil MacKenzie and Colin Larkin.
As a big crowd tried to squeeze into the magnificent McAlpine Stadium, kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes to try to get them all in.
Booth headed off target from a Holdworth free kick on three minutes as Town produced the first threat in the Yorkshire sunshine.
Fans were still coming in on six minutes as Curtis headed clear Huddersfield's first corner.
And there was controversy a minute later as Holdsworth curled the ball to the far post for Booth to head in from close range only for the referee to ruled the ball had gone out for a goal kick before it was curled across.
But the Terriers were ahead on 14 minutes. Abbott crossed from the right to the far post where Booth's strength saw him control the ball and lay it off to McAliskey who turned home from close range in front of goal.
Stags' response was swift. Mendes battled through two challenges to find Disley. His first time ball set up Corden who, from a tight angle, forced Rachubka to parry at his near post.
And the resulting corner produced the equaliser. Corden sent it over and Day was offered a free header from close range from which he made no mistake for his seventh goal of the season on 20 minutes.
Stags then began to match the home side in all departments with Mendes running his heart out up front.
The home fans began to get restless and were then stunned by a second Mansfield goal on 37 minutes.
Mirfin was caught in possession just outside his box as Williamson robbed him and fed Mendes. The striker still had plenty to do but took the ball into the box, evaded one lunge and drilled home from 12 yards.
Huddersfield quickly won a free kick over 20 yards from the Mansfield goal which Abbott fired over into the arms of the jeering Stags fans.
Corden almost added a third on 43 minutes but Lawrence's cross came at him very quickly and, with a defender stuck with him like glue, all Corden could do was let the ball hit him and go straight to the keeper.
For a few minutes Huddersfield were really on the ropes as Mansfield kept possession, probing patiently.
The Terriers did manage a break in stoppage time which saw Abbott well over from 20 yards.
And just before the whistle it was Abbot who went close again as he sent a scissor kick inches over after Booth had headed on a long throw by Carss.
Amazingly, after being shown a minimum of two minutes stoppage time, the game entered a fourth with Huddersfield winning a corner. But, when that was cleared, the whistle finally went.
Stags almost extended their advantage in the opening seconds of the second half.
Lawrence sent in a teasing cross from the right which Yates headed against his own bar from close range. The ball dropped down and, despite Stags' calls that it had crossed the line, the referee waved play on.
Thankfully the interval hadn't affected Mansfield's rhythm and Corden should have made it 3-1 on 50 minutes.
A break involving Disley and Lawrence saw the latter set up Corden outside him. But, with only the keeper to beat, the winger stumbled.
Nevertheless, on the floor he swung a boot at the ball and still managed to beat Rachubka and get his finish on target.
However, it lacked pace and Mirfin was able to get back to clear off the line.
Another sweet move saw Lawrence tee up Hassell for a cross which Disley tried to backheel home at the near post only to see it blocked.
Abbott was once again too high with a 20-yard shot in a rare Huddersfield attack.
But Stags were back to win a corner without reward shortly after.
The home side finally began to find their feet again and build up a head of steam.
Booth had a penalty appeal ignored after he went down under Day's challenge.
Seconds later Lloyd picked Booth out with a far post cross and, with Pilkington off his line, the former Sheffield Wednesday hitman sent a looping header over a gaping goal.
Larkin replaced Disley on 62 minutes and almost netted immediately as his right wing cross threatened to go under the far angle, the keeper having to turn it round at the last minute.
But Mansfield had to rely on the brilliance of skipper Pilkington on 65 minutes as a free kick picked out Booth who brought a superb save out of the Mansfield keeper from close range.
Abbott then saw his follow-up kicked off the line by John-Baptiste and, when the corner came over, Booth headed just over.
A Mansfield break saw Williamson get into the Huddersfield box with a powerful run that ended with a shot hooked just wide of the far post.
A minute later Larkin found himself onside 30 yards from goal but tried an ambitious chip with the keeper off his line and was well wide.
Corden got in another promising cross from the left after getting to the by-line and Williamson saw his volley go into the ground and bounce up wide of goal.
Former Stags striker Onuora came on for Lloyd on 72 minutes and almost netted with his first touch.
A low right wing cross saw Worthington hook a shot goal wards. It was going inches wide of the far post where Onuora was desperately close to getting the vital touch.
But Stags produced a stunning third goal on 75 minutes. Hassell's long throw found Lawrence. He exchanged passes with Larkin in the box before drilling an unstoppable shot past the keeper.
Lawrence ran towards the away fans to celebrate with shirt in hand and was booked for his troubles.
The home fans began to congregate near the away stand and police and horses were drafted into the stadium.
Mansfield came so close again on 81 minutes as Williamson's interception saw Stags break three on two. He set up Larkin whose first time looping finish was tipped over by Rachubka.
Stags continued to torment the Terriers and Curtis cued up Mendes for a shot that the keeper could only parry. It was cleared as far as Curtis again who fired wide.
Nervous defding by John-Baptiste and Eaton conceded a corner which Mirfin headed wide at the far post.
The tiring Mendes was finally given a rest five minutes from time as D'Jaffo came on.
Lawrence was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance for a fourth on 86 minutes as he was sent clear down the centre by Williamson only to see Rachubka save with his legs.
John-Baptiste then had to produce a superb tackle in the box as Onuora looked like he would go all the way after initially accelerating from the halfway line.
Williamson was booed in the final minute as he ambled slowly off to be replaced by Dimech as Mansfield tried to kill time.
After the earlier flare-up in the stands and with Huddersfield wanting to do a lap of honour, Stags were asked not to go right up to their fans at the end with most players clapping the fans from just over halfway to just outside the box.
However, there was still more trouble with one home fan arrested after jumping over the wall.
But Town came out eventually to salute their own fans as Stags fans filtered away at the end of a memorable afternoon.
Defensive blunders gifted Mansfield the goals which secured their play-off place while ending Huddersfield's dream of automatic promotion as the Stags triumphed 3-1 at the McAlpine Stadium.
The hosts' entire back-line was at fault when they stood and watched Rhys Day head home Wayne Corden's 20th-minute corner.
Seven minutes before the break Huddersfield's David Mirfin gifted possession to Junior Mendes, who fired home from the edge of the penalty area.
Huddersfield presented Liam Lawrence with a goal in the 75th minute when he was allowed to run and shoot unopposed.
The hosts had taken a 14th-minute lead when youngster John McAliskey scored from close range after Andy Booth had knocked down a Pawel Abbott cross.
Huddersfield defender Steve Yates headed against his own crossbar just after the interval.
Latest | May 2004