REPORT FROM DAILY TELEGRAPH
Mansfield spoil Town party
By Peter Keeling
Huddersfield (1) 1 Mansfield (2) 3
Huddersfield's hopes of automatic promotion were dealt a severe blow as they were beaten for only the third time this season at the McAlpine Stadium.
It was a shock to most of the near-capacity crowd who saw a team that had only conceded 15 goals in their previous 23 games - one of the best records in all four divisions - crumble against play-off hopefuls Mansfield.
After the late start due to crowd congestion, it had all seemed to be going to plan when John McAliskey, 19, who had scored twice on his debut in the last home match, opened the scoring in the 14th minute. McAliskey got on the end of a headed pass from veteran Andy Booth.
But, after that, it was downhill all the way for Peter Jackson's side as Liam Lawrence, the pacy Junior Mendes and Lee Williamson were given bags of room by Huddersfield's jittery defence.
Rhys Day equalised in the 20th minute when Booth failed to block the man he was chosen to mark at a Wayne Corden corner.
Huddersfield just could not cope. David Mirfin lost the ball in his own half for Mendes to score in the 38th minute and Lawrence clinched victory in the 76th minute from a Colin Larkin lay-off.
Jackson said: "This was so disappointing before our biggest crowd of the season who had come to see us clinch automatic promotion. But I will not blame the defence. Bad defending was a fault down to the entire team."
Mansfield manager Keith Curle said: "This was a great performance against a big club. To win through the play-offs you need to be top of your form, and we are certainly on top form at the moment."
Now Huddersfield must win at Cheltenham on the last day of the season. If they fail, a victory by Torquay at Southend next weekend would condemn them to the play-offs.
Latest | May 2004