SUPER STAGS BEAT BOSTON
Mansfield Town 3 - 2 Boston United
Barker 53, Lloyd 65, Rundle 70
Maylett 49, Thompson 90+0
Attendance: 3223 (256 from Boston)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Stags 3 Boston United 2MANSFIELD Town turned on the style in the second half to come from behind and net three times in 17 minutes.
But some tired defending in the dying minutes almost gifted Boston a point.
The visitors were under almost constant pressure in the first half but held firm with Simon Brown hitting the bar and Richie Barker foiled when one-on-one with keeper Nathan Abbey.
Boston switched to five in midfield for the second half and snatched a 49th minute lead with Daryl Clare wasting a great chance to make it 2-0 within 60 seconds.
Instead the Stags roared back to go 3-1 up and looked comfortable until Lee Thompson's 90th minute goal left them with three nervy minutes of stoppage time to negotiate, Thompson firing inches wide just before the end.
But the afternoon, watched by only 3,223 fans, ended happily with fans racing on for the traditional last home game of the season 'pitch invasion'.
Stags boss Carlton Palmer said: "I was disappointed with the way we gave away a sloppy goal at the end and put ourselves under unnecessary pressure.
"Maybe I am being over-critical, but we have to set our standards high if we are going to achieve what we want to achieve next season.
"We have been creating so many chances someone was due a hammering from us and it should have been today with the chances we had.
"The fans were superb again today. I think they can now see what I am doing and are getting behind the lads. But I need time. Rome wasn't built in a day and we are not a promotion-winning team yet. I am pleased with the nucleus of players but I have a lot of hard work to do in the summer.
"It would have been totally unjust if Boston had got a point as we were the better team. But we showed a bit of fatigue near the end and lost concentration."
Stags made three changes. midfielder Callum Lloyd dropped to the bench to allow Palmer to go 4-4-2 with teenage striker Danny Heron making a full debut up front.
There were two changes in defence with Gareth Jelleyman (injured) and Rhys Day (dropped) replaced by Luke Dimech and Scott McNiven.
Mansfield completely controlled the opening stages, camping in the Boston half with neat, passing football.
But a blocked Brown shot was all they had to show for their efforts in the first 10 minutes.
Barker rose well to nod down a deep Neil cross as he overlapped Brown. But Coke had to stretch to reach Barker's nod-down and the finish was well over.
Brown did well to trick his way into the box a minute later and laid a low pass towards the incoming Coke at the near post where Ellender did well to get in a block.
Mansfield won two corners on the trot, taken by Neil, and, from the second, Brown flicked a header at the near post which struck the Boston crossbar.
Stags spurned a great chance a minute later as Neil sent Barker clean through on goal but Abbey denied him, keeping out his low finish with his legs.
Boston finally created an opportunity on 16 minutes as Maylett crossed in from the right and Easter's glancing header dropped just wide of the far post.
Dimech was lucky when he lost the ball to Easter who could have gone clear. But the Boston striker trod on the ball and allowed Dimech the chance to regain possession.
Barker was becoming increasingly frustrated at the Boston defence's challenges on him with the referee giving nothing.
And on the half-hour McCann appeared to hold Heron in the box and again Mr Pike gave nothing with Stags screaming for a penalty.
The visitors won a free kick just outside the Mansfield box only for Thomas to fire it well over.
Brown had a shot on the turn deflect wide for Stags' fourth corner three minutes from the interval.
Then McNiven had to head Thomas's dangerous cross away from almost on the line in a rare Boston raid as the half ended goalless.
It was announced at the break that referee Mr Pike was injured and was to swap with the fourth official, Steve Bratt, for the second half.
Boston made two interval changes with Noble on for Thomas and Clare replacing Easter as they went with three at the back.
Barker had the first attempt on goal in the first minute of the half, stabbing wide of the far post with Rundle arriving just too late to turn the ball on target.
But Boston grabbed an unexpected lead on 49 minutes. Pitt appeared to blatantly handle as he took the ball down the left before crossing low past two Stags defenders for Maylett to easily slot home as he arrived on the far side of the box.
Suddenly it was all Boston and a minute later Clare should have done better, shooting tamely at White after great work by Pitt who had wriggled to the by-line before pulling the ball back to Clare.
Rusk also flashed a shot well off target before Palmer halted the pressure with a reshuffle.
Heron was replaced by Day who took over from Dimech in the centre of defence. The Maltese international moved to right back, Neil into midfield and Brown up front.
A minute later they were rewarded with an equaliser. Brown forced Abbey into a good save with a powerful shot but Barker was there to tuck away the follow-up for his 10th of the season for Stags.
Brown then went on a powerful run which ended with a shot on target that Abbey had to save.
Palmer made further changes on 57 minutes, bringing on midfielders Curtis and Lloyd for McLachlan and Coke.
McCann was shown the game's first yellow card for fouling Neil on the hour.
Pitt headed into the side-netting at the far post from a Maylett cross with Stags screaming for an offside flag.
Mansfield were finally ahead for the first time on 65 minutes. Neil carried the ball forward before slotting a neat pass to the feet of Lloyd in the box. And the youngster nimbly turned to slot the ball home inside Abbey's left hand post.
Lloyd should have had another two minutes later but cracked a first time blast over the bar from 10 yards from Barker's pull-back.
Then John-Baptiste headed wide from a Neil free kick.
But it was 3-1 on 70 minutes as another Neil cross from the right was guided home on the volley by Rundle with Abbey rooted and helpless.
Boston broke down the left through Pitt and he crossed low to the near post where Thompson got the ball on target and White made a smart save.
Neil almost marked an excellent afternoon with a goal on 82 minutes but curled the ball over the top from 25 yards.
Boston manager Steve Evans said: "I believe, statistically, we have taken the lead more times than any other side in this division this season. But if you don't defend properly you will get punished.
"We have also shown an inability to take chances since Andy Kirk left. We have never filled his boots and it will be very hard to do that this summer.
"I know we are a bit threadbare at the moment. But we changed things round at half-time and it worked superbly with us going 1-0 up and Daryl Clare missing a sitter.
"But poor defending gave Mansfield an equaliser. In fact Mansfield didn't have to make an opportunity all game, we gave them the goals.
"If we had Andy Kirk in the side today I believe we would have won comfortably. But we keep missing gilt-edged chances."
Mansfield struck three goals at home for the first time in 17 games as they stormed back from a goal down to clinch victory despite a late scare.
The Stags had dominated the first half before falling behind against the run of play in the 49th minute. But three goals in 17 minutes seemed to set them up for a comfortable victory.
However, Boston almost snatched an unlikely point in a thrilling finish. As the game entered injury time substitute Lee Thompson slid in a 16-yard finish from Chris Holland's clever pass.
Then just 30 seconds later Thompson again raced clear only to roll his shot narrowly wide with keeper Jason White stranded.
Earlier Mansfield boss Carlton Palmer had given another teenager his full first-team debut and 18-year old striker Danny Herron almost made an immediate impact.
In the tenth minute his header released Simon Brown whose pass allowed Alex Neil to cross for Richie Barker to head back to Giles Coke, but the young midfielder poked his finish just wide.
Three minutes later Brown was denied by the woodwork when his glancing header from a Neil corner clipped the bar.
The Stags carved out another clear chance in the 14th minute. Neil's pass beat the offside trap but Barker fired tamely at keeper Nathan Abbey's legs.
Injured referee Mike Pike swapped places with fourth official Steve Bratt at half time and his first decision proved contentious when he allowed Courtney Pitt to race clear despite a clear handball and cross for Bradley Maylett to give Boston a surprise lead four minutes into the second half.
Sixty seconds later another fine Pitt cross found half-time substitute Daryl Clare, but his tame shot went straight to keeper White.
And that miss proved vital. In the 53rd minute Brown's close-range shot was only parried by Abbey and Barker pounced to level with his tenth goal of the season.
Twelve minutes later substitute Callum Lloyd fired in from the edge of the area after a clever turn.
Within 60 seconds the teenage midfielder should have scored again, but this time he skied a Barker cross over the bar from six yards.
However, that miss didn't prove vital as Adam Rundle's side-footed 25-yard volley clinched victory in the 70th minute despite the injury time drama.
Latest | April 2005