STAGS DENIED BY INJURY TIME EQUALISER
Mansfield 1 - 1 Carlisle
Barker 63. Hawley 90+2
4488 (1592 from Carlisle)
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Carlisle leave it late to clinch promotion at the Mill
MANSFIELD TOWN 1 CARLISLE UNITED 1
CARLISLE United left it very late before rocking brave Mansfield Town with a 92nd minute equaliser to clinch promotion in a thriller at Field Mill this afternoon.
The Cumbrians needed only a point to clinch promotion and brought a huge army of fans to cheer them on.
But it was the home fans who were cheering as the game entered the second minute of stoppage time as they led through Richie Barker's 63rd minute strike.
However, there was late heartbreak for young keeper Jason White as his clean sheet against the champions-elect was wrecked when Carlisle hit man Karl Hawley grabbed his 26th goal of the campaign as White lay helpless after a superb double save.
Stags made five changes from the side beaten twice over Easter last weekend.
There were opportunities given to White in goal and Callum Lloyd on the left of midfield with Gus Uhlenbeek back on the right.
Rhys Day came into the centre of defence with John-Baptiste moving across the right back to cover for the injured Jake Buxton.
And Simon Brown made a surprise start up front, his final game of the season with his hernia operation taking place this week.
Giles Coke and Danny Reet missed out with suspension and Kevin Pressman and Allan Russell dropped to the bench with Adam Rundle out of the 16 altogether.
Carlisle included two ex-Stags favourites in Kevin Gray and Adam Murray.
The visitors, roared on by a massive army of fans, were first to show as a quick free kick down the right released Bridges for a cross to the near post where Hawley headed wide.
For Stags Lloyd played a promising one-two with D'Laryea on the edge of the box but was crowded out as he went for the finish.
White made his first save on 10 minutes, diving to his right to hold Lumsdon's 18 yard volley after an Aranalde long throw was headed clear.
There were boos for former Stag Gray after a crunching challenge from behind on Brown in the centre circle.
Stags made hard work of clearing Murphy's 17th minute corner but the goal survived intact.
And they threatened for the first time seconds later as Brown robbed Aranalde 30 yards from goal and broke forward. Barker was screaming for the ball in front of goal but Brown tried the shot and it was deflected wide for a corner.
Hawley wanted a penalty at the other end as John-Baptiste made the challenge. But the referee was not impressed.
Bridges almost broke the deadlock by accident on 24 as his mis-hit cross from the right lofted over White by landed on the roof of the net.
Seconds later White again left his line but Bridges was there first and his shot again beat the keeper only to see John-Baptiste clear off the line and the referee add insult to injury by awarding a goal kick.
Stags responded with a powerful header that flew inches wide from Lloyd from a free kick.
A long Bridges cross was just too high for Murray who, stretching, could not get his far post header on target.
Barker out-jumped keeper Westwood for a Wilson cross, but Murphy was there to volley clear before Stags could capitalise.
A minute from the break Bridges twice came close again. Latching onto a Murray pass he spun superbly in the box to fire in a low shot that White was able to parry.
And as a throw from the left was half cleared, Bridges let fly with a first time shot that only just cleared the far angle.
The first half finished goalless with the visitors on top and pressing.
United began the second half as they had ended the first and John-Baptiste blocked a Bridges shot with Murray sending the follow-up wide of the far post.
Brown was lucky not to get booked for going down in the box under Arnison's challenge and screaming for a penalty. But it was the start of a frantic spell of home pressure, including two corners.
Carlisle made a change up front as Holmes was replaced by Hackney on 56 minutes.
There was uproar as Hjelde went down injured with what looked like a torn hamstring. The referee told him to leave the field but the defender was struggling to stand.
The referee ordered play to restart with the player still down with home fans baying their anger.
At the next stoppage Wilson was booked for dissent and Hjelde was replaced by Jacobs who went to right back with John-Baptiste moving over into the centre.
But the fans had smiles back on their faces on 63 minutes as Stags swept ahead.
Uhlenbeek played the ball to the far post from the right and Brown turned it back in front of goal where Barker found the net from close range - his 23rd goal of the season.
White was safely behind a long range shot from Hawley two minutes later.
Brown left the field to an ovation on 66 minutes to be replaced by Arnold.
Westwood dealt well with a swerving Lloyd shot on 67 minutes.
Hawley came close to levelling the scores five minuets later as he lined up a powerful dipping shpt that only just cleared White's crossbar.
Another Carlisle corner saw Hackney send it long to the far post where the ball came off a Mansfield head and flew at the incoming Gray who did not have enough time to get direction on his header and it sailed wide.
Stags broke downfield and Arnold was desperately unlucky with a superb lob that beat Westwood and only just cleared the bar.
But the home side suffered a blow on 78 as John-Baptiste went off injured.
Russell came on to play up front and skipper Barker dropped back to centre half. At the same time Glenn Murray came on for Gray for United. His namesake Adam Murray was then replaced by Grand on 82.
The lively Arnold almost settled things three minutes from time after swapping passes with Russell. But with only Westwood to beat he blazed his finish over.
However, there was late heartbreak for the Stags as Hawley snatched a precious equaliser for the visitors.
Hawley drilled in a low shot which White blocked with his knees, the ball came out to Bridges who also forced a save from White. But the young keeper could do nothing as Hawley finally netted from close range as the ball again ran loose.
Stags launched one last raid but the whistle sparked the start of Carlisle's promotion celebrations.
As seems to be the case when we face Mansfield Town towards the end of the season, and especially at their place, there was a fair bit riding on today's game as United faced the final push towards promotion and the Stags came in search of the points they needed to close the lid on any talks of a relegation battle.
Paul Simpson stayed loyal to the starting eleven that has continued his unbeaten recently, resisting the temptation to bring fit again defender Danny Livesey back in to the fold. Ex-Stag Adam Murray kept his place in midfield in a game that he was bound to be looking forward to.
It was the charged atmosphere that was expected with the travelling fans making most of the noise, and they were rewarded with an early attack when Arnison took a quick free kick in midfield. Bridges showed for it, gathering the ball wide and crossing in to the area. Hawley ran across his marker, heading over from 10 yards out.
United were pressing well, almost piercing the Stags back line twice in the opening minutes with looping balls over the top. Mansfield themselves were unlucky in the 9th minute when LLoyd and Barker worked their way through the white shirts with some quick passing. It was Lloyd who would put too much on the final touch and the ball bobbled behind harmlessly for a goal kick.
Aranalde produced another of his trade mark long throws in the 10th minute that was only half cleared to Lumsdon, 20 yards out. He sent a decent volley towards the keeper's bottom right hand side but White was equal to it, grasping it down low.
The 15th minute saw a real chance for Holmes to collect a drilled Murphy shot as the Carlisle defender choked his volley from 30 yards. The big Scotsman was in a great position in the box but he lifted his foot too high, allowing it to run away for a goal kick.
A Murphy corner in the 17th minute as Carlisle had the better of the possession going forward dropped nicely for Bridges 8 yards out, but his downwards header was blocked as it bounced towards the net. Kev Gray tried to help the clearance back towards the top corner but White was well placed to catch it.
Aranalde was guilty of lingering for too long over a touch deep inside his own half 60 seconds later and Simon Brown wasted no time, nicking it off his toe. He pushed on in to the area, forcing Westwood in to a diving save at his near post as he took an age to line up his shot. United broke quickly following the corner and had a very good shout for a penalty turned down as Hawley looked to pick up the return pass of a one/two from Bridges and was bundled over in the area. Mr Drysdale wasted no time at all in waving play on.
Bridges then almost scored twice within the space of a minute, the first one coming from some excellent individual work on the right. He trapped the ball, slipped inside and clipped a lovely lob from 25 yards that had White wheeling his way back towards his line. It landed on top of his nets, much to his relief, as he fell backwards in to them. A lovely weighted pass from Lumsdon brought his next opportunity as he raced on to it with White bearing down on him. A toe poke took it under the keeper but Baptiste was there to flick it off the line, although the officials somehow came to the decision that it should be a goal kick.
At the other end, Day hit the bar from a flighted free kick that took Aranalde out at the far post. He connected strongly and had Westwood beaten, but the woodwork came to the rescue.
Bridges was the architect of another half chance in the 33rd minute when he rode two challenges to make the space for a cross. It was high and Murray had to stretch to get something on it, making it easy for White in the end.
The 38th minute saw some good football from Carlisle as they kept the ball in the Stags half, pressing well. It led to a Holmes shot that was blocked 16 yards out after Billy and Lumsdon had also tried to find a way through. Peter Murphy saw a 40th minute free kick evade everyone, as the Cumbrians continued to make the lions share of chances, after his low delivery was flicked on at the near post and Holmes, Aranalde and Murray were all left rooted to the spot as it spun past them.
Murphy kept cool in the 42nd minute when a difficult ball came his way in his own half and his ranging pass would bring a great save from White, via the boot of Michael Bridges. The striker showed his strength in the area, holding off his man and getting a parry from White that went for a throw. Aranalde sent it straight back in and it was Bridges again who would zip a volley beyond the back post from 17 yards.
Murphy had another low free kick that was cleared at the front post as injury time ticked down and it was the lack of a break in front of goal that had kept the scores tied at half time.
Half Time: Town 0 - 0 United
It was another scrappy start as the ball pinged about in midfield but Adam Murray would have a sighter in the 47th minute when Bridges played the ball back to him 25 yards out. He looked up and wrapped a foot round it but his shot lacked the curl that would have brought it back on target.
Mansfield had a period of possession borne from hustling and bustling just after the 50 minute mark with penalty appeals, half clearances and full blooded tackles keeping them at bay. Despite the pressure Westwood remained untested as the Stags just couldn't pick a way to goal.
Bridges and Baptiste were lucky to escape with just a stern word in the 55th minute after a brief spat in the Mansfield half that could easily have seen cards produced. Simpson reacted to the sluggish second half showing by bringing on Hackney for Holmes as he clearly wanted to give Shirtliff's side something more to think about.
A controversial corner in the 61st minute led to a booking for Wilson as Hjelde initially went down with a hamstring problem. He played the ball out to receive treatment and Carlisle played on from the throw. It led to the corner that Aranalde flicked on, but Gray was too far away to apply the finishing touch.
United were to be caught cold in the 63rd minute when Mansfield broke and had the defence pulled out of position. A long cross to the back post was left alone by the Cumbrians and Brown capitalised, hooking it back in to the 6 yard box. The unmarked Richie Barker was on hand to stab it home and start the celebrations.
The visitors seemed rattled as they couldn't settle and Dawson took advantage of space in midfield as he went for a long shot from 30 yards. It was more a crowd pleaser than anything serious and Westwood took the catching practice gratefully.
The Stags dropped deeper after bedding in after their goal and United had the better of the forward play but, as was the course of the game, couldn't quite find the quality in the final third. A 71st minute corner had Bridges grabbing at an overhead kick and a high ball from Arnison fell nicely for Hawley 22 yards out, but he couldn't find the target with a horribly wild shot.
Substitute Nathan Arnold almost scored a beauty in the 76th minute after Bridges was tackled in the Stags penalty area. A long punt in to the visitors half saw the nippy forward take the ball on, lift it over Gray and then try to lob Westwood. It had just too much on it and it fell the right side of the bar as far as the Carlisle fans behind the goal were concerned.
United escaped what would have been a killer goal in the 80th minute when Aranalde tried to shield a ball on the edge of his own area. Arnold was quickly on to him, getting a strong foot on it and whisking it past Westwood. The covering defenders got to it as the Stags fans stood in readiness to celebrate.
Arnold was guilty of a glaring miss in the 87th minute, although the linesman suggested offside, as he was fed through and in on goal. A powerful volley came at exactly the same time as the flag, but he was still very disappointed not to have hit the target.
Just as it seemed that United would have to wait for another week before securing their promotion to League One a last minute scramble produced a shot from nothing. Grand and Bridges both battled with Barker to take possession and it was the former who crashed a stinging drive at White, who could only parry it down. Glenn Murray had a stab, bringing another block, before Karl Hawley popped up to drill it home from just 3 yards.
The United celebrations were delayed as the Referee played time out and the whistle was greeted with a huge cheer as the Cumbrians finally realised their season long dream.
This may not have been pretty - but who cares. Yet again they have stuck to the task, dug as deep as they could and done exactly what they had to to get the point that was needed. The congratulations for this season will come later but, thanks to a massive goal difference, United can look forward to taking the step up for the 06/07 campaign.
Town - Barker (63)
United - Hawley (90)
Town - Wilson (61)
Town - White, D'Laryea, Day, Baptiste (Russell 78), Dawson, Uhlenbeek, Barker, Lloyd, Brown (Arnold 66), Hjelde (Jacobs 61), Wilson. Not Used - Pressman, Birchall.
United - Westwood, Arnison, Gray (G Murray 78), Murphy, Aranalde, Billy, Lumsdon, A Murray (Grand 82), Hawley, Holmes (Hackney 56), Bridges. Not Used - Williams, McGill.
Travelling fans - tbc
Latest | April 2006