THANK GOD FOR MICHAEL BOULDING
Mansfield Town 3 - 1 Shrewsbury Town
Boulding 22, 36, 87. Pugh 2.
Att 3,334 (420 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Shaw. Luke Mawbey and Neil Shaw at Field Mill
On a nervy, freezing afternoon at Field Mill in front of a passionate crowd, the Stags gained a vital 3-1 win against Shrewsbury to bring them within a point of Dagenham & Redbridge. The win was sealed by a superb hat-trick from Michael Boulding who took his tally for the season to 25 goals, an incredible feat in a team in the bottom two of the Football League. Defeats for Dagenham, Notts County and Chester made it a perfect day for the Stags, but more of the same is needed on the final two Saturdays and it still remains that the Stags cannot be safe before the final match.
Stagsnet report now in the Match Centre.
Highlights from Stagsworld commentary (apologies for poor quality of audio) here
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
BOULDING TAMES THE SHREWS
Mansfield Town 3 Shrewsbury Town 1.
Micky Boulding proved to be the Stags hero with a hat trick that keeps the dream of League 2 survival very much alive at Field Mill. Things didn't start well when Shrewsbury scored in only the 2nd minute but two first half goals by Boulding and a 3rd just three minutes from time meant that Paul Holland's men are still within a shout of retaining League football for next season.
With just two games to go, things at the bottom of the table can't be much tighter with Stags, Wrexham, Notts County, Dagenham & Redbridge and Chester City all baying for points that would stave off relegation. This weekend Stags face Rotherham United at Field Mill before the final game of the season and a do-or-die fixture away at Dagenham & Redbridge.
Things were tense before the start of the game with Mansfield knowing that a defeat and results going against them, could have meant relegation, so imagine the horror when the visitors, who themselves have won just one game out of their last fifteen, took a 2nd minute lead. Marc Pugh broke down the right hand side of the Stags defence and hit an effort that should have been easy for Jason White to collect, however much to everyone's horror, the ball came off White and into the back of the net. Field Mill was aghast whilst the visiting supporters jumped about in shocked delight.
Stags tried to get back into the game and Hamshaw who was again to have a shinning match for Mansfield, fired over the bar from the edge of the area.
On 22 minutes though, Mansfield were level and it was a goal of class. Briggs sent over a perfect cross-field ball to Hamshaw, who delivered an inch perfect cross that eluded Bevan and left Boulding the simple task of nudging the ball home from less than two yards. The collective relief around the ground was evident for all to see.
Hamshaw and Briggs were again the key men just minutes later when a Hamshaw corner found Briggs unmarked at the far post, unfortunately for the Stags; his downward header was scrambled away. Nathan Arnold also tested Bevan in the Shrews goal but his effort was easily saved.
Stags did get a 2nd goal though on 36 minutes through Micky Boulding. Hamshaw fed the ball into the feet of the Stags striker who turned neatly and fired in a low shot past Bevan from around the 12-yard mark that nestled neatly into the bottom left hand corner.
The 2nd half continued much the same as the 1st with Stags probing away whilst the visitors looked dangerous from corners and set-pieces; thankfully, Jason White had not let his early mistake get to him and did well on several occasions to punch or claw the ball away to safety.
Stags midfielder, D'Laryea found himself with a free run into the box but elected not to pull the trigger when it would have been the best option. The chance went away and almost proved costly as the visitors wasted a great chance of equalising. Pugh again did well out wide, exposing the inexperience of Wood, but when his cross came over, Constable inexplicably missed from less than six yards out. It was a massive let off for Mansfield.
Horlock then replaced Dawson on 68 minutes. Just a minute later, D'Laryea did have an attempt at goal, which took a slight deflection off of Boulding, just failed to find the target.
On 72 minutes, Madjo tested White from the edge of the box, but the keeper saved well. Boulding then went close to getting his hat trick but fired wide.
By this time the game was full of unbearable tension. A goal for the visitors could've wrecked the Stags season, whilst another goal for Mansfield would've kept the season alive.
On 81 minutes, Pugh again got free to cross in the ball for Madjo, his flick looked goal-bound until a good save from White.
Martin then replaced Wood and Briggs moved over to fill in the right back position.
On 87 minutes the goal Field Mill had been craving came. Louis slid the ball into the path of Boulding who showed good strength to beat the last man and as Bevan came rushing out, slotted the ball into the net. Field Mill exploded in delight for the frontman's 25th goal of the season.
The final whistle was greeted by a standing ovation. Now with just two games to go before the end of what has been one of the most turbulent seasons, both on and off the field in the Clubs history, The Stags are still in with a chance of avoiding the dreaded drop into Non-League.
Next Saturday, the Stags complete their home programme with a fixture against Rotherham United. The Millers have themselves had a tough time off the field and will be eager to end their away games on a high in what it sure to be another tense and memorable day at Field Mill.
Press Ass report:
Hot-shot Micky Boulding fired the first hat-trick of his Mansfield career - taking his tally for the season to 25 goals - to keep alive the Stags' hopes of avoiding relegation from the Football League.
But the battling Stags had to do it the hard way, coming from behind to win at Field Mill for the first time this season after conceding a goal after just 75 seconds.
Young keeper Jason White was to blame for the early breakthrough, but he redeemed himself with a crucial second-half save that paved the way for the crucial win alongside Boulding's treble.
The Stags had to field a makeshift defence for such an important match. Captain Jake Buxton was suspended while full-back Gareth Jelleyman and keeper Carl Muggleton were both injured.
And the reshuffled back five cost them dear after just 75 seconds when White fumbled Marc Pugh's 12-yard shot, allowing the ball to squirm through his grasp.
The brave Stags, fighting for their League lives, refused to let the goal dent their attacking approach and they continued to pour forward in search of the goals to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation.
Nathan Arnold and Jefferson Louis both had shots charged down, while Marc Tierney and Dave Hibbert were both fortunate to escape yellow cards for high challenges.
The Stags' best hope of an early reply was wasted by Louis as his close-range flick from Boulding's 15th-minute cross was blocked at the near post by Darran Kempson.
But their pressure was finally rewarded in the 22nd minute - Boulding touching in his 23rd goal of the season from Matt Hamshaw's clever lobbed cross, which left keeper Scott Bevan stranded, after a long pass from Keith Briggs.
Two minutes later the rampant home side were almost in front. This time Bevan redeemed himself with a fine low diving save to keep out Briggs' header from a deep Hamshaw corner.
On a rare Shrewsbury counter-attack, Hibbert headed Kevin McIntyre's cross wide from close range.
The Shrews were punished seconds later by a terrific turn and finish from Boulding, from yet another Hamshaw cross.
Hibbert curled a shot narrowly wide in first-half stoppage time as he continued to be the visitors' best hope of levelling.
Briggs went close from successive Hamshaw corners at the start of the second half, but first his acrobatic shot was blocked and then he glanced an effort wide.
Then Louis' turn and piledriver flashed over as the Stags looked for a crucial third goal.
Mansfield should have been punished for that miss when Pugh broke down the right and crossed to the unmarked James Constable but, with just the keeper to beat, he prodded the ball wide.
Substitute Guy Madjo's low drive was held by the diving White, who later did well to keep Pugh's fierce shot out.
Mansfield, tiring, were now limited to breakaways, and from one Boulding crashed a drive across the face of goal from a neat Arnold pass.
At the other end White beat away a close-range finish from Madjo after a weaving Pugh run and cross.
And that save proved so decisive three minutes from time when Louis' flick put Boulding clear and he fired under the advancing Bevan to clinch the vital victory.
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