SUPER STAGS BEAT STEVENAGE TO FINISH IN TOP HALF
Mansfield Town 2 - 1 Stevenage Borough
Garner 70, O'Connor 88. Laird 84. Cole sent off 45+4
Att: 3,614 (785 from Stevenage)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
Mansfield Town ended the season on a high with a terrific 2-1 win over Stevenage on Sunday at a buzzing Field Mill. In front of the biggest Field Mill crowd of the season, 3614 (two more than the home game against Burton), the victory took Mansfield into the top half of the table, a fact that after the game manager David Holdsworth told me meant a lot to him. It was a game that will most be remembered for terrific goals. Indeed the Stags had a couple of contenders for goal of the season. Firstly Scott Garner sent a missile into the net from 22 yards following a corner to put the Stags in front, then after Stevenage had gained a late equaliser, Aaron O'Connor fired home a fantastic winner on 88 minutes, curling a great right footed shot inside the right post from the left giving Stevenage keeper Day no chance. Stevenage got lucky and still made it into the play-offs courtesy of Kidderminster's defeat at home to Kettering. So great scenes everywhere at the final whistle as home fans invaded the pitch to celebrate the end of the season, and there were no repeats of the appalling scenes of previous seasons involving the stewards - another indication of how far the club has come - while Stevenage players celebrated with their buoyant fans.
For Mansfield, this is where we want to be next season, celebrating a place in the play-offs, or better. There is much to be hopeful about. The Stags continued their unbeaten record at home under David Holdsworth in 2009, and barely conceded a goal in the process. Stevenage had lost just once in their previous 30 games so it was no mean result. Of course the away form will need improving dramatically, and the players coming and going over the next few weeks will be key to the success of next season.
Before the game, Gary Silk picked up a clean sweep of all three Player of the Season awards, from the Ollerton Stags Supporters Club, the Stags Supporters Association, and the CHAD. Then Billy Logan picked up the Jack Retter Young Player of the Season award. Then Mansfield's three owners, Andy Perry, Andy Saunders and Steve Middleton received a terrific ovation on the pitch as they thanked the fans for their support during their first season in charge.
Both Stags goals look every bit as good on the match DVD and we'll have the highlights on Stagsworld by Tuesday morning at the latest. For me personally, an enjoyable end to a season I have enjoyed. It has been a privilege to do the Stagsnet report for 35 of our 46 league games, and commentate on 29 of our 46 league games. I hope you have enjoyed reading and listening. See you next season.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre
Some facts by Svante Bernhard Sweden Stag:
We've finished this season with eleven home games unbeaten (all after the turn of the year).
Some previous good Field Mill run-ins starting at a turn of the year::
Unbeaten at home all season: 1950-51, 1963-64, 1974-75, 1976-77.
In 1971-72 we were unbeaten in our last 13 home games, but with far too many draws (unbeaten from December 18, 1971 to March 31, 1973)
In 1961-62, we did not get beat in our last 10 home fixtures (two draws), score 31 for, 8 against (unbeaten from December 26, 1961, to September 29, 1962)
In 1948-49 unbeaten in 10 games starting on New Year's Day 1949, run ended on October 15, 1949
In 1975-76 unbeaten in 14 home games from Boxing Day 1975, run ended in Division 2 on September 3, 1977 (38 games)
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
STAGS STUN STEVENAGE IN END OF SEASON THRILLER
Mansfield Town 2 Stevenage Borough 1
The final curtain fell on Mansfield Town's 08/09 season with a tremendous 2-1 victory over Stevenage Borough at Field Mill. The visitor's, who had previously lost only once in thirty games ended the clash scraping into the last play off position in the BSP which could mean a 'double Wembley' appearance for the Hertfordshire Club who are due to take on York City in the FA Trophy Final on 9th May.
Stags made five changes to the side that had convincingly defeated Altrincham in midweek as 'Gaffa' David Holdsworth hoped that his side would remain unbeaten at home for the eleventh time since he took up the Field Mill hot seat.
The visitor's on a fantastic run that had seen just one defeat since November came at Mansfield with gusto as they aimed to keep their destiny in their own hands by gaining something from the game, which would ensure a play off finishing position. In as early as the 2nd minute, Marriott was forced to warm his gloves diving to his left to save a shot from Bostwick.
There was bitter blow for Mansfield in the 4th minute when Jonathan D'Laryea took a blow to the face and was forced to leave the field for treatment. Whilst down to 10 men, Duffy drilled in a left sided cross that no one got on the end off and went out for a goal-kick.
It was obvious that D'Laryea wouldn't be able to continue and so Stags were forced into a sixth minute change that saw the introduction of young Curtis Shaw.
The away side continued to have the slight better of things in the opening minutes with Henry twice posing problems.
On 20 minutes though fine inter-play between Clare and Duffy resulted in Duffy almost having the chance of putting the Stags in front but 'Boro' left back, Laird slid in with a great block that not only denied Stags a goal scoring opportunity but also left Duffy unfortunately in need of treatment.
Four minutes later whilst Duffy received treatment, Boro broke and striker Boylan failed to get the ball to the waiting Drury as Garner came in with a timely challenge.
Seconds later and Mansfield were once again forced into a change when it was confirmed that Duffy could take no further part. He was replaced by Aaron O'Connor.
The first half's minutes went by with tension in the air as tackles began to fly in and tempers began to be raised. It was certainly not a 'nothing to play for' end of season encounter. Both sides were not budging an inch. Chances were at a minimum but the game definitely did not lack sparkle.
Three minutes into 1st half added on time, Stags finally got a break when Mitchell Cole was sensationally shown a straight red card by the Referee. Cole had been in possession of the ball and was heading for the Stags far byeline when the ball was taken off him in a fair challenge by Scott Garner. As the Stags centre back opened his legs to come away with the ball, Cole, clearly showing frustration, kicked out leaving the Mansfield man on the floor and the Ref with no other option than to send Cole from the field of play.
Boro came out for the 2nd half in determined mood to show that their 10 men could still make an impact and Morison and Drury both provided evidence of the fact.
It took Stags until 52 minutes before their first shot in anger of the 2nd period, O'Connor with a tame effort that was saved easily by Day.
Back came the visitors and Marriott once again proved his worth saving well from Bostwick's powerful drive.
There was controversy in the 64th minute when Stags had a seemingly good goal disallowed for what was originally thought to be handball. Silk had sent over a cross that was controlled by Ryan Williams who then tucked the ball home into the far right hand corner. As the Stags players celebrated and the Referee seemingly gave the goal, several Stevenage players confronted the linesman. A quick chat between the Referee and his assistant later and the goal was ruled out. Later it transpired that Clare was in an offside position and that had been the reason for Williams' goal being chalked off.
Stags were grateful for a piece of fine defending from Silk as he came across to block an effort from Drury. Murphy then ran towards the Stags area but had his progress denied by Garner who was shown a yellow card. From the resulting free kick, Drury was denied by another fine save from Marriott.
On 71 minutes though Scott Garner brought the house down with one of those type of goals players always dream about. The ball was not effectively cleared by Boro and when it came to the young defender some 25 yards from goal he unleashed a fizzer that flew into the top corner of the net.
Boro were desperate to get back into the game Murphy going close before on 78 minutes, Marriott denied both Drury and Morison before the ball eventually ran to Boylan who blasted the ball well wide.
Ex-Stag Mendes gave the Stags crowd a chance to jeer when he came on as a sub but wasted his first opportunity by curling his shot hopelessly wide of the mark.
With five minutes to go though, the visitor's grabbed an equaliser when left back Laird popped up to finish a right sided cross neatly. The almost 800 visiting fans in Field Mill's best attendance of the season went wild in celebration.
The game though was to have a grand finale with just two minutes of play left on the clock. The far left hand side saw Arnold nick the ball to the feet of O'Connor. The Stags striker then cut inside and let go an unstoppable shot that flew into the bottom far corner of the net. Field Mill erupted in wild celebration as hundreds ran onto the pitch in glee. Thankfully there was no further incident and the pitch was cleared quickly and with no fuss. It had all been in good nature and officials can be congratulated in their handling of the situation.
The final whistle blew to bring down the curtain on another season at Field Mill. This time both sets of fans inside the ground had reason to celebrate. Other results had gone the way Stevenage wanted and so they had claimed a play off place whilst the home crowd could not be anything other than delighted by the way their heroes had ended the campaign.
Observer Man of the match – Scott Garner edged the award just in front of Ryan Williams for a solid performance and a goal to remember.
After each Observer report written by Steve Hartshorn he has given an Observer Man of the match. After waiting for the final game of the season and totalling up the game-by-game awards we are pleased to announce that the award this season goes to Ryan Williams. It was a narrow run thing but Williams' four man of the match awards just took him away from the other contenders. The trophy will be presented to Ryan during the Stags' End of season dinner.
Boro lose but make play-offs
Mansfield 2 Stevenage Boro 1
Boro stumbled their way into the play-offs at Field Mill this afternoon despite a late Aaron O'Connor strike giving Mansfield all three points.
Kidderminster's failure to beat Kettering ensured it didn't matter what Boro did and Graham Westley's side can finally celebrate claiming the final play-off spot.
Mitchell Cole will be the most relieved man in Hertfordshire this evening after he was sent off for an act of petulance at the end of the first half allowing Mansfield to gain the initiative in the second period.
Scott Garner duly fired the Stags into the lead in the 70th minute but Scott Laird equalised with a fine strike in front of the 785 travelling Boro fans.
O'Connor had the last word, however, when he fired home after a nice weaving run but it didn't matter as the final whistle at Aggborough soon followed setting up a play-off semi-final date against Cambridge United.
Graham Westley kept faith with the same side that despatched of Kidderminster on Tuesday night meaning Mark Albrighton continued to deputise at centre half in place of Jon Ashton due to a shoulder injury.
The one change came on the bench as Gary Mills came into the match day 16 with Peter Vincenti missing out.
Darren Murphy had the first shot in anger as early as the second minute after good work by Steve Morison, but his low 25-yard effort was easily saved by Stags' 'keeper Alan Marriott.
Mansfield were dealt a blow in the sixth minute when skipper Jonathan D'Laryea limped off to be replaced by Curtis Shaw and Boro were certainly in the ascendancy in the early stages.
Both Morison and Boylan looked lively although Ronnie Henry was the next to try his luck from long range but his right-footed effort sailed over the crossbar.
Mansfield then started to show signs why they haven't lost at home since January as they started to put pressure on the Boro back four.
Only an outstanding tackle from Mark Roberts prevented Rob Duffy from opening the scoring after being teed up by Daryl Clare in the penalty area.
It was the kind of tackle all Boro fans have come to expect from the former Northwich Victoria defender, who has flourished under Westley since his move to the Lamex Stadium.
Darren Murphy, who has struggled at times since his move from Cork, then had a golden opportunity just before the half hour mark when Andy Drury produced a superb cross from the right flank that found the Irishman six yards out from goal.
Murphy simply had to hit the target to open the scoring but the midfielder failed to make a proper contact and his effort skewed horribly wide.
Drury opened up the Mansfield defence again in the 37th minute when he found Cole free at the back post but Adie Moses had spotted the danger and hacked the winger's cross clear with Boylan set to pounce in the six-yard box.
Boro looked comfortable then a moment of stupidity from Cole gave Boro a mountain to climb as he was shown the red card.
The 23-year-old had been dispossessed on the left wing by Scott Gardner, who emerged with the ball before Cole, frustrated at not beating his man, aimed a kick at the defender.
While he did not connect, the referee had no option but to send the former Grays man for an early bath.
Boylan dropped into the left midfield role vacated by Cole's departure and the Boro faithful braced themselves for a nervy second half.
Westley had obviously encouraged his side to continue pushing forward after the break and Marriott had to be quick off his line to deny Drury after the former Lewes man had latched on to Morison's flick on.
Michael Bostwick then had a sight of goal in the 54th minute when Morison laid off to the midfielder on the edge of the area but his drilled strike was well saved by Marriott.
Boro had a massive let-off 10 minutes later when Ryan Williams had a goal disallowed for handball. Silk managed to get past Laird down the left before swinging the ball over for Williams, who controlled and finished low past Day.
The Mansfield midfielder wheeled away in celebration but this was curtailed when the linesman called over the referee to say he had used his hand to control the ball.
Boro almost took full advantage of their reprieve when Morison found Drury in the penalty area but the midfielder dwelled on it too long and allowed Silk to make a last-ditch tackle.
Mansfield were starting to make the extra man tell, however, and in the 70th minute they took the lead thanks to an absolute beauty from Garner.
The ball arrived bouncing towards the defender 30 yards from goal and he unleashed a fearsome strike that flew past Day into the top corner. Boro's play-off hopes were hanging by a thread as all thoughts turned towards what was going on between Kidderminster and Kettering.
Morison should have got Boro back on level terms when Roberts' knockdown found him one-on-one against Marriott but the Stags' shot-stopper denied the former Northampton man.
The danger still wasn't cleared, however, and the ball fell to Boylan, who blazed over from 10 yards.
But Boro did finally get the goal they deserved in the 84th minute thanks to a sweet strike from Laird. The ball fell to the former Plymouth man on the edge of the area and he produced a wonderful effort that flew past Marriott.
News also filtered through that Kettering had scored against Kidderminster prompting jubilation among the travelling Boro support.
The Stevenage players appeared to lose focus allowing O'Connor to embark on a solo run before curling past Day into the far corner.
But it didn't matter, Kidderminster's failure to beat Kettering meant Boro were in the play-offs.
Mansfield Town (4-4-2): Marriott 8, Silk 7, Garner 7, Moses 6, Gardner 6, Arnold 6, D'Laryea 6 (Shaw 6), Hotchkiss 6, Williams 7, Clare 7 (Stallard 76), Duffy 6 (O'Connor 25). Subs not used: White, Naylor.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Henry 7, Albrighton 7, Roberts 8, Laird 7, Drury 7 (Mendes 79), Murphy 7, Bostwick 6, Cole 5, Boylan 6 (Willock 88), Morison 7. Subs not used: Bayes, Wilson, Mills.
Referee: J West
report from Boro Web: stevenageborofc.com
MANSFIELD TOWN 2 STEVENAGE BOROUGH 1
Despite losing a tense, nervy affair at Field Mill, Borough earned themselves a place in the play-offs and a double-header against Cambridge United. Borough were in control for large spells of the game but were severely hampered by the sending off of Mitchell Cole just before the interval.
Borough fell behind to a wonder strike from Scott Garner and although Scott Laird restored parity, Garner scored the winner in the game's dying moments.
After Tuesday evening's fine victory over play-off rivals Kidderminster Harriers it was not surprisingy that Graham Westley named an unchanged side for the final regular Blue Square Premier fixture of the season.
Borough started brightly with Darren Murphy and Michael Bostwick bossing the centre of the park, and Andy Drury and Mitchell Cole looking lively on the flanks. The home side suffered an early setback when they lost their captain Jonathan D'Laryea to a facial injury suffered in a collision with Murphy after just five minutes.
The first chance of the afternoon went to Borough when Ronnie Henry burst forwards and fired a 20-yard shot inches over the bar. The home side suffered a further injury woe when Rob Duffy was forced to leave the field midway through the half. Borough continued to be comfortable without pressing home their superiority.
Stevenage continued to pose the greater attacking threat, mainly through the vision of Drury down the right. He picked out Murphy with a pin point cross but the midfielder failed to get his shot on target, and then minutes later found Cole clear at the far post but his pass failed to find Lee Boylan.
A half that had been going so well began to turn sour three minutes into added time at the end of the first half when Cole was shown a straight red card. The winger was chasing a ball against Garner and received a violent elbow from the centre back for his troubles. Cole turned and kicked out and unfortunately for Stevenage, the referee only saw the retaliation and not the initial offence. Far beyond the immediate ramifications is the three match ban that would see Cole miss the FA Trophy final.
Borough began the second period in determined mood and managed to carve themselves out a couple of half chances, a turn and shot from Morison and a rampaging run down the left and cross from Scott Laird that was scrambled clear. Eight minutes in and Bostwick had the best chance of the afternoon as Morison teed him up on the edge of the area, but his low drive was well saved by Alan Marriott.
It took until 20 minutes into the half for the home side to mount a serious attack, but when they did they came close to breaking the deadlock. Gary Silk did well down the right, crossed to Ryan Williams who appeared to handle the ball before firing past Chris Day. The referee initially awarded the goal, before the protests from the Borough players sent him to the linesman, who confirmed that Williams had handled the ball and the goal was ruled out.
Borough came roaring back and good work down the left from Morison set up Drury, but his effort was well saved by Marriott. Minutes later Murphy surged through the centre of the park and just as he was about to shoot he was hauled down by Scott Garner. It appeared to be a cast iron penalty and a certain red card, but the referee opted for simply a yellow card and a freekick on the edge of the area. Drury's low shot well saved by Marriott.
That decision was to have extra repercussions moments later when from a seemingly harmless position Garner let fly with a venomous drive that gave Day no chance and sent the home supporters into raptures.
Despite the setback Borough continued to press and Marriott pulled off a stunning double save to deny Morison and then Drury, and when the loose ball fell to Boylan, ten yards from goal, the forward blazed over the bar with the goal gaping.
With the clock running down Borough gave themselves hope when Laird drilled a low shot past Marriott from the edge of the area. Moments later the news came through from Aggborough that Kettering Town had taken the lead, a result that ensured Borough's place in the play-offs.
Just to add some drama to the occasion Garner turned and fired home in the box to give the home side the lead, and that caused momentary consternation among the Borough fans until they realised that they had been handed a reprieve by Kettering's victory. The goal also sparked a mass pitch invasion from the home supporters, an occurrence that was repeated on the final whistle.
Understandably Borough's celebrations were somewhat muted, but there was no denying the fact that given their poor start to the season, Borough had achieved a small miracle in reaching the play-offs.
STEVENAGE BOROUGH (4-4-2)
C Day – R Henry, M Roberts, M Albrighton (Sub: L Wilson 76), S Laird – A Drury (Sub: J Mendes, 83), D Murphy, M Bostwick, M Cole – S Morison, L Boylan (Sub: C Willock, 85). Substitutes not used: A Bayes, G Mills, C Willock. Booked: Bostwick. Sent Off: Cole
Posted by: msvenables
Posted on: 25/04/2009
Latest | April 2009