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Archived News from May 2012

11th May 2012 14:27

Blue Square Bet Premier, Play-off semi final 2nd leg
Mansfield Town 0 - 1 York City
Blair 111
Att: 7295 (1490 from York)

Date: 7 May 2012

Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium

Mansfield Town lost 1-0 to a goal in the second period of extra time as it was York City who progressed through to the final of the play-offs at Wembley. In a tight game, there were very few chances for either team and the game looked like it had 0-0 written all over it. But Matty Blair headed in from close range from a left wing cross 9 minutes from the end of extra time and the Stags were unable to summon enough energy for an equaliser. Mansfield worked tremendously hard throughout, none more so than captain fantastic Adam Murray, but lacked a clinical edge up front to turn half chances into goals and ultimately missed Matt Green as much as we feared we would, after his suspension following the incorrectly awarded second yellow card in the first leg. The Stags best chances to score were a Murray shot that was blocked after excellent play by the industrious Meikle, a Meikle shot that pushed over the bar by Ingham after a superb run, and then late on a Dyer flicked header from a Geohaghon long throw that was nearly a carbon-copy of his goal in the first leg. York's best chances before the goal both fell to sub Moke who had shots from the edge of the box, though York had good chances to extend their lead in the final moments as Mansfield poured everyone forward.

It will take most of the summer to recover from the disappointment of this loss, but the club will have to re-group and come back stronger next season. The spine of the side is in place but that little bit of extra quality up front is needed as a back-up to Matt Green, as was clearly demonstrated today when he wasn't available. Congratulations to Paul Cox for a wonderful season, and the highest points tally the club has attained since three points for a win was introduced. It's been fantastic entertainment with, for example 50 goals scored at home, with Matt Green becoming the first Stags player to score 30 goals since 1975, an incredible 16 wins and 2 draws out of the last 20 games of the season, and many outstanding individual performances. But more than anything the manager instilled a team ethic and a will to win that we haven't seen for many years.

Utter despair, utter heartbreak. We just came up short today, and we'll have to come back stronger next season. Come on Mansfield.

Man of the match: Adam Murray

Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre


Mansfield Town 0 York City 1 (AET), Play-Off Semi-Final, Second Leg
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas

MATTY Blair crushed Mansfield Town's promotion dream when he bagged the only goal of a tight, tense game nine minutes from the end of extra-time in today's BSBP play-off semi-final second leg at a sold-out One Call Stadium.


Stags would have hoped they had done the hard bit by drawing 1-1 at York in the first leg in midweek, but Gary Mills' men, who had not lost away from home since October, defended magnificently and prevented Stags getting into their normal stride.

Neither keeper was really stretched in a tense 90 minutes.

But, with penalties beckoning, Blair, who had a superb 90 minutes, rose to head home a Jason Walker cross and it was game over exactly one year to the day Stags lost to Darlington at Wembley in the FA Trophy final by a single late goal.

City also became the first team to prevent Mansfield scoring at home since Kidderminster on 24th September.

To rub in the agony, Stags also had Ritchie Sutton sent-off near the end for a second yellow card on an unseasonably cold and wet, miserable afternoon for Mansfield.

Stags had been given a pre-match boost when centre half Martin Riley declared himself fit.

Riley limped out of the midweek 1-1 first leg draw at York with a hamstring strain and said on Thursday he hoped to be fit for a potential Wembley final.

So Mansfield fans were delighted to see Riley trot out in a team showing just one change, Louis Briscoe coming in for the suspended Matt Green.

Amid a fantastic atmosphere, Mansfield kicked-off, attacking the North Stand end.

Roberts' foul gave City the first chance to put the ball into the home box, but Meredith overhit it.

York keeper Ingham was the main target for stick from the home fans for his part in Matt Green's first booking on Wednesday with deafening chants of 'cheat' the first time he picked up the ball.

Geohaghon towelled down the ball before launching his first long throw which Dyer headed on, only to see it cleared.

Another ball into the Stags box saw O'Neill clear safely into touch before the advancing Chambers could cause any problems.

O'Neill's sliding intervention then stopped Oyebanjo feeding the ball into the box again.

It had been a nervous, untidy, committed first 10 minutes with neither keeper tested.

McLaughlin's poor clearance allowed Roberts to win a corner which was bundled clear as far as Murray, whose shot was blocked.

York tried to break through Blair, but Roberts was back quickly to slide in and win a decisive tackle.

The visitors won their first corner on 14 minutes which Smith won in the air, the ball knocked back towards McLaughlin, who drove the game's first real shot rising over the bar from 18 yards.

Walker sent a 20 yard free kick into the home wall before Stags showed their pace on the break and Meikle chased the ball out wide on the right with the York defence at sixes and sevens and eventually Parslow had to thrown himself in front of Murray's shot.

Meikle cut inside from the left on 19 minutes only to fire low straight at Ingham.

The York keeper cleanly grabbed Stags' third corner of the afternoon on 22 minutes.

Ex-Stag Challinor was upsetting the home fans by stealing extra yards on every throw-in down the City right.

Roberts saw his 25 yard central free kick blocked by the wall, then Ingham safely took another Geohaghon throw as the York rearguard held firm.

Roberts' sliding challenge on Meredith in the box did just enough to stop his run while not conceding a penalty.

Another great run from Oyebanjo down the centre saw him unceremoniously hacked at twice, Riley shown a yellow card for bringing him down and York weinning a 25 yard free kick.

McLaughlin took that and saw it deflect wide for a definite corner, City furious when a goal kick was awarded instead.

Marriott came for and caught a long McLaughlin throw. Then Ingham was first to a Dyer flick-on as Meikle chased it in hope.

McLaughlin halted a promising Mansfield break with a cynical trip on Roberts to earn himself a caution.

O'Neill headed clear from a York corner to spark another counter-attack, wasted when Meikle played a loose pass into touch to the groans of the home faithful.

Howell, who had not enjoyed the best of first halves, got in the way of a Dyer no-down in stoppage time and York hooked clear as a tight, often turgid first half ended scoreless.

City created the first threat after the break on 50 minutes as, reminiscent of last year's Darlington winner, Mariott came for the bal but collided with Riley and the bal ran loose, Walker seeing his eventual shy at goal blocked by Riley.

Riley also got in the way of a low Oyebanjo shot soon after as the home goal survived a worrying few moments.

On 52 minutes the dangerous Bair came inside Roberts and Sutton before shooting low at Marriott.

Murray did well to win the tackle and send Briscoe on his way down the right, the winger drilling in a good, low cross which Smith cut out well.

Blair's low, weak 25-yard shot was never likely to trouble Marriott, then Geohaghon headed clear City's first corner of the half as the game remained on a knife edge.

Ingham finally had some work to do on 59 minutes, though he was always behind Briscoe's low 20 yard shot to make the block.

Then Doig leapt to head clear a Meikle cross as the home side finally built some pressure.

York sent on Moke for Challinor in the first change of the game on the hour.

Parslow escaped a caution for a deliberate handball that halted a Stags attack, ironic after Green's sending-off in midweek.

On 63 minutes, Geohaghon reached an O'Neill free kick at the back stick and headed across towards Briscoe who met the ball on the volley but didn't get enough on it to beat Ingham, who took the ball above his head.

On 64 minutes Mansfield made a big change as they went 4-4-2 with Rhead on up front and Howell sacrificed in midfield.

O'Neill almost unlocked York with a great one-two with Briscoe to get him into the box after Murray had started the move.

But his firm cross was put out for the first of two corners with the home fans in full cry.

The second saw Moke clear off the line from an O'Neill corner that looked to be curling directly in, though the whistle went for a foul anyway.

On 71 minutes Meikle kept a long throw through everyone in play with City expecting a goalkick, Meikle allowed to continue and cut inside the shoot into the near sidenetting with York furious with the officials.

Rhead took a bang to the face helping the ball wide to Briscoe to his right which saw the winger fire over from an impossible angle with team mates better placed.

Ingham did well to punch clear amid a crowd of heads as Briscoe headed a long Geohaghon throw back into the mixer.

In a rare City chance. Moke should have at least hit the target with a first time shot from 16 yards from Walker's pull-back on 77 minutes, but blazed well over.

Doig was booked on 81 minutes for catching Meikle a fraction late as he tried to burst into the box.

It was a great position for a free kick, just right of centre 19 yards from goal. But the City wall did its job in blocking Briscoe's blast.

With two minutes left, another Geohaghon missle was cleared to Murray who hurried a dipping shot over the top from 20 yards as we moved towards the extra half-hour.

Oyebanjo was booked in the last minute of the 90 for clattering Meikle.

We entered four added minutes with York defending another Geohaghon throw.

Agonisingly, Geohaghon got a headed flick onto a long free kick which bounced just out of the reach of Rhead into Ingham's hands.

That brought an extra strength-sapping half-an-hour as the sides took a brief rest at the end of a 90 minute tussle without a real chance, like two boxers fighting each other to a standstill.

It had been the first time a team had shut the Stags out completely at home over 90 minutes since Kidderminster on 24th September, so full credit to Gary Mills' men for that feat.

Both sides were now looking for a hero, and Blair quickly won York a corner on the right which Stags eventually cleared.

Ingham clutched an O'Neill corner safely above his head after five minutes.

Blair showed great stamina to sprint down the right and leave Sutton behind, Geohaghon heading his cross out for a corner.

That was played short for Potts who wriggled himself into space for a low shot which he pulled wide.

The referee played on after a Murray foul, Chambers delaying a shot or pass too long and the opportunity ending when Sutton blocked.

In the 12th minute we finally saw a keeper stretched as Ingham had to reach high and claw over a dipping Meikle shot from 20 yards.

Then, from the corner, Riley jumped well but headed over the top.

Sutton was booked on 104 minutes for bringing down Walker, and before the game restarted, Stevenson replaced Briscoe.

In the final minute of the half, Roberts failed to cut out a low Chambers ball across the box and Moke controlled before shooting straight at Marriott.

Murray was booked on 108 minutes for challenging with studs showing amid a scramble in the City box.

Roberts got back well to win the ball off Blair and launch it upfield. Rhead controlled and helped it on for Stevenson, but his shot was too early and tame from 25 yards.

A Moke cross was just too high for Potts in the centre as the game finally started to become stretched.

And on 111 minutes the game was up for Mansfield.

Walker curled in a teasing cross from the left and Blair jumped to power a header past Marriott from just inside the six yard box to break the deadlock and send their travelling army of fans behind that goals into ecstasy.

A minute later Sutton's foul on Blair saw him shown a second yellow and subsequent red as the afternoon rapidly went downhill for Paul Cox's men.

Dyer got a good flick onto a Geohaghon throw for desperate Mansfield, but Ingham smothered it quickly.

There was a hold-up Mansfield didn't need as stewards dealt with two idiotic Stags fans invading the pitch as the precious seconds ticked away.

Geohaghon hurled in two desperate long throws in the last minute of the 30.

Four more were added on in which Walker should have sealed it on a break but saw O'Neill cleared his attempted chip with Moke screaming for the ball to his right unmarked in front of goal.

Walker should have been sent off for sliding into Marriott on 122 minutes well after the keeper had gathered but got away with a yellow.

In the last minute Moke and Walker again strode clear, Moke sportingly teeing up Walker who amazingly delayed his finish and let Marriott get into position to make two successive blocks on him with Moke furious.

But it didn't matter as the final whistle saw Cox's men sink to the ground in misery as the chance of a return to the Football League disappeared for another year.

The warm applause from the home fans at least reflected their appreciation of the team's efforts since Christmas in at least giving themselves a chance of what eventually proved a fruitless but exciting promotion challenge.

STAGS: Marriott; O'Neill, Riley, Geohaghon, Sutton; Murray, Howell (Rhead 64), Roberts; Briscoe (Stevenson 104), Dyer, Meikle. Subs not used: Redmond, Thompson, Andrew.

YORK: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Meredith, Smith, Parslow, Walker, Chambers, Blair, Challinor (Moke 60), Doig (Fyfield 87), McLaughlin (Potts 72). Subs not used: Musselwhite, Reed.

REFEREE: Andy Davies of Southampton.

ATTENDANCE: 7,295 (1,490 away).

CAUTIONS: Stags – Riley 35, Sutton 104, Murray 108. York – McLaughlin 39, Doig 81, Oyebanjo 90, Walker 120 (+4).

DISMISSAL: Sutton 112 (Second yellow).



Stags 0-1 York (AET)
Posted on: Mon 07 May 2012

Andrew Webb reports for mansfieldtown.net

Mansfield Town succumbed to a heart-breaking play-off semi-final defeat at the hands of York City, despite a thoroughly valiant effort.The Stags, who will now endure their fifth successive season in non-league football, had chances to win the game during a gritty encounter played out in front of One Call Stadium's biggest crowd of the season.


But a goal from Matty Blair, nine minutes from the end of extra-time, killed the Stags play-off challenge and left both supporters and players devastated.

Paul Cox made one change to the team that battled their way to a draw at Bootham Crescent in the first leg as Louis Briscoe replaced the suspended Matt Green in the starting line-up.

After a tentative opening, the Stags won the first corner on 12 minutes. Luke O'Neill delivered almost perfectly for Martin Riley who was stationed on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Minstermen managed to scramble the ball clear and soon launched a counter-attack.

Blair burst down the inside-left and charged down on goal. With the goal approaching him, Gary Roberts tracked back magnificently and made a perfectly timed challenge around 20 yards from goal, which prevented Blair from advancing any further.

Patrick McLaughlin then blazed harmlessly over the woodwork following York's first corner of the game, before the momentum of the game suddenly swung back in favour of the Stags.

Lindon Meikle completely beat City skipper Chris Smith for pace as charged into the opposition half to reach a long ball out of defence. Forced out to the right flank and with the Minstermen defence fully stretched, Meikle cut inside and delivered a wicked cross towards Adam Murray, who saw a deflected shot fall the wrong side of Mike Ingham's post.

With the One Call Stadium crowd on the edge of their seats, Meikle cut inside from the opposite flank just a minute later and powered a shot towards the near post, which was comfortably gathered by Ingham.

Ross Dyer was bundled over by Lanre Oyebanjo on the edge of the area on 28 minutes, but Roberts lacked accuracy with his low right-footed free-kick, which cannoned off the Minstermen wall at the expense of a throw-in.

Exodus Geohaghon launched the ball in from the right flank, but Ingham was quick from his line and showed a safe pair of hands as he claimed the cross and prevented havoc inside the area.

At the other end, McLaughlin fired well wide of Alan Marriott's left-hand post with a free-kick from distance on 35 minutes, whilst Riley and McLaughlin were also cautioned by referee Andy Davies prior to the half-time interval.

Five minutes after the re-start, the Stags endured some particularly nervous moments when Marriott almost spilled a cross straight into the path of the prolific Jason Walker, only seconds before Riley threw his body towards the ball to prevent a shot from McLaughlin reaching the target.

York began to enjoy their best spell of pressure and on 52 minutes Blair skipped down the left flank with menacing intent and saw a low shot saved by Marriott.

But the Stags weren't to be deterred by the Minstermen's pressure as Briscoe was soon twice involved in action at the other end.

Despite bodies waiting inside the area, Briscoe's cross from the right flank was blocked and then bundled away by Smith at the near post, before Briscoe then launched a venomous shot that cannoned off the body of Ingham close to the hour mark.

Adriano Moke replaced Jon Challinor, but the substitution made little difference as the Stags continued to press forward and look the more likely side to open the scoring.

With 64 minutes on the clock, Geohaghon, stationed on the by-line, reached O'Neill's centrally positioned free-kick from midway inside the Minstermen half and guided the ball into the path of Briscoe, who forced Ingham to parry clear his powerful half-volley.

Matt Rhead replaced Anthony Howell and within minutes of the former Corby Town striker's arrival on the pitch, the Stags nearly went ahead.

O'Neill and Briscoe cut the York defence open with a delightful one-two exchange, before the Stags won a corner on the right. O'Neill delivered towards the back post, but Danny Parslow was able to clear at the expense of another corner.

From the opposite flank, O'Neill then delivered a delightful ball that dipped right under the woodwork and was bundled away by a defender on the line, but to everyone's disappointment no follow-up was attempted as linesman Joseph Clark had raised his flag for offside.

Nevertheless, it was the home side that continued to attack. Dyer connected with Geohaghon's long throw from the right, but with his header drifting away from goal, Meikle picked up possession and cut back inside to launch a vicious shot towards goal that rippled the side netting.

As the game became more precarious with each passing second, York then wasted a gilt-edge opportunity on 76 minutes.

Meikle was caught in possession and York launched a quick counter-attack. Blair received the ball out wide and after penetrating up field, Blair hit a deep low cross towards an unmarked Moke, who blazed high over the woodwork from 18 yards, despite having both time and space in abundance.

The closing 10 minutes to normal time saw the Stags enjoy a flurry of chances, but they were foiled resilient and robust Minstermen defence that did well to hold firm against a tidal wave of pressure.

Chris Doig earned a yellow card after he upended Meikle right on the cusp of the area, but from the resulting set-piece Briscoe could only fire straight against the defensive wall.

Rhead also saw a shot blocked by Smith in the final minute of normal time, whilst the Minstermen also had to defend two separate throws by Geohaghon, with the latter of the two being comfortably gathered by the impressive, if unpopular, Ingham.

With the two teams inseparable after 90 minutes, there was a real sense of anticipation amongst the One Call Stadium crowd as the game entered 30 minutes of extra-time.

However, it was York that began the brighter and they soon delivered a message of their intentions when Blair skipped down right and delivered a wicked ball cross, which forced Geohaghon to stoop low and head over his own crossbar in order to clear the danger.

From the resulting corner, Michael Potts beat three men as he drifted inside from the right, but his shot was poor and it failed to trouble Marriott.

The Stags hit back immediately with a chance of their own and on 102 minutes, Meikle powered an effort goalwards that had to be tipped over the bar by a back-peddling Ingham. From the resulting corner, Riley rose highest, but failed to trouble Ingham with his header.

Lee Stevenson replaced Briscoe in the final minute of first-half extra-time, but moments later the Minstermen nearly grabbed the opening goal when Ashley Chambers drove a shot straight at Marriott from the angle of the area.

Just as it seemed as though a penalty shoot-out would be the most likely outcome, there was to be a dramatic twist that sickened the Stags.

Walker broke free down the left flank and delivered a pinpoint cross towards Blair in the six-yard box. The mercurial midfielder, who had caused constant problems for the Stags throughout the afternoon, stooped low to guide the ball past Marriott and give the Minstermen a precious goal.

Mansfield's misery, which was almost reflected as rain started to pour from the North Nottinghamshire skies, was then compounded as Ritchie Sutton was sent-off for a second bookable offence.

Still supported by a capacity-crowd, who never stopped believing in their side, the Stags almost hit back on 114 minutes when Dyer flicked a long throw from Geohaghon straight into the arms of Ingham.

More pressure followed as York desperately sought to protect their slender advantage.

The Minstermen were forced to defend another throw from Geohaghon and were penned back as the game entered four minutes of additional time at the end of extra-time.

But rather than the Stags grabbing what would have been the most dramatic of equalisers, it was the visitors instead who nearly doubled their lead when Walker saw an effort cleared from the line by O'Neill, and wasted another golden chance after being played in on goal by Moke.

Nevertheless, Walker's misses proved ultimately to be immaterial as the Minstermen held on to book their place at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 20th May and leave Stags fans thoroughly devastated and thinking about what could have been.

Attendance: 7,295 (1,490 away supporters).


End of the dream for Stags as York end play-off hopes
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden

THE dream is over. The fairytale end to a superb season will not take place for Mansfield Town.


A sell-out crowd at the One Call Stadium were hoping to send their men off to Wembley with victory against York yesterday.

Instead, Matty Blair put paid to that idea when he headed York in front in the second period of extra-time and the Stags could find no way back.

Over four games this season, there was nothing to chose between the two sides.

Four matches, four draws. But after a goalless 90 minutes yesterday followed up the 1-1 first leg, something finally gave.

Unfortunately for Mansfield, it went in York's favour in the extra-time needed to finally settle this two-legged affair and it is Blue Square Bet Premier football for a fifth successive season come August for the Stags.

In truth, it was a game where Mansfield were edgy, at times disjointed and lacking the quality that has served them so well in their surge up to finishing third on 89 points.

And the loss of star striker Matt Green, controversially sent off in the first leg, was a major blow, given he has bagged an incredible 30 goals this campaign.

But again, the work ethic and determination could not be faulted, with the Stags out on their feet as they ended the game slumped on the turf, heads in hands rather than pumping their fists in celebration at a Wembley final.

The reaction of the home crowd at the final whistle said it all. They might have failed in the play-offs, but they have far from failed this season, gaining 27 more points than in any of their previous three seasons at this level, a testament to the job done by Paul Cox since taking over last summer.

The big boost for Mansfield prior to kick off was centre-half Martin Riley was declared fit to start, despite limping off with a hamstring problem in the first leg after 18 minutes.

With Green suspended following his red card at York, Cox brought in Louis Briscoe in what was the only change. Ross Dyer pushed up to lead the line, with Anthony Howell just behind him in a more advanced role.

It was an edgy opening on Mansfield's part, a few nerves apparent given the big occasion and it was a theme of the half, with neither side creating clear openings.

Dyer was winning everything in the air for the Stags but they were unable to capitalise on the second ball in the early stages, with Howell looking uneasy in his supporting role.

Then, from York's first corner, the ball was only partially cleared by Exodus Geohaghon and when it fell to Patrick McLaughlin, he attempted a half volley which rose over the bar.

The Stags got on the front foot as they charged down a free kick and broke through Lindon Meikle down the right of the York box and with keeper Michael Ingham retreating, he pulled it back to Adam Murray.

His first-time shot was deflected over by the outstretched leg of Danny Parslow.

Meikle then cut in from the right and fired a low shot that was easily scooped up by Ingham.

Dyer was battling away up front but looking isolated at times. He won a free kick in a central position 25 yards out when he was chopped down, but Roberts drilled his effort into the wall.

On 34 minutes, Roberts played a terrible square ball into the centre of the pitch and York broke through Lanre Oyebanjo, who was fouled by Murray before Riley clattered into him as he tried to stay on his feet, earning the defender a yellow card.

York's McLaughlin was then cautioned for a cynical trip on Roberts as he looked to break forward.

There were no changes at half-time and the edginess continued.

Riley went up to head clear a ball into the six-yard box as Marriott also went for it. They collided into each other before Riley dived in bravely to block Jason Walker's stinging low drive.

Blair then darted down the right, cut inside into the box too easily but his shot was well smothered by Marriott as the Stags appeared to be all at sea.

Finally Briscoe gave the Stags fans something to get excited about as he sent an angled, fizzing shot towards goal which Ingham could not hold, the ball spilling away.

O'Neill floated a free kick deep down the right of the box, Geohaghon headed back and Briscoe, bursting in, volleyed towards the roof of the net but Ingham plucked it out of the air.

On 64 minutes, Cox made the change with striker Matt Rhead coming on for Howell.

It was Meikle who went close as he rifled one into the side netting as Stags began to get on top.

But the Stags had a massive let-off on 77 minutes.

Substitute Adriano Moke, unmarked in acres of space on the edge of the box, was teed up but rushed his shot and saw it rise high over the bar when he should have at least hit the target.

With nine minutes left, Chris Doig tripped Meikle right on the edge of the box, inside the semi-circle, to present Stags with a great chance.

But Briscoe drilled the free kick into the wall.

And just before the end of normal time, a long throw was headed to the edge of the York box but Murray's dipping volley went over.

Midway through the first period of extra-time, Michael Potts pulled a shot wide of the Stags goal as the game started to open up with some tired legs on the pitch.

And then Meikle cut in superbly from the left and got a powerful shot away that Ingham turned over his bar. Riley met the resulting corner but put his header over the top.

But on 111 minutes, York went in front. Walker crossed from the left and from just inside the six-yard box, Blair headed beyond Marriott.

Sutton was then booked for a foul and saw red for a second yellow card soon after and Dyer then angled a header from Geohaghon's throw but it went into the hands of Ingham.

In the end, it was not to be for Mansfield this time around.

It might be scant conciliation to the Stags players and fans at this moment, but one thing is for sure, they can look to next season with great optimism

Stags v York match stats
Mansfield: Marriott, O'Neill, Sutton, Riley, Geohaghon, Briscoe (Stevenson, 104), Murray, Roberts, Howell (Rhead, 64), Meikle, Dyer. Subs: Redmond, Thompson, Andrew.

York: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Meredith, Smith, Doig (Fyfield, 87), Challinor (Moke, 61), Blair, Parslow, McLaughlin (Potts, 72), Chambers, Walker. Subs: Musselwhite, Reed.

Referee: Andy Davies (Southampton)

Attendance: 7,295 (1,490 visitors)

Goals: York – 1. Blair, 111 mins.


Mansfield York

Shots on 5 5

Shots off 5 4

Fouls 23 18

Offsides 2 1

Corners 7 5


Stags – 5. Riley, 35 mins, foul, Briscoe 99 mins, foul, Sutton, 104 mins and 112 mins, both fouls, Murray, 108 mins, foul.

York – 4. McLaughlin, 40 mins, foul, Doig, 81 mins, foul, Oyebanjo, 90 mins, foul, Walker, 120 mins, foul.

Red cards: Stags – 1. Sutton, 112 mins, two yellows

MOM: Lindon Meikle. On a day where the Stags lacked quality, Meikle worked tirelessly down the wing throughout and later on, looked the one spark who could open York up


Match report: Mansfield Town 0, York City 1
By Dave Flett, Sports reporter

FROM Field Mill to the Field of Dreams – Matty Blair's extra-time goal at Mansfield means York City have earned the right to complete a historic season with two Wembley cup finals.

The Minstermen once more displayed great resolve, endurance and perseverance to overcome an uncompromising Mansfield side yesterday, just as the Blue Square Bet Premier semi-final second leg appeared to be heading for a goalless stalemate and penalties.

Blair's 111th-minute header was a virtual carbon copy of the one he scored at Luton to clinch an equally dramatic two-legged triumph at Kenilworth Road in the FA Trophy semi-final.

As was the case then, he charged into the six-yard box to meet a left-wing cross although, on this occasion, Jason Walker delivered the vital ball instead of Jamal Fyfield.

Stags left-back Ritchie Sutton was sent off seconds afterwards for a trip on Blair – his second bookable offence – but Walker then wasted two great chances to settle City's nerves during an anxious ending to a tense afternoon.

Walker might also have followed Sutton down the players' tunnel when he clattered recklessly into home 'keeper Alan Marriott during stoppage time

Fortunately for City's 18-goal joint-top scorer, who would have missed this Saturday's FA Trophy final and the play-off final against his old team Luton eight days later had he seen red, he escaped with a caution.

All that was soon forgotten at the final whistle, however, as City players celebrated in front of a jubilant away end.

The police on duty also deserve praise for the manner in which they handled the ensuing pitch invasion by dismayed home supporters, lining up across the half-way line to allow the Minstermen's players, management staff and supporters to enjoy their moment in a way that was denied the club two years ago at Luton.

It is the Hatters, of course, who now stand between City and regaining the Football League status they lost eight years ago.

The Minstermen's recent record against the 1988 Littlewoods Cup winners – six wins and just one defeat from ten meetings in non-League football – should inspire confidence.

Yesterday's win can also add Mansfield to a list of hostile arenas, including the likes of Luton, Wrexham and Grimsby, from which City have returned with victories this season.

The big occasion, it seems, suits this team. Nothing, certainly, appears to daunt them.

Mansfield fans whipped up a partisan atmosphere at a ground where they had not seen their side lose for six months during a 13-match unbeaten run.

But, buoyed by an equally passionate away following, City held their own as the predictable aerial onslaught began with Exodus Geohaghon hurling in his first long throw after just four minutes.

But City's back line and goalkeeper Michael Ingham, who was subjected to “cheat” chants by Stags supporters blaming him for the first-leg dismissal of top scorer Matt Green, literally dealt with everything thrown at them.

A tentative first period saw Paddy McLaughlin miss the target with City's only chances of the half – two long-range efforts that finished high and wide.

For Mansfield, Dan Parslow's vital block diverted Adam Murray's shot over the crossbar from a Lindon Meikle cross after Ingham had decided to head back for his goal-line instead of looking to collect Jon Challinor's attempted, headed back pass. Meikle, the Stags' liveliest outlet, also forced Ingham into a routine near-post save with the only on-target shot of the opening 45 minutes.

City, as has become their tendency, began the second half in more positive fashion with Walker's shot blocked by Gary Roberts after Marr-iott dropped a Chris Smith header.

Blair also cut in from the right to force a low save but might have run at a retreating Mansfield defence moments later when his ambitious 30-yard attempt did not unduly trouble Marriott.

Mansfield, though, began to build up a head of steam as the half wore on. On 59 minutes, Louis Briscoe unleashed a low 15-yard drive that stung Ingham's fingers and City substitute Adriano Moké had to kick an inswinging Luke O'Neill corner off the line, although referee Andy Davis had spotted a Stags infringement in the penalty box.

Meikle also fired into the side- netting from the edge of the box before City might have forged ahead from a 76th-minute counter attack.

Midfielder Michael Potts released Blair down the right and, when his low cross was left by Walker, Moké lifted an excellent chance into the away end from 15 yards.

Mansfield, though, still looked the most likely winners in normal time with Briscoe volleying across the face of goal from an impossible angle and Murray firing over from 20 yards after James Meredith had headed away a Geohaghon long throw.

Burly substitute Matt Rhead also saw a 90th-minute goalbound shot headed away by Smith.

City regrouped for extra-time, however, with the team's fitness levels impressing against a Mansfield side that began to look jaded.

Seven minutes into extra-time, Potts weaved his way into the home box before dragging a 15-yard opportunity wide and, while Ingham pushed over a rising Meikle shot at the other end, Moké also drove into Marriott's chest after good work from Ashley Chambers.

In the second period of extra-time, substitute Lee Stevenson wasted a promising position for the hosts when his early-taken shot lacked the power to beat Ingham.

Moments later, City had broken the deadlock when Fyfield released Walker for a run through the left channel. He teased a back-pedalling Murray before chipping an inviting cross into the six-yard box, where Blair showed great determination to rise highest and head into the roof of Marriott's net.

Sutton departed soon afterwards although Ingham still needed to be alert to keep out Ross Dyer's header after Geohaghon had summoned all his strength to throw possibly his speediest missile of the match.

As gaps opened up at the back in stoppage time, Walker should have added his name to the scoresheet but his deft chip over an advancing Marriott was not hit firmly enough to stop O'Neill clearing off the line.

After an electrifying burst by Moké down the left flank, Walker also delayed his shot in front of goal sufficiently for Marriott to smother his eventual effort before his follow-up attempt was blocked as well.

Profligate, yes, but nobody cared at the final whistle as City minds turned to their dates of destiny in North London.

match facts
Mansfield Town 0, York City 1 (Blair 111)

(York City win 2-1 on aggregate, aet)

York City: Michael Ingham 8, Jon Challinor 8, Chris Smith 9, Chris Doig 9, James Meredith 9, Daniel Parslow 9, Lanre Oyebanjo 7, Paddy McLaughlin 7, Matty Blair 7, Jason Walker 7, Ashley Chambers 7

Subs: Adriano Moké 7 (for Challinor, 61), Michael Potts 7 (for McLaughlin, 72), Jamal Fyfield 7 (for Doig, 87). Not used: Musselwhite, Reed.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

Star man: Meredith – never stopped running for his team's cause, making timely interceptions and driving team forward when moved into midfield.

Mansfield: Alan Marriott, Luke O'Neill, Martin Riley, Exodus Geohaghon, Ritchie Sutton, Gary Roberts, Adam Murray, Anthony Howell (Matt Rhead, 64), Louis Briscoe (Lee Stevenson, 104), Ross Dyer, Lindon Meikle. Subs: Shane Redmond, John Thompson, Danny Andrew.

Booked: Riley 35, McLaughlin 40, Doig 81, Oyebanjo 90, Sutton 104, Murray 108, Walker 120.

Sent off: Sutton 112.

Referee: Andy Davies (Southampton).

Rating: big improvement on Richard Clark. Refereed match not occasion.

Attendance: 7,295 (1,490 from City).

Block of the match: Parslow throwing his body in the way of Murray's first-half shot.

Cross of the match: Walker's left-wing centre for Blair to head in another vital goal


Mansfield Town 0 York City 1

Reporter Tom Waller

Matty Blair headed a dramatic extra-time winner as York City sealed a play-off final meeting with Luton Town following a desperately hard-fought 1-0 victory at Mansfield Town.

Blair evoked immediate memories of his wonderful FA Trophy semi-final winner at Luton in March when getting himself on the edge of an inch-perfect cross from Jason Walker with only nine minutes remaining of a tremendous battle at the One Call Stadium.

That was sufficient to earn his side a 2-1 aggregate victory and a Wembley date with Luton Town later this month. The Hatters eased past Wrexham in their semi-final but next face opposition who have already beaten them three times this season.

It certainly wasn't pretty during the opening half as both sides struggled for fluency on a difficult playing surface. Mansfield were typically relying on the hugely launched throws of Exodus Geoghaghan while their visitors were more measured in approach but nowhere near their best.

As a result the action wasn't great with Patrick McLaughlin trying a couple of efforts for York while Lindon Meikle's low strike never seriously threatened to trouble Michael Ingham as the hosts were clearly missing suspended leading scorer Matt Green.

The Minstermen began the second-half in much improved fashion with Walker and the recalled Lanre Oyebanjo both having early shots charged down and Martin Riley almost turning Jon Challinor's cross past his own keeper. Blair also had a couple of hopeful attempts without sufficient force while team-mates Chris Smith and Chris Doig defended strongly whenever Mansfield broke forward.

Louis Briscoe was though denied by Ingham on the hour but it wasn't until the introduction of big striker Matt Rhead four minutes later that the hosts really began to take a degree of control. Suddenly the Stags were the dominant force with Meikle showing well down the left and he soon drilled into the side-netting while Ingham was then called upon to fend off Riley's header.

But York should have still forced themselves in front on 75 minutes when unattended substitute Adriano Moké blazed well over after good work down the right from Blair.

As the contest moved into extra-time the lively Meikle had a 20-yard attempt turned over by Ingham while Moké struck tamely at Alan Marriott after Ashley Chambers had worked the opening.

When the winner finally came with just nine minutes remaining it sent the travelling fans behind the same goal into total ecstasy as Blair gleefully headed in Walker's superbly delivered cross from the left-hand side of the area. Mansfield had Ritchie Sutton sent-off for a second bookable offence moments later.

Eighteen-goal Walker then spurned two fabulous opportunities to make the game safe during the closing stages when first chipping at keeper Marriott as he advanced before also twice sidefooting straight towards him when left completely unmarked after Moké broke down the left



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