REPORTS FROM THE NATIONAL PAPERS
Mansfield's hopes raised by White
By David McVay
Mansfield Town 2 Cheltenham Town 1
TWICE before they have postponed this critical Nationwide League third division fixture because of the weather or FA Cup commitments. Last night, there was a further frustrating wait for 15 minutes as part of Field Mill's biggest crowd of the season, 8,643, queued patiently outside the ground before kick-off.
The delays could yet be symbolic for Cheltenham Town, who may be forced to rely on the unpredictability of the play-offs after this rousing victory for Mansfield Town moved them into the final automatic promotion place at the expense of their opponents.
Andy White's lunging left boot, connecting with a misdirected shot from Bobby Hassall 13 minutes from time, was sufficient to secure the win and put Mansfield two points ahead of Cheltenham and Rochdale, who defeated Hull City last night. Hope, however, springs eternal for Steve Cotterill, the Cheltenham manager. “We have got to take it on the chin and move on,” he said. “It is still very much in our hands with three games to go.”
The intensity of the contest — unremittingly fast and furious — ensured that time and space proved elusive commodities.
As a consequence, the opportunity to profit from the more tranquil deliberations offered by a set play transpired to be the most fruitful avenues to progress. By the interval, both sides had taken advantage with Mansfield claiming the early lead they sought. An inswinging free kick by Scott Sellars was finished when Chris Greenacre claimed his 28th goal of the season after White's header rebounded off the crossbar.
Cheltenham, though, were driven on by Mark Yates, their captain. He glanced a header across goal but, in the 25th minute, his aim was true as he headed home Russell Milton's free kick at the near post. To confirm the dead-ball initiative, a quickly taken effort from Sellars was palmed on to the woodwork by Steve Book, the Cheltenham goalkeeper, before White settled the issue.
MANSFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): K Pilkington 6 — R Hassell 6, S Reddington 7, A Barrett 6, M Pemberton 4 (sub: A Tankard, 46min 6) — S Sellars 7, A Murray 6, C Disley 4 (sub: L Williamson, 46 5), W Corden 5 — C Greenacre 6 (sub: D Kelly, 74), A White 7. Substitutes not used: M Bingham, J Clarke. Booked: Reddington, Sellars, White.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): S Book 6 — N Howarth 5, J Brough 6, M Duff 5, J Victory 5 — L Williams 5 (sub: M Devaney, 81), M Yates 7, J Finnigan 5, R Milton 5 (sub: M Lee, 81) — T Naylor 5, N Tyson 5 (sub: N Grayson, 81). Substitutes not used: C Muggleton, K Hill. Booked: Williams, Tyson.
Referee: C Webster 6.
An all-White night for the Stags
Adrian Milledge at Field Mill
Mansfield revived their faltering challenge for the final automatic promotion berth last night with a victory that displaces Cheltenham in the third place. The win was only the Stags' second in seven games but puts them two points clear of the Robins who have played a game fewer.
With just one point and one place separating these two teams before kick-off, this was a crucial game that was delayed by 15 minutes due to crowd congestion.
Within minutes of the start the home side were in front when Chris Greenacre notched his 28th goal of the season, tapping home a rebound after an Andy White header had hit the post.
Cheltenham were without their own hot-shot Julian Alsop, himself with 25 goals this season but who was ruled out through suspension, and he was clearly being missed.
Alsop's replacement Nathan Tyson twice headed tamely at home goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington and Jamie Victory also went close for the visitors.
But the midfielder Mark Yates, however, showed how it should be done for Cheltenham when he nodded home Russell Milton's left wing free-kick to restore parity in the 25th minute.
Greenacre went close to getting his second just after the interval, although his snapshot went just wide. But Mansfield wrapped up all three points with 13 minutes remaining when White diverted an Adam Murray shot into the Cheltenham net.
White revives Mansfield
By Mike Berry (Filed: 09/04/2002)
Mansfield (1) 2 Cheltenham (1) 1
THE pursuit of the last automatic promotion place in Division Three is set to go to the wire after Mansfield leapfrogged Cheltenham in a frenetic showdown.
Cheltenham, suffering only their third defeat in 23 League games, could have all but ended Mansfield's challenge had they won, but they still have a vital game in hand over Mansfield and Rochdale at Carlisle next Tuesday.
Tony Naylor had already spurned a decent opening for the visitors when Mansfield's Andy White headed a Scott Sellars free-kick against a post and the predatory Chris Greenacre picked up his 28th goal of the campaign.
Cheltenham looked unsettled by Mansfield's aerial bombardment, but they gradually settled and restored parity from another set-piece on 24 minutes. Russell Milton's free-kick from the left was inch perfect for the arriving Mark Yates to head in at the near post.
The home side reasserted themselves in the second half and Steve Book, the Cheltenham goalkeeper, touched a quickly taken free-kick from Sellars against the post in the 74th minute as the pressure mounted, but the reprieve lasted only two minutes.
Mansfield sent their fans into raptures when Bobby Hassell's low cross-shot was steered past Book by the out-stretched feet of the towering White.
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