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Season 08/09 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
Mansfield Town  
2 - 1
 Stevenage Borough
Garner 70, O'Connor 88.
 Laird 84. Cole sent off 45+4
Attendance: 3,614 (785 from Stevenage)
Date: 26 April 2009


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.

David Holdsworth made 5 changes from the side that beat Altrincham: Marriott returned from suspension in goal in place of White, Scott Gardner replaced the injured O’Hare at left back, Moses returned from injury in place of Naylor at centre-half, D’Laryea returned in place of Curtis Shaw, and Clare started in place of O’Connor. D’Laryea picked up the captain’s armband in place of Scott Garner.

Stevenage had the first chance as Michael Bostwick’s shot from 25 yards was easy for Marriott. Then D’Laryea received a bash in the face and after a long delay and receiving treatment off the pitch, he had to be replaced by Curtis Shaw. Moses was handed the captain’s arm band. On 8 minutes, Ronnie Henry sent a shot from 25 yards a yard over the bar. Arnold shot weakly wide of the left post on 11 minutes, then on 20 minutes Marriott’s long ball forward found Clare who nodded down to Duffy, but Duffy dallied too long and couldn’t get a shot in as he was tackled. Duffy stayed down needing treatment and had to be replaced 5 minutes later by O'Connor. Before that Gardner had to be alert and put in a great tackle as he quickly moved from the left back position to the right and deny Boylan and Drury as Stevenage had a two-on-one break.

Moses cleared a dangerous cross from Mitchell Cole on 37 minutes. On 44 minutes, the Stags got a free kick 24 yards out. Williams played it square to Hotchkiss who fired well over. Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled due to injuries to several Stags players including Clare and Moses, as well as the players who had gone off. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Garner beat Cole to the ball down near Mansfield’s own corner flag. Astonishingly Cole kicked out at Garner as Garner tried to get the ball away. It was as clear a red card as you’ll see, and the referee immediately brandished the card. A costly one for Cole, who will miss out on both play-off semi-finals and the FA Trophy final at Wembley. Before the half ended, Williams also picked up a knock so the Stags ended the half with 3 players hobbling, and only one substitute left.

Half time 0-0

Stevenage started the second half strongly, attacking the North Stand end housing their fans. On 47 minutes, a Steve Morison flick put Andy Drury through one-one-one but Marriott was out quickly, and blocked his shot from 12 yards. Great stuff from Marriott. Two minutes later, Morison got away from Moses and fired wide. Then at the other end, Williams found O'Connor who raced down the left, cut inside and sent in a low shot with his right foot that was easily saved by Stevenage keeper Day. On 52 minutes, Marriott saved well, low down to his right from Bostwick's shot.

On 64 minutes the Stags had a goal disallowed. Hotchkiss chipped a lovely little ball down the line to Silk who crossed from near the corner flag on the right and Williams trapped the ball with his chest before turning and firing home low past the keeper inside the left post. It was a terrific finish. I immediately looked to the linesman as I usually do, and there was no signal, so it seemed the goal would stand and Mansfield players all celebrated the goal. Stevenage players protested, and the referee then went over to the talk to the linesman. After a short discussion, the referee disallowed the goal. From studying the DVD it does look like Clare was in an offside position as Williams shot, but why didn’t the linesman flag straightaway?

The Stags continued to attack and Williams’ cross from the left was well held by the keeper. Then at the other end, on 66 minutes Morison's pass put Drury in on goal with plenty of time to compose himself, but Silk got in a brilliant block. Two minutes later, Garner brought down Murphy right on the edge of the box, and Drury's free kick was well saved by Marriott low down to his right.

The Stags were finally ahead on 70 minutes, and what a goal it was. A corner from the right was cleared as far Gardner, who lifted the ball forward, A Stevenage defender miscued a header away and it fell to Garner 22 yards out. Garner sent a piledriver with his right boot flying into the top left corner of the net.

Stevenage were desperate to get back into the game, and if Kidderminster could score against Kettering, Stevenage would now need two goals. On 73 minutes, Drury turned 6 yards out and fired over the bar. Then Morison, on the edge of the box, squared to Murphy who miscued wide from 18 yards.

Stallard replaced Clare on 76 minutes. On 78 minutes, a brilliant double save from Marriott, first from Drury, then from Morrison, and the ball fell to Boylan who fired the loose ball over the bar. A triple miss from the visitors.

Former Stag Junior Mendes replaced Drury on 83 minutes, and soon fired well wide from 20 yards.

But it was 1-1 on 84 minutes. A Stevenage throw-in on the right was headed on and then Morison flicked it to the edge of the box on the left and left back Laird was completely unmarked to send a terrific shot left footed inside the right post, giving Marriott no chance. Bad marking from the Stags.

Stevenage fans were soon celebrating again as news came through that Kidderminster had gone 1-0 down at home to Kettering. It would now need two Kidderminster goals to deny Stevenage.

The Stags gained a deserved victory with another tremendous goal on 88 minutes. Ryan Williams played a nice ball down the line on the left for O’Connor to run onto. O'Connor crossed from the left to Arnold, who played it back to O’Connor on the edge of the box right on the left. O’Connor curled a great right footed shot inside the right post giving Stevenage keeper Day no chance. A brilliant goal and O’Connor celebrated in style ripping his shirt off as home fans invaded the pitch.

After the pitch was cleared, news immediately came through that the Kidderminster game had finished, so Stevenage were safe and their fans danced with joy. There were no more chances and the game ended with both sets of fans celebrating, and with lots of Stags fans on the pitch.

A great end to the season. Well played Stags! Roll on next season. Come on Mansfield!

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.

Man of the Match: Scott Gardner

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Marriott 8 Some super saves including a fabulous double save.
Silk 7 Another good game for the player of the season, including a fine cross for the disallowed goal.
Garner 8 Very good game, and what a fantastic goal.
Moses 7 Defended well, battling on in obvious discomfort after an injury in the first half.
Gardner 8 Very good game at left back. One tackle was memorable. Great prospect.
Arnold 7 Fine game, with lots of good running.
D'Laryea - Injured early on.
Hotchkiss 7 Good game.
Williams 7 Fine game. Unlucky with disallowed goal
Duffy - Injured early on
Clare 6 Not at his best.
Sub Line Up:
Shaw (for D’Laryea, 6) 6 Did ok.
O'Connor (for Duffy, 25) 7 Some good running, and a tremendous goal.
Stallard (for Clare, 76) -
Subs Not Used: White, Naylor.
Opposition Line Up:
Day, Henry, Roberts, Albrighton (Wilson 80), Laird, Drury (Mendes 84), Bostwick, Murphy, Cole, Boylan (Willock 86), Morison. Subs Not Used: Bayes, Mills.
R West (England) Got most things right, especially the sending off of Cole.

Season 08/09 Reports