by Martin Shaw at Field
We're up. I can still
hardly believe it. We're up. I need to keep saying it. All those
moments of despair. York away. Rushden at home. Swansea and Leyton Orient
away. But then all the highs - too many to mention. And now this. The
day went better than anyone could have dreamed of. Half an hour gone, the
Stags leading 2-0, Cheltenham losing 2-0. Dreamland. Could it last? Yes it
could. Stags had cruised into an early lead, and Carlisle were clearly not
the team who were capable of doing anything about it. Whilst at Home Park,
the radio reports suggested it was comfortable for champions Plymouth.
And so by 4.48pm both games were over and the Stags were promoted.
Stags made a couple of changes to the side that so disappointingly lost at
York, with Tankard and Robinson replacing Barrett and Reddington in central
defence. Carlisle were fresh from holding Cheltenham - we were so grateful
to them for that. Perhaps we should be slightly worried about the dangerous
Ritchie Foran - so much had been said about him during the season. But there
were also rumours that he was injured. He certainly went on to play like he
was injured. And Peter Keen - the goalkeeper who'd kept Cheltenham out, so
gloriously for us. Would he keep us out?
The Stags made an exhilarating start. Two minutes gone, White provides an
excellent flick on, Greenacre glides forward and smacks a drive goalwards
which is blocked. The rebound falls to White, who twists acrobatically sends
in a great volley that Peter Keen tips over. Peter Keen - uh oh. Five
minutes gone. A corner for the Stags. Corden takes a short one to Murray.
Murray chips it in for Greenacre to head it beautifully back into the path
of Corden. Corden strikes it beautifully and the ball crashes into the net
off the underside of the bar and off Ritchie Foran. Field Mill erupts. Wayne
Corden is back. How we missed his inspirational goals. It was clearly a
rehearsed move. We take it all back about a season of terrible Stags
corners. This was worth waiting for. Almost immediately we hear that
Cheltenham are behind. Wondferful. This could be our day. Stags get
more chances - Greenacre shoots just over. But then . hold on. A chance for
Carlisle. That wasn't in the script. From a free kick, the cross evades
Hassell, and Ian Stevens misses from 2 yards. Uncharacteristic bad defending
from the Stags player of the season. But it turns out to be Carlisle's only
attempt of the 90 minutes. More chances come and go: Tankard heads
over, Corden chips just over, White heads straight at Keen. But this time,
it feels just like a matter of time. We hear that Plymouth are 2 up
over Cotterill's chokers. Come on Stags. 29 minutes and Field Mill goes into
overdrive. Another Corden corner, this time chipped straight into the box.
Tankard, so good in the air, heads goalwards. Williamson blocks his own
team-mate's header. But it falls perfectly for Andy White. He can't miss. He
nearly does, but it shanks off the edge of his right boot and ends up in the
top right hand corner of the net from 2 yards. It doesn't matter. For
us it's a classic. The entire Stags team apart from Pilks piles on top of
Andy White White White. Stags continue to push forward but we're happy
with 2-0. Stags look in no danger. No danger that is apart from that sort of
messing around at the back that has dogged us all season, as Pemberton
twice, and others, try to hand Carlisle possession in dangerous positions.
Half time, both games are 2-0. I'm holding my breath. It's too good to last
isn't it? Well actually no it isn't. Plymouth are the best team in the
division. And we are playing a team at a low ebb.
Half time 2-0
The second half had little action. Stags were content just to keep the ball.
We were just praying for "no news" from Home Park. Stags had a few chances.
Murray went past the keeper from brilliant play by Sellars, but unlike his
wondergoal against Scunthorpe, he was pushed too close to the byeline and
the angle became impossible as he shot across the goal. Later sub Kelly put
White through for a sitter. An open goal from 2 yards with the keeper
nowhere. But it just flicks of his right boot and goes wide. But it didn't
matter, the clock was winding down. It was still 2-0 in both games.
The result came through from Home Park at 4.47, and at 4.48 our game was
over. We'd done it. Thousand of fans invaded the pitch. Suddenly I couldn't
see any of the players from the West Stand. It was a slight shame that I
couldn't see my heroes celebrating. I hoped for a lap of honour or something
like that. The fans had been warned to stay off the pitch. But they
wouldn't. So I'd have to wait for my 3 hour journey home and see the
celebrations on TV. I wasn't disappointed. The ITV Sport Channel did a
superb job of capturing the highlights of the game and the celebrations. The
bosses of ITV Digital have been double-crossing, cheating gits. But their
staff know how to cover a football match. Even the post-match analysis by
pundit Tony Dorigo was spot on - picking out Murray and Sellars as key
additions to the squad, showing some superb play from them, and focusing on
Greenacre. Truly one for the end of season video. I'm so glad I had to
read more bemoaning of bad luck by Cheltenham's choking manager Steve
Cotterill. Has there ever been such a bad loser? I feel sorry for the
excellent Cheltenham fans. But this is our day. We now have the whole summer
to enjoy this and I'm sure we will.
Well done to Stuart Watkiss and the lads. Watkiss had taken some criticism
in the last few weeks. But all's well that ends well. We only took one point
from our final 7 away games. And we didn't reach the 80 point mark that had
been the target for so long. But 79 points turned out to be enough. So, a
great day for the Stags. We waited 10 years for this. And boy, was it was
worth the wait!
Goal Attempts Stags 17 Carlisle 2.
On Target Stags 7 Carlisle 1.
Off Target Stags 10 Carlisle 1
Man of the match: Joint to the three men who've come in near the end of the
season and made the difference for us: Adam Murray, Scott Sellars and Andy
White White White.
Pilkington 6 Literally had nothing to do.
Hassell 6 Poor defending nearly allowed Stevens an early goal. Otherwise did
ok. Substituted so that he could get a standing ovation.
Robinson 7 Had little to do, but didn't put a foot wrong.
Tankard 7 Pick of the defence. Looked assured at centre half. His header
from a corner led to the second goal.
Pemberton 5 Didn't defend well - gave the ball away unnecessarily on a
couple of occasions.
Sellars 8 Great performance. Showed flashes of brilliance - a great calming
Williamson 7 Won some good tackles in midfield.
Murray 8 Excellent again. Seemed to be everywhere. Unlucky not to score in
the second half.
Corden 7 Fabulous goal - reminiscent of early season stuff. Seemed to grow
in confidence following the goal.
White 8 Another crucial goal - his 3rd in 4 games. Battled well and caused
problems for the defence. Did miss a sitter though in the second half.
Greenacre 7 Battled hard throughout. Superb header to Corden for the 1st
goal. Unlucky not to score. Substituted so he could get a standing ovation.
Kelly (for Greenacre, 79) 6 Nearly set up a goal for White.
Disley (for Sellars, 83) 6 Nice that he was on at the end. Had a great
season before injury.
Jervis (for Hassell, 86) 6
Subs not used: Bingham, Reddington.
Report by Martin Shaw