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Archived News from May 2012

6th May 2012 13:07

The stage is now set for the second leg of the BSP semifinal play-offs. At One Call Stadium aka Field Mill, the Stags now face York in front of a sell-out.

The first leg, which ended 1-1 at York, was marred by very poor officiating inasmuch as the Stags' goal-ace Matt Green was wrongly sent-off with just fifteen minutes to go for two yellows.

Will the Stags cope with Green not playing? Hopefully so as only a Stags win will secure a playoff final berth against the winner of Wrexham v Luton in a fixture where Luton have a 2-0 goal advantage on the Dragons after the first leg at Luton.

The playoff final winner will definitive make a FL return. This time at the expense of Hereford, who became the first-ever playoff winner to be relegated back to the BSP - this after a six-season-comeback in the FL. The Bulls of Hereford also became the fifth side ever to have been relegated twice (1997 and 2012). All previous clubs which had been relegated twice (Halifax 1993 and 2002, Chester 2000 and 2009, Darlington 1989 and 2010, Lincoln 1987 and 2011) have endured serious problems. Two clubs (Halifax and Chester) now appear under new guises, while last season's FA Trophy winners Darlington were relegated after having got a 10 point penalty for entering administration, while Lincoln this just ended campaign just about stayed up following last season's final day heartbreak of relegation.

Will it be third time lucky for the Stags in the playoffs? Before 2003-04, the Stags had reached any playoffs once before. In the high-scoring 1994-95 Division 3 season, 84 goals in 42 league games, the Stags lost against the Spireites in the playoff semi-finals on aggregate, a Chesterfield side which then went on to win the Division Three playoff final 2-0 against Bury.

The Stags' late run this term catapulted them from a position a few places below the last playoff place into the third place. And after the 2-1 win at Cambridge in early March, the Stags never were outside the playoff places any more. Maybe the draws at York - and a few weeks later at Luton - were the turning points of this Stags BSP campaign. During the excellent run, the Stags also leapfrogged York and Luton in the table - finishing the regular season on a high with six straight league victories, the best Stags winning run since the 1991-92 season, seven wins from September 13, 1991, to October 26, 1991, with eighteen scored and four against. The current run started with the late Matt Green winning goal at home to Ebbsfleet, now fourteen goals for - and just two conceded.

On the other hand, York have featured in two BSP playoffs before. And on both occasions, the team that beat York eventually reached the Football League. In 2006-07, York lost in the semifinals against Morecambe, who in their third playoff appearance since inauguration in 2002-03 with two up, two down from the FL, beat Exeter in the final.

And in 2009-10, York beat Luton 2-0 on aggregate after two hotly-contested semfinals before losing the final 3-1 to Oxford.

While in the FL, York featured in the 1992-93 Division Three playoff - and the Minstermen went on to win the final 5-3 on penalties against Crewe. The Minstermen then went on to play six seasons at current League One level, and in their final one in 1998-99, four current PL sides were the opponents, Fulham, Manchester City, Stoke and Wigan as well as Reading, a newly-promoted side to the FL. That campaign, York drew 3-3 at Fulham and beat Manchester City 2-1 at home, also drew 2-2 at home to Stoke before a heavy defeat at Manchester City coupled with other results going against the Minstermen on the final day sealed the York relegation.

This will the the first time the Stags will appear in a BSP playoff. Apart from York, Luton have also appeared in two playoffs, while Wrexham have appeared once. While Cambridge are the only side that have lost two consecutive playoff finals, 2008 to Exeter and 2009 to Torquay. As far as I see it, Morecambe are the only side that have played in three playoffs, losing the semifinals in 2003 and 2006 before entering the promised land in 2007.

In the BSP, York lost just three of their 23 away game, the lowest together with Fleetwood, while the Stags haven't lost at home since early November.

Some of the previous playoff winners have marched straight through to the current League One. Three sides have done that (Doncaster in 2003, Carlisle in 2005, Exeter in 2008, the first two as Champions following the playoff final victory), Doncaster even making four campaigns in the Championship from 2008-09 to the current season, which ended in Doncaster relegation from the Championship. Another playoff winner, Shrewsbury in 2004, have now been promoted to League One. And no playoff final have been won by more than a two-goal margin, but two on penalties, Shrewsbury against Aldershot in 2004, and AFC Wimbledon against Luton last season. The first-ever final, Doncaster against Dagenham & Redbridge, was decided on a Doncaster golden goal in extra-time, while Hereford beat Halifax in extra-time six years ago.

The Stags have faced York on several occasions over the years. First, before both clubs were elected to the FL (York in 1927, the Stags in 1931), then on numerous occasions in the FL - and in all Stags' BSP campaigns - as well as in the FA Cup, League Cup and Setanta Shield. For facts on these games, see the Stagsnet statistical previews on the BSP games, published on the Stagsnet latest news page, where also all players who over the years have appeared for both sides - as well as people bossing both clubs, are mentioned.

Expect a tight and interesting game in Mansfield on Bank Holiday Monday. Come on Mansfield!

Svante Bernhard aka Sweden Stag


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