Stags Promotion Dream Ends At Wembley

Mansfield Town 0-3 Port Vale (EFL League Two Playoff Final) 28.05.22

Promotion bid, over, for this season at least, as Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town fell at the final hurdle on Saturday evening, crashing to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Port Vale in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off final.

Over 37,000 supporters made the trip to Wembley for the final place in next seasons’ League One, the Stags having clinched a place in the play-offs on the last day of what has been a mixed season for them.

Having endured a 12-game winless streak, Clough’s charges turned their season on its head when putting together a record, 11-match, home winning streak, and finished the season strongly, defeating Northampton Town in the semis for a shot at promotion.

Darrell Clarke’s Port Vale though, they were just that one step too far after what would became a close finale to the league campaign; at Wembley though, it was Clarke’s men who shone through, more after the Stags’ first half showing.

Conceding two goals in just four, first half minutes, knocked the wind out of the Stags, it coming after both sides had registered early chances, the Valiant’s Jake Taylor seeing an effort, from outside the area, blocked inside five minutes, whilst Jamie Murphy would see his effort saved in the centre of goal by shot-stopper, Aidan Stone, minutes later.

Even immediately prior to the Valiant’s opening the scoring, it could have been the Stags instead, a through-ball from Elliott Hewitt released Jordan Bowery, but he’s flagged offside, Vale then hitting Nathan Bishop’s upright, through Kian Harratt, shortly after.

Then came the killer blow, on 20 minutes, and it would be Harratt who would strike a dagger in the heart of Stags fans, heading home into the bottom left-hand corner, for the opener; Malvind Benning is played down the flank by James Wilson, and it’s his cross that’s headed home by the diving Harratt.

With Clarke’s side now, very much in the ascendency, the spell they were now enjoying would see opportunities flow their way, both James Gibbons and Ben Garrity trying their luck; number two though, it would quickly follow.

James Wilson found himself in space after 24 minutes, and finished, into the top right corner, from close range, doubling his sides’ lead, this time James Worrall supplies the cross and, although Garrity sees his effort beaten onto the crossbar by Nathan Bishop, the follow-up is headed home by Wilson.

If that was tough to take for the Stags supporters, another five minutes spell, shortly after, all but killed off any hopes they may have harboured, Oliver Hawkins would receive two yellow cards, in the space of five minutes, needlessly some may say, referee Jarred Gillett brandishing the red in the aftermath of the second.

With that, ten-man Mansfield went in at the interval, two goals behind, and a little mountain to climb upon the restart, both sides finishing the first with chances, including Rhys Oates for the Stags.

Wilson and Harratt, who’d proved a thorn for the Stags during the first period, continued that in the early throes of the second

Jordan Bowery would see a couple of quick-fire efforts go begging around the hour mark, his shots, from the outside area, the first blocked, the second going left of the post; Oates, twice, his first saved by Stone, when played through by George Lapslie, whilst the second, following Stephen Quinn’s assist, goes agonisingly wide.

With five minutes remaining, the Stags’ dream was snuffed out, the Valiant’s grabbing a third through Benning, firing home into the bottom corner after a looping cross from David Worrall; McLaughlin did have a further chance late on, but it was to no avail.

And that was that, the Valiant’s gaining promotion to League One, alongside the trio of Forest Green Rovers (now managed by ex-Notts County boss, Ian Burchnall), Exeter City, and Bristol Rovers, they being replaced by Gillingham, Doncaster Rovers, AFC Wimbledon, Crewe Alexandra next season.

Mansfield Town: Bishop, Hewitt, Perch, Hawkins, McLaughlin, O’Toole, Longstaff (Maris 65), Quinn (Akins 79), Murphy (Lapslie 54), Oates, Bowery.

Port Vale: Stone, Gibbons, Smith, Hall, Worrall (Martin 86), Pett, Taylor (Charsley 67), Benning, Garrity, Wilson, Harratt (Proctor 77).

Venue: Wembley (37, 303)

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc Jordan Bowery in action against Port Vale.

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