Stags Suffer Setback Again

Mansfield Town 1-2 Harrogate Town (EFL League Two) 29.04.23

And so it goes to the final game of the EFL League Two season, to see whether Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town, can slip in the back door and take one of the four remaining play-off spots, following a 2-1 defeat to Harrogate Town, in their last home game of the season.

The Stags were undone by a pair of goals late in the first half, often-resolute defender, Alfie Kilgour, turning the ball past Christy Pym and inside the post, just before the half hour, before Matty Daly added a second, six minutes before the break – Harrogate’s record against their visitors not making for good reading – a bogey side, they are.

It was to be game that, despite the number of efforts registered by the Stags, on Mark Oxley’s goal, but a handful of them were actually on target, and just one beat the visiting shot-stopper, that coming from half-time substitute, Will Swan, with a little over twenty minutes remaining.

Clough, he threw caution to the wind at the interval, after a first half in which his side were pretty much toothless on the attacking front, making four changes – alongside scorer Swan, the Stags boss also brought on that of Jordan Bowery, Ollie Clarke, and George Maris, in an attempt to re-ignite something in the flailing hosts.

Boateng, who was replaced by Clarke, would have the hosts’ best chance of the first half, but his effort was high of Oxley’s bar when firing a left-footed shot from outside the box, as many chances went begging.

Oxley saved a Stephen Quinn header in the opening throes of the second period, whilst Swan saw an effort immediately after, go wide to the left, before getting his side back into the game, twenty minutes later.

The visitors could easily have been out of sight by the time Swan netted in the 67 minute, Callum Johnson’s cross from the right being swept home with a right-footed shot into the middles of Oxley’s goal.

The visiting ‘keeper was called into action with fifteen remaining, saving a Lucas Akins header, then again from Clarke, ten minutes later, but the late burst from the hosts was just, too little, too late, Harrogate holding on for a 2-1 win, a result which means the Stags haven’t beaten this opposition in any of their seven meetings to date.

As for challenging for the play-offs, it’s now a case of win, or bust, for the Stags, whilst hoping for the best elsewhere.

Defeat for the Stags means that it all boils down to the last game of the season, away to fifth bottom Colchester United, on Monday 8 May, whilst hoping at least one of their play-off rivals, slips up – there being just three points separating Carlisle United Salford City, Bradford City (they’ve two remaining), and Mansfield Town.

Carlisle travel to Sutton United (the Cumbrians lost 3-2 at home to Salford on Saturday), Salford host Gillingham, whilst Bradford (having won 2-1 at Northampton Town) still have a trip to Crewe Alexandra, and a home against champions Leyton Orient, to play. – all EFL League Two games on the final day are scheduled for 12:30 kick-offs.

Mansfield Town: Christy Pym, Callum Johnson, Riley Harbottle, Alfie Kilgour, James Perch (Jordan Bowery 45), Hiram Boateng (Ollie Clarke, 45), Louis Reed, Stephen Quinn (James Gale 87), Davis Keillor-Dunn (George Maris 45), Lucas Akins, Rhys Oates (Will Swan 45).

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc another defeat for Mansfield leaves the Stags three points from the playoffs.

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