Colchester United 0-2 Mansfield Town (EFL League Two) 08.05.23
Despite victory away to Colchester United, on the final day of the SKY Bet EFL League Two season, Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town will have to spend another season in the bottom division of the Football League.
Undone by too many draws in the last few months of the season, as well as consecutive, 2-1 home defeats in recent outings, against champions Leyton Orient, and then Harrogate Town, the Stags left themselves with perhaps too much to do.
Especially when also having to rely on results elsewhere, which didn’t quite go their way; call a spade a spade, whether it’s one more point, or a couple of extra goals, it just wasn’t to be, and those missed chances – draws with Grimsby Town (twice), Rochdale, Sutton United, and Stockport County, will now, almost certainly, be looked back on, and the question asked – what if?
The Stags (75pts) went into the game, away to lowly Colchester, who finished fifth bottom, knowing that even victory may not be enough to squeeze back into the play-offs – Salford City (75 pts) lost, 1-0 at home to Gillingham, Bradford City (76 pts) drew 1-1 with the champions, and Carlisle United (76 pts) drew 1-1 away to Sutton, that’s how close it became in the end.
Nottingham Forest’s on-loan defender, Riley Harbottle, afforded the Stags an interval lead, he powering home a header from a well-floated free-kick by influential January signing, Davis Keillor-Dunn, in first half stoppage time.
There was chances to extend that lead during the second period as well, Hiram Boateng volleying wide, and Keillor-Dunn crashing an effort off Arsenal loanee, goalkeeper Tom Smith’s crossbar – had either of those efforts flown in, matters could well have been so much different, especially as both came in the opening ten minutes.
The introduction of Rhys Oates and George Maris didn’t really spark much more with the hosts coming close to equalising themselves; first as John Akinde struck Christy Pym’s bar shortly after the Stags’ attempts, then the visiting shot-stopper saved from William Greenidge, ten minutes later.
Further changes were made late on, including young Anthony Hartigan, and James Gale, both coming on as the game headed into stoppage time; the latter of the two paid dividends as Gale, with an assist from Lucas Akins, in the seventh minute, netting his third of the season, to wrap up the three points.
However, the Stags, they needed at least three when all was said and done, and it just wasn’t to be for them, they now having to go back to the drawing board, prepare for pre-season, and the summer transfer window, and go again in League Two come August.
Mansfield Town: Christy Pym, Callum Johnson, Riley Harbottle, Alfie Kilgour, James Perch (Jordan Bowery 84), Hiram Boateng (Rhys Oates 66), Louis Reed (Anthony Hartigan 92), Stephen Quinn (Ollie Clarke 83), Will Swan (James Gale 92), Lucas Akins, Davis Keillor-Dunn (George Maris 66).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc celebrations eventually cut short as the Stags miss out on the Playoffs.