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STAGS BEATEN BY LAST GASP PENALTY SHOCKER
5th April 2017 11:13


English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 Exeter City
Benning 38. Harley 84, Reid pen 90+7
Attendance: 3878 (379 from Exeter)

Date: 1 April 2017

Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

Mansfield Town were sickeningly beaten by a penalty on 90+7 minutes in the six-pointer against play-off chasing rivals Exeter this afternoon. The Stags had the better of the first half and after Danny Rose had headed against the bar, the Stags were deservedly in front when a great crossfield pass from Joel Byrom from the right, was controlled by Mal Benning on the left whilst in mid-air, Benning got the ball onto his right foot in the area and swept his shot past the keeper into the right corner of the net. It was his first goal of the season and a wonderful goal at that. Exeter played very well in the second half pushing Mansfield back, and eventually grabbed a deserved equaliser on 84 minutes when Ryan Harley fired home after a 1-2 with Jake Taylor. In an exciting finish, the Stags nearly regained on 90+4 minutes when Shaq Coulthirst teed up Ben Whiteman whose low shot was brilliantly saved by keeper Pym at full stretch. But there was a gut-wrenching twist as Exeter won the game on 90+7 minutes. Oakley played a high ball from the middle out to the left where Reuben Reid got into the area, and was heading for the byline when he dived with Rhys Bennett in close attendance. There was no foul from Bennett and it was a clear dive from Reid but the referee pointed to the spot. Reid stepped up and sent Kean the wrong way from the spot. It was as sickening an end to a game as you can get, and a big blow to the Stags’ play off chances. It was an exciting game, and with the Stags the better side in the first half and Exeter the better side in the second half, a draw would probably have been a fair result. That last gasp penalty though makes the difference between Mansfield being one point outside the play-offs, which they would have been if today’s game had ended as a draw, but instead Mansfield are 4 points outside the play-offs, as Stevenage, Luton, Exeter and Carlisle all won today and occupy those play-off places. Six games to go, starting with the game at leaders Doncaster next Saturday and Mansfield will surely need 4 wins from those 6 games as a minimum to stand a chance of forcing their way into the play-offs. That will be a tall order but still very much possible. The Stags have to dust themselves down and produce a great performance in the first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium to bounce back from this.

Mansfield Town made two changes from the side that won at Morecambe. Hayden White missed out with a slight hamstring strain picked up at the end of training late in the week. Kyle Howkins was dropped. Rhys Bennett moved to right back. Krystian Pearce returned from injury after missing the game at Morecambe. George Taft came in if for his first game after injury since September, and partnered Pearce in central defence. Before the game, Steve Evans said Taft was lined up to play this game since Monday, so by inference Evans must have been planning to leave out Pearce (and Howkins) before White’s injury (assuming he was not going to drop White, Bennett and Benning). On the bench, Jensen retained his place even though Shearer is now to back to fitness, while Zayn Hakeem replaced Arquin, who has a groin injury. Evans explained that both White and Arquin have a good chance of being fit for next week. The Stags continued with the 4-4-2 formation with MacDonald (right) and Green (left) on the two wings.

Exeter arrived having not lost in their last 7 games at Field Mill since a Stags 3-2 win in 1998. Exeter had shown their ability to score late scores, coming back from 3-0 down after 88 minutes to draw 3-3 with Yeovil last Saturday. Exeter had Ollie Watkins in their line up who Mansfield tried to sign in January for a big fee.

It was a dry afternoon with predicted showers not materialising, but with a wind from the North Stand towards the Quarry Lane end, which Exeter had behind them in the first half.

The match ball was sponsored by former Stags fanzine DejaVu in memory of Chris Taylor, the legendary and popular Stags fan who organised away travel for so many years, who passed away two years ago.

FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE

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MATCH REPORT: Late heartbreak as Exeter steal stoppage time victory in play-offs battle
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 01 April 2017

Play-off rivals Exeter City broke Mansfield Town hearts with a penalty winner in the seventh added minute as they stole a 2-1 win in a nailbiter at the One Call Stadium this afternoon. Mal Benning’s first goal of the season on 38 minutes looked enough to win it until Ryan Harley popped up six minutes from time to level. Even then Ben Whiteman had a low shot saved in stoppage time before Reuben Reid seemed to go down easily in the box under a challenge from Rhys Bennett to win a penalty from which he went Jake Kean the wrong way. It was a shattering finish for the Stags who are now four points shy of the play-offs in ninth with only six games to go. They had deserved to lead at the break with Mal Benning’s first goal of the season and Danny Rose also headed against the bar. But Exeter raised their game in the second half, finally had a shot on target after 70 minutes and then grabbed the two late shock goals to take the honours. Mansfield reshuffled their back line after right back Hayden White suffered a slight hamstring strain in training yesterday and was not risked. Rhys Bennett was moved across to right back, Kyle Howkins was also dropped to the bench and in came a new central defensive partnership of George Taft, his first start since September, and Krystian Pearce, back from an ankle injury. Taft had an impressive afternoon and, tiring, was given a decent ovation when he was replaced by Howkins after an hour. Skipper Lee Collins returned from a hamstring injury to take a place on the bench with a place also on there for young striker Zayn Hakeem. Stags went into the game a point behind Exeter, who sat in seventh, with a chance of jumping into fifth place and the play-offs if they could see off the Grecians at home for the first time since 1998 - seven games in a row they had been unable to beat Exeter at the One Call Stadium. Amid a great atmosphere, Stags had the ball in the Exeter net inside 80 seconds as Coulthirst bundled in a half-volley off the post, but the referee had spotted the striker controlled the ball with his hand. City’s first threat came on 11 minutes as, from a free kick, Wheeler sent a firm header over the bar. On 14 minutes some good footwork by Bennett on the right saw him cross to Green, whose on-target header was clutched safely by Pym. A good home break on 29 minutes saw Coulthirst race down the left. His final ball to Green saw him cue up Whiteman for a first time shot that deflected up and over for a corner. MacDonald sent that over from the left and Rose saw his header come back off the crossbar. Coulthirst then swerved one wide from 25 yards two minutes later as the home side continued to boss the show. Watkins, a January transfer target of Mansfield, showed Stags fans his talents on 32 minutes as he made space on the edge of the box for a low shot just wide of the far post. But the home side were finally rewarded for their superiority on 38 minutes. Byrom arrowed a great ball across from the right and left back Benning controlled superbly and cut inside defender Sweeney before stroking home a perfect low finish inside the far post. Watkins threatened again for City on 43 minutes as he controlled a far post cross, turned well and sent a low finish across the face of goal and just wide of the far post. Soon after James was wide of the goal with a 25 yard free kick. But Mansfield were good value for their interval lead. The Stags almost made the perfect start to the second half as Rose headed the ball into the centre where MacDonald was unable to guide it on target from 10 yards. A fortunate deflection off the referee set Mansfield on the attack again, but Green’s final low finish was poor and well wide. There was danger on 50 minutes as Watkins tried to burst clear between Bennett and Pearce 35 yards from goal and was sandwiched down, Bennett shown a yellow card. Taylor was booked for bringing down Benning a minute later. On 59 minutes Pearce came up with a very important clearance as the ball bounced across goal towards the waiting Stacey. Kean finally had an important save to make on 70 minutes Stacey burst into the box on the right and tried to beat him at his near post, Kean getting his body in the way. Coulthirst might have added a second to ease nerves on 75 minutes as he was sent clear by Rose only to see Pym time his challenge to perfection and drop on the ball as he tried to get past him. With eight minutes to go and Bennett down with a knock, Watkins let fly with a curling shot that Kean had to push away. But, with six minutes left, Exeter conjured up an equaliser. Harley seemed to have lost the ball as he tried to race into the box, but the loose ball was knocked back down to him by Reid and, from 15 yards, he dispatched a low finish down the centre. In six added minutes Whiteman sent a tame shot at the keeper. Then another low Whiteman finish saw Pym pull off a great low save. That seemed to be that, but this game had a dreadful late twist. Reid tried to burst past Bennett in the box and went down under contact. The home side felt he’d dived, but the referee pointed to the spot and Reid sent Kean the wrong way to steal all three points.

STAGS: Kean, Bennett, Pearce, Taft (Howkins 60), Benning, MacDonald (Collins 73), Byrom, Whiteman, Green, Coulthirst, Rose (Potter 80). Subs not used: Jensen, Hamilton, McGuire, Hakeem.

EXETER: Pym, James (Reid 64), Harley, Wheeler, Watkins, Moore-Taylor, Taylor, Stacey (Grant 80), Croll (Oakley 75), Sweeney, Brown. Subs not used: Olejnik, Tillson, McAlinden, Ampadu.

REFEREE: Ben Toner of Lancashire. ATTENDANCE: 3,878 (379 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Krystian Pearce.

Read more at: http://www.hucknalldispatch.co.uk/sport/football/match-report-late-heartbreak-as-exeter-steal-stoppage-time-victory-in-play-offs-battle-1-8470790

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Mansfield Town 1 Exeter City 2: Match report - Grecians leave it late to snatch priceless victory
By David_Byrom, devonlive.com

Exeter City left it late but secured a priceless 2-1 win over Mansfield Town thanks to Ryan Harley's 84th-minute equaliser and Reuben Reid's penalty with the last kick of the game.

It once again shows the character and spirit of this City side as they came from behind to beat a play-off rival who had taken the lead in a fierce first half display.

City boss Paul Tisdale made three changes to the side who drew 3-3 with Yeovil Town, with Luke Croll replacing the injured Craig Woodman, Jack Stacey coming in for Jordan Tillson and David Wheeler replacing Liam McAlinden.

Mansfield fielded a 4-4-2 formation that looked to press high and quickly, putting the Grecians under some pressure with the pace of Shaq Coulthirst and trickery of wing-backs Rhys Bennett and Mal Benning in a ferocious first half.

There was drama inside three minutes when Ben Whiteman brought down a loose ball on the edge of the area and had a shot blocked, with the ball breaking to Coulthirst, who turned the ball home from 18 yards, only for referee Ben Toner to bring play back for a hand ball by the on-loan Peterborough United striker.

Mansfield continued to press City, seeing plenty of the ball, although the Grecians looked dangerous when they got forward themselves, with Ollie Watkins a constant source of danger.

Ryan Harley whipped in a free-kick that David Wheeler headed wide and, at the other end, Coulthirst twisted and turned before seeing an effort blocked by Jordan Moore-Taylor and Danny Rose saw a header comfortably saved by Christy Pym.

When City were able to get on the ball, they looked good, with Lloyd James pulling the strings in midfield, but they were unable to force Mansfield keeper Jake Kean into any saves.

Yet it was still Mansfield doing most of the running and, on the half-hour mark, they came close to opening the scoring when Alex MacDonald's corner found Rose, who hit the bar with a header.

The game and momentum continued to shift from end-to-end and, on a heavy pitch, it felt almost like a boxing game, with both sides taking it in turns to slug it out and test the other side's defences.

Coulthirst curled a shot miles past the post in the 35th minute and Pym took the resultant goal kick long to Wheeler, who flicked the ball onto Watkins, but the City attacker dragged his shot wide of the post from the edge of the area.

That miss proved crucial as, with the next attack of the game, Mansfield took the lead, with Joel Byrom's lovely crossfield ball into the box catching Pierce Sweeney out and allowing Benning to cut inside and fire a shot past the exposed Pym.

City had one chance to equalise before the half-time break after nice interchange between Wheeler and Jake Taylor saw Taylor send a cross into Watkins, who produced a wonderful turn before sending a shot across goal and just wide.

Read more: Mansfield Town 1 Exeter City 2: As it happened

The hosts started the second half the strongest, with Matt Green driving wide from the edge of the box after ref Toner had inadvertently blocked a James clearance.

Overall, though, the second period continued like the first, with both sides trading blows with each other without really threatening either keeper.

City were almost level on the hour mark when Brown was first to a cross and hooked it across the face of goal towards where Stacey was lurking, but Stags defender Krystian Pearce stuck out a leg and somehow turned the ball away from danger.

Ten minutes later and City, helped by the introduction of Reuben Reid, had a golden chance to equalise when Wheeler played through Stacey, who fired in at goal on the angle only to see goalkeeper Jake Kean stick out a leg and block the shot.

As the half wore on it felt like there was another goal lurking somewhere in the game as City started to throw the kitchen sink at the Stags, who still looked dangerous on the counter themselves.

Pym was called into action in the 75th minute when Green played Coulthirst through on goal with a flicked pass but the striker hesitated when running through, allowing the City keeper to come off his line and smother at Coulthirst's feet.

That was the point where Tisdale decided to roll the dice, sending on Matt Oakley in place of Croll to go to three at the back, with Oakley sitting in front of the defence.

City forced Kean into another save in the 81st minute when Harley fed Watkins inside the area and he curled a powerful shot at goal that the Stags keeper turned away.

The Grecians eventually forced an equaliser in the 84th minute with a fine goal as Harley picked the ball up midway inside the Mansfield half before weaving past a defender, playing a one-two with Wheeler and slotting the ball past Kean from 18 yards.

Harley's equaliser left the game on a knife edge, with both sides probing but wary not to commit too many players forward, creating an almost cup tie atmosphere.

That atmosphere was only added to with the revelation that there would be six minutes of added time and Whiteman saw a low effort from the edge of the box comfortably saved by Pym.

Pym produced a heroic save moments later after City gave the ball away on the halfway line, allowing Mansfield to break and Coulthirst did well to hold the ball up in the box before setting up Whiteman from the edge of the box and he produced a ferocious shot that looked like it would be the winner until the City keeper dived to his right to claw the ball away.

Just as it looked like that save would secure a point for City, they grabbed all three in controversial style, as Reid beat Bennett to a long ball and cut inside into the area before going down under a challenge from the Mansfield player.

Toner had no hesitation but to point to the spot and Reid, with the last kick of the game, sent Kean the wrong way to give City's play-off challenge a huge boost.

Mansfield Town: Kean, Bennett, Benning, Pearce, Taft (Howkins, 60), Coulthirst, Green, MacDonald (Collins, 73), Byrom, Whiteman, Rose (Potter, 80). Subs (not used): Jensen, Hamilton, McGuire, Hakeem.

Exeter City: Pym; Sweeney, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Croll (Oakley, 76); Stacey (Grant, 80), James (Reid, 65), Taylor, Harley, Wheeler, Watkins. Subs (not used): Olejnik, Tillson, McAlinden, Ampadu.

Att: 3,878 (379 away)

Read more at http://www.devonlive.com/mansfield-town-1-exeter-city-2-match-report-grecians-leave-it-late-to-snatch-priceless-victory/story-30243117-detail/story.html#I1UpDY4SdPScbV61.99

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Fake Sheikh raises a smile at the One Call Stadium

photo: Mr Mansour Cin Hamad Al Stagni with John Radford. April Fool?

chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 04 April 2017

Mansfield Town chairman John Radford’s wry smile says it all after Stags fans spotted a sheikh in the directors’ box at the One Call Stadium on Saturday less than a week since manager Steve Evans was linked with a move to Qatar! The mysterious visitor was said to be Mansour Cin Hamad Al Stagni of Qatar. But no one was taking his appearance too seriously on 1st April. The fake sheikh’s presence seemed to be the club smiling once more after last week’s worries over whether they might lose their manager to a lucrative offer from the Middle East that he would find impossible to turn down. Evans had been approached a second time for his services from Qatar, but once again he turned them down as he reaffirmed his commitment to get promotion for Mansfield. In the end on Saturday Stags were left ‘sheikhing all over’ by Exeter’s late penalty winner.

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/fake-sheikh-raises-a-smile-at-the-one-call-stadium-1-8474822

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