STAGS BEAT STEVE EVANS’ STEVENAGE
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 2 - 0 Stevenage
Lapslie 51, Longstaff 90+3.
Attendance: 5,086 (73 from Stevenage)
Date: 26 April 2022
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town beat Stevenage 2-0 last night at the One Call Stadium to keep the hopes of automatic promotion alive, and strengthen the chances of at least being in the play-offs. It’s extraordinary, and shows how the tight the league is, that with two games to go, the Stags could be automatically promoted, or in the play-offs, or finish outside the top 7.
The win was Mansfield’s 13th win in 14 home games, a remarkable run.
Steve Evans brought his Stevenage side to Mansfield having just secured their league status on Saturday with a win over Tranmere, their 3rd win (plus a draw) in 4 games. Evans had done a great job keeping them up. It was the first time Evans had come up against the Stags since walking out on the club 4 years ago. As you would expect, he received a hostile reception from the Stags fans.
Mansfield were without Stephen Quinn who got a whack on his hip against Crawley. The Stags had only won one game this season without Quinn in the side previously, at home to Hartlepool on Boxing Day. He had missed 8 previous league games, 6 of them due to suspension following the Harrogate game. So it was good to win a second game without him in the side.
The first half was a disappointing one for Mansfield creating very little going forward. Stevenage were the better side and had the best chance of the half when Luke Norris got the better of Stephen McLaughlin and fired towards the bottom left corner of the net from a tight angle, but Nathan Bishop got down well to tip it wide. A crucial save and a really good save.
The second half was completely different. The Stags started well, and dominated throughout. Nathan Bishop hardly touched the ball in the second half.
In the opening minute, George Maris curled a shot just wide of the left post.
The Stags took the lead after 51 minutes. Lucas Akins back-flicked to Matty Longstaff on the halfway line. Longstaff set Jamie Murphy away down the left. Murphy surged into the area and his low cross was turned behind for a corner. Longstaff took the corner quickly, along the byline to Murphy. Murphy turned and dinked a cross into the middle. Akins and Scott Cuthbert challenged for the header. The ball looped up in the air off Cuthbert’s head. As it came down, Lapslie controlled it with his right leg, before firing quickly with his left foot into the left corner of the net from 9 yards before any defender could react. Lapslie described the goal after the game: “The ball fell to me. Lukey (Lucas Akins) did unreal, he held off the man for me, to give me that time to switch it onto my left and make a clear path to the goal.” It was Lapslie’s 7th goal of the season.
The Stags were on top for the whole of the second half, with several chances to extend the lead, including two for Akins, one for Rhys Oates, two for Murphy. Mansfield were helped by Stevenage going down to ten men after 81 minutes when Terence Vancooten limped off with a bad back after Stevenage had used all three substitutes.
And the Stags sealed the game after 90+3 minutes. An exhibition of keeping the ball, with 13 passes ending with sub Jordan Bowery squaring to Longstaff 12 yards from goal, on the left. Longstaff fired into the bottom left corner of the net, through Cuthbert’s legs, with the keeper motionless. A pass into the net from Longstaff to finish off the passing move! Longstaff’s 5th goal of the season. Bowery’s 6th assist of the season.
The final whistle brought more celebrations, as we have become accustomed to with those 13 wins from 14 home games.
The next game is on Monday lunchtime, a 12.30pm kick-off at Salford City. The game is live on Sky Sports, which means that it will not be available to watch on iFollow Stags, either in the UK or overseas. We will of course have commentary as always. Salford will need to win to have a chance of making the play-offs. The Stags need a win to keep realistic hopes of automatic promotion alive.
Mansfield made one enforced change from the side that beat Crawley on Saturday. Stephen Quinn missed out having got a whack on the hip against Crawley. On whether Quinn might be fit for the Salford game, Clough said: "Tom (the physio) is not sure. But we'll do everything we can to try to get him out on the pitch."
Quinn was replaced by Lapslie. Oli Hawkins came back into the 18 on the bench having been absent for the Crawley game due to the birth of his second child. Congratulations to him and his partner.
The Stags started with a 4-4-2 formation, with Maris in front of the back four, Lapslie on the right, Longstaff on the left, Murphy behind the front two of Akins and Oates. Akins moved out to the right during the first half.
The Stags wore teal socks to show support for Down’s Syndrome Awareness.
Stevenage were unchanged from the side that beat Tranmere and secured their EFL status. Jamie Reid was up front on the right of a front three. Reid had been so unlucky earlier in the season in the game at Broadhall Way when he hit the post twice as the Stags won 2-1.
The Stevenage away following of 73 was the third away following less than 100 this season: 73 from Stevenage and Salford, 93 from Crawley. There were 5,013 home fans in the crowd of 5,085. That was the fifth highest number of home fans this season (stats for league games). Average attendance figures at the bottom of this report.
DETAILED REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
TUE 26 APR 2022, LEAGUE TWO
Mansfield Town 2-0 Stevenage
Lapslie (51'minutes), M Longstaff (90'+3minutes)
Match report supplied by PA Media.
Mansfield remain in the hunt for automatic promotion from League Two after a hard-earned 2-0 home win over Stevenage
George Lapslie and Matty Longstaff struck to leave the Stags fifth, one point behind third-placed Northampton with two games to go.
Former Mansfield boss Steve Evans was given a hostile reception by home fans on his return to his former club.
But his Stevenage side defended stoutly in a frustrating first half for Mansfield.
Indeed, the nearest the sides came to a breakthrough was at the other end on the half-hour when Stevenage forward Luke Norris out-muscled Stephen McLaughlin and burst into the box, his low shot turned away by keeper Nathan Bishop's fingertips at full stretch to his right.
Mansfield went up a gear after the break and after George Maris had shot inches wide from a Lucas Akins pull-back in the 47th minute, they went ahead four minutes later.
A short corner from the left was sent over by Jamie Murphy and Lapslie won the ball in a scramble and fired inside the left post from six yards.
Stevenage finished the game with 10 men after making all their subtitutions and then losing Terence Vancooten injured eight minutes from time.
Longstaff made the points safe in the third added minute as the Stags played keep-ball and then some neat passing found him unmarked in the box to tuck away a low finish from 10 yards.
Home Team Mansfield Away Team Stevenage
Possession Home 63% Away 37%
Shots Home 14 Away 10
Shots on Target Home 4 Away 3
Corners Home 7 Away 6
Fouls Home 7 Away 9
Crucial win over Stevenage keeps Mansfield Town automatic promotion hopes alive
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 26th April 2022
Mansfield Town kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Steve Evans' Stevenage at the One Call Stadium tonight.
In a game of few chances George Lapslie struck just after half-time before a stoppage time finish by Matty Longstaff eased nerves and sealed victory in this crucial game in hand and push Stags to fifth, a point off third placed Northampton with both sides having only two games to play in a thrilling climax to the season.
Stags made the one change with veteran Stephen Quinn missing out with a hip injury from the weekend, replaced by George Lapslie.
Ex-Stags boss Evans was inevitably roundly booed all the way to the dug-out by the home fans before kick-off.
But it was the visitors who started on the front foot and from a third minute corner, Read headed well wide.
Three minutes later Akins lifted a header over from a first time Maris cross in Mansfield's first threat.
Maris tried his luck from 30 yards in the 14th minute but the shot dipped over.
Perch gave the ball away to Taylor on 15 minutes and then immediately halted his attempt to run past him to earn the game's first booking.
Stags were struggling to made inroads through the visitors' compact shape and when they did and it was half-cleared on 20 minutes, Maris' foul halted Read's attempt to launch a counter and out came the yellow card again.
Norris bundled an effort goalwards from a second corner on 24 minutes but it was easy for Bishop to grab.
The game's first real chance came on the half-hour after an error from Mclaughlin saw him robbed by Norris who advanced into the right of the box and fire a low shot across Bishop which the keeper did well to fingertip away at full stretch for a corner.
When Stags didn't clear the corner the visitors had a big shout for handball in the box turned down and then Taylor had a shot blocked.
There was a worry when Oates stayed down hurt after being fouled just outside the Stevenage box trying to wriggle between two players, but he was eventually able to play on and Longstaff sent the free kick into the wall.
Taylor left a foot in on Maris as he tried to clear which earned him a 43rd minute booking and the half ended with a Stevenage corner as the sides went in goalless and the home side hugely frustrated.
Evans was booed again at half-time and he put his finger to his lips to suggest they should shush.
Stags came closer than they had all game on 47 minutes as Akins pulled a pass back to Norris, who shot inches wide of the far post.
But on 51 minutes Stags roared into the lead. A short corner from Longstaff to Murphy saw him cross to the near post where Lapslie batted for the ball and finally hooked it past Pym from six yards.
Akins wasn't far wide as Stags broke quickly on 54 minutes, sending a low shot just wide.
Stags continued to probe for the killer second.
But the visitors' subs almost combined for an equaliser on 74 minutes as Lines' free kick into the box was cleared to Andrade 20 yards out only to crash his fierce shot high and wide.
Stevenage lost Vancooten injured on 82 minutes which, having made all three changes, left them to complete the game with 10 men.
Towards the end Wallace looped a header to Pym, Murphy had a shot blocked and then saw another from the left saved at the near post.
A frustrated Reid was booked for fouling Lapslie on 87 minutes.
Five minutes were added and in the third of them, having kept possession superbly, Stags threaded a string of passes and Longstaff finished it off by poking home low from 10 yards.
STAGS: Bishop, McLaughlin, Hewitt, Murphy (Bowery 90+1), Maris (Wallace 72), Perch, Oates (Hawins 87), Lapslie, Akins, O'Toole, Longstaff. SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Rawson, Johnson, Stirk.
STEVENAGE: Pym, Wildin, Coker, Cuthbert, List (Andrade 72), Taylor, Norris (Daly 50), Vancooten, Read (Lines 60), Reid, Bostwick. SUBS NOT USED: Walker, Prosser, Upson, Barry.
REFEREE: Christopher Sarginson.
ATTENDANCE: 5,086 (73 away).
Stevenage's improved form ends at promotion-chasing Mansfield
thecomet.net, by Neil Metcalfe, April 26, 2022
Stevenage's first game since securing League Two safety brought an end to their improved form - as they lost away to Mansfield Town.
George Lapslie stroked home an early second-half strike to put the Stags ahead and in the third minute of stoppage time they wrapped up the 2-0 win through Matty Longstaff.
The Hertfordshire side will already be turning their thoughts to a busy summer and hopefully a far better season to come.
And there were a few good moments for them but not enough to cheer the travelling fans.
Stevenage opted to use completely the same team, subs included, that had achieved safety on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Tranmere Rovers.
And while they were heading into the final, three games with the pressure lifted, the home side were still looking to cement their play-off place or even crawl closer to the third automatic spot.
But the biggest takeaway from the first half was that Steve Evans has really upset the natives at some point.
A chorus of boos greeted his arrival and they got louder and louder every time he stood up from the bench leading to a crescendo as he went off at the break.
Mind, had it not been for that there would have been precious little to note.
Passing from both sides was poor and neither side could hold onto the ball for any real periods. It meant there was little in the way of chances.
What did come, were towards the home net although Luke Norris had the only real one of note.
He robbed Stephen McLaughlin out on the right wing and after moving inside the box, he sent a low angled drive towards the far corner and it needed Nathan Bishop to tip it round the upright.
McLaughlin had done considerably better to put an Arthur Read cross behind from in front of his own goal, Jamie Reid lurking behind, and from one corner there was a big shout for a penalty, an incident that brought Evans out of the dug-out and sent the Mansfield fans potty.
They were also vocal at the inability of their heroes to find each other, and in particular Newcastle loanee Longstaff.
On two separate occasions he found space down the left only for the pass to sail yards in front of him and out for a throw or a goal-kick.
Their one best chance fell to George Maris but he sent that high over Christy Pym's goal.
The same player had an opportunity just 60 seconds into the second period but his low effort through a crowded box curled away from goal and nobody gambled on getting a touch.
The positive start though did finally bring a goal though and it would have not pleased the Boro management team.
A corner was delivered from the left and the visitors had chances to clear but failed with every one, allowing Lapslie the simple task of passing the ball into the net from 10 yards.
Lucas Akins then fired narrowly wide from the left before hitting a shot from the other side much further off target.
Boro had lost Norris just before the goal with attention from the physio being administered as the goal went in.
A second change on the hour brought Chris Lines on for Read but bar one decent passing move that should have ended in a shot from Luther James-Wildin, there was still no fluency to their play.
The final sub was to bring Bruno Andrade on for Elliott List and the new man had an instant chance when a decent Lines free-kick was headed back towards him.
He snatched at the opportunity though and it flew well wide.
Boro's changes then came back to haunt them as Terence Vancooten was forced off with eight minutes of normal time to go. He had gone down a few minutes before with a painful looking back injury.
Michael Bostwick moved into the centre of defence but it left the visitors down to 10 men for the remainder of the contest.
And Longstaff took advantage late on as he found the space vacated to strike low past a stranded Pym and send Field Mill into raptures.
Stevenage: Pym, James-Wildin, Coker, Cuthbert, List (Andrade 72), Taylor, Norris (Daly 50), Vancooten, Read (Lines 60), Reid, Bostwick.
Subs (not used): Walker, Prosser, Upson, Barry.
Booked: Taylor 43, Andrade 87
Mansfield Town: Bishop, McLaughlin, Hewitt, Murphy (Bowery 90+1), Maris (Wallace 72), Perch, Oates (Hawkins 87), Lapslie, Akins, O'Toole, Longstaff.
Subs (not used): Stech, Rawson, Johnson, Stirk,
Goals: Lapslie 51, Longstaff 90+3
Booked: Perch 15, Maris 21
HT: Mansfield Town 0 Stevenage 0
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 5,086 (73 from Stevenage)