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Archived News from May 2023

11th May 2023 22:13

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Colchester United 0 - 2 Mansfield Town
Harbottle 45+2, Gale 90+7
Attendance: 6,910 (1,350 from Mansfield)

Date: 8 May 2023

Martin Shaw at the JobServe Community Stadium

Mansfield Town won 2-0 at Colchester United this afternoon, but agonisingly missed out on reaching the play-offs on goal difference by one goal, pipped by Salford City who lost 1-0 at home to Gillingham. A 3-0 win for the Stags would have seen them into 7th place, above Salford. Bradford City got the point they needed to finish in the play-offs, drawing 1-1 at home to champions Leyton Orient. Had Leyton Orient scored a winner in the second half, Mansfield would have pipped Bradford into the play-offs on goals scored.

Incredibly frustrating. Devastating really.

The Stags played well and deserved to win, and on any other occasion, would have come away delighted with a win at Colchester. Indeed it was the first time Mansfield had done the double over Colchester since 1967/68.

Mansfield finish the season with 12 away wins, a club record number of away wins in the Football League , beating 11 previously set in 1974/75 and 1976/77. (The club record including non-league seasons is 13 away wins set in the Conference winning season 2012/13).

The 12 away wins was the equal highest in League Two this season, equal with Salford.

Only 9 wins at home though, with 8 draws and 6 defeats. The home form needs to be better next season.

Mansfield also finished the season as equal top scorers in League Two, again equal with Salford, with 72 goals. Ten goals or more more than each of the top three clubs Leyton Orient, Stevenage and Northampton. Mansfield conceded too many goals though, 55, and that is the main area that Mansfield need to strengthen next season. Nigel Clough confirmed after the game he will be looking sign “2 or 3 defenders” in the close season.

Nigel Clough also confirmed he expects to sign a new contract next week with CEO David Sharpe. As I said in my report last week on the Harrogate game: I think he should stay and I think he will, to have another crack next season. I believe we would have got into the play-offs without the large number of injuries, and maybe into the top three.

The Stags were backed by a brilliant away following of 1,350, who gave the side great vocal support throughout the game, and also after the final whistle despite the massive disappointment of missing out on reaching the play-offs. Incidentally, Mansfield’s average away following in the league was 913, fantastic support (see my stats below).

Nigel Clough made one change from the side that started against Harrogate: Will Swan started in place of Rhys Oates, his first start after injury. Louis Reed was fit to start despite Clough saying last week that his knee was extremely sore and season was over Anthony Hartigan was back from a long injury lay-off and back on the bench (his first game since New Year’s Day). Kieran Wallace and Jason Law travelled but didn’t make it into the 18.

Colchester had won their previous two home games 4-0 (over Crewe) and 4-1 (over Sutton) and in between had won at Salford, but had lost their last game, at Doncaster. They were without their best player, wing-back Junior Tchamadeu, suspended after being sent off after the final whistle at Doncaster.

The Stags were the better side in the first half.

The Stags should have had a penalty after 12 minutes when Connor Hall trod on Akins’ boot in the area, as Akins was heading for the byline in the area on the right. The video shows it was a cast iron penalty and would certainly have been given with VAR.

After 22 minutes, a good move as Akins set Keillor-Dunn away into the area on the left, Keillor-Dunn cut inside onto his right foot, and his low shot was straight at the keeper.
Mansfield appealed again for a penalty after 32 minutes, when following a Quinn corner, the ball came out to Kilgour, 8 yards out. Kilgour blasted his shot goalwards and it was blocked by a Colchester arm. Again the penalty was turned down, but this time rightly, as the arm was down by his side. Unlucky for Kilgour though as his shot was goalbound.

Mansfield went close after 33 minutes when Boateng’s shot from 12 yards was parried by the keeper on the line after a cross from Quinn. Then a good move down the right, Reed got to the byline and chipped into the middle where Perch swung a leg at it, the ball bounced into the ground, bounced up and the keeper caught it under his bar. Like last week against Harrogate, Perch needed a cleaner connection.

The Stags were all over Colchester at this point, pinning them back with a succession of corners.

Another shot from Boateng after 44 minutes, showing good persistence outside the area, and shooting narrowly high and wide from 18 yards.

The Stags deservedly took the lead after 45+2 minutes. Swan was caught off the ball by Tom Dallison’s arm. A free kick 35 yards from goal, and a yellow card for Dallison. Keillor-Dunn curled the free kick into the area, and Harbottle got above his marker Hall to head into the net from 8 yards. A great header from Harbottle, his 6th goal of the season. He scored Mansfield’s 1st goal of the season, and now he’d scored in the final game. Keillor-Dunn’s 5th assist.

Not much in the way of chances for Colchester in the first half, with Jayden Fevrier shooting well wide after 16 minutes, Connor Hall firing well over the bar after 18 minutes, and Hall shooting wide again after 42 minutes.

It was nearly 2-0 after 54 minutes. Callum Johnson crossed from the right, the ball was cleared to Boateng. Boateng took one touch to lift the ball up, then with his second touch he volleyed it inches wide of the right post from 22 yards, with the keeper motionless. So close.

And after 56 minutes, the Stags rattled the bar. Akins turned, 8 yards inside the Colchester half, and played a magnificent left footed pass out to Keillor-Dunn on the left. Keillor-Dunn pushed forward to the edge of the “D”, 22 yards from goal, and curled his shot onto the bar.

Colchester went close for the first time in the game after 58 minutes. Noah Chilvers’ free kick from the right reached Hall 8 yards out on the left. Hall fired in a shot, which was going wide, it was blocked by Harbottle, and fell for Akinde 6 yards out, who volleyed against the bar.

Mansfield made a double change after 66 minutes as Maris replaced Keillor-Dunn, and Oates replaced Boateng.

The Stags needed more goals, but the chances weren’t coming.

Callum Johnson was booked for a foul on 77 minutes.

Perch was booked for barging Fevrier off the ball on the byline after 81 minutes.

Two more changes for the Stags after 83 minutes, as Clarke replaced Quinn, and Bowery replaced Perch.

Salford were now 1-0 down at home to Gillingham. A 3-0 win for Mansfield would be enough.

A golden chance for Mansfield to get a second goal after 87 minutes. Reed slid a superb through-ball forward from 15 yards inside his own half for Swan 40 yards from goal. Swan pushed forward into the area, slightly overran the ball with a poor touch, but slid in to win it back, giving himself the chance of a shot with just the keeper to beat from 12 yards. But the keeper made a great save turning his shot into the side netting. The referee wrongly gave a goal kick. Swan should have scored.

Bizarrely a Stags fan then threw a pyrotechnic onto the pitch. A poor time to do that with Mansfield trying to build some momentum from that chance. There was quite a stoppage (two and half minutes), as stewards are not allowed to remove it until it has burnt out.

9 minutes of stoppage time was added.

Mansfield made their final two changes after 90+1 minutes, with Hartigan replacing Reed, and Gale replacing Swan. Each side was allowed 6 subs, because Colchester had used a concussion substitute when Akinde went off earlier.

On 90+3 minutes, Colchester were very close to an undeserved goal. Pym punched away a free kick into the box from the halfway line. The ball was turned back into the area, and Pym made a great save from sub Fiacre Kelleher’s shot from 12 yards. The ball ran loose again, and with Pym down, sub Freddie Sears fired goalwards from 8 yards, but Kilgour blocked it on the line. Great defending from the Stags centre half.

Straight to the other end, Oates crossed from the left and Maris headed over. Then on 90+6, Callum Johnson crossed in and Gale headed well wide. The game was wide open, Harbottle blocked a shot from sub Matt Jay at the other end.

On 90+7 minutes, Mansfield did get a second goal. Pym’s long kick forward, was well-controlled by Akins, who steamed past his man into the area on the right, and pulled the ball back to Gale, 16 yards out. Gale took two touches before firing low into the bottom left corner of the net. A clinical finish from Gale.

Two minutes plus stoppage time in stoppage time to get a third goal. Akins set Gale away into the area again, but Gale fouled his man. Callum Johnson had a chance to cross into the middle, but it was cleared. Hartigan crossed into the middle, but that was headed away. Full time, and the chance was gone.

Gutting. An incredible afternoon, but not enough. It’s the hope that kills you.

Good applause from the Stags fans at the final whistle for the efforts of the players and staff. Such good support in gutting circumstances.

Overall this was a good performance from Mansfield, who were much better than Colchester. A good first half. Deservedly ahead at the break, and it could have been more. A very good start to the second half. But then the Stags went off the boil and didn’t create any chances from 56 to 87 minutes. A late onslaught, with Gale’s goal and Swan missing a glorious chance, but it wasn’t to be, and it finished 2-0.

So that’s it. The Stags miss out on the play-offs, agonisingly, by one goal on goal difference. It’s been an enjoyable season, a roller coaster. The Stags have been in and around the play-offs all season, and were still in with a chance of the top three just 2 weeks ago. Then damaging home defeats to Leyton Orient and Harrogate scuppered those chances and ultimately led to missing out on the play-offs on the final day.

Thanks for reading and listening this season. The players will be back for pre-season at the start of July, with pre-season games to be announced. See you there. We’ll do it all again!


Colchester United 0-2 Mansfield Town: Stags fall short of play-offs despite win
Harbottle (45'+2minutes), Gale (90'+7minutes)
Keillor-Dunn (45'+2minutes), Akins (90'+7minutes)


Mansfield Town fell short of snatching a League Two play-off place on the final day of the season despite beating Colchester United.

The Stags needed to beat the U's and have results go their way elsewhere to get into the top seven.

They missed out on goal difference after finishing equal on points with Salford, whose defeat against Gillingham was not by a big enough margin to allow Mansfield to leapfrog them into the play-off spots.

Riley Harbottle gave the visitors hope of extending their season, heading Nigel Clough's side in front in first-half injury time.

Mansfield forward Davis Keillor-Dunn hit the bar early in the second half, with John Akinde doing the same with a volley for the hosts minutes later.

James Gale's goal in the seventh minute of injury time put Mansfield within a goal of getting into the play-offs but it was not enough as their season ended in Essex.

On-loan Forest defender Harbottle gave the Stags a deserved half-time lead when he powered home a header from a floated free-kick from Keillor-Dunn.

After the interval, Hiram Boateng volleyed narrowly wide and Keillor-Dunn crashed an effort off the crossbar from the edge of area as the visitors chased an important second that could help swing the goal difference in their favour.

Colchester, who finished the season three places and six points clear of the drop zone, then went close to levelling when Akinde saw an effort come back off the woodwork.

Will Swan put a huge chance into the side netting late on, and it proved a costly miss after Gale came off the bench to make it 2-0 when a three-goal win was needed.

Mansfield boss Clough, who is in talks about a new contract, said before the game that he "does not believe in miracles" and was proven right as his side failed to produce the one they needed to reach the play-offs for a second successive season.

Match Stats
Home Team Colchester Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 43% Away 57%
Shots Home 17 Away 16
Shots on Target Home 4 Away 5
Corners Home 3 Away 8
Fouls Home 5 Away 17


Thrilling finish as Mansfield Town win at Colchester United but narrowly miss out on play-offs
chad.co.uk, Monday 8 May 2023

Mansfield Town suffered final day heartache as they missed out on a League Two play-off place on goal difference, despite this afternoon's excellent 2-0 win at Colchester United.

The Stags needed Salford to slip up and to overturn a four-goal swing to sneak into the top seven.

Gillingham did Nigel Clough’s charges a favour by winning at Salford, but Mansfield fell agonisingly short by a single goal on goal difference.

Riley Harbottle opened the scoring before James Gale netted at the end, but it was sadly too little too late.


There was a sense of what could have been after back-to-back home losses heading into the last day cost Mansfield dear.

Clough made a solitary change from the side which lost against Harrogate Town last time out.

Nottingham Forest loanee Will Swan returned to the starting line-up for the first time in four months at the expense of Rhys Oates.

Colchester’s Alex Newby had the first real chance of the afternoon as he fired wide of the mark.

Lucas Akins did well to find strike partner Davis Kellior-Dunn, but U’s stopper Tom Smith got down well to keep the Scot out.

Hiram Boateng was frustrated by Smith before Alfie Kilgour nodded just wide as the Stags started to go through the gears.

And the pressure told in first-half stoppage-time as Harbottle eventually broke the deadlock.

The defender thundered home a far post header from Keillor-Dunn’s dangerous free-kick to give Clough’s charges the lead heading into the break.

Mansfield continued to threaten after the restart as Boateng’s well-struck 20-yard volley narrowly missed the target.

Two minutes later Kellior-Dunn smashed an effort against the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Down the other end, Christy Pym produced a fine reaction save to tip John Akinde’s effort onto the bar.

With time running out on Mansfield’s play-off bid, Swan hit the side netting before George Maris headed over in added time.

Needing two late goals still, in the seventh of nine additional minutes Gale grabbed a third goal in four games with a fine finish on the turn.

But there was to be no late, late miracle as time ran out on the Stags before they were applauded warmly from the army of 1,350 travelling fans for their efforts.

The victory at least set a new club record of 12 away Football League wins in a season.

COLCHESTER: Smith, Greenidge, Dallison, Chambers, Hall (Kazeem, 65), Fevrier (Sears, 83), Marshall (Skuse, 74), Read (Kelleher, 82), Newby (Jay, 66), Chilvers, Akinde (Hopper, 65). SUBS NOT USED: Collins.

STAGS: Pym, Callum Johnson, Harbottle, Kilgour, Perch (Bowery, 84), Boateng (Oates, 66), Reed (Hartigan, 90+2), Quinn (Clarke, 83), Swan (Gale, 90+2), Akins, Keillor-Dunn (Maris, 66). SUB NOT USED: Flinders.

REFEREE: Ben Speedie (Liverpool).


Colchester United beaten by Mansfield Town in League Two
gazette-news.co.uk, By Jonathan Waldron, Monday 8 May 2023

COLCHESTER United's season ended in defeat this afternoon after they were beaten 2-0 at home by Mansfield Town in front of their biggest home gate of the season.

Riley Harbottle's controversial goal scored in first-half stoppage-time and substitute James Gale's late strike saw the U's fall to defeat in front of a crowd of nearly 7,000, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Colchester boss Ben Garner made four changes to his starting line-up.

Tom Dallison, Alex Newby, Marley Marshall Miranda and Jayden Fevrier started, with Fiacre Kelleher on the bench, Junior Tchamadeu out due to suspension and Ossama Ashley and Samson Tovide missing through injury and concussion respectively.


Mansfield, chasing an unlikely play-off place, started with a high tempo but it was Colchester who carved out the game’s first chance.

Newby fired a shot just wide from the edge of the area after some decent interchange with Noah Chilvers and Connor Hall.

Fevrier and Connor Hall both saw attempts fly wide of the target from the edge of the area for Colchester.

But Mansfield also looked dangerous at times, with Davis Keillor-Dunn registering their first shot on target when he drilled a low shot straight at U’s keeper Tom Smith, midway through the first half.

Mansfield began to exert control as the half wore on.

Riley Harbottle was denied by Smith from close range from Stephen Quinn’s corner before Alfie Kilgour’s shot struck a U's player in the box, prompting penalty calls from the visitors that fell on deaf ears.

The Stags went close again soon after when Hiram Boateng's effort was well parried by Smith and from the resultant corner, Kilgour's header was glanced wide as Mansfield started to turn the screw.

It looked like the U’s would go in at half-time goal-less but the visitors grabbed the lead in first-half stoppage-time, in controversial circumstances.

Referee Benjamin Speedie penalised Tom Dallison for a foul on Will Swan midway inside the Colchester half, having not initially appeared to have awarded a free-kick.

And when Keillor-Dunn delivered the set-piece, Riley Harbottle rose to head home and give Mansfield the lead.

Colchester went at the break behind and Mansfield almost added a second early in the second half when Hiram Boateng's first-time effort flew wide of the target, from the edge of the area.

The Stags came even closer to scoring soon after when Keillor-Dunn's fine curled effort from the edge of the box bounced off the bar.

But Colchester then hit the woodwork themselves, just before the hour mark.

John Akinde's close-range effort bounced off the crossbar after Christy Pym had saved Connor Hall's effort, following Noah Chilvers' free-kick into the box.

Colchester made a triple change midway through the second half, sending on Tom Hopper, Matt Jay and Al-Amin Kazeem in a bid to force an equaliser.

Swan spurned a great chance to seal Mansfield's victory late on when he burst through on goal but fired wide.

Freddie Sears' goalbound shot was blocked near the goal-line by Alfie Kilgour in stoppage-time after fellow substitute Fiacre Kelleher had also gone close.

But Gale sealed Mansfield's win in the seventh minute of stoppage time when he finished low shot from close range from Lucas Akins' pass, as the U's were beaten.

MATCH STATS: COLCHESTER UNITED: Smith, Chambers, Dallison, Hall (sub Kazeem, 65), Greenidge, Fevrier (sub Sears, 83), Miranda (sub Skuse, 74), Read (sub Kelleher, 82), Newby (sub Jay, 66), Chilvers, Akinde (sub Hopper, 65).

Subs (not used): Collins.

U's man of the match: Arthur Read.

Mansfield Town: Pym, Harbottle, Johnson, Perch (sub Bowery, 83), Quinn (sub Clarke, 83), Reed (sub Hartigan, 90), Kilgour, Swan (sub Gale, 90), Keillor-Dunn (sub Maris, 66), Boateng (sub Oakes, 66), Akins.

Substitutes (not used): Flinders.

Referee: Benjamin Speedie.

Bookings: Colchester: Miranda (foul, 35), Dallison (foul, 45). Mansfield: Perch (foul, 81).

Goals: Mansfield: Harbottle (45), Gale (90).

Attendance: 6,910 (1,350 Mansfield fans).


Report: U's 0-2 Mansfield Town
Final day defeat for the U's
by Andy Carmichael

A goal in either half gave the U's a final-day defeat against Mansfield Town in the 2022/23 season.

Ben Garner named a side with four changes to the starting eleven for the final game of the 2022/23 season - Junior Tchamadeu (suspension), Samson Tovide (injury), Ossama Ashley (injury) and Fiacre Kelleher were left out, with Tom Dallison, Alex Newby, Marley Marshall Miranda and Jayden Fevrier coming in.

Ted Collins was named among the substitutes for the first time since his injury, while Cole Skuse was fit enough for a space in the eighteen for the final game.

The visitors knew that nothing but a win would give them their only hope of sneaking into the play-off places on the final day. The Stags also needed results to go their way elsewhere, but came out of the blocks quickly and put the pressure on Smith’s goal in the opening twenty minutes, while the U’s were backed by their biggest crowd of the season.

But despite the early pressure, they failed to trouble the Arsenal loanee, with Newby and Hall firing just wide at the other end.

A series of corners brought more noise from the travelling supporters, but Tom Smith was equal to everything thrown at him, including a dangerous Akins volley that stung the palms of the ‘keeper.

Marley Marshall Miranda was the first into the referee’s book after a late challenge on the halfway line, the first of two bookings for the U’s.

The second was more contentious with no official seeming to see a foul on Will Swan. Neither the referee, nor the linesman seemed to indicate a foul on the Mansfield attacker after a collision with Dallison, but a free kick was given after protests from the away bench. The U’s defender was booked, but it was the least of worries for Colchester.

Riley Harbottle was on hand to head beyond Smith, but the protests continued until the half-time whistle from those in blue and white.

Nevertheless, the U’s would have to come from behind if they were going to get anything in their final game.

Neither side made a change at the break, but Akins went close to doubling the advantage of the visitors ten minutes in. His snapshot bobbled just wide of the mark with Smith rooted to the spot, another warning sign for Ben Garner.

Davis Keillor-Dunn then went even closer, striking the woodwork for the visitors, moments before the U’s struck the bar themselves.

John Akinde’s powerful effort cannoned off the frame of the goal after a spell of pressure in the eighteen-yard box, but Connor Hall couldn’t convert the follow up just before the hour mark.

A trio of changes came just after sixty minutes for the U’s; off came Newby, Akinde and Hall replaced by Jay, Hopper and Kazeem.

Cole Skuse was then introduced with fifteen minutes to go as Colchester went in search of an equaliser. And Jayden Fevrier’s attacking runs down the right flank were giving his side hope, as he tussled with Perch on a number of occasions.

Soon after, the U’s made their final changes, with Garner afforded another change with Akinde used as a concussion substitute. Kelleher and Sears were on for the final exchanges as Read and Fevrier made way.

Kelleher headed to an unfamiliar position up front in order to give the U’s a target in attack, but it proved to be too much for the home side.

Nine minutes of stoppage time passed but only after had a chance cleared off the line as Sears went close to a goal.

James Gale added a second for his side with time running out, but it wasn’t enough for Mansfield to get into the top seven.

The final whistle blew with the U’s settling in twentieth position, and looking ahead to the next season.

Colchester United starting XI: Smith, Greenidge, Chambers, Dallison, Chilvers, Read (Kelleher 83’), Newby (Jay 66’), Akinde (Hopper 65’), Hall (Kazeem 65’), Marshall Miranda (Skuse 74’), Fevrier (Sears 83’).

Subs: Collins, Skuse, Sears, Kelleher, Jay, Hopper, Kazeem.

Mansfield Town starting XI: Pym, Harbottle, Akins, Johnson, Perch (Bowery 83’), Quinn (Clarke 83’), Reed (Hartigan 90’), Kilgour, Swan (Gale 90’), Keillor-Dunn (Maris 66’), Boateng (Oates 66’).

Subs: Flinders, Hartigan, Clarke, Bowery, Maris, Oates, Gale.

Attendance: 6,910 (1,350)



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