STAGS THUMP KIDDERMINSTER 3-0 DESPITE 7 CHANGES
Blue Square Bet Premier
Kidderminster Harriers 0 - 3 Mansfield Town
Stevenson 56, Briscoe 78, Green 87.
Att: 3565 (674 from Mansfield)
Date: 28 April 2012
Martin Shaw, Jeff Barnes and Simon Chamberlain at Aggborough
Mansfield Town finished the regular season with yet another victory, this time against play-off chasing Kidderminster, and despite making an incredible 7 changes from the side that beat Wrexham last weekend. After an even first half, Kidderminster were down to ten men after 48 minutes when Lee Vaughan elbowed Matt Rhead, and the Stags took the lead when Lee Stevenson scored his first Mansfield Town goal on 56 minutes. Louis Briscoe made it 2-0 with a close range header from a Stevenson cross to kill off the Harriers, who needed a win coupled with a Luton defeat to sneak into the play-offs. Matt Green came on as a late substitute and scored his 30th goal of the season within 4 minutes. He became the first Stags player to score 30 league and cup goals in a season since Ray Clarke in 1974-75. The day was marred by a bad injury to Kidderminster striker Anthony Malbon after 65 minutes following a challenge by Louis Briscoe. After the game, the ground had to be cleared to allow an air ambulance to land and take Malbon off to hospital. Briscoe tweeted after the game: “Apologies to any harm caused through my challenge, no intent was meant, hope the lad is ok”, and Kidderminster announced the good news on Saturday night that Malbon was being released from hospital.
Mansfield made 7 changes with Redmond, Thompson, Andrew, Worthington, Todd, Rhead and Roberts coming into the starting eleven. Redmond was in for his debut in goal, whereas Thompson and Todd were returning for the first starts in 2012. Martin Riley was named captain, a fitting reward for his outstanding performances since February.
Mansfield were roared on by a fantastic following of 674, despite the game being a dead rubber for the Stags. Lots of Mansfield fans were in fancy dress, as has become traditional for the last away game of the season.
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Air ambulance called to Stags match after player injury - Kidderminster 0-3 Mansfield Town, Saturday 28th April
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town wrapped up the regular season with a 3-0 win at Kidderminster Harriers today – but the win was marred by a what at first appeared to be a bad injury to Harriers' Anthony Malbon.
Flattened by a challenge from Louis Briscoe on 64 minutes, Malbon was unconscious and stretchered off and had to be rescued by air ambulance at the end of the game.
The game appeared to end two minutes early - after seven minutes of the nine minutes of added-on time - to allow the air ambulance to land on the Aggborough pitch. It was reported that the young striker was suffering from concussion.
Later on Saturday afternoon Kidderminster issued a statement on the club's official website saying: ”Harriers are pleased to be able to say that striker Anthony Malbon was awake and speaking to those around him as he was airlifted to hospital.”
And on Saturday evening Harriers club doctor Phil Earl, who confirmed that the player had been unconscious for a couple of minutes, added: “I think it looks a lot worse than it actually is. It is all very precautionary. He suffered a significant blow to his head and neck.”
The doctor said it had been paramedics' decision to airlift the player to hospital for scans.
The club's official Twitter feed then reported that the player was expected to be released from hospital after being given the all-clear after a scan.
The 3-0 match result ended Harriers' hopes of sneaking into the final play-off spot while Luton's 2-0 win at Fleetwood and York's 1-0 home win Forest Green Rovers left Mansfield facing a two-legged semi-final with York City, starting at Bootham Crescent on Wednesday night.
The score did flatter Mansfield a bit as both sides created a wealth of chances in a superb gamer of football.
But late strikes by Briscoe and Matt Green, his 30th of the season, inside nine minutes near the end, sealed the win after Stags had led through Lee Stevenson's first goal for the club early in the second half.
With a watchful eye on Wednesday's play-off semi-final first leg, boss Paul Cox made seven changes.
Cox went 4-4-1-1 with Matt Rhead up front and Lee Stevenson playing just behind him.
Shane Redmond made a sometimes nervous debut in goal, though kept a clean sheet, and Danny Andrew his full debut at left back with John Thompson making a long-awaited return in the centre of defence.
It was the former Irish international's first appearance since coming on as a substitute on 217th December at Southport.
There were also midfield outings for Andy Todd and Jon Worthington.
Given a breather were Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, Exodus Geohaghon, Lindon Meikle, Adam Murray, Ross Dyer, and Anthony Howell.
Centre half Martin Riley was handed the captain's armband for the day.
Harriers began on the front foot, forcing a corner after just 40 seconds from which Marshall rose to plant a firm header just wide.
But Rhead almost put Stags ahead on three minutes as he chased a short backpass from Marshall, lifting it over the keeper who was still able to re-adjust and somehow scoop it out as it dipped slowly towards the net.
Soon after Rhead took a nasty elbow in the face with no action taken against the home defender but play held up for treatment.
Todd won a free kick just outside the box which Andrew hit poorly low into the wall.
Stevenson then tested Breeden from 25 yards, the keeper taking it comfortably as it skidded up off the turf.
A knock-down from Worthington then saw Rhead slice wide from a similar distance while Stevenson had a shot blocked as the visitors slowly began to take a grip.
Hankin went on a dangerous run down the right for Harriers and swung in a low cross which, under pressure, O'Neill coolly chested back to his keeper.
On 16 minutes Kidderminster wasted another good chance. Vaughan crossed early from the right and an unmarked Malbon, with only Redmond to beat, volleyed his finish into the ground and saw it bounce tamely to the keeper.
Todd then forced Breeden into a low save with his 20 yard drive from inside the D.
Andrew entered the notebook on 21 minutes. After losing the ball to Hankin, the full back gave chase to retrieve it but his eventual tackle was fractionally mistimed and brought the Harriers man down.
On 23 minutes, the best move so far saw Hankin float the ball in, Rowe lay it neatly back by cushioning it on his heel and Mabon lifting a dipping half-volley over the far angle with Redmond helpless.
From Harriers' second corner, Storer threw himself into a near post header that zipped just wide of the post.
Todd was booked for bringing down Hankin on 29 minutes.
Rhead got a head onto a Briscoe cross from the right but not enough power to trouble Breeden, then an Andrew cross destined for the head of Stevenson right in front of goal saw a defender just manage to get a head to it to concede a corner.
Stags again came close on 35 minutes. Roberts threaded a great pass through for Todd who, with a great chance to shot, unselfishly squared for Stevenson who forced Breeden into a great stop, clawing up one-handed.
The ball came back out to Rhead who was just wide of the right angle as Harriers survived.
Then Stevenson did well to control, cut inside a defender on the left by-line and play the ball towards Briscoe who whipped it across goal and wide of the far angle.
There was a moment of farce as Redmond made of hash of clearing a backpass and fell onto the ball. With Rowe trying to nick it away and into the net, knowing Redmond could not pick it up, there were a few surreal seconds as the keeper went round in a circle three times on his hands and knees, protecting the ball but trying not to pick it up.
It was finally cleared by O'Neill with Harriers claiming the keeper had picked it up, Storer booked for his protests.
Vincent dragged a long range shot wide soon after, while Stevenson was a boot's length short of getting a toe onto a through ball into the box as an entertaining game continued to ebb and flow through to the break.
Harriers shot themselves in the foot four minutes into the second half when they found themselves down to 10 men.
For the second time in the game Rhead took an elbow to the farce, this time it was from Vaughan and this time it was spotted as the referee immediately pulled out his yellow card with Rhead on the turf by the halfway line in front of the dug-outs.
Once the big man was back in action, he helped on a long ball towards Stevenson, Breeden just beating him to it.
But Stevenson produced the breakthrough goal on 56 minutes.
Andrew struck a low ball forward which Rhead superbly dummied through his legs to release Stevenson who raced on before tucking away a cool finish under the keeper.
That promoted a flurry of home pressure in which Johnson's effort from a tight angle on the left by-line was saved by Redmond at his near post, sub Byrne had a shot deflect wide for a corner from which Jones headed wide at the far post.
Johnson was closer with a dipping shot from 25 yards which only just cleared the bar.
Stags then broke quickly with Roberts setting up Rhead for a low shot straight at the keeper.
Briscoe was booked for flattening Malbon with the home fans screaming for a red card to even things up.
However, there was a worry as Malbon stayed down and eventually had an oxygen mask put onto his face and a neck brace applied. He looked in a bad way as he was eventually stretchered off.
While Rhead was being booked for wasting time, a Stags fan in fancy dress ran across the pitch before being ejected.
Briscoe made it 2-0 with 12 minutes to go. Rhead found Stevenson who perfectly lifted the ball over a defender and into the danger zone where Briscoe raced in to beat Breeden with an unstoppable header.
Briscoe then left the field to boos as he was replaced by Hutchinson.
Harriers almost clawed one back as Wright beat Andrew and poked the ball across goal where Stags failed to clear and Redmond had to smother a close range finish by Rowe who then poked the rebound wide.
Redmond was down to his right to keep out a low Johnson shot from distance. Then he half-stopped a low angled drive from Rowe before grabbing it at the second time of asking.
Green came on for Stags and within four minutes had notched his 30th goal of the season.
Rhead put the ball behind the home defence and Green got there first to stretch out a leg and lift the ball over the keeper.
Jones tried to hook clear off the line, but the officials ruled the ball had crossed and it was 3-0.
Jones headed over for Kidderminster at the far post from a stoppage time corner while Rhead fired low at Breeden and Stevenson a 20 yard effort over the bar.
Nine minutes were added on at the end with an announcement that the air ambulance was on its way for the stricken Malbon.
Byrne fired over before the game was ended two minutes prematurely to get the field ready for the emergency services to land as the afternoon ended on a very dark note.
KIDDERMINSTER: Breeden, Vaughan, Williams, Jones, Marshall, Hankin (Byrne 52), Vincent, Rowe, Storer (Bradley 63), Malbon (Wright 70), Johnson. Subs not used: Guinan, Lyness.
STAGS: Redmond; O'Neill (Suton 73), Riley, Thompson, Andrew (Green 83); Briscoe (Hutchinson 79), Roberts, Worthington, Todd; Stevenson; Rhead. Subs not used: Marriott, Meikle.
REFEREE: Jez Simpson of Lancaster.
ATTENDANCE: 3,565 (674 away).
GOALS: Stags – Stevenson 56mins, Briscoe 78mins, Green 87mins.
CAUTIONS: Kidderminster – Storer 40mins, Johnson 58mins. Stags – Andrew 21mins, Todd 29mins, Briscoe 64mins, Rhead 74mins.
DISMISSAL: Kidderminster – Vaughan 49mins.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Rhead
Cox rings changes but there's no surprise as Stags keep on winning
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden
MANAGER Paul Cox said a surprise package could emerge from his Mansfield Town squad to play their way into his play-off plans.
And after making seven changes against Kidderminster to protect and rest his key players, that is exactly what happened as Lee Stevenson was among those to make a real impression.
Playing off the burly Matt Rhead, who himself shone, the attacking instincts that saw him score for fun at Belper and then Eastwood came to the fore as he threatened throughout.
Big things were expected of him when he arrived with Cox last summer, moving from Coronation Park, but he has been an outcast, making only his sixth start on Saturday.
Maybe a little of that rustiness showed in the first half, when he could have scored, but he had shaken it off by the second period.
With the hosts down to ten men on 48 minutes, after Lee Vaughan was dismissed for an elbow on Rhead, Mansfield capitalised and Stevenson was a leading figure in scoring one and making one, putting in a superb display after impressing in the 2-0 win against Wrexham in the previous game.
Now, as the Stags prepare for a play-off semi-final first leg against York on Wednesday night, Stevenson will be firmly in Cox's thoughts to play some part – as will a few others.
While there were huge positives for Mansfield to take from this victory, the game itself was overshadowed by an injury to Kidderminster's Anthony Malbon, who was knocked unconscious in the 64th minute in a collision with Louis Briscoe, and was carried off on a stretcher, being given oxygen and in a neck brace before being taken away by air ambulance – which landed on the pitch at the end of the game – to hospital. Thankfully, he was given the all-clear later that night.
With third place secured and no chance of moving up or down, it was always intriguing to see how Cox would play his cards at the weekend.
Playing on his mind was the fact Kidderminster would be all out, blood and thunder to get the victory on Saturday. Their boss Steve Burr knew if they won and Luton lost at Fleetwood, they would snatch the final play-off spot so had it all to play for, ensuring the Stags team would be in for a tough afternoon.
In the end, Cox opted for wholesale changes, unlike in the penultimate fixture against Wrexham, as he turned protector in his quest for play-off glory. Given the chance to stick or twist, he stuck. He rightly played it safe.
It proved the perfect decision as those who came in showed they are more than ready – mentally and physically – if called upon for the play-offs.
And when he did introduce Matt Green late on, the refreshed striker notched his 30th goal of the campaign to wrap up the 3-0 win, adding to Stevenson and Briscoe's earlier second-half strikes.
There were seven changes in total, with Shane Redmond making his debut in goal with Alan Marriott rested and Danny Andrew making his first start at left-back, in place of Ritchie Sutton.
John Thompson was also brought in for Exodus Geohaghon in the heart of defence after an injury-ravaged season while skipper Adam Murray, Anthony Howell and Ross Dyer were all given a rest, with top scorer Green and Lindon Meikle on the bench as the likes of Rhead, Stevenson, Jon Worthington and Andy Todd were all given rare starts.
The first-half might have ended goalless but Tom Marshall went close in the first minute before, at the other end, Rhead lobbed goalkeeper Tony Breeden only to see the stopper race back and acrobatically claw off his line.
Stevenson, Rhead and Todd all tested Breeden but their efforts were too close to the goalkeeper, while Malbon and Kyle Storer both went close for the hosts.
And ten minutes from half-time the Stags almost broke the deadlock. Gary Roberts, deep in his own half, picked out Todd's bursting run forward into the box perfectly and the midfielder unselfishly turned it inside first-time for Stevenson but after a touch, Breeden denied Stevenson before Rhead fired the rebound inches wide of the top corner.
The second period started with Kidderminster being reduced to ten men and Stags took advantage straight away through a great piece of play on 56 minutes. Andrew played the ball to Rhead, who dummied, allowing the ball to run through his legs and into the box and Stevenson raced onto it and fired through the goalkeeper's legs.
Redmond then denied Marvin Johnson as he began to look more assured before the incident that led to Malbon's injury.
The hosts vented their anger, unfairly, towards Briscoe and his response was to double the advantage 12 minutes from time.
Rhead played a neat ball to Stevenson down the right of the box and his perfectly-weighted pass over the last defender picked out the onrushing Briscoe who planted his header beyond a helpless Breeden.
Redmond twice denied Ryan Rowe before Green's goal late on, just minutes after coming off the bench. He got in behind the defence from Rhead's throw-in, dinked the ball over Breeden and despite Luke Jones' best efforts to clear, it was adjudged to have gone over the line.
Mansfield made it 13 wins and one draw from their last 15 games, their momentum showing no let-up ahead of the play-offs.
Now Cox just hopes it stays that way, as he prepares for Wednesday with a selection headache, albeit a nice one to have
Malbon injury worry as Mansfield end Harriers play-off hopes
Harriers 0 Mansfield 3
TEN man Harriers' play-off dream was ended by in-form Mansfield on a day of disappointment at Aggborough.
Defeat, and Luton's 2-0 win at leaders Fleetwood, ensured Steve Burr's efforts to book a top five spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier finally came to an end on the last match of the season.
The game had been evenly-balanced before the sending off of Lee Vaughan for a foul on striker Matt Rhead.
With the home side playing catch-up, goals for Lee Stevenson, Louis Briscoe and Matt Green ended what had been a thrilling campaign with defeat.
To make matters worse, Anthony Malbon was stretchered off after a serious injury to striker Anthony Malbon.
Both sides came out of the blocks intent on scoring goals.
Luke Jones came close with a diving far post header inside two minutes.
Moments later, Mansfield's giganctic strike Rhead tested keeper Tony Breeden with a delicate chip from inside the area but Harriers' shot-stopper clawed it away.
Rhead then saw a low 20-yard fly wide, while Stevenson cut in from the right but James Vincent made a timely interception on the edge of the box.
With a win absolutely vital, Harriers were also creating chances. Ryan Rowe played in Lee Vaughan, who whipped in a cross which Malbon hooked goalwards but keeper Shane Redmond was equal to it.
Malbon then flashed a shot wide after being set-up smartly by the alert Rowe.
At the other end, Breeden was called into action, showing razorsharp reactions to deny the lively Stevenson from close range.
But the most controversial moment of the first half came in the 40th minute.
Redmond was put in trouble by a poor back pass and under pressure from Rowe and dropped to all fours to shield the ball. Despite appearing to handle it, the referee was blew for a corner instead of a penalty or an indirect free-kick, much to the frustration of Kyle Storer who was booked for remonstrating with the match official.
Harriers' were reduced to 10 men two minutes into the second half when Vaughan was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Rhead.
The home team then found themselves trailing in the 56th minute. Stevenson stole down the left onto Rhead's pass and slipped a shot into bottom far post.
Marvin Johnson then drove into the box with pace and fired in a shot which Redmond saved at his far post.
Substitute Jack Byrne also fizzed a low 20-yard just wide.
Malbon needed treatment after an over the top shoulder barge by Briscoe, before eventually being stretchered off and replaced by Nick Wright. The Mansfield winger escaped with just a yellow card.
With Harriers fans feeling aggreived Briscoe was still on the pitch, the wideman rubbed salt in the wounds in the 77th minute when met a Stevenson cross to head in Mansfield's second goal.
Harriers came close to pulling one back. Nick Wright delivered a low ball and after Ryan Rowe's first shot was parried by Redmond, the striker's follow-up hit the bar.
The home side plugged away and after a typically pacey run, Johnson saw a low effort saved by the keeper.
Rowe then saw another effort saved by the keeper but Mansfield put the game out of sight in the 87th minute, when Matt Green's shot was adjudged to have crossed the line despite the efforts of Luke Jones to clear.
Injury-time was then cut short when as an air ambulance picked up the injured Malbon as Harriers' fine season ended on a worrying note.
Harriers: Breeden; Williams; Jones; Marshall; Hankin (Byrne, 51); Vincent; Rowe; Storer (Bradley, 62); Malbon (Wright, 69); Johnson.
Unused substitutes: Guinan; Lyness; Bradley.
Mansfield: Redmond; O'Neill (Sutton, 73); Riley; Worthington; Roberts; Briscoe (Hutchinson, 78); Todd; Stevenson; Thompson; Andrew (Green, 82).
Unused substitutes: Marriott; Miekle.
Referee: Jez Simpson (Lancaster). Attendance: 3,565 (674)
Harriers 0 Mansfield Town 3
Date: 28-04-12 Venue: Aggborough att: 3565 away fans: 674
Harriers hopes dashed but that's not important anymore
Report by Steve Williams
The Reds brilliant season came to an end after an "over-performing" Harriers, according to chairman Mark Serrell, lost to promotion hopefuls Mansfield, although the Harriers were left to ponder on what might have been after the fan's player of the season Lee Vaughan was sent off and Anthony Malbon was airlifted to hospital.
Although the Reds wouldn't have eventually made the play offs, following Lutons 2-0 win at Fleetwood, the result on the day could have been different after a couple of early chances came our way. Firstly, a free kick was awarded and eventually went for a corner but was quickly taken. Luke Jones header fell to Kyle Storer at the back post where he should have scored but his header was inches wide of breaking the deadlock.
The momentum seemed to diminish after this attack though and Mansfield set the tone for the remainder of the match. An horrific header was aimed back to goal from Tom Marshall but it was too short and Mansfield's Matt Rhead capitalised and put a lofted effort on goal. This was stopped from going in with a brilliant claw from Tony Breeden, who had to back track to reach it.
After hearing of Luton's first goal at Highbury the fans urged the players to try and get a goal, and, after a whipping cross from Vaughan, they almost got their wish but it was held by a shaky Shane Redmond in the Stags' net.
The Stags though should've taken the lead, if it wasn't for a great stop from Breeden. Rhead got the ball into the Harriers box and laid it off for Chris Todd, whose shot was well saved by the Harriers stopper.
There was drama shortly before the break though after the referee judged Redmond's fall on the ball, following a back pass, was not a free kick despite Redmond handling it at least five times. This marked the end of the half with the score at a stalemate and the fans furious with the referees antics.
HT: 0 - 0
The second half started in the worst possible manner with full-back Lee Vaughan being sent off for what appeared to be an elbow on the Stags' striker, Rhead. This left the fans in anger towards Vaughan as he looked to have cost us a win once more.
With the Harriers now down to ten men and Luton winning the drive seemed to drain from the team and became something that Mansfield addressed quickly. Rhead played a ball through to Lee Stevenson, who slotted home, between Breeden's legs.
The Harriers did try to get themselves back into the game though and after good work from the hard-working Ryan Rowe the ball came out to Marvin Johnson on the edge of the area but he hit the ball well over.
Then came the moment which most Harriers fans will be caring about tonight. A horrendous challenge from the Stags' Louis Briscoe was deemed as only being worthy of a yellow card by the referee after he went straight through Malbon on the touchline. Malbon was left unconscious and out for the count until he was eventually stretchered off six minutes later to a chorus of his name from concerned Harriers fans.
It was that man Briscoe though who put Mansfield two goals ahead and the Harriers hopes in shreds following a second goal at Fleetwood for Luton. He headed home to double the lead for Mansfield with just over ten minutes to go to go. This lead was increased nine minutes after when Matt Green's shot was deemed to have crossed the line despite Luke Jones best efforts to clear it.
It was a day of gloom for the Harriers to reflect on a season of "so close, yet so far", especially after our loss and Luton's win meant that they finished five points ahead of the Reds. The players and staff can hold their heads high for taking it to the last day of the season, although it is for the third time in four seasons. It looks clear that we should, once more, be able to achieve those prestigious play off places next time round and with our squad quickly gaining experience, and more Steve Burr transfer magic to come, who at this point could doubt it?
For the present though, I'm sure you will all join me in wishing Anthony Malbon a speedy recovery and we'll all re-convene in a few months time to go through all of this again.
FT: 0 - 3
Goals for Mansfield: Stevenson 56, Briscoe 78, Green 87,
The Harriers Online MotM is: Ryan Rowe
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