STAGS FINISH WITH A WIN TO SEND BRISTOLROVERS DOWN
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Bristol Rovers 0 - 1 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 10,594 (704 from Mansfield)
Date: 3 May 2014
Martin Shaw at the Memorial Ground
Mansfield Town ended the season with a tremendous victory which sent Bristol Rovers down to the Conference. And the winner was a goal worthy of winning any game, with great play on the left hand side by man of the match Anthony Howell, a fine cross, and a volley from Colin Daniel from 16 yards that flew in off the right post. After the disappointment of poor performances in the previous two games at home, this was a gutsy display from the Stags who defended solidly and were tough-tackling in midfield, while keeper Lewis Price made one sensational save.
The Stags finish in 11th, and only behind 10th and 9th place on goal difference, and that only by 2 and 3 goals respectively.
It is the Stags highest finish in the league pyramid for 10 years, since finishing 5th (and losing in the play-offs) in 2003-2004.
The Stags end the season not having lost away from home to any team outside the top 8 positions.
In fact, only 6 away defeats is the equal lowest in the club’s history, equalling 1974-75.
Very creditable to finish in the top half, and yet, with the addition of that missing link, a quality finisher, and without the concession of 9 points in stoppage time to Plymouth, Accrington, and Fleetwood, it could have been ever better.
704 Stags fans made the trip to Bristol, many in fancy dress, dressed as minions, and were rewarded by a good performance.
704 travelling Stags fans today takes the average Stags away following for the season to 508. The highest was 1992 at Chesterfield, and the lowest was 115 at Exeter. Superb!
Saturday, 3rd May 2014: Bristol Rovers 0, Mansfield Town 1
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
Disgraceful scenes ended a nightmare day for Bristol Rovers as a Junior Daniel goal relegated them to the Conference for the first time in their 94-year League history.
On the final whistle, Rovers fans fought a pitched battle with police until the mounted section were called on and managed to end the trouble.
For Stags it was a fine away win under massive pressure in such a tinderbox situation and made it five wins and five draws from 11 away games since Christmas as Mansfield ended their first season back in the League in a superb 11th place.
Rovers began the day needing only a point to be safe but favourites to stay up with Wycombe and Northampton below them needing to win.
But the day was turned on its head as Northampton and Wycombe took control of their games at home to Oxford and away to Torquay respectively to leave Rovers in the bottom two and having to score after Daniel had brilliantly volleyed Mansfield ahead on 36 minutes.
They did what they could in response. But Lewis Price was in top form in goal as Rovers wasted other good chances and saw their stay in the Football League slowly and agonisingly running out of gas.
The desperation of the situation had attracted a sell-out crowd of 10,594 to make for an electric pre-match atmosphere in the spring sunshine.
Stags boss Paul Cox made two changes in central midfield, bringing back Anthony Howell and Jamie McGuire in place of Chris Clements and Adam Murray while Sam Clucas came in for the suspended Matt Rhead up front.
A deafening cauldron of noise and hundreds of blue and white balloons greeted the sides as they walked onto the pitch.
Stags were wearing an unfamiliar combination of black shirts and yellow shorts with many of the players in different numbers to usual.
O’Toole saw a 25 yard effort strike a Stags player in the box in the second minute, prompting very hopeful calls for a penalty as Rovers piled on the inevitable early pressure.
On four minutes Beardsley should have done better on the right of the box when he crashed a half-volley well over the top when he should have made Price work.
A poor defensive clearance then offered Clarkson a shooting chance from 18 yards which he drilled low straight to Price.
A long throw from Marsden into the home box on seven minutes caused Rovers’ hearts to flutter as it bounced a couple of times before it was grabbed by Mildenhall.
By now Wycombe had grabbed an early goal at Torquay to pile the pressure on Rovers and Northampton.
Mansfield gained some relief from the pressure to win a corner on 10 minutes, it was cleared to McGuire who put the ball back into the box too close to the keeper.
On 13 minutes Daniel got a good flick-on to send the ball into the box for Clucas to chase. Mildenhall was down quickly to gather, but his momentum carried him into Clucas and left the striker requiring treatment. Thankfully for Stags he was able to continue.
A great burst of pace down the left by Mohamed won the home side their first corner on 17th minutes which was headed over by McChrystal.
Soon after a Stags throw came back to Marsden, who whipped a dangerous ball back into the six yard box which Mildenhall had to save, hoping no one would get a vital touch.
However, on 19 minutes Marsden brought down Mohamed for his first booking in first team football.
Rovers almost snatched the lead on 21 minutes as they broke down the centre and Harrold controlled a difficult pass well on his chest before screwing a low finish wide.
Still in the 21st minute Harrold flicked on a long ball forward perfectly for Beardsley, but the ex-Stags guided it wide of goal from six yards with only Price to beat.
News filtered through at this point that Northampton were behind at home to Oxford.
On 32 minutes the Gas came close again as Clarkson crossed hard and low from the right in front of goal where Price bravely smothered as the boot of Harrold slid in towards him to try to get the nick past him.
The thrills continued elsewhere as Northampton levelled at home Oxford and then went 2-1 ahead.
And on 36 minutes Rovers began to feel the heat as Daniel lashed Mansfield into the lead.
Howell crossed from the left and Daniel met it with a superb 20-yard volley that struck the inside of the right hand post and flew into the net.
That dropped Rovers into the bottom two and you could sense the growing fear around the ground.
Clarke flicked a diving header narrowly wide from a Mohamed free kick on 38 minutes as Rovers battled desperately for their lives.
The noose then tightened for Rovers as Wycombe doubled their lead at bottom club Torquay.
The home fans were growing steadily more concerned as Mansfield began to enjoy some possession.
In the final minute of the half Howell broke swiftly down the centre of the pitch with opponents standing off him, enabling him to pick a final pass to Palmer to his left, who blasted over from just inside the box.
With no sub keeper, Stags could be forgiven for being worries as Price stayed down when landing awkwardly catching a left wing cross, but he was up and all right as the whistle went with Rovers staring into the abyss and booed from the field by some sections of their fans.
The club announcer was also booed during the break when he said he was about to read the half-time scores but insisted he was duty bound to reach them anyway!
Seanan Clucas burst past Daniel on the right to win a corner within five minutes of a tense restart from which Parkes was wide with his header from Mohamed’s flag kick.
Broghammer was sent on for Beardsley for the home side in an early change on 54 minutes.
Two minutes later a dreadful loose ball by Riley gifted Rovers possession and Clarkson raced into the box before seeing Price superbly parry his goalbound finish from 15 yards.
That forced a corner from which Clarkson guided a five yard header wide of the target under pressure.
Rovers survived two Mansfield corners as news came in that Northampton were now 3-1 to the good.
O’Toole wasn’t far wide from 30 yards, but the distance from where he struck the shot underlined the home side’s growing desperation.
Riley brought down Mohamed on 65 minutes with the home side and fans screaming that he was the last man and Mohamed would have been clear. However, the offence was still 35 yards out and the referee right to only book him.
Santos replaced Seanan and immediately Rovers won a corner which raised the decibel levels through the roof.
From that Clarkson headed goalwards and Price seemed to tip over but only a goalkick was given.
McGuire and O’Toole clashed in midfield on 69 minutes as tempers began to boil over and both were yellow carded.
With Torquay down to 10 men, Wycombe had began to enjoy their day and went 3-0 up at Plainmoor.
Broghammer’s low 20-yard drive was comfortable held by Price as we entered the last 20 minutes of a heart-stopping afternoon.
Sutton conceded a central free kick 20 yards from goal on 73 minutes which offered rick promise to Rovers. However. Clarkson fired it wide.
Palmer was booed for walking off the field slowly to be replaced by Dyer with 15 tense minutes to go.
Another home corner came to nothing as the clock continued to tick down.
Santos was too high with an overhead kick on 79 minutes from the left edge of the box.
A minute later O’Toole thought he had become the hero Rovers needed as he got a glancing head right in front of goal from a Santos cross from the right only to see it drop agonising inches wide of the left post.
There was a break in play as Riley was treated for a knock with Rovers waiting to take a corner. And Stags, with Riley off the field, were relieved to see McChrystal head over.
With five minutes to go the Gas forced another corner which was cleared and the ball eventually sailed to McCrystal who sent a finish crashing against the far angle from just outside the box.
Sutton clashed angrily off the field with someone in a blue tracksuit as he slowly retrieved the ball for a throw and there were more boos as Daniel walked off to be replaced by Meikle with a minute left.
Stags won themselves a 90th minute corner which they were in no hurry to take.
The noise levels rose again as the fourth official held up the board announcing a minimum of five added minutes.
A bare-chested Rovers fan ran onto the field with play going on to wave his arms at the home players and try to rouse them before being led away.
Stags broke away two on two as we entered the last minute, Clucas forcing Mildenhall to parry to his right.
As the home players stood dejected and in tears on the pitch, a section of home fans fought their way past stewards to vent their spleen at directors in the stand.
The trouble then began to escalate as a group of home fans went across the pitch towards a line of police and began brawling.
The police were struggling to contain them until a line of police horses came on to charge them.
There followed several minutes of sickening violence before the horses finally drove the crowd back off the pitch, the horses staying calm as missiles were thrown at them.
Cries of ‘sack the board’ and ‘we want our money back’ continued as order seemed to be finally restored on an historic day at the Memorial Stadium.
BRISTOL ROVERS: Mildenhall, Lockyer, Parkes, McChrystal, Clarke, Seanan Clucas (Santos 66), O’Toole, Mohamed, Beardsley (Broghammer 54), Clarkson, Harrold. Subs not used: Gough, Harding, Keary, Lucas, Thomas.
STAGS: Price; Sutton, Riley, Dempster, Marsden, Howell, Daniel, McGuire (Meikle 89), Jennings; Sam Clucas, Palmer (Dyer 75). Subs not used: Stevenson, Clements, Thomas, Speight, Briscoe.
REFEREE: Oliver Langford of West Midlands.
ATTENDANCE: 10,594 (704 away)
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Anthony Howell.
Bristol Rovers face inquiry over pitch invasion after Mansfield Town defeat costs them Football League status
Bristol Rovers add pitch invasion inquiry to their Football League woes after Mansfield Town knocks them out of League Two
By Jimmy Pierce, 8:55PM, 04 May 2014
Bristol Rovers face an inquiry from the Football Association after hundreds of fans invaded the pitch at the Memorial Ground following Saturday’s defeat to Mansfield Town. With Wycombe Wanderers winning at Torquay, and Northampton Town defeating Oxford United, defeat meant Rovers go out of the Football League for the first time since joining the old Division Three in 1920.
At the final whistle mounted police were quickly deployed on the playing surface. Three officers were injured while a police horse was also punched. Six Bristol Rovers supporters were subsequently arrested on suspicion of public order offences and assaults. Two remain in custody while three others have been released on bail pending further inquiries. One has been freed without charge.
The incident comes six months after Newcastle United fan Barry Rogerson was jailed for 12 months for punching a police horse following his side’s 3-0 defeat to Sunderland, and seven months since police made 25 arrests following the Bristol derby at City’s Ashton Gate ground.
Police commander, Superintendent Kevin Instance, from Avon and Somerset Police, said that some of those involved were “intent on engaging in acts of significant violence”.
Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke took over from John Ward following his surprise resignation at the end of March. Then, the club were six points above the relegation zone with eight games remaining.
Under Clarke, however, Rovers won just twice while teams around them, in particular Northampton, continued to pick up points. Even so, a draw against Mansfield would have kept the club in the Football League.
“I’m devastated,” said a tearful Clarke. “I’ll take responsibility as I picked the team for the last eight games. I didn’t get the points that were required. My heart goes out to the supporters.”
Nick Higgs, Rovers’ chairman, said: “We make the appointments, so it’s only right that we should take the flak when things go wrong. This is a sad, sad day, but it won’t be the end of Bristol Rovers Football Club.”
Bristol Rovers 0 Mansfield Town 1. Match analysis - Emotions exposed as the unthinkable unfolds
By The Bristol Post
Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Bristol-Rovers-0-Mansfield-Town-1-Match-analysis/story-21057738-detail/story.html?#ixzz30pJRVUPr
THE sun was shining. The smell of barbecued chicken and the low hum of a reggae bass line suggested a carnival was about to break out in the Memorial Stadium car park.
The last day of a monumentally disappointing season has finally arrived. Just 90 minutes of football remained and only one point was required. Then everyone could go away for a much-needed break after what had been the longest and hardest of winters for everyone associated with Bristol Rovers.
The relegation battle of the previous six weeks or so had taken a toll, but much of the hard work to avoid the drop had been done seven days earlier. David Clarkson's late winner at Adams Park left fellow strugglers Wycombe Wanderers needing a win and favours elsewhere. It looked a tall order. The future certainly looked bleak for them.
The first sign that this particular day at the Memorial Stadium was not going to end as happily as it started, however, arrived with the sight of full-back Lee Brown emerging from the tunnel some two hours before kick-off fully kitted and complaining of an injured back.
Less than 30 minutes later, the worst fears were confirmed. "I'm without a full-back of any description," manager Darrell Clarke said with an uneasy look on his face. "That's the best-laid plans gone to waste," he added, when explaining that Brown's problem would force him to play three-at-the-back after working on an orthodox 4-4-2 in the days leading up to the game.
No matter. This was just a minor setback. Brown is hardly Diego Maradona and, after all, Rovers were facing a team that had decided to travel on the morning of the game, scoffed their pre-match meal on the bus and had forgotten to bring their kit. They were already on the beach, surely?
The early exchanges did nothing to suggest otherwise. Chris Beardsley fired a good chance over the crossbar inside four minutes, before Clarkson had an effort from distance saved by goalkeeper Lewis Price.
The brightness of the start all pointed towards Rovers' intention to get the job done early doors and, even though Wycombe had scored at Torquay, Northampton Town were trailing Oxford inside seven minutes.
"We are staying up," the Blackthorn End sang in unison for the first (and last) time after 13 minutes had elapsed. As Beardsley poked another chance wide of goal soon after, however, the first sign that events elsewhere were starting to go against Rovers were realised when it was confirmed that Oxford had been reduced to ten men at Sixfields.
Never mind. Northampton were still behind and it was seemingly only a matter of time until Rovers put the ball in the back of the net against this lot anyway. "I mean, they've only been near our goal once in 20 minutes," one supporter was heard to utter.
That was until this team, who apparently had nothing left to play for, opened the scoring - midfielder Colin Daniel arriving in the penalty area to execute a perfect volley off his instep - with what eventually turned out to be one of their only chances of the entire game in the 36th minute.
There is some sort of dark irony in the fact that the goal that could condemn Rovers to relegation is scored by a player wearing last season's away kit, which served John Ward and his players so well in their battle to beat the drop of 12 months ago.
Immediately, supporters around the ground turned to their mobile phones in search of some solace; some reassurance that this goal would not be as damaging as it first seemed.
What they saw, however, suggested that the situation was now critical. Northampton had scored twice in four minutes to lead at Sixfields, and while Wycombe were still only a goal to the good, it would only be a matter of minutes before their advantage was doubled.
We get to half time. Fear is starting to set in. A man on the pitch requests people get to their feet as he bursts into reggae-like song. Nobody is interested.
The players return and Rovers almost equalise, but that pesky Price somehow gets a paw on Clarkson's vicious attempt from inside the penalty area.
Both Northampton and Wycombe have since extended their respective leads elsewhere. It's all or nothing now. The time to look elsewhere for favours is finally over.
Rovers go close; John-Joe O'Toole shoots just wide from distance before Clarkson rattles the crossbar with a header from Fabian Broghammer's corner.
Still 20 minutes remain, but desperation and panic are starting to set in. "Get him off," is one man's persistent plea to manager Clarke while pointing angrily in the direction of O'Toole.
Another man rises from his seat and threatens to knock him down if he doesn't shut up. They're fighting among themselves now.
Heads are in hands all over the place soon after when O'Toole connects powerfully with an Alefe Santos cross only to see his header graze the post and bounce away to safety. Ten minutes remain. Tick, tock, tick tock.
When Mark McChrystal hits the post with a swerving volley four minutes from time it is finally starting to sink in that the worst is almost certainly about to happen.
The final whistle sounds and is met with an eerie silence. Then, seconds later, the realisation of exactly what has happened quickly begins to sink in. Some people are on the pitch. They know it's all over.
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