Mansfield Town 2 Brentford 1

Football League Division III
2 May 1988


Reports from The CHAD and Evening Post, below.

And here, article from matchday programme December 2018, by Martin Shaw

In a new series for the matchday programme, iFollow Stags commentator Martin Shaw selects his favourite games from years gone by.

In this series so far, I’ve written about several matches when the Stags have been chasing promotion. But matches when battling against relegation can often be even more nerve-wracking. One such game was on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, 2 May 1988.

Mansfield had lost 9 of the previous 11 games, and with just two games of the season left, were absolutely desperate for a victory to stave off relegation from the old Division III. Brentford were the visitors to Field Mill (now named One Call Stadium).

The game started badly as Brentford took the lead on 16 minutes as a shot from Andy Sinton squirmed from Eric Steele’s grasp, allowing Robbie Carroll to stab into the net.

The Stags went so close to equalising on several occasions as Keith Cassells lobbed the keeper but hit the bar, Kevin Kent had a header cleared off the line, and Simon Coleman also had a header cleared off the line. 

But with 85 minutes gone, the Stags still trailed and relegation was looming. Then it all changed. John Ryan put in a great cross from the left and Kevin Kent placed a perfect header past keeper Gary Phillips. And on 90+3 minutes, Steve Charles was pushed off the ball in the area and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. There was unbearable tension as Charles stepped up and converted the spot kick to win the game 2-1. My brother and I were sitting on the end of a row of seats in the old West Stand seats (I can see us on the photo of Kevin Kent scoring below), and I recall, despite it being 30 years ago, dancing in the aisle after the winner. It was an incredible moment after the frustration of the run of previous matches.

The Stags could have been mathematically safe if Southend had lost at Doncaster that evening, and my brother and I went straight on to watch that match. But Southend won 1-0 at Belle Vue. Mansfield did escape relegation the following Saturday with a draw at Port Vale.