STAGS’ GOLDEN GOALS — Keith Cassells scores debut hat-trick to start Mansfield Town promotion season

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It is something that football fans of all clubs argue about. What is the the best, most memorable or favourite goal scored by your heroes?

Each week we are taking a look at some of the best to hit the net for Mansfield Town over the past decades. If you have a goal you would like us to feature, email sport@chad.co.uk with brief details and your memories of the strike and we will try to include in a future article.

Keith Cassells celebrates the Freight Rover Trophy win at Wembley with penalty shoot-out matchwinner Tony Kenworthy.

Keith Cassells celebrates the Freight Rover Trophy win at Wembley with penalty shoot-out matchwinner Tony Kenworthy.

This week we go back to the start of the 1985-86 season in the old Fourth Division at a curtain-raiser at Field Mill that filled Stags’ fans full of optimism.

Mansfield Town, a new-look side under the experienced eyes of manager Ian Greaves, was taking shape and a 4-0 thumping of Hereford United provided a golden goal moment.

Saturday, 17th August 1985 was definitely the start of something special — and the day itself had a special feeling too.

Greaves, entering his third season as Mansfield manager, had fully adjusted to live in the Fourth Division after previously making his name in the top tier of English football at Bolton Wanderers.

That summer he persuaded striker Keith Cassells, who had also tasted football at a loftier life with Southampton, to leave Brentford for the Stags in a £17,500 move. It was money well spent!

Cassells made an immediate impact and, along with another debutant that day, Neville Chamberlain, tormented the Hereford defence — ably assisted by Neil Whatmore, a striker who made his name with Bolton Wanderers in the top division.

In fact, on that August day the forward line was born that would lead the Stags to first promotion and then glory at Wembley.

Cassells was the star, scoring a hat-trick on debut — the third Stags to record the feat — and his first goal was one to remember.

1986 Stags v Walsall Keith Cassells

1986 Stags v Walsall Keith Cassells

Two minutes before half-time, the striker raced into space on the right hand side to receive George Foster’s clever pass.

As a defender backed off, the wily Cassells spotted the keeper, Rose, off his line and audaciously chipped him from over 25 yards.

The ball soared into a blue sky on what was a gloriously sunny day, sailed over the stranded keeper and into the far corner.

The crowd — sadly only 2,405 — erupted to mark a terrific goal as the Stags took the lead and kicked-off the season in style.

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Before the end of the match Cassells had scored two further memorable goals, first a diving header and then a curling finish to complete his hat-trick.

The Stags won 4-0 and Cassells’ lobbed opener sparked a promotion-winning season that was ironically clinched with another 4-0 home win, this time over Hartlepool United.

Other Cassells goals for the Stags have been mentioned in discussions on websites about this Chad golden goals feature.

On Stagsnet, Chris M said his favourite Cassells goal was the third against Wolves in 1988 in a 3-1 home win.

He said: “Curled it into the top right-hand corner of the North Stand goal. A truly fantastic finish from one of my all-time favourite players. Cass was class!”

Cassellswasmagic wrote: “Wow, that goal and game were one of my favourites.”

Admiral Sook recalled Cassells hitting a very late winner to defeat old rivals Chesterfield.

But for me the chip against Hereford was extra special because it was the start of what proved to be something special — and started the new season in style.

The following season, of course, Cassells was also instrumental in the Stags side that won the Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley, but for me his golden Stags goal had to be the lob against Hereford.