Mansfield Town clinch play-off place as draw also sees Forest Green Rovers crowned champions on thrilling afternoon

There were celebrations and relief all round as Mansfield Town's breathtaking 2-2 home draw with Forest Green Rovers saw the visitors clinch the League Two title and Stags secure a place in the play-offs by the skin of their teeth.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 1:01 pm

Other results killed any hopes Stags had of scraping into the top three automatic promotion places and they now face Northampton Town over two legs for a place at Wembley.

Rovers were reliant on Exeter losing at home to Port Vale but Vale did the business for them.

The dream of automatic promotion was all but killed early in the afternoon with other scored – all before the Stags game had reached the 20-minute mark.

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Mansfield Town midfielder Matthew Longstaff celebrates his first half goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media

But the day ended with Stags still in the hunt for League One football.

Clough made two changes to the side that faced Salford last Monday with forward Jordan Bowery and midfielder Stephen Quinn coming into the starting XI and Lucas Akins and George Lapslie making way.

Rovers also made two changes with Dominic Bernard in for Bailey Cargill and Ben Stevenson replacing Josh March.

The afternoon began in sunshine and a carnival atmosphere and Oates and Maris both had early shots blocked.

Stags celebrate their first half goal. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media

Rovers' first raid on five minutes saw Wilson get down the right and cross to the far post where Cadden sliced an eight yard volley over the home bar.

MvcLaughlin then did just enough to force Matt's far post header from a free kick to drop tamely wide.

On 12 minutes Adams hacked down oates to give away a free kick 25 yards out and McLaughlin stepped up to curl low and inches wide of the left post.

But Stags were ahead on 17 minutes. Murphy's low forward ball into the box was deflected into the path of Longstaff who was onside and only had McGee to beat. The keeper blocked his first effort but the ball ran back to Longstaff to roll into the empty net.

Mansfield Town midfielder Jamie Murphy drives forward. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media

Rattled, Rovers almost levelled a minute later. Adams got down the right and pulled a low cross back which Matt hit first time but straight at Bishop.

On 25 minutes Wilson put over another cross from the right, but again Matt's header was straight at Bishop.

McLaughlin was given the game's first booking on 37 minutes for a trip on Wilson as he tried to get into the right of the box.

In stoppage time, Stags' best move so far saw Oates find McLaughlin in the box and the defender try an audacious backheel finish which drifted across goal.

Stags forced three early corners after the break and from the third McGee spilled Quinn's flag kick, but McLaughlin had his shot blocked as he sought to profit.

Rovers then threatened on 53 minutes as Adams got into the left of the box but flashed a shot over the far angle.

Stags had a moment of worry soon after as believing they'd won a corner, the referee said it was a goal kick and Rovers caught home players out of position with a lighting break, Perch to the rescue with a timely tackle and clearance.

Oates was inches away from making contact as he slid in trying to turn home Murphy's low right wing cross after great work from Longstaff in starting the move.

But Rovers were level on 64 minutes as O'Toole was unable to halt Matt, who flicked a great through ball for Adams to race clear, Bishop raced out but Adams got there first and tucked a confident finish past him.

With Exeter losing at home, that lifted Rovers back on top and lifted the team and their fans,.

And they should have been ahead on 67 minutes but Matt thundered a close range header just over from a Cadden corner.

Suddenly it was all Forest Green with Stags on the ropes.

On 73 minutes Wilson got to the right by-line and pulled back a low ball that saw Aitchison poke a low finish at goal that Bishop got down to grab.

Mansfield were also fortunate when a Wilson cross went through everyone at the far post and Cadden, not expecting it to reach him, kicked at fresh air and missed the ball.

But on 78 minutes Stags retook the lead.

McLaughlin sent in a low cross from the left. It skidded past Oates but reached Bowery at the far post who tucked it just inside the upright.

The thrills continued as Rovers again levelled two minutes later as sub March, who had only been on the pitch a minute, beat the offside on the right of the box and lifted a sweet finish over Bishop

On 83 minutes Adams sent yet another free header just wide from a corner for another big let-off.

Oates' flying header from a Longstaff cross then forced McGee to stretch to save on 86 minutes with the game on a knife-edge.

The four added minutes saw Stags keep possession and run down the clock with Rovers happy to sit off and wait for their title celebrations.

Confirmation of the Exeter result saw Rovers and their fans on the pitch in sheer joy as the afternoon ended happily for all.

STAGS: Bishop, Perch (Hewitt 84), Hawkins, O'Toole, McLaughlin, Maris (Wallace 74), Longstaff, Quinn, Murphy (Akins 88), Oates, Murphy. SUBS NOTS USED: Stech, Clarke, Stirk, Lapslie.

ROVERS: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Stevenson, Adams, Aitchison, Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor, Hendry (March 79), Godwin-Malife. SUBS NOT USED: Thomas, Sweeney, Cargill, Allen, Young, Diallo.

REFEREE: Robert Madley.

ATTENDANCE: 7,374.