Mansfield Town will go into the last weekend of the season relying on other results to give them any chance of the play-offs after a 1-0 home defeat by title-chasing Portsmouth at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Carl Baker’s goal on 57 minutes proved the difference in a tight, tense battle which contained much endeavour but little pretty football.
The Stags will feel hard done to after referee Lee Swabey decided to only book Matt Clarke when he was last man and rugby tackled Danny Rose when in on goal on 48 minutes.
It looked for all the world like a red card and proved a crucial moment.
Rhys Bennett also had a goal disallowed for offside on 51 minutes before Baker’s breakthrough goal.
After that the home side pushed forward relentlessly and man of the match Alex MacDonald missed a great headed chance on 63 minutes.
But Stags knew it wasn’t to be their day when sub Matt Green went clean through only to lob his finish over the bar with 10 minutes to go.
The home side had dominated the first half but rarly troubled the keeper and the visitors only woke up on 33 minutes with the first of their three first half attempts.
The defeat left Stags in 12th, two points off the play-offs but reliant on several other clubs slipping up while Pompey are two points off the top with one to go.
Mansfield made one change with Lee Collins replacing George Taft.
Portsmouth made three changes with Chaplin, Rose and Burgess all starting.
In a tense opening Mansfield almost went ahead in the fourth minute from a Byrom free kick.
It found Collins to the left of goal who poked it across firmly to the near post where it seemed to strike Bennett and fly straight to the keeper from close range.
Rose then sent a tame, low drive straight to Forde from 18 yards from a quickly taken free kick while MacDonald sent another free kick well over as the home side applied the early pressure.
Baker saw the game’s first yellow card for his arguments over a throw-in on 11 minutes.
Kean was a spectator for much of the first 25 minutes, but Pompey defended well against the home side’s enthusiastic attacking.
White went into the book for a foul on 28 minutes.
On 34 minutes Whiteman sent Coulthirst skipping into the box on the right where he beat the advancing keeper to the ball but was too wide to be able to control and the ball went out of play.
On 35 minutes the visitors finally had their first goal attempt as MacDonald was caught in possession 25 yards from his own goal and Evans robbed him before pulling a low finish wide of the near post.
Two minutes later Rose found Naismith on the right and his fierce shot saw Kean reach up to block at the near post.
Great skill from Kyle Bennett saw him go past two opponents on 44 minutes before sending a left foot finish straight at Kean.
The second half began in uproar as Rose managed to get goalside of Clarke and was rugby tackled to the ground on 48 minutes.
Clarke was clearly last man and Rose was away in a central position less than 30 yards from goal, but only a yellow card was shown.
On 51 minutes the stadium erupted as Stags had the ball in the net but Bennett was denied by an offside flag.
MacDonald cut in from the left and saw his shot blocked. The ball ran to Bennett who rammed it high into the net from close range to no avail.
On 54 minutes Byrom put over a corner from the left, met by the head of Rose who couldn’t keep the ball down as it sailed over.
Stags had started the second half all guns blazing.
But they were rocked by a goal for the visitors on 57 minutes.
A left wing throw was helped on to Baker who, with back to goal, superbly spun Pearce and drilled in a low shot, which seemed to clip Chaplin and go across Kean into the net.
On 59 minutes Bennett reacted angrily to a tackle by Whiteman and players raced in to start shoving each other. Once the dust had settled the referee booked Stevens, Kyle Bennett and Whiteman.
Stags wasted a big chance on 63 minutes when Whiteman picked out MacDonald at the far post and, with time to pick a spot, guided a header across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
Pompey came close again on 65 minutes as Chaplin got to the left by-line and sent a dangerous ball right across the face of goal.
Two minutes later Collins burst down the right and pulled the ball back to MacDonald who forced Forde to save low to his left.
Benning also did well to intercept the ball and race forward, his final shot curling just over the top as Stags pressed hard for a reply.
Forde had to push away a Whiteman snapshot from 25 yards that seemed to swerve in the air on 71 minutes.
The chances continued to come for the Stags as Coulthirst turned sharply and sent a rising shot over.
Inevitably former Chesterfield star Roberts was roundly booed as he came on for Baker on 77 minutes.
Green missed Stags’ best chance of the game on 80 minutes, sent cleat by Coulthirst’s flick with only the keeper to beat he lifted a lob over the bar.
Aborah came on as sub and was booked for a trip on 83 minutes. Before play re-started Taft was sent on for Rose to add height to Stags’ final push.
On 86 minutes the home side made their final change, throwing on Hoban for MacDonald.
A minute from time Naismith put over a great chance to seal it from six yards.
Six minutes were added in which Pearce was added to the book, but there was to be no fairytale finish for all the home side’s efforts.
STAGS: Kean, White, Bennett, Pearce, Benning, Collins (Green 68), Whiteman, Byrom, MacDonald (Hoban 86), Coulthirst, Rose (Taft 83). Subs not used: Jensen, Potter, Hamilton, McGuire.
PORTSMOUTH: Forde, Stevens, Rose, Clarke, Burgess, Baker (Roberts 77), Doyle, Chaplin (Whatmough 68), Naismith, Bennett (Aborah 77), Evans. Subs not used: O’Brien, Kabamba, Lowe, Linganzi.
REFEREE: Lee Swabey of Devon.
ATTENDANCE: 6,819 (1,459 away)
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alex MacDonald.