Match-winning brace was overdue says Stags hero Tafazolli

Mansfield Town's Ryan Tafazolli.
Mansfield Town's Ryan Tafazolli.

Mansfield Town centre half Ryan Tafazolli said his brace of goals in last night’s 3-2 win at Exeter City were overdue.

They moved him on to six for the season and into second top scorer behind Matt Green as Stags kept their faint play-off hopes alive with three games to play.

“The goals were massively overdue,” he said. “I should be on more goals than I am at the minute.

“I’ve missed a lot of chances this season and I wanted to pay back the lads for tonight’s brilliant performance as they deserved the three points. I am really happy to get the goals.”

To read a match report click HERE

To see video of the goals click HERE

To read boss Adam Murray’s thoughts on the game click HERE

The first goal saw Tafazolli sweep the ball home from just outside the box from a touch-back by Green, while the second saw him lash a loose ball high into the net after challenging for a long throw.

“Greeny has done really well on the first goal,” he said. “He’s managed to keep the ball alive and it’s just dropped to me.

“To be fair it’s a bit lucky. I knew if I just got a good connection with it and hit the target I had a chance.

“It drifted away from the keeper at the last second and managed to find its way into the bottom corner.”

On the second, he added: “A few of my team mates were surprised I stuck it in the top corner!

“It was a one in a million, I don’t think I will ever do that again in my career – especially not on my right foot.”

Tafazolli continued: “It was probably the hardest game I’ve played all season. Exeter are a very good side in great form and they’d not lost in 10 games.

“They had a bit of everything. They could play and if they wanted to go long, they could go long.

“We started fast – that was one of our objectives – to get a foothold in the game.

“We scored an early goal. Then I thought we were resolute and limited them to a few chances. It was a bit of sloppy defending for their first goal and their second was a bit of a wonder strike.

“I think we’ve been quite lucky in that we’ve not had many wonder goals against us this season. Sometimes you have to take your hat off and say – fair enough lad.

“We let him shoot from that far out and he’s stuck it in the top corner, so fair play to him.

“But all credit to the lads. People were out on their feet after 70 minutes and we really had to dig in and grind out the game.

“I think our team spirit got us through it in the end and we got the three points which was an amazing achievement.”

With AFC Wimbledon also winning and occupying the seventh spot, six points clear of Stags with a game in hand, Mansfield’s hopes are now on a fine thread.

Tafazolli said: “We have three to play and need to just keep doing what we are doing, keep ticking off the games as they come along. “Obviously it’s not in our hands now, we need other teams to lose games.

“AFC Wimbledon won tonight so that’s not the best result for us as we need them to muck up. But if we keep doing what we’re doing you never know. It’s still alive.”

Tafazolli is a strong candidate for the club’s player of the season awards, including the Chad Readers’ Stags Player of the Season, but he was modest about the praise heading his way.

“I think I’ve played a lot of games and done reasonably well, but there are a lot of players who have done extremely well this season and a lot of people who have put in great performances week in, week out that go unnoticed,” he said.

“Sometimes the likes of Adam Chapman doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I thought he was outstanding tonight. He does a great job in front of the back four.

“Matt Green has chipped in with a lot of goals now. Mal Benning has been in consistent form, the whole team have done great with the small squad we’ve got.

“It’s nice to be talked of as player of the season by some fans, but it’s been a team thing this season.”

To vote for your Chad Readers’ Stags Player of the Season, simply email john.lomas@chad.co.uk with your name, address, telephone number and choice.