Saturday, 7th March 2015: Cheltenham Town 1, Mansfield Town 1

Billy Kee.
Billy Kee.

Substitute Billy Kee earned Mansfield Town a point with the crucial equaliser in today’s 1-1 draw at relegation rivals Cheltenham Town.

The Robins had drawn first blood two minutes after the break as the Mansfield defence switched off to allow Wes Burns to turn and slot home.

But Scunthorpe loanee Kee came on after 52 minutes and 16 minutes later coolly levelled the game from Reggie Lambe’s pass – his second goal for the Stags.

Overall this was a poor game on what was an awful Whaddon Road surface.

The Stags did rattle the woodwork twice in succession in one first half attack through Junior Brown and Chris Clements.

But there were few chances, Lenny Pidgeley having one real save to make to deny Troy Brown, though he almost put through his own goal when slicing an ill-advised bobbling backpass from Ryan Tafazolli.

The second half was a little more open with chances at both ends.

The home side, who began the day in the bottom two, finished the afternoon strongly, but Mansfield held on to their point and kept a seven point gap between the clubs.

The Mansfield line-up showed four changes as boss Adam Murray brought back three of the players he rested to the bench in the midweek win at Newport, Ricky Ravenhill, Ricky Ravenhill and Newport matchwinner Reggie Lambe coming in along with loanee keeper Lenny Pidgeley, unable to play against his parent club, replacing Sascha Studer.

Also out went Jeffrey Monakana, Billy Kee, both dropped to the bench, and Jamie McGuire, left out of the 18.

The Robins gave a debut to Notts County loanee Danny Haynes.

In the bright Cotswolds sunshine, Oliver scuffed the game’s first shooting chance with a poor first time effort from 25 yards in the fifth minute after a scrappy opening.

Ravenhill then conceded the afternoon’s first corner before clearing it at the near post.

On 12 minutes Oliver sent a tame header at Carson from a long Heslop cross from the right.

A great crossfield pass from the right by Brown picked out the run of Elder into the box. But the youngster wanted too long and was soon crowded out.

Pidgeley caught an inswinging Sparrow corner from the left at his near post on 23 minutes when any touch by a home player would have had him in trouble.

On 26 minutes the poor pitch almost played a part in opening the deadlock as a Tafazolli backpass took a bad bobble on the uneven surface as Pidgeley tried to clear and he sliced it out for a corner.

Two minutes later Brown almost put Stags ahead as he rose to meet a Beevers cross from the right, the ball coming back off the bar.

That sparked a scramble in which Clements fired a follow-up against a post and Brown got in the way of a Heslop shot to concede a corner.

Brown forced a save out of Pidgeley from Richards’ 31st minute corner, the keeper tipping the far post effort away for another flag kick.

In response, Oliver had a go from distance but only succeeded in blazing the ball out the ground to jeers from the home fans.

Oliver was also well wide with a first time effort from another Beevers cross.

Burns did well on 40 minutes, getting past Elder to set up time and space for a low shot that was only just wide of the right hand post.

Brown managed to get a half-cleared Elder throw back in front of goal where Tafazolliu saw a looping header easily grabbed by Carson as the half ended goalless.

However, the deadlock was broken within two minutes of the restart as Burns put the Robins ahead with his third goal in seven games.

A long throw from the left by Braham-Barrett was aimed for Manset. But the ball somehow bobbled through a static defence to Burns, who was allowed to turn and steer home a low finish with Pidgeley helpless.

Heslop wasn’t far wide with a free kick on 51 minutes as the Stags sought a quick reply.

A minute later Kee replaced Heslop as Stags went 4-4-2.

Clements curled in a free kick from the left which Carson held onto at the far post.

Sparrow’s late tackle on Clements on 56 minutes saw the referee get out his cards for the first time and flash a yellow.

Monakana replaced Brown on 65 minutes, seconds later Carson just beat Oliver to a through ball.

On 67 minutes Kee might have levelled from an Oliver nod-down in the box, but failed to keep his finish down from 12 yards.

But a minute later Kee did find the net to haul Mansfield level.

Clements fed the ball to Lambe in the box and his square pass to his right to Kee saw the striker expertly guide it high into the net first time.

Clements then lifted a free kick over the home wall from 20 yards, but Carson was well placed to save.

Burns was just wide with a low shot from distance on 81 minutes and seconds later he was replaced by Richards.

Kee went down under Brown’s challenge with back to goal, but he never looked likely to get the penalty.

Stags were almost undone on 85 minutes as a quick free kick by Vaughan was flicked across the face of goal by Harrod.

Play continued after Lambe was tripped which allowed Oliver to flash an on-target effort at Carson.

At the other end sub Harrad failed to make contact with a good chance in front of goal.

The same player then fired a free kick into the Mansfield wall as the home side finished strongly.

CHELTENHAM: Carson, Vaughan, Braham-Barrett, Taylor, Brown, Mills, Richards, Haynes, Burns (Richards 81), Sparrow (Wynter 82), Manset (Harrad 67). Subs not used: Gould, Deaman, Hanks, Berry.

STAGS: Pidgeley, Beevers, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder, Ravenhill, Heslop, Clements, Brown (Monakana 65), Lambe, Oliver (Kee 52). Subs not used: Studer, Rhead, Bingham, Thomas, Sutton.

REFEREE: Trevor Kettle of Rutland.

ATTENDANCE: 2,597 (283 away).