York City 1-1 Mansfield Town, Play-Off semi-final first leg, Wednesday 2nd May

Ross Dyer nets the opener
Ross Dyer nets the opener

MANSFIELD Town will be without 30-goal talisman Matt Green for Monday’s crucial BSBP play-of semi-final second leg at One Call Stadium on Monday afternoon after he was sent off in tonight’s tense 1-1 first leg draw at Bootham Crescent.

Green was booked a second time for deliberate handball 16 minutes from the end to leave Stags hanging on against a City side that just couldn’t come up with a knockout punch.

Stags were given probably their most searching examination since Christmas in the first 20 minutes as City came out all guns blazing at them.

But Ross Dyer made the breakthrough for Mansfield on 26 minutes as he headed home a long Exodus Geohaghon throw to send almost 1,400 Stags into wild celebrations behind that goal.

But York had the edge over the 45 minutes and were back in the game three minutes from the break when Geohaghon turned a low cross from ex-Stag Jon Challinor into his own net.

The first half had been a 100mph affair with both sides creating chances.

But there were fewer openings in a less frantic second half in which Green’s dismissal was the main talking point.

The game is now perfectly balanced for Monday’s 2pm kick-off in which Stags boss Paul Cox must now work out who will fill Green’s massive boots for the club’s biggest game of the season.

Stags matched up York City with a 4-3-3 formation.

Anthony Howell was given the nod in midfield alongside Adam Murray and Gary Roberts with Ross Dyer and Lindon Meikle flanking Green up front.

Geohaghon and Ritchie Sutton returned to the back four as two of eight changes from the largely second string side that won 3-0 at Kidderminster on Saturday.

York included ex-Stags Chris Smith and Jon Challinor.

City began full of fire and it took a great tackle from Riley to concede a corner and stop Chambers getting in on goal from Walker’s reverse pass.

From the corner, Stags let the ball bounce in the box and Doig lifted a quick finish over.

The Minstermen were clearly fired up and another corner soon followed which Stags hacked clear.

It took Mansfield six minutes to get out of their half as Geohaghon’s first long throws were easily repelled from both flanks inside a minute.

There was a hold-up for treatment to Riley on 18 minutes and eventually he had to go off with a hamstring strain, replaced by left back Andrew with Sutton going to centre half.

On 20 minutes from a half-cleared Geohaghon throw, Roberts chipped the ball temptingly into the box and Howell flicked a header just over.

York had the ball in the net on 22 minutes as Marriott came for but didn’t grab a long free kick, Smith andf Howell challenging and the ball running loose to Blair who saw an offside flag raised as he turned it over the line.

McLaughlin twisted and turned on the edge of the box before seeing his firm shot deflect for City’s third corner.

Stags won a corner 30 yards from goal in a good, central position which was O’Neill territory. But he curled it well over to the jeers of the home fans.

However, Stags made the crucial breakthrough on 26 minutes.

It stemmed from another superb cannonball throw from Geohaghon to the near post where Dyer rose to plant a firm header past a helpless Ingham.

Two minutes later Roberts was lucky to only get a warning for a studs-showing tackle on Challinor which could have merited a card of either colour from some officials.

Blair crashed into Sutton in the box and went down looking for a penalty. But the referee was having none of it.

Smith then clattered Green late in full flight to see the first yellow card of the contest.

Soon after Dyer headed a long free kick towards goal where the keeper beat Roberts to the ball.

On 33 minutes Marriott had his first real save to make as he beat away a powerful 16 yard shot from Chambers.

Marriott stretched high to then turn away a Blair cross from the right with Walker kicking fresh air as it landed in front of him.

Blair found McLaughlin inside him on a raid down the right, but the long, hopeful shot was always well over the bar.

Home fans were furious on 40 minutes when they felt Roberts had got away with a foul before sending a through ball over the top for Green to chase.

Ingham left his box and got there first as Green challenged. The whistle went and a foul was given as the keeper stayed down hurt which seemed harsh as Green had to go for a challenge. Even worse, out came the yellow card.

But the evening turned even sourer on 42 minutes as Stags gifted York an equaliser.

Challinor whipped in a superb low cross from wide on the right and no one dealt with it as it skidded across the box where Geohaghon stretched out a leg and inadvertently diverted it into his own net.

Suddenly Stags were creaking and on 44 minutes Chambers played in Walker down the middle but, with just Marriott to beat, he slotted his finish wide of the far post.

In stoppage time the usually deadly Green mis-kicked a half chance from a Geohaghon throw and Roberts crashed the follow-up well over.

And right on the whistle Meikle had a shot blocked and then saw Ingham turn his follow-up over the end a tense and thoroughly entertaining 45 minutes.

Mansfied cleared City’s first second half corner as far as Blair who launched the ball straight at Marriott.

Green’s sights were well off once again as Dyer worked his way into the box from the right and passed, only to see Green finish sail over the David Longhurst Stand and out of the ground.

Then Ingham got his body behind Howell’s 20 yard snapshot from the left of the box and the ball blounced to safety.

Fyfield was booked for a foul on Dyer, which left the forward needing treatment on 52 minutes.

Stags applied more pressure with Geohaghon seeing a low cross and then a shot finally cleared for the visitors’ first corner of the night.

A Blair break down the left ended with Andrew taking his legs late and getting booked for his troubles.

Sutton slid in well to stop Walker racing clear on a low through ball as the sides battled gamely but largely cancelled each other out.

Fyfield’s silly trip on O’Neill brought him his final warning with Stags fans and players calling the referee to produce a second yellow and dismiss him.

The Minstermen forced two more corners which were cleared. Then Meredith joined the bookings list for leaving in a leg on Howell, soon joined by Roberts for bringing down Meredith as he chased a superb flick by Walker.

Mansfield suffered a real body blow on 74 minutes as goal ace Green was sent-off

Already booked, Green tried to race onto a through ball but the referee deemed he had used his hand as he tried to get the ball wide of Ingham and off he went.

In a rare moment of threat from either side, Fyfield put in a cross from the left that bounced through everyone in the box for a goalkick.

Paul Cox made a change with 11 minutes to go as he switched wingers with Briscoe on for Meikle.

York forced two more successive corners, the second after a blatant block by Walker on Marriott from which Smith put a free header over the bar and Marriot was then booked for dissent.

A free kick from the right of the box was cleared as far as Challinor 20 yards out who fired a low shot narrowly wide as City tried to press home their man advantage.

Then Blair was too high from 20 yards from another partially cleared corner.

Two minutes from time Marriott started to come for a Challinor cross but hesitated as Chambers stole in to head narrowly over with.

Challinor burst into the box on the right and went down under challenge from Andrew, the referee again unimpressed as Stags players crowded Challinor angrily.

As York waited to take a stoppage time corner, Rhead came on for Dyer for the last two of the four minutes added on.

With almost the last kick, Moke sent a low shot straight at Marriott from 25 yards as it ended honours even.

YORK: Ingham, Meredith, Smith, Parslow, Walker, Chambers, Fyfield, Blair, Challinor, Doig, McLaughlin (Moke 82). Subs not used: Musselwhite, Reed, Potts, Brown.

STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Geohaghon, Riley (Andrew 18), Sutton; Howell, Murray, Roberts; Dyer (Rhead 90+2), Green, Meikle (Briscoe 74). Subs not used: Stevenson, Redmond.

REFEREE: Richard Clark of Northumberland.

ATTENDANCE: 6,057 (1,352 away).

GOALS: York – Geohaghon 42 OG, Stags – Dyer 26.

CAUTIONS: York – Smith 31, Fyfield 52, Meredith 69. Stags – Green 41, Andrew 55, Robers 70, Marriot 81.

DISMISSAL: Greem 74.