MEMORY MATCH - 26th April 2009 – Stags 2 Stevenage 1
Mansfield Town ended a rollercoaster first season in the Conference with a 2-1 home victory over 10-men form side Stevenage on their first ever visit to Field Mill.
Early in the season, under manager Billy McEwan, the Stags had lost 3-2 at Stevenage in a live televised game in their first ever game against the Boro.
McEwan was long gone by the time the sides crossed swords again as David Holdsworth hauled the side up from worries over a second successive relegation into a top half of the table finish.
Attracting the biggest Field Mill crowd of the season, 3,614, Mansfield won with two spectacular second half goals.
In the end the home hero was sub Aaron O’Connor for his spectacular right foot curler with just two minutes to go, just four minutes after it looked like Stevenage had snatched a late point.
The win preserved Mansfield’s unbeaten record at home under David Holdsworth in 2009, barely conceding a goal in the process, while Stevenage had lost just once in their previous 30 games.
Stags had bad luck with injuries in the first half, losing two men and having three others hobbling.
They lost Jon D’Laryea after only six minutes for a nasty bang to the face, replaced by Curtis Shaw,after a long delay to receive treatment.
Then on 20 minutes a tackle on Rob Duffy saw him needing to be replaced by O’Connor.
But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Scott Garner beat Mitchell Cole to the ball and Cole kicked out at Garner as the Stags man tried to get the ball away, earning a red card.
Scott was forced to retire from the game two years later with a heart condition and died a year later.
After Ryan Williams had a goal disallowed for offside on 64 minutes they finally broke through on 70 minutes as Garner smashed a 22-yard thunderbolt into the top left corner as Stevenage struggled to clear a corner.
The visitors went up a gear and came close on six occasions before they levelled on 84 minutes as Steve Morison set up Scott Laird for a low finish inside the post.
But with two minutes to go O’Connor made it 2-1 and tore off his shirt off as home fans invaded the pitch.
With Kettering winning at Kidderminster, the defeat failed to prevent Stevenage making the play-offs, so both sets of fans were jubilant at the end.