OPINION: Still reasons to be cheerful at Mansfield Town FC

It is a good job that Ben Toner is not a Mansfield district councillor '” otherwise the Stags might not be celebrating the next stage in their ambitious plans to create a sports facility at Pleasley.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 4th April 2017, 10:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th April 2017, 11:31 pm
Stags owner John Radford with 
Mr Mansour Cin Hamad Al Stagni, putting a smile on the face of Mansfield Town last weekend.
Stags owner John Radford with Mr Mansour Cin Hamad Al Stagni, putting a smile on the face of Mansfield Town last weekend.

Toner, as frustrated Mansfield Town FC fans will all-too-quickily remember, was the referee who put a huge dent in their promotion hopes last weekend with some inept decision-making — but more of that later.

Let’s concentrate on the positive news coming out of the One Call Stadium this week instead.

Once again it concerned moves off the pitch as the Stags continued to make huge strides forward.in strengthening its links even further with the community.

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans. - Photo by Chris Holloway

For earlier this week Mansfield District Council backed the Stags’ plans for the sports facility at Woburn Lane in Pleasley after rightly considering some objections from residents.

The new facility will include a full 3G floodlit pitch, three full-sized pitches and a mini-pitch.

There will be a pavilion with eight changing rooms as well as a main building with classrooms and a function room.

As well as using the site for training and developing its academy, the club has said it would be make the pitches available for use by others.

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans. - Photo by Chris Holloway

It was good to hear councillors praise the plans. One, Martin Wright, called it a great community asset.

And the Stags are keen to get on quickly with the project. Director Steve Hymas revealed work could start as early as next month on the pitches.

Owner John Radford said on social media: “We’re really building something special at One Call Stadium. Year upon year we’re advancing and developing all aspects of our club.”

So you wouldn’t bet against further progress at the club either. For instance, one day fans would love to see the Bishop Street Stand back in some sort of use.

Thank goodness the previously mentioned Ben Toner did not have to make the Pleasley planning decision. Perhaps, if he had, the club would not be making plans to start work on the development.

Fake sheikh raises a smile at One Call StadiumGreen light for Mansfield Town training facilitiesEvans slams worst refereeing pewrformanceFor it is hard to see how the referee could get anything right after making so many wrong calls last Saturday.

We can all have a bad day at the office, but he got so many basic decisions wrong that you knew when he was faced with a tough one — Rhys Bennett’s injury-time ‘tackle’ on Reuben Reid — he would be more than likely to get that wrong too.

The late penalty award that handed promotion rivals Exeter City a vital victory compounded an overall poor performance by the match official.

The 2-1 defeat for the Stags and the harsh spot-kick — yes, for me Reuben Reid did dive — have been debated to death.

You could argue that the Stags were their own worst enemies in that second period as they were pushed too deep, appeared to run out of steam and missed fleeting chances to snatch a crucial second goal.

But the video evidence — and that of fans closer to the action than the referee — suggests the game should have ended in a draw.

The feeling of injustice lingers on. Everyone concerned with the club, however, has to forget that and move on.

Yes, the play-offs now look a long shot. The general consensus is that the Stags need at least four wins from their last six matches — with three of those six matches coming at promotion rivals and another two of the top five set to visit the One Call Stadium.

But regardless of where the Stags finish, it has been a terrific second half of the season.

The transformation of the club and its link with the fans since the arrival of the vastly-experienced manager, Steve Evans, has been nothing short of amazing.

The feelgood factor that positive messages from the colourful Evans, a more attacking style of play and the introduction of experienced players have brought can not be underestimated. Suddenly the fans and the club itself seem to belief that success could be just around the corner.

So wherever the 2017-2018 season is to be played, the Stags must take the momentum of the past four months into that campaign.

Yes, there are many reasons to be cheerful about the amber and blue on and off the pitch. There is a smile on the face of Mansfield Town Football Club again.

Just look at the scenes in the directors’ box last Saturday as what looked like a sheik appeared to be the guest of the club just a few days after rumours that Evans had been offered a job in Qatar.

Mansour Cin Hamad Al Stagni of Qatar’s appearance on April Fools Day showed that everyone at the Stags — owner, directors, manager, players and fans — are enjoying themselves.