Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-0 Cambridge United
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Tyler Walker
Attendance 4,789 (307)
Craig Priest writes…
I hate the end of the season so much. Not for the fact that in a few weeks’ time I’ll have nothing to do on a Saturday, but for the fact that now the pressure is really on and everything we’ve worked for and hoped for is within in touching distance – the stress factor is ramped up! Alas, when Mansfield Town focus on what’s in front of them and nothing else and get the job done – I bloody love it!
The squad’s professionalism yesterday above all yesterday was pivotal, we didn’t cave in when things weren’t quite happening and we didn’t give up. We don’t need to play pretty, we need to be united, win our tackles and battles and then when the opportunity presents itself, bury it!
Everything else, other results etc, will take care of themselves – we simply can’t affect them, but by winning our games and staying solid at the back we can make these final five games as difficult as humanly possible for the teams around us.
Bury’s problems off the pitch will not hurt that group of players for long, they have some good experienced heads that will carry them with key players to return from suspension – but in the here and now we have made life harder for them by leap frogging them into second as they drop to fourth, a point and three goals behind – someone buy Hallam Hope a drink.
MK Dons in second were unlucky to be beaten by Champions-Elect Lincoln but we still have to go to their place on the final day, and over the next two weeks they face still very much in the hunt Tranmere and escapolgist-wannabes Notts County – Nothing is set in stone and nothing is secure at this stage, I wish it bloody was.
For us we have no easy game, we focus now soley on the journey to Northampton and monitoring the players who are going to be critical to us. Forget changes for changes sake, we make them based on honesty, injury and illness – nothing more, nothing less, you can’t disrupt the focus and energy the squad has harnessed over the last two weekends.
Every single person played a part yesterday and whilst it wasn’t as dominant as Exeter last weekend, it was a victory and that is what matters, Forget throwing players under the bus for a lack of fitness or a misplaced pass. Forget your personal feelings towards them – they are playing for Mansfield Town Football Club and trying their dam hardest to deliver League One football for us as supporters and the town. We need to be together as we were yesterday – let’s pack out Northampton and be grounded, FIVE more to go – that’s five more opportunities for the table to change, so let’s focus on ONE game, ONE team and ONE dream.
There was no surprise whatsoever to see an unchanged line-up named by David Flitcroft, although there were changes on the bench, with Jorge Grant deemed fit enough and Ryan Sweeney back from his bug.
It was a slow and tentative start at the One Call Stadium, Mansfield enjoyed the better of the ball but opportunities were a lot harder to come by up against a stubborn Camridge United side – the Stags livening up on 21 minutes when Hamilton softly went down in the box, Craig Hicks had non-of-it and waved away the claims for a second spot kick in as many games.
Three minutes later former Stag George Taft thwarted Hamilton as tried to find a way through before on 29 minutes Logan was called into action at the other end, turning away Brad Halliday’s effort.
Mansfield saw Walker hit a long range effort on the stroke of half-time, and whilst the teams were level and the Stags slightly on top – Mansfield needed to take it to the next level to break down the visitors.
Ryan Sweeney replaced Turner at the break with Flitcroft revealing in his post-match interview that Turner was carrying a knock, picked up during the first half, and didn’t want to let down his team mates by allowing Cambridge in – THAT is what makes MTFC, honesty and team progression over individual gain.
Things started to heat up on 51 minutes as the Stags were denied a spot kick for what appeared a blatant hand ball, and on the hour injected some more life into their attack as Mellis replaced Bishop and Danny Rose made his long awaited return – replacing Jones with Hamilton switching to wing-back.
Four minutes later the duo were heavily involved in the Stags goal – Mellis’ pressure allowed him to win the ball back and feed in Walker, Rose peeled off at the far post and dragged two defenders with him, creating the space for Walker to do what Walker does – score!
Mansfield had the chance for a second when Walker looked to send Rose on his way but put a bit too much on the pass, before on 85 minutes, Benning made the cut back for Walker who turned the ball wide via a late deflection.
On 90 minutes Conrad Logan made a fine save to deny Hepburn-Murphy before four minutes of sheer hell, Cambridge on top but failing to find a way through – the full time whistle, a welcome sound – giving Mansfield three massive points.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-0 Cambridge United
STAGS [3-4-1-2] Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ben Turner (Ryan Sweeney HT), Gethin Jones (Danny Rose 60), Neal Bishop (Jacob Mellis 60), Willem Tomlinson, Mal Benning, Alex MacDonald, Tyler Walker, CJ Hamilton
Unused Subs: Jordan Smith, Jorge Grant, Will Atkinson, Zayn Hakeem
Referee: Craig Hicks
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