Mansfield Town 0-1 York City [AET] [AGG Mansfield Town 1-2 York City] – Monday 7th May 2012
The quote ‘our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising every time we fall’ is quite apt when you compare the end of our previous two seasons – today’s match of choice is so heart-breaking we pre warn you to have a box of tissues at hand.
It seems such a long time ago since this match but in reality it’s only just over a year since it was played out at the One Call Stadium. Paul Cox was in his first year of management with our beloved side and after a tame and somewhat uninspiring first half to the season had somehow masterminded a post-Christmas turn around which resulted in a third place play-off finish.
It was a 3-0 win at Kidderminster which wrapped the normal season up and only a few days later it was time for battle to begin again as Cox’s Stags travelled to fourth place finishers York City for a play-off showdown. Statistically very little separated the two sides and only our remarkable form marked us as slight favourites for the tie.
Once again this is a match which took place before we met and as such provided different viewpoints. Whilst one was in the press box amongst the York faithful the other was mixed in with the large Stags following both could sense the nerves and neither could predict how the evening of the first leg would unfold.
On reflection now the first leg couldn’t have gone any better, it’s almost as if the gods had said ‘it’s not your time yet’ and acted accordingly. We understand that right now you will be looking at your screen wondering why we are talking such nonsense but ask yourself what would have happened had Matt Green not got sent off or had Exodus not clumsily netted an own goal. We are both of the opinion that in Green’s sending off came a cruel reminder that teams are not built around one player or one specific style of play – Green’s absence in the second leg highlighted that we needed goals from other areas, something we got the following season – you know how that story ends!
The first leg was incident packed and ended level at 1-1, despite losing Green the fact we had home advantage settled the nerves a little. Exactly a year on from our Wembley appearance supporters flocked to The One Call Stadium and there wasn’t a spare seat in the house as the match got underway.
As mentioned the absence of a clear goal scorer was evident and whilst the players gave everything there was just no way to break York down, no matter how hard they tried. The long throw from Geohaghon was a weapon since his arrival but on this day, it was a thorn to our plan as York, to their credit, read it well and defended it with pure ease.
The final chase had taken it’s toll and with the clock ticking on and the game level, the crowd became flat and nervy as did the players, when the whistle blew at the end of the 90 minutes, the facial expressions told the story for what was to follow – defeat.
The boys could run know more and were clinging on, however concentration was becoming more and more lapse, York City were bound to pounce and did in time. Ritchie Sutton was slaughtered for his sending off, we think it was probably frustration to the heartbreak which led to it but there was no need, the video replay will show that Sutton had a choice to make, stop the run or watch us concede a second at a critical stage.
The full time whistle sparked mass celebration for City and a flood of tears for our heartbroken warriors, it’s still hard to take now but we believe that old saying about the gods was right – it wasn’t our time, we had lessons to learn. Look at the picture of Murray in tears and then one year on, look at him lifting the trophy aloft – boy, did we learn our lesson!
To the match itself now and after a level first leg, the game was any ones for the taking with both sides enjoying half chances in the opening ten minutes, former Stag Chris Smith headed well wide from a deep Lanre Oyebanjo free kick after two minutes, before York keeper Micheal Ingham hung onto a forceful Ross Dyer header from a Geohaghon throw as many minutes later.
On 11 minutes the Stags grabbed there first corner of the afternoon following good work between Howell and Roberts, Luke O’Neill’s delivery caused mischief and found Martin Riley whose forceful header through the crowd was scrambled cleared through Matty Blair, stopped in his tracks by Gary Roberts who did extremely well to get back and time the challenge well. Two minutes later the duo collided again, this time York getting a corner following a strong Gary Roberts tackle on Blair, whipped in by Oyebanjo, Exodus Geohaghon headed partly away with the ball landing for Patrick McLaughlin who volleyed well over into the packed QLE from 18 yards.
Exodus Geohaghon got his side in trouble of 15 minutes when he was judged to have put his arm across Jason Walker. Thirty yards from goal the visitors were awarded a free kick which Walker smashed against the wall, sensing opportunity on the break Lindon Meikle covered ground and soon fed the advancing Adam Murray, the passionate skippers shot deflected just wide of Michael Ingham’s post for a corner which was easily dealt with.
Three minutes later Lindon Meikle excelled again down the left flank following strong interchanging play between Briscoe and Roberts, the former the man to send Meikle on his mazy run. The quick footed former Eastwood wide man stepped inside Jon Challinor but failed to beat Ingham, who watched the stinging effort safely into his hands.
Mansfield have excited over the top all season and were at it again in 26 minutes as Luke O’Neill delivered from deep. Ross Dyer had to hold play up with a lack of support but did well to win a free kick right on the edge of the box after spinning past Chris Doig. Gary Roberts’ tryed the spectacular but could only fire against the wall for a throw in, Exodus Geohaghon’s bullet plucked out of the air by the strong Michael Ingham.
As the half hour mark approached, Luke O’Neill had to be at full stretch to cut out Chris Smith’s direction pass from the York defence before two minutes later, his free kick from deep sailed harmlessly away for a goal kick after Anthony Howell was sandwiched on the left hand side.
With ten minutes of the first half to go, Gary Roberts’ attempted switch of play was intercepted by the advancing Lanre Oyebanjo, the York man upended on the edge of the Stags box by Murray who again stood his ground. Patrick McLaughlin stepped up to take the resulting free kick but curled way over the top of Marriott’s cross bar.
Lanre Oyebanjo then showed the Stags it’s not just they who have a long throw weapon, launching one into the middle. Alan Marriott plucked it out the air and immediately sent the ball down field finding Ross Dyer, his pass to put Meikle 1 V 1 with Michael Ingham was just a tad too forceful and the York shot stopper claimed the ball, the story of the first half as it ended as it began, 0-0.
Half Time: Stags 0-0 York (Aggregate 1-1)
Five minutes after the restart it was the visitors that pilled on the pressure, looking to break the deadlock. Alan Marriott didn’t look comfortable as he came to collect a left sided cross from James Meredith, the stags shot stopper spilt the ball into the path of Walker whose effort cannoned away off Martin Riley who read the situation superbly. The move wasn’t dead and it was Jon Challinor who whipped back into the box, Martin Riley was again dominant in the air but seemingly nodded towards goal, Alan Marriott plucked the header out of the air to keep things on an even keel.
Ross Dyer was then guilty of a bit of greed four minutes later as Stags stretched the game from deep. Louis Briscoe provided the chip which put Ross Dyer through, the burley front man got past one before firing straight at Ingham rather than feeding an onside, unmarked Lindon Meikle – however playing the out and out front man role in Green’s absence, you can’t blame Dyer for testing the water.
On the hour mark the game still remained deadlock, Luke O’Neill chipped a free kick from 35 yards out towards the back post for Geohaghon, his header was cleared as far as Briscoe who failed to beat an alert Ingham with the attempted spectacular from the edge of the box. Four minutes later Adam Murray sparked a delightful move on the half way line, turning three before sending the advancing O’Neill down the right, the young full back played a 1-2 with Briscoe and earned a corner with York substitute Adriano Moke making the block. O’Neill’s delivery was strong and again found Geohaghon, his thunderous headed effort from the back post was headed off the line into the path of Briscoe who then fired over on the half volley.
Matt Rhead replaced Anthony Howell as the Stags switched to 4-4-2, the ex Corby man caused trouble but his efforts weren’t matched by his team as, too their credit, the visitors defended a series of O’Neill set pieces resiliently. With 20 remaining Matty Blair did well to take the ball from Lindon Meikle on the left hand side and burst down the wing, the low ball caught both Geohaghon and Riley in a tizz and fell kindly for Adriano Moke, however the York substitute thankfully blazed well over Marriott’s goal, losing his head at the final second.
With the nerves becoming stronger and the passion becoming more and more evident, the referee had to intervene when Chris Smith went in strongly on Meikle, showing the former Stag a yellow card. Louis Briscoe failed to deliver from the resulting free kick right on the edge of the box before Adam Murray volleyed into the hands of Ingham from a Geohaghon throw.
Matt Rhead, Lindon Meikle and Ross Dyer all saw efforts blocked or saved, a final burst of energy in the last minute from Meikle earned the Stags a throw, everyone bar Marriott and Sutton went forward but nobody bar Ingham got to the throw, the minster men keeper collecting un challenged to the sound of the full time whistle, meaning the game headed into extra time, still level both in the second leg and on aggregate.
Full Time: Stags 0-0 York (Aggregate 1-1)
The opening exchanges of the first half of extra time belonged to the visitors as Matty Blair caused havoc on the right hand side, Ritchie Sutton blocked for a corner which was cleared before Blair again weaved through, getting a corner from Geohaghon’s headed clearance. Worked short the visitors tried their luck through substitute Michael Potts, however the shot lacked conviction and was easy for Marriott.
In the pick of the chances at the other end, Lindon Meikle burst clean through with 101 minutes of football played at the One Call, after beating his markers for pace and skill Meikle let a ferocious shot fly, heading towards the top corner Michael Ingham proved the hero to palm away for a corner. Luke O’Neill delivered for Martin Riley who headed agonisingly over the bar.
Lee Stevenson then replaced Louis Briscoe as the Stags again looked to change the dynamic of the game, his first action would come after the turn around – the two teams still level as Marriott palmed away Ashley Chambers’ 105th minute effort.
Extra Time – Half Time Stags 0-0 York (Aggregate 1-1)
Straight from the restart the Stags looked to take advantage as York gave the ball away, Gary Roberts provided the directional ball to Matt Rhead who held up well before feeding Stevenson 25 yards from goal, the former Eastwood goal machine who opened his Stags account at Kidderminster on the final day of the season let fly first time, his shot well collected by Ingham as Lindon Meikle and Ross Dyer both called for a pass.
With time running out legs began to become heavier and the Stags momentary loss of focus stung them as three consecutive throws for York down the left saw them break our hearts in the 110th minute. Jason Walker received Meredith’s throw and whipped in the cross which caught Stags napping, Matty Blair was the villain of the piece for us, as he bundled past Marriott from six yards.
Stags 0-1 York
Buoyed by their goal, York attacked from the restart as the Stags gave it away, goal scorer Blair was free down the right and had to be stopped, Ritchie Sutton did the job but already on a booking, he was shown the second yellow and then a red, his second of the season, reducing Mansfield to ten men, after the game on twitter, a few “supporters” (I use the term very loosely) blamed Sutton for the defeat, something totally wrong and unacceptable.
The Stags refused to take the double blow laying down and with seven to go, nearly saw a repeat of the ties opening goal back from the first leg as Geohaghon launched another throw into the mix for Dyer. This time Micheal Ingham was alert and kept out the header which was heading for the top corner, splendid goalkeeper – I know he got booed and is hated by the majority, but you have to say, he was outstanding for York.
Jason Walker then missed a guilt edge chance to seal the deal with minutes to go, Alan Marriott making a tremendous double save from the deadly striker following Moke’s through ball, Luke O’Neill cleared the third shot from the line as Stags played with just two at the back in desperate search of a leveller. However it just wasn’t to be as the clock ticked down, Michael Ingham and the York back line hung on as Geohaghon, Stevenson, Meikle, Rhead, Dyer and captain fantastic Murray all fired towards goal.
The full time whistle once again brought tears, York City had defeated the Stags, the first team to win at the One Call since November 5th to book their place in the play-off final against Luton, who triumphed over Wrexham 3-2 on aggregate.
Extra Time: Full Time: Stags 0-1 York (Aggregate 1-2)
Below enjoy an additional look down memory lane with video, audio and photos from the day.
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