Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s long trip to Woking FC, to face Hayes & Yeading United.
After late goals for Southport and Kidderminster disrupted Mansfield’s plans for sealing a play-off spot on Monday, we dust off and get ready for another round of fixtures, however this time the task is much more simple as our fate lies entirely in our hands – A win guaranties a play-off spot.
At the moment there are now nine points to play for ahead of tomorrow’s round of fixtures, we are currently 7 points ahead of York (4th) and Kidderminster (5th), nine ahead of Southport (6th) and ten ahead of Luton (7th) who have two games in hand. Looking at the permutations if ALL the play-off sides to pick up victories, we would still have a 7 point lead on York and Kidderminster, the former WOULD be able to catch us though with their game in hand meaning they’d be 7 behind with 9 points still up for grabs. A win for Kidderminster would put them 7 points behind us with only six points up for grabs and with us to play. Southport, who lurk just outside the play-offs, would remain nine points behind us with only six points up for grabs – meaning in short that the lowest we could finish if the points gap remains the same after tomorrows round of fixtures would be 5th.
Seems simple right, if we win regardless of the others – we’re in the play-offs, could it possibly get any better? Yes, yes it can my friends! Permutation two can see us not only cement our place in the play-offs tomorrow but also cement third place, bagging that all important second leg home advantage. If Stags win at the Kingfield Stadium and Luton and York fall to defeat against Alfreton and Newport respectively – the duo, the only two bar Southport able to catch us, will be too far behind and will have to battle it out for 4th and 5th. Providing we grab victory and relegate Hayes & Yeading, a defeat for York against their FA Trophy final opponents Newport would put them 10 points behind Paul Cox’s men with only nine left up for grabs. Defeat for Luton at Alfreton would leave them needing 13 points to catch the Stags with only 12 up for grabs!
This is brilliant and in all honesty, I’m sure you’ll agree too, the second permutation about securing third would be the one we’d all love to come true – securing third and a play-off spot with two games still to go would leave us able to relax and rest players ahead of what will be a tough play-off, rather than constantly be looking over our shoulders to see where we finish and whose hunting us down. A stress free final two games, wouldn’t that be beautiful. That said I couldn’t care about the others results again, we cannot afford to take our eye of the ball, we have to win, we have to get this secure before we face Wrexham and play-off hunters Kidderminster – two very difficult games.
Once again we have the horrid task of relegating another team and like I wrote last week ahead of the Kettering game, should respect our opponents situation and be prepared for a fight. Currently Nas Bashiers men are sitting in 21st place, four points from safety with nine points still on offer, defeat for Hayes & Yeading plus a win for AFC Telford in their match at mid table Ebbsfleet would see the former Reading midfielders side needing 7 points from a possible six – a mathematical impossibility. A draw for AFC Telford and defeat for United would leave them need five points from a possible six and as such would not be relegated – however the Bucks, promoted last season via the Blue Square North play offs, have a vital game in hand.
Hayes & Yeading were formed back in 2007 as Hayes FC and Yeading FC decided to join forces and save money, their motto is the Latin phrase ‘Porro Simul’ which translates to ‘Forward Together’ something they’ve seemingly failed to follow this season, dropping from 1st place after an opening day win over Alfreton to the bottom four with a very poor run which has seen just six victories and three draws since October, when they crashed into the drop zone. Tomorrow they’ll have to be tight at the back as they come up against a rather impressive forward line, Stags are the third highest goal scorers over the top flight division, big spending premier league giants Manchester City are the team to match Paul Cox’s sides 79, whilst Sheffield United and conference champions elect Fleetwood are the two teams with a better goals for column, the Blades have netted 85 with Fleetwood’s midweek leveller against Wrexham marking their 100th league goal of the season.
Hayes & Yeading have only bagged 55 goals this campaign, conceding 85 – without the goals of Louis Soares who has 15 to his name, the former Church Road outfit may well have already been down. At the moment they are waiting to move into the redeveloped ground of Yeading FC, made famous by the movie ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, however the Beaconsfield Road site is not ready and with houses already dominating their former base at Church Road, the merger club have spent this season ground sharing with nearby Woking, a deal that will continue for part of next season.
We have been to the home of Woking FC once before, with the fixture against the then relegated side being the final away game of our debut season in the conference, wouldn’t it be a tad ironic that our play-off fate could be sealed on the ground we all left frustrated following a 2-2 draw thinking ‘I hope we don’t have to come to grounds like this again’ but knowing deep down we should get used to it!
If you can’t get to the game tomorrow, then our MM-LIVE page and 106.9FM are the places to be, build up starts on both at 2pm followed by full match commentary with myself, Scott Rogers and Wayne Briggs (TBC) – we’ll be revealing the winners of the first batch of Mansfield Matters awards, for which voting closes at Midnight.
Last Time We Met:
In five meetings with Hayes & Yeading, the Stags have failed to pick up victory when playing as the away team – picking up just a point in the February meeting of 2010 and of course being humiliated 4-0 in April last year in a game which propelled Tyrone Thompson to YouTube fame – less said about that the better, I’m getting all angry again – let’s just say that when I arrived home, the toys came out of the pram! What an embarrassment.
Fortunately our form against the merged side at Field Mill has been a lot better, winning all three of the encounters, the most recent of which came in January. Goals from Matt Green and Ross Dyer twice put us ahead however the visitors pegged us back – substitute Ben Hutchinson grabbed the winner in the last minute from the spot after Gary Roberts had been fouled.
Stags 3-2 Hayes and Yeading 21.1.12 Line Up: [4-4-2] Marriott, O'Neill, Dempster, Sutton, Kendrick, Meikle (Briscoe), Murray (C), Roberts, Smith, Green , Dyer  (Hutchinson [1p]) SNU Redmond, Riley
PODCAST: Commentary comes from Craig Priest.
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