The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Matt Wright

IT WAS very much a case of a scrappy 1-0 away win, mean­ing that lit­tle bit more at the tail-end of the sea­son for Mans­field man­ager Steve Evans as his side ground out a vi­tal three points at Steve­nage.

This wasn’t a match that will par­tic­u­larly live long in the mem­ory, but it could lead to some­thing spe­cial for the Stags, who are now just one point away from a play-off place with two games left.

De­spite hav­ing to see out a hefty chunk of stop­page time at the death, they were solid enough to the point that Steve­nage never re­ally threat­ened to deny them.

Evans said: “We’ve beaten a good side away from home, like we did at Wy­combe, and if re­sults and per­for­mances con­tinue then we’ve a good chance in the next two games of do­ing some­thing.

“When you get seven or eight min­utes of added time and you get three or four de­ci­sions that the fourth of­fi­cial can’t explain, it means a lit­tle bit more at the end of the game.

“We’ve come through the Easter pe­riod like ev­ery­one else has, so we eased it down a lit­tle bit to make sure we had lots of en­ergy.

“I felt we were go­ing to need that and we did need that, es­pe­cially late on un­der a lot of pres­sure.”

Steve­nage gave a first start to 18-year-old Mark McKee and he al­most had a dream start when he half-volleyed into the side net­ting af­ter nine min­utes when well-placed.

Mans­field ended the first half strongly and came ex­tremely close when Danny Rose’s header from Joel By­rom’s cor­ner was cleared off the line by Jobi McAnuff.

The Stags’ pres­sure paid off, how­ever, as Steve­nage failed to get the ball clear be­fore it even­tu­ally fell for Rose, who ri­fled his shot into the roof of the net cru­cially.

MacDon­ald threat­ened a sec­ond for the vis­i­tors when he bril­liantly burst past two de­fend­ers, but he un­did his good work by mak­ing a real hash of his fin­ish.

Steve­nage lacked punch up front all af­ter­noon, with the clos­est they came to an equaliser be­ing when sub­sti­tute Ben Kennedy’s clever chip dipped just over the wood­work with 19 min­utes left.

With Steve­nage hang­ing on to their play-off place, their boss Dar­ren Sarll said: “They're a very ex­pe­ri­enced and es­tab­lished group of play­ers and they played the game that way.

“They played lots of long balls, lots of di­rect balls into our fi­nal third, with very lit­tle pas­sage through the mid­field area.

“I wouldn’t have thought for the neu­tral that the game would have been too pleas­ing on the eye.

“As al­ways, we tried to play and tried to pass but it didn’t work for us. Once they got that goal – it was a real sloppy piece of mark­ing from us – they got some­thing to hold on to and all they’ve got to do then is bank up.”


STAR MAN RHYS BEN­NETT Mans­field HAVE SOME OF THAT: Danny Rose of Mans­field Town scores the first goal for his team and cel­e­brates In­set: Tempers flare at the fi­nal whis­tle af­ter a tense en­counter

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