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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:49 6th May 2017

Report: Crawley 2-2 Stags

Mansfield Town finished their Sky Bet League Two season in 12th position, following a 2-2 draw at Crawley Town.

Stags' fans witnessed a remarkable improvement since Steve Evans' appointment as manager in mid-November, but an unlikely play-off finish proved a step too far for this season.

In the final match of the campaign, Mansfield were coasting after goals from Danny Rose and Ben Whiteman but Crawley rallied to level the contest.

The game should have been out of home sight after Stags missed a flurry of chances to add to their tally. 

The home side fought back admirably to grab a point, which never looked on the cards after Stags' dominant first half display.

Mansfield made two changes for the game.

Alfie Potter was handed a midfield start while Matt Green returned to the attack. It meant that defensive midfielder Lee Collins and frontman Shaq Coulthirst started on the substitutes' bench.

Crawley were presented with the game's first opening in the fourth minute. Attacking midfielder Dean Cox struck with venom on the left of the box, but Mal Benning's brave block prevented an early breakthrough.

Cox had a second attempt three minutes later, but his floated effort from the edge of the area sailed over the bar.

Stags' first purposeful attack came in the ninth minute.

Right-back Hayden White pulled the ball back for Ben Whiteman, 18 yards from goal, but he couldn't pick out Green at the far post.

Alex MacDonald then let fly moments later, but was unable to keep his shot on target.

Stags began to build momentum and broke the deadlock in the 12th minute.

Joel Byrom's long central ball into the area found Danny Rose, who stabbed the ball home from 12 yards. And despite weak offside appeals from the hosts, the goal rightly stood.

In the 17th minute, Crawley skipper Jimmy Smith mis-directed his goalward header from a 30 yard free-kick, as Stags' goalkeeper Jake Kean continued to go untested.

Mansfield were soon on the charge forward again. Potter made a terrific run to the goal line to cross into the box, but Whiteman headed over from 12 yards, when he should have hit the target.

Whiteman then tried his luck with a low drive, but home goalkeeper Glenn Morris stuck out a hand and Green was unable to convert the follow-up.

But it was third time lucky for the midfield maestro in the 23rd minute when he doubled Stags' advantage.

Breaking forward from the half-way line, Whiteman continued unopposed to the penalty area where he planted a lovely right-footed hit beyond Morris.

Stags were now brimming with confidence and almost added a third with a spectacular strike by Mal Benning.

White's cross-field pass picked out the onrushing left back, who powerfully volleyed just wide of the angle.

Mansfield continued to penetrate and Green should have scored in the 30th minute, but Morris made a good stop with his legs.

Crawley pulled a goal back in the 34th minute when Stags failed to stop a left-flank cross.

Andre Blackman delivered and Cox was allowed to control with his chest before stroking it into the net.

Mal Benning and Alex MacDonald then had to make an interception and clearance, respectively, as Crawley searched for a leveller.

Stags, though, continued to pose problems heading forward against a suspect Crawley backline which was often exposed by quick forward play.

In the final chance of the half, MacDonald laid it to Whiteman, whose low pass to the back post couldn't be met by an outstretched Matt Green.

Crawley equalised with a sweet strike ten minutes into the second half.

Midfielder Jordan Roberts collected the ball from a short corner to smash home from 20 yards as it sneaked inside Kean's near post.

The hosts were playing with a new-found confidence and Cox mis-fired from inside the area as Stags' defence was breached.

In the 64th minute, Whiteman had to clear off the line following a Crawley free-kick, as Smith headed towards goal.

Two minutes later, Stags' striker Shaq Coulthirst climbed off the bench, with Alfie Potter making way.

Mansfield goalkeeper Jake Kean came to the rescue on 68 when Krystian Pearce was caught in possession, 30 yards from his own goal. And as Crawley hitman James Collins roamed forward, his low drive was stopped by the legs of Kean.

In Stags' second change, Hayden White was replaced by George Taft with 20 minutes of the game remaining.

Crawley pressed for another goal but couldn't find the target after Collins powered an effort wide following a half-clearance by Taft.

Danny Rose then left the field after appearing to pick up a knock, with CJ Hamilton his replacement.

Taft then lofted over inside the home box from an Alex MacDonald corner in the 79th minute.

Stags counted their blessing on 83, when Collins, Crawley's tormentor-in-chief, smacked a shot against the post from the right of the box.

At the other end, Pearce's bullet header whizzed by the post after an inch-perfect corner from MacDonald.

MacDonald missed the target with a 25-yard free-kick in the 89th minute, before the match petered out and the curtain fell on 2016-17.


CRAWLEY: Morris, Young, Connolly (Yorwerth 70), McNerney, Blackman, Boldewijn, Smith, Djalo (Harrold 90+4), Roberts, Cox (Clifford 89), Collins

UNUSED SUBS: Mersin, Bawling, Bawling, Tajbakhsh, Lelan

STAGS: Kean, White (Taft 70), Bennett, Pearce, Benning, MacDonald, Byrom, Potter (Coulthirst 67), Whiteman, Rose (Hamilton 75), Green

UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Lee Collins, Lewis Collins, McGuire

ATTENDANCE: 2,635 (387 Stags' fans)

REFEREE: Carl Boyeson