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Season Review: April

14 June 2013

April was a month of intense and captivating drama as we clinched the Conference Premier title, which brought an end to five years of non-league despair.

On Easter Monday, we equaled the Football Conference all-time consecutive wins record (12 matches), with a comprehensive 4-0 thumping of Gateshead.

However, our stunning winning streak came to a dramatic end at Wrexham just three days later.

Matt Green poked us ahead shortly after the interval, but the Dragons roared back and emerged victorious thanks to strikes from Dean Keates and Danny Wright.

Nevertheless, there was no time to feel sorry for ourselves as less than 48 hours later we travelled to Barrow, where it was essential that we returned to winning ways.

The omens didn’t look good when the hosts were handed a penalty on the half-hour mark, but Alan Marriott’s wonder save from Richie Baker’s spot-kick was a game-changing moment.

Matt Green soon scored twice in quick succession, whilst Lee Stevenson's brace after the interval saw us emerge as comfortable 4-0 winners.

In our next match, we assumed league leadership with a 3-1 win over managerless Macclesfield Town, with Green, Stevenson and Luke Jones on the score-sheet.

Despite huge expectations ahead of our trip to Braintree Town, there was unexpected disappointment for the 1,000-strong travelling faithful.

Talisman Green fired us into an early advantage at the Amlin Stadium, but Matt Paine’s well-crafted equaliser and Kaine Shepherd’s late header resulted in a harrowing 2-1 defeat for us.

Kidderminster Harriers’ subsequent win at Wrexham in their evening clash compounded our misery, as Steve Burr’s side regained the Conference Premier's pole position.

Manager Paul Cox insisted there would be more twists and turns in the title race, and that was exactly the case on a truly incredible night at Hereford United.

Under the towering Edgar Street floodlights, The Bulls put up a ferocious fight and dark clouds of despair were lingering over our title hopes when Ryan Bowman hammered home an early opener.

Nevertheless, our side roared back and Matt Green’s headed equaliser gave us fresh impetus in what was a rip-roaring encounter.

After the re-start, shot-stopper James Bittner heroically denied Lindon Meikle, before his fantastic full-stretch save prevented Matt Green when it seemed a goal was inevitable.

Agonising seconds ebbed away as our side threw everything at a resolute Bulls back-line, which soaked up the pressure and left us biting our nails with utter anguish.

But in added time came a titanic twist of unparalleled proportions, which led to joyous and jubilant scenes amongst everyone connected with Mansfield Town.

Alan Marriott’s long punt downfield was beautifully flicked on by Matt Rhead, before Green’s neat finish led to relief, pandemonium and wild celebrations.

Kidderminster Harriers' players, watching on from the stands, were plunged into depths of despair in the knowledge that we had retained control of our own destiny ahead of the final day.

And so we reached the final chapter of an incredible campaign, as went head-to-head with Wrexham on a day that will be forever etched in Mansfield Town folklore.

Our task was simple: win one last game and bring to an end five grueling years of tortuous torment in the world of non-league football.

There proved to be just the one goal in a gripping 90 minutes. Matt Green's spot-kick settled a somewhat one-sided contest and sealed our long-awaited return to the Football League.

At the final whistle, One Call Stadium erupted into deafening and euphoric cheers, whilst our players sank to their knees to take in their achievement.

Years of anguish, heart-break, frustration and, at times, pure agony had been brought to an end at long-last as the name ‘Mansfield Town’ was scribed on the Championship Trophy.

Also in April:
- Goalkeeper Alan Marriott kept his 50th clean sheet for the club.
- Andy Todd’s reached the Central League Cup Final after thrashing Tranmere Rovers.
- Striker Matt Green netted our 100th goal of the campaign (in all competitions) at Braintree Town.
- Our young guns secured second-spot in the FCYA.

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