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Match Reports

Report: Stags 0-3 Port Vale

28 May 2022

Ten-man Mansfield Town were beaten 3-0 by Port Vale at Wembley Stadium in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final.

Goals from strikers Kian Harratt and James Wilson on 20 and 24 minutes, respectively, put the Staffordshire club ahead.  

Stags’ defender Oli Hawkins received a second yellow card in the 35th minute, reducing Mansfield to ten men. 

Despite an improved second-half performance from the Stags, Vale added their third through former Mansfield man Mal Benning on 85 minutes.  

Manager Nigel Clough named two changes to the Stags’ side that steered the club Wembley-bound in Mansfield’s 1-0 second-leg victory at Sixfields ten days ago. 

Midfielder Matty Longstaff replaced Kieran Wallace whilst experienced attacker Jamie Murphy was in for Lucas Akins. 

The referee’s opening whistle signified the beginning of the highly-anticipated contest inside an atmospheric Wembley Stadium as each team’s impressive hoard of lively fans roared on the opening stages.  

The game adopted a nervy start as both sides battled for possession.

The Stags crafted the first opportunity inside seven minutes when Stephen McLaughlin swung a deep free-kick into the Vale box to win a corner. The subsequent short-corner routine was played to Murphy, who dribbled closer to the box and guided an enticing ball beyond the back post, narrowly evading Oli Hawkins’ lurking boot which was poised to fire home.  

A minute later, Mansfield were in again. After Matty Longstaff’s delivery into the box from the right wing was allowed to bounce in front of the Vale goal, Murphy headed the ball goalwards from the centre of the box to force an important reaction save from stopper Aidan Stone on eight minutes.  

Stags’ left-back Stephen McLaughlin again pushed the team up field on 14 minutes after his chipped pass over the top of the Vale defence almost played Rhys Oates through on goal. However, Stone rushed from his line to head the danger clear.  

The Valliants’ presence in the game was rejuvenated on 19 minutes after Mal Benning’s pass to striker Kian Harratt was steered onto the inside of the post by the youngster’s curled edge-of-the-box effort.  

A minute later, Vale took the lead through the same combination. This time Benning’s delivery from the left was curled in behind the Stags’ defence to allow Harratt to finish the chance with a diving header from close range.  

With the lead, the Staffordshire club gained momentum, and doubled their advantage five minutes later. After right back James Gibbons was played up the wing, the Vale man delivered the ball to midfielder Ben Garrity, who nodded it onto the crossbar from inside the box. Subsequently, the ball cannoned of the woodwork and into the path of striker James Wilson who headed in Vale’s second with a comfortable finish. 

Mansfield were reduced to ten men on 35 minutes after Hawkins was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Wilson. It followed his first caution on the half- hour mark.

Despite their one-man deficit, Mansfield came an inch away from scoring. After Stone spilled McLaughlin’s cross into the box, Oates prodded the loose ball goalwards from close range only to be denied by the clearing boot of defender Connor Hall on the goal-line who preserved Vale’s lead at half-time. 

Darrell Clarke’s men controlled possession following the break and Jake Taylor came close to adding a third after the midfielder swung an edge-of-the box volley around Mansfield’s left-hand post from a central position on 53 minutes.  

Stags absorbed Vale’s pressure and soon put their opponents on the back foot as Mansfield built up momentum on the hour mark. The travelling amber and blue support aided their team’s efforts in the stands as Mansfield looked to help turn the tide.  

Vale had a goal ruled out on 64 minutes after Benning’s drilled corner was helped on by Wilson to play in Harratt, who converted the chance from an offside position inside Mansfield’s six-yard box.  

Clarke’s men had another ruled out for offside six minutes later when Harry Charsley was slid through by Benning, but the former Stags midfielder was comfortably beyond the last defender as he placed the ball past Bishop. 

Mansfield continued their pursuit of a goal and Oates forced a smart save from Stone two minutes later. The ball settled nicely for the Stags’ attacker outside the box before he controlled and fired it towards the right side of the goal, but Stone’s near-post parry denied him.  

Two minutes later, Mansfield’s number 18 worked his way in from the right wing to smash the ball across the face of goal, narrowly evading the far side of the target as Stags continued to work hard.  

Vale netted their third on 85 minutes when David Worrall’s right-sided cross was guided home by a Benning volley from inside the box to seal the contest. 

The defeat ends a season of significant progress for Mansfield; one which saw Stags second from bottom in the table in October, and though the final hurdle could not be passed, Nigel Clough’s men have laid good foundations ahead of 2022-23, which starts nine weeks today.

 

STAGS XI: Bishop, Hewitt, Perch, Hawkins, McLaughlin, O’Toole, Longstaff (Maris 65’), Quinn (Akins 79’), Murphy (Lapslie 54’), Oates, Bowery 

UNUSED SUBS: Stech, Wallace, Clarke, Stirk

PORT VALE XI: Stone, Gibbons, Smith, Hall, Benning, Worrall (Martin 86’), Garrity, Pett, Taylor (Charsley 67’), Harratt (Proctor 77’), Wilson 

UNUSED SUBS: Covolan, Robinson, Amoo, Edmondson

REFEREE: Jarred Gillett 

ATTENDANCE: 37,303 


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