Rovers 0-1 Mansfield
Attendance: 10,594 (704)
By Steven Hood
Bristol Rovers will join Torquay in the conference next season after losing at home to Mansfield.
Colin Daniel’s stunning volley in the first half secured all three points for the visitors and relegated Rovers out of the football league.
Darrell Clarke named a strong attacking line-up as Chris Beardsley, Matt Harrold and David Clarkson were all in the starting 11. However, Lee Brown was forced out of the game following a back injury.
Rovers started the brighter of the two sides with Chris Beardsley and David Clarkson having chances in the opening five minutes however, neither of them could test Lewis Price in the Mansfield goal.
News quickly filtered through as Wycombe took the lead in the opening five minutes away at relegated Torquay through Sam Wood. However, Northampton went down early to a goal as Williams netted for Oxford.
As results stood at this point Rovers would be safe and it would be Northampton joining already relegated Torquay next season.
Rovers continued to apply pressure as Kaid Mohamed earned the home side a corner. Mohamed took the corner to the near post, which was met by David Clarkson, the Scot flicked the ball to the far post but Mark McChrystal couldn’t direct the ball goalward.
Things then took a turn for the worse in the game between Northampton and Oxford as Oxford were reduced to ten men having seen Williams sent off.
It took Northampton ten minutes but eventually made the game 1-1 as a mistake by Wright let in John Marquis who beat Clarke from the edge of the area.
Meanwhile at the Memorial Stadium Anthony Howell drove a shot in from the Stags left, the ball took a wicked deflection off of Tom Lockyer but Mildenhall was equal to it in the Rovers goal.
More news came in from Sixfields as Northampton had taken the lead at home to ten-man Oxford as Toney headed home with the Oxford keeper out of position
Moments later at the Memorial Stadium the visitors took the lead. Howell delivered a pinpoint ball in from the left hand side and Colin Daniel volleyed emphatically with his left foot with the ball striking the right hand post on it’s way into the goal.
The goal meant that Rovers dropped into the bottom two for the first time of the day.
As half times came through across the country it was evident that Rovers needed a result. Northampton were leading 2-1 at home to ten-man Oxford and Wycombe were leading 0-2 away at already relegated Torquay.
Both teams took to the field for the second half knowing that their fate was in their own hands and a point would still be enough.
Northampton extended their lead at home to Oxford early in the second half and Torquay were reduced to ten men against Wycombe as the importance falls solely on the game at the Memorial Stadium.
With 56 minutes on the clock Rovers produced their first piece of real quality as Kaid Mohamed fed David Clarkson who drove directly into the Mansfield penalty area.
Last weekends goal hero pulled slightly to the right before unleashing a cannon of a shot with his right foot which, was saved acrobatically by Lewis Price.
Entering the final 30 minutes Rovers still stood in the bottom two and would be joining Torquay in the conference next season.
Kaid Mohamed appeared to be through on goal when Martin Riley brought the Rovers wide man down, however, referee Oliver Langford only brandished a yellow card for the Stags centre back.
More bad news for Rovers filtered through as Wycombe all but wrapped up the game away at Torquay by scoring a third.
Rovers almost pulled level through the head of Mark McChrystal but the crossbar denied the Rovers skipper. McChrystal met Mohamed’s delivery from a corner powerfully but his header clipped the bar and went out for a goal kick.
Darell Clarke made attacking changes bringing on Alefe Santos and Fabian Broghammer to add some more width to the game.
The substitutions almost paid off as Broghammer arrowed a shot at the Mansfield goal only for it to be straight at Lewis Price.
Rover’s additional wide men stretched the game and Matt Harrold was brought down on the edge of the Stags area. David Clarkson stood over the free kick and struck the ball cleanly but he couldn’t hit the target.
As the minutes ticked away the home side threw caution to the wind and piled forward. Substitute Alefe Santos delivered a very precise ball onto the head of John-Joe O’Toole but the Rovers top goal scorer couldn’t find the back of the net.
The pace of Fabian Broghammer was causing Mansfield issues down the left hand side and earned the home side a succession of corners.
Broghammer swung a ball into the box with his left foot, the ball banged around the visitors box before Rovers skipper Mark McChrystal lashed a volley off the bar.
Rovers threw everything at the Stags defence in the final minutes but to no avail as the full time whistle rang to a stunned silence around the Memorial Stadium.
Rovers: Mildenhall, Lockyer, Parkes, McChrystal (C), Clarke, Clucas (Santos – 66), O’Toole, Mohamed, Beardsley (Broghammer - 54), Clarkson, Harrold.
Substitutes: Gough (GK), Broghammer, Harding, Santos, Keary, Lucas, Thomas.
Mansfield: Price, Sutton, Clucas, Howell, Marsden, Daniel (Meikle – 88), Jennings, McGuire, Palmer (Dyer – 74), Riley, Dempster (C).
Substitutes: Meikle, Stevenson, Clements, Thomas, Speight, Briscoe, Dyer.