Stevenage's improved form ends at promotion-chasing Mansfield

Terence Vancooten limped off with injury late on leaving Stevenage with 10 men at Mansfield.

Terence Vancooten limped off late on leaving Stevenage with 10 men at Mansfield. - Credit: DANNY LOO PHOTOGRAPHY

Stevenage's first game since securing League Two safety brought an end to their improved form - as they lost away to Mansfield Town.

George Lapslie stroked home an early second-half strike to put the Stags ahead and in the third minute of stoppage time they wrapped up the 2-0 win through Matty Longstaff.

The Hertfordshire side will already be turning their thoughts to a busy summer and hopefully a far better season to come.

And there were a few good moments for them but not enough to cheer the travelling fans.

Stevenage opted to use completely the same team, subs included, that had achieved safety on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Tranmere Rovers.

And while they were heading into the final, three games with the pressure lifted, the home side were still looking to cement their play-off place or  even crawl closer to the third automatic spot.

But the biggest takeaway from the first half was that Steve Evans has really upset the natives at some point.

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A chorus of boos greeted his arrival and they got louder and louder every time he stood up from the bench leading to a crescendo as he went off at the break.

Mind, had it not been for that there would have been precious little to note.

Passing from both sides was poor and neither side could hold onto the ball for any real periods. It meant there was little in the way of chances.

What did come, were towards the home net although Luke Norris had the only real one of note.

He robbed Stephen McLaughlin out on the right wing and after moving inside the box, he sent a low angled drive towards the far corner and it needed Nathan Bishop to tip it round the upright.

McLaughlin had done considerably better to put an Arthur Read cross behind from in front of his own goal, Jamie Reid lurking behind, and from one corner there was a big shout for a penalty, an incident that brought Evans out of the dug-out and sent the Mansfield fans potty.

They were also vocal at the inability of their heroes to find each other, and in particular Newcastle loanee Longstaff.

On two separate occasions he found space down the left only for the pass to sail yards in front of him and out for a throw or a goal-kick.

Their one best chance fell to George Maris but he sent that high over Christy Pym's goal.

The same player had an opportunity just 60 seconds into the second period but his low effort through a crowded box curled away from goal and nobody gambled on getting a touch.

The positive start though did finally bring a goal though and it would have not pleased the Boro management team.

A corner was delivered from the left and the visitors had chances to clear but failed with every one, allowing Lapslie the simple task of passing the ball into the net from 10 yards.

Lucas Akins then fired narrowly wide from the left before hitting a shot from the other side much further off target.

Boro had lost Norris just before the goal with attention from the physio being administered as the goal went in.

A second change on the hour brought Chris Lines on for Read but bar one decent passing move that should have ended in a shot from Luther James-Wildin, there was still no fluency to their play.

The final sub was to bring Bruno Andrade on for Elliott List and the new man had an instant chance when a decent Lines free-kick was headed back towards him.

He snatched at the opportunity though and it flew well wide.

Boro's changes then came back to haunt them as Terence Vancooten was forced off with eight minutes of normal time to go. He had gone down a few minutes before with a painful looking back injury.

Michael Bostwick moved into the centre of defence but it left the visitors down to 10 men for the remainder of the contest.

And Longstaff took advantage late on as he found the space vacated to strike low past a stranded Pym and send Field Mill into raptures.


Match stats

Stevenage: Pym, James-Wildin, Coker, Cuthbert, List (Andrade 72), Taylor, Norris (Daly 50), Vancooten, Read (Lines 60), Reid, Bostwick.

Subs (not used): Walker, Prosser, Upson, Barry.

Booked: Taylor 43, Andrade 87


Mansfield Town: Bishop, McLaughlin, Hewitt, Murphy (Bowery 90+1), Maris (Wallace 72), Perch, Oates (Hawkins 87), Lapslie, Akins, O'Toole, Longstaff.

Subs (not used): Stech, Rawson, Johnson, Stirk,

Goals: Lapslie 51, Longstaff 90+3

Booked: Perch 15, Maris 21


HT: Mansfield Town 0 Stevenage 0

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 5,086 (73 from Stevenage)