Mansfield Town F.C
Ryan Sweeney 24
Early start catches Stevenage sleeping as Mansfield claim the three points
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
Stevenage's impressive unbeaten run ended last week at Salford City and they have now embarked on another - albeit an unwanted one thanks to a second successive defeat.
The 1-0 loss at home to Mansfield Town will have hurt too, for the poor performance as much as the result.
The second half was better but there was too much frustration in Stevenage's play.
They had hoped that the final five games would have cemented their place in mid-table, and also altered the perception of them as perennial strugglers.
But with back-to-back games against the division's top two to come, Cheltenham Town on Tuesday followed by a trip to Cambridge United next week, they will have to regroup in a hurry too.
The goal in the first half was one to forget for Stevenage. A corner from the right was nodded down to Ryan Sweeney, who seemed shock at the time and space he had inside the six-yard box.
Once his thoughts were gathered though he simply slid the ball through the couple of defenders on the line and in.
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For the 20 minutes or so before that though Stevenage had been decent. The ball was moved quickly between players with only the decision and timing of the final pass needing work.
One such occasion saw Boro break quickly but Luther James-Wildin could only flash it across the face of goal and well away from anyone in white and red.
After the goal though it wasn't so much the final ball that was at fault, more the first and second ball.
Play was rushed, wayward, and if anything Mansfield were likely to score again as Boro continued to keep giving the forward players of the Nottinghamshire club way too much space in the box.
Jamie Reid was a recipient of one, having time to take a touch before turning to shoot. Fortunately that was blocked and two other drives from distance were straight at Jamie Cumming.
Dean Wilkins had been noticeably absent from the technical area in the first half, sitting at the far end of the main stand.
Mark Sampson joined boss Alex Revell in shouting instructions although even here the passion displayed before the goal dwindled afterwards.
Whatever was said during the break was obviously laced with intent and drive as Stevenage started strongly.
They really should have been level inside the opening 10 minutes of the second period too.
Jack Aitchison blazed over from just eight yards after a nice pull-back from James-Wildin and then Luke Norris found a gap between defenders as a Chris Lines cross came in.
His header though was too close to Aidan Stone and the keeper made the save.
He did so again shortly after as Elliott List bore down on his goal, reacting quickly to a heavy second touch from the forward to block the attempted lifted shot.
Stevenage continued to enjoy more of the possession but the longer the game went on, the more frantic they got in their attempts to grab an equaliser and more.
A good one-two between List and Jack Smith allowed the former to get in down the right. However, his low cross was behind Norris, who had made the run to the near post, and there was nobody coming in at the back.
List and Smith then had shots blocked as the pressure was cranked up.
Six added minutes, played after a coming together between List and Farrend Rawson - a clash that had the Boro bench incensed at what they said was an elbow, took place almost exclusively with Stevenage on the ball and inside the Mansfield half.
Like the rest of the game though while the build-up play was good at times, the final touch and pass was lacking.
The one big chance came from a Ben Coker free-kick, 25 yards out and out to the right-hand side.
It came to nothing, as did the game for Stevenage.
Stevenage: Cumming, James-Wildin, Prosser, Osborne (Smith 46), Vancooten, List, Pett, Aitchison, Martin (Coker 72), Norris, Lines.
Subs (not used): Johnson, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Hutton, Stevens.
Booked: Vancooten 21
Mansfield Town: Stone, Sweeney, Rawson, Bowery, Maris, Perch, Quinn (Clarke 54), Reid, McLaughlin, Sinclair (Charsley, 87), Lapslie (Law 62).
Subs (not used): Stech, Benning, Gordon, Ward.
Goals: Sweeney 24
Booked: Lapslie 14, Maris 72
HT: Stevenage 0 Mansfield Town 1
Referee: Samuel Barrott (Brighouse)