2-1 defeat on the road at Mansfield
Stevenage suffered a 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town this afternoon in Sky Bet League 2.
Despite Michael Tonge hitting the post early on and Stevenage carving out the best chances, it was Mansfield who took the lead just before the break from Chris Clements’ free-kick. James Baxendale doubled the Stags’ lead in the second half and although Armand Gnanduillet struck his sixth of the season late on, it was too little too late for Boro.
Teddy Sheringham named an unchanged starting XI from last weekend’s draw against Leyton Orient with the only change being on the bench where Dipo Akinyemi came in for the injured Ben Kennedy.
After an opening 10 minutes where both sides found their way into the game, it was Boro who appeared to settle first and forged their first chance from a free-kick. Charlie Lee won a free-kick just a yard or two outside the box, to the left of centre and up-stepped Michael Tonge to curl an effort against the right-hand post.
Stevenage kept up the pressure with Lee seeing a volley blocked, but penalty appeals turned down, and Rohdell Gordon looking lively on the right flank.
Matt Green fired straight at Day as the Stags finally woke up just past the quarter hour, but the visitors remained the more confident with Tonge and Pett looking comfortable in the middle of the park and the busy trio of McFadzean, Lee and Gordon buzzing forward.
With 20 minutes on the clock Jamie McCombe headed a Mansfield corner clear and suddenly Boro were two-on-one on the counter. Rohdell showed great feet to retain possession and get into the box with Lee free, but the chance to cross came and went, with Boro crowded out.
Lee headed over and McFadzean shot straight at Jensen as Stevenage created but squandered chances, before Day tipped a Clements header over on 25 minutes. That spurred the Stags into life once more and only a superb sliding block from Connor Ogilvie prevented Westcarr from tapping home a Baxendale cross.
On 38 minutes a long Boro throw was headed behind for a corner and when Tonge floated in the set piece, Fraser Franks went up for the ball but was felled, illegally in his opinion but referee Webb disagreed.
Five minutes before the break neat footwork at pace on the edge of the Boro box won the hosts a free-kick right on the 18 yard line. With the visitors virtually camped on their own goal-line, up stepped Chris Clements to curl home into the top corner and give the Stags a half-time lead.
Stevenage started brightly at the start of the second half and after winning an early corner, a flick from Lee found Gordon who cleared the stand with a fierce volley.
Soon though the hosts were pushing forward as they started to look much more threatening than the first half. Matt Green forced Day into a low save with his feet on 54 minutes with another shot flying just over moments later from a corner.
Just before the hour Boro won a free-kick when Gordon was fouled out wide, giving Tonge the chance to swing a ball in. He tried to find Lee at the near post but there was Gordon to put the ball up to the back post, only for the incoming McCombe to head wide.
It sparked a few mad moments with chances at either end. Craig Westcarr found himself through on goal only for Day to save, with Tonge then curling a free-kick straight at Jensen at the other end. Minutes later Tom Pett turned beautifully away from a tackle and set off on the counter, only to drag his shot wide after playing a one-two with Matt and getting into the box.
The all-too familiar story of not taking chances quickly came back to haunt Boro as Mansfield doubled their advantage on 66 minutes. Debutant loanee James Baxendale ran at goal and found the far corner from 20 yards to give the hosts a comfortable lead.
Tom Conlon came on for Boro and injected more energy into the side in the closing stages but whatever the visitors tried they were either thwarted by poor finishing – Conlon firing over and Gnanduillet firing straight at Jensen – or home defending.
From a late Boro corner, Tom Pett saw his fierce drive blocked and Conlon curled inches over the bar as the visitors pushed for a late consolation. That they finally got when Armand Gnanduillet buried a shot inside the box at the second time of asking, with virtually the last kick of the game.
Defeat here this afternoon is Stevenage’s third in four away games and there is much work to do on and off the pitch – with various loan deals coming to an end - ahead of next weekend’s tricky looking trip to Plymouth Argyle.
Mansfield: Jensen, Pearce, Chapman, Clements, Green, Westcarr (Rose68), Tafazolli, Hunt, Thomas (Lambe 46), Adams, Baxendale
Subs not used: Shearer, Collins, Beardsley, Blair, McGuire
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Franks, McCombe, Ogilvie, Pett, Tonge, Gordon (Conlon 68), Lee, McFadzean (Gnanduillet 55), Matt
Subs not used: Crowe, Hughes, Akinyemi, Johnson, Gorman
Referee: David Webb
Attendance: 3,126 (112 away)