REPORT: Stevenage come away empty at home to Mansfield
It was a disappointing afternoon at the Lamex Stadium as Stevenage suffered a 1-0 defeat to Mansfield Town.
The result means Boro fall a couple of places in the Sky Bet League Two table but remain in the play-off places with just two games to go.
Darren Sarll made two changes from the team that got a point at Carlisle on Monday. Captain Ronnie Henry coming in for Kgosi Ntlhe whilst Mark McKee was handed his first start for the club, replacing the injured Steven Schumacher.
McKee playing alongside Jobi McAnuff and Kaylen Hinds in attack whilst Dale Gorman partnered Charlie Lee and Tom Pett in midfield.
Boro began the game well and were looking hungry with McKee central to much of the good early play.
Kaylen Hinds was sent on a chase over the top after only seven minutes. The Arsenal loanee streaming past his man, checking back inside but only able to get away a deflected shot which was snuffed out in the end.
Less than a minute later, McKee had a good opportunity to open the scoring but his half volley at the far post could only find the side netting.
Mansfield began to grow into the game as the half progressed and started looking dangerous themselves. MacDonald whipped a free-kick narrowly wide of the post and Jobi McAnuff was needed for a goal-line clearance as Danny Rose headed at goal from a corner.
With just minutes to go until half-time, the visiting began to ramp the pressure up. Danny Rose with a golden chance again as he saw his close range shot charged down by the Boro defenders.
At the third time of trying though, Rose made it count. Boro failing on a number of occasions to clear their lines after a Stags corner and Rose fired into the roof of the net to give the visitors a 1-0 half-time lead.
Having taken the lead on the stroke of half-time, Mansfield invited Boro to come at them to try break down their compact, tall and well organised defence.
With that also came the threat of the visitors on the counter attack as Stevenage pushed for an equaliser.
Whiteman came close for Mansfield seven minutes into the half, his shot taking a deflection and wrong footing Jones but thankfully falling wide of the post.
Much to the Lamex’s approval, Ben Kennedy came on early in the second half to try and get things going. The attacker making his first appearance since the start of the month having now recovered from injury. Mark McKee made way and can be pleased with how he contributed on his full debut.
Just short of the hour mark, Mansfield could have made it two when MacDonald burst through on goal. The Stags man took the ball the length of the field but couldn't quite execute his chip when confronted by Jones.
Stevenage had countless set-pieces to attack the Stags defence throughout the second half but couldn’t make any of them count. Luke Wilkinson’s looping header which was collected by Kean the closest to finding the net during a frustrating afternoon.
There was another first and landmark moment for the academy on 65 minutes as Jamie Gray made his debut for the club, coming on for Kaylen Hinds.
Gray was faced with the daunting task of leading the line against an experienced Mansfield side but the youngster showed terrific energy and endeavour whilst out on the pitch.
Ben Kennedy had arguably Boro’s best chance of a goal in the second half, showing quick feet and awareness to try and chip the keeper from 18 yards out but his effort just landing on the roof of the net.
In the end, there was little in terms of clear chance creation. Boro enjoyed plenty of the ball but struggled to find a way past a resolute Stags defensive unit. Mansfield held on for the win which means they are now just a point and a place behind us.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry (Tonge 77'), King, Wilkinson, Ogilvie, McAnuff, Gorman, Lee, Pett, Hinds (Gray 66'), McKee (Kennedy 55')
Unused subs: Day, Franks, Wells, Ntlhe
Mansfield: Kean, Bennett, Pearce, Taft (Collins 74'), White, Byrom, Whiteman, MacDonald (McGuire 88'), Benning, Coulthirst, Rose (Green 70')
Unused subs: Jensen, Potter, Hoban, Arquin
Referee: Graham Salisbury