Stevenage fell to defeat at home to Mansfield in the final game before Christmas as the title-contending Stags extended their unbeaten run to 14 games....
After grabbing the lead just before half-time through Danny Newton, it was Mansfield who scored the all-important goals in a competitive second half that could have gone either way.
Dino Maamria named three changes to the side that picked up a point at Northampton seven days earlier. Newton, Ball and Academy graduate Arthur Iontton in for Revell, Timlin and Guthrie.
It was the Stags that got off to the stronger of starts and they should have been ahead after just a few minutes. Former Boro loanee Tyler Walker forcing a goal-line clearance from Scott Cuthbert as Stevenage took a little time to get acclimatised to the pace of the contest.
Before long the game began to settle down though and Stevenage were able to make some inroads themselves. Newton came inches away from stabbing the ball goal-wards from just a few yards out after dynamic play from Hunt, racing onto a through ball down the left-hand side before cutting in and curling goalwards.
As the Mansfield ball swung into the Stevenage box on 25 minutes, a miss-kick from Walker almost gifted a gilt-edged opportunity for Bishop at the back-post, but the central midfielder couldn’t sort his feel out in-time and the chance went begging.
The Stags were building up the pressure and starting his second game in a row, Farman was at his best to prevent Walker from finding the opener on 35 minutes. After racing onto a poor pass-back, Walker rode the challenge of Henry but Farman was out quick to spread himself, denying the striker any space to shoot past.
There was no question who the Mansfield danger-man was throughout the first half and right before the whistle, a quick turn and shot inside the box – which was heading for the net - from Walker deflected off Seddon and out for a corner.
Walker and the Stags were to rue those missed chances as Newton struck right on the stroke of half-time, latching onto a cross inside the box to make it 1-0 to Stevenage.
Coming out from the break, Mansfield were clearly eager to get back onto level terms and that is exactly what they did within 10 minutes of the restart. Sweeney, quickest to react to a loose ball following an in-swinging corner, smashing the ball home from just a few yards out.
Revell, who came on at half-time for Ball, could have immediately restored Stevenage’s lead but his connection with a left-footed shot following a clever pull-back from Hunt was lacking.
Rather than hide, Stevenage would up the ante for the remainder of the half, pushing the Stags back and looking to attack. Newton crashed an effort off the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining, fooling the Mansfield defence with a clever run off a corner but the strike was just a few inches too high.
Having threatened to do so all game, Walker finally found the net just a couple of minutes later though, lashing the ball home from 6 yards out as Stevenage failed to clear their lines. It was a cruel time to concede for Maamria’s men as they were enjoying their best spell of the match.
It was soon game over as Walker grabbed his second, another simple finish after Farman parried his initial effort back into the strikers path.
A second straight home defeat for Stevenage against title-chasing opposition, once again Boro just falling the wrong side of fine margins.