Mansfield Town’s League Two season ended in defeat this afternoon as Accrington Stanley came from behind with two second half goals to win 2-1.
On an unseasonally freezing cold, wet and windy afternoon, Jamie McGuire had given Mansfield a deserved interval lead with a superb 39 minutes - his first of the season.
But Seamus Conneely levelled the game on 47 minutes before Terry Gornell bagged a 71st minute winner, though Vadaine Oliver did have a last minute effort disallowed for offside.
It was an eighth defeat in the final nine games for Mansfield, though they had dominated the first half and looked in control at the break.
The game saw the Stags set a new all-time low number of goals scored in league games – 38, beating the previous low of 41.
It also saw Adam Murray’s men go through an entire season without being awarded a penalty – the last side to suffer that fate being opponents Accrington.
Now the hard work of rebuilding begins for the rookie boss with a very busy summer ahead.
Murray left out Matt Rhead, Rakish Bingham and youngster Joe Fitzpatrick while Ritchie Sutton served a one game suspension for his red card against Portsmouth last weekend.
Vadaine Oliver returned at centre forward, Martin Riley, despite not having fully recovered from his hamstring injury, was needed to come in at centre half, though failed to last the game, while Jamie McGuire came into the central midfield holding role and Reggie Lambe returned to the right wing.
Teenage centre half Corbin Shires, who hurt his knee in the reserves in midweek, was on the bench hoping and made his debut for the last 17 minutes.
A sliced clearance by home keeper Davies offered Stags a second minute throw from the left which Elder hurled long and, when it was cleared to the edge of the box, Thomas had a powerful low shot blocked.
On nine minutes Maguire spun well on the right to make space for a cross which Gornell met with his head but couldn’t keep the ball down.
But Mansfield should have been in front on 11 minutes. A long Pidgeley clearance was headed on by Lambe and, with Davies advancing, he lifted a lob onto the roof of the net.
Three minutes later Brown wasn’t far wide with a low 20 yard finish after the first corner of the game was cleared to him. Then Clements sent a tame low 35 yard shot straight through to the keeper.
On 18 minutes Mansfield won successive corners, the second of which was met by a low Tafazolli effort that sailed well wide.
A poor Clements free kick was cleared on 21 minutes, but the ball was picked up by Thomas who sent in a low on-target drive from a tight angle that Davies held at the second attempt.
Mansfield continued to press and, when a Brown cross was cleared, Clements bundled a finish well wide.
At this point of the afternoon scuffling was breaking out behind the goal between Stags fans and home stewards. Police reinforcements soon quelled what was fast becoming a nasty situation.
On the pitch, Stags had to defend a home free kick with 10 men after Tafazolli had gone off for treatment to a cut on his face. He eventually returned with the wound bandaged up.
Riley was inches away from getting a decisive head onto a long Elder free kick that sped straight into the arms of Davies on 34 minutes.
But Mansfield were finally deservedly ahead on 39 minutes with a little luck and a superb finish.
The ball had initially ricocheted into the path of McGuire 20 yards out, but he let fly with an unstoppable dipping volley that gave Davies no chance.
Tafazolli then had to go off for more treatment to his head, but again he was able to continue.
Stanley had rarely threatened but almost levelled in the one minute of added time. A header by Jones from a corner took a deflection and Thomas had to hack clear from in front of the goal line.
However, Stanley were level two minutes into the second half.
As the ball was pumped into the Mansfield box, Conneely went down screaming for a penalty. Play continued and Windass lashed a powerful finish that Pidgeley did well to block, but by now Conneely was back on his feet to sweep home the follow-up from close range.
Soon after Gornell was too high with a dipping 20-yarder after being given plenty of time and space to line it up.
At this point Murray moved things around with Rhead coming in for Brown to go 4-4-2, Thomas moving wide right and Lambe switching to the left.
McGuire caused problems as he was caught in possession in the centre circle and Accrington broke well. Tafazolli eventually had to kick clear from near the goal line and then make a great sliding block on Mingoia.
Stanley were now enjoying their best spell and Gornell blazed over from 20 yards, while Maguire nodded tamely at Pidgeley.
Windass was inches over with a 20 yard free kick given away by McGuire in a central position, but there were unsuccessful calls for a penalty from Stanley players claiming it was handled en route.
After being under the cosh for 20 minutes, Mansfield finally began to get over the halfway line and cause some problems of their own.
But they were caught out by a counter-attack on 71 minutes as Gornell raced down the left and went past the challenge of Riley, whose problem hamstring seemed to go on him.
As Riley lay on the turf, Gornell cut into the box and placed a low finish beyond Pidgeley and inside the far post.
Riley was unable to continue and on 73 minutes on came towering teenager Shires for his debut.
A minute later Marsden was booked for bringing down Windass, who then blazed the free kick over.
Mingoia dragged a low finish wide from distance as Accrington continued to look for a killer third.
Atkinson had to pull Oliver and Davies apart after the keeper took exception to Oliver’s late lunge at him, Oliver eventually booked.
Joyce was booked on 84 minutes for tripping Lambe.
A minute from time Davies threw out a hand to block a low goalbound Clements drive as Stags looked for a late leveller.
In the 90th minute Oliver thought he had snatched a draw as he beat Davies to the ball in the box and rolled it into the net only to be denied by an offside flag.
Three minutes were added with Joyce heading over for Accrington in the first of them.
A minute later Lambe was booked for bringing down Joyce.
With the added time up, Stags won a free kick in the middle of the field. Everyone was pushed up and Pidgeley’s kick found Oliver who managed the flick-on. But Beevers then handled and the chance was gone as the referee blew the final whistle on a forgettable season.
ACCRINGTON: Davies, Joyce, Jones, Winnard, Windass, Gornell, Mingoia, Hunt, Maguire, Atkinson, Conneely. Subs not used: Warner, Buxton, McCartan, Naismith, Goulding, Barry, Crooks. STAGS: Pidgley; Marsden, Riley (Shires 73), Tafazolli (Beevers 62), Elder; McGuire, Clements, Thomas; Lambe, Oliver, Brown (Rhead 52). Subs not used: Studer, Hearn, Bingham, Fitzpatrick. REFEREE: Chris Foy of Merseyside.
ATTENDANCE: 1,921 (537 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamie McGuire.