MATCH ANALYSIS: What does Yeovil Town defeat mean for Mansfield Town play-off hopes?

James Baxendale attacks Ben Tozer

Mansfield Town v Yeovil Town - Skybet League Two - One Call Stadium - Saturday 20 Feb 2016 - Photographer Steve Uttley
James Baxendale attacks Ben Tozer Mansfield Town v Yeovil Town - Skybet League Two - One Call Stadium - Saturday 20 Feb 2016 - Photographer Steve Uttley

Unless Mansfield Town can again defy their critics and find an extra gear with 11 games to go, Ryan Dickson’s late winner for Yeovil Town on Saturday may well have ended the Stags’ play-offs dream.

But isn’t this what Mansfield supporters have become used to? Their team doing things the hard way?

It is certainly far from over as the facts state that the Stags are still only two points off those play-off places.

But take a glimpse at their forthcoming fixtures and you can see just how hard it is going to be with that annoying statistic of Stags still not having beaten a side in the top half of the table all season weighing heavier and heavier around their necks.

Click HERE to see video highlights of the Yeovil game

Click HERE to read the match report

Click HERE to read boss Adam Murray’s thoughts

The other four games this month are all against sides above them in the top nine. Only four of the remaining 11 games are against teams in the lower half of the division, one of those being the small matter of a local derby.

A casual glance at the table suggested relegation-haunted Yeovil Town should have been dispatched.

But a better indicator would have been a glance at the form table which shows them bang in form at the other end, only losing once in nine League games.

A quality club, plying their trade in the Championship two years ago, their fall from grace has finally bottomed out and new boss Darren Way is finally showing them the way to safety, three 1-0 wins in eight days easing their position no end.

Even so, the Glovers didn’t really deserve all three points in a poor game on Saturday.

Once again awful weather conditions limited the football that could be played as we suffered Crowded House’s ‘Four Seasons in one Day’ and, with few real chances, the game had 0-0 stamped all over it.

But in the first added minute at the end Brandon Goodship hit the left by-line and pulled back a low ball for defender Dickson to turn home his second goal of the week - and the season.

Up to then Stags had defended very well, with Dan Alfei once again shining at right back, while Reggie Lambe and James Baxendale had run Yeovil ragged for the first hour before they started to run out of steam on the cloying pitch.

Lambe had twice come close, once forcing keeper Artur Krysiak to parry and seeing another shot come back off the bar from which Baxendale’s follow-up header was poor and over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Matt Green also looked set to race clear at one stage but was robbed by a superb Connor Roberts tackle before he could get a shot away.

But Mansfield’s defining moment was on 53 minutes when Lee Collins had a free header from an Adam Chapman corner but could only send the ball straight at Krysiak from six yards.

Over the 90 minutes the Stags actually produced some decent football in the conditions. But too often Green was isolated and the end product was always a disappointment.

Home keeper Scott Shearer was made to work twice to save from Nathan Smith and Ryan Bird, but they were stops you’d expect him to make, and he could do little about the cruel winner.

With other results going Mansfield’s way, it was even more agonising to think that a win would have seen them back in the top seven.

So that is three points from three games in a row against relegation-battling clubs, only one win in the last five, which means the incline on their season’s treadmill has gone onto a much steeper setting.

At least now the expectation of some of their fans that their side ‘should’ win the game will disappear as they now have to pit themselves against the very best of League Two with anything gained a bonus.

Inevitably, fans websites have been a mix of praise and vitriol, but most fans would have happily taken this scenario – two points off the play-offs with 11 games to go – when the club was staying in the League by the skin of its teeth last season.

But, as Adam Murray himself has said, it would be a massive disappointment to see the season end with a whimper rather than a bang.

Perhaps the highlight of Saturday for those in the Ian Greaves Stand was the glorious sight of a double rainbow against the black sleet-filled clouds during the game. Who knows what lies at the end of those rainbows for the Stags now?

Do you think Stags have blown it or will they come good in the end? Let us know on here and via sport@chad.co.uk.