Despite a first goal for the club by loanee Mani Dieseruvwe, Mansfield Town’s faint play-off hopes were finally ended in a 1-1 home draw with visiting Barnet this afternoon.
Stags made a decent start but were rocked when big John Akinde took advantage of hesitation by Scott Shearer to head Barnet into a sixth minute lead.
However, Stags finally levelled after half-an-hour through Mani Dieseruvwe and should have gone into half-time ahead after Matt Green and Adam Chapman headed great chances wide.
Mansfield came close to a winner after the break with keeper Jamie Stephens turning Mal Bennning and Adam Chapman free kicks and Matt Green twice close.
At the other end Shearer had to use his legs to deny sub Luke Gambin while Bondz N’gala somehow headed a corner wide from five yards.
But, with AFC Wimbledon winning and stretching their lead over Stags to eight points, the play-off bid was over with Stags having just two matches to go.
Dieseruvwe returned to partner Matt Green up front while James Baxendale came into the midfield.
Out from the side went Reggie Lambe and Mitch Rose, who were both on the bench.
Also on the bench was Krystian Pearce, back from a three game ban but made to wait for a return.
After playing a more experimental side against Notts County in midweek Martin Allen restored his side back to its usual full strength.
Stags began the game brightly enough winning two corners in the first two minutes.
However, the visitors pounced on poor defending to grab a sixth minute lead.
Gash put the ball over the top for Akinde to chase into the box with Tafazolli trying to stay with him. Shearer hesitated before leaving his line and Akinde was able to nod the ball over him into the empty net.
Within a minute they almost grabbed another as Muggleton got free into the box on the left and saw Benning come across to make a vital block for a corner before he could shoot.
Stags responded with a corner which, when cleared to Thomas, saw him curl a hopeful effort over the far angle from the left.
When Stags failed to dispossess Akinde 20 yards out he swung a lazy-looking boot at the ball and saw a low shot pass just wide of the target.
Stags began to build again and Barnet were lucky when Baxendale was unable to get a shot away at the empty net from 40 yards after a poor kick out by keeper Stephens.
But the home side were level on 30 minutes. Stags attacked the Barnet box on the left and Blair pulled a low ball back from the by-line where Dieseruvwe kept his calm to bury a superb finish high into the right of the goal from 12 yards.
With the home crowd now behind them, two minutes later Stags should have been in front.
Blair crossed from the right, Thomas headed it back into the centre from the far post and Green was too high with his headed finish from four yards.
Yiadom was too high with a stabbed effort from 18 yards on 35 minutes.
For Stags Daniel cut inside onto his favoured left peg and lashed a low shot just wide.
Mansfield stoked up the pressure and on 40 minutes Collins dinked a lovely cross to the far post where Chapman sent a firm header across goal and inches wide with Stephens beaten.
But the sides went in all square at half-time.
Referee Andy Haines, who had looked unhappy with a slight injury in the first half, did not reappear, his senior assistant, Karl Evans, taking over.
Stags created the first danger as they won a corner wide on the right and Benning curled it powerfully at goal, Stephens forced to turn it away.
Mansfield sent on Pearce for Baxendale on 54 minutes with Barnet making a double change a minute later, Stags happy to see the back of long throw expert Muggleton as he and Randall were replaced by Gambin and Taylor.
On 62 minutes sub Gambin showed great trickery and pace to get down the centre and he was able to drill in a low shot that Shearer had to save with his legs.
Green might have done better on 65 minutes as he pulled away from his marker at the far post to meet Benning’s cross from the left only to nod a tame header well wide.
Soon after Green tried to lob Stephens from the left but found the sidenetting. But this was much better from Mansfield.
Lambe was sent on for Dieseruvwe on 69 minutes.
Barnet should have restored their lead on 74 minutes, but N’gala somehow headed powerfully wide from a left wing corner from just five yards.
Two minutes later Stags came close as Chapman’s powerful free kick from a central position just outside the box was tipped over by Stephens.
Then Daniel was too far over from Lambe’s pass at the end of a neat Stags move.
Yussuf was sent on for one last push with six minutes left, replacing Daniel.
With two minutes to go Lambe saw a shot take a deflection and Stephens had to scramble across goal to turn it wide.
Yiadom wasn’t too far away with an attempt to chip Shearer into the far corner soon after as both sides went for victory.
In the four added minutes Shearer had to tip away a vicious Gambin shot at his near post as the whistle finally ended Stags’ play-off dream.
STAGS: Shearer, Daniel (Yussuf 84), Collins, Tafazolli, Benning, Chapman, Blair, Thomas, Baxendale (Pearce 54), Green, Dieseruvwe (Lambe 69). Subs not used: Jensen, Rose, Beardsley, McGuire.
BARNET: Stephens, Pearson, N’Gala, Dembele, Johnson, Yiadom, Togwell, Randall (Taylor 55), Muggleton (Gambin 55), Gash, Akinde. Subs not used: Nelson, Batt, Alie, Fonguck, Kyei. REFEREE: Andy Haines of Tyne & Wear.
ATTENDANCE: 2,573 (139 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Chapman.