ON THIS DAY: Phil Stant fires Mansfield Town to promotion


Striker Phil Stant would make many fans’ lists of their favourite Mansfield Town players, so today is an ideal time to look back at his most fondly remembered season.

Falklands War veteran and SAS warrior Stant arrived at Field Mill in 1991 -- and promptly plundered 26 goals as Stags raced to promotion from the old Fourth Division under George Foster.

Two of those goals were scored on this day exactly 24 years ago, February 29, 1992, as Mansfield routed struggling York City 5-2 for their biggest win of the campaign.

Returning from a two-match suspension, Stant renewed his partnership up front with Paul McLoughlin, at the expense of Ian Stringfellow, who was dropped to the substitutes’ bench. And he helped Foster’s team to their third successive victory since getting back from a five-day mid-season break in Spain.

They were ahead in the second minute, courtesy of an own goal, and although Jon McCarthy, later to play for Hucknall Town, levelled for York after a collision between centre-back Greg Fee and goalkeeper Jason Pearcey, Mansfield were soon in control again.

Fee redeemed himself, heading home to make it 2-1, and Wayne Fairclough scored the goal of the game to effectively kill York off as early as the 25th minute, rifling the ball into the roof of the net after sprinting 60 yards to meet a cross by Gary Ford.

With Steve Spooner marshalling midfield, Stags continued to call the tune, and Stant added his brace in the second half. First, he slid in at the far post to convert a shot-cum-cross by Stringfellow, and then he drove through a ruck of players to cash in on more good work by Ford before York bagged a late consolation.

Stant went on to score nine more goals on the cliffhanging road to promotion, including one in the vital 2-1 win at home to Rochdale on a nervewracking last day of the season that clinched third place, one point in front of Blackpool and six behind champions Burnley.

His final tally of 26 was the highest by an individual player for the club since Ray Clarke in 1974/75, and it actually helped Stags jump two divisions into the Second Division after the restructure caused by the creation of the Premier League.

Sadly, the celebrations were not to last. Mansfield were relegated the following season, and the cash-strapped club were forced to sell Stant for £100,000 to Cardiff City when he indicated he would have loved to stay.

STAGS LINE-UP -- Pearcey/ Fleming, Fairclough, Spooner, Fee, Clarke (Gray 78), Ford, Holland, Stant, McLoughlin (Stringfellow 45), Charles.