Stags 'emotionally shattered' heading into promotion decider
The Mansfield Town players were left floored by Stevenage's late winner - another frustration in a string of many as they squandered another chance to secure automatic promotion.
Mansfield Chad sports editor John Lomas said the Stags were growing ever-more frustrated after another chance went awry on Saturday - especially when afforded another chance to secure a top three spot as Dons slipped up against Colchester.
"Everyone is frustrated that the players have let big chances go by to wrap it up," said John. "This fixture has seemed to be their destiny for some time and it's been almost as if they have been fulfilling a prophecy!
"Stags should have been home and dry by now but for some recent wobbles, losing home games to Crewe and Stevenage and a 3-2 thriller at Oldham where they were denied a last gasp point by a wrongly-given offside decision.
"They looked mentally and emotionally shattered at the end of Saturday's loss to Stevenage but will be picked up this week and got ready for what has become a cup final."
Stags boss David Flitcroft saw his side slip out of the play-off spots late last season, much to the irk of the Mansfield supporters, who were left two points outside the automatic promotion spots when Steve Evans left the club with 12 game to go.
But given the money to secure a top three spot, Lomas says Flitcroft has done a strong job.
He said: "Flitcroft was given a top three budget so, third with one game to go, he is firmly on course.
"Fans were unhappy when he failed to steer them over the play-offs line last season after taking over when well poised to make them when Steve Evans quit with 12 games to go and the club in fifth – two points from automatic promotion.
"But he made quality additions in the summer, tweaked them into an attractive 3-5-2 formation that tried to play football the right way, got them much fitter than he found them, and managed to bring on players like Christopher Hamilton and Jacob Mellis that were floundering a little under the previous regime."