AFC Mansfield secured promotion to the NCEL Premier Division with an 11 game unbeaten run to mirror the 11 game unbeaten run they had at the start of the season. The Bulls had an exhausting run of 3 games in 5 days in the final week with the outcome in doubt right up until the final game.
The Bulls began the week with a 3-0 win away to basement club Worsbrough Bridge on Tuesday night. Phil Buxton settled the nerves with a neat turn and finish from 12 yards around the half hour mark. He then doubled his tally on 39 minutes . Top goal scorer Dean Rick completed the scoring with 10 minutes to go with a first time strike from a neat through ball by Ryan Williams.
The Bulls then moved on to Thursday and a journey to Hull knowing that a win would secure them promotion. Despite rattling the crossbar 3 times a solitary header from Grant Allott in the 2nd half was all they had to show for their efforts. Worse was to follow, with just 2 minutes left a conceded free kick was delivered from the left flank to the far post and substitute Paul Wilson bundled the ball home to give opponents Hall Road Rangers a share of the points.
AFC Mansfield still needed a point to be completely sure of promotion although the superior +13 goal difference would have most likely got them over the line.
Their opponents Hallam FC had secured a play-off place in midweek and many were predicting a draw would suit both teams.
The visitors started the brighter and had Jason White saving with his legs from Jacob Mason after just 3 minutes. A Micah Bishop low drive from the edge of the box was easily held by White as Hallam continued to press.
The Bulls finally got into the game on 16 minutes when a great run and shot from Jimmy Ghaichem was blocked with Craig Mitchell collecting the loose ball and fire over the bar.
White again came to the rescue after 20 minutes with another save with his legs, this time it was Bishop who only had the keeper to beat from 15 yards.
Hallam withdrew striker Michael Blythen on 25 minutes and while The Bulls began to knock on the door no breakthrough was forthcoming and the half ended goalless.
Jason White who picked up Players Player and Managers Player of the Season awards later in the night was forced into action at the start of the 2nd half. The keeper elected to push a bobbling effort around the post.
It is fair to say after this both sides had near misses but neither of the two teams looked likely to break the deadlock.
It is also not surprising that Jason White cleaned up with the awards having kept 16 clean sheets this season earning AFC Mansfield the best defensive record with an average of conceding just 1 goal per game in the 40 played.
Bigger challenges await The Bulls and a host of local derbies to look forward to next season.
AFC Mansfield: White, Paling, Williams D, Allott (C), Jeffs, Naylor, Williams R, Buxton (Sowter 75), Patterson, Mitchell, Ghaichem. Subs not used: O’Malley, Spencer, Annable, Saleh.
Hallam FC: Darwent, Nolan, Pembleton, Mirfin (C), Bamforth, Whitaker, Mason (Phillips 78), Chappell (Reed 78), Blythen (Brammer 25), Lipka, Bishop. Subs not used: Lowe & Simpson
Referee: Mr Ashley Royston (South Yorks.)
Assistants: Mr Paul Saunders (South Yorks.) & Mr Joe Brooksbank (South Yorks.)
Man of the Match: Danny Williams
Alternative view from The66POW