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Malbon injury worry as Mansfield end Harriers play-off hopes
3:02pm Saturday 28th April 2012 in Harriers
TEN man Harriers' play-off dream was ended by in-form Mansfield on a day of disappointment at Aggborough.
Defeat, and Luton's 2-0 win at leaders Fleetwood, ensured Steve Burr's efforts to book a top five spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier finally came to an end on the last match of the season.
The game had been evenly-balanced before the sending off of Lee Vaughan for a foul on striker Matt Rhead.
With the home side playing catch-up, goals for Lee Stevenson, Louis Briscoe and Matt Green ended what had been a thrilling campaign with defeat.
To make matters worse, Anthony Malbon was stretchered off after a serious injury to striker Anthony Malbon.
Both sides came out of the blocks intent on scoring goals.
Luke Jones came close with a diving far post header inside two minutes.
Moments later, Mansfield's giganctic strike Rhead tested keeper Tony Breeden with a delicate chip from inside the area but Harriers' shot-stopper clawed it away.
Rhead then saw a low 20-yard fly wide, while Stevenson cut in from the right but James Vincent made a timely interception on the edge of the box.
With a win absolutely vital, Harriers were also creating chances. Ryan Rowe played in Lee Vaughan, who whipped in a cross which Malbon hooked goalwards but keeper Shane Redmond was equal to it.
Malbon then flashed a shot wide after being set-up smartly by the alert Rowe.
At the other end, Breeden was called into action, showing razorsharp reactions to deny the lively Stevenson from close range.
But the most controversial moment of the first half came in the 40th minute.
Redmond was put in trouble by a poor back pass and under pressure from Rowe and dropped to all fours to shield the ball. Despite appearing to handle it, the referee was blew for a corner instead of a penalty or an indirect free-kick, much to the frustration of Kyle Storer who was booked for remonstrating with the match official.
Harriers' were reduced to 10 men two minutes into the second half when Vaughan was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Rhead.
The home team then found themselves trailing in the 56th minute. Stevenson stole down the left onto Rhead's pass and slipped a shot into bottom far post.
Marvin Johnson then drove into the box with pace and fired in a shot which Redmond saved at his far post.
Substitute Jack Byrne also fizzed a low 20-yard just wide.
Malbon needed treatment after an over the top shoulder barge by Briscoe, before eventually being stretchered off and replaced by Nick Wright. The Mansfield winger escaped with just a yellow card.
With Harriers fans feeling aggreived Briscoe was still on the pitch, the wideman rubbed salt in the wounds in the 77th minute when met a Stevenson cross to head in Mansfield's second goal.
Harriers came close to pulling one back. Nick Wright delivered a low ball and after Ryan Rowe's first shot was parried by Redmond, the striker's follow-up hit the bar.
The home side plugged away and after a typically pacey run, Johnson saw a low effort saved by the keeper.
Rowe then saw another effort saved by the keeper but Mansfield put the game out of sight in the 87th minute, when Matt Green's shot was adjudged to have crossed the line despite the efforts of Luke Jones to clear.
Injury-time was then cut short when as an air ambulance picked up the injured Malbon as Harriers' fine season ended on a worrying note.
Harriers: Breeden; Williams; Jones; Marshall; Hankin (Byrne, 51); Vincent; Rowe; Storer (Bradley, 62); Malbon (Wright, 69); Johnson.
Unused substitutes: Guinan; Lyness; Bradley.
Mansfield: Redmond; O'Neill (Sutton, 73); Riley; Worthington; Roberts; Briscoe (Hutchinson, 78); Todd; Stevenson; Thompson; Andrew (Green, 82).
Unused substitutes: Marriott; Miekle.
Referee: Jez Simpson (Lancaster). Attendance: 3,565 (674)