Football: Liverpool-inspired Mansfield win Conference

Mansfield Town were celebrating promotion back to the Football League after a narrow FA Cup defeat to Liverpool inspired a dramatic surge to the Conference National title.

Relegated from fourth-tier League Two five seasons ago, the Stags were struggling at ninth in the table when the Reds paid a visit in January.

The English Premier League giants escaped from Field Mill with a 2-1 win thanks only to a controversial hand-balled Luis Suarez winner.

But for Mansfield, knowing they had given Liverpool a run for their money proved the inspiration for them to win 20 of their last 23 games and pip Kidderminster to the title by two points on the last day of the season.

"It's not really sunk in yet. It's just an amazing feeling," Mansfield manager Paul Cox told BBC radio.

The Stags secured the title -- and the only automatic promotion spot -- with a 1-0 win over Wrexham in front of 6,394 fans at Field Mill.

Top scorer Matt Green hit his 27th goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 40th minute.

Mansfield, nicknamed The Stags, lost their 77-year league status in 2008, relegated to the fifth tier amid a bitter, long-running spat between fans and the then-chairman Keith Haslam.

However, the club -- and the ground -- is now in the more stable hands of insurance firm owner John Radford.

He made headlines in 2011 by appointing fashion businesswoman Carolyn Still as England's youngest football club chief executive. They announced their engagement two weeks later.