A Shaq Coulthirst penalty got Mansfield Town back to winning ways with a 2-1 home win over 10-men bottom club Newport County at a wind-swept One Call Stadium this afternoon.
But it was a very hard-earned victory as Stags had to come from behind and cope with the first half loss of keeper Jake Kean to injury.
After one point from their previous two games, the Stags knew they would have their work cut out against a gutsy Graham Westley team who had only lost one of their previous eight games.
So the worst thing they could do was fall behind after only five minutes to Ryan Bird’s strike.
But Krystian Pearce levelled the game after 17 minutes and, despite some dodgy moments at the back in the strong wind, the home side dominated and had their chances.
A poor second half then exploded when Jaanai Gordon was dismissed for two yellow cards in as many minutes on 67 minutes.
Mansfield then made the man advantage count when Coulthirst tucked away a spot kick winner on 75 minutes after his shot had been handled.
It was a third penalty success for the Peterborough loanee and made it six games unbeaten at home for Mansfield to stay in the chase for the play-off places.
But they did survive a last gasp chip from Ryan Bird that ended on the top of the net.
Coulthirst had his best game so far in a Mansfield shirt with winger CJ Hamilton also a constant livewire.
The Mansfield side showed four changes. In came striker Pat Hoban, and midfielders Joel Byrom, Hamilton and Jamie McGuire.
They replaced Matt Green, Alfie Potter, Alex MacDonald and the suspended Hayden White.
Lee Collins dropped back to cover the vacant right back spot.
Danny Rose was forced to drop out the 18 with a slight knock sustained in training.
Newport were able to include former Stag Mitch Rose, who will face an FA charge next week after knocking a red card from a referee’s hand last weekend, which was eventually rescinded.
Assistant boss Paul Raynor watched the game from the directors’ box after accepting an FA charge after being sent to the stand during the Accrington draw. Evans was sent to the stand last weekend but was on the bench today and answering his FA charge this coming week.
The strength of the wind was evident in the opening seconds as Bennett miscued a clearance that hung up.
But Stags won a corner in the opening minute, which was cleared at the second time of asking, and were also involved in a real scramble that the visitors survived.
However, the first time Newport got into the home box on five minutes.
A low left wing cross from Butler came into the centre of the six yard box and Kean was down to block Gordon’s close range finish but unable to stop Bird tucking away the loose ball from almost on the goal line.
Rose was yellow-carded after only nine minutes for his challenge on Byrom.
A Stags raid ended with Bennett flicking a tame header to keeper Day.
Stags were then lucky when a quick Byrom free kick to no one allowed Newport to break, ending with a low Bird shot deflecting wide for a corner on 15 minutes.
Butler was lucky not to see a card for an elbow across the throat of Coulthirst wide on the right.
But justice was done as Stags levelled from the 17th minute free kick.
Byrom sent it into the box and it fell nicely for Pearce to prod home under Day’s dive.
McGuire brought cheers from the home fans with a 35-yard blast at goal which Day plucked out of the air.
Mansfield were so close to going ahead on 22 minutes as Coulthirst put Hoban in on goal, the keeper smothering his finish. Hoban reacted quickly to send the ball at goal again where this time Demetriou cleared off the line.
On 27 minutes Flynn stayed down for treatment and was eventually replaced by Bignot.
A minute later a half-cleared home corner reached Whiteman 25 yards out, but for once his sights were out as he blazed over.
Kean needed treatment next on 32 minutes after two home defenders hesitated as the ball spun towards Kean and the keeper was hurt as he went down in a tangle with Rose and Bennett.
On 35 minutes Benning was quick to steal the ball on the left and float in for Bennett, whose goalbound header forced Day down to his left to save.
Kean tried to continue but was hobbling and on 39 minutes was replaced by Shearer.
Newport gave another scare on 44 minutes as a left wing cross was caught on the wind, fooling the defenders, as it fell to Bird, who sliced wide of the right post.
On 48 minutes Whiteman curled in a tempting cross to the back stick, but Hamilton could only manage to head it into the ground and watch it bounce wide of the far post.
Then Hamilton skipped away down the left and pulled back a low cross that Whiteman got on target without any real power and easy for Day to gather.
Bennett’s challenge on McGuire brought a pushing contest which ended with bookings for Gordon and Pearce on 66 minutes.
A minute later Gordon clattered into Byrom for an aerial challenge and this time out came a second yellow card and the red.
Ironically the Welsh club had been about to substitute Gordon before his first yellow.
Stags had more defending to do as two shots were blocked before Bennett finally drilled wide.
MacDonald replaced McGuire on 73 minutes.
But the home side were finally in front on 75 minutes from the spot.
Coulthirst has a rasping shot blocked by the hand of Reid.
The referee hesitated and then pointed to the post.
We had a delay as Coulthirst tried to keep the ball still on the spot as the wind kept blowing it away.
But when he finally got to take it, his rising kick was too powerful for Day, who got a hand to it but was unable to keep it out.
Bird’s argument with a linesman over a foul against him saw him booked on 79 minutes.
Arquin replaced Hoban on 88 minutes and was booked in added time for shooting after the whistle.
In a fifth added minute home hearts were in their mouths as Bird stole through and lobbed Shearer, but the ball finished on the roof of the net and Stags were home and dry.
STAGS: Kean (Shearer 39); Collins, Pearce, Bennett, Benning; Whiteman, Byrom, McGuire (MacDonald 73), Hamilton; Hoban (Arquin 88), Coulthirst. Subs: Potter, Green, Baxendale, Hemmings.
NEWPORT: Day, Butler, Jones, Reid (Jackson 85), Samuel, Flynn (Bignot 27, Sheehan 79), Bennett, Demetriou, Rose, Bird, Gordon. Subs: Bittner, Owen-Evans, Williams.
REFEREE: Ross Joyce of Cleveland.
ATTENDANCE: 3,824 (158 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Shaq Coulthirst.