MATCH REPORT: Mansfield Town 4-0 Hartlepool United

Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United.
Ben Whiteman runs to the Ian Greaves Stand to celebrate the first Stags goal. Photo by Anne Shelley.
Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United. Ben Whiteman runs to the Ian Greaves Stand to celebrate the first Stags goal. Photo by Anne Shelley.
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Magnificent Mansfield Town stormed into the play-off places with a 4-0 hammering of struggling Hartlepool United at a freezing One Call Stadium this afternoon.

It was a fourth League win a row for Steve Evans’ side and it is now 352 minutes of League football since they conceded.

Mansfield survived an early scare when Padraig Amond lobbed over a gaping net on 14 minutes.

But Stags then upped the gears to cruise to their biggest win of the season.

Two goals in nine minutes set the ground alight as man of the match Ben Whiteman netted his third goal on as many games on 19 minutes before Danny Rose doubled it on 26 minutes after some shocking defending.

Mansfield’s noisy fans in a bumper home crowd, swelled by the two for one ticket deal, were in full voice as the home side dominated and came so close to more goals.

In the end they went in 2-0 up and struggled to get back into their stride in a dull second half until substitutions pepped things up again.

Alex MacDonald netted one his full debut within six minutes of coming on with a low finish on 71 minutes before Whiteman’s second of the game gift-wrapped the points on 76 minutes.

Alfie Potter made his full debut, his inclusion in the midfield in place of CJ Hamilton was the only change to a side that had been unchanged for three games and won all three of them in the current run of seven League games unbeaten.

Hamilton was rested to the bench after a run of games under boss Steve Evans.

Visitors Hartlepool included former Stags winger Nathan Thomas, back after injury.

They also included ex-Stags loanee defender Kavanagh.

There was a minute’s applause on 16 minutes in honour of 16-year-old Lewis Crouch who had died in a scooter crash on Friday, February 3, on Peafield Lane.

Stags began brightly and had the first goal attempt on eight minutes as Coulthirst ran forward purposefully and sent a low shot skidding wide from 20 yards.

But the visitors almost went ahead on 14 minutes when Bennett fluffed a clearance in the box and, with Kean off his line, Amond had a chance to lob into an empty net but lifted the ball over.

Instead it was Mansfield who drew first blood on 19 minutes.

Coulthirst and White exchanged several passes on the right of the box before Coulthirst turned and raced to the right by-line and pulled back a low cross, which was half-cleared and rolled invitingly for Whiteman to lash home from 12 yards.

Seven minutes later it was 2-0. Bates allowed Rose to run him just outside the box to run clear, round keeper Bartlett and slot into the empty net.

Soon after Coulthirst was wide with a shot on the turn from 20 yards as the home crowd began to turn up the volume.

On 34 minutes Bartlett had to turn away a goalbound header from Bennett from a Byrom free kick to give the home side their first corner of the game.

Whiteman then forced Bartlett to clutch a bouncing shot from 25 yards with six minutes to go to the break.

On 41 minutes Byrom put over a corner from the right and Bennett sent a free header wide from eight yards.

Rose saw the game’s first yellow card on 43 minutes for a clattering challenge on Donnelly, indeed Donnelly did not come out for the second half, replaced by Richardson.

A quiet start to the second half saw Rose sidefoot Stags’ first effort over the near angle on 55 minutes.

The game had gone very flat and in need of a spark, so MacDonald was thrown in for his full debut in place of Potter on 65 minutes with Green then taking over from Rose four minutes later.

MacDonald made an immediate impact with the crucial third goal on 71 minutes.

Allowed to run with the ball down the centre, he looked up and rifled a low shot from 22 yards that beat the dive of Bartlett and found the net inside the left post.

It was 4-0 on 76 minutes as MacDonald crossed from the left and Whiteman sent a downwards header past Bartlett.

Arquin took over from Coulthirst up front on 78 minutes.

Whiteman almost completed a hat-trick with a vicious shot from 20 yards on 81 minutes, but this time Bartlett was able to parry.

STAGS: Kean, White, Bennett, Pearce, Benning, Collins, Whiteman, Byrom, Potter (MacDonald 65), Coulthirst (Arquin 78), Rose (Green 69). Subs not used: Shearer, Baxendale, Hamilton, McGuire.

HARTLEPOOL: Bartlett, Featherstone, Bates, Thomas (Oates 75), Walker, Amond (Alessandra 58), Nelson, Harrison, Rooney, Donnelly (Richardson HT), Kavanagh. Subs not used: Fryer, Woods, Hawkins, Smith.

REFEREE: Andrew Madley of West Yorkshire.

ATTENDANCE: 4,309 (331 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ben Whiteman.