OPINION: Stags impress on away days

Mansfield Town's Chris Clements - Pic by Chris Holloway

Mansfield Town's Chris Clements - Pic by Chris Holloway

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Mansfield Town produced two good away performances in four days, with 1-1 draws at Accrington and Crewe.

The Stags led in both games and could have won both games.

At Accrington last Tuesday, Mansfield broke their goal drought following 4 league games plus an EFL Trophy game without a goal.

Chris Clements, on his first start back after injury, blasted in a superb free-kick off the underside of the bar, after his own great slide-rule pass forward had found Mitch Rose who turned well and was brought down just outside the area.

Both the winning of the free kick and the delivery of the free kick were that extra bit of quality the Stags had been missing throughout the goal drought.

The Stags were the better side in the first half, but Accrington levelled in the second half with some rare poor defending from Mansfield.

As a long free kick from the halfway line was punted into the Stags box, Krystian Pearce and Sean McConville went down in the heap on the edge of the box, allowing Beckles to find himself in space to lay the ball off to Terry Gornell to sweep the ball into the net past Scott Shearer.

Neither side could force a winner after that, but the Stags players were applauded off by the visiting supporters at the end for a good performance.

Then at Crewe on Saturday, there was another good performance from Mansfield, who certainly deserved at least a point.Mansfield had a lot of the ball in the first half and twice were within a whisker of taking the lead. A Mal Benning free kick was headed on by Pat Hoban and Danny Rose sent a diving header inches wide of the right post with the keeper beaten. Then just before the break, the Stags went close again as Kevan Hurst’s free kick from the left was just wide of the right post as Pearce just missed getting a vital flick to turn it in, with the keeper in no-man’s land again.

At the other end, Scott Shearer did well to turn away a Ryan Lowe shot from 20 yards.

The Stags were in front after the break. A corner was taken short on the left, and Hurst delivered a superb cross to the far post where Hoban leapt above his marker to head down into the corner of the net from four yards. It was a great moment for Hoban with his first Stags goal and he celebrated by sliding on the wet surface towards the Stags’ dugout.

Disappointingly Crewe were level within five minutes.

Out of the blue, Ryan Lowe’s touch on the left came off Rhys Bennett allowing Bakayogo to skip past Bennett and slide in a low cross which veteran Chris Dagnall prodded into the roof of the net from six yards, having got in front of Lee Collins.

It was a disappointing goal to concede. After that, either side could have won it.

Udoh went close when he got goalside of Pearce in the area, might have gone down when there was contact between the two players, but stayed on his feet and fired into the sidenetting – a bit of a break for Pearce.

Then on 90 minutes Mansfield had a claim for a penalty for handball. Benning lifted the ball just inside the Crewe box and Dagnell controlled it with a mixture of chest and left arm.

But the referee, just a few yards away, decided it was only off his chest and waved play on.

It would have been a soft penalty but some referees would have given it and the Stags fans were incensed that this referee didn’t.

There were some good performances with Pat Hoban, who dominated the defenders all afternoon, Kevan Hurst, who put in some fine crosses, Jamie McGuire, who was very good in front of the back four with some good challenges and clearances, and Chris Clements, who again impressed in the centre as he did at Accrington.

The defence was solid apart from the lapse for the goal and Udoh’s chance.

A good following from Mansfield of nearly 450 fans at Crewe were housed in the delightfully named Ice Cream Van Stand - not that this was ice cream weather at all, far from it.

We had rain most of the afternoon that became extremely heavy at one point in the second half, so heavy that had it continued it could have put the game in doubt, but fortunately it eased.