Saturday, 13th September 2014: Wycombe Wanderers 2 Mansfield Town 1

Matt Rhead.

Matt Rhead.

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Mansfield Town’s superb first half display at Wycombe earned them nothing as they were knocked back by a contentious penalty decision and ultimately lost it to Peter Murphy’s 77th minute winner.

Although the 30th minute handball decision against Martin Riley looked a harsh one, Stags were so much in charge at that stage and had created so many chances, they really should have had Wycombe dead and buried at that point

New signing Rakish Bingham could have had a hat-trick while Matt Rhead had scored one from a fourth minute corner and should have had another from the same position.

Instead referee Darren Deadman decided Riley had handled a 25-yard Paul Hayes shot and Hayes made hay from the spot to level.

Stags boss Paul Cox was furious with that and several other decisions that went against his side and was finally sent to the stands in stoppage time at the end by Mr Deadman.

Mansfield were always well in the game and the corner count ended up 16-2 in favour of the away side.

But it’s putting the ball in the net that really counts and that failure to finish off Wycombe when they had them on the ropes came back to haunt them in the end as the Chairboys climbed to fourth place and Stags dropped to 13th.

A training injury on Thursday ruled out Jamie McGuire. Chris Clements took over the central midfield role and McGuire sat on the bench just to make up a full seven.

That was the only change which meant Ritchie Sutton kept his place in the back three, despite limping off last weekend with a hamstring injury.

Although not 100 per cent fit, with little cover at the back right now, Stags felt Sutton was sufficiently recovered to take a chance on.

Fergus Bell had also shaken off a swollen ankle picked up in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Exeter.

The game started untidily with free kicks at both ends.

But in the second minute Rhead’s flick gave Bingham a sniff of goal on the right of the box, and he forced Ingram to beat away a powerful on-target shot at his near post, the keeper then claiming the right wing corner.

Another Rhead flick two minutes later saw Bingham onside with almost too much time. He eventually tried to slot under the keeper at the near post, but the ball struck the keeper’s body and ended up in the sidenetting.

However, Stags were rewarded for their bright start seconds later as, from the resulting corner, Murray sent it long to the far post where Rhead rose in unstoppable fashion to power a header back across Ingram and into the net on four minutes.

The home side had barely left their own half in that opening four minutes and more good work from Bingham saw Beevers win a third corner for the visitors on eight minutes, taken by Clements and punched clear by Ingram.

A great ball from Marsden into the path of Bingham on nine minutes saw an offside flag raised as the youngster beat Ingram at the second attempt.

It took Wycombe 11 minutes to threaten as a long free kick from their own half saw Evtimov leave his line to gather only to spill the ball, the Bulgarian grateful to see Beevers on hand to hook clear.

A minute later Pierre spun well on the edge of the box to rifle a powerful shot over the Mansfield bar.

Mansfield hit back with a right wing corner on 14 minutes and the same combination almost conjured up a repeat performance as Murray sent it to the back post where Rhead again rose for a powerful free header only this time sending it straight at the keeper.

How Stags were only one ahead at this stage was anyone’s guess and the away fans were left wondering if they would pay for their finishing later on.

Mansfield’s fifth corner after just 17 minutes was pulled back short for Murray, who saw his shot easily blocked.

Wycombe broke quickly and Scowen set up home skipper Hayes for a first time sidefooted effort.

On 19 minutes Beevers helped the ball into the path of Bingham only for the striker to balloon a finish well over.

Riley headed a Jacobson cross behind for Wycombe’s first corner on 22 minutes. It was cleared out as far as Scowen, whose low 20-yard shot was blocked.

Marsden slid into Jacobson to earn a 26th minute booking to give Wanderers a free kick just outside the box on the left, Tafazolli heading clear.

Out of the blue on 30 minutes the home side were gifted a penalty kick.

A Hayes snapshot from 25 yards struck Riley on the edge of the box and to the visitors’ amazement the referee pointed to the spot and booked Riley for an apparent handball, though few people in the ground had seen it.

Hayes gratefully stepped up to tuck a low penalty inside the right hand post and the home side were somehow level after all that had gone before.

Stags boss Paul Cox was furious and continued to remonstrate with the fourth official, but Wycombe were level and almost went ahead within a minute as Wycombe finally got their tails up against a shellshocked Mansfield.

Sutton slipped as he tried to stay with Hayes down the left and the striker was able to race clear of him and send in a low cross in front of goal that Holloway should have buried but somehow lifted over.

On 41 minutes Wood put over a dangerous cross from wide on the right, this one bouncing through a crowd of players in the six yard box and Holloway getting a touch at the far post but unable to guide it on target.

Wood won another home free kick on the left which Jacobson put into the box and Holloway nodded over.

A minute from the break Bell almost sent Bingham clear, but the striker was marginally offside.

As soon as the half-time whistle blew, Paul Cox marched straight onto the pitch to query the penalty decision with the referee as Stags went in wondering how the game was level.

McClure took over from the dangerous Holloway for the home side for the second half.

Wycombe enjoyed the early pressure without testing Evtimov, then on 57 minutes Stags won the first corner of the half.

A second followed soon after, and then a third as the away fans behind the goal began to raise the noise levels.

Clements was in well to tidy up as the Chairboys broke quickly when the third corner was cleared.

Then Bingham was blocked off as he tried to chase a Clements through ball with nothing given and the striker furious with the referee.

Some fine passing from the away side earned Mansfield corner number nine, but again Ingram remained untested.

Rhead’s flick again threatened to put Bingham in, but he ended up winning a corner that was headed away.

Instead the home side broke swiftly with Beevers having to concede a corner as he blocked Scowen’s finish.

On 68 minutes Evtimov was always firmly behind Scowen’s 25-yard swerving shot.

Rhead’s challenge had Stags temporarily three on two on 71 minutes, but, with Bingham to his right, Clements delayed too long and was crowded out before he could test the keeper or pass.

Bingham then skipped past Pierre to get into the box on the left by-line before Pierre conceded a corner with a desperate lunge.

That was the first of two successive corners, Wycombe clearing both.

The home side sent on Lewis as a 76th minute sub and, soon after Evtimov had got down bravely at the feet of McClure, they swept ahead through Murphy on 77 minutes.

Hayes headed a left wing cross back in front of goal where Murphy jumped to power a header past Evtimov.

The game had looked likely to peter out all square at that stage, but Mansfield suddenly had a rescue mission to perform and Palmer was sent on as a third striker at the expense of Bell.

Soon after Hayes bundled a poor finish wide after an excellent initial turn on the edge of the box.

Stags and their fans were angry again on 85 minutes as Murray felt a hand halted his by-line cross and screamed for a penalty. Instead Stags were handed corner number 14.

Wycombe cleared that and another two in quick succession as they held onto their slim advantage.

The home side then enjoyed a spell of pressure of their own which ended with Evtimov making flying save to his left to take a rising Wood shot out of the air at full stretch.

Four minutes added on time saw manager Cox sent to the stand for verbal abuse of the officials in the last of them as Mansfield’s afternoon of misery was made complete.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Ingram, Jombati, Jacobson, Pierre, Mawson, Scowen (Lewis 76), Murphy (Bloomfield 80), Rowe, Wood, Hayes, Holloway (McClure HT). Subs not used: Richardson, Kretzschmar, Walker.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Evtimov; Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli; Marsden, Murray, Clements, Bell (Palmer 80), Beevers (Taylor 85); Rhead, Bingham. Subs not used: Studer, Fisher, McGuire, Heslop, Thomas.

REFEREE; Darren Deadman of Peterborough.

ATTENDANCE: 3,106 (261 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Rhead.