Once again Steve Evans’ Mansfield Town showed they can dig deep and overcome adversity last weekend.
With 13 games left they are qualities that will be needed in abundance as, despite beating Newport County 2-1, Stags stayed in eighth spot, one place outside the play-offs.
Bottom club Newport arrived with only one defeat against their name in eight games.
Meanwhile Stags were still smarting from only taking one point from the last six and being well beaten at Grimsby last time out.
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On top of that, powerful defender Hayden White was suspended, the pitch cut up early in dreadful conditions with a powerful wind dominating and, after conceding after only five minutes, Stags then lost keeper Jake Kean to injury.
It was a catalogue of negatives that would test most clubs to the full.
But Mansfield’s players rolled up their sleeves and produced one of the hardest-earned wins of the season.
The one thing Stags didn’t need against a physical in-your-face Graham Westley side was to concede the first goal.
But a great low cross in from the left by Craig Reid caught out the home defence as Ryan Bird was able to net from close range.
However, Stags stuck to their guns and big defender Krystian Pearce showed a neat first touch to control a teasing Joel Byrom free kick and then stab under Joe Day to level 12 minutes later.
Paddy Hoban almost put them ahead but saw a one-on-one saved and his follow-up cleared off the line.
But the game swung on two big second half decisions by referee Ross Joyce – and he got both spot on.
Jaanai Gordon was red-carded for two bookable offences in as many minutes seconds after he had looked set to be substituted.
He went in hard and late on Jamie McGuire to pick up his first yellow as players pushed and shoved each other.
Then, obviously riled by that clash, immediately jumped into Byrom in the air, giving him a nosebleed – a silly, needless and costly challenge.
On 75 minutes came the penalty decision that won the game.
Contrary to what manager Westley thought afterwards, there is little doubt on the replays that Reid put two hands out to his right ‘goalkeeper-style’ to stop Shaq Coulthirst’s blast.
There were then a testing few minutes for the loanee Peterborough striker as the wind kept blowing the ball off the spot before he was finally able to bury his third penalty success for the club.
The drama wasn’t over. Four minutes were added and we were in the fifth when Bird was allowed to lob Scott Shearer only to see his finish nestle on the roof of the net.
Was that a sign of the way these two clubs’ seasons are heading?
So on the day a Stags side that showed four changes had got stuck in and won the battle with McGuire’s recall for that sort of a game a no-brainer.
Coulthirst had his best game yet up front while Pearce had a good game at the back and bagged a goal on an afternoon when little football was played.
As results from elsewhere came in, the importance of winning to stay in touch became very clear as did how hard it is going to be to get back into the top seven again and stay there.
Two very tough games on the road follow this week at Yeovil and Cheltenham and, if by the time Stags host Plymouth Argyle in a fortnight Stags are back in that top seven, we know we will be in for a thrilling finale to the campaign.