Last week I said Mansfield’s chances of building a promotion bid this season rested squarely on keeping Matt Green in my opinion, as the chances of finding a suitable replacement for him at this stage of the transfer window would be next to nil.
Saturday’s game at Leyton Orient amply demonstrated why. Despite missing a first half penalty, and despite cutting a pretty frustrated figure with an average performance by his own standards, Green showed his character and class to come up with an 89th minute winner.
He told me afterwards that he needed that because there is no excuse for missing a penalty and he owed it to the team.
The late winner typified the spirit of this Mansfield side, keeping going right to the end, for a second late winner away from home in three games, added to the extraordinary win over Yeovil at home with ten men for 93 minutes.
Full credit to Adam Murray and his management team and the entire squad for a great unity.
Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road ground has never been a happy hunting ground for the Stags with only 3 wins in 24 attempts before Saturday.
Green missed his penalty in the first half, blazing over the bar, after the returning Krystian Pearce has been fouled.
The Stags finally took the lead after 68 minutes when Mitch Rose fired home from a tight angle 3 yards out, after Green got a little flick onto a fine Kevan Hurst cross from the left.
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Mitch Rose and Green are fighting it out at the top of the Stags leading goalscorers list with 3 goals each. As for the Stags player of the season so far though, Mitch Rose is out in front on his own.
The Stags were pegged back within 5 minutes of taking the lead though as Liam Kelly side-footed in a great shot from 20 yards which gave Brian Jensen no chance.
It looked like the Stags would have to settle for a point, which would have been a good result in itself, but the Stags kept going and Green fired home from seven yards after Mitch Rose chested down a Mal Benning cross to him, to send the players, manager, and supporters into raptures.
It was a fitting end to a week in which Mansfield turned down a bid from Bradford City for Green and then had to deal with some skulduggery from Orient over Green, but the Stags had the last laugh.
It was great to see Krystian Pearce back from injury and he put in a fine performance, winning the penalty, having two headers cleared off the line, and defending well.
Darius Henderson made his first start in a Stags shirt though Adam Murray told me afterwards that he can only play 45-60 minutes at the moment, having not had a proper pre-season. Henderson played well, holding the ball up and laying off, and generally looking strong.
There was also good news on the injury front with Pat Hoban and Scott Shearer returning to the matchday squad. But Chris Clements will be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury picked up in the game at Plymouth.
The transfer window closes on Wednesday night. I presume that Adam Murray has reached his player budget with his current squad, but if I was him I would be looking to supplement the squad with a young full back from a Premier League or Championship club where the Stags would have to pay little of the player’s wages, as the Stags squad is still light in that area, and if Rhys Bennett or Mal Benning picked up an injury before January, the Stags would have to use Lee Collins, George Taft, or even Mitch Rose, slightly out of position with no short term loans being available this season.