LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Sloppy finish so costly for the Stags

Mansfield Town v Colchester 'Skybet League 2'Mansfield 's Craig Davies fires home to put the Stags ahead
Mansfield Town v Colchester 'Skybet League 2'Mansfield 's Craig Davies fires home to put the Stags ahead

Mansfield Town fans and players left the ground on Saturday feeling totally deflated at allowing Colchester to steal that late, late equaliser.

When you spend almost an entire game patiently probing for a goal and finally score a spectacular finish with nine minutes left that should have been job done.

But too many times last season Stags let late points slip and boss David Flitcroft is right that this must now be allowed to start happening again this season.

Mansfield had done the hard work and that match was won.

To then lose the goal they did was sloppy and hard to take.

It is impossible to tell from replays if keeper Conrad Logan was fouled in any way from that long throw.

But Stags still had plenty of big defenders in that six yard box to get in the way and it was sloppy to allow tiny Sammie Szmodics to tap in from close range.

It was a heart-wrenching way to spill points and, although in reality it may prove to be a vital point against a promotion rival, it felt more like a defeat as we left the ground.

Colchester looked a strong side and defended superbly against a Stags side that had hit 11 goals in their first three games.

Although CJ Hamilton had whistled one just over the angle in the first half, until sub Craig Davies came on to smash in the opener on 81 minutes, United had denied the home side a shot on target and protected keeper Dillon Barnes superbly.

But Mansfield and their fans had stayed patient and all the tension was released when Davies zipped his follow-up shot into the net after his first effort had been blocked.

It was thoroughly deserved for having dominated the half and looking like the side that wanted it the most.

That patience and determination will stand Mansfield in very good stead. But the way they failed to see it out will not.

Flitcroft stated afterwards that good sides see those games out and the players must use the anger and disappointment they felt at the end to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Amid that disappointment it’s easy to forget the positive side of things.

But it was an excellent League Two debut for young Stoke loanee centre half Ryan Sweeney, who won everything in the air and showed he can pass a ball as well.

With Matt Preston again missing out with concussion, Sweeney staked a firm claim for a place, slotting in perfectly alongside Krystian Pearce and Hayden White and again showed how astute Flitcroft’s summer recruitment has been.