LOMAS ON STAGS: Notts point was glorious - but Mansfield must now start winning games

Picture by Howard Roe/AHPIX.com'Stags' Kane Hemmings celebrates his late equaliser against Notts County
Picture by Howard Roe/AHPIX.com'Stags' Kane Hemmings celebrates his late equaliser against Notts County

Four successive 1-1 draws may have kept Mansfield Town’s automatic promotion hopes alive – but the Stags simply have to start winning.

Games are fast running out – there are now just nine remaining and Saturday’s game at Forest Green Rovers, as tough as it will be, is looking like a must-win for several reasons.

Mansfield remain in fifth place, just three points behind Notts in third, though fourth-placed Wycombe have a game in hand on Stags and two on Notts.

With the upheaval of a new manager coming in and the setbacks of throwing away a 1-0 lead at home for three crucial games on the trot, what David Flitcroft’s men desperately need is the shot in the arm of a victory.

In the meantime, Saturday’s last gasp penalty equaliser at Notts County will serve as a welcome tonic.

The three 1-1s before that all ended up feeling like defeats.

But Kane Hemming’s 99th minute equaliser left the players and almost 4,200 Stags fans feeling ecstatic and more like they had just won a game.

If Stags now go on to make the top three, Hemmings’ finish could prove to be the most important of the season.

Had he missed Mansfield would have been six points adrift of Notts and four behind Wycombe with just eight to play.

The goal has kept hopes alive, given the side a massive booster and set them up nicely for Saturday.

But anything less than a win at Forest Green would leave Mansfield in a desperate situation with crunch games against top two Accrington and Luton ahead over Easter.

Stanley have a weekend off this coming weekend, but Luton and Wycombe have comfortable-looking home games with Barnet and Port Vale respectively on Saturday while Notts travel to ailing neighbours Chesterfield on Sunday.

New boss Flitcroft still has the fans onside after his first three games. But he needs that first win sooner than later.

His players certainly did him proud at Notts in some of the worst winter playing conditions I’ve seen in years.

The blizzards swept across Meadow Lane before, during and after the game bringing back nostalgic memories of games from the 1970s.

It was tough going – and that was just in the press box

The snow swept into and across the box, covering laptops and notepads alike with frozen-solid fingers refusing to type and paperwork blowing everywhere.

Gusts of wind dragged heavy laptops and soggy pages from books were torn out and sent skywards. I can’t remember worse to be honest, the working conditions surpassing even the heavy rain away in an open stand at Harrogate Railway in the FA Cup.

But at Meadow Lane both sides gave it their all in a game of few chances and Mansfield thoroughly deserved a share of the spoils for their second half fight back after turning round 1-0 down.

As we entered a ninth added minute at the end of the game, suddenly Mansfield had a penalty and a lifeline.

Notts boss Kevin Nolan raged after the game about the decision to give Stags a penalty, accusing the referee of robbing them of two points and saying the hand was outside the box.

Hopefully he has since watched it back and sent the ref an apology as Andy Woolmer got it spot on.

Few of us would have wanted the pressure on Hemmings as he stepped up to dispatch a sweep finish past Adam Collin.

History will show how important that kick was.

All we do know got now is that Stags need to keep pace with a win at Forest Green’s picturesque New Lawn on Saturday which should give Flitcroft and his men the lift they need ahead of the formidable make or break Easter fixtures.