LOMAS ON STAGS: Mansfield Town bounce back in style to show their mettle with victory at Crawley Town

Football teams do not go through a successful season without getting the odd bloody nose along the way.

By John Lomas
Monday, 29th November 2021, 2:35 pm
Oli Hawkins opens the scoring at Crawley on Saturday. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media
Oli Hawkins opens the scoring at Crawley on Saturday. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media

But what the successful sides do is bounce straight back after a defeat.

So it was heartening to see Mansfield Town do just that on Saturday.

With players carrying knocks on a long haul down south on a Tuesday night, just three days after a very hard-earned home win, it was no huge shock that Stags’ five game winning streak was halted by a disappointing defeat at Sutton United in midweek.

So Saturday's 2-1 victory after another long trip south at Crawley Town on Saturday was a huge tonic.

With Nigel Clough electing to play three at the back, the players quickly adapted to their new formation and completely bossed the first half, deservedly ahead at the break.

When Crawley levelled with their first real threat of the afternoon just after the break, it was a blow that would certainly have seen Stags go on to lose the game earlier this season.

Instead they went again and Rhys Oates tucked away a superb finish from Oli Hawkins' killer pass with 18 minutes to go. Both sides hit the woodwork in an exciting finish that saw Mansfield hold on and see the job through – again something they have failed to do earlier this season.

With no midweek game Clough how has a perfect chance to allow injured players to recover as well as get on the training ground and hone whatever formation he is planning for the weekend's massive FA Cup clash at troubled League One neighbours Doncaster Rovers.

Mansfield have already assembled a noisy army of 3,300 away fans for the tie and, knowing it won't take much for Rovers' disgruntled home fans to turn on their own side, could make it sound like a home match for the Stags.

Injury-ravaged Rovers have not won any of their last four league games, failing to score in the last three.

Having already won away at League One high-flyers Sunderland in the last round, Mansfield will head for the Keepmoat Stadium with no fear and no pressure, knowing they are 90 minutes away from the chance of a third round date with one of the Premier League's big guns.