Mansfield Town put in a dominant performance to win 3-1 at Stevenage this afternoon.
The Stags dominated from the first whistle, pinning Stevenage in their own half in the opening stages.
Mansfield created all the best chances of the first half as Tyler Walker’s close range effort was blocked on the line, Timi Elsnik’s cross found Neal Bishop unmarked at the far post but it almost hit Bishop and went wide,
Walker showed great pace to get through 1-on-1 with the keeper but the keeper was out quickly to block, Jacob Mellis’s close range effort was blocked on the line, and Walker headed wide from Mellis’ cross.
But in an incredible sucker punch 2 minutes into stoppage time at the end of the half, Stevenage took the lead. From a corner from the left, former Stag Johnny Hunt played a one-two with another former Stag Joel Byrom, Hunt crossed from the byline and Danny Newton got between Ryan Sweeney and Mal Benning to flick into the net from 4 yards. Disappointing defending from the normally solid defence.
Mansfield were back on level terms on 55 minutes. A great tackle by Neal Bishop to win the ball and drive forward, he found Walker, whose goalbound shot was deflected and looped just wide.
From the resulting corner from the left, taken by Mellis, Walker headed goalwards, it was parried on the line by the keeper, and Sweeney knocked the ball into the empty net from a yard with his knee. Sweeney’s first goal for the Stags and a great moment for him in front of the jubilant Stags fans.
The second half was more even than the first, and Stevenage nearly regained the lead on 76 minutes. A low corner from Byrom to the edge of the area where Newton smashed a shot against the bar.
I had initially thought Logan tipped it onto the bar, but from the main camera and pitchside video footage, I don’t think he touched it.
Either way, it was a crucial moment, as within a minute it was the Stags who went in front.
CJ Hamilton crossed the left, sub Danny Rose did superbly to arch his neck and head back across goal, and the ball fell kindly for Walker who calmly bent a shot around a crowd of players in front of him into the right corner of the net from 8 yards.
The Stags extended the lead on 86 minutes as Hamilton knocked the ball 25 yards in front of him and outpaced his marker Wildig before crossing into the middle where Walker knocked it goalwards on the volley first time from eight yards.
The keeper parried, but Walker knocked the rebound into the net, to send the superb travelling fans into raptures. It was Walker’s 14th goal of the season in all competitions.
It crowned a super performance from Mansfield who thoroughly deserved the win, having dominated the first half, and then having taken three chances in a more even second half.
The win extended Mansfield’s club record unbeaten away record to 14 away games, a run which started at Stevenage last season.
The win also extended Mansfield’s unbeaten record (home and away) to 14 games, the club’s best since a 20 game unbeaten run in 1976.