Scott Shearer rightly took the headlines in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Morecambe as he became the first Mansfield Town keeper to save two separate penalties in a game.
But there were many other heroes in a side that clung grimly onto three very hard-earned points, despite it seeming like everything was against them on the day.
The pitch was treacherous, the weather awful, the officials inconsistent, and Stags, without suspended top scorer Matt Green had to fight back from being a goal behind after just 58 seconds – the sixth time in seven home games they have conceded early.
Mansfield also had to survive those two Morecambe penalty kicks and they even had manager Adam Murray sent off near the end as he exploded over the numerous decisions against his side.
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Even more heart-warming on the day was the stirring support from the home fans.
Murray had asked them for patience after boos during and after the last home game; and they might have turned on their team very early when Kevin Ellison fired the Shrimpers in front.
But they stuck with it and were a huge part of the afternoon as they kept home heads up with their support.
After heavy rain from Storm Imogen, it had taken a monumental effort from groundsman Michael Merriman and his team of helpers - including boss Murray – to beat two morning inspections.
That rain continued on and off amid a dreadful wind that Stags had behind them in the first half.
But, while pretty football was almost impossible, these two sides deserve credit for conjuring up a thrilling, rip-roaring old fashioned League Two battle of a game with incident and talking points aplenty.
On the day from the press box, both penalty awards looked to be contentious. But from a better angle on the television, the first showed Ryan Tafazolli clearly pull Andrew Fleming’s shirt while the second saw Jack Thomas raise a hand that will always invite a referee to penalise you, even if it’s for leverage or protection. So referee Mark Heywood looked to have go both decisions correct.
However, the officials did get plenty of other things wrong which stoked the growing frustration that saw Murray dismissed and the fans up in arms.
Stags’ luck was out in the opening minute as the ball held up in the wind and Lee Collins was forced into a diving header that struck a Morecambe player and rolled into the path of the experienced Ellison, who made no mistake with his low finish.
As always Ellison was a thorn in Stags’ sides all game and his battle with good friend and fellow Scouser Jamie McGuire a key feature as was his good-natured banter with the home fans barracking his every challenge.
But Lady Luck switched shirts on 15 minutes as Matty Blair’s 20-yard shot deflected up and over Barry Roche off the head of defender Ryan Edwards – Blair’s first goal for the club 13 months after his serious knee injury.
Just nine minutes later, a training ground corner routine saw Krystian Pearce bury Mal Benning’s kick with his head and Stags were in front.
Just a minute later Ellison had a goal disallowed for offside before Stags had another let-off as Shearer guessed the right way to fend away Shaun Miller’s spot kick on 35 minutes.
Roche acrobatically kept out a Chris Clements shot and turned away a cheeky Mal Benning free kick from out wide at his near post.
But, as the pitch took its toll on legs, Stags struggled to get the ball over halfway against the strong wind and Murray took the massive risk of withdrawing both his strikers to shore up his midfield and try to hit on the break.
In the end it was Shearer who deservedly took man of the match.
First he kept out a Jamie Devitt ball into the box that had bounced through everyone.
Then just six minutes from time, Thomas went to block a Devitt shot and handball was given, Shearer this time denying Paul Mullin from the spot with his trailing leg as he went the wrong way.
Ellison headed over in stoppage time as in what would would have been a cruel blow for Stags had it gone in.
Chris Beardsley held the ball up well in the first half, both full backs got forward well, Pearce was the pick of the back four and games like this were made for McGuire, who was again superb.
This was a gritty performance that typified the manager and pushed Stags up even higher into fifth place with a third successive victory.
No matter how much the club try to dilute expectation, with 16 games to go, this is getting seriously exciting.