Many fans thought Mansfield Town’s early season local derby win at Notts County was probably the club’s best away showing for years.
But last night’s 2-0 win at Stevenage wouldn’t be far behind it in a game boss Adam Murray described as ‘the perfect away performance’.
The team had a game plan and stuck to it to the letter throughout, barely giving the home side a sniff.
Although the home side hadn’t won in three, an away game at the Lamex Stadium on a Tuesday night was far from an easy prospect.
But Stags triumphed with plenty to spare and chalked up a third clean sheet in four games, the only goal conceded in this fine run being a penalty at Luton Town.
Indeed, this win was built very firmly from the back. With Nicky Hunt restored at right back after a one game ban to what is becoming the first choice back four, Mansfield looked almost impenetrable.
Brian Jensen was a solid, confident figure in goal once more, having little to do but fully playing his part with his one big save early on.
Just two minutes had elapsed when Tom Conlon powered a header at goal from a right wing Ronnie Henry cross. But the big Dane superbly tipped the ball over the bar and that was the home side’s best moment.
Another key figure for Mansfield on the night was midfield tiger Jamie McGuire, making his first start of the season. He sat in front of the back four alongside Adam Chapman.
His presence shored up the back four but also allowed Chapman to go forward more often than he has been able to.
The midfield all played superbly with Jack Thomas the pick – almost back to his energetic best.
A very tight first half ended with Stevenage keeping out a string of Mansfield attempts and their own fans booing them off the field.
Worse was to come for them as within two minutes of the restart Ryan Tafazolli headed in his third goal of the season from a Chapman corner.
Within three minutes it was all over as Jack Thomas smashed home the second from a Craig Westcarr pass, just when it seemed Westcarr had delayed too long after electing not to shoot on the break.
New home boss Teddy Sheringham looked a million miles away from his imperious England days as his third substitution and the final whistle were all met by boos.
To add insult to injury, as Sheringham stood there directing operations in his shiny suit, Stags boss Adam Murray accidentally kicked the ball at him as he tried to control it in front of the dug-outs.
Stags celebrated with their fans at the end, though Matt Green found it hard to raise a smile after missing a one-on-one chance and then getting booked by overly-fussy referee Trevor Kettle for putting the ball in the net after an offside whistle.
The win has put Mansfield back into the play-off zone and they face a similar trip south to another struggling side, Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.
They will have Mitch Rose available again after suspension, but this system worked so well at Stevenage, is it a case of if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?
It is a big decision for Adam Murray, though he will know the answer straight away after studying videos of how Dagenham play and knowing if the same system would work again.
What do you think? Let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org or via #ChadStags.