REPORT: Mansfield Town 3-4 Crewe Alexandra

Ricky MIller celebrates his goal. Photo by Anne Shelley.
Ricky MIller celebrates his goal. Photo by Anne Shelley.

Battling Mansfield Town paid the price for an atrocious first half as they were beaten 4-3 at home in an amazing game against visiting Crewe Alexandra this afternoon.

It was an eighth game without a win, seven under new boss David Flitcroft, as their play-off ambitions took another knock.

Stags were booed from the field at half-time 4-1 down, but Peterborough loanee sub Ricky Miller, one of two interval substitutions, sparked new life into the home side who quickly pulled one back through Kane Hemmings.

Miller reduced the deficit further with 12 minutes to play after Danny Rose had hit the bar, but Crewe, always dangerous on the break, held on to what they had as Stags were applauded off for a brave fight back that fell short in the end.

It was a breathtaking end to end game that you simply could not take your eyes off and an absolute delight for a neutral.

Mansfield made one change with winger Alfie Potter in for Will Atkinson.

Otherwise it was the side that played so well only to lose 2-1 at title-chasing Luton Town on Monday, extending Stags' winless streak to seven games.

There was a welcome sight on the bench where top scorer Rose returned from his ankle injury.

And there was also a place on there for 20-year-old Jordan Graham, who has been training with the first team after a spell on loan at Hednesford Town where he scored 10 goals in 33 appearances.

Left back Mal Benning served the second game of his three game suspension.

After a scrappy opening, in which Stags dominated the possession and Hamilton was prominent, the visitors stunned the home crowd with a goal from their first real attack.

James Jones found himself with time and space 30 yards from goal and ran on to the edge of the box before drilling a low shot past a helpless Conrad Logan on seven minutes.

Incredibly Stags found themselves 2-0 down within three minutes.

Jordan Bowery got to the right by-line and crossed hard and low. Jones saw his finish blocked by Logan, but the ball came back out loose to Bowery who buried it from close range.

Stunned, Stags hit back with two corners and began to put the Crewe box under huge pressure.

It paid off with a goal on 15 minutes. Kane Hemmings floated an inviting cross to the far post where Garratt superbly saved Lee Angol's flicked header only to see the striker react quickly to steer the loose ball home.

Within a minute a Crewe break down the right saw Bowery force Logan to save with his legs at his near post.

Logan was back in action from another swift Crewe break to cut out a dangerous cross-cum-shot from the dangerous Bowery.

Mellis then warmed Garratt's hands second after a superb ferocious tackle from Alex MacDonald which had the home fans in fully voice.

However, on 25 minutes the visitors restored their two-goal lead.

Hunt was dispossessed and Kirk fed Harry Pickering to his left who beat Logan with a crisp, low angled drive.

Jacob Mellis was inches wide from distance at the other end as a thrilling end-to-end half continued to keep fans on the edge of their seats.

Amazingly it was 4-1 to Crewe on 27 minutes.

More hesitant defending saw Green cross and Bowery lay the ball off to Kirk to his left and he smashed a superb finish inside the far post which prompted boos from the home fans and some to actually walk out with less than half an hour played.

Stags made a change at the back on 31 minutes as Pearce took over from skipper Diamond.

Mansfield took their corner tally to five as MacDonald had a fierce shot blocked on 37 minutes, but Garratt fisted the ball clear.

Potter was booked on 38 minutes for a late challenge, and in four added minutes Bowery was booked for a trip, but Crewe comfortably saw the half out before the whistle brought the inevitable boos from the stands.

Half-time saw strikers Miller and Rose pitched into the action in place of Potter and Angol and Stags made the perfect start with a goal back within five minutes.

Miller sent a powerful cross from the right to the far post where Hemmings was racing in to head past Garratt from close range.

Still Crewe were dangerous and Wintle was inches wide from 20 yards after great work from Bowery on the right.

Stags continued to press and Rose had the home fans out their seats with two headers at goal within a few minutes, neither finding its mark.

Then on 58 minutes a half-cleared corner came out to Mellis who hit a first time blast back down the throat of Garratt, who held on well.

On the hour Stags had a let off as Bennett hooked a Pickering finish off the line after he had got free in the box on the left.

Stags continued to press but were again caught on the break on 70 minutes as Crewe outnumbered them pouring forward only to see McKirdy's eventual finish saved well by Logan and Bowery, with the goal at his mercy, blaze over the rebound.

Rose then rattled the Crewe bar from 18 yards on 72 minutes.

But the fightback stepped up with a third home goal on 77 minutes. This time Hamilton cut in from the left and saw his low shot blocked, but the ball ran towards Miller who made no mistake from close range.

Crewe keeper Garratt was booked for time wasting with four minutes to go and both Ng and Green were booked for time wasting in the five added minutes, but Crewe had done enough to take the points.

STAGS: Logan; White, Diamond (Pearce 31), Bennett, Hunt; Potter (Ricky Miller HT), Mellis, MacDonald, Hamilton; Hemmings, Angol (Rose HT). Subs not used: Olejnik, Atkinson, King, Graham.

CREWE: Garratt, Ray, Jones, Bowery, Nolan, Wintle, Pickering, Kirk (Raynes 60), Green, Shaun Miller (McKirdy 65), Sterry (Ng 79). Subs not used: Richards, Porter, Dagnall, Ainley.

REFEREE: Richard Clark of Northumberland.

ATTENDANCE: 3,480 (238 away)

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ricky Miller.