Junior Brown’s late goal secured a massive three points for Mansfield Town in this afternoon’s nervy 2-1 victory over relegations rivals Dagenham & Redbridge at One Call Stadium.
This was only the second time in five and half months that the Stags had scored more then once in a game, but the win saw them leapfrog the Daggers.
A poor first half, with Stags up against a powerful wind in their faces, saw few chances.
But Reggie Lambe provided the breakthrough just 52 seconds after the break as he netted from close range when keeper Mark Cousins could only parry a powerful low cross from Brown towards him.
Stags were stung on the hour when they gave veteran Jamie Cureton, the League’s oldest outfield player at 39, a sight of goal from which he dispatched his landmark 250th League goal to level.
The ball seemed to go through the dive of keeper Lenny Pidgeley, who said afterwards that he had it covered until it shot up off a divot.
But Mansfield upped the ante as the game wore on and looked the only side likely to win it.
They had two cleared off the line through Lambe and Vadaine Oliver, who also had a shot saved, before Brown buried the crucial goal seven minutes from time.
The Mansfield side showed two changes.
Out went central midfielder Simon Heslop and loanee winger Jeffrey Monakana, replaced by Chris Clements and Lambe.
The Daggers were straight onto the attack and won a corner in the opening minute and almost scored an audacious goal.
Boucaud sent the ball low to the near post where Doe stole in with a cheeky backheel straight to Pidgeley.
Mansfield replied with a corner of their own from which saw Tafazolli and Riley jump for the ball and it bounced towards goal where Cousins had to block.
Ravenhill headed a Boucaud free kick over for a second Dagenham corner, wasted after it was taken short to Bingham, who let it run off him for a goalkick.
Pidgeley was lucky when he dropped a high Boucaud free kick into the box, eventually conceding a corner.
Clements had a shot charged down on 11 minutes as Stags got into the Dagenham box for only the second time.
Sutton was happy to flick away a dangerous low Cureton ball from the right that had eluded everyone in front of goal.
It had been a sluggish first 15 minutes for Mansfield with the Daggers looking lively and inventive.
But Tafazolli sent a glancing header across the face of their goal from a Thomas cross from the right on 19 minutes.
A Clements free kick was cleared as far as Thomas whose wild first time shot was well over the bar.
Thomas conceded another unnecessary free kick 20 yards from goal. From that Boucaud’s effort was blocked by Ravenhill and Bingham’s follow-up was was blocked, sparking a worrying goalmouth scramble that ended with Dagenham’s fourth corner.
As play continued down the right, Tafazolli had gone down in some discomfort on the far side of the field.
Cousins sportingly put the ball out of play to allow for some treatment to a shoulder that had popped out of its socket. But it went back in and the defender was able to carry on.
A decent Lambe cross from the left found Sutton at the far post, who laid a ball into Oliver where his first touch let him down.
Hemmings was off target with an effort from distance as we awaited the first goal of a poor game so far.
There was a bust-up on 39 minutes as Ravenhill accused Cureton of diving in the box, then Bingham clashed with Oliver and tried to make out he had been butted.
It was all puerile stuff and the referee handled it well with lectures but no cards.
Three minutes from the break a well-worked series of passes from Dagenham opened up the Stags and, having got past Ravenhill on the by-line, Ogogo pulled a neat ball back for Jakubiak who lashed wildly over with a first time shot from 12 yards.
In the second of two minutes of added time a ball in from the right came off a defender’s head to Thomas at the far post where he was unable to keep an acrobatic finish down from close range.
It was Mansfield’s best chance of the half as the sides went in goalless.
Stags needed a good start to the second half and it couldn’t have been better.
A series of passes from left to right worked the ball wide to Brown.
He got to the by-line and crossed hard and low, Cousins only able to parry and not hold on at the near post and Lambe on hand to bury the loose ball from close range with just 52 second played.
A break down the left by Oliver saw him pick out Clements square to his right, but the midfielder’s ambitious finish was always flying well over.
Obileye came up with two excellent tackles to halt Oliver and Lambe as the home side tried to break again.
But the Daggers hauled themselves level on the hour.
Some fast passing saw them work the ball to the right where Cureton lashed a low shot under the dive of Pidgeley and just off the inside of the far post.
Boucaud tested Pidgeley from 20 yards as Stags struggled to clear from their box.
On 66 minutes Cousins blocked a point blank range far post header from Oliver from a long Brown cross.
Kee replaced Thomas seconds later and almost immediately won a crunching tackle on Ogogo.
The referee saw nothing wrong but the Daggers skipper rolled around as if shot.
Shouts of cheat rang round the ground as he got up uninjured, offering kisses to the crowd.
On 71 minutes a low Brown cross almost produced a goal, helped on by Lambe, Kee was unable to get power or direction on his shot, but Oliver was and Cousins made a smart save to beat his finish away.
Then Lambe’s curling effort towards the far angle was too high.
Lambe had a goalbound shot headed away just in front of goal by Doe on 78 minutes, his last action as he made way for the home debut of Monakana.
Then Ogogo headed a close range Oliver header almost off the line on 81 minutes after Tafazolli helped on a long Elder throw.
But the goal Mansfield desperately needed came on 83 minutes. It was just reward for some excellent pressure.
An Elder throw was laid back by Kee to Brown and the winger rifled an unstoppable finish past Cousins before racing half the length of the field to celebrate with the bench.
Cousins was down well to smother the ball as Brown tried to toe-poke an Oliver backheel past the keeper.
We had four added minutes to endure, but Stags defended superbly to keep the ball out of harm’s way and pick up a crucial three points.
STAGS: Pidgeley; Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder; Ravenhill, Thomas (Kee 66), Clements; Lambe (Monakana 78), Oliver, Brown. Subs not used: Studer, Rhead, Bingham, McGuire, Beevers.
DAGENHAM: Cousins, Doe, Bingham, Cureton, Ogogo, Howell (Carr 86), Hemmings, Obileye, Boucaud, Widdowson, Jakubiak (Fenelon 80). Subs not used: O’Brien, Saah, Labadie, Raymond, Gayle.
REFEREE: Brendan Malone of Wiltshire.
ATTENDANCE: 2,546 (122 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Junior Brown.