Mansfield Town 4 Crewe Alex 3
Football League Division IV
Tuesday 31 March 1992
Mansfield Town got back on course for automatic promotion in a seven goal thriller at Field Mill last night - but a nervous second half performance almost cost them a priceless victory.
Goals by Steve Wilkinson, Phil Stant and Wayne Fairclough ended Mansfield’s 300-minute goals drought with a first half treble.
But Crewe began the second half like a runaway train, fighting back to 3-2. Stant calmed Mansfield’s nerves with a fourth, only ro see the visitors reduce the deficit yet again.
The Stags were forced to recall defenders Cliff Carr and Kevin Gray, as their injury-crisis deepened leaving the side with only 12 fit players.
Despite their problems The Stags settled their promotion jitters with a tenth minute goal coolly executed by Steve Wilkinson.
He raced on to a superb diagonal pass by Paul Holland, and although goalkeeper Dean Greygoose got his left hand to the ball Wilkinson’s shot found its way in off the inside of the post.
Two minutes later Wilkinson turned provider as he headed the ball down for Stant whose powerful left foot volley was beaten away by the keeper.
However, Mansfield increased their advantage six minutes before half time when Holland’s long throw eluded a busy goalmouth.
The loose ball seemed to belong to Greygoose but Stant reacted sharply to poach his 20th goal of the seaosn before the Crewe keeper could get both hands on the ball.
Mansfield, making a mockery of their injury crisis, threatened to exten their lead when Wilkinson almost succeeded in lobbing Greygoose from 25 yards.
The third goal finally arrived a minute into first half injury time when Martin Clark delivered a clinical pass for Wayne Fairclough to chase, and the midfielder tucked a 16-yard shot under the advancing keeper.
But within 11 minutes of the second half Mansfield’s cosy cushion had been frittered away into a desperate single goal advantage.
Clarkson rasped in the first with an unstoppable 25 yard drive after Cliff Carr had failed to clear a 52nd minute move.
Four minutes later it was 3-2 - Dave McKearney heading Craig Hignett’s right win cross beyond Jason Pearcey.
The pressure was soon relieved when Stant rammed in his second at the near post, emphatically converting Wilkinson’s cross from the byeline in the 64th minute.
Crewe refused to accept defeat, and set up a nerve-jangling finale when Clarkson rose unmarked to head home Hignett’s left wing corner.
Crewe piled forward in pursuit of an equaliser and Hignett shot over the bar from a free kick five minutes into injury time.
Now the Stags have to go for a positive result in another six-pointer at Blackpool on Saturday.