LOMAS ON STAGS: Mansfield showed resolve to grab crucial point when all looked lost

Mansfield Town v Chesterfield FC at the One Call Stadium. Sky Bet League 2 - November 25th 2017. Mansfield player Omari Sterling-James in action. Picture: Chris Etchells
Mansfield Town v Chesterfield FC at the One Call Stadium. Sky Bet League 2 - November 25th 2017. Mansfield player Omari Sterling-James in action. Picture: Chris Etchells

No one, including the players, will ever know why Mansfield Town ‘failed to show’ for the second half of Saturday’s local derby with Chesterfield.

It was such a disappointment after the blistering first half.

But what Stags and their supporters can take away from the game is the fact that when promotion teams have a bad day or a bad half, they still take something from a game.

So to see Stags pull a late equaliser and precious point out of the bag when all had seemed lost was heartening, and to extend the unbeaten run to 10 games was very important.

Sure, Mansfield took a bloody nose from their bitter rivals after the break, having had them on the canvas for much of the first half.

But Stags were still standing at the end and the result was the right one over the full 90 minutes.

Chesterfield arrived and left the One Call Stadium as the bottom club in League Two.

Even if they were playing as badly as they were under Gary Caldwell earlier in the season, they would have rolled up their sleeves for this one as the fixture means so much to both clubs.

Instead they have improved in leaps and bounds under Jack Lester and are almost unrecognisable from those early games now, currently four unbeaten and just a point away from getting out the drop zone.

The way they twice took the lead and totally bossed the second half with some confident football shows they will certainly be in League Two still next season.

But the Stags will be hoping to leave them behind and step up a division - and Saturday’s point could be crucial to doing that.

Once again Mansfield created good chances and were desperately unlucky to go behind from Chesterfield’s first attack and shot at goal.

But they could have gone in well ahead instead of all square, having produced some excellent attacking play that was a joy to watch in the electric atmosphere of the derby.

What happened after the break remains a mystery.

Did Stags simply fail to get going or were they caught by surprise that their ‘struggling’ local rivals had another higher gear to shift into?

Whatever the cause, the boot was suddenly on the other foot as Chesterfield played some excellent stuff, Mansfield’s midfield went AWOL, and the Spireites deservedly regained their lead.

It was hard to see where an equaliser was going to come from with Chesterfield’s excellent defence marshalled superbly by imposing skipper Ian Evatt.

But, showing that much-needed never-say-die attitude that top teams have, Stags somehow levelled through another goal by skipper Zander Diamond, his third of the week, and then almost won it at the death as the home fans roared them on with Chesterfield suddenly wobbling and looking vulnerable again.

The result left both sets of supporters with hope of achieving their season goals and by the time they next meet in April, both should have a good idea if they are going to achieve them.

Stags now turn their attentions to the FA Cup and the return of Paul Cox and Adam Murray to the One Call with their ambitious Guiseley side.

Chesterfield showed on Saturday that tables mean nothing, especially when a local derby is at stake.

And anyone thinking Guiseley will be a pushover on Sunday knows little of the FA Cup and its lack of respect for league placings.

There are currently 30 places between Mansfield, in the League two play-offs spots, and Guiseley, in the bottom two relegation spots after three successive National League defeats.

But we all know what to expect when Cox and Murray send their side out on Sunday. It will be physical, fast and furious and, let’s not forget, a side with the quality of Accrington Stanley failed to beat them over two games.

If Mansfield play like they did in Saturday’s second half they will struggle to get into that third round hat where all manner of dream ties sit.

However, if they can hit the form of the first half against Chesterfield they should have too much quality for the Yorkshire minnows.

That will see us all gathered around the TV next Monday night with Stags on an 11-game unbeaten run and anything possible.