Hayes and Yeading 4 Mansfield Town 0, Saturday 9th April

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SHAMBOLIC Stags turned in one of their worst performances of the season as they were thrashed 4-0 by relegation-threatened Hayes and Yeading on Saturday, reports Stephen Thirkill.

Embarrassed Mansfield were put to the sword during a torrid first 45 minutes and had no answer to the attacking prowess of Bradley Pritchard and Elliott Buchanan or the raiding runs of Rents, Brown and Masterton through midfield.

It was nothing more than sorry Mansfield deserved as they failed to rise to the challenge in any way, or show any fighting spirit, against a team desperate for three points to avoid the drop from the Blue Square Premier.

Clinical headers from the impressive Pritchard on 12 minutes and Buchanan on 21 minutes saw Hayes ease into a two goal lead, before Buchanan made it three with a sweetly struck volley on 25 minutes.

All three of the goals came down the left flank as the inexperienced Connor Higginson and stand in right-back Stevie Istead were left horribly exposed during a nightmare first half hour.

The farce was then wrapped up in fitting fashion with eight minutes to go when Tyrone Thompson, who had all the time and space in the world, sliced his attempted clearance past Grof to the disbelief of everyone in the ground.

All too often Hayes were afforded far too much time and space in all areas of the pitch as their slick passing moves ripped fragile Stags to shreds.

The defeat was made even worse for the FA Trophy finalists on the half hour mark when joint top-scorer Paul Connor was dismissed by referee Ian Cooper for leading with his elbow in a challenge with Adam Bygrave.

And although the second half was a more even affair, with Hayes easing off in a bid to keep their three points secure, 10-man Stags offered no attacking bite and registered only one meaningful strike on goal.

The humiliating defeat will give Duncan Russell plenty to think about as he attempts to get his side firing on all cylinders for the FA Trophy final on 7th May.

Mansfield went into the encounter determined to erase the bad memories of their second half collapse against Southport in midweek.

Boss Duncan Russell made one change, recalling Kevin Sandwith into the starting line up at the expense of Paul Stonehouse.

Stags named a strong looking bench, with Gary Silk, Kyle Nix and Danny Mitchley all making a welcome return from injury.

Relegation-threatened Hayes and Yeading needed the points for a very different reason and went into the fixture full of confidence having defeated Wrexham 2-0 away last week.

Hayes and Yeading threatened first after six minutes when Lee Brown found space down the left. But Elliott Buchanan was unable to connect with the cross while in space.

Hayes hit the front on 12 minutes when top scorer Bradley Pritchard powered home a header from close range after Brown once again beat Higginson too easily down the left flank before sending in the perfect cross.

Adam Bygrave came close to doubling the home side’s advantage on 16 minutes when his flicked header from 12 yards had Grof scrambling across his goal.

At the other end Stags captain Steve Foster had a half chance at goal on 18 minutes when he headed a Kevin Sandwith corner wide of the left post after he rose well to beat his marker.

But it was one-way traffic, and on-song Hayes doubled their lead on 21 minutes when Rents once again found far too much time and space down the exposed left flank.

He then fired in a teasing cross, which Elliott Buchanan needed no second invite to head home past the helpless Grof.

It was nothing more than the relegation-threatened side deserved as they continued to boss the game and show much more desire, belief and energy than the struggling FA Trophy finalists.

And it was three for rampant Hayes on 25 minutes as they took full advantage of Mansfield’s visible weakness down the left side.

This time the lively Elliott Buchanan made no mistake as he fired a sweet volley in off the left post from a tight angle after Holmes had picked him out well with a floating centre.

Shell-shocked Stags brought Kyle Nix on to replace Higginson immediately as they looked to strengthen the crumbling midfield.

But the mountain grew even bigger for the struggling visitors when joint top scorer Paul Connor saw red for leading with his elbow as he went up with Bygrave on the half hour mark.

As the first half wore on Hayes and Yeading continued to pour forward in numbers and exploit the huge gaps in the non-existent Stags midfield.

Masterton should have made it four on 36 minutes when quick link up play with Pritchard saw him clean through on goal.

But Masterton failed to keep his cool and, as Grof narrowed the angle, he blazed high and wide.

Rents and Holmes both came close to making it 4-0 on 42 minutes as jittery Mansfield consistently failed to clear their lines.

It was nothing short of a shambles for Duncan Russell’s men, who were all too often left chasing shadows as Hayes’ flowing passing moves cut through the exposed Stags’ rearguard with ease.

Powerful Bradley Pritchard proved a constant thorn for the visitors’, with his strong hold-up play providing the foundations for Hayes to build attacks.

Mansfield also had no answer to the raiding runs of Brown, Rents or Buchanan and could count themselves lucky to be only three down at the break.

Buchanan came close to sealing his hat-trick on 53 minutes as he sneaked past his marker before firing at the feet of Grof.

Stags began to stem the one-way traffic as Hayes looked to keep a firm control of the game and the valuable three points in the bag.

Defender Tom Naylor nearly gave Stags a faint lifeline when he stabbed wide at the back post after Briscoe had fired at goal.

Naylor registered Stags first shot on target after 79 minutes with a weak header straight at home debutant McWeeney.

The farce got even worse for Stags after Tyrone Thomspon sliced the simplest of clearances past Gof for a candidate for own goal of the season on 81 minutes.

It was a howler which summed up Mansfield Town’s performance.

Substitute Joseph-Dubois should have made it five moments later when he headed high over the bar after finding space in the box.

Foster’s powerful shot on the turn was then parried away for a corner on 86 minutes by McWeeney as Mansfield looked for a consolation goal.

Stags escaped any further punishment as they prepared for what was no doubt one of the longest journey’s home of the season.

HAYES AND YEADING: McWeeney, Ferrell, Cadmore, Rents, Bygrave, Masterton, Holmes, Buchanan (Joseph-Dubois 72 mins), Hand (Yiadom 80 mins), Pritchard (Appiah 87 mins), Brown. Subs not used: Green, Wright.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Grof, Sandwith, Foster, Briscoe (Mitchley 72 mins), Thompson, Naylor, Istead, Medley (Smith 69 mins), Connor, Higginson (Nix 26 mins), Murray. Subs not used: Collett, Silk.

ATTENDANCE: 316.

REFEREE: Ian Cooper of Kent.