BEN Hutchinson was the last gasp spot kick hero as Mansfield Town twice had to come from behind against struggling Hayes and Yeading to win a thrilling clash 3-2 in another windswept Field Mill contest today.
Recent signing Hutchinson tucked away the coolest of penalties at the death to send Hayes home empty-handed after they had twice shocked the home side with a display belying their recent record of one win in 15.
Earlier, Ross Dyer and Matt Green had netted to wipe out strikes from Hayes. Stags then took an iron grip on the final 20 minutes and took their just desserts.
It wasn’t pretty in the first half and Stags can and will play much better then this. But it was another three points which is all that mattered.
Stags made just one change with Adam Smith, back from his loan spell at Aldershot, replacing Louis Briscoe on the wing.
With a strong wind blowing downfield, boss Paul Cox elected to go for the height and flick-ons of Ross Dyer instead of giving a full debut to Ben Hutchinson.
Huge downpours before kick-off coupled with a freezing gale howling downfield ensured players would have far more than the opposition to deal with.
Marriott went down safely to gather an early low Owusu cross into a dangerous area while Murray’s through ball skidded away from the run of Green as both sides tried to come to terms with the conditions.
Soares was never going to beat Marriott with his tame low 25 yard punt on 10 minutes.
A minute later Smith’s ball inside into the path of Green saw him connect much better and keeper Pentney was happy to get his body in the way of the 20 yard thunderbolt and grab at the second attempt.
Hayes caused another moment of worry as a poor headed clearance allowed Rose a hurried chance to shoot with Marriott off his line, but he was well over.
On 19 minutes Dyer flicked a Murray ball into the path of Green who, as he pulled his foot back to bag an almost certain goal was thwarted by Moutaouakil’s saving tackle.
Dyer’s appeals for a penalty for a shove in the back by Wishart were ignored, then Pentney had to keep out a 20 yard Meikle snapshot as Stags, with the wind at their backs, continued to make most of the running.
On 28 minutes Murray was brought down just left of centre 25 yards from goal offering O’Neill the chance to curl one of his trademark free kicks goalwards. He got it over the wall but also three feet over the bar too.
However, on 31 minutes the visitors stole a shock lead.
A poor throw by Kendrick to the left of his own penalty area gifted the ball to Hand and the Hayes skipper drilled it low across goal behind the defence where Owusu was allowed to ghost in at the back post and turn it home.
Green tried to hit back immediately as he turned onto a low pass and sidestepped two defenders before bundling a poor finish wide.
Stags stepped up the pressure and when Roberts ran at the Hayes rearguard and got in a low accurate shot, it deflected wide for a corner.
The equaliser was not long following on 38 minutes. Roberts took a quick free kick to Green who again turned well and skipped skilfully between two opponents. Unable to get a shot away as another challenge came in, the ball ran to Dyer who, with options to his right, instead lashed a low 20 yard shot which beat Pentney’s fingertips to nestle in the net inside the left post.
A far post Rose header took a deflection for a corner from which Lee’s goalbound header was chested off the line by Roberts.
Rose was furious when he was booked for a sliding challenge on Meikle which won the ball cleanly. Roberts took charge of the free kick and delivered a rasping on-target effort which Pentney did well to block and get away for a corner.
Moutaouakil was next to be booked for a foul and then kicking the ball out the ground in temper.
Stags ended the half on the front foot, Green and Smith both pulling low shots wide.
Collins replaced Rose up front for Hayes for the second half.
He immediately skinned Kendrick down the right to win the first of two Hayes corners, the second of which, taken short, saw Soares’ angled shot saved by Marriott.
But Dyer should have put Mansfield ahead on 51 minutes.
Smith floated the perfect cross to the far post from the left and Dyer, from just two yards out, somehow sent his diving header wide of the post.
Two minutes later Cadmore spotted a chance and lofted a free kick from inside his own half on the wind which Marriott had to save from.
Smith forced a one-handed save with a good far post header from Green’s cross. Then Cadmore put a powerful Roberts effort behind for a corner.
Hayes struggled to clear the flag kick and Roberts eventually fired a shot over the bar as the home side asked all the questions.
But, against the run of play, Hayes went in front for as second time on 57 minutes.
Sub Collins fed the ball in from the right along the edge of the box where Soares was afforded time and space to tuck away a superb low finish between Marriott and the near post.
Hayes tried again to use the wind as Hand hoisted in a dipping on-target shot from 35 yards which again forced Marriott to catch.
But Stags sent on Hutchinson for Green and stepped up the pressure again.
And it paid off on 68 minutes. Green’s backheel sent Kendrick away, the keeper blocking his shot. But the ball stayed in play and Smith sent it back in towards Green who seemed to have an eternity to control, look up, and smash it past Pentney from 10 yards.
Stags were pouring forward now but open at the back and, after Murray had been booked for dissent, Marriott was at full stretch to save from Cadmore at the far post from a free kick.
Cadmore and Roberts’ names were added to the book for fouls, then Briscoe replaced Meikle for the final 11 minute push.
On 82 minutes, with Kendrick making a dummy overlap run, Smith curled a far post cross with his right foot and Murray stole in with a diving header from six yards but wide.
Neat work by Hutchinson saw him feed Briscoe for a low cross through everyone to safety.
Hutchinson then beat his man wide on the right and crossed long and high where Roberts was unable to get the ball on target first time.
Soares went on a good run from a quickly-taken 88th minute free kick only to shoot low and wide.
But there was late drama. Stags won a central free kick in the final minute which saw Briscoe’s kick hit the wall. It bounced to Roberts who tried to burst past Wishart in the box whose tackle was a fraction mistimed and Roberts had won a penalty.
We were now in stoppage time as Hutchinson stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way with the coollest and calmest of sidefooted spot kicks before embarking on a long ruin in front of the West Stand to milk the moment.
Green should have put the icing on the cake when sent clean through with the sweetest of through balls by Briscoe. But, having taken the ball wide of the keeper, he lifted the ball over the gaping goal.
Ajala was well over at the other end as the final whistle blew on a breathtaking second half.
STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Dempster, Sutton; Kendrick; Smith, Murray, Roberts (Howell 90+4), Meikle (Briscoe 79); Green, Dyer (Hutchinson 65). Subs not used: Redmond, Riley.
HAYES & YEADING: Pentney; Moutaouakil, Walsh, Cadmore, Wishart; Pele, Hand, Lee (Ajala 76), Soares; Oususu (Bassele 83); Rose (Collins ht). Subs not used: Beasant, Legg.
REFEREE: Seb Stocksbridge of Gateshead.
ATTENDANCE: 1,872 (26 away).