Mansfield Town beaten at home to Morecambe

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The festive fizz turned flat as Mansfield Town were beaten 1-0 at home by Morecambe in a damp squid of a Boxing Day clash this afternoon.

Andrew Fleming’s 13th minute strike proved decisive on a freezing, wind-blown afternoon low on chances and quality.

Danny Rose did hit the Morecambe post after the break, but the visitors held onto what they had with relative comfort as Stags went a fourth League game without a win.

The home side bossed possession and had a corner count of 12-2 in their favour, but the Shrimps stood firm.

It was a fourth home defeat of the season, a third game without scoring and, amazingly, Mansfield have still not found the net in the first half of a home game all season.

Boss Steve Evans made two changes as defender Kyle Howkins, back from injury, and striker Darius Henderson came in for the suspended Mal Benning and midfielder Kevan Hurst, Howkins turning in an excellent display on his return from injury.

Stags were looking for their first win in four League games while the Shrimps had only won twice in 10 League games.

A tame opening was punctuated only by cheers as a Morecambe clearance out the ground ended up with the ball stuck in a tree.

It took seven minutes for Stags to create some danger as Collins curled a ball in from the left which beat everyone and went out for a goalkick before Green could get there at the far post.

But the visitors almost caught Stags napping with a training ground routine from their first corner on 10 minutes as Rose pulled it back low for the incoming McGowan, who was too high with his free shot from 20 yards.

Stags went straight upfield and Hemmings sent a tame, low shot at the keeper from 25 yards.

Fleming bundled a half-chance wide from a long throw from the right on 13 minutes as the Shrimps threatened again.

And in that same 13th minute they went ahead. Pearce failed to get any distance on a header and Turner was able to get down the left and square to Murphy whose attempt was well saved by Shearer, but Fleming was on hand to poke home the loose ball from five yards.

Stags had two corners in a row defended and forced three more in succession soon after, but failed to test Roche.

On 26 minutes Green almost levelled matters as Hemmings lifted the ball into the centre from the left and Green’s flicked header was tipped over by Roche for corner number seven.

On the half-hour mark Fleming came close again, but his shot from a very tight angle on the right was always going over the bar.

On 36 minutes Clements was barged over but the referee played on. The midfielder made his feelings known and was booked.

Mansfield plugged away, dominating possession and pushing forward and two minutes from the break Green headed the ball down for Hoban to sent a low shot narrowly wide of the left post.

The half ended with a corner count of 8-1 in favour of Stags but home fans disgruntled with the standard of the first 45 minutes’ entertainment.

It was yet another half without a home goal, stretching back to April.

Hamilton replaced Henderson for the second half and forced an early corner, while Hoban guided an early header wide as Stags began on the front foot.

On a 50th minute break Hoban had a powerful shot beaten away at the near post for an 11th home corner.

Stags made their second change up front on 61 minutes as Danny Rose replaced Hoban.

The home side should have been level on 63 minutes.

Clements squared the ball to Howkins, in space just outside the box, and his blast was parred by Roche with Danny Rose poking the rebound against the right post.

Hamilton went on a powerful run at the Shrimps’ defence but fired wide.

Then Shearer had to get down to block Turner’s attempt to cross after bursting into the box and also smothered Fleming’s follow-up with the goal gaping.

Michael Rose tried to catch Shearer napping with an attempt from a free kick wide on the right, but the keeper was well placed.

Winnard brought down Rose on 72 minutes and then refused to move 10 yards from the free kick to earn a booking.

Shearer did well to dive on the ball at the feet of Murphy on 75 minutes, the Morecambe man’s dive for a penalty earning him a booking.

Jack Thomas was sent on for McGuire on 76 minutes to give Stags more forward impetus.

But Morecambe defended superbly, Wildig added to the book for kicking the ball away.

At the whistle new boss Evans heard boos from the stand for the first time.

STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Howkins, Collins, McGuire (Thomas 76), Clements, Hemmings, Green, Hoban (Danny Rose 61), Henderson (Hamilton). Subs: Jensen, Mitchell Rose, Baxendale, Hurst.

MORECAMBE: Roche, McGowan, Edwards, Winnard, Murphy, Ellison (Wildog 83), Conlan, Fleming, Turner (Mullin 76), Jennings, Michael Rose. Subs: Nizie, Molyneux, Massanka, Jordan.

REFEREE: Mark Haywood of West Yorkshire.

ATTENDANCE: 3,237 (79 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Kyle Howkins.