Mansfield Town put in an abysmal first 45 minutes at Exeter City on Saturday and despite a much improved second half performance, were not able to recover as Exeter picked up their first home win of the season, and only their third home win of 2016.
The first half was so poor that the Stags were lucky to be just one goal down at the break.
Both full backs struggled in the first half, Collins at right back, and Mal Benning at left back. It wasn’t much better in central defence where Krystian Pearce allowed Reuben Reid to burst past him twice.
In midfield, Chris Clements had a poor first half, and Kevan Hurst, on his return to the starting XI after injury, was very poor including losing his man for the goal.
The second half was different as the Stags dominated for almost the entire 45 minutes, but unable to find the back of the net.
After the game Exeter manager Paul Tisdale told Radio Devon that his team had not been as completely outplayed for as long a period as that by any other team this season.
No consolation to the Stags though. In total Mansfield had 12 shots blocked, and five further shots off target.
The introduction of Darius Henderson at half time improved the Stags attack, and Clements put in a much improved display.
My man of the match was Ashley Hemmings, who put in one or two good crosses and had a couple of shots off target.
Having put Exeter under pressure for fully 45 minutes, Exeter broke again to make it 2-0 on 90 minutes.
To make matters worse Mal Benning picked up a second yellow card in stoppage time.
He’d been deservedly booked in the first half, but he then didn’t seem to do anything wrong as he held off Jake Taylor, who went to ground very easily.
No opportunity to appeal against two yellows of course, so Benning will miss the Morecambe game on Boxing Day.
After the game, Radio Nottingham’s Charlie Slater asked Steve Evans: “What can you do about these missed chances, there were plenty of chances in the second half?” Evans answered simply: “Sign some players that can score.”
January could prove interesting for Stags fans!
Overall Exeter deserved their win because they were better in the final third at both ends, as they defended well under pressure getting their bodies in the way of shots, and at the other end, they took two of their chances.
It was easy to see why Exeter have been so successful away from home this season, they have the second best away record in the league with 7 away wins, but not at home, as they caused Mansfield real problems when they broke quickly and with tremendous pace.
Plenty of disappointing performances in the Stags side for Steve Evans to reflect upon as he looks to build a stronger side for the second half of the season.
The defence was poor, the midfield was poor in the first half, and no-one could find the net.