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Saturday, 22nd February 2014: Mansfield Town 1, Fleetwood Town 0

Matt Rhead’s 31st minute header earned Mansfield Town three precious points against promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town at One Call Stadium this afternoon.

After months of home misery it was a second successive home win against a side near the top and fully deserved, despite the customary nervous finish.

That included Jon Parkin hitting the home post with six minutes to go.

It was also sweet revenge for Stags after that agonising last gasp 5-4 defeat at Fleetwood in November.

The visitors arrived on an impressive run of five wins and two draws in their last eight games but were made to look second best throughout the first half on a difficult surface.

The Cod Army did improve after the break, but Stags clung on to what they had got with a six-pointer now ahead at home to Bury on Tuesday.

Mansfield made two enforced changes. With defenders James Jennings and Martin Riley injured last weekend, in came Junior Daniel and Ritchie Sutton as straight swaps at left wing back and central defender.

New signing, on-loan Leicester City midfielder Michael Cain was among the Stags substitutes.

The afternoon started with a minute’s silence for late England legend Sir Tom Finney.

The game’s first threat came for Stags on four minutes as Dempster unceremoniously chapped down Marrow almost 30 yards from goal.

The kick was rolled to Sarcevic who sent a low shot into the home wall.

Soon after Parkin’s shot deflected off Daniel’s block for the first corner, which Evans completely overhit as it flew over everyone for a throw on the far side.

But on seven minutes Mansfield fashioned a chance as a neat flick by Stevenson found Clucas to his left and he cued up Daniel for a powerful low shot straight at Maxwell.

Hesitation from Dempster allowed Fleetwood to set up another shooting chance for Parkin, but Tafazolli threw himself in the way of his half-volley.

Clucas tried to make space for a shot in the Fleetwood box on 11 minutes only to see Roberts slide in with a great tackle.

Then a short pass by Clements towards his own goal threatened to let in Marrow until Sutton got in his way to rescue the situation.

On 16 minutes Clements launched a high first time ball to Daniel racing down the left. His first touch was excellent and he then accelerated towards the by-line from where he drilled the ball hard and low across the face of goal with no one able to reach it.

Pond was booked on 27 minutes for a cynical trip on Stevenson 30 yards from goal, Clucas taking the free kick but curling it well over the angle.

Pond made a great tackle to halt Daniel in full flight and then, as play swung the other way, Howell slid in superbly to halt Parkin as the action began to finally hot up and the crowd began to make some noise in response.

And the stadium then exploded on 31 minutes as Rhead put Stags in front.

Clements sent in a corner from the right and Rhead was offered a free header which he guided inside the keeper’s right hand post, Maxwell getting a hand to it but unable to keep it out.

Howell’s mistake almost allowed Mandron to get away in the middle of the park. The situation looked dangerous so Howell elected to take a booking and bring him down.

Clucas needed treatment for a clattering challenge on him that the referee didn’t even award a free kick for but was able to continue.

Clearly wound up by that, Clucas then jumped into a tackle on Hogan which earned the youngster a warning.

Daniel burst into the box on the left to put in a dangerous low ball which Stevenson would have put away had Goodall not put in a goal-saving challenge five yards from the target.

Stevenson stayed down after being caught fractionally late in a 50-50 challenge, which won Stags a corner but not a free kick again.

Clements put the corner over from the right and Sutton helped it towards goal where it seemed to bounce through everyone and almost creep in. Maxwell managed to hook it away with his right hand and Rhead then put the ball onto the roof of the net from a tight angle on the left by-line.

Three added minutes produced no further chances and home keeper Marriott was able to go in with a clean kit as the half ended with the visitors failing to trouble him with a shot of any sorts and Stags with that slender lead.

Fleetwood replaced Goodall with Hughes for the second half.

Howell slid in to win the ball cleanly on the edge of the home box on Mandrow on 57 minutes, but the referee decided otherwise and awarded a free kick. Evans curled the tamest of free kicks at Marriott but it did represent the Cod Army’s first attempt on goal.

Two minutes later Marriott had his first real save to make as Sarcevic tested him with a dipping 20 yard effort that he tipped over the bar.

The visitors were now finally having a good spell of possession and Fleetwood won a corner on the right which saw Marriott crowded out and the ball temporarily loose before the keeper was able to drop on it and smother.

Hughes drew jeers from the home fans for his shot on the run that he skewered well wide.

Fleetwood were now dominating possession with Stags starting to defend too deeply and another corner followed, Sutton heading clear.

However, Mansfield did break well and Westlake was sent scamping down the right. He found Clucas inside him surrounded by black shirts but, with no support, still able to curl a low shot narrowly wide from 20 yards.

A deflection on Mandron’s long range effort won the visitors’ fifth corner, but Mansfield survived.

But a sixth was not long behind and, from that, Hogan headed powerfully on target but straight at Marriott on 75 minutes.

Two minutes later Sutton almost doubled the home lead, but Maxwell parried his near post header from a Clements corner.

Another home corner saw a scramble from which Rhead poked a close range finish at Maxwell.

On 84 minutes Stags survived an almighty scare as Evans rolled a disguised free kick to the near post where Parkin lifted a close range finish against the home post.

Then Daniel produced a brilliant last ditch tackle to prevent Sarcevic shooting from seven yards.

Another half-cleared corner ended with Marriott gathering a low Evans shot at his near post.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli; Westlake, Howell, Stevenson (Hutchinson 87), Clements, Daniel; Rhead, Clucas (Palmer 90+3). Subs not used: Dyer, Beevers, Meikle, McGuire, Cain.

FLEETWOOD: Maxwell, Roberts (Taylor 69), Pond, Evans (Allen 87), Parkin, Goodall (Hughes HT), Hogan, Sarcevic, Jordan, Mandron, Marrow. Subs not used: Davies, Murdoch, Cresswell, Cartwright.

REFEREE: Brendan Malone of Wiltshire.

ATTENDANCE: 2,759 (102 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Tafazolli.

 

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