Harry Charsley at the double as Mansfield Town see off Walsall to leap into the play-off places at last

Mansfield Town completed their meteoric rise from the bottom two relegation spots into League Two's play-off places with this afternoon's 2-0 home win over Walsall at a foggy One Call Stadium.

Saturday, 15th January 2022, 5:36 pm
Goalmouth action during Mansfield Town's clash with Walsall this afternoon. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media

But they had to dig deep to see off the Saddlers with two second half strikes from sub Harry Charsley.

It was a seventh home league win in a row and a ninth league win in 10.

After some fantastic performances in a recent gruelling schedule, Stags failed to hit the heights they had been managing but still had enough to keep their run going.

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The Mansfield side showed just one change with midfielder Ryan Stirk replaced by defender Farrend Rawson, who was back from a Covid lay-off, allowing John-Joe O'Toole to be pushed into midfield.

The Saddlers side included ex-Stags Hayden White and Rollin Menayese but there was no place in the 18 for Otis Khan.

Stags made hard work of halting Walsall's first attack in a scruffy opening in which Rushworth also comfortably held a teasing Quinn cross.

On seven minutes Bowery lifted an effort towards goal that beat Rushworth but Leak kicked clear a couple off the line with Stags just needing someone to help it over.

Then, from a free kick, Hawkins nodded the ball into the path of Bowery eight yards out, but he was unable to adjust and get a finish away.

On 13 minutes Shade turned on a White throw on the right and pulled a low effort wide of Bishop's near post.

Bowery caused more problems on 21 minutes as he out-muscled Leak on the right and, from a narrow angle, forced Rushworth down to save.

From the corner, McLaughlin got there with a near post glancing header that White cleared off the line.

On 27 minutes Maris floated in a free kick that Hawkins headed wide as Stags continued to knock on the door.

Eight minutes later Clarke was desperately close. Oates sent Quinn to the left by-line and his cross was met first time by Clarkle but guided narrowly wide.

Bishop had his first save to make a minute later as Miller fired a fierce shot at him from the right of the box and he sent up an instinctive arm to block.

As we entered stoppage time, Hawkins picked up a booking for tripping Miller just outside the box, Shade's free kick zipping just wide of the far post.

Charsley took over from Clarke in the Mansfield midfield for the second half.

O'Toole moved into central defence to allow Hawkins to go up front.

Kiernan blazed a volley well over from a half-cleared free kick on the restart.

Stags had a scare on 56 minutes as Miller determinedly cut in from the right and made space for a shot that beat Bishop but hit Maris in the head on the line and Miller then fired the loose ball over.

But Charsley made the big breakthrough for Stags on 59 minutes.

Hawkins flicked on Elliott Hewitt's throw from the right and when Walsall failed to clear, the ball rolled out to Charsley, 12 yards from goal, and he smashed it home through a crowd of players.

Bowery was then twice off target as Stags sought to press home their advantage amid the gathering fog.

On 74 minutes McLaughlin sent a free kick into the wall, saw his follow-up blocked and the ball ran for Bowery to force Rushworth to save low at his near post.

A minute later Oates was inches wide from 20 yards and seconds later, after some poor Walsall defending, Rushworth threw his body in the way of Hawkins' finish.

Walsall pressed, but Stags comfortably kept them at bay and made the points safe on 89 minutes.

Bowery and Charsley progressed down the right with a series of neat passes between them before Bowery laid him into space in the box and Charsley, from a tight angle, crashed in his second of the day.

STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins (Gale 90+1), McLaughlin, Clarke (Charsley HT), O'Toole, Quinn, Maris, Oate (Johnson 90+1)s, Bowery. SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Nartey, Law, Sinclair.

WALSALL: Rushworth, White, Ward, Labadie (Willock 85), Kiernan (Wilkinson 73), Osabede, Miller, Earing, Leak, Menayese, Shade (Phillips 69). SUBS NOT USED: Rose, Kinsella, Perry, Mills.

REFEREE: Ross Joyce.

ATTENDANCE: 5,728 (884 away).