Five things we learned from Mansfield Town’s draw at Hartlepool United

Mansfield Town saw a 2-0 lead evaporate in a couple of minutes as they were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw at Hartlepool United last night.

Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 12:44 pm

But Stags remain firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion still. Here are five thing we learned from last night's thriller.

1: Forgotten man Jason Law is an important member of the squad

With players already nursing knocks and then Jamie Murphy limping off after only 23 minutes, Jason Law once again proved what a valuable and talented member of the Stags squad he is.

Mansfield Town midfielder George Lapslie confirms he was onside before scoring the opening goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

It has been tough for him recently, finding himself down the pecking order for a starting place.

But when called upon he never lets the club down and was energetic and positive in everything he did.

Clough knows he can reply on him from the bench or starting – he slots perfectly into the system. And with injuries mounting he could be playing a more regular part in the last nine games.

2: James Perch's tackle was firm but fair

Jordan Bowery battles to keep possession. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

Skipper for the night, Perch was again immense in almost everything he did.

His looping header to make it 2-0 was absolute quality and gave the Pools keeper no chance at all as it dipped under the far angle.

But Perch spent much of the second half getting booed by the home fans after his powerful tackle saw home goalscorer Luke Molyneux stretchered off with a leg brace on.

However, replays show it was a fair and well-timed sliding tackle and the contact with the opponent after playing the ball accidental. There was no malice or studs showing.

George Lapslie opens the scoring. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

Perch went to see Molyneux afterwards to see how he was and the only animosity was from the home fans.

3: It was a point gained and not two points dropped

Any point away from home, especially somewhere like Hartlepool on a cold Tuesday night, is a point gained.

Admittedly, it did feel like two dropped after Stags had opened up a 2-0 advantage in the first half.

Jordan Bowery's shot is blocked by Hartlepool goalkeeper Ben Killip. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

But two quick defensive lapses saw the home side take advantage and steal a point they really didn't deserve on the night.

Mansfield battered at the Pools door for almost the entire match and second half it was one-way traffic and seemed only a matter of time before Stags went back in front. So all credit to Pools' defending and some fine saves from Ben Killip.

Let's not forget Hartlepool could have stolen all three points at the death when sub Joe White went clean through but slotted wide with only Nathan Bishop to beat.

Incredibly, the point eased Stags onto the same total as all four sides in the play-offs and only three points off the top three with two games in hand.

So all is still rosy in the garden and Stags' promotion fate remains in their own hands.

4: Hartlepool fans are quick to forget Rhys Oates' contribution to their EFL return

James Perch celebrates his first half goal with Stephen Quinn. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

Rhys Oates has had two spells at Hartlepool, totalling four years, and last season was Players' and Fans' Player of the Year, was top scorer, scored the winning goal in the play-off semi-final and a vital assist at Wembley in the play-off final that got them back into the EFL.

So you might have thought he would have had a few claps on his return to Victoria Park? Not a chance.

Oates' decision to move to Mansfield obviously rankled with the Pools fans who gave him a very hard time.

He was booed from the moment he came on and some of the chanting against him was vicious.

Oates could have silenced them when he went through on goal, but with a chance that you would have staked your mortgage on him burying, he pulled it wide.

At least Stags fans gave a much nicer reception to Mal Benning when he came on for Port Vale last week.

Oates told us he was looking forward to going back to Victoria Park on Monday. I doubt he will feel he got the reception he deserved.

5: Stags’ hectic schedule is taking its toll

Nigel Clough said last night that he could think of no other club at any level in recent seasons that had been asked to play seven out of eight games away. Last night was a fifth in a row.

And with the games coming almost non-stop Saturday/Tuesday and with the miles involved, it has inevitably taken its toll on the players.

Ollie Clarke and George Maris had already joined Kellan Gordon in the physio's room.

Then Clough had to sit star men Stephen McLaughlin, Rhys Oates and Matty Longstaff on the bench last night as back-up if needed but all were suffering with knocks.

Stephen Quinn was also struggling but got through 67 minutes.

But Jamie Murphy, who was convinced his hamstring was up to playing, had to limp off midway through the first half, and now looks a doubt for the next couple of games.

One or two of the other players had also felt ill at the weekend but soldiered on last night.

It doesn't get any easier either with massive six-pointers ahead against Northampton Town on Saturday in a rare home game and then another long old midweek haul to leaders Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday.

After the injury crisis Stags had earlier in the season when they went 14 games without a win, it is to be hoped Lady Luck will not turn on them again just when they need the squad the most for the last five weeks of a fascinating campaign.

Recalled midfielder Jason Law looks to make the cross. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
Mansfield Town forward Rhys Oates pushes through the Hartlepool defence. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
Full time score at Hartlepool Utd at The Suit Direct Stadium. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
The team celebrates George Lapslie's opening goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
Mansfield Town forward Lucas Akins on the rampage. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger